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It is a fight for the turf.

Reader comment on item: Predicting a Majority-Muslim Russia
in response to reader comment: Islam

Submitted by Sudeep Pathak (United States), Feb 15, 2009 at 18:30

Dear Dr Pipes, Whether we like it or not, religion is a fight for the mental turf and it is a zero sum game. Muslims are doing a very good job of spreading their religion. First of all, if we accept monotheism as an ideal to chase, Islam comes closest to true monotheism (Jews do not actively see conversions and the Christian faith, indeed, is not purely monotheistic).

A fight of mental turf is won by sustained propaganda and Muslims are doing it better than anyone else. Christian missionary cannot do honest preaching. They have fallen into deception --as against true preaching-- as a tool to seek converts (so their tactics turn people off). Hindus and Buddhists like Jews barely seek converts. Add to that Islamic rules for marriage that are biased toward increasing the numbers of Muslims, it is not surprising that Islam is winning converts in every society of the world.

If we truly believe that Islamic way of life leads to intolerance, we should preach religious liberalism with consistency and confidence. As much as we would like, no body of laws can be perfectly written and perfectly followed. Human interpretation of laws cannot be avoided. And when there is interpretation, there is bound to be disagreement. And if there is disagreement, tolerance is an absolute requirement. This tolerance is what is missing in many of the Islamic societies and that is why there are internal conflicts within the Islamic societies even when external cultural influences are not present. I contend that the conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Algeria, Somalia and else where in the Islamic world are neither accidents nor designs of the powers. They are deterministic outcomes of surrendering collective reasoning in favor of draconian mandates (fatwas?) that force all humans to follow the same code of conduct written 1400 years ago.

So if we go by the tags that people put on themselves, Islam may be the fastest growing religion. However, if we subtract the number of people who violate the principles of their religions in their day to day lives, Islam may also be the fastest shrinking religion of the world.

Sudeep Pathak

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