69 million page views

Reply to the question concerning whether Islam is by nature peaceful....

Reader comment on item: Was Barack Obama a Muslim?
in response to reader comment: A Question

Submitted by Tom Marzullo (United States), Dec 30, 2007 at 11:45

Reply to: Ron Thompson comments made on Dec 28, 2007 at 10:05

This seems a reasonable question on its face, but in fact it misses the salient issue and ignores well-documented religious history, especially in a macro sense.

Beyond the questions of whether Islam is peaceful or not (it is in fact, both) is where the power structure(s) that uses this religious basis wishes to go. Take Christianity as an example, its scriptures have changed very little - although how these very same tenets have been applied has changed most radiacally over time. One need look only at how Christianity was once enforced at sword's point, with those unwilling to bow to the religion's leadership burned alive as heretics to see this sea change. After considering these two religions within this historical context it seems pretty plain that it is those who hold the strings of power that control and determine the actions of its enforcers. The religion holds both the ying and the yang, waiting only to be directed.

Islam has been both a potent factor for stagnation and as an "opiate of the masses" (for lack of a better term) since it enabled the power elite in Muslim lands to live relatively unmolested lives of extreme luxury compared to the bulk of the local population. As a natural consequence of that centuries old role, Islam has taken on an assumed position of power well beyond that of the ruling elite and this potential for power has been co-opted lately by its more radical elements. This was the prime factor in the 1978-79 regime change in Iran and elsewhere in predominantly Muslim lands..

Since history tells us that scape-goating is a time honored and highly practical political tradition, it should be of little surprise that it has been applied vigorously by the its militant Islamic controllers, whether these are called Imams, Sheiks or some other title matters very little functionally. Its basic advantage is this: If one can focus the rage and disaffection of the overwhelming majority focused on some external targets it prevents that dangerous emotional surge from working on the domestic issues that are frequently among the root cause(s) of their misery. Would be and successful despots have always used this tool... Lenin, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Chavez or the Imams are all examples. Once this gambit failed from blind overuse or an external force (in conjunction with cooperation of the populace) was successfully applied, then the despot/regime in question was thrown out.

So what it comes down to is how to defeat or neutralize those who currently direct the power inherent within Islam. Once that is done, then the "peaceful" aspects of Islam can reemerge. History is prologue... this too shall pass if we stand firmly against those who would once again try to dominate the world using religion as their vehicle to power.

My considered opinion is that we should do everything within our power to enable oppressed Muslims to be able to perceive and focus upon the root causes of their miseries and then assist them with the physical means to change those situations. That is the only true long-term solution that will shorten the process of giving over the reins of power to those whose intentions towards their neighbors are less physically aggressive. The struggle of ideas will continue, for that is an essential part of human nature that can only be temporarily supressed but never defeated.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2024 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)