7 Myths About Islam





Mr. Furnish, Ph.D (Islamic History), is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA 30338. Mr. Furnish is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger, 2005).

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One of the few positive effects of 9/11 has been renewed American interest in Islam and the Middle East. Unfortunately, much of the information disseminated in the media about those topics is ignorant and misleading. This is unfortunate because any hope that the predominantly-Christian West and the Muslim world might transcend conflict requires that the former be accurately informed about the latter (and vice-versa, but that’s an issue for another column). There are in particular seven myths about Islam and Islamic history that have been repeated so often in the media that they’ve achieved conventional wisdom status.

First, it is untrue that Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion. (Mormonism and Scientology also claim this, but few outside of Salt Lake City and Hollywood believe it.) As Philip Jenkins of Penn State University demonstrates in his work Christianity—in particular Pentecostalism—is the world’s most-rapidly growing faith. Currently there are 2 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims (out of a world population of 6 billion), and in the 21st century Christianity will maintain its lead, thanks to explosive growth in sub-Saharan Africa and China.

Second, despite the claims of even President Bush in a number of public statements, Islam is not solely a “religion of peace.” Yes, there are verses of toleration in the Qur’an: Sura(chapter) al-Baqarah:256 says “there shall be no compulsion in religion;” Sura al-Furqan:65ff says that Allah will be merciful to those who repent and do good works; and Sura al-Nisa’:19ff enjoins Muslim men to provide financially for wives and ex-wives. But verses such as these are arguably outweighed by others: Sura Anfal:12ff and Sura Muhammad:3ff command the beheading of unbelievers; Sura al-Nisa’:34ff allows for beating of one’s wives and in verses 74ff and 94ff, promises great reward for those who die fighting for Allah; Sura al-Ma’idah:51 says “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” Of course there are violent sections in the Bible—or at least in the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament (Joshua and David were military leaders as much as religious ones). But no one denies that, as many—both Muslim and non-Muslim—deny these violent and misogynistic passages in the Qur’an. Many arguments can be made against such verses (they must be contextualized, they are applicable only to that time, they are metaphorical, etc.) but one cannot say they do not exist. Someone who simply rehashs that “the Qur’an teaches peace” obviously hasn’t read it. No doubt most Muslims do not read the passages about decapitation as a blueprint for today. But just as some Christians take literally, for example, the command of to Christ handle poisonous snakes (Luke 10:19), some Muslims take literally the injunction to behead unbelievers. And the latter practice is a bit more injurious to other folks than the former.

Third on the misinformation parade is the allegation that jihad does not mean holy war. This falsehood crops up often in text books and in the media, where the politically-correct tirelessly repeat that jihad actually means only “striving to be a good Muslim.” This is half-right. But early on in Islamic history, jihad came to mean fighting against unbelievers in order to expand the territory under Muslim rule. al-Bukhari lived in the 9th century CE and was the most authoritative compiler of sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad; he mentions jihad many times as meaning “holy war.” Jihad as “Muslim piety” is mainly the province of the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, and has become a minority view today. Furthermore, Islamic history is chock-full of leaders declaring jihads against their enemies—even the moderately Muslim Ottoman Empire declared a holy war against the French, British and Russians in World War I!

Fourth is the whopper that Islam spread peacefully from Arabia, as if the followers of Muhammad went door-to-door ringing doorbells and handing out brochures. From the mid-7th century CE Muslims militarily overran regions and then pressured the conquered to convert. (Yes, Christian kingdoms did the same—but, again, no one denies that!) Muslim Arab armies destroyed the entire Persian Empire (modern Iran), replacing its official Zoroastrian religion; about the same time they invaded the surviving Christian Roman (Byzantine) Empire and within a few decades had taken half its territory. In 732 CE a Muslim army from Morocco was in France! By 750 CE Muslims ruled from the Iberian Peninula to India. And Muslim armies would stay on the offensive for the next millennium, with only two exceptions: the “Reconquista” in Iberia and the Crusades.

The fifth tiresome myth is that the European Catholic Crusaders started the war with Islam and that for eight centuries Muslims have been brooding over the horrible injustices thereof. Actually, the Crusades, 1095-1291, were simply the first time that European Christians managed to take the fight to their enemy’s territory. And besides: why are the Crusades being constantly used as a club with which to beat the West—remember the scathing attacks on President Bush when, not long after 9/11, he referred to a “crusade” against terrorism?—when the Muslims won? Usama bin Ladin’s constant references to Americans as “Crusaders” is thus a perfect marriage of historical illiteracy with keen psychological insight into his enemy’s self-hate.

Another fairy tale about Islam is that poverty produces terrorists. This hoary myth tells us more about the worldview of its American adherents than it does about the ranks of the Islamists. Most of the 9/11 and London bombers were university-educated and at least middle-class. The same is true for Palestinian suicide bombers and most likely those in Iraq. Naive Americans take their domestic paradigm about poverty and crime—that the former causes the latter—and apply it to a context where it doesn’t fit Regarding the recent London bombings, a British terrorism expert said that “socioeconomic background does not appear to [have] play[ed] a role.” Poverty may be necessary, but it is hardly sufficient, to explain Islamic terrorism.

And finally, we have politically-correct mendacity number seven, which even British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently repeated: that Islam has been “hijacked” by terrorists. In this view Bin Ladin, the ayatollahs in Iran, the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the Saudis with their Wahhabism (a particularly puritanical brand of Sunni Islam)—all are twisting a “moderate” religion to suit their purpose. The “Islam = peace” brigade essentializes Islam as peaceful. UBL essentializes it as jihad. Although there are Qur’an verses, and sayings of Muhammad, on both sides, many do support Bin Ladin and his ilk. Also, Islamic history is replete with Muslim scholars whom the modern Islamic fundamentalists draw upon. The most famous is Ibn Taymiyah who, 700 years before George Bush said “you’re either for us or against us,” divided the world into the domain of Islam and that of war. The only good ruler is a Muslim ruler, asserted Ibn Taymiyah. And by that he meant one that enforces shari`ah, or Islamic law. Most Muslims do not agree, but some do. (And only 10 percent of 1.3 billion is 130 million.) But it is no use pretending that the UBLs of the world have falsely “hijacked” Islam. Indeed, their view of the faith—however intolerant and violent it may seem—has a basis in Islamic theology and history.

Islam is where Christianity was before the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and then the Enlightenment led the West to divorce religion and state, thereby removing (mostly) the threat of religious-based warfare. As a fellow monotheist with Muslims, I pray that the moderate strands within Islam win out over the more fundamentalist ones, allowing that civilization to follow suit. And for we in the West to help with that, we need to open our eyes to the reality of the harsher aspects of Islam and Islamic history. Anything else is simple—and dangerous—self-deception.


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kent andersen - 10/12/2010

It is a myth that the christians started the Crusades. The crusades didn't just started. The crusades was a reqonquest of territories that used to be christians. Some part was just some years before conquested by muslims, and therefore retaken by the christian army.

The war between islam and christian nations is not something that started with the crusades. It was started by muhammed himselves. When Muhammed decided to use the sword to kill Jews and later christians and believers of other religions, then HE started the war. This is a historical fact. This book gives a very good overview about those facts: http://www.amazon.com/Decline-Eastern-Christianity-Under-Islam/dp/0838636888/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&;qid=1286871374&sr=8-2

The violence and brutality that the crusaders did was terrible. But the fact is that the crusaders learned this behaviour from the muslims. It was the brutality from the invading Turks that made the attacking crusaders so violent. On the conflict back then none of the participants was acting noble.

But at the same time, there was also times of tollerance on both sides. Afther the first violent part, where palestine was delivered from muslim rulers, a peaceful and more tollerant society was founded. It was that tollerant that the ruler in Baghdad was fearing that muslims would convert to christianity, becouse of the higher level of tollerance and respect that muslims experienced und the christian rulers.

History is not black and white, mostly it is terrible. But the original post here is right, the talk about the tollerant Islam is a myth.


kent andersen - 10/12/2010

It is a myth that the christians started the Crusades. The crusades didn't just started. The crusades was a reqonquest of territories that used to be christians. Some part was just some years before conquested by muslims, and therefore retaken by the christian army.

The war between islam and christian nations is not something that started with the crusades. It was started by muhammed himselves. When Muhammed decided to use the sword to kill Jews and later christians and believers of other religions, then HE started the war. This is a historical fact. This book gives a very good overview about those facts: http://www.amazon.com/Decline-Eastern-Christianity-Under-Islam/dp/0838636888/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&;qid=1286871374&sr=8-2

The violence and brutality that the crusaders did was terrible. But the fact is that the crusaders learned this behaviour from the muslims. It was the brutality from the invading Turks that made the attacking crusaders so violent. On the conflict back then none of the participants was acting noble.

But at the same time, there was also times of tollerance on both sides. Afther the first violent part, where palestine was delivered from muslim rulers, a peaceful and more tollerant society was founded. It was that tollerant that the ruler in Baghdad was fearing that muslims would convert to christianity, becouse of the higher level of tollerance and respect that muslims experienced und the christian rulers.

