Saturday, September 16, 2006

Take A Good Look in the Mirror, Islam

If we are to have any dialogue with today's Islam, Islam must first take a hard look at the essence of itself, primarily through its history (not to mention a number of other things). In my previous post, we see the violent reaction by Muslims to the Pope's allusion to a 15th century quote by a Byzantine emperor about the new thing Islam brings to religion: violence. The Muslim reaction illustrates Benedict's point, which would be funny if the consequences weren't so sad.

The irrationality of Islam promotes this kind of reaction. Read again Pope Benedict's explanation (below) of how Islam's view of God, who is complete transcendance, allows Allah to make any command on his people. There is no need for a rationality in Islam since Al'ah is Lord; He can command whatever he like. If Al'ah's will is to promote pagan worship, he can do so since since he completely transcendant. He doesn't need to be rational; he is completely transcendant from reason and its confines.

I'm not saying that Christians never practiced violence. They did, even in the name of Christ. However, these were not the teachings of Christ and the Church. Secondly, popes, eager to stop the expansion of Islam and gain back! what was taken by Islam, roused the troops to war. It was NOT in order to force conversions; it was to take the Holy Sites in Palestine back. Reform eventually became necessary for the Church to bring itself back to the teachings of Christ and the Traditions.

The reform of Islam on the other hand would be completely different. In its scriptures, conversion to Islam is to accomplished either freely or by coercion; violence is taught. The main objective for Islam is to establish an Islamic order in the world. Thus, Islam, to reform itself, would it would have to dismantle itself; it would no longer be Islam.

A reform of Islam that brings Muslims back to the root of its teachings as in Church reform would look much like the radical Islamic movements promoting terror. Islam, by nature has never been a peaceful religion per se, though its adherents can be. As a religion, it spread mainly by tribal and territorial conquest, coercsion with the threat of taxation, and acts of violence and oppression. Violence is in the warp and woof of this religion. Any forced taxation or coercive proselytizing by Christians was and is an abheration, not the essence of Christianity. This is why the Byzantine emperor quoted by Benedict XVI said what he said.

Islam, however, to have true reform, will have to reject major portions of the Q'uran. I doubt this will happen unless Islam alters its view and embrace a God who is also immanent. If they're going to go to such great lengths, they can avoid re-inventing the wheel; they might as well freely convert to Christianity, whose God is both transcendant and immanent!

If you want to see the essence of Islam, view a timeline of its expansion here. You'll be surprised by how imperialistic and violent it is. Then you'll see why the Pope's careful treatment of the subject is so noteworthy and not a veiled attack.

Islam, you have brought nothing new to religion but violence and forced conversion. To all peaceful Muslims who renounce violence, thank you. However, I feel for you. To reject the violence of Islam is to change or do away with your infallible book.


At 8:47 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

When is the last time anybody told relgious believers that they were worng and it had any positive effect?

Being spiritual is a wonderful thing. Being religious is just a mess.

I'm glad to see that the Islamic Fundamentalists are taking the Pope and seriously as they take Danish Comic Strips writer. (Hat tip to Michael McKean)

At 8:24 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

If there are some who are taking him seriously, I hope it starts inner dialogue within Muslim community, if that is what you are meaning.

As far as your comparison between spirituality and religion, Cranky, I think our definitions don't match. I view a religion is that which binds a persons life to what he believes, which is what the latin root "religio" means, to tie or bind. So when a person talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk, their religion is a farce. To me, spirituality is included within religion. I think it's impossible to separate the two from each other.

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

I still don't believe the small minority of radicals that are being shown on TV burning effigies of the pope represent Muslims at large, just like the cartoon flap early. I also don't think they are doing it because they are Muslims. I think they are impoverished people living in mud huts starving that think the reason for their plight is the fact that they are Muslims and the rest of the world is putting them in that position out of hate. They have been taught that by people who have a stake in them hating outsiders rather than examining their dogma and their leader's short-coming and lies. Exactly like what the Catholic church does when it attacks the outside for "witch hunts" against pedophile priests.

It's along the same lines as "the terrorists hate us for our freedom." It is nothing more than an attempt by a ruling few using religion and an external enemy to galvanize the ignorant masses against a common external foe. Sound familiar?

