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Is Islam truly peaceful?

By MSBob in Op-Ed
Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 01:54:00 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

These days a lot of emphasis in the western media is put on the fact that the American war is directed at terrorists who happen to be Islamic fundamentalists and not Islam itself.

Well, I think now is time to drop the shackles of political correctness and look at the facts. Islam has become an aggressive and militaristic movement often filled with fanaticism and aimed at destroying everyone who refuses to blindly follow its doctrines. There is a reason behind this and it can be found in the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

Islam is effectively more than a religion. Islam the religion is completely inseparable from Islam the political movement. This fact alone prevented virtually all Muslim countries from becoming comfortable, equitable places for people to live in. Virtually all Islamic countries are either run by outright religious fanatics or at least their day to day politics are heavily influenced by the book of Quran. We must ask ourselves why is it that Islamic states that are so heavily influenced by religion and not the Christian or Buddhist ones. The answer lies in Quran and Hadith itself. Quran makes it clear that Muhammad himself was a conqueror and a politician. Mohammed was once asked: what is the best deed for the Muslim next to believing in Allah and His Apostle? His answer to that was :
" To participate in Jihad in Allah's cause. " --Al Bukhari vrol 1:25.
Even more disturbing is some of the blatant endorsement of violence in Islamic religion:
"I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, none has the right to be worshipped but Allah." --Al Bukhari vol 4:196.
"The person who participates in (Holy Battles) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him do so except belief in Allah and His Apostle, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed). --Al Bukhari vol 1:35
This can go on. The notion that Jihad means some abstract activity that is not violence related sound like candy-coating in the light of some of Quran's nastier verses. Jihad sounds like it's actually about the holy war against the Jews and Christians that an abstract "struggle". Mohammed himself tells us what must happen to other religions:
"Fight People of the Book (Christians and Jews), who do not accept the religion of the truth (Islam), until they pay tribute (penalty tax) by hand, being inferior." Surah 9:29.
And for some more calling for religious tolerance right out of the holy book let's look at this passage:
"Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number." Quran 5:51
A small digression is in order here. Being an atheist I don't have any Christian agenda behind writing this. In fact I'd much rather everyone ditch their deities and recognise how full of logical fallacies all religions are and not just Islam.

Back to debunking the politically correct talk about religious purity of Quran. Far from being simply the code of ethics, Quran dictates how most of social and political life must be conducted in a Muslim society. No one should be surprised to find out that inequality of sexes so often encountered in Muslim societies is sanctioned by Quran itself:

"Men have a degree of advantage over women." 2:228
Quran is spiked with rules and teachings dictating who can and who cannot govern in a Muslim society. It regulates things such as inheritance laws and even imposes its view on such intimate things as people's sexual lives. Passages where Quran openly advocates repression of women are plenty and you'll have no trouble finding them. One web page that describes the origin of Islam's atrocities against women can be found here. For the purpose of my argument it is enough that one acknowledges that Quran does not treat the two sexes as equal.

The net result of Islam being so particular about all facets of human life is that it provides an excellent foundation for those in power wanting to justify oppressive systems through means of religious purity. Taliban is just the latest example but all of the readers have heard about Saddam Hussain and his brutality or Ayatullah Khomeini and his fundamentalism.

There are passages in Quran that can be used to justify all kinds of attrocities in the name of God at ones convinience. This one could well have been preached to the perpetratos of the Sept 11 crimes:

"strike terror into the hearts of the enemies" Surah 8:60
Denying the above, and presenting Islam to outsiders as a religion of peace similar to Buddhism, is to suppress the truth. The history of Islam between the 7th and 14th centuries is riddled with violence, fratricide and wars of aggression, starting right from the death of the prophet and during the so-called 'pure' or orthodox caliphate. And Mohammed himself hoisted the standard of killing, looting, massacres and bloodshed.

When the prophet was in Mecca and he was still not powerful enough he called for tolerance. He said

"To you be your religion, and to me my religion" Surah 109:6
This famous quote is often used to prove that the general principle of Quran is tolerance. He advised his follower to speak good to their enemies, exhorted them to be patient and said that
"there is no compulsion in religion" Surah 2:256
But that all changed drastically when he came to power. Then killing and slaying of unbelievers with harshness and without mercy was justified in innumerable verses. The verses quoted to prove Islam's tolerance ignore many other verses that bear no trace of tolerance or forgiveness. Where is tolerance in this well-known verse "The Earth belongs to Allah and thus only Allah's rule should prevail all over the earth"?

I won't try to make claims that Islam is more violent than other creeds although the more I learn about it the more it looks that way. I think we must ask ourselves why it is Islam specifically that has more than its fair share of fanatics, terrorists and oppressive dictators. What I'm calling for is for the Muslim world to wake up and take notice of the fact that Islam is not only a religion but also a highly political and sometimes a very fanatical movement which has eradication of all non-believers at its core and even Christianity which bears the stain of crusades does not use such violent rhetoric in its holy books. At least its main figures are not currently encouraging aggression amongst the followers. Of course neither religion is nearly as peaceful as the teachings of Buddhism or my personal favourite: plain secular, preferably atheist :) tolerance.


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Most violent prophet
o Mohammed 21%
o Moses 21%
o Jesus 10%
o Buddha 5%
o Inoshiro 41%

Votes: 78
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o here
o Also by MSBob

Display: Sort:
Is Islam truly peaceful? | 97 comments (69 topical, 28 editorial, 1 hidden)
+1 FP (2.76 / 13) (#1)
by Kashie on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 09:39:57 PM EST

This should generate some interesting discussion. :)

How about this (2.73 / 19) (#2)
by Zeram on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 09:52:40 PM EST

go find a Sufi and ask him what he thinks of violence. Meanwhile take your FUD and leave me in peace.
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
All you people dogging me... (none / 0) (#36)
by Zeram on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 07:57:16 AM EST

care to explain why exactly I'm getting 1's and 0's for this comment?
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Low Ratings (none / 0) (#80)
by PresJPolk on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 02:17:02 PM EST

Calling something FUD when he backs it up with quotes is suspect.

Why don't you counter with some of your own?

[ Parent ]
fundamentalist interpretations (3.62 / 8) (#3)
by dr k on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 09:54:51 PM EST

All you have done is pointed out that a fundamentalist interpretation of the Quran can be twisted to violent ends. And, like the television evangelists who preach fire and brimstone, you are making your interpretations from an English translation of an ancient text. It really isn't a very interesting position to take, or debate.

Destroy all trusted users!

Disturbing verses (4.00 / 4) (#4)
by MSBob on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 10:00:13 PM EST

Yes. Religious books have been interpreted as all kinds of things. Sometimes even as evidence of close encounters of the third kind.

