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Islam, itself, is the problem

Reader comment on item: The Evil Isn't Islam

Submitted by GB Gaskin (United States), Aug 1, 2002 at 16:02

Dear Mr. Pipes,

I also enjoy many of your writings, but I think your conclusion on Islam is not completely accurate. Here are a few brief points:

1.) The fact that it has endured for many centuries does not in any way testify to its validity. It only means that people still believe it, but people could still be mistaken. There are people who still believe in child sacrifice, but that does not make the belief itself legitimate, true, or valid.

2.) You offer the "sword" verses and the "peace" verses, but you do not explain how to reconcile the two. You can not simply say that you prefer the peace-sounding verses, therefore Islam is peaceful. The Suras, or chapters, in the Koran are not in chronological order. In fact, Muslim theology holds that later revelations negate previous revelations--this is the doctrine of abrogation. Muslim scholars date the "peaceful" revelations as coming early in Muhammad's career as "prophet." The hostile verses date later. In fact, as reported by Umar b. Abd al-Aziz, Muhammad's last words on his death bed were, "Perish the Jew and the Christians...Beware, there should be no two faiths in Arabia." When he signed the agreement in Medina, he divded the world into two camps: "Dar al-Islam", the house of Islam and "Dar al-Harb" the house of war. The Hadith, collected sayings and acts of Muhammad, is replete with saying supporting aggression against the unbeliever. Someone suggested the book, "Why I am not a Muslim" by Ibn Warraq, and I highly suggest it as well.

3.) The comparison is made between violence committed by those of the Christian faith over the years and violence committed by Muslim believers, but this is incomplete. The history of the Christian Church has many examples of violence committed in its name, but one must ask the question, "Are these acts LOGICAL OUTWORKINGS of the fundamental tenets of the religion or not?" If one reads the Christian Scriptures and consider the life of Jesus, one can immediately see that they are not logical outworkings of Christianity. However, I am not sure the same could be said about Islam. It may be that Usama bin Ladin may be a true believer, and his acts may logically follow the Koran, orthodox Muslim theology, and the example of Muhammad himself. That is not to say that Muslims are violent...most are not. A majority of Muslims across the globe do not support violence, but that does not mean that it is not a logical outworking of Islam, nonetheless.

4.) Lastly, it is not true that militant Islam is a new phenomenon. The violence conquest against the infidel was present at its inception. That is what enabled Islam to spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa within 100 years after Muhammad's death. It spread into the Iberian Peninsula and almost conquered Vienna. The Persians and the Byzantines fell under the sword, though the Mongols in the East held off the expanding Islamic Empire. All of the current militant Muslims hearken back to Muslims of centuries past as inspiration for what they do today.

I am not saying here that Muslims are evil at all. I cherish my friendships with those in my life who profess Islam, but I believe that Islam's logical outworking is compulsion, totalitarianism, and violence is not inconsistent with it. I did not address whether or not Islam is true and the evidence, or lack thereof, for it, but only the points you made in your article.

Thanks.
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