History is not black and white, mostly it is terrible. But the original post here is right, the talk about the tollerant Islam is a myth.


kent andersen - 10/12/2010

This book is an excelent book about this subject. It is a book that are making an serious effort to show how the Islamisation went.

http://www.amazon.com/Decline-Eastern-Christianity-Under-Islam/dp/0838636888/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&;qid=1286871374&sr=8-2

The following needs to be noted when muslims calls themselves tollerant against other religions, and that is about who that is writing the history. I don't think that muslims in arabian countries are the right people to make a judgement about their own tollerance.

What the writer is pointing out is that, the christians are not denying their own evil and guilt. This is not something that christians are denying. But muslims are denying their guilt and evil works.

The whole concept of talking about middle age Islam as tollerant is just as big nonsense as to talke about middle age christianity as tollerant.

Islam was spread with a conquest with an army. It was done terrible things on their way. Some cities was totaly slaughtered others where spared. On the country side everything was brutaly killed and robbed. War has never been a noble thing. It is not noble and beautiful and tollerant today (no matter who is running the war), and it surely wasn't that in the early days of Islam.

Any muslim-christian dialog needs to start with an honest descriptions of their religion. And the first thing needed is for muslims to start to be honest about their own painful past, and accept that Omar and the other Kaliphs was very brutal generals.

But of course, if you as a muslim find it an accepted idea to spread the religion with the sword, well then of course the conquest was a nobel honourable act. But then say it as it is, but don't call it tollerance.


sajad Ahmad Rather - 11/18/2009

enough is enough,islam bashing how long?do u think muslim country or muslim org is capable to launch sep 11 attack on amarica on such a magnitude and with such precision.even worlds advanced countries could not execute such a plan.it was the american game plan to subjugate the middle east.The whole plan was given by Isreal and executed by rascal and zionist Bush.but remember no one can stop light(islam) from enlightening the world.Zionism is about to vanish


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

In an outstandingly shallow article, even by his own standard, Professor Furnish continues his campaign to demystify and denigrate Islam by refuting "7 Myths About Islam".
His small mindedness is best revealed by noting:
1-His failure to read and hence understand the Koran as all GREAT, in the sense of having great effect, BOOKS should be read!
The Koran should be read neither as a political manifesto nor as a tourist guide!
But as a comprehensive life, and after life some believe, GUIDE that touches on all that may affect the reader in life, in death, in happiness, in distress, in peace and in war.
2-His inability to appreciate that the specific meaning and effect of the multitude teachings therein, some of which would appear as contradictory to the likes of Furnish, is TIME/PHASE/ERA dependent as to their contemporary relevance and applicability!
With Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan under relentless attack by the enemy, to name only the outstanding examples, a predominant, “timely”, interpretation of the concept of Jihad would no doubt prevail!
As with all great, in the sense of having great effect, doctrines it is ultimately the believers that determine what concept and the specific dictates of that concept should prevail at a certain time/phase/era!
Furnish seems to have read the Koran as one would read a novel, a physics textbook or a political manifesto!


Ahmed Abdel Samoie - 9/4/2007

Debunking Western Myths About Islam

It is true that 9/11 terrorist attacks had renewed American, and Western, interest in Islam and the Middle East. And it is also true that there has been systematic misleading information, or it is better to say, disinformation in this regard. No one can deny the media is taking its toll on Islam and Muslims, wrongfully stereotyping them and always inciting the feelings in the Muslim world by reckless and disgraceful actions as it may be seen in the ceaseless stream of offensive cartoons made under the guise of freedom of expression, which miraculously ceases to apply when it comes to hotly-debated issues such as the holocaust or the Jewish history. It shows nothing but the Western hypocrisy, or, the politically-correct double standardism.

Your first myth, that it is not true that Islam is the world's fastest-growing religion, was followed by the very unrealistic myth of your own creation that Christianity is the world's most-rapidly growing faith. While having the biggest number of followers is nothing of importance to Islam and is not a reason to brag about, because there are many who are counted as Muslims while they are really not, it is still proved untrue that Christianity is the world's fastest growing faith as you claim in your essay.
I refer you to these statements made by your own people:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.htm

And it is really interesting to know that Christianity is gaining ground outside the borders of Europe and especially in China and the Sub-Saran countries!
For Muslims, there are many constant reminders that Islam came into existence as a foreigner (among pagan and hostile nations). The early Muslim state was founded by handful number of men who set the examples in many situations, see Badr battle, that it was never how much men do you have, but how much of them practice what they believe in. But at any rate, you made an absolutely wrong statement and invented a new myth of which credit will goes to you, as no one even the most fundamentalist Christians ever said that Christianity is surpassing Islam in growth rates or is the world fastest-growing faith.

Second: Islam is not solely a religion of peace. You made your argument on verses you say outweigh the verses that call for toleration in the Qura'n. You mentioned the verse in Surat Al Anfal number 12" When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying:) I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger", and verse number 3(actually you mean 4) on the beheading of the unbelievers. I wonder how come you get your Ph.D. in Islamic history while ignoring, or may be intentionally disregarding, the fact that these two verses were said in the right of those who disbelieve(pagans at that time) because they were declaring a state of war against Islam at that time. You intentionally forget that this should not apply to Christians or Jews because whenever they are concerned in the Qura'n, Allah always use the honorific title" people of the scripture" to distinguish them from non-monotheists.

Beating wives in Islam is only permitted to the smallest scale possible that even you can't with such beating harm a little children let a lone an adult fully fledged woman. The Mother of the believers Aisha said that "the Prophet has never beaten any woman or a maid"(authentic account, mentioned in the Bukhari). And as Muslims, we all ordered to follow suit. Besides, even in the verse in question from Surat Al Nisa(Woman)- by the way there are no chapters or suras in the Qura'n named Men- which reads" Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allâh has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allâh and to their husbands), and guard in the husband's absence what Allâh orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property). As to those women on whose part you see ill¬conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allâh is Ever Most High, Most Great ".
You can see the sequence of events: first one has to admonish, then, if they continue to show ill conduct he can refuse to share beds with them as part of the remedy and the last thing is beating, lightly- a beating which must not be harming, as it was made clear in different hadiths.
It goes without saying that the last thing the Prophet Muhammad recommended Muslims to do is to take care of women and to show tenderness and be pious towards Allah when they deal with women.

Concerning the verse in Surat al-Ma’idah" O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliyâ’, they are but Auliyâ’ of each other", the word walay, or auliya, means more than a friend, as it means a protector, defender or sponsor, and sometimes also the word aulia, singular wali, is used to mean rulers. So it is not an order to stay away from the Jews or the Christians as you have implied, but rather, it is an injunction not to make them defenders or patrons or rulers above our fellow Muslims and this is quite fair and proved to be right all the time, and I can provide you with many evidences to substantiate the fact that the Christians have always sided with the Jews against Muslims.
While you surely have read Surat Al Ma'ida, of which you have extracted the verse you have mentioned, you intentionally forget to mention other verses which praise the Christians for their affinity, or the should-be affinity, with Muslims. I refer to the verses from 81 to 85 in the same Sura, i.e. Al Ma'ida: "Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers (Muslims) the Jews and those who are Al-Mushrikûn (see V.2:105), and you will find the nearest in love to the believers (Muslims) those who say: "We are Christians." That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud. (82) And when they (who call themselves Christians) listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognised. They say: "Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses. (83) "And why should we not believe in Allâh and in that which has come to us of the truth (Islâmic Monotheism)? And we wish that our Lord will admit us (in Paradise on the Day of Resurrection) along with the righteous people (Prophet Muhammad SAW and his Companions radhiallahu'anhuã)." (84) So because of what they said, Allâh rewarded them Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), they will abide therein forever. Such is the reward of Al-Muhsinûn (the good-doers).

I should also refer to another verse in the Qura'n which uses the word tauala, to which the word aulia is related: "Allâh does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allâh loves those who deal with equity. (8) It is only as regards those who fought against you on account of religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out, that Allâh forbids you to befriend them. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the Zâlimûn (wrong-doers those who disobey Allâh). (Sura 60. Al-Mumtahana))

The verse is clear enough and the Qura'n is an integral body which can't be divided or deemed to have conflicting orders. It may be wrongfully shown to have conflicting orders when this is part of a decontextualization process as the one you introduced in your essay. Any academic writer, not necessarily some one who has a Ph.D. in Islamic history or Islamic law, knows the blunders and misinformation that would result when you take a text out of its context, let a lone a holy text that must be related to circumstances that prompted a certain revelation to be understood well to base your judgments and final results.