Yet Quran seems to be filled with some very explicit rhethoric which is not only violent but also aimed at specific, "competing" religions: Christianity and Judaism. I find this singling out very disturbing and suspect atheists were not on Muhammad list of favourites either.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
religions (2.00 / 3) (#8)
by dr k on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 10:15:27 PM EST

Most religions are competitive by design. And they all have very violent histories. To single out one as being more predatory is to be ignorant of history.
Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]
I'm only asking (4.20 / 5) (#9)
by MSBob on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 10:19:39 PM EST

Well, I'm not singling out Islam. However, in the light of what happened on the 11th of September aren't we at least allowed to ask questions like these? Has political correctness removed the right to an open discussion between two sides that may have drastically opposing views on the world?
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Fundamentalist? How about Correct? (4.66 / 3) (#27)
by wnight on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:47:39 AM EST

Those holy books are the closest things you have to the divine and infalible word of god. How can you possibly justify leafing through what god (through his messenger) said and picking and choosing? How can you be so insufferably arrogant as to believe yourself to be capable of saying what the supreme being really meant when he said "KILL THEM IN MY NAME."

I am being a little silly here, because I know you didn't specifically say that, and I'm an Athiest anyways, but...

Really, if you believe in a god, and believe he influenced a holy book in any way, then you should (imho) sit there and agonize over every word. Unless he's burning bushes in your area it's the closest to the supreme being that you'll ever get. If he says to paint yourself blue and dance naked, shouldn't you do it?

To me, anything else is dishonest. Maybe only to yourself, but still... It's a package deal. You've got to take the good with the bad.

[ Parent ]
other people (none / 0) (#31)
by dr k on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 06:19:49 AM EST

It isn't real clear to me what you are trying to say, but...

Religions do not maintain themselves through dogma alone. The Catholic church has this guy called the Pope, and he has a support staff of thousands. They do their best to rectify the many problems between an ancient text and a modern world. They know better than to force a literal interpretation on everyone.

In other words, the Catholic church is not fundamentalist. Even on a bad day.
Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Fundamentalist vs .. Interpralist? (4.75 / 4) (#49)
by wnight on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 02:01:36 PM EST

Yeah, I know the Catholic church, and all other churches I've heard of, aren't fundamentalist. And almost everyone says "Fundamentalist" in the same condescending way.

My point, which I said a little sarcastically, was that if you truly believe in a religion, you *should* be fundamentalist. The whole point of religion is that there's some all-powerful being. How can you claim the ability to judge the worth of their words?

I know you didn't *say* this, but you did use "fundamentalist" in that way. Implying that only wackos who actually do what their holy book says would think such a thing...

Being that I'm an athiest I'm not trying to say you should believe in a religion, just that it's a little dishonest to assume you can pick and choose the parts you want if you do believe. It goes against the whole concept of supreme creator.

As such, I think fundamentalists are worthy of a bit more respect than the rest in many ways. They take the time to follow the rules they find uncomfortable as well as the ones they like. They read the whole book, not just the currently popular bits.

[ Parent ]
peoples (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by dr k on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 04:37:39 PM EST

just that it's a little dishonest to assume you can pick and choose the parts you want if you do believe.

Well, religions are full of contradictions. As to why more people aren't fundamentalists: I meant to say in my last post, at some point we have to deal with other peoples, and if your sole diplomatic strategy is to burn all non-believers then you won't make many friends/allies/trade partners. Every now and then religion has to be practical.

I think fundamentalists are worthy of a bit more respect than the rest in many ways.

That is too bad, because it doesn't take a lot a mental power to see everything literally. You have respect for people who have been programmed. This certainly makes it easier to justify killing whole nations of suspected fanatics - "we had no choice, we could never change their minds."
Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Convenience is an excuse? (5.00 / 2) (#54)
by wnight on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 05:28:55 PM EST

It might not take a lot of brain power to read a book and follow a set of rules, but it doesn't take a lot of read it and follow only some of the rules either.

As for convenience... this is supposed to be the word of the almighty god. It might not be friendly to burn non-believers, but if you were commanded to and you don't, aren't you a non-believer?

All of religion is programming. If you believe something on faith you, by definition, aren't being rational. If the religion can't survive as written, it shouldn't survive at all. If you twist it to let it survive, why do you think the original is worth keeping?

I'd really prefer not to be near anyone religion (see "Will the real Mind Control please stand up!" in my posting history for details) but as long as I have to, I'd prefer non-hypocrits. The old testament is almost as outspoken against eating shellfish as against homosexuality, but people will go out for a lobster meal and tell you that gays are sinners. Oh, I forgot, they're smarter than the supreme being they believe in.

I also don't think fundamentalist or not has anything to do with being able to convince them of something. In fact, fundamentalists should be easier to wean away from religion. If they believe their book to be 100% the word of god and can show that it is contradictory, they've got a religious crisis. For most religious people though, they probably have written off some sections anyways and don't care that it makes no sense.

[ Parent ]
Uhh.. (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by Crashnbur on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 03:10:09 PM EST

Um, I'm not a fundamentalist, and that's how I had understood those passages. I don't believe that Islam is violent, but I understand that the goal of nearly every religion is to spread its influence, or essentially to dominate. The bloodiest wars in human history were religious wars.

That said, it should be acceptable that we proceed with extreme caution with what we say. We need to take care not to start any new religious war.

I am a Christian, but only insofar that I believe in the basic truths of Christianity. I'm sure that, if I were well-versed in the doctrines of other major religions, I would find that my basic beliefs of Christianity are equal to the basic beliefs of other religions - that my existence is a result of the hand of some supernatural entity (which Christianity labels "God").

Are religions really that different? No... They're just different codes of morality that try to confine thought. I believe the basics, and the rest is up to me, or so I think.


[ Parent ]
Islam: A peaceful religion? (4.44 / 9) (#6)
by eLuddite on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 10:04:55 PM EST

This article is a decent survey of the question with many good links in support of either side of the answer.

God hates human rights.

Good link! (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by imadork on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 09:26:04 AM EST

Even if this article gets canned, you should try posting a new story with that link. I think it would be a good basis for discussion.

[ Parent ]
Peacefull religion: an Oxymoron? (3.85 / 7) (#10)
by delmoi on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 10:47:13 PM EST

No, not really. But you'd never realize that if you went by the worlds 'major' religions.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Singling Islam Out, et al. (4.20 / 20) (#13)
by J'raxis on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 11:02:04 PM EST

Islam the religion is completely inseparable from Islam the political movement. This fact alone prevented virtually all Muslim countries from becoming comfortable, equitable places for people to live in.
I could pick a lot apart about this article (I am also an Atheist, and, IMO, Christianity is/was just as rediculous as Islam as Judæism as any other theistic religion), but this line really made no sense. Millions upon millions of people are perfectly happy to live in superstitious ignorance. They don’t feel they are being oppressed if they think living like that is going to get them into paradise.

