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Response to Sidda

Reader comment on item: Anti-Muslim Racism?
in response to reader comment: No tolerance for the intolerant

Submitted by Imran (United States), Feb 14, 2006 at 06:37

Hi Sidda,

I've just seen your post and I am now responding to the questions you brought up in your post.

you asked: "How do you explain all of the Muslim clerics all over the world who are preaching hatred and killing of non-Muslims."

How does anyone explain the Christian crusades against Muslims? How does anyone explain Christian priests preaching that the Bible justifies slavery? How does anyone justify Hitler's blaming all of Germany's problems on Jewish people? I'm sure even now there are Christian priests in the Bible belt of America that preach against Islam and Muslims.

But let me respond to your question as best I can. First of all, it doesn't take much for a person to declare themself a Muslim cleric, I believe there are a lot of fanatics that don't really read the Quran and ignore the example of the Prophet (PBUH) and simply declare themself to be learned and holy. People are not perfect, and these Muslim clerics that preach hatred and killing are far from being perfect. The same goes for the people who follow these clerics. A lot of people in Islamic countries are uneducated and many don't even know how to read. They hear these "Muslim clerics" whom they believe to be very religious and believe every word they say.

These "Muslim clerics" quote bits out of context from the Quran as their evidence for their philosphy. This isn't a perfect world, there are Christians, Jews, Sikhs, and Hindus like this as well, but it doesn't make those religions evil. I'm sorry if my answer isn't convincing enough, but its hard to explain it in writing. Simply put, these Muslim clerics and their followers are not following the true teachings of the Quran and the Prophet (PBUH). They exploit the common people's negative views against the western world to get themselves put into these high positions of trust. I don't really want to get political, but I'm sure you must be wondering what I mean by negative views against the western world. The common people in these countries see Palestinians thrown out of their own land, they see a country like Iraq being attacked under false pretenses, and they see the most important person in their religion, a symbol of pure Islam, being labeled a terrorist by having a turban in the shape of a bomb drawn on his head. So they're obviously going to have some sort of a negative veiw. It makes it all the easier for them to want to believe the hate preached by the Muslim clerics. If foreign policy in Palestine and Iraq were different, there wouldn't be such a strong negative view for the clerics to exploit. That's as best an explanation I can give.

Remember one important thing, a common person can declare themself a Muslim cleric so there's nothing stopping a "lay" person from delcaring themself a cleric and preaching the wrong religion.

you wrote: "It is one thing for lay people to "misinterpret" their religion. But, how do you explain the leaders of the faith "misinterpreting" it?"

Well, I think I've pretty much responded to this by saying that the common people have a negative view that these as you say "leaders of the faith" exploit. Think about the American Revolution when the American colonies got independence from England. The American colonies really didn't have it that bad under British rule. For the longest time they didn't have any taxes. Then when England started taxing them a little, the people became unhappy. The "leaders" exploited these negative sympathies to convince the colonies to retaliate and fight for independence. Honestly, these "leaders" were not perfect either. When they made the Declaration of Independence they allowed for slavery to continue and didn't even give women the same rights. Just because people are "leaders" doesn't make them perfect. They're still human and they still have biases.

you wrote: "Where are they getting all of their justifications for what they are preaching?"

These people were "lay" people at some point in time and their parents taught them the biases of the society they were living in while they grew up. Add the fact that the western world hasn't exactly been respectful to Palestine and Iraq and add the distasteful and offensive cartoons aimed at the Prophet (PBUH) at a time when Muslims have been distrusted and misunderstood since 9/11. They are not getting justification from Islam's true teachings. They are simply rationalizing their hatred because of their environment and how they see western foreign policy.

you wrote: "How can you "misinterpret" the concept of Dhimmi?"

I'm glad you mentioned Dhimmi, because I honestly had no idea what it was. So as a result, I ended up reading up on it and learned something new. I looked up the term Dhimmi on Answers.com (a non-Islamic website so it wouldn't have any bias or teachings from "Muslim clerics" that don't just proper Islamic justification). What I get out of my reading is that Dhimmi is a non-Muslim living in a Muslim country that has to pay jizya. Answers.com also defines jizya and it even gives the points of view of a few "Muslim clerics". Some are harsh definitions like jizya is a tax paid by non-Muslims for not being killed by the Muslims. However, that doesn't sound right. Charging a non-Muslim a tax that Muslims weren't charged is discrimination against non-Muslims and Islam, in its true and pure form, is wholly against discrimination. Other clerics define it as compensating the Muslim state for protecting the non-Muslim (as when the Muslim state is attacked) and compensation for not forcing the non-Muslim to join the country's army. Furthermore, these people are charge no other property taxes. Muslims living in an Islamic state are forced to pay Zakat (which is one of the 5 pillars of Islam and is a means to purify oneself), whereas the non-Muslims are not forced to pay Zakat because it is not a part of their religion. The Zakat is used by the government to do public services and help the poor. Keep in mind that the value of jizya charged is always less than the value paid for Zakat, so the non-Muslims living in the Muslim state end up paying LESS taxes than a Muslim. Furthermore, they are not forced to join the army or fight in any wars for the Muslim country AND these non-Muslims have the benefit of being protected by that same army. I dont know what your understanding of Dhimmi and jizya were, but this is what I've learned from my readings at http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=Jizya&gwp=16&curtab=2222_1 and at http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1123996016702&pagename=IslamOnline-English-AAbout_Islam/AskAboutIslamE/AskAboutIslamE
the second link has a REALLY good explanation for it and even states that in modern times it doesn't really apply and shouldn't be charged to non-Muslims. So any "Muslim cleric" that goes around preaching that it should be used is, as I've said quite a few times, not following true Islam.

I just want to make a quick mention about the politics I brought up. I'm not here to preach one side or the other regarding Palestine and Iraq because I don't want it to deter from my message that we all have to open our minds and try and understand different perspectives. I can understand the perspective of the person living in Palestine that has a negative view of the western world. I've imagined myself living in a situation where I'm thrown off the land my family has lived on for hundreds if not thousands of years and having 2 of my brothers and sisters killed at a very young age and living in fear every day that a random rocket may go into my house.

Had I lived like that I would probably get desperate enough to listen and believe the hatred those misleading "Muslim clerics" are preaching. I'm sure all of us who have posted on this site live in a much safer environment than places like Palestine or Iraq we're not desparate enough to follow any preachings of hatred.

I've written quite a bit so I'm gonna stop now.

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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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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