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Islam and Islamism

Reader comment on item: Americans Wake Up to Islamism

Submitted by Anne Julienne (Australia), Sep 7, 2010 at 17:47

Daniel, I do support your view on the distinction between Islam as faith and as ideology. However, it is so apparent that Islamism has its roots in the early formation of Islam and in its central sacred text. Anyone with eyes to see can see the "radical utopian ideology" embedded within Islam. Prominent faith-based anti-Islamist Muslims (like Mansur in Canada and Jasser in the US) transform these elements into metaphor or leave them behind as contextual. These are culturally educated and sophisticated people who have opened their hearts and minds to what the West can offer. They simply do not - and cannot for a long time - represent the Muslim masses.

Much of the anti-Islamic tone that you are concerned about amounts to an open criticism of Islam, whether as theology or as ideology. Such open criticism is perfectly legitimate in any open and free society. It hugely offends many Muslims but I don't think we owe them any protection from this pain. It is only when the anti-Islamic tone moves into an anti-all-Muslims tone that we are getting into dangerous territory. I share your concern here. I think this concern is behind the very very slow pace of clear-headed intellectual and political response to Islamism. Geert Wilders is probably the most prominent political voice carrying the anti-Islam tone and message. I support his right to speak out 100% as I think you do also. He is focussed on the negative in Islam and not interested in the positive. That is a pity but Islam - or Muslims - must understand that their religious ideas will only become acceptable and ultimately incorporated into our culture once those ideas have been subjected to the fires of scrutiny, analysis, criticism, and debate. At the end of the process only what is true and useful in Islam will survive.

Devout Muslims like Mansur and Jasser are tolerant of the anti-Islam tone because they have a deep faith in Islam and know it can survive the scrutiny. To them it's: bring it on, say what you want to say, get it all off your chest, and then let's see what is left on the table. They are not afraid because they know there will be something left there. Nor am I afraid for them because I share their faith, though not in the specifically Islamic form that is has for them. Islam as faith and Muslims as people of faith are in no danger from those that will attack Islam. Any Muslim who coils back in fear at what is largely an intellectual and cultural onslaught (and very very rarely an existential or physical threat) is, let's face it, not a brave Muslim warrior as s/he should be. So, to any hesitant Muslim reading this: Stand tall, stand firm, uphold your faith, and turn your backs on those among you who are driven by fear to attack using mindless violence, hate speech, and petty insults. Let's have this anti-Islam debate out there in the open.


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