Internally they have so intimidated any dissent that it has no inner voice of reason. Sound familiar? Dissent and opposition in society and on religion are the conscience.

The culture wars here at home and the religious violence abroad have at their roots the same traits. In our case the desperation has not reached the overt violent level...yet. Given the coming economic crises, we may still see this level of violence. Eric Rudolph will be the model.

I consider myself very spiritual, but reject most if not all religion. I don't accept Christ, Mohamed, Buddha, Gandhi. Lao-Tzu etc as divine. I also reject the common definition of an interested god. They were all teachers who had enlightenment (Gnosis) at one level or another. The religion that spawned from their teachings are generally abonimations.

You can argue semantics over the words all you want, but it doe not change the fact that Mohamed, Jesus, Buddha never set down a specific church hierarchy. That was done years after their deaths in order for a ruling few to gain and hold control of a "sacred" message. Christianity was completely decentralized until Constantine decided to use it as a political tool and rewrote the words of Christ and St. Paul to suit his needs. The King James translation of the bible is nothing more than another rewrite to bolster the divine right of monarchy.

Religion has ruined public spirituality.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

I do not doubt that there are uneducated Muslims who are being used by very influential leaders to voice and display their rage. Nothing like the effectiveness of an angry mob that can be used to strike fear in people's hearts. Be that as it may, all you have to do is observe what Islam teaches and you'll find that hate and violence is very much a part of the fabric of its teachings. The fact that there are many peaceful Muslims doesn't do away with that fact. In fact, the fundamentalists would attack and kill those who are not faithful to jihad, and they do. Much of the attacks in Iraq are against civilians who are trying to make a life in the new Iraq. God bless those peaceful Muslims. I mean it.

As to my arguing over semantics...words mean things, even the words you use to communicate with me. So if we're to have any exchange of ideas, we better have clear definitions of the words we use. Makes for better understanding. I'm sure, for example, that you spend time trying to understand what your wife means when she makes a statement. I know from experience, that my wife's idea of love was somewhat different than mine. We've spend twenty-eight years learning from each other.

So, words mean things, and if you and I are to have a dialog, we need to spend time understanding each other. As to your view of the history of Christianity, no wonder you distrust religion so much. Cranky, your view doesn't hold up to history. You must be spending a lot of time with Protestants; most have no clue how the Church developed.

I can tell that you are the type of person that wants to be true blue; you don't want to be a hypocrite and do not play games. Please consider what I have to say. The early church was not as organized as the Church is today. However, there has been a Bishop of Rome from the very beginning, and as the church grew, and the attacks against the church became more sophisticated, and detrimental, the Bishop of Rome had to rise and meet the overwhelming challenges. This hierarchy was NOT the brainchild of Constantine. It was born in the mind of Christ when he established his apostles with the power to bind and loose, giving the keys to his kingdom to his chief minister, Peter; gave them authority to forgive sins and confect Holy Communion, and sent thme on a mission with his authority to baptize, teach and heal in His name. The Church grew from this point on.

More on this later.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Take a look at what a liberal, Sam Harris, says about liberals and Muslims.

This is from the LA Times (9/18/06), and requires registration, so not everyone will be able to read what Harris writes.

If UL, would like, I can send it to him via email, and he can decide whether or not to publish it here on his blog.

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Sure, send it my way. I may not be able to get to it today. I'll be making my trek to Marquette soon and be back late.

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous j said...

im thinking you left me out there on my own!
I need another centerest sheeeeeeeesh

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

You are 100% correct. I would add my two cents' worth: read the Koran, but realize that additional interpretations and teachings are also considered to be as significant. So the Koran alone doesn't make up the entire Islamic faith. And everything adds up to... *drumroll please* ... violence being sanctioned against infidels.

A great book to read is "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam & The Crusades."

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...


I heard about that one! I have no time to read at this point, but perhaps in the future.


Help me here. I don't know what you mean.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

He thinks that you and he are on "the same side," that you and he are centerest(sic) and that you don't have his back.

It's the old the enemy of my enemy is my friend. He stays out of most of our more intense discussions mainly because he doesn't understand them.

Read his commentary on forgiveness and how he thinks being a sociopath is a good thing at UWL.