Your third myth on the "misinformation parade is the allegation that jihad does not mean holy war", is a more deluding phrase and another example of twisting facts with personal understanding or misunderstanding. Jihad is a word derived from the verb jahada which means to strive for, make every effort; to fight, do one's best, and to endeavor among other meanings. You mentioned some of these meanings and said it is half-right. According to your account, jihad came to mean fighting against unbelievers in order to expand territory under Muslim rule in early Islamic history. This is also half-right. There are many hadiths- hadith or tradition of the Prophet is a source of legislation in Islam and is the highest authority with the Qura'n since we all believe all hadiths are words of God said by His Messenger- that relates jihad to other types of struggle. The Prophet was once asked by one of his companions" which jihad is better?", which means even the companions of the Prophet knew there are many types of jihad, and the Prophet replied by saying" it is a word of truth before a tyrannical sultan"(authentic hadith).
I don't know what made you make such a statement that jihad means Muslim piety mainly for Sufis whom are minority according to your statement. I am a Sunni and it is still true for Sunnis that jihad means fighting back enemies and also struggling against one's evil desires and saying truth whatever the cost may be. As for the Ottoman Empire, the reason they called it a Holy War against the French, the British and the Russians in WWI was merely to draw support of the Muslim nations under their control at then. And Islam is not, and should not be, responsible for what the Ottoman empire did.

Concerning your fourth myth that "the whopper that Islam spread peacefully from Arabia", it is one more manifestation of your off-the-peg misrepresentation. There is no compulsion in religion, and this is a well known Muslim rule.
How can a religion that forbids cruelty against animals and tells us that a woman has doomed herself to hell because she caged a cat and denied the cat access to water or to let the cat search for food, be cruel against a human being? Did not the Prophet whom you call supported harshness and spread his call by the sword said once that "Allah rewarded and praised" a man who has once seen a dog craving for water and then provided the dog with water?

Islam fully grants the freedom to a creed. Allah says" Say (O Muhammad (SAW) to these Mushrikûn and Kâfirûn): "O Al-Kâfirûn (disbelievers in Allâh, in His Oneness, in His Angels, in His Books, in His Messengers, in the Day of Resurrection, and in Al-Qadar)! (1) "I worship not that which you worship, (2) "Nor will you worship that which I worship. (3) "And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping. (4) "Nor will you worship that which I worship. (5) "To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islâmic Monotheism)." (6) ( Surat Al Kafiroun 109 verses from 1 to 6).

Again, the freedom to a creed is emphasized in this verse" And say: "The truth is from your Lord. Then whosoever wills, let him believe, and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve" (surat al Kahf 18-29).

The reasons to start a war on Islam-Yeas you can not start a war except for very limited reasons unlike the way things are run by any US administration- are demonstrated in the following verses from surat al Baqara:
" And fight in the Way of Allâh[] those who fight you, but transgress not the limits. Truly, Allâh likes not the transgressors. [This Verse is the first one that was revealed in connection with Jihâd, but it was supplemented by another (V.9:36)]. (190) And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah[] is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-Al-Harâm (the sanctuary at Makkah),[] unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. (191) But if they cease, then Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (192) And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allâh) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allâh (Alone).[] But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zâlimûn (the polytheists, and wrong-doers.) (193"

More to come:" So if they withdraw from you, and fight not against you, and offer you peace, then Allâh has opened no way for you against them"(4-89).

The paramount rule concerning any act of war in Islam is clearly set forth in the this verse" But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in Allâh. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower"( 8-61).

Remember the way the Prophet acted towards the dwellers of Mecca after the great victory over them, a bloodless conquest that was only made possible after Quraish broke its truce with the Prophet, and his(PBUH) immortal saying to them" you are free to go, you are surely at liberty".

Your fifth myth regarding the Crusades and how it is untrue that European Catholic Crusaders started the war with Islam is one more manifestation of your unscholarly approach. While the declared goal of the Crusades was to recapture Jerusalem and the sacred Holy Land under the banners of the Church, they had hidden agenda and economic and political aspirations. It is untrue that the Crusades were simply the first time that European Christians managed to take the fight to their enemy's territories.
The horrible crimes that were committed against the crusaders' co-religionists in the Fourth Crusade are but a reminder of how cruel and aggressive were the Crusades and not as you simply put it. The looting and plunders of a Greek Christian city, i.e. Constantinople, still shadow the relations among different Christian denominations. And I need not to talk about what the "defensive" crusaders did to the" offensive" Muslims at that time!
To juxtapose Usama ben Laden phraseology in your argument is a perfect marriage between unscholarly approach with self-defeating claims.

Your sixth myth" Another fairy tale about Islam is that poverty produces terrorists" and how it is naivety from the part of the Americans to take their paradigm about poverty and crime and how the former causes the latter and apply it on a context where it doesn't fit is nothing but a part of the broader decontextualization in your essay. While it is still unjustifiable and strictly forbidden to kill innocents and launch terrorist attacks, it is not only poverty that produces terrorism, rather, it is also the feeling of injustice and despair over the biased US policy in the Middle East, and actually everywhere else in a unipolar world. It the systematic genocides committed everywhere against Muslims- in Bosnia and Palestine to mention but a few.

The seventh myth, that it is not true to repeat that Islam has been hijacked by terrorists, has to do with the pervious myth and allegations. UBL, ayatollahs in Iran, Taliban, the Saudi Wahabism- all are twisting religion to fit their political agenda and they are not an authority on Islam. A good Muslim is by definition a peaceful one. There are absolutely no verses in the Qura'n or hadiths that allows the killing of innocent people, and I challenge you to bring me some that says otherwise.

It is Muslims, not Islam, who are in a critical and hard situation. Thanks to imperial aggressions and long-time colonization, most of the Arab and Muslim countries are having economic and social ills. However, this is by no means an absolution of our own failures to catch up with the advanced world and should never be an excuse to our rulers who saddled their peoples with intolerable inequities and ceaseless tyranny.

It is true that an interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural communication should be based on honesty and openness, but this will not happen through misinformation and misrepresentation of facts concerning a religion that is not responsible for, and is not conforming to, the deeds of some of those who attributed themselves thereto.


Suzi Qaba - 7/5/2007

Here's a great quote:

"'Radical Islam' is only radical to those who don't know Islam."

Check out this site:

The Truth About Islam
http://islamwatchers.blogspot.com


Deniz O - 12/12/2005

Beth C,

Your post is full of excuses. "Over 3,000 incidents since 9/11/2001 - no other religious group has come close." Let's just call all Muslim people terrorists, shall we? Please take the time to think before you post. If you do look at the statistics, Islam is growing because people WILLINGLY convert to it, not because we hold thousands of people prisoners and force them to be a Muslim, because we don't. Islam is about choice, yes in the past wars such things has happened and not just by Muslims.
You might also want to rethink before you say "We don't care what YOU say". It sounds to me like you are a close minded, discriminating, human being. If you look at President Bush and his troops, maybe we should call the whole American citizens killers because of a stupid president sending out armies to kill innocent people in Iraq. This is like calling a serial killer's family murderers. Please go open a book, and actually read it. Thanks.


Tom Sweetnam - 12/12/2005

I think Winston Churchill said everything that needs to said on the subject more than 100 years ago. He wrote this journal passage as a 21 year-old war correspondent in Africa. It was later published in a two-volume autobiographical remeniscence titled 'The River War' in 1899.

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property‹either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."


Salim Afghan - 11/23/2005


The very definition of holding a faith, any faith, is a conviction for it's truthfulness. It is an intellectual waste if one feels the need to 'twist and modify' parts of a belief system in order to make it feel more comfortable for himself or others. How absurd an exercise!
The day I feel that even one doctrine of my religion needs MY SCULPTING, I will leave it without bothering mysself further. A supreme being should not be needing me to modify his scripture.

I come from a part of the world where everywhere you look, you will still find the miseries caused by imperial power of British and then Soviets and YET I am to 'ponder' what these powers say about the destructive features of my religion.
Do I agree with Usama? no but I am willing to spend as much time talking about him as much as an American is willing to criticise Kesinger or the decision to Napalm half of Vietnam. Sure sure they are 'different'.

A country whose population are drawining the entire resources of earth faster than we can say End of Life, whose armies march left and right based on orders of a lunatic (with 50 million Americans confirming his lunacy), whose policies have been consistently and undeniably pro war want's to 'OBJECT' to how an empire was built several centuries ago.

With all due respect to those who naively said " WE HAVE COME FAR" ....
That is your opinion. I can find hundreds of millions of starving, dying NON MUSLIMS who would disagree with you and blame you for their demise.




Salim Afghan - 11/23/2005

Hi
As a Muslim, I do not entirely disagree with most of the points here. I think if one truly believes in an ideology (otherwise why hang on to it), it is disrespectful to try to "Sugarcoat" it for others. A few points I want to mention:

- I am an Afghan (Persian) and because my ancestors lost a huge empire to invading Arab armies, our history is filled with anti arab sentiments. It was not a rosy power transformation but THERE WAS NO major forced conversion because yes it is true that "legally" one can not force anyone to convert. That is an absolute rule. There might have been instances of forced acceptance of Islam but one must judge an ideology based on its doctrine and not the practice of soldires. It is also evident from our history that the overall system brought by arabs was relatively more just and fair.