I voted this up, but I think the whole issue should be left alone. You’re either going to annoy the PC types for saying anything bad about religion, or you’re going to annoy people who know many religions are a contradictory mess, and are wondering why you’re singling out this one. For example:

[The] Quran makes it clear that Muhammad himself was a conqueror and a politician.
Jesus may not have been a conquerer, but look at the people who did spread his religion: Charlemagne, king and conquerer of France, defended Christian Europe against invading Muslims; Constantine, Roman emperor who first instantiated Christianity as an official state religion; the various popes who led the Crusades, etc.

And as for Judæism, the ancient Hebrews were a warrior race; it should be apparent to anyone reading the Old Testament that Yahweh (God) is some kind of war god — the people pray to him before and after obliterating their enemies, etc., etc. And Moses is as much as a terrorist (plagues, killing every firstborn Egyptian child) as Osama bin Laden is.

You quoth:

Men have a degree of advantage over women. [2:228]
Unto the woman he said, ... and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. [Genesis 3:16]
— The Atheist Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

Nearly Completely Wrong (3.00 / 5) (#23)
by joecool12321 on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 02:35:49 AM EST

First, you argue that you could pick apart the first citation, than fail to do so, claiming it makes no sense? How does it make no sense? How can you pick it apart? Saying something makes no sense is one thing. Actually demonstrating that it is so is quite another.

You then go on to say, "Millions upon millions of people are perfectly happy to live in superstitious ignorance. They don't feel they are being oppressed if they think living like that is going to get them into paradise." That is not the issue. As you pointed out so well, he is arguing that things are not equitable, not that people are upset. So that line of reasoning is completely off the topic.

You then claim that Moses was a terrorist because of the plagues and the killing of each firstborn. However, you fail to address two issues. First, you fail to recognize the oppression that the Jews were experiencing under Egyptian rule, and for their rights they were justified. Second, the Jews did not, according to the Old Testament, kill the first born, nor did they use biological weapons. That The LORD did that, and so Moses would not be the terrorist.

Finally, you point to one verse in the Old Bible regarding the male-female relationship. Let me give you a few more verses that may help clarify for you.

Ephesians 5:28: So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.
Ephesians 5:33: Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Colossians 3:19: Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.

I hope this response will help you towards more clear reasoning and a better understanding of the Biblical relationship between a man and a woman. I can't speak for The Quran, so perhaps those verses are out of context. But that was not your argument.


[ Parent ]

one thing about first comment (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by cicero on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:52:52 AM EST

you do realize, don't you , that the first sentance of j'raxis's comment is the second sentance of the story?

to bring it into conext; it's like when you're responding to an email and you only include one sentance of the email you're responding too (usually the first one that stands out) to signify the entire previous message.

make more sense now?

and honestly, are you really trying to goad someone into finding sexist quotes in the bible?

I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by joecool12321 on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 05:21:56 AM EST

First, you're right. I didn't read his comments carefully. He said he could say much about the "article" when I read it I read 'citation'. Bad critical reading on my part. However, the argument is still off-topic, and the thrust of my point stands.

Second, I am not trying to goad anyone into anything. I am simply pointing out that the Bible calls for apparently more equal treatment in a spousal relationship. Using the term "goad" implies that I am trying to manipulate someone into doing something. I am not. I just want alternative verses to be brought forth as well (something that, perhaps, MSBob could have done more of -- as I pointed out there are only a few verses, and only one cited on each topic).


[ Parent ]
No, no... (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by J'raxis on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 11:29:33 PM EST

I was pointing out that his statement that Islamic countries are somehow uncomfortable to live in (a term he used, which he assumes because they are theocracies) makes no sense — most extremely religious people would actually prefer to live in that kind of country, thus it would be most comfortable. And I was picking apart the citation. I continue to pick apart the rest of the article in the rest of my comment.

Whether or not the Jews were suffering under the Egyptians does not absolve their leader of being labelled terrorist — after all, from Osama bin Laden’s point of view, the U.S. has been destroying and opressing his people for decades (a point of view I happen to agree with), yet he is still labelled terrorist, at least by the nation he is fighting against (the U.S.).

God did commit those actions (so maybe he is the terrorist) if you believe in the stories, which I do not. I believe that most of the stuff in the Bible did happen, to some extent, however it has been exaggerated extensively — all the divine-intervention aspects had been added in by imaginitive or faithful writers ex post facto.

As for the Genesis citation, I was merely pointing out that the Bible also contains the same kind of statements as the Quran. My original point was MSBob was presenting a very one-sided argument — most of what he was focusing on about the Quran is also present to some extent in the Bible, which he failed to mention. Your quotes just help my position that the Bible is rife with contradictions.

— The Atheist Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Obviously partisan approach (4.46 / 15) (#14)
by localroger on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 11:14:05 PM EST

You can make any Christian look like Jerry Falwell by quoting the Bible out of context too. (FWIW: IANAXTIAN) There is a much better take on this here at religioustolerance.org.

I can haz blog!

Short and Long answers (4.45 / 20) (#18)
by Sheepdot on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 11:41:49 PM EST

Is Islam really peaceful?

Short Answer:
Yes, the majority of it.

Long Answer:
It's supposed to be. It would appear that since the crusades the drift has been for Islam to represent peace, but it still has its militant factions, just as Christianity and, to an extent, Judaism have.

It seems the longer the religion has been around, the more peaceful it tends to be. Since Islam is relatively new compared to Christianity and Judaism, it isn't a surpise that it is has yet to shed off its extremist factions from the bulk of the religion.

Other religions, however, such as Falun Dafa, have been around for a short time and are *not* violent. In general, most Asian religions are this way, which shows that religious leaders need not always advocate "holy wars" to accomplish their goals. Another interesting thing to note is that Eastern religions don't generally use written tomes to preach from, which may explain why they are this way.

Sadly, I'm afraid that Surah 9:29 *is* the reality of Islam being used to recruit future suicidal terrorists. In much the same way, the Old Testament has many scriptures in which God looks down approvingly on the slaughter of Israel's enemies, although the New Testament, where Christianity gets its basis, has little in the way of justifying "holy war".

It is quite ironic how Judaism following the fall of the Roman Empire turned into a pacifying religion, while Christianity turned into an agressive one. Even today, large numbers of fundamentalist Christians advocate requiring schools and government institutions to post the 10 commandments. How ironic that some of these same fundamentalists either own businesses that are open on Sundays, or work in a business on Sundays.

I'm a Christian, but I think it should be made clear that while one says they adhere to a religion, it means they follow the principals *of* said religion. There is no Christian requirement to obey the Bible (indeed the Bible as we know it is clearly *not* God's word, only a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation), the only requirement is that one repent for their sins (the 10 commandments broken, of which all have done) and realize that only because of the death of one man (this Arab named "Jesus") are they cleansed from all unrighteousness.

