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Islam vs. "Radical Islam"

Reader comment on item: Once considered anti-Islam, senior scholar says he's now in the middle

Submitted by Edward Cline (United States), Aug 18, 2010 at 22:29

I fail to comprehend how grown, articulate adults can still believe in supernatural beings, whatever their names, attributes, characters, and legends. I think Dr. Pipes subscribes to the notion that there are "moderate" Muslims who condemn terrorism in the name of Islam, and this is where I disagree with him. Aside from its obvious totalitarian nature, what is there to Islam that stakes a claim to a "moderate" Muslim's devotion and loyalty to it? Is it the altruist morality of self-sacrifice and selflessness, which it shares with Christianity and practically all other creeds? Is it the seduction of its "pacific" imperatives in the Koran and Hadith to do "good" and be nice to Muslims and non-Muslims alike?

Of all the religions I detest -- and oppose as an observer and critic, not as a obsessed proselytizer -- I detest Islam the most, because of its totalitarian nature (of governing every aspect of one's life and thinking, as Christianity did in the Dark and Middle Ages, up until the Enlightenment); because of its endless checklist of disparate, arbitrary imperatives both banal and belligerent; because its "prophet" was a barbarian, who, besides his belief in faith or force, was an exemplar of some unattractive personal characteristics which past and present Islamic theologians do not deny existed; and because its deity, Allah, is a worse psychopathic being than Jehovah of the Old Testament.

Christianity, however, was able to be reformed because, over several torturous and bloody centuries, religion was separated from the state. The United States was the first to incorporate that idea into its political philosophy. But, in Islam, the union of religion and politics is essential to its existence. One without the other would make them mutually irrelevant and impotent. Islam is a political/religious ideology. That is its prime identity. I think that Dr. Pipes and some more thoughtful Muslims believe it can be "reformed." I do not think it can be "reformed" without killing it. Subject its doctrine to moral surgery to remove its belligerent, homicidal, racist, and rapacious elements, and what would be left but a creed as pacific as the Quaker or Amish? It could no longer be "Islam," but something else entirely.

The most important organ to remove from Islam would be its heart -- which is a nihilist hatred for life and existence.

As an atheist, I can score Christianity for as many valid reasons as I can Islam (or any other creed that claims fealty to a supernatural being, and that asserts that such an entity was the "first cause" of everything). But believing in a pacific Jesus Christ who counseled passive altruism and non-violence, and believing in the words of a barbarian who bypassed persuasion and resorted to the scimitar to spread his "faith," are two different things. Christ was a "flower child" to Mohammad's Attila the Hun. Mohammad is the source of all that "radical extremists" and "moderate passive" Muslims believe. Jefferson, a Deist, held Christ to be his ideal man. I think he was wrong to and I don't esteem any the less for that error. But who in his right mind would esteem Mohammad as an "ideal man" and practically a saint? One may as well elevate Hitler, or Mao, or Pol Pot.

Do the "moderate" Muslims rationalize Islam and compartmentalize it so they can get on with living? If they feel it necessary to compartmentalize it in their minds, wouldn't that suggest its impracticality as a guide for living on earth? I observe the same phenomenon in Christians and followers of other creeds. I think that attempting to "reform" Islam would not only be a dangerous enterprise -- its more doctrinaire spokesmen would raise holy hell and call for fatwas on anyone who tried it -- I think it would be a futile and profitless enterprise. Islam, like Christianity, must be renounced and repudiated in its entirety, and reason and rationality proclaimed in all things moral and political.

Michelle Boorstein writes in her article that Dr. Pipes, "while he shares a concern about radical Islam with today's crop of bloggers, he considers them 'anti-Islam' because in his view they see the faith and its scripture as fundamentally problematic for a pluralistic, democratic society like the United States and unchangeable." I am one of those "unsophisticated" bloggers. I do not think there is such a thing as "radical Islam." There is just "Islam." The "radicals," or the terrorists, are the ones implementing it in its purist, most consistent form. One may as well make the false distinction between Nazism and "radical Nazism" or between Communism and "radical Communism." Islam is more an ideology than it is a religion.

Dr. Pipes, together with Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson and so many other "Islam watchers" offer encyclopedic knowledge of Islam, its history, its depredations, and the perils it poses to the West and civilization. I disagree with Dr. Pipes virtually on this single issue of "moderate" Islam.

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