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Response for Walter and Shazia

Reader comment on item: Christianity Dying in Its Birthplace
in response to reader comment: True Nature of Islam

Submitted by Aidan Maconachy (Canada), Sep 15, 2005 at 23:21

Walter, your points are well taken. There is indeed a schizophrenic tension within Islam - on the one side are the devout and peace loving ... on the other side people who view violence as a legitimate expression of Islamic determination.

I would point out though that this type of "Jekyl and Hyde" aspect of religion is not peculiar to Islam. Remember the Inquisition, the medieval witch persecutions, the excesses of the Templars. In recent years we have witnessed the spectacle of "Christians" in N.Ireland tearing each other apart in the name of their version of the faith. In eastern Europe we have seen Christian Serbs establish rape camps in order to debase and destroy the souls of captive Muslim women. Every religion has its ugly aspect and tends to breed its own in-house fanatics.

I do think however, that the aggrandizing tendencies in Islam are more "monolithic" than is the case with other faiths. Christian extremists are almost always fringe elements, unfortunately this does not appear to be the case with Islam - especially when one hears a so-called "moderate" leader like Elmasry in Canada say that any civilians over the age of eighteen in Israel are legitimate targets for murder. Indeed, the "climate of violence" in Islam goes much deeper and is more widely sanctioned, tacitly or openly as the case may be, than is the case in other religions.

So Shazia, although I and others hear you clearly and understand your distinctions, we are nonetheless faced with worldwide actions driven my Islamists who are infected with what I would term "Jihad psychosis". In the face of this security threat it is difficult for the average western Christian to remain open to the inner face of Islam and its pristine truths.

Nonetheless, it is important that people in the West retain some perspective and act with caution before tarring all Muslims with the same stick. If we don't do this, then we fall into the same trap of bigotry ourselves.

It is my hope that more Muslims such as Shazia will come forward in the public arena to condemn actions such as suicide/homicide bombings, plane hijackings, car bombings etc that involve the killing of innocent civilians. I think the current slaughter of Shi'ite Muslims at the hands of Sunni insurgents in Iraq is a dreadful moral crime. No matter what problem these insurgents have with the state-of-affairs in Iraq, it is neither moral nor just to murder poverty stricken young men who are lining up for a job ... to drive a car into a street where children are being given candy by marines and detonate a bomb in the middle of these innocent ones. Really, this is a shocking crime. Jesus, who is recognized by both Jews and Muslims as a divine teacher said (and I paraphrase) - "anyone who touches a hair on the heads of these my little ones, had better put a millstone around his neck and cast himself into the depths of the sea."

I welcome the voices of Muslims of good will, who have the courage to rise above the tit for tat mentality and state emphatically that violence toward innocents used in a terroristic fashion is non-Islamic. As Salman Rushdie said recently - reform needs to come from within Islam itself.
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