I think he is full of it, quite frankly. He is most likely a 16 y/o kid who is going through his objectivist phase after finally finishing Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Remember how proud you were when you first thought you "got it?"

His rage is a outward display of his inner confusion as evidenced by its lack of clarity and consistency. He also may be drinking heavily.

At 7:14 AM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

Saur - I haven't read the book but one reviewer wrote, "If you like Fox News, Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly, then you'll like this book. However if you can think outside the box and do your own research, then you'll find this book nothing but thin, sloppy and biased sophistry. Typical Regnery horse manure. Avoid."
Here's another one, "What do Islamophobes and Islamists have in common? They found their arguments on a common violent, selective, and radical interpretation of Islam, unwilling to consider any contrary realities. Their 'Islam,' they argue, is the only 'Islam.' "

Of course there are many positive reviews. The review betrays the subjectivity of the readers either way. It sounds to me that if you are predisposed to this mindset, as I am of all religion, then this is a good reinforcement. If you want the facts then this isn't.

I don't trust anything published Regnery.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

If you want to read a good book about Islam, Karen Armstrong's Islam:A Brief History is a good start. It is a brief overview of the history of Islam, warts and all, written by a former Catholic Nun. Written before 9/11/01 she warns about the rise of Fundamentalism in Islam and accurately predicts the current conflict. She also does a very good job of describing the Islamic belief of the Umma and how society itself is a manifestation of god.

Again, reviewers of this book betray their subjectivity both ways.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Cranky, I've read the Koran. Outside of being agonizingly boring, it really DOES advocate violence. As do the commentaries that I've read exerpts from (admittedly I haven't read ANY commentary from end to end, even with my doctorate).

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

I was just pointing out that the book you cite is a bias anne coulteresque meme.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

Also, have you read the old testament lately?

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...


If you are making some literal equivalence between the Koran and the Old Testament, your comparison falters on a couple of points.

First, the Koran does advocate violence as an expression of jihad, not as some particular event(s) as a development within salvation history of Islam. This violence has been expressed by Muslims in Jihad for over 13 centuries. Second, if you're trying to make a moral equivalent between Islam and both Christianity and Judaism, you will NOT find this as official Church dogma and teaching or in Hasidic or Orthodox Judaism.

Plus, with the completely absurd reaction of Muslims to the Pope's address, I'd say violence is a faith expression that is normal in Islam. Thank God for those Muslims who resist and want to bring reform to their religion.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

All religions blur people's perception of reality - I'm sorry that should read - affects how they see things around them, and in the fanatic reality they are justified in their violence.

btw. Jihad is a good thing, if you understand the concept.

You are making the same mistake in your interpretation of the Islam as Islamic Radicals make. You take the narrowist defenitions of Islam that suit your views and take that to represent the true Islam.

If you want to challenge yourself. Do research in an effort to refute your own argument. You are ignoring the old testment as the violent spiteful, hate-filled document it is.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

No I'm not. You read the Old Testament. You'll find it a very violent primitive time. But you'll hardly see a mandate by God for Christians to do what Islamic fascists claim as the will of Allah for today.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

Deuteronomy Chapter 20

10 "When you march up to attack a city, first offer it terms of peace.
11 If it agrees to your terms of peace and opens its gates to you, all the people to be found in it shall serve you in forced labor.
12 But if it refuses to make peace with you and instead offers you battle, lay siege to it,
13 and when the LORD, your God, delivers it into your hand, put every male in it to the sword;
14 but the women and children and livestock and all else in it that is worth plundering you may take as your booty, and you may use this plunder of your enemies which the LORD, your God, has given you.
15 "That is how you shall deal with any city at a considerable distance from you, which does not belong to the peoples of this land.
16 But in the cities of those nations which the LORD, your God, is giving you as your heritage, you shall not leave a single soul alive.

Where do you think Mohammed(pbuh) got the idea?

I can cite many more examples of the "lord of peace" directing his children to commit horrors in his name.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

You're saying that Mohammet got his idea from the Old Testament? That is a rather simplistic view. Are you taking into consideration the culture of Mohammet? The typical warfare that occured between tribes? Are you taking into consideration the whole scope of salvation history, or are you taking the "cafeteria approach," picking select historical items outside of their context? I think it is the latter.

