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Still not seeing the forest for the trees

Reader comment on item: Civil war likely in Iraq: Pipes
in response to reader comment: Can't see the Forest for the Trees

Submitted by Jason (United States), Mar 16, 2006 at 11:44

WeAreAllDanes!, how much time have you actually spent at Friday prayers in a mosque, actually listening to what the imams are teaching? I've spent plenty since I was a teen in the '70s. I had a close friend who was Muslim. We took turns attending each other's houses of worship and actually trying to learn about each other. He's now a Methodist minister (and I'm even more of a Fundamentalist Christian than I was then), so I'm pretty well qualified to speak to the good, bad, and ugly of both faiths.

For starters. I have repatedly said that MOST of what is going on today is the result of using hadiths and fatwahs and not the Koran. That's Most, NOT ALL. The scriptures of every religion have verses or sections that can be used to incite hatred. The Bible is no exception.

Here's a little exercise for you. First, take a nice leisurely read through Genesis and Exodus, then stop. Now ponder those two books BY THEMSELVES. Do not include any of the later material from the Bible that you know. Just think about what is put forward in Genesis and Exodus, as if they were a single, freestanding text.

Not a nice picture, is it? This is the exact challenge Hamid gave me 30 years ago. If you are willing to pick and chose materials and pull them out of their larger context, you can produce evil with just about every religious work ever produced. The Bible is actually the easiest to do this with.

As for Sura 9, you are quoting out of context when you say "kill the infidels". For starters, the only "infidels" that are ordered killed are the idolators and polytheists. This order is not directed against Christians and Jews. By the way, both Christianity and Judaism contain much the same command in a multitude of places in Genesis and Exodus, as well as others.

Secondly, be careful which non-Arabic translation you are using. A good example of mis-translation is the use of the word "Fight" in 9.29. The most appropriate word would be challenge or dispute, not fight. Most of the non-Arabic translations available in the West were done by people who had an agenda: portray Islam in the most negative way possible. Be careful of which translation you use.

I'm not trying to defend Islam, or trying to place it on the same level as Judaism and Christianity. It never can be on that level because it is not the work of God, but the work of a man. Brlliant, yes, but misguided. And the same can be said for the religion he founded. It is NOT EVIL in and of itself, just misguided. Until we get beyond the Islam-equals-evil equation, we will never be able to educate Muslims about the errors of their ways. My friend converted because there were Christians around him that understood this.

And that brings me back to the key point of this whole thread: the present situation exists because the Islamic leadership intentionally keeps people ignorant of the truth about their faith in order to maintain control. This is no different than what the Catholic Church was doing before the Reformation. It is this behavior by the leadership that is evil, not the religion itself.

BTW, Islamic leaders also know that a Muslim who is well educated in the Koran-based truth about his faith is far more likely to leave Islam for Judaism or Christianity. That education can only come through dialogue, not vitriol.
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