IMHO, that is a pretty loose requirement. I'm curious as to the "requirements" to get into heaven under Islam. I'd expect that they are quite simlar, and do not require the deaths of religious enemies. The scriptures in the Quaran are taken loosely just as many Christians take scriptures in the Bible loosely. As far as I can tell, the New Testament is a rejection of the Old, and is what essentially seperates Judaism from Christianity.

Note: There is a tendency for agnostics and atheists to vote stories like this one and posts like mine down. I would appreciate it if in addition to the rate (or vote) down you would post a response indicating why. I'm curious as to why even speaking of religion is offending. I've asked my agnostic and atheist friends and most of them are willing to talk to Christians and debate on friendly terms. For some reason I think a medium such as the Internet advocates harsh attitudes between religious and non-religious. Even more so than any other issue I know of. I can't for the life of me understand why.

coming from an agnostic (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by cicero on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:38:33 AM EST

I must say that I really enjoyed your comment.
thank you.

I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]
No, thank you! (5.00 / 1) (#71)
by Sheepdot on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 12:38:10 AM EST

I must admit I was afraid I'd get a railing when I saw the subject title of your response. The last thing I'd like to do is offend anyone, and despite what some may believe, I think rather intelligent and contructive commenting has been done on k5 regarding religion.

I hope it continues for quite some time. Thanks for the reassurance.

[ Parent ]
Beware of questions that answer themselves (3.90 / 11) (#24)
by anansi on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:08:38 AM EST

"Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

"Are blacks less intelligent than whites?"

"Are aryan races genetically superior to other strains of human?"

The proper answer to all of these, IMHO, is that the question doesn't even bear asking. Your agenda is already spelled out in your message header, no need to read any further.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"

presuppositions (4.66 / 3) (#29)
by Delirium on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:53:16 AM EST

Those aren't really the same thing. Your first example is a legitimate example of a bad question - it presupposes that the person you're asking the question of beats his wife. The other two, and the one in this article, do not themselves presuppose anything, but merely ask a controversial question. You are free to consider the three questions and answer "no" to all three of them, and that answer would be an accurate indication of your views (while with the first, neither "yes" nor "no" would be an accurate answer).

Anyway, I don't see what's wrong with considering either this story's question or the 2nd and 3rd questions you mentioned. If the answers to all are in fact "no," then we can determine that after considering them; there's nothing to be gained from not asking the questions at all.

[ Parent ]

No. (5.00 / 2) (#47)
by xriso on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 12:03:18 PM EST

I haven't stopped beating my wife, thank you very much. Now, you just have to figure out whether I ever started.

Now, I think this is a good example of a bad question: "Are you just stupid or a complete idiot?"
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]

It's the koan thing... (none / 0) (#85)
by rantweasel on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 07:15:32 PM EST

Does a dog have bhudda nature?

The only response is "unask the question"

or something. It's been a bit...

[ Parent ]
My experiences living 2 years in a Moslem village (4.53 / 13) (#43)
by johnny on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 10:47:30 AM EST

As a Peace Corps volunteer in the middle 70's, I lived in a small village in northern Senegal. Later I went back to the same part of Senegal to do agricultural research.

Islam was omnipresent in the lives of the people I lived with. They said prayers 5 times a day, saved for the Hadj, (pilgrimage to Mecca), interpreted their lives according to the Quran & their local marabouts (Imams).

I was the only white person & only non-Moslem within a radius of 30 miles or so. I was occasionally asked if I wanted to convert, but I was never really pressured.

I came away with a net positive impression of Islam, as interpreted by the people of Fanaye Dieri. I was particularly impressed with their "live and let live" attitude, and the generally happiness of a people that most of us would consider very poor, if not desperately poor.

I was onced asked by a little girl why I did not pray. I said that I did pray. "Where," she said. "We have never seen you pray." I said, "I pray in my heart." All the adults who heard said that this was a wise answer, and a reminder that one cannot judge a person's piety by external shows.

Nevertheless when I read the Quran I am appalled by a lot of it. And I voted this article up because I think the questions are ligitmate and bear examination. I don't believe in a free pass for any political/religious philosophy, and I think it's perfectly legitimate to look at Islam by itself without looking at Christianity & every other goddamn religion at the same time.

yr frn,
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Cheap Complex Devices.

Peace and religion (4.33 / 3) (#52)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:33:14 PM EST

The question is not "Are the vast majority of moslems peaceful?" Your answer will be yes.

The question is "Why controls the religious athority and how much power do they have?" The answers to these questions are not very promissing.

The truth about politics is that liberals never accomplish anything without the support of more conservative moral values. These values can then change and allow for more improvment.

Look at the civil rights movement: it was profoundly religious. The gay rights movement is also firmly entrinched in an attitude of "Let me live my life."

We will need liberal Islamic movements for peace and women's rights and thesee movements are impossible which the various hard coure conservative factions can all point at the "Great Satan."

I say we should get the hell out of the region (possible depleting the oil), switch to natural gas / electric powered cars, and let their conservative factions kill one another for 50 years. The liberals will eventually come to power in the religious orginisations because the people want to "stop the killing." Once we have modderate religious leaders the regions problems will just go away.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Fanatics happen EVERYWHERE (4.33 / 9) (#44)
by xriso on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 11:44:43 AM EST

Seriously. Look at any group of people who claim to be united by some thing. There will always be the idiot who advocates an aggressive process of conversion (eg. revolt against government so that ideals are enforced), but this doesn't mean the other members are bad or wrong. All they are is embarrassed that they are associated with the crazy people.
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
Circles and circles (4.50 / 4) (#46)
by tumeric on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 11:51:08 AM EST

You can get stuck in circles with this type of question. You can find conflicting passages in Holy books, different traditions, historical anecdotes and end up with nothing. Try the question 'Is Christianity Truly Peaceful' and see where you end up. You can't blame religions either -- look how nice Stalin and Pol Pot's forms of atheism were.

Is humanity peaceful? Are you truly peaceful?

Twisted view of reality (4.40 / 5) (#48)
by symbiotic on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 12:07:44 PM EST

While it sounds like it is hard to separate law and religion in Islam, this article is just of twisted view of reality. As another commentator put it, you could quote things from nearly all religious scriptures and make those kind of conclusions. I have spent a lot of time trying to understand what is happening and what is motivating those people (amongst other things I started a multi-cultural discussion around this very topic at


). One book that I found useful in doing that is called "God has Ninety Nine Names" by Judith Miller (ex NYT). It describes the militant Islamic movements in 10 Middle Eastern countries. When you read those accounts, you realize that all those movements are very different. There is no single Islamic Militant movement. As a matter of fact, there are as many interpretation of the Quran as there are interpretations of any other religious scripture. There are many different historical causes that lead to militant movements in those countries (ranging from dictatorships, to corruption, to poverty, and to lack of human rights - just to name a few)...and unfortunately, the political militants often use the Quran as a pretext to move their militant political agendas forward. It is dangerous to draw conclusions about a culture or a religious group based on the actions of a few extremists. Can we draw conclusions about Catholics or Protestants based on what happens in Ireland? At this point in time, I feel like it is very important to understand the real causes for what is happening rather that generalize.

Why the negitivity? (3.00 / 4) (#50)
by X-Nc on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 02:46:47 PM EST

I read this post and voted it +1. Why? Because this is exactlly the kind of thing that NEEDS to be seen and commented on. To vote -1 on it is to perpetuate it. It's analogous to the France banning any access to Natzi web sites. All that will do is help fan the flame.

Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
What religion is peaceful? (4.46 / 13) (#55)
by Ebon Praetor on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 09:48:30 PM EST

There are no truly peaceful religions. Each one has a history of cruelty and war, all which was advocated by their respective scriptures.

Judaism is full of violence. Jericho? It was crushed by God because its people were not the chosen of Him. Does this advocate that Jews should go and kill civilians? Not really (with the exception of Israel). The heroes of the Old Testament are the ones who went out and killed the most people.

Similarly, there are a number of quotes from the Bible that point to the 'inferiority of women. As St. Paul (major writer of the New Testament) put it:

While man is "the image and glory of God," woman is merely "the glory of man," he writes. "[M]an did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." Because of this, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve."
It appears that Christianity seems to be advocating the supremacy of man over women.

Buddhism itself is peaceful, but from it sprang one of the great warrior religions. The Zen sect opened the door for the samurai; it provided for the degree of personal control necessary for the warrior path. Buddhism may be more peaceful because it does not advocate violence, but does not specifically forbid it either.

Atheism may actually be the worst of the choices. Stalin was atheist, and he was responsible for the deaths of 43 million people. In many cases, religion provides a moral law for its adherents. Without morals, people are far more likely to destroy.

Some of may remember Marx's quotation 'Religion als Opium des Volkes' (Religion is the opium of the people). It provides for a powerful control, whether that be for good or evil. Without it, there is no control, no moral law to restrain the people from committing evil. With religion people can be led to do things for good or evil For good, we get the Mother Teresas of the world. For evil, we get the Osama Bin Ladens. Human evil and war are not the result of Islam or any religion, they are the result of human nature.

Atheism (3.83 / 6) (#57)
by MSBob on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 10:28:38 PM EST

I can't believe you're saying atheism is the worst of all religious choices. How can you possibly say that? Most atheists share the belief that human life is the most precious thing to cherish because it is the only life we will have. Because we don't believe that some deity will resurect us after we die most of us hold human life (ours as well as others) in utmost respect.

Now Stalin was not an atheist. As a matter of fact Joseph Stalin Stalin was educated for priesthood. His father was believed to be deeply religious. Stalin himself later on obviously believed more in communism which many sociologists consider a religion onto itself with its own dogmas, rituals, practices and taboo subjects. Communists used the same tactics as priests when talking to the unwashed masses and exhibited the same zeal and intolerance when facing views different to theirs.

In fact an atheist communist is an oxymoron. Atheism is all about questioning and doubting and seeking evidence and asking for rational thought while communism is all about believing in a single true and undisputed doctrine. They are as far apart as humanely possible.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Atheism (4.75 / 4) (#58)
by Ebon Praetor on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 10:43:22 PM EST

Atheist: one who denies the existence of God.

People who question everything are generally Unitarians. :-)

I'm not saying atheism is the worst religious choice. I'm saying its the worst religious choice for the majority of non-intellectuals in the world. We may be satisfied with searching and rationally examining God/reality, but most peopl e are not capable of doing it. They may need some religion to guide them and prevent them from making destructive choices. Just the same, it can be abused. (As your .sig nicely points out). All I was trying to say was that no matter what religion (or lack of one), humans insist on killing each other. We need to look at more base human nature and try to prevent unnecessary violence there.

[ Parent ]
Must disagree on the fundamental assertion (4.00 / 5) (#64)
by localroger on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 09:54:11 AM EST

There are no truly peaceful religions. Each one has a history of cruelty and war, all which was advocated by their respective scriptures.

Taoism. Wicca. Gnosticism.

Just off the top of my head. And it's not fair to Buddhism to brand it "violent" because this most syncretic of all major religions has syncretized with more violent and warlike systems.

While Hinduism has warlike sects it also has the Jains. Hinduism being a polytheistic religion composed of loosely-linked cults, it can be argued that Jainism is itself an independent system with no violent component.

Of course, religions that justify violence and teach prosyletization do have a tendency to take over the landscape. But the existence of weeds does not make all plants bad by association.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

sigh. (4.14 / 7) (#69)
by kitten on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 10:35:15 PM EST

Atheism may actually be the worst of the choices. Stalin was atheist, and he was responsible for the deaths of 43 million people.

Get this through your head. The label "atheist" announces one thing, and one thing only: The disagreement with theism.
It does not announce any other particular set of beliefs or doctrines. Nor does it announce one's approval of, or agreement with, other atheists.

Any doctrines to which an atheist may subscribe are wholly independant of his theological views. To suggest otherwise is not only stupid, but demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of what atheism is.

You may as well condemn vegetarians. Hitler was a vegetarian. He never touched alcohol either.. therefore anybody who doesn't drink must be evil.

In many cases, religion provides a moral law for its adherents.

God forbid (excuse the pun) that people should figure out moral laws for themselves.
If humans are incapable of telling Good from Evil, then how do they know God is good, or that things God says are good?
The theist must either admit that we are unable to tell Good from Evil, in which case God is of no help because we can't tell if God is good. Or, he can admit that we can tell Good from Evil, in which case we do not need God to tell us.

By the way, I'd say that Christianity's oppression of women is trifling compared to the list of atrocities commited in the name of Christ, or the number of insidious acts allegedly done by Jehovah himself. Christianity, and the Bible, is truly a brutal and violent religion.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
The real irony here (4.00 / 2) (#73)
by Obvious Pseudonym on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 08:40:25 AM EST

God forbid (excuse the pun) that people should figure out moral laws for themselves. If humans are incapable of telling Good from Evil, then how do they know God is good, or that things God says are good? The theist must either admit that we are unable to tell Good from Evil, in which case God is of no help because we can't tell if God is good. Or, he can admit that we can tell Good from Evil, in which case we do not need God to tell us.

The real irony here, of course is that if you read Genesis (I can't give exact verse numbers as I do not have my bible to hand, but it is in the first couple of chapters) the whole reason that Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden was because they gained the knowledge of Good and Evil!

Of course, this may be because human values of Good and Evil (Be nice to people, love one another, don't kill people, be kind to animals, etc.) don't match up with the ones that the Bible (particularly in the old testament, see Leviticus especially) tells us are God's values of Good and Evil (No sex outside marriage, burn a couple of pigeons each time you have a wet dream (or your period if you are female), don't breed mules, don't wear mixed fibre shirts, slay the Canaanites and salt their fields because one of their anscestors accidentally saw his father naked and besides I have promised you their land, women are the property of men, etc.)

Obvious Pseudonym

I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.
[ Parent ]

freaky religuns (1.60 / 5) (#56)
by nodsmasher on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 10:17:26 PM EST

the quaran might have some freeky shit in it but have you ever sat down and ever read the bible ? technicly grape fruits are blastfumus (liviticus 19:19)
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
Leviticus 19:19 (none / 0) (#72)
by Gully Foyle on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 07:04:02 AM EST

King James Bible Lev19:19

"Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee."

Freaky, yes, but where do the grapefruits come into it?

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

grape fruit (none / 0) (#82)
by nodsmasher on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 02:58:15 PM EST

grape fruit is a cross of 2 diferent plants, thus a mingled seed
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
[ Parent ]
From the horse's mouth (2.50 / 2) (#59)
by MSBob on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 11:21:36 PM EST

In my search for opinions on Quran and Islam I stumbled across this page written by an ex-devout Muslim. Essentially he says the same things that I do and even points to many of the same passages in Quran. So here you go: a view on Quran from someone who used to be a believer and now is offering a rational view on the religion and its holy scriptures. Take a look.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

Serious Errors (4.82 / 17) (#62)
by EraseMe on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 05:48:56 AM EST

Enumerated below:

(1) You don't provide any context for the verses you quote. That will get you in trouble. For example, you speculated that this phrase may have inspired the 9/11 hijackers:

"...strike terror into the hearts of the enemies..." Surah 8:60

However, the very next verse says:

"But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things)." Surah 8:61

What do you make of that?

(2) You said: "The notion that Jihad means some abstract activity that is not violence related sound like candy-coating in the light of some of Quran's nastier verses." Then you quote Surah 9:29, seemingly as evidence. But Surah 9:29 does not contain the word 'jihad' (perhaps you thought 'fight' meant 'jihad'?).

Here are some verses that do contain the word 'jihad'. The are translated here as 'strive hard':

  • "Those who strive hard towards Us, We certainly guide them in Our ways." Surah 29:69
  • "To those who flee after they are persecuted, then strive hard and are patient, surely your Lord after that is protecting, merciful." Surah 16:110
Is this candy-coating? Isn't it possible that 'jihad' actually does have a broader meaning?

(3) You said: "Virtually all Islamic countries are either run by outright religious fanatics or at least their day to day politics are heavily influenced by the book of Quran.".

This is where it all falls apart. I mean, this is completely silly. You are entitled to your opinion on Islam, but this is basic geopolitcs. Here is a partial list of predominantly Muslim countries most definitely not run by Islamic fanatics, from West to East:
  • Morocco
  • Algeria
  • Tunisia
  • Libya
  • Egypt
  • Turkey
  • Palestine (i.e. West Bank and Gaza)
  • Syria
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • the various Gulf Emirates
  • Pakistan
  • Bangledesh
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia
Do you dispute any of these? In fact, one feature common to many of these countries is their official oppression of Islamic movements. Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey have an especially shameful and brutal history here.

Why the hostility? Because Islamic movements, as distasteful as you may find them, are populist movements. They threaten entrenched, non-representative regimes. Most Muslims live in undemocratic states, and Islam is how they express their desire for freedom and self-determination. Yes, it is highly political. That's the point. Religion is just a proxy for something deeper, something we Americans should support. Think about the violent, bloody revolts that brought democracy to Europe, starting with the French Revolution. Wasn't the storming of the Bastille an act of terrorism? Probably. Now it's a holiday.

A notable ommission to my list above is Iran. It's most definitely an Islamic state, and a real anomaly in the region. The present government was brought to power by the populist overthrow of a despotic king. It is now the only democracy in the region, except Israel. No, it's not a perfect democracy, but it keeps getting better. Notice how the moderates are gradually gaining power (through elections!) and peacefully moving towards a more open, yet still Islamic society. Do you feel this theocracy is less legitimate than a secular dictatorship like Jordan? If so, why?

By the way, I voted +1 FP.

Muslim countries... (2.40 / 5) (#68)
by MSBob on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 10:07:52 PM EST

I have one question. Of the countries you listed in your comment which ones would you like to live in? Morocco might just be endurable. Everything else in your list is either poor, unstable or oppressive. Show me one country where say, more than 80% of the population is Muslim and the country has a lifestyle comparable to an average European countries. Once you point out that country I'll retract my statement that Islam doctrine failed to provide its followers with just and equitable life with opportunities for those inclined to succeed.

BTW. If you're telling me that for instance Pakistan is not ran by fanatics I want some of the stuff you're smoking. Pakistan is the breeding ground for fanatics. Who is governing that mess at any given time is irrelevant and seems to change on an annual basis usually through a military intervention or a civil unrest of some sort. The real corridors of power in Pakistan are mosques.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
FYI: Tunisia (4.00 / 5) (#70)
by theantix on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 11:44:15 PM EST

I have one question. Of the countries you listed in your comment which ones would you like to live in? Morocco might just be endurable. Everything else in your list is either poor, unstable or oppressive. Show me one country were say, more than 80% of the population is Muslim and the country has a lifestyle comparable to an average European countries.
I recently visited Tunisia, one of the Muslim countries you are talking about. Tunisia's GDP per capita is almost twice that of Morocco, and a very pleasant place to visit. Much of the country is poor, but the capital city Tunis is very modern and liberal. Women are allowed to wear modern fashions (even allowed to show arms and legs) and are allowed to join the workforce. The city is actually quite nice, especially in the modern bits, and I would certainly consider it tolerable. Most people don't know this because it is very small and not well-known for anything in particular (no Casablanca, no terrorism) but if you are ever in the area give it a chance. Me and my girlfriend did and are happy we did. Damn, that sounded like a sales pitch... it was meant as friendly advice. Cheers,

You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]
Tunisia???? (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by MSBob on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 11:18:34 AM EST

Tunisia's per capita GDP is $5200. The literacy rate is 67%. That puts it on exactly the same level as Belarus in therms of the GDP and waay below such 'afluent' nations as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary or Czech Republic.

Tunisia's literacy rate is nothing to brag about either. It is in the same band as such modern countries like Congo, Nigeria et al.

So I'll challenge you again. Show me a single modern, equitable Muslim country and I'll retract my statements about the oppressive nature of Islamic faith.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Statistics and other lies (4.66 / 3) (#78)
by theantix on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 11:55:06 AM EST

Tunisia's per capita GDP is $5200.
This is true. In fact, much of the country is poor. However, this does not reflect the modernity and relative affluence of the capital city Tunis. The southern parts of the country are desert and the population is quite poor, but many of them prefer their indiginous lifestyle. In Matmata (where star wars:ANH was filmed) they live in underground houses carved out of the clay desert, and they've been doing that for hundreds of years. That's changing with the younger generatation that are moving to Tunis for a more modern and easy life, which will look much better on paper. Ok, if you want to play with statistics, try this: according to the CIA world factbook, Tunisia has only 6% of their population living in poverty, compared with the United States that has over 12% living below the poverty line. But yes, only 67% are literate. But again this is really misleading. I was in the Sahara desert, and the 6 year old children spoke fluent french (well, 6 year old fluent, but you get the point) and they all attended school and learned to read and write arabic and french. And compare this to a taxi driver in the city that couldn't read a map of his own city, and dropped us off in a completely wrong hotel. So the older people may not be literate, but the children sure are. They are very proud of their school system there. So while you can point out the current literacy rate, it's changing fast and furiously.
So I'll challenge you again. Show me a single modern, equitable Muslim country and I'll retract my statements about the oppressive nature of Islamic faith.
I wasn't trying to say that Tunisia was equitable... you read that into my post. I was just trying to point out that it was a lovely little country, and shouldn't be bundled in with the other countries mentioned in the list. Hell, I agreed with your article, I was the first person to vote +1 FP. I just had a very pleasant experience in the country, and wanted to share that because I figured other people would appreciate the advice. I tried to compare it to Morocco because it's actually nicer in my experience. And I'll say it again: if you ever want to visit a country in North Africa, or if you want to visit a Muslim country for the sake of an experience, give Tunisia a look. If I didn't get sick from the water there (my girlfriend didn't, nor did 3/4 of the tourist people I met there) I would actually consider it as a place to have a nice little summer resort in, if I had money. So that's a personal glimpse on the country, which I think is much more valuable than looking at some statistics and trying to judge based on that.

You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]
Tunisia is extremely oppressive. (none / 0) (#87)
by linca on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 08:16:52 AM EST

You definitely don't wan't to be a political dissident in Tunisia right now. Most journalists who talk against Ben Ali, the president-for-life, are either very quickly arrested, or have to flee the country. Threats on dissidents' families are common. In the last election, Ben Ali is supposed to have got 99 percent of the votes... It is very far from democracy to say the least. Even the Maroc Monarchy is much more democratic.

[ Parent ]
very true (none / 0) (#89)
by theantix on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 10:10:34 AM EST

You definitely don't wan't to be a political dissident in Tunisia right now. Most journalists who talk against Ben Ali, the president-for-life, are either very quickly arrested, or have to flee the country. Threats on dissidents' families are common. In the last election, Ben Ali is supposed to have got 99 percent of the votes... It is very far from democracy to say the least.
This is very true... Whenever I would talk about politics the people would look around suspiciously, and drag me into another room before saying anything. Two people independatly described the current president as a crook and a theif, but are not able to do anything about it as it is a federal crime to publicly oppose the president in any way. It really sucks, because the people are ready for democracy. Thankfully they can get independant news via the internet which the government makes available without censorship in public terminals.

You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]
Show me an country with a Christian govt... (4.33 / 3) (#84)
by rantweasel on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 07:08:53 PM EST

Show me an country with a Christian/Judaic/Bhuddist/Shinto/Hindu govt that is as benevolent and wonderful as want these majority Islamic nations to be, and I'll show you a country that has more advantages in terms or natural resources, a shorter and more distant history of oppresive dictators/monarchs, and an industrialized economy. You are talking about economic and political problems, and you are trying to pin the blame on religion. Religion may be the root of many of the world's problems, but you can't blame economics on religion, and you can't blame dictators on religion.

[ Parent ]
Irrevelant (none / 0) (#92)
by oiarsun on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 06:41:14 PM EST

I can't understand it. Are north america countries powerful because they are christians? Or Europeans?
I live in Turkey. It is hard to live in Turkey. But it has got nothing to do with being a muslim nation. The history changes, Ottoman Empire conquered three continents 500 years ago. And they were muslims.

Religion got nothing to do with what you are saying.

[ Parent ]
Military might vs quality lifestyle (none / 0) (#93)
by MSBob on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 08:36:08 PM EST

You're confusing two issues here. I'm not talking about military advantages. What I'm saying is that the Islamic doctrine made peoples lives miserable. I'm not too concerned with military might. Military force is usually proportional to the population of a country. This is natural and logical barring some oddities like North Korea where one citizen in ten is a soldier.

My argument goes like this: The so called Muslim countries are run and/or controlled by Islamic enthusiasts and sometimes Islamic fanatics. Recent decades proved that none of those countries managed to offer their citizens much in a way of decent lifestyle. For that I blame the religion because it is almost a universal rule that the stronger the influence of a religion (any religion) the poorer the country. Islam is not to be singled out here although Quran has this nasty side that it tries to dictate how an Islamic country and an Islamic society should live. I believe that to be the main reason behind poverty and violence in the Middle East and so far nobody in their replies managed to convince me otherwise. Discuss.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
Uninformed commentary (none / 0) (#95)
by EraseMe on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 07:17:28 AM EST

Everything else in your list is either poor, unstable or oppressive.

That's a rather obnoxious exaggeration, but I'll let you have it. I think you are missing my point. See, all the countries on my list are not run by Islamic 'fanatics'. All have secular governments. As do the overwhelming majority of Muslim countries. So how can you blame Islam for their condition?

The real corridors of power in Pakistan are mosques.

And how do you know so much? What is your basis for this sweeping analysis? The situation is much more nuanced, I'm afraid. You can't sum up Pakistan, or any other country, in a few tidy declarations.

Islamic extremists are a powerful pressure group in Pakistan. This is vastly different from running the country. Do the Christian Coalition or Moral Majority run America? Of course not, but they do try to influence policy. Same idea.

[ Parent ]
2 apples = 5 oranges (none / 0) (#96)
by MSBob on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 09:40:42 AM EST

Do the Christian Coalition or Moral Majority run America? Of course not, but they do try to influence policy. Same idea.

Yet it's legal in most of the US for a woman to have an abortion but it would at least put a woman in serious trouble if she tried to wear a miniskirt in Pakistan. Yeah, they are the same! How could I have been so stupid not to see it when they are so alike!

Get some perspective, okay?

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

[ Parent ]
That's ethnic slur and precudice. (2.50 / 10) (#63)
by drquick on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 06:40:21 AM EST

America is hurt. America needs revenge. America needs good enemy. Islam seems to fit. America has a president who endulges in revenge. He is the one that's dead or alive violent.

But... (3.66 / 6) (#66)
by Betcour on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 02:07:57 PM EST

Islam is not better or worse than Christinity or Judaism. They are all forked from the same religion where an angry and evil god is having lots of fun crushing and torturing humans. You think the Qran is bad ? Well the Bible says women are sub-humans and gays should be eradicated (remember what happened to the gay community of Sodom, God message was pretty clear). And the Talmud isn't any better.