- The Author is almost right in his definition of Jihad. Jihad HAS COME to mean holy (armed) war where I come from and most common people don't even know the phillsophical concept of it. However, once again Quran does not use Jihad as a violent war. I think muslims themselves are to be blamed for this loss of concept and not the west. Preachers often use only and only the military notion of Jihad.

-When talking about Islamic empires, I have seen that most historians including muslim ones fail to see the obvious oxymoron there. Islam specifically and harshly negates the notion of empire as we know it. Hereditery power transfer (a given feature of Empires and a custom practiced today) has been forbidden and forms the fundamental difference between the majority Sunni and the minority Shiets (who think leadership must run through Mohammed's family).

-Fundamentalism to Christians means a reversion to 'dark ages'. To the common oppressed muslim it means a return to 'glorious past' in which they LITERALLY had more freedom, more wealth, more respect as a citizen. It is misleading to say "we all have our fundamentalists". One must appreciate the psyche of common people. They don't support fundamentalists because they like their bombings, rather because they represent a revolution against dictatorships, a glimmer of light away from the present darkness in middle east. Frankly, people like Bin Laden's second man were the only one who stood against Egyptian president (who is virtually stuck to his seat). To the common Egyptian for example, US is the biggest aid giver to the dictatorship while the muslim brotherhood is the only one fighting and dying in prisons for standing up...WHO do you think they are going to support?
-The 'Scholar' quoted by the Author (Ibn Taimiya) is the same scholar Wahabis (Saudis) follow. Wahabis are hated and resented by majority of Muslims. They form less than 1% but due to sheer wealth of Saudi Arabia, can exercise extreme influence. They are so literal in their interpretition of Quran that "Hand of God" to them actually means a HAND. The Author who divided the world into two catagories was actually not talking about Christians or Jews, rather MUSLIMS who did not agree with the literal interpretition.



My apologies if the points were chaotic.



-


Thomas Jefferson - 10/31/2005

Islam does not deserve to be called a religion. It is a death cult. Christianity, Judaism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Hinduism, and all other major world religions, do not advocate killing off all those who do not agree with their tenets.

Islam advocates that all non-Muslims, being "infidels," must be slain. Cowardly Muslims who do not enter into the slaughter are to be slain by zealot Muslims.

Islam is the only alleged religion in the world that does not have an equivalent of the Golden Rule.


Beth C - 10/31/2005

Your post is full of excuses - "you're not a muslim, so you're not qualified to criticize islam," seems to be your argument with the author who clearly knows what he's talking about as a scholar of islamic history. He does not write the article in Arabic because this site is in English. Duh? But be that as it may, the bottom line is that the world doesn't buy your excuses. What matters is the actions of muslims, and by that standard you and your brethren are failing miserably. In order to change that perception, two things need to happen. First, you guys need to quit murdering people. Over 3,000 incidents since 9/11/2001 - no other religious group has come close. Second, instead of protesting Israel and how muslims' rights are supposedly trampled, try protesting against terrorism. Better yet, stamp it out! If 1.3 billion people want it stopped, trust me, it will stop. The truth is you don't want it stopped and it is clear by your overwhelming silence on the crimes commited in the name of islam, and your tantrums about how your "rights." Until muslims take care of business, they will never be accepted by the rest of the world. But that's not what you want anyway, is it? The reason so many people love islam is that it gives you carte blanche to rape and pillage. You are colonizing the rest of the world (Europe, US, etc) with the plan of out-populating (fastest growing if true is mostly by birth and converting prisoners) the host countries. You want an islamic world where existing muslims will be the leaders. And by the way, muslims invented the African slave trade, and are still running it today. So argue and play with the truth as much as you like. Bottom line is, we don't care what you say - we care what you do.


N. Friedman - 10/21/2005

richard,

It all becomes a lot less understandable with respect to those Jihadis - and there are evidently large numbers of them - who are third generation Europeans and from supposedly integrated families.

Whatever other issues may be involved - including, for example, alienation and ostracism by society -, the main issues remain, as I said, immigration, child-bearing and ideologically political coherence and unity.


richard martens - 10/20/2005

The migration of Muslims to the West is their "escape" from the failed societies they were born into. There is no grow, no air to breathe in these repressive, unproductive, medieval nations. Yet there is television which offers them a glimspe of how people live in healthy, productive, less repressive nations. And they can not wait to get out. Of course there is nostalgie for their former countries but ask them if that will translate into them returning. No way. And for some there is a desire to wage a jihad against exactly the palce and people they have come to live with. It is amazing in a way but understanable when they are faced with the world they came from v. the workd they are in. Think of Plato's cave. They come from the cave and to them that was a good reality. Until television and finally the reality of Europe or the US. Now the juxtaposition of trying to undertand the Cave when they are in the Light. For soem it is necessary to block out the Light. That is jihad. A sort of nihilism. Like coming up for air form the ocean depths too fast. Most will nottake this path but some will.


N. Friedman - 10/20/2005

richard,

One question is whether Europe will change Islam or Islam will change Europe - or both will change each other -. The evidence for the Europe much changing Islam even sufficiently that both Islam and Europe change is, so far as I can tell, scant but time will tell.

More to the point, I do not think we are neccessarily witnessing the last gasp of a defunct religion. I think we may be seeing an historic revival of Islam as a force of world political power, particularly but not only in Europe. That may prove a good thing or a bad thing but I am suspect about assertions that Islam is becoming defunct.

If anything, Islam appears to be on the march. For example, in Europe, such appears to be occurring by means of immigration, child-bearing and ideologically political coherence and unity. Which is to say, whether or not Islam becomes a majority in portions of Europe, Muslims will most certainly, if the more radical of them persist in their current tactics and average Muslims do not decide to align clearly and more uniformly with European sentiment, gain substantial political leverage to use within Europe and in Europe's relationship with the rest of the world.

And, needless to say, Islam also appears to be on the rise even in the most secular parts of the Muslim regions - and without, likely, having a majority -. Read this article from National Review by Middle East Quarterly editor Michael Rubin.

http://www.nationalreview.com/rubin/rubin200510190816.asp

Does this article foretell Islam on the decline? Or, is secularism on the retreat by means of religious revival, politics and bullying tactics?

Now, a more Islamic Muslim region, like a more Islamic Europe, may prove either a good or a bad thing. But it is surely a thing that is occurring. And that is not, so far as I can tell, a sign of decline.


N. Friedman - 10/20/2005

Lorraine,

No doubt you have in mind fearless leader Bush. But, to note, his idea - or that of his advisors - of how religion and politics mix are rather different from the traditional view taught to Muslims through the ages that, to put it simply, religion is politics and politics is religion - i.e., one and the same thing -.

Mr. Bush does not hold that view. His view - or, perhaps, the view of his advisors - is that the banishment of religion from the public square has had latent, undesirable aspects that ought to be corrected. And, further, he and his advisors tends to acquiesce in the demands of those who would push their theological view of, for example, abortion and prayer at the country. But, despite all of this, I do not think that anyone in the Bush administration merges politics with religion.





richard martens - 10/20/2005

Certain points within the article are essentially irrefutable such as how Islam spread. It was through military conquest.

I have never read any legitimate historian that says otherwise.

But the use of armies to spread Islam was similar to the spread of Christianity as the author does note.

The modern phenomena of violence is however evidence of the dying gasps of a defunct religion. Unless Islam undergoes a Reformation it will find itself on the dustheap of history.

The Muslims in Europe will become more Western and acceptancing of Western values including tolerance rather than follow the ranting of jihadist Saudis, Egyptians or others tied to Arab lands.
If there is hope for Islam it lies in the Muslims who have escaped the unyielding intolerance and racism inherent in all Muslim societies. If there is a Reformation I think it will begin in the West and find its way back to Muslim nations.

If there is no Reformation then Islam is essentially a dead duck - just like communism.


Lorraine Margaret Paul - 10/20/2005

"Note that in the West, politics and religion are not merged in the mindset of politicians or anyone else."

I must dispute this statement. More and more religion is being invoked by politicians to justify their actions. This is especially true of George W. His infamous 'if yu aren't with us you are against us' speech also contained the words....'and God is not neutral'.

I found this statement sacriligeous.


Omar Al-Sakka - 10/20/2005

This essay highlights many of the misconceptions that some may have of a system of belief such as Islam. Looking through the 7 points made by Dr. Furnish, one believes that most may be weak, irrelevant or simply misunderstandings of the faith.

1 - Some learned people may argue whether Islam may or may not be the fastest growing religion in the world, however this is not entirely in-line with Islamic views and values which focus on quality and sincerity of followers rather than quantity.

2 - Islam comes from the word salam or peace in Arabic, another meaning is surrender 'to the one and only God'. Muslims throughout the world greet each other with "Al-Salamu A'alaykom" which translates into May (The) Peace be upon you. The Quranic verses quoted are quoted entirely out of context, and without the appropriate commentary. The Quran is not a book to be read, rather a doctrine leading to enlightenment that should be lived, and absorbed, and is by Divine decree worded in a way to lead those whom are not ready for its impact astray and away from it.

