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Freedom of Religion: Best Weapon Against Terrorists

In the so-called “war on terror,” we seem to be at war with “Islamic fundamentalists,” “Islamists,” “Militant Islamists,” “Islamofascists,” “Islamic extremists,” “Violent Muslims,” Islamic terrorists,” “jihadists.” This is wrong. We are not fighting Muslims. We have fallen into the bin Laden trap: he wants a religious war that makes supreme the bin Laden Cult of hatred and death worship.

Islam is Not the Enemy

Bin Laden and his cohorts talk so much about religion, we tend to think that Islam is the enemy. This makes no sense at all. There is no big conflict between Islam on one hand and Christianity and Judaism on the other hand. All three religions stem from the same source: Abraham. All three religions believe in the same one God, though they give him different names - Yahweh, God, Allah. To paraphrase Shakespeare, A God by any other name is just as divine.

Muslims revere the same prophets revered by Christians and Jews. They add the Prophet Muhammad to the list. Christians and Jews need not revere Muhammad, but they need not be afraid of him either. Muslims like both Christians and Jews; they call them "people of the book."

There are divisions in Islam, just as there are divisions in Christianity and Judaism. The Sunnis and the Shiites are the main groups. They are rivals, somewhat similar to Catholics and Protestants in Christianity and Orthodox, Conservative and Reform in Judaism. Though they sometimes fight, they have a great deal in common.

Like practically all religions, Islam teaches love, compassