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formidable weapon against errors of any kind is reason"
A Dialog On Islamic Beliefs
This website has had posted a poll question relating to Islamic beliefs and
recently also posted an essay by 'A Rational Advocate' whose content was related
to that subject matter. The following is an email dialog that developed from the
initial comments made by a visitor whom shall be called Ms X. The
commentary provides an interesting insight to the rationale of some non-Muslims
relating to the subject matter.
Is it true that a Muslim who believes in the Koran must support converting
or eliminating non-believers?
Most of your visitors are saying "yes," and this is wrong. Christians
and Jews have a special status as "People of the Book" in Islam. Muslims
revere both Jesus and Mary. Jews were not treated equally in Muslim lands,
but in general, far better than they were in Europe. And the Christian
world has done far more invading and killing in Muslim countries, even in the
last 50 years, than have ever happened in reverse.
The Quaran has some passages, according to you, that suggest otherwise,
perhaps that the "infidels" should be killed? Please provide
Even if you can find a few (and I wonder where they are, as I have read the
entire Quaran and I didn't see them), it takes some nerve for a Christian or a
Jew to criticize the Quaran on this point. The Bible is FULL of violence,
xenophobia and intolerance, far more so by any objective standard.
If you don't make assumptions, but rather study the religious books as
objectively as possible, I think you will be surprised at what you find.
By the way, I am a Christian who works side-by-side with Jews in a Jewish peace
group. My opinion should be biased in FAVOR of Judeo-Christian beliefs,
but I don't like to see such widespread ignorance about Islam.
Response from A Rational Advocate:
Thank you much for visiting www.arationaladvocate.com
The first point I must make is that the essay and poll on
which you have chosen to comment is not related to the Christian or Jewish
religions. In themselves, those religions certainly are open for much
criticism for abhorrent practices over the years and centuries. However,
as I read your critique it is primarily relating to the aspects of the Islamic
religion reflected on my website. In that regard, I believe you make
reference to comments I make in my essay
Will Al Qaeda Terrorism Go Away By Itself?
In that essay I provide the following paragraph:
"For those who again
need reminding of the cause behind all these acts of terrorism let me explain what
should be obvious. The foundation for this terrorism goes all the way back
to the seventh century with Muhammad, and the Koran he is attributed to have
written. The Islamic religion is based upon the evolution of
interpretations of the Koran by various sects over the years, many of which were
used to gain power but all taking as their basic tenet those religious laws
contained in the Koran for use as civil laws. This has not allowed for the
separation of religious law from government law and, by its nature, freedom to
follow or not follow the religion is impossible for people living under Islamic
governments. There are also tenets in the Koran that can be easily
interpreted to convey to followers that those not willing to convert to the
Islamic religion are Infidels and can be eliminated. Those doing such
interpretations are called fundamentalists."
Please note that in
the last two sentences I speak about interpretation of verses in the Koran
(known also by the Quran and possibly other translated titles) by those that
make those interpretations, who can be Clerics or Islamics who may have ulterior
motives to do so. I am sure you are aware of the many Fatwahs that have
been made over the centuries including one made by Osama bin Laden just before
9/11, and he is not even a Cleric. I also have read the entire Quran and
have found much that could be interpreted to suit one's own fancy.
Why would there be the various sects such as the Sunni's, Shiites and Wahabies
if different interpretations didn't exist? You must also be aware that the
Wahabies of Saudi Arabia have largely supported the actions of bin Laden and the
bombings of 9/11 by Islamic terrorists, who also were Saudi's. In essence
that is support for the elimination of Infidels. How can it be seen as
You ask for some samples of references in the Quran
that could possibly be interpreted as advocating the conversion or elimination
of Infidels. They follow:
8.12 through 8.17 in "The
Accessions" especially 8.17 "So you did not slay them, but it was Allah Who slew
them, and you did not smite when you smote (the enemy), but it was Allah Who
smote, and that He might confer upon the believers a good gift from Himself;
surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing."
9. "The Immunity" virtually the
complete Chapter, especially 9.5 "So when the sacred months have passed away,
then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and
besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and
keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah
is Forgiving, Merciful"
84.20 through 84.25 in "The Rending
69. "The Inevitable" virtually the complete
If you still believe I am spreading ignorance there is
obviously nothing I can do to convince you to change your
Thanks again for your comments and your visit to my
website. Response from Ms X:
you for your thoughtful reply. As for your examples, first 'idolators' do
not include Jews and Christians, who Muslims refer to as "People of the Book."
They believe Judaism and Christianity are true religions, early revelations of
Islam. They simply believe Islam is the continuation and purification of
the scriptures. So, no, I don't think Islam encourages people to kill
Christians and Jews. I do agree that some fanatics in all religions call
for wars against all others---this is not unique to Islam.
"Islamic terrorists," I wonder why Christians and Jews who commit terrorist acts
are NEVER, EVER referred to as "Christian terrorists" or "Jewish terrorists." In
fact, three are rarely seen as "terrorists" at all, even if their behavior fits
any rational and objective definition of terrorism.
Are you aware
that the CIA report on Global Terrorism stated that there were 191 terrorist
attacks directed at the US from mostly 'Christian" Latin America, which there
were only 8 from the Middle East? That's our very own CIA reporting--look
it up for yourself by searching "Patterns of Global Terrorism." So why is
all the focus (even prior to 9-11) on only "Islamic" terror?
no one can compete with the so-called "Christian" West for death and destruction
over the last century. Just because we choose not to define this as
terrorism doesn't mean it could not be defined that way for someone whose agenda
was not as skewed as our own. Who was it who perpetrated the Holocaust
anyway? And Vietnam? The examples are endless and the death and
destruction left in the wake of such behavior would leave the likes of Bin Laden
So I am not denying that Islam has an ugly side, not that
there are many extremist followers who are fomenting hatred. But what
about the very hateful Hindutva? What about the "Hindu" Tamil Tighers, who
actually hold the world's record for suicide bombing? Where are the public
condemnations of them? Where are the people searching through the Hindu
scriptures, searching for a justification? What about the extremist
Zionists shouting "Death to the Arabs"? What about the so-called
"Christians" who are starving millions of helpless victims to death in Iraq, to
punish them for a dictator we put in place and supported? These positions
and their manifestations are ignored by too many people in this country
If I want to go back to the Bible and find reasons why our
own culture is decadent, materialistic, and violent, I'm sure I will find
some. And I would wager I could site a far larger number of such
"examples" of racism, xenophobia, intolerance, and violence from the Bible than
you will ever going to find in the Koran. I have not documented these
(unfortunately), but I have seen far more of such references in the Bible
Still, I am a Christian, love my religion, and always
will. I know people will do hideous things in the name of Christ and it
makes me sick. But at least the people won't shine a constant light on the
ugliest elements of my religion and try to paint a picture that creates
animosity and hatred toward us Christians, as I think sites like yours do
Finally, I recognize those were poll results and
not directly created by your site. My point was that I think you and
others like you contribute to such results and intentionally try to create
animosity toward Islam. In that sense, I see counterparts in the
extremists from the Muslim world. They share the goal of mutual
hatred. Response from A Rational Advocate:
I appreciate your thoughtful attempt to justify your views. As I said
in my email to you, "the essay and poll on which you have chosen to comment is
not related to the Christian or Jewish religions. In themselves, those
religions certainly are open for much criticism for abhorrent practices over the
years and centuries." You appear to want to justify the attacks of
Muslim terrorists by equating them to attacks by Jews and Christians that could
be considered as defensive as, I am sure, you consider similarly in regard to
the attacks by the Muslims. If you do consider these attacks by Jews and
Christians wrong, is your apparent view regarding the Muslim attacks making two
wrongs a right? This also applies to the other activist groups and events
you use as examples of committing wrongful acts. Further, it seems to me
you have disregarded the position of a very large number of fundamentalist
Muslims such as the Wahabies in supporting the attacks on the U.S. in 9/11 (of
the 8 terrorist acts you mention it certainly must be considered major - four
acts within one). Wahabies are fundamentalists, ardent followers of
the Quran. These are not a few fanatics.
first paragraph, you make a statement 'idolators' do not include Jews and
Christians, who Muslims refer to as "People of the Book." They believe Judaism
and Christianity are true religions, early revelations of Islam. They
simply believe Islam is the continuation and purification of the
scriptures'. This is the opinion you and others may hold - but - there are
many other Muslims that think otherwise; just as, there are those Muslims who
have different interpretations of the Quran such as the Sunni's, Shiites and
Wahabies. You must agree that your view of the Islamic religion is one
that does not follow that of the fundamentalists. You appear to want to
make Muslims a homogeneous single group which they are not, just as the
Christians and the Jews who live in all parts of the world are
Perhaps one should look at the Quran in light of what I
believe freedom-loving people find intolerable. As one who has read it you
must recognize that it does not allow for religious or civil freedom. Its
content clearly states the laws that a society must follow both in religious and
civil matters. Therefore, those desiring to follow the tenets of the Quran
in a democratic society must temper those relating to civil matters and accede
to the freedom of religious expression. I wonder to what degree you could
freely express your religion in Saudi Arabia? There is no doubt in my mind
that the mid-east must begin to modernize, as other religions have done over the
years and centuries to allow for a freer democratic form of government. In
the mid-east, it is only Turkey that has such a
Finally, on my website I simply try to state the truth
that is in my mind obvious.
Response from Ms
I don't want to "justify" anyone's terror attacks. Killing of
innocents is killing of innocents, whatever the justification or the name.
It is appalling and there is no excuse. What I think is wrong is that
others justify certain terror, as long as it's NOT in the name of Islam.
There is no reason to single out one or the other as "preferred" terror.
Murdering innocent Israelis on a bus is vile and evil, and so is bombing women
and children huddled in a shelter in Iraq. This is terror, but only the
first is rightly condemned.
I have become somewhat resentful of
people saying anyone who doesn't agree with them is justifying terror or siding
with terrorists. We can have different opinions and still BOTH condemn
terror, as any decent, sane human being should.
In any case,
perhaps you are right that Islam needs a major reformation. Judaism and
Christianity have adapted to the modern world. But I don't hear much about
"reformation." Just mostly animosity toward Muslims today and an
unwillingness to acknowledge anything good about that religion.
If the whole world focuses on the dark side of Islam and stimulates
sufficient hatred toward the Muslims, what will be the accomplishment? I
think that's where we are headed and I don't see that as a way to encourage
In any case, your first sentence of the last letter seemed
a bit insincere...maybe a little sarcastic. But email is also misleading,
so I don't know. But I was not just saying I appreciated your thoughtful
reply as a formality. I meant it. So rarely do I get a reply,
especially one that seems sincere. I like to have a dialogue with someone,
who is civil and intelligent, even if we disagree.
Response from A Rational Advocate:
I am sorry that you feel the first sentence of my least email was insincere
or sarcastic. It was not. I would not be responding to you with what
I consider my thoughtful views if I did not consider yours thoughtful. It
would otherwise be a waste of time.
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There is not much to disagree
with in your response except for your feeling that the feeling of hatred towards
Islam is widespread among the American people. There is no doubt that there are
those elements who may feel hatred towards Islam as there are those who may feel
hatred towards Jews and/or Christians. My observations are that
those unthinking biased elements who may express hatred are existent in all
societies and balance out on one side or the other. Hatred is evil
regardless of the source it is derived from and its target. I hope you are
not confusing thoughtful reasoned commentary with hatred. Your first email
gave me that feeling despite the fact that your subsequent comments provided
more measured rationale.
In regards to modernization and
reformation of the Islamic religion it sometimes takes forceful action to
initiate the process and movement towards that end. I sincerely believe
that the action by the U.S. to change the regime in Iraq will establish the
foundation for such modernization and that was its intention regardless of the
rhetoric that was expressed in the U.N.
The Islamic religion is
widespread and is the fastest growing in the world. It is foolish for
anyone to believe that it can be eliminated any more than can be done with any
other religion. Religion lies in the beliefs of people. The best way
to modernize and reform the Islamic religion is to have it exist side by side
equally with other religions, including secularism, in a democratic
Thank you for your interest and comments. I
appreciated having the opportunity to respond to the challenge of opposing
views. In the end they were not that opposing.
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