3 - Jihad actually does mean holy war. Rather than think of war as one with guns and tanks, jihad means the sincerity in resolving issues be it internal or external by the will of god. The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said after the battle of Tabuk: 'We have returned from Jihad Asghar [lesser] to Jihad Akbar' [greater]. (That which is against ones self). This hadith is comparatively weak, however is greatly Islamic in it's virtues. Narrated Sahl bin Sad: The Prophet said, "A single endeavor in Allah's Cause in the afternoon and in the forenoon is better than the world and whatever is in it."

4 - Islam did spread comparatively peacefully. Most acquired land under the Islamic empire submitted to the will of the empire and as a consequence allowed to practice their faith as they had previously. The empire's growth of land mass may not have been as peaceful as knocking on doors, however no person was forced into Islam. Jews, and Christians would not have been allowed to co-exist with Muslims had Islam been spread by force. The suffering other belief systems may have may not allow the to co-exist (such as the Jews and Christians in Jerusalem 'the Christians asked for the Jews to be exiled'), however Islam does not have such prejudices.

5 - The Crusaders actually did attack the Islamic empire in Jerusalem. What comes into question here is the manner in which the crusaders fought, and their general morality. Islam has clearly set guidelines on how to deal with them. An Islamic scholar states "Islam advocates clemency with captives. History has never known warriors so merciful to their captives as the early Muslims who followed the teachings of their religion. Numerous religious texts demand clemency with captives.

6 - As you say 'Poverty may be necessary, but it is hardly sufficient, to explain Islamic terrorism'. In my humble opinion, this is a point very well made and should be explained to all those terrorizing the world today. My understanding is terrorism in Islam today is a result of what was discussed in point number 2.

7 - I believe that Tony Blair puts a fair point across. Islam has been hijacked by terrorists. Terrorists today have not only caused chaos in many parts of the word, however their agenda seems to be for destruction of all that is good, this especially seems to includes Islam.

My apologies for any suffering that may be apparent in my own writing, this is just a reaction to the suffering the author has and portrays in his, however God knows best. May these few comments that have been made reflect the truth of Islam and it's many virtues even if by only a glimmer.

Thank you.


E. Simon - 10/18/2005

I think his point #5 might have to do with granting amnesty preferentially to those, of course, deserving asylum! This means that while conditions might not be the best for just about anyone in Egypt unaffiliated with the government, religious minorities such as Copts might be especially prone to suffering general deprivations, and thus, more likely to seek and attain a visa on those grounds.


Peter August Kurilecz - 10/15/2005

I don't consider either source you provide to be very reliable, especially wikipedia which is notorious for easy editing by virtually anyone. I would rather see citations from solid well-respected historians offering objective viewpoints and facts


Tim Rhea Furnish - 10/13/2005

Mr. Rodriguez,
Bravo. Sometimes I do feel under siege--but hey, I'm a big boy and I know the repercussions of what I write.


Gonzalo Rodriguez - 10/13/2005

I agree with pretty much everything you've said here, though I would have chosen a slightly less self-satisfied and snobby way to put it. But in your attempt to draw equivalency between fundamentalist Christianity and Islam, I'd just like to point out a tiny little fact: while we on this site denigrate and sneer at Christian fundamentalists week after week, talking about their silly little superstitions such as Intelligent Design and the like, it's only the articles critical of fundamentalist Islam that draws out hordes of religiously inspired protests in the comments section, employing religious language and imagery and bordering on threatening the author. Just read the rest of the comments to this article and you'll see what I mean. Then go compare it to the reaction by Christian "radicals" to other articles on this site that scorn their religion. Am I the only one who sees a difference?

I believe that fundamentalism is fundamentalism, to be sure. But while it makes us feel sophisticated and intelligent to draw these comparisons, sometimes they simply don't add up. That's all I wanted to point out.


N. Friedman - 10/12/2005

Ahmed,

Regarding your points, numbered and repeated as you show them:

"1- Bin Laden and the ilk are not the represntatives of islam, at contrast,
some islamic scholars may consider him as apostate according to Haraba penalty in Sharia."

I would not take bin Laden as representative of Islam. I take him as representative of a movement within Islam which can cite to authority and appeal to traditional Islamic theology to justify their positions. Which is to say, they are not entirely outside of the tradition, although the notion of individual Jihad to extend the dar al-Islam is novel, since Jihad fi sabil Allah has traditionally been a project for the collective ummah and because bin Laden has not provided an invitation for us infidel to the virtues of Islam. Whether or not the penalty of Haraba applies is arguable, I suppose.

"2- Serbians commited the genocide of Bosnians on religious bases, and they didn't called chrestians."

I can only speak to how I use language, not how the papers use it. In the former Yugoslavia, about which I am definitely no expert, the dispute, as I understand it, was between Christians and Muslims even more than it was between people of different ethnicity so I would use the religious terminology most of the time.

On the other hand, I would call what occurred in that country terribly brutal but would not - although I would want to see the basis for your statement - call it genocide. Which is to say, there were terrible massacres and there was, so far as I know, ethnic cleansing but - and maybe I am mistaken about this - there was no campaign to kill off the entire Muslim population although there were concentration camps, if I recall correctly. Again, I might be mistaken as I have not studied the matter carefully. Whether or not there was genocide involved, the situation was pretty terrible, beyond words.

"3- The president of the biggest country- which should be responsible- called his war on terror a crusade."

The president used the word "crusades" but, in modern English, the word does not always - and, in fact, in political speech, basically never - carries a religious connotation. Note that in the West, politics and religion are not merged in the mindset of politicians or anyone else. Which is to say, the manner of thinking and expression in the West really is different than in the Muslim regions so the use of "crusades" has a different meaning when used by the President than you realize. Typically, a crusade refers to a campaign or fight conducted with great zeal.

"4- Israel is a religious state (not just Iran), and most westrens do not realize how much damage occured by establishing a zionists state on an arabian stolen land."

While I prefer not to address the Arab Israeli dispute as we shall no doubt disagree profoundly, I shall say the following:

Israel is not a religious state. That is a thorough misunderstanding about which there really are no two sides. It is the state of Jews who consider themselves a people. That is a very different thing from being a religious state. Jews envision themselves Jews the same way that Greeks consider themselves Greek.

Jews, in fact, do have their own religion, Judaism, but the people and the religion are not one and the same thing although it is possible for one to become a Jew and join the people. Unlike Islam and Christianity, conversion is not encouraged in Judaism and, in most branches of the religion, discouraged, as Judaism views other ways (e.g. Islam) as valid expressions of God's will. Jews who follow Judaism view Judaism as lighting a path toward monotheism and the law (which, for the Orthodox, is somewhat similar in significance to Sharia in Islam such that, like Islam, Orthodox Judaism is a "way of life" to which the Arabic term deen might apply) as the Jewish way of following God's commands for Jews, not for everyone. But, Judaism also includes universal moral values, most of which have been adopted by the later religions of Christianity and Islam. Judaism considers any religion which follows these more universal values to be a legitimate and completely valid faith.

People in the Arab regions tend to misperceive Israel and are not behaving according to the highest standards of universal rights - if Arabs wish to be extend universal rights as is the norm in the West, and not merely absorb non-Muslims according to a pact of concession (i.e. dhimma) -. I would suggest the following points for your consideration: (a) Jews moved to historic Palestine as was their moral right (i.e. the right of persecuted people to find refuge wherever such can be obtained, in this case having the permission of the land's ruler, first, the Ottoman Empire and, then, the British Empire); (b) the right to organize politically is also a basic human right, at least as Westerners understand the terms (with the political entity envisioned, even by the far right of the political spectrum of that time among Jews, with the existing Arab population); (c) the failure of the parties - in part, due to the machinations of the British directed toward maintaining British rule by means of the divide and conquer strategy - to work together set all involved on a collision course; and (d) the decision of the Arab side to attack Jews during the 1930's made that collision inevitable as the Jews had the moral right to defend themselves and to adjust their political plans in a manner which allowed them to defend themselves.

Note: I am not saying that the Arab side is without legitimate objections or rights. What I am saying is that, whatever the objections, if the parties were to live together - and, the Jewish people who migrated were basically innocent people merely looking to make a life as normal people -, the Arab side could not expect, as they did, to control the politics to the exclusion of others. I might add, the same sort of mistake was made by people in Lebanon which led to even more tragic results (i.e. 150,000 people killed in a civil war) than in Israel.

"5- an example of a discremenation i found in USA Embassy in Cairo: Chrestian egyptians have the most top periority to immigrate or even visit USA. I can mention more examples of how non-muslims act based faith, not only muslims."

I am not sure I follow your point. There is also substantial migration of Christians from Lebanon, from the PA (but not Israel), from Iran, from Pakistan, from Syria and other places in the Muslim regions.


