- Haron Monis, an islamic cleric walks into the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney with his shotgun on Monday wearing a headband bearing the war cry: “We are ready to sacrifice for you, O Muhammad.” … what then follows is tragic and horrific.
- A band of Islamists walked into a school in Pakistan and massacred over 100 children
- Yesterday there were also reports that ISIS murdered 150 women for refusing to marry militants’ and then buried them in mass graves
Is this truly what Islam is all about?
Counter arguments are as follows …
- Haron Monis was simply a lone nut who went crazy, it does sometimes happen
- What happened in Pakistan was political and was not motivated by religion
- ISIS are denounced as not true Muslims
… but …
- Haron Monis had rather a lot of support, his Facebook page had 14,000 likes, and yet he does indeed appear to have acted alone, and self appointed himself as an Islamic representative. Many will indeed point the finger at the belief and fail to recognise that at its core this was indeed one lone delusional nut. He might have had support, but not because those who ticked “Like” on his Facebook page truly backed what he was about, but rather because he would parrot the usual generic Islamic terms and wore the mask of “Cleric”, and so I am suggesting that he fooled many.
- There is indeed much that is political about TTP, and yet what cannot be escaped is the observation that if the belief in the mix was a different religious belief, one that did not endorse violence, then things would be quite different.
- ISIS might indeed be denounced by many as non-Islamic, or not-true-Muslims, but the sad reality is that the root motivation is a deeply held religious belief, specifically an islamic variation, there is no denying that.
Are all Muslims like this?
Quite clearly the answer is no, that might be akin to asking if all Christians are Catholics, or Methodists, or Baptists, or … well you get the idea. The point is this, Islam is an umbrella term, just as the word Christianity is, and encompasses a vast diversity of conflicting beliefs and sects, some of which are violent and most of which are not.
So what is True Islam?
The term “True Islam” is meaningless and is a term that is used by every single variation of Islam to describe themselves, and so in effect would label every other variation to be one that is false and full of heretics.
This is not simply an Islamic thing, but rather is how almost every variation of religion works, those inside each specific variation are quite sure that theirs is the right one and all the others are wrong to various degrees. For example, in a Christian context Catholics would view other variations of Christianity as wrong heretical beliefs that are out of sync with the one true church.
So why the Violence?
The Quran is a product of the region, its origins, and the 7th century, and so it is full of directives that endorse violence, for example …
Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing…
but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)”
Quran (2:244) – “Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things.”
Quran (2:216) – “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”
The rather obvious counter argument is … “Ah but you are not understanding the words correctly, in context that really means … “, and for many that is how it plays out.
Most religious texts are in many ways like this, they are full of violence, intolerance and many other truly abhorrent things. For example the bible endorses genocide and also contains explicit instructions on how you may beat your slaves, but most Christians would of course point out, “Ah but that is all symbolic and metaphor and refers to a spiritual battle, and the slavery is slavery to the things of the world, etc..”, and so once again the same pattern holds.
The bottom line is this.
- Religious books contain rather a lot of truly abhorrent things
- Most rationalise that all away by interpreting it as symbolic or metaphor and not literal
The real problem we face today is that Islam has yet to catch up, there are still strands of Islamic belief that promote intolerance, misogyney, homophobia, violence and murder as explicit directives endorsed and mandated by a god. The rather frightening observation is that such thinking is still quite popular and is embraced to various degrees as “truth” by millions.
Millions … Is that really true?
- A December 2010 Pew poll found that 76 percent of Pakistanis think that apostates (those that leave Islam) should be killed. This is not unique to Pakistan, it is a view that is also endorsed by the majority modern Islamic scholars today. Luckily most do not act upon this idea, but it does create a climate of considerable fear and also generates a lot of intimidation against any who simply dare to doubt.
- A survey conducted between 2001 and 2006 within “moderate” Indonesia demonstrated that 43.5 percent of the Muslim respondents were “ready to wage war for their faith” and 40 percent said that they would use violence against those blaspheming Islam.
Is there a solution?
Bad ideas inspire bad behaviour, and so criticising those bad ideas and exposing them is a good start, and for the record, such criticism is not Islamophobia.
Most who have an Islamic heritage and are Muslim for what can be best described as cultural and geographical reasons, are generally decent honourable people who would rather live in peace with those around them. They can see what is out there and can see what is going on, they are not stupid.
In the end it turns out that the very best argument against the violence is the violence itself, and that is why many are now starting to reject the Islamists and some are even brave enough to reject Islam itself.
Now there rests hope for a better future, one that is free from such fanaticism.