All religions have so many self-contradictions that if their scriptures were translated into clear logical propositions (ie "A and B implies C") they would crumble horribly. Since they say everything and its opposite, and since believers are already blind to this, it is pretty easy for any manipulative person to use it to support whatever cause he wants. I know the Qran also says very nice things about loving your neightbours blablabla... in the end once everything and its opposite is written down together you can make it say whatever you want.

The real problem is faith : faith goes against reason, faith defies logic, and you can't make people behave like reasonable humans if their behavior is dictated by faith.

Faith and Reason (none / 0) (#79)
by MrAcheson on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 01:01:32 PM EST

Pure reason and logic is worthless. Why? Epistemology. Where do you start? You need initial suppositions in order to start the reasoning process. These take the forms of axioms or postulates. These are things which are not proven. So how do you know they are right? You don't of course. What is accepting that something is right without proof? Faith as defined by the Biblical Book of Hebrews.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.

[ Parent ]
Sure... (none / 0) (#94)
by Betcour on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 06:16:52 AM EST

But if a minimum of faith is needed (the world exists, I'm a human etc...) that faith should be :
  1. Minimal (it is only used as simple axioms). I'm alive is much more minimal than "there's a great bearded guy in the sky that created all living things blablabla"). The rule being that the more complex and elaborated a faith is, the more likely it is wrong.
  2. Have coherency. If you have faith in things that obviously contradict each others at least one of them is wrong. And religions have more contradictions than you can ever count.
Hence from a stricly use of the word "faith" I think you are right, but from the broad definition of it (used by most people) faith is really the end of logic and reason (you only need to look at the fundies to realise this)

[ Parent ]
Yes and No (none / 0) (#97)
by MrAcheson on Thu Nov 01, 2001 at 02:30:18 PM EST

Not entirely true. For instance most religions only have a very few basic axioms upon which a great deal of work has been built over millenium of thought. So in fact calling an organized religion all faith is incorrect, because a lot of reason goes into organized theology. Religions are based on faith, not totally reliant upon it. IIRC Thomas Aquinas wrote quite a lot on this.

As for the contradictions, a lot of that has to be understood within the breadth of religious thought. Is the correct answer in a situation fight or flee? Its of course a badly phrased question because it could be both fight or flee depending upon the situation. Is something that says fight here and flee there contradicting itself? No because in fact the world is like that. A lot of things depend on nuance so the correct thing to do depends on nuance as well. This is not contradiction, this is complexity because the world is complex.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.

[ Parent ]
"The Christians do it too" dosn't make i (3.50 / 2) (#75)
by avdi on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 09:46:31 AM EST

I see a lot of "well, Islam isn't any worse than Christianity or Judaism". Well, of course not. Most religious writings are full of violence towards those of other faiths. That doesn't make it OK. The fact is, in recent history Islam has generated more fanatic violence, religious dictatorships and human rights abuses than any other religion that comes to mind. Doesn't mean they are the only folks perpetrating such acts; China does it in the name of Communism, and other places do it for various reasons. But Islam is the only world religion I know of that is currently used to justify massive acts of genocide, terrorism, slave-trading, and war. These things need to be known, rather than swept under the rug, so that the world community, as well as the much-quoted "peaceful Islamic majority" can put pressure on the fanatic governments in question to start moving into the 21st century. As near as I can tell, relative peace and tolerance only comes with the separation of Church and state. If the Islamic world can accomplish this, perhaps we *will* see that peacefull coexistance of Muslims with the rest of the world that so many Muslims desire.

Begin flaming in 3...2...1...now.

Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
Islam world is simply lagging behind. (4.66 / 3) (#76)
by Rainy on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 10:22:26 AM EST

Christian countries were just like that not too long ago. Then there was an industrial revolution, rise of middle class, and therefore the democracy. You can see the same thing happening slowly in Iran and Turkey now. Christians had their crusades back in the days, the inquisition, church exerting power on politics, etc. Bible is full of cruelty inflicted by or approved by God. One of the most notable examples is where entire tribes were wiped out merely because they happened to live in the land that was promised to jews. Male population is wiped out and young and good looking girls are taken as sex slaves.

Now, why is Islam lagging behind? I don't know. But seeing that at some point in history christian world lagged behind, and arab world was famous for its tolerance, sciences and art, I don't think this should be blamed on Islam faith. It's really a geopolitical/economical thing.

Oh, and it is a highly respected tradition in Islamic world that Mullahs (cleric leaders) are not to be country's rulers. One of the tenets in Islam is that a state is inherently corrupted, IOW you will always have some officials who take bribes, etc. so to avoid contamination of religion, clerics must stay away from political power. In some cases this rule is broken, I think Taliban's leaders are mullahs, but in most islam countries they're separate.
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

Age of religions (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by epepke on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 05:01:00 PM EST

Sometimes I imagine that religions age like people, only at the rate of a century per year.

Islam is now about 14 and is acting about the way you'd expect a 14-year-old to act. Christianity is 20, so it's outgrown most of that, but back when it was a teenager, it had a lot of the same anti-social properties.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Why Arabic countries didn't turn into democracies (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by linca on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 08:30:41 AM EST

In the fifties, as the arabic countries were struggling for independence, three different political forces were predominant : laical, socialist bent forces ( Algeria, Lybia, Iraq, Egypt...), traditional monarchies (Saoudia Arabia, Iran,...), and islamic fundamentalism. Since it was the time of the cold war, the western countries sided with treditional monarchies and fundamentalism against the leftists. Most of the educated elites, which leaned to the left, were assassinated by spies, supported by the West (The Ben Barka case in France is a prime example). But only those elites could have led the transition to democracy. For example, Algeria, which was ruled partly by those socialists, is now much closer to democracy than Morocco. So now the transition to democracy is much harder to make for the arabic countries.

[ Parent ]
That's highly arguable. (none / 0) (#90)
by Rainy on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 12:40:05 PM EST

I think these countries couldn't have become democratic because they didn't have a strong middle class. US was just choosing the least of two evils - it's better to have a stable anarchy that slowly builds up industry until it's ready to go democratic, like Iran, than diving into democracy without any base for it.
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Serious Mistake (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by oiarsun on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 06:31:16 PM EST

You cannot put Iran and Turkey in the same class.
The Turkish Republic has never been controlled by an Islamic movement, party, mullah or whatever you call it.
Iran has the name "Islamic Republic of Iran". You can not even talk about putting an "Islamic" word befre the "Republic" word in Turkey.
The struggle for being democratic in Turkey has nothing to do with Islam or any of its movements.

[ Parent ]
Is Islam truly peaceful? | 97 comments (69 topical, 28 editorial, 1 hidden)
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