Sunday, September 24, 2006

The nature of Islam and religion in general

One of the most important questions of today is whether or not Islam is truly a religion of peace. I will certainly not dispute the fact that the jihadists who spread mayhem and terror around the world are a minority of Muslims. We would be in pretty bad shape if a majority of Muslims were terrorists, given there are between 1.2 and 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. However, we also would be in much better shape if Muslims spoke out in greater numbers against violence and extremism. Is Islam as a faith a violent faith? I say it is - but with the following qualification - that all of the major religions are NOT religions of peace. I do not think man is a peaceful animal. We are all, after all, animals. And it is up to us to reign in our animalistic instincts and choose reason. Religion is inherently unreasonable, and inherently anti-reason. There are therefore inherently violent aspects to all of the major religions of the world, and the only forms of religion that are peaceful (or at least do not breed hatred and division) are the secularized versions of the major faiths. There are seldom few truly religious people of ANY faith that actually are tolerant towards gays, minorities, women, other faiths, etc. This is just a sad fact. The difference between Islam and Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism, is that there is a worldwide movement backwards in time, towards Islamic Fundamentalism, and away from secularism, backed in part by Iranian and Saudi oil dollars. Islamic Fundamentalism is inherently violent, intolerant, and hateful. There are many reasons why the Islamic Fundamentalists are gaining so much control, and there is also, in contrast to the other major faiths, a much larger (and documented) amount of antisemitism among Muslim populations. I have come to the conclusion that it is politically correct hogwash to say that Islam is a 'religion of peace.' However, it is also a dangerous lie to say that Islam is an inferior faith, that it has to be violent, that all Muslims are terrorists, or that they even think a certain way. I would never say that, nor would I think that. However, it is also a sad truth that trying to engage in a dialogue about the nature of Islam is a dangerous thing - it is easy to get labeled 'Islamophobic,' and even more than that, it is easy to get death threats. A free and easy exchange of ideas is hard to come by. Regardless, I want it to be known that I know that, regardless of what I think about Islam, Muslims can be some of the most peaceful and law abiding citizens of the world. Some of the most truly decent people in the world are Muslim. Furthermore, the Quran can be interpreted in modern and peaceful ways. There is no doubt about it. But none of this means that Islam is a 'religion of peace.' Finally, I do not call Judaism or Christianity or Hinduism religions of peace, so why should I call Islam a religion of peace? For me to call Islam a religion a religion of peace would then cause me to elevate my opinion of Islam above all other religions. I see no reason why Islam should get such a distinctive label as a 'religion of peace.' As a side note: an interesting discussion about the nature of Islam and Islamic history may be found in the comments to this post. EDIT: One last thing for clarity's sake...I am not saying that atheists are going to necessarily be peaceful people. I view humanity as constantly struggling against violent instincts. Stalin was an atheist, lest we forget. However, that form of atheism was akin to its own religion - forced atheism and forced NONTHOUGHT. I want it to be clear that while I believe atheism should be encouraged, I am wholly against forcing any doctrine on anyone. The need to force one's opinion on another is one of the most dangerous and violent tendencies in the human condition. It also has been the basis of incredible amounts of religious-based persecution.

11 comments:

Kevin said...

Religion has always been about power and those who use that power.
You can argue that a persons faith is powerful. In fact it is. However when you take the faith of the many and use it to project your vision of a religion, it then becomes dangerous and violent. Radical Islam is an example of this.
Most major religions suffer from this. Christianity has had violent sects before i.e. the spanish inqustion (sp?).
As i see it Moderate muslims have two choices. Choice 1: Take the radical muslims head on and don't sweep them under the carpet with the usual excuses of they don't understand the Koran. It will save innocent muslim lives in the long run. Choice 2: Let extremists take over Islam and plunge the world into yet more violence and chaos.

That's how i see it, and if i haven't been politically correct then the PC police can go shove it. I believe people of all faiths and those without a faith can get on. But only if we have frank discussions about our common problems. Yes the West has to deal with it's mistakes, but that does not excuse Islam from the mistakes it's made. Not all of the problems in the middle east can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the west.

Jason said...

"""" There are seldom few truly religious people of ANY faith that actually are tolerant towards gays, minorities, women, other faiths, etc. This is just a sad fact.""""

Thats what I've been trying to tell everyone, but no one listens. I've been constantly trying to convince people that religion is inherently anti gay and anti sexual.



""""However, it is also a sad truth that trying to engage in a dialogue about the nature of Islam is a dangerous thing - it is easy to get labeled 'Islamophobic,' and even more than that, it is easy to get death threats. A free and easy exchange of ideas is hard to come by.""""

People can give me all the death threats they want. They won't silence me even if they kill me.




""""One last thing for clarity's sake...I am not saying that atheists are going to necessarily be peaceful people""""

I certainly would not describe myself as peaceful.

Even though some of the righties on this site seem to constantly see otherwise.

Red Tulips said...

Jason:

I think that being peaceful is a good thing...with a clarification. It is not okay to allow oneself to be fucked around with. In other words, I am peaceful until someone messes with me.

felix said...

Re Islamic Fundamentalists, or radical islamists, or jihadis (or whatever you want to call them), just to be on the safe side, while we are sorting out how violent the religion of islam is, why don't we agree that Radical Islamists should be kept out of the US. The discussion above sound like we all have to become experts on Islam before we can do anything about it.

Jason said...

Well, I suppose I'm peaceful UNTIL provoked. I don't go looking for trouble.

shlemazl said...

"Religion of peace" is a mistranslation of the word "Islam". It actually means "Obedience".

I am not sure Stalin's example of a violent "atheist" is accurate. Firstly Stalin went to a religious seminary and nearly became a priest. He has learnt a lot from religion and made people woship himself as a god.

Besides, communism is a religion; very close to some types of Judaism and Christianity.

Red Tulips said...

Shlemazl:

Thanks - that was a great clarification. You are of course exactly right!

shlemazl said...

You know me. I am always right :-)

Red Tulips said...

Shlemazl:

Damn, I stoked your ego again...that's a problem! :-p

Kevin said...

Shlemazl - Stalin created the first modern personality cult using the medium of cinema to promote himself.
And there is something in the DNA, that gets sparked off by religion.
I don't mind people having faith in a god. But i don't like people ramming that down my throat or using it as an excuse to be violent.

shlemazl said...

Kevin,

Why cinema? LoL.

I was under impression that it was mainly GULag combined with executions and supported by relentless indoctrination from the moment one was born.