Ahmed Said Sha'ban - 10/12/2005

N. Friedman...
Than you for replying on my question, i agree with you in some points, but:
1- Bin Laden and the ilk are not the represntatives of islam, at contrast,
some islamic scholars may consider him as apostate according to Haraba penalty in Sharia.
2- Serbians commited the genocide of Bosnians on religious bases, and they didn't called chrestians.
3- The president of the biggest country- which should be responsible- called his war on terror a crusade.
4- Israel is a religious state (not just Iran),
and most westrens do not realize how much damage occured by establishing a zionists state on an arabian stolen land.
5- an example of a discremenation i found in USA Embassy in Cairo: Chrestian egyptians have the most top periority to immigrate or even visit USA.
I can mention more examples of how non-muslims act based faith, not only muslims.

peace upon you


Ahmed Said Sha'ban - 10/12/2005

"So that's how you'd describe the European continent during the twelth century? Pray what sources gave you that?"

yes, and here is my resources:
http://atheism.about.com/od/crusades/a/crusades_4.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades

Sergio, i didn't intend to velify europe in this period of time, i'm just replying to you with well-known facts from history.

in my opinion, no nation have the right to be arrogant either in past or in nowdays. italian priminister once said something like west superior than islam.
Allah created us to be different from each other, and made us nations, to know each other and compete in a positive way. this kind of diversity enrichs the life.
if Allah wants us one nation with one religion, surely he's able to so so.

peace be upon you all


N. Friedman - 10/11/2005

glen,

You write: "I also wanted to make the point that today, having worked among both cultures over a long and difficult period, many remain blind to the views of those that have been subject to submissive status, to those who are blind it is considered a form of ‘protecting’ another of the book, but to the protected it viewed as eventual death."

Bat Ye'or calls what you describe "dhimmitude." She believes that the protective - protege - status is one of servitude, humiliation, oppression and represssion.

On this point - and using her metaphor "dhimmitude" which is, without being very careful, prone to become mere modern eyes looking backward -, she is rather correct. Then again, one needs to note that the expectation of people in such societies may have been rather low since tolerance played no serious role in those days in world history. Which is to say, one has to be careful to note that we could, to some extent, be projecting our own notions of descency onto times which had very different expectations.

Then again: what you witnessed is in our times. And, for our times, clearly proteges live a life of servitude, humiliation, oppression and represssion. And, the word "dhimmitude" is a perfect word for describing what you describe.


Sergio Ramirez - 10/11/2005

"there was no europian union or even no dominating religion, but tens of conflecting tribes and scarce living resources."

So that's how you'd describe the European continent during the twelth century? Pray what sources gave you that?


N. Friedman - 10/11/2005

Ahmed,

You write: "by the way, from where you get that hadith?"

I read it in a book about Islamic theology. I do not recall which one as I have read more books about Islam and Islamic theology than I can recall.

I note that the likely purpose of the hadith I quoted was to challenge the Sufis, not to advocate Jihad. Jihad was merely an assumed at the time the hadith likely arose.

You write: "with all respect to your sources; give me an example???"

If you mean an example of an apologist who admits that Islam spread by war, consider Reza Aslan and his book, No God But God. He treats the issue as, at the time of Islam's early spread: all religions were religions of the sword.

If you mean spreading Islamic rule by war, here is a quote I pulled off the internet, from a respected military history:

No one could have foreseen this staggering degree of military success, because for 300 years Arab armies were hardly armies at all. The early followers of Mohammed were desert tribes and clans called to the banner of the faith who fought in no organized formations. The idea of individual glory drove warriors to feats of great bravery, but at the same time made them impossible to organize as fighting units. For more than a century Arab soldiers fought with primitive weapons -- the personal sword, dagger, lance -- and wore no defensive armor or helmets. These conquering forces had no staff organization, no siegecraft capabilities, and no logistics trains. Tactics were almost nonexistent as these armies relied upon small hit-and-run raids, the razzias, and ambushes as their primary tactical maneuvers. Mobility was limited as most of the army moved on foot and fought as infantry accompanied by small contingents of camel cavalry. Even their size was small. The force that attacked and subdued Egypt (640-642) numbered no more than 4,000 men. But such corps of armed men could and did count on their numbers growing into the thousands as converts flocked to their cause along the line of march.

"A Transition of War, The Armies of Islam" at http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/gabrmetz/gabr0016.htm , which is from Chapter 4 ( A Short History of War - The Evolution of Warfare and Weapons by Richard A. Gabriel and Karen S. Metz, Strategic Studies Institute U.S. Army War College (Online version by Air War College) http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/gabrmetz/gabr0000.htm .

You quote a number of passages regarding peace in Islam. Such passages are real. However, they are not the only passages and, historically, they were, particularly during the period when Islamic theology became more crystalized, treated as abbrogated by later in time, more warlike, passages. Which is to say, a Muslim might and certainly can rely on the passages you cite but, historically, the bulk of Islamic thought took a somewhat different path on the issue.

You write: Why when discussing the acts of muslims, we say islam,
At the other hand we say british, frensh, russians, serbians, croatians, etc
AND NEVER SAY CHRESTIANS???


Well, I sometimes speak of Christiandom and/or Christians and/or Christian society and/or Christian civilization when I speak of Christian behavior and war and society. The usage really depends on the context, in my view.

I assume you have in mind today's time rather than five hundred years ago. And, in today's world, it makes more sense in most, but not all, contexts, to speak of the Western nations in nationalist, rather than religious terms. Or, more simply, the West is - even the US which is far more tolerant of religious expression than the other Western countries - basically a post-religious society with tolerance for individual religious belief. War instigated by Western countries is rather unlikely to be religious war. So, the religious label is not adequate in the context that likely raises your eybrow.

By contrast, bin Laden and his ilk speak of themselves as Muslims or, sometimes, as Arabs. They aim, if their rhetoric is to be believed, to restore the Caliphate, a term steeped in religion as the Caliph is considered the sucessor to the Prophet.

Moreover, the language employed by bin Laden and others who preach violence is the language of religion: they issue fatwas - not declarations - and they refer to the fighting as Jihad fi sabil Allah - not merely harb -, to the dar al-harb - not merely the enemy -, etc., etc. And they quote scripture to justify the fighting. And, evidently, they suspect that such language will appeal to those hearing their words. So, on the Arab/Muslim side of the divide, the langauge is one of religion and the war is for a religious purpose so the use of Islam, not Arab or Indonesian, appears more accurate.

I might add: the word "Arab" is probably not adequate in the context of the terror against the Western countries. After all, Christian Arabs have not joined in the fight advocated by bin Laden and the other Jihadists and Islamists. In fact, Christians have been fleeing from the Muslim countries by the millions, particularly as such countries have become more religious. Moreover, the terrorists who claim to be part of the Jihad have not been limited to any one nationality. Thus, those who attacked Madrid were of North African origin. Those who attacked London were of British origin. Those who attacked in Bali were Indonesian. etcetera.

Now note: I am not claiming that terrorism is exclusively an Islamic thing. That, quite obviously, is nonsense. However, terror in the name of Islam, from which discussion uses the word Muslims and Islam rather than Arabs or Indonesians, is more usefully labeled with religious, rather than nationalist terms. Hence, the use of Islamic and Muslim and the like rather than Arab, Syrian, Indonesian and the like.


Ahmed Said Sha'ban - 10/11/2005

N. Friedman...

"You might do well to quote the entire Hadith you employ"
It's not hadith quote, it's my words.
by the way, from where you get that hadith?

take a look to this page to see how islam deal with such topic:
http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/Q_LP/ch3s2p1.htm

The importance of marriage in islam:
http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/humanrelations/womeninislam/marriage.html

"Now, Islam is a lot of things but even its ardent apologists admit that Islam spread by war..."
with all respect to your sources; give me an example???

"...to bring the entire world under the influence of Islam..."
Allah says in quran:
"If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people: But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions." [16, 93]
and says:
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). " [49, 13]

"...And, as an occupier of other people's countries, the Muslims have been rather nasty, although no worse than the Europeans..."
i admit, muslims do bad things along the history.
but there's simple question i really need an answer for it:
Why when discussing the acts of muslims, we say islam,
At the other hand we say british, frensh, russians, serbians, croatians, etc
AND NEVER SAY CHRESTIANS???


peace be upon you all


Ahmed Said Sha'ban - 10/11/2005

"It was Europe's attempt to check Arab imperialism."

Sergio Ramirez...
loading things with more than it can bear will not work.
the causes of the crusades are very known, i can list it with relevant respectful resources.

in fact in this far ages, there was no europian union or even no dominating religion, but tens of conflecting tribes and scarce living resources.
while the east was living in welfare.

the situation looks like what's happening nowday:
africans try to migrate to europe in sake of better live. (but they migrate peacfully, without fighting like what happened in crusades)




Ahmed Said Sha'ban - 10/11/2005

paul eric collier:
I agree with you with the point that the extremists on all religion sides will lead us to more distruction and pain.
but, it's not the faith problem.
Islam never call for distruction (in fact quran consider killing one human without any right as if killing the entire human being)
Chrestianity never call for distruction
judiasm never call for distruction.

all these faiths from one merciful source, Allah (god).