You are bound and determined to make the moral equivalent. So be it. If you think the Catholic Church equally holds to destroying the infidel, forcing conversions as an official position in faith and morals, please, by all means try to prove it. You'll find ample evidence during the time of the Crusades to "justify" your position that show what was done historically, but you will not find it to be material to our faith.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

My point was that if you want to cherry pick a holy book to support your assertion you can do it, just like you are doing with your blanket assertion that Islam is a religion of violence.

At 12:08 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Blanket statement? I said Islam must look at itself, just like Christendom had to almost 500 years ago. The hatrd and violence by not a small minority tends to raise flags, don't you think.

You misinterpret my meaning to think I assume all Islamists to violent prone. That's an absurd conclusion. HOWEVER, there is a sizeable amount who do promote a violent jihad and I want to know why.

Your moral equivalence side-steps the issue Islam must face. Do you agree with me or not. Don't just make this an opportunity to show your displeasure towards Christians. I am more than aware of it.

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

I really think you need to step outside of the religion and look at the people who are violent as ethnic/demographic groups. These are people who are impoverished living among the richest lands (oil) in the world. They are pissed off, oppressed people. So, their bible has an old testament that says if you are under attack, defend yourself violently. Ever heard of a “Just War?” It’s called religious relativism at its finest. Since their government are despotic and are void of any socially mending capability they believe the world, specifically the west that props up the despot, are really who make them suffer.

To sum it up, they are angry people, acting out violently, who just happen to have a religion, like Christianity and Judaism, which gives them the latitude to act out violently if they interpret the sacred text to suit their needs. How many times have you heard idiots saying Christ embraced violence because he “attacked” the money changer in the temple? Or how about Christ the conqueror from the abominable and probably justified attack on Nero that they call Revelation. How does that become sacred text…but I digress. Imagine the “Lamb of God” being used as a symbol of violence. It’s sickening

So, if you are saying Islam has to face those parts of its dogma that are violent, just as Christianity and Judaism have, then I agree with you.

Just as a side note...The Koran states very clearly that in the lands under Islamic rule it is the ruler’s holy duty to protect the right of Christians and Jews to practice their religion since they worship the same god. They were considered People of the Book. Guess which book… The Old Testament. Yes, there were forced conversions. Guess what…they mostly happened in the 12th century. Guess what else was going on in the 12th century…your beloved Crusades. Yes, there were restrictions on the dhimmi and yes, some were forced to convert, but those things were done by men acting outside of the scope of the Koran, as is usually the case.

Your original post was somewhat factually challenged.

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Cranky, your facts are to be challenged, but I don't have time right now. When God advocated the destruction of an entire group of people in the Bible, it was under specific circumstances only. Would we do it today? Probably not... but we'd lose a lot less lives if we just obliterated Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

As for a muslim tolerating/protecting Jews and Christians, it's called The Dhimma. They have dhimmi status. That means that Jews and Christians are "guilty" because they have not only rejected Mohammad as a prophet, but have also distorted revelations made from Allah. So they may live in Muslim states but aren't equal to Muslims. That means they usually are subjected to segregation and persecution. Think of the blacks in the south in the early 1900s and you get the picture.

Additionally, you would be beheaded immediately because you are an atheist (I believe?). That is not an acceptable religion to a Muslim.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

Agnostic or something to that effect.... but my beheading would be an abomination of what the Koran says. You may have read the Koran but you didn't hear it. You attribute that characteristics of the manipulation of the "dhimmi" by men as directive in the Koran. That is flat wrong. Read what I wrote in my last post and think about it.

You are predisposed to an opinion of Islam that is supported by your interpretation, and that of like minded people - hence the book you cite as "great" LOL, of their holy books. Anyone can play that game with any religion. That is my point. It's easy, you don't have to think...or maybe that's the point...

You just take the extreme as the your idea of the norm and there you go. I stand accused of the same thing concerning evangelical nutjobs representing mainstream Christians. I don't deny it. It's too tempting and too easy.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

Oh yeah Saur, and this is just plain idiotic.

