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Fatimah

Reader comment on item: Distinguishing between Islam and Islamism
in response to reader comment: Mohammad is not responsible...

Submitted by Tony Iveson (United Kingdom), Oct 9, 2013 at 18:06

What you say is true. Decent muslims are decent in spite of Islam. However, I disagree that it (fanaticism and an overbearing patriarchy) is not Mohammed's fault. I don't believe the Quran is the word of God as revealed to Mohammed. Just as I don't believe that Jewish holy books and Christian holy books are the word of God (either dictated or reported),. I think that Mohammed made it all up and so did the Christians and the Jews. The Quran is an amalgam of Judaism and Christianity plus new ideas that reflected Mohammed's own needs as a human being and as a military commander at the time.

You say that Islam needs reforming. That would be marvelous for the world. Reformation could soften it and make it less aggressive. Unfortunately, I don't think that reform is possible. Christianity was capable of reformation (change) because the 4 gospels are all reports, just like newspaper accounts of someone's behaviours and actions. Moreover, these accounts were written by human beings and, therefore, prone to lying, fallibility, mistakes and bad memories. They weren't even all first hand accounts. Moslems insist that the Quran is entirely different. It is supposedly the revealed word of God to Mohammed via an angel. In effect, Gabriel, an angel, dictated the word of God to Mohammed. Since an angel is supposedly a holy and immortal being, the assumption seems to be that the angel would not lie or exaggerate but tell it just as God wanted it told.

Because the 4 gospels are like newspaper reports, and the accounts of Jesus's life differ from one account to another, Christians have long been used to arguing and interpreting the "Word". Because the 4 gospels are open to interpretation, this inevitably leads to doubt and the possibility of change. This is much harder to do in Islam. If you beleive that your holy book is the revealed word of God, not simpy a second-hand report, then you are going to find it hard to interpret in a broad way. The possible interpretations are necessarily going to be much narrower where you believe there is no room for doubt. This is Islam's strength and its weakness.

Islam's strength lies in its ability to survive and prosper as a code for living precisely because it is not subject to change over time. It requires and exacts obedience to the "Word" as supposedly revealed by God. It ensures its survival through fear of damnation and fear of earthly punishments for transgressing against the "Word". For example, a stern and rigid patriarchy is a given in the Quran. Women challenge men at thier peril. Islam's inability to accept change means it comes into conflict with everything that does not agree with it. Muslims cannot choose to interpret the Quran differently from their leaders. If they do, it is seen as a crime against God and disobedience against those who uphold the "Word". Harsh punishment quickly follows. When they do transgress, muslims know that they are being untrue to their faith. It is why a call to arms works so well. Jihad is sanctioned by the Quran. If their faith is insulted, muslims have a duty to go to war to avenge that insult. They are obliged to fight because the "revealed word" in the book says they must.

At the same time, these strengths also contain the roots of Islam's weakness. Education and a liberal lifestyle broaden horizons and tempt muslims to move away from their rigid beliefs. Internationally, the non-islamic world is appalled by Islamic rigid thinking and its resulting violence. The non-Islamic world will only tolerate so much. Eventually, when patience has run out, Islam is likely to be crushed out of existence. Reformation, and a liberal watering down, as has happened to Christianity, would possibly save it. But, as I have argued, it would be nearly impossible to achieve that and so I think Islam is doomed (another 100 years at most) and that is a good thing.

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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".

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