Ahmed Said Sha'ban - 10/11/2005

"What do you think about Usama bin Laden?"
A Terrorist

"Is his use of terrorism (like the 9/11 attacks) supported by the teachings of the Koran?"
nope... but by his twisted mind that make him kill civilians not militants.

"Are you willing to condemn his actions as illegitimate and wrong?"
I SWEAR TO ALLAH I CONDEMN THESE BUNCH OF KILLERS ACTIONS !!!.
why you want us alone -as muslims- to feel guilty and responsable about these acts???
We all - especially USA and Israel- responsible for the appearance of These terrorism wave, and we all should work together to elimenate its danger.
throwing the responsability from one side to another will not solve the problem.

"Are you willing to call upon fellow Muslims who believe in and support what bin Laden is doing to stop doing "
there are about 1.3 billion muslims, 99.9% of them condem these actions.
i guess it is too much than the supporters percent of the war on afghanistan and iraq (and soon syria and iran),
also too much percent than the supporters of israel with its nukes and occupation of arab lands, right?.










glen loban - 10/11/2005

N. Friedman

Thank you for the reference, my reading load is extensive focusing on work done in the 1970s.

I have read a several excellent books on the Ottoman Empire, several not worth the effort, but little specifically related to your reference.

My post was intended to contrast the world we live in as opposed to those who use historical excuses for justification of acts committed under any faith. I firmly believe that the only way this world will live in peace is when moderate Muslims become the active majority, active being operative in cleaning their own malcontents. Until that day the struggle will be mainly British and American and I don’t see our economic situation being able to carry the load for much longer than a couple more years at the most.

I also wanted to make the point that today, having worked among both cultures over a long and difficult period, many remain blind to the views of those that have been subject to submissive status, to those who are blind it is considered a form of ‘protecting’ another of the book, but to the protected it viewed as eventual death.


N. Friedman - 10/11/2005

Oscar,

Your point is very well taken.

I think that Bernard Lewis makes a good point when he notes in his book, The Jews of Islam, that the notion of tolerance (i.e. the classical Muslim interpretation of their own history of ruling others) has no applicability to the period in which Islam conquered others as such notion was not part of any place on earth of that time. That is not a critique of Islam but of the then advancement of mankind generally.

Today, however, one can say that, on today's standards, the Islamic regions - there, no doubt, being some exceptions, so this is a generality only -, Islam is the basement when it comes to tolerance.

One other point: Islam did accept other religions but not all other religions. Pagans, nearly as a rule, were not given the right to live as pagans. They could convert or be killed. And, so far as I know, millions of pagans were massacred. Such is what happened in India in the early conquests.

Christians and Jews were subject to the jizha tax and the land tax. The jizha was paid under humiliating circumstances, pretty much universally. It is difficult to speak of these taxes without considering them as humiliating and debasing. But, as you note - and given the lack of tolerance in the world, generally speaking - life existed and people could practice their religion.

Then again, Bat Ye'or has a rather good point when she notes that somehow, Christianity and Judaism all but died out in Muslim regions of North Africa, Asia Minor, the Gulf region and Iran under circumstances that cannot be explained solely as people looking to advance themselves socially. Much of what occurred involved massacres, compulsion toward conversion and other such tactics, with conversion (for survivors) being the escape from oppression and repression.

Which is to say: what we see today as oppression and repressive in the Muslim regions was, in times past, the norm. While such may have been the way of the world at one time, that does not make such behavior any less oppressive or repressive.




N. Friedman - 10/11/2005

glen,

You might read what Vahakn Dadrian writes in his book The History of the Armenian Genocide -Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. On his telling, Islam is nominally tolerant but, in fact, devisive and terribly difficult for non-Muslims.

As for Christiandom... First, it is not fair to make a comparison of a society today with a different society in a different age. You might make a comparison of the same society over time or different societies at the same time. Looking at any given time, sometimes Islam was more tolerant than Christiandom and sometimes Christiandom was more tolerant. Today, clearly Christiandom is more tolerant and the Islamic regions, almost without exception, are terrible for non-Muslims.

Now, Christiandom today is the Christiandom of the post-WWII period. Pre-WWII through WWII, Christiandom was rather intolerant over the course of more than a millenium. So, I do not think that triumphalism is due.

What can be said is that the West is, at least for the moment, far more tolerant than Islam and better than any region of the world has ever been. Whether that tolerance has legs remains to be seen. The amount of time involved is too short to judge.


N. Friedman - 10/11/2005

Ahmed,

You write: "There's no monasticism in islam..."

You might do well to quote the entire Hadith you employ. The entire quote is: "There is no monasticism in Islam; the monasticism of Islam is the holy war [Jihad fi sabil Allah]."

Now, Islam is a lot of things but even its ardent apologists admit that Islam spread by war. Reza Aslam in his book No God But God says, in response to the common assertion, that Islam was, in its early stage, a religion of war that created an empire of conquest but - and he emphasizes this point - all religions of the time were religions of war.

Then, he says in response to the classical Jihad doctrine (i.e. the doctrine which made war a collective obligation of the Muslim community to bring the entire world under the influence of Islam), that such doctrine was a reaction to the crusades - although he overlooks the fact that the classical doctrine of making holy war existed a couple of centuries before the crusades -. Then, he claims that during the period when the Islamic regions were conquered by the Europeans that a peaceful - true - Islam emerged. That peaceful period, which began in the 19th Century, seems to be under challenged, according to Aslan, today by the Wahhabis and Salafists, etc.

Which is to say, even an ardent supporter of Islam admits the religion spread by war and has tended to make a lot of war.

Now, I think Professor Furnish has the matter just about right. Islam has some war very like tendencies which find their support in the Qu'ran, Hadith, etc. Such is not a complete description of Islam and, in fact, Islam is a great faith, very much like Judaism in form and content for living everyday life and very much like Christianity in the notion of evangelism.

Now, in the sense you likely have in mind - as a way of life (i.e. a deen), Islam is a religion of peace for Muslims and a source of brotherhood. But, as the Muslims have, historically, related to the world, it has been, except when it could not do so due to the occupying force of the Europeans, a religion of war. And, as an occupier of other people's countries, the Muslims have been rather nasty, although no worse than the Europeans.


glen loban - 10/10/2005

If Americans are so intolerant of Islam why are so many Muslims moving to America?

If Islam is so tolerant why is that throughout the Islamic world, Islam forbids building worship temples of any other religion?

Why is that virtually all non-Islamic religious followers, living within the Islamic world, live in a near to full state of terror?

When it comes to practice, not what is written in a book, there is no other more tolerant religion than Christianity. What occurred centuries ago is irrelevant to the current debate, what was written is much less important that what is practiced. While some may treat Muslims with distrust or even contempt, it remains against the law to cause harm and unlike an Islamic country, a Christian can be executed for killing a Muslim,,,, that can't happen it the rolls are revised throughout the Islamic world, accordind to Islamic law.

I have lived and worked in both worlds and the difference is one of darkness to one of sunlight.


Gary D. Williams - 10/10/2005

This mans opinions start out sounding reasonable, but his bias becomes quite clear in the last several points he makes. And I strongly suspect that his particular ordering of his "myths" is done quite deliberately. It is a technique of deceit that one sees quite often from another Muslim hater we hear from often. But if one reads closely, both men actually refute themselves, and as I've said before, if you find yourself having to more and more depend on deceit and outright lies to make your point, then it is time to consider switching your view*.

For example, he begins to cross the line on the fifth where he makes the point that the Crusaders never started the Crusades. He suggests they are actually just responding to an invasion of the Holy Lands. True. But I'm sure it is hoped that one doesn't remember that this invasion took place several hundred years before. Certainly he isn't going to remind you. Nor the fact that since that time, Christians, Muslims and other religious groups have been living peacefully side by side. Well, as peacefully as one can expect members of the Abrahamic faiths to live. I realize that isn't saying much, but......

In 6, he becomes a more bold and his true colors are revealed (now that he has hopefully edged his way into your trust with his relatively rational start). He takes the case of the Brit bombers and attempts to equate their economic and educational status with those of the Palestinians. A demonstrable lie. In any case, he attempts to make the point that "Another fairy tale about Islam is that poverty produces terrorists" in a paragraph that concludes with the sentence, "Poverty may be necessary, but it is hardly sufficient, to explain Islamic terrorism.". Uh-hmmm..... Does he really think that those persons who have said that 'poverty breeds terrorism' mean it exclusively? Surely not, and so one is left with the conclusion that he is being deceitful.