..but we'd lose a lot less lives if we just obliterated Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

You advocate the murder of 125 million people. What would Jesus do? It sounds like your criticism of Islam just stared you right back in the hypocritical face.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Cranky, who knows what Jesus would do in this particular case? But the reason (in the OT) for God telling various leaders to obliterate other cultures is that they just keep coming back. Total obliteration takes care of that. Coldblooded...maybe. But immensely practical. And what would an agnostic care about human life? It's worth little more than any other animalian life...

I don't know how well you studied Islam, but there are other excellent books out there that uphold what I've said. You might try doing some more research before you dismiss my points.

More importantly, do you really feel that you can only win an argument by being aggressive and indulging in childish behavior such as name-calling? That may work with some people, but I'm not as easily distracted. Deal with the facts instead of trying to make it an emotional issue.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

Well, I'll try to find nicer words than idiotic, but that does seem to sum up murdering an entire population because you don't like them or fear their leaders for some reason. So I guess Hitler was justified, right?

Let's see...murdering innocent civilians is moronic. Is that better? How about this, murdering innocent populations is evil. Christ would not permit that kind of evil. How is that. Nice enough for you?

I still don't understand your point. Yes, The Koran and other holy books in Islam call for violence in defense the same way as does the Old Testament. Men have taken this to the extreme and committed unspeakable acts, like obliterating entire populations. These men justififed their actions by using bastardized interpretations of their holy books for reason like, "they just keep coming back" and that, to bring it full circle, is idiotic.

ps. You might want to look up agnostic you might find that you are one too.

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...


You are good at finding inconsistancies between Christian belief and "Christian" conduct. I agree with your assessment of these people. You also identify the common misuse of the Old Testament by some to justify their violent actions. This too needs to be condemned and I am with you again. You hate hypocrisy, which I also hate. It is a loathsome way to live.

Where you and I disagree are the conclusions you make to show Islam and Christianity are the same. You do this to play the "hypocrisy" card in order to stop Christians from condemning the violence of Muslims. You are not looking at this comparison objectively. Christianity and Judaism do not hold to a "jihad" like Islam does. Period. There is no call for beheadings, forced conversions, fatwahs (sp?) etc. from the Pope, rabbi's, or Mainline Christian groups. What we do find are aberations of small groups and individuals that call for extreme measures, such as Pat Robertson or some fundies. However, these small groups do not define the vast majority. To the contrary, there has been a universal outcry by Christians, mainly the Pope, against sectarian violence between Muslims and Muslims against the West. The Pope also declared the Iraq war is an immoral war. He has been most consistant.

What I want from the Islamic communinity to do is to clarify for us their view of violence in jihad. The Koran contains violence as does the Old Testament. Does Islam define the Koran's teachings of violence as something no longer applicable, as do Catholics and Jews? If Islamic-fundamentalists keep misrepresenting Islam, where is the outcry against it from Muslims? How come the Mullahs are either silent about the violence, or encouraging it? And, if there is an outcry, I'd like to know about it.

As to your consistent use of the teachings of Jesus in your discourse with us Christians, are you considering Catholicism? Just curious.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

UL - I agree with most of what you say above. I would also like to see more "mainstream" Muslims speaking out against the violence. Unfortunately the only voice we hear is the one that gets the press. That would be the violent anti-west one.

My playing the "hypocrisy card" of Christians is based in the extreme... Does that make sense? One could say, for example, that the bible tells adherents that it is OK to obliterate populations that they oppose who just "keep coming back." Fundamentalists will tell it's true because it is in the bible. They will ignore Christ's message of peace, love and forgiveness. That is of course extreme, idiotic and does not represent the mainstream Christian ideal.

It is the same mistake as those who paint Islam with the broad brush of being a violent religion based in hatred because the Koran contains the "verses of the sword" which were written in a very primitive and violent time. Thus, the hypocrisy card.

You know I have a soft spot in my heart for Catholicism. I spend a lot of time defending them against the Talibangelicals, evangofascists and fundanazis.

I still don't believe I could limit my spirituality to the confines of Catholicism.

I saw a Bill Moyers special with Pema Chodron that got me reading a lot about Buddhism recently. It is a beautiful path that is in line with the teaching of Christ in regard to our interactions with each other. Many say the Jesus spent time with Buddhists during his lost years. I can see why. Of course Buddhism is an extremely difficult path and I am not ready for it either.

At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Where are you man?


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