Monday, August 9, 2010

Where is the Outrage From Mainstream Muslims?

The question has been asked continually; where is the outrage? Recently 10 workers from a US aid group were killed by the Taliban. One reason they were killed is because they represented the love of an outside Christian world. Christians have been bringing medical care throughout the world without proselytizing for decades. The Bible says you will know Christians by the way they love and that is why they are so feared by Islamic Extremists. The politically correct explanation is the Taliban and other Islamic Extremists, have corrupted Islam and do not represent mainstream Muslims. However, the actions of these extremist have never been to a corruption of Islam, instead they interpretations by respected clerics of fiery edicts in the Koran. To understand this, one must understand more about Islam, it’s history and how it compares to the history of Christianity. My comparison to Christianity is not based on any perceived superiority to Islam, but because it is the religion always referenced when the subject of the extremists corruption of Islam is discussed. The history of Christianity shifted from a faith group to a faith movement that was co-opted by a government and political organization that eventually fractured and divided and is currently devolving back into a faith group. That is not to say that the faith groups ever disappeared from Christianity, but the scope and influence has evolved and devolved over time.

The history of Islam starts with it's founder, the prophet Mohamed, who brought together the Nordic Arab tribes in modern day Saudi Arabia, under a single religion. Unlike Christianity, Islam fundamentally brought these tribes together not only as a religion and code of behavior, but a conquering force. Islam is a comprehensive political, social, and economic system with its own authoritarian legal framework, "sharia", which aspires to govern all aspects of life. (www.discoverthe nerworks.org) Islam’s rise and fall ranged from it’s birth in 600 AD through the 9th century where Islam dominated half the known world. It was after that time that Islam began to fracture into different autonomous empires. During the 18 and 19th centuries Islam began to take a backseat to non-Islamic governmental powers. By the 20th century the Ottoman Empire was the last standing regime under Islamic control. The area was divided up by Britain into the Middle Eastern countries of today. Recently there has been a resurgence in Islam, whose past and present message of equality among all the people irrespective of race, color, caste, and creed and a devotion to God and family is again attracting millions of followers. The dark side of Islam is referred to as Islamic Extremists, terrorists or Islamo-fascist. Their belief is the entire world should live under the strict rule of Islamic Fundamentalism.

The fact that Christianity and Islam are the largest religions in the world, both have been named and are responsible for numerous atrocities. While the Muslims have been described as accepting and open-minded conquerors, the reality is they espouse a from of proselytizing called Dawa, which is designed to co-opt a current government to clear the way for Islam. The same can be said for the Catholic Church, which was an oppressive government from the 6th Century through 16th century. The true judge of mercy and love of come from their holy scriptures; for Christianity it is the New Testament and for Islam it is the Koran. In the New Testament there is simply no justification for the atrocities of the Christianity. While Old Testament espouses the strict behavior of the Jews and littered with intolerance and genocide, Jesus defines a new covenant based on the love for God and your fellow man. The New Testament defines not a religion but a relationship with God. While there is still no lack of causes espousing a Christian identity, many times a corrupted identity, they would be hard pressed to identify a basis in the New Testament, because it would not be there.

Islam is based on it’s five pillars, the first four mainly taken came from the Old Testament and Mohamed's poor knowledge of Christianity. An understanding and study of the Koran is considered the life long obligation for a Muslim. In Fundamentalist Islam, schooling male children consists of memorizing the Koran (there is no schooling of woman who are oppressed and treated as subservient). Since there is no central authority in Islam, interpretation of the Koran is done by autonomous Islamic religious clerics who can eventually attain the level of Ayatollah; Ayatollahs have the authority to issue their own edicts or laws, based on their interpretation of the Koran and other sources of Islamic law. Islamic law does not distinguish between "matters of church" and "matters of state", which has resulted in conflicts with the rule of law in autonomous nations. The previously described "Dawa" often results in a dual system of secular courts and religious courts and is referred to as Sharia compliant. This issue has met it's biggest challenge with the United States, where the Constitution and rule of law define the Republic of the United States.

It is the subject of Jihad, where Islam tends to take a left turn.

Jihad is freely defined as a struggle or battle. In a Christian sense it is man’s continuing battle against sin. But, Jihad can also be defending the nation or community of Islam. The definition of the defense, the nature of the enemy, the nature of the threat and nature of the tactics used is based on a clerics study and interpretation of the Koran. The Koran and other sources of religious law are also rift with contradictions, some of which was purposeful via “scriptural precedence”, or the most recent scripture takes precedence. However once again, it is up to the clerics to decide if it is indeed a contradiction or what scripture will take precedence. What would seem to be a violation of Mohamed's edicts against the killing of none co-habitats, is explained away by some through study of the Koran and the interpretation of Jihad. This is not mainstream Islam and most Muslims will tell you that is not the way of Mohamed, but their condemnation is always respectful. The reason is the clerics that make these interpretations are still men deserving of great respect in Islam. Ask any Muslim about certain aspects of their faith and they will usually mitigate some of the answer to the need to consult with an expert on that aspect of the Koran. The result of this misdirection allows a Muslim to counter almost any argument by quoting numerous clerics who have studied and interpreted those areas of the Koran that espouse the peaceful and loving Islam, but have not studied or interpreted the more violent aspects of Jihad and are therefore moot on the subject (an excellent example of this is the Wikipedia entry on Apostasy). Many Muslims also live under a veil of fear from extremists. Like those living in a gang-infested neighborhood, the authority of extremists is maintained by terrorism, retaliatory murder and mutilation. It is estimated the 1-2 percent of the Muslims in the world are radicalized; with 1.6 billion Muslims, that's 16-32 million terrorists. Compare that to "Christian Extremists"; while the Department of Homeland Security offers no numbers, they are generally described as 200-300 decentralized groups that range from a few members to several hundred. It is like comparing a hand grenade to an atomic bomb.

With no central authority for Islam, it's sense of morality and direction, while maintaining it's core beliefs, tends to mirror the local community. This leads to great disparity throughout the world and runs the gambit from the archaic (Afghanistan) to the post modern (New York and California); that which works in New York will not work in Kabul. While the two may be mutually exclusive with the expectations of behavior required of their followers, they are still both Islam. Mainstream Islam may not approve or agree with extremists, but they still view them as fellow Muslims. Until a break from these violent factions occurs, and the extremists are denounced as evil and apart from Islam, there will be no outrage from the Muslim world for the atrocities of their extremists.

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