And finally, number 7, where he tries to make the point that it's a myth that Islam isn't being "hijacked" by extremists. I'm surprised he even tried this one, certainly in the manner he did because again, he defeats his own argument. For instance, he says, "..... many do support Bin Ladin and his ilk. Also, Islamic history is replete with Muslim scholars whom the modern Islamic fundamentalists draw upon. The most famous is Ibn Taymiyah who, 700 years before George Bush said “you’re either for us or against us,” divided the world into the domain of Islam and that of war. The only good ruler is a Muslim ruler, asserted Ibn Taymiyah. And by that he meant one that enforces shari`ah, or Islamic law. Most Muslims do not agree, but some do. (And only 10 percent of 1.3 billion is 130 million.) But it is no use pretending that the UBLs of the world have falsely “hijacked” Islam. Indeed, their view of the faith—however intolerant and violent it may seem—has a basis in Islamic theology and history."
end quote

Indeed, the same can be said of extremists whatever their faith or even ideology. His last sentence amounts to a non sequitor. In any case, one can see his attempt to sleaze the reader by taking the 10% that he has to admit to and "expanding" it mentally as "130 million". To take a chapter from his page, I'll express the number of Muslims who disagree with his 10% as 1 billion, one hundred and seventy million, or 1,170,000,000 (be sure to count those zero's!)


Gary

* Of course "change" and "conservatism" are fundamentally opposed to each other, hence Neanderthals like Pat Robertson, John Ashcroft, et al

Mycos


mark safranski - 10/10/2005

Nur and Omar,

Your attempts to rebut Dr. Furnish might be more impressive if your arguments relied upon a few facts ( well..any facts) rather than vehement assertion and an overuse of capitalization for emphasis.

The idea that a person could have a PhD. in Islamic history and not have read the Quran is absurd. For that matter, I'm not aware of anyone in that field without the requisite basic language skills.

And since I'm pretty sure neither of you know Dr. Furnish or much about the man's work, your accusations amount to so much drivel.


Oscar Chamberlain - 10/10/2005

I had always taken the claim that Islam spread peaceably not to indicate the lack of conquests but that, generally, the peoples conquered were not forced to become Muslim.

Cerainly, after the fact, conquered people could gain more privileges by converting--merchants may well have felt coerced. But the majority was not required to repudiate their old religion and could still worship quietly.

What I would love to see is--and maybe someone has done this--are comparative studies on conquest and conversion by scholars who have no axe to grind.


Sergio Ramirez - 10/10/2005

I hardly think the Crusades can be responsibly undrestood as clash of primitive faiths. It was Europe's attempt to check Arab imperialism.


paul eric collier - 10/10/2005

I consider myself progressive and better-informed than the average American (for what that's worth) and none of Mr. Furnish's 7 myths about Islam came as any surprise to me. The most significant thing about all this, I believe, is how it underscores the net intolerance, belligerence and destructive effect of virulent religious faith on the world. The West, with its more liberal tradition, led the way out of the theocratic Dark Age of the pre-Enlightenment. The Islamic world still lags centuries behind. But now, suddenly, in the United States, a movement is gaining ground that embraces its own version of the regressive wahhabism of radical Islam. This movement is, of course, radical Christian. Little by little, this clash of primitive faiths is turning into world religious war--just as it did in the era of the Crusades.


Tony Luke - 10/10/2005

What do you think about Usama bin Laden? Is his use of terrorism (like the 9/11 attacks) supported by the teachings of the Koran? Are you willing to condemn his actions as illegitimate and wrong? Are you willing to call upon fellow Muslims who believe in and support what bin Laden is doing to stop doing so?


Ahmed Said Sha'ban - 10/10/2005

"First, it is untrue that Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion."

you come and say that chrestianity is bigger than islam (and any other religion), so chrestianity is most growing faith.
also you say "thanks to explosive growth in sub-Saharan Africa and China."
I'll mention some points in yur talks:
1- Certainly, a religion being the biggest doesn't imply it's the fastest growing one.
2- Where're your respectable un-biased resources? from where you get these statistics?
3- did you counted the people who have no religion? tell me honestly, from hundereds of millions on europe and usa how many consider themselves chrestians?
4- how many billions of dollars spent on missionaries and alikes that take advantegs of the people living in poverty and ignorance in africa and asia?
5- try to make a quick comparison about who convert to chrestianity (mostly poor people in africa- Pope once said: africa is the only remain hope for Christianity) and who convert to islam (the very highly educated people in eroupe and america). and this fact is a nightmare to some anti-islamists.
please, read this:
http://www.islamamerica.org/articles.cfm/article_id/20/
Dr. Murad Wilfried Hofmann:
http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery;jsessionid=1aqfp0g8ivf4?tname=murad-wilfried-hofmann&method=8&sbid=lc05a
http://www.geocities.com/embracing_islam/islam_in_the_west.html
Famous converters to islam:
http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/printthread.php?t=608
http://www.adherents.com/largecom/famconv_islam.html

"Second, despite the claims of even President Bush in a number of public statements, Islam is not solely a “religion of peace."
"Third on the misinformation parade is the allegation that jihad does not mean holy war"

EXCUSEME SIR; now you come and try to infer and explain the quran versus without being qualified to do so.
What do you know about Arabic Language? Tafsir? Tawheed? Hadeeth? History? ...etc?
you should all these fields to even speak about that topic.
you take versus from its contexts to support your point.
Islam is a faith of power and honor.
Islam is a faith of life.
Islam is not only a set of spiritual believes, Islam builds a civilization, it's normal to talk about the real life needs and facts.
There's no monasticism in islam, quran told muslims not to hide or avoid the life and society, but rather involve in everyday life.
http://www.submission.org/terrorism.html


"Fourth is the whopper that Islam spread peacefully from Arabia"
Islam indeed spreaded peacfully all over the world...> PLEASE READ THE HISTORY

"The fifth tiresome myth is that the European Catholic Crusaders started the war with Islam"

Do you know about anything in history? or geography? or just twisting facts?
I'll ask just one question: where on the map the war tookplace???!!!
you try to say something like: Iraq invaded USA, see? how much twisting you do?

"Another fairy tale about Islam is that poverty produces terrorists."
"And finally, we have politically-correct mendacity number seven, which even British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently repeated: that Islam has been “hijacked” by terrorists."

you say: "Another fairy tale about Islam:
and then say: "poverty produces terrorists."
I admit i didn't get your point,,,
current terrorism wave is very known and there are tens of academic studies about this phenomena and its causes and how to deal with it,
surly povery is not the only cause.
please, Read this interview between Associate Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago, author of "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism", and Scott McConnell:
http://www.amconmag.com/2005_07_18/article.html


I'm a muslim, i'm proud of that, also i have a strong feeling of my faith.
but i'm also so astonished of the very huge and gigantic attacks on islam,
every one talk about islam as if he/she talk about a football match- no matter he/she know anything about islam at first place.

May Allah mercy us all


nur islam - 10/10/2005

It's scary to think that even a person with a Ph.d in Islamic History can get things so twisted. It just shines the theory of self-fulfilling prophecy, you'll only see what you want to see. But I recommend this reading to all Muslims, it could be useful in making us aware of how arguments could be placed against us and improve da'wa inshaAllah.


Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 10/10/2005

"First, it is untrue that Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion"

Yes, that is a myth. But I am not so sure christian numbers reach 2 billion, nor that there is rapid growth of christians in China. It will be interesting to read the literature backing up those affirmations.

""Second, despite the claims of even President Bush in a number of public statements, Islam is not solely a “religion of peace.”"

I agree here. Islam is not very different to the other monoteistic religions. They have a mixed message and a violent history.

"Third on the misinformation parade is the allegation that jihad does not mean holy war."

Furnish did not demostrate that this is a falsehood. First cause Jihad more important meanning is related to a self struggle the believer holds to be a better muslim. Islam does indeed means also war, but usually defensive war (even the terrorists believe they are on a defensive war against western agresors, or at least pretend so).

"Fourth is the whopper that Islam spread peacefully from Arabia"

Intitally, yes, Islam spread in a more or less peacefull way, an later became agressive an imperialistic.

"The fifth tiresome myth is that the European Catholic Crusaders started the war with Islam"

Between islamic invasions of western Europe and the crusades there are 3 centuries. So it may be the case that the Islam attacked christians first, but never that Islam started the crusades (which is what the supposed myth really says).

"Another fairy tale about Islam is that poverty produces terrorists."

The author refutation of this "myth" is not convincing. Yes, 9/11 attackers were college educated persons and Bin Laden is a millionaire, but that hardly covers most of the terrorists (What about the suicide bombers in Iraq or Palestine). Of course to say that poverty produces terrorism in Islamic countries is simplistic claim. But certainly the poor economic situation is a factor that cannot be dismised out of hand.

"And finally, we have politically-correct mendacity number seven, which even British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently repeated: that Islam has been “hijacked” by terrorists.n this view Bin Ladin, the ayatollahs in Iran, the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the Saudis with their Wahhabism (a particularly puritanical brand of Sunni Islam)—all are twisting a “moderate” religion to suit their purpose"

You don´t have to think that Islam is a moderate religion, to think that anyways the extremist view of fundamentalists and terrorists is a minority hardly representative of what the mayority of muslims think and believe. And yes, fundamentalism has basis on Islamic theology and history, as Christian fundamentalism - the one that almost governs the US, at least in the executive branch and more than half of the legislative branch- has basis on christian tehology and history. Big deal.

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