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AS, I am not disputing historical specifics, but this is about faith - a few corrections

Reader comment on item: The Evil Isn't Islam
in response to reader comment: to Shahriar

Submitted by Shahriar Rahman (United States), Oct 14, 2007 at 01:55

'in 200 yrs of british colonization, indians never felt the need of crying allahoakbar and crashing airplanes, and exploding in cafetarias like your dear friends, for whom you guys cheer secretly in front of your TV sets. your book gives you a license to do all this, and a promise to get virgins!!!' Your tone here is sarcastic and stereotypical. The Quran in no way gives license to kill non-muslims (unless they BOTH (1) threat to kill you, and (2) they break a treatise - in other words fighting is ONLY permitted in self-defense). Also, I wanted to correct you on the widely-misinterpreted quote from the Quran that we are untitled to "virgins" in heaven.

The Arabic word for virgins is also white raisins - a delicacy in the Middle East. New scholarship is now using this term, and a play has been written about it by my colleague (called Raisins not Virgins). http://www.salaamtheatre.org/raisinsnotvirgins2002.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,,631332,00.html

I am saddened that you feel that most Muslims secretly cheer when they see Islamic terrorist atrocities. Surely, in many parts of the poorer Muslim world, they do. I personally know of such cases in Bangladesh, even though I have never lived there. But here in the US, the Muslim sentiment at such events is undeliably, truly of saddness and loss. It is also presumptuous for you to assume that I had been cheering for ("murderous") Muslims growing up, and so I am somewhat blind to the tragic history of the Indian subcontinent.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I had been essentially a non-believer, and came to Islam in the last few months after much study (of the Abrahamaic faiths) and introspection. I had been able, in my mind, to separate history and the actions of people from the theology itself. Since I decided to believe in God, I should not let the actions of fallible adherents of the faith -the history and politics- interfere with my personal connection with Him - the spiritual aspect. You are entitled to believe that you see no theology or spirituality in Islam. Among the three faiths, however, Islam makes much sense rationally and spiritually to many people.

You rather condescendingly offered that Muslims are growing in number here because "all they do is breed," but the fact remains that among the over 20,000 converts who come to Islam per year in the US, (you may argue that this is insignificant in a population of 280 million), there are far more women, almost all come from Christianity, and everyone chose this faith over more common (or more "Eastern") faith systems. To them, the "brutal" history and ugly Islamist politics had nothing to do with their belief in the Message which essentially -to them- teaches justice, brotherhood of man, equality, and virtue.

Either that, or they simply did not know that "Islam is oppressive to woman" or "teaches hatred and segregation" when they converted - an unlikely scenario. However one thing, I believe, can be said to be true in the case of Islam as opposed to the other faiths; it has a doctrine of governance of society. The Shariah and its accompanying prescriptions have been commonly blamed for the lack of economic/intellectual progress in the Muslim nations. To this charge, I will say that Islam needs to mature more and experience its own reformations.

I feel it does not make me any less a Muslim (one who submits to God) to admit to this. If you look at the top six world religions, Islam is the newest kid on the block, by several centuries. The change in Islam has to happen within itself, with Muslims themselves battling it out as to "what God really intended for society" -- probing questions that, as Damiel Pipes had mentioned, Judiasm had Christianity had endured in the last few centuries.

You had asked earlier to reflect as to why Islam is the most "hated" in the world's collective conscious. It is a disturbing and deeply relevant question to me. I believe that a lack of Muslim progress resulting from what I had explained above may point to a reason, along with the fact that people in the world at large -influenced by the thinking and media propagated by the ruling power- become antipathic to a faith system which challenges the superior power; not unlike how most Western people feared/hated Communism, so much so that it kept them from actually studying it.

Your reasoning is valid from an intellectual point of view. I have not denied the specific facts of what you had said. However, I am making an argument about belief, and not knowing whether you believe in organized religion -or whether you even believe in God/Gods- I cannot convince you by logic or rationale. It is rather like jumping into the deep blue sea and having confidence that you have something tangible in your hands in the blackness of 20,000 feet below surface. To me, Islam provides that confidence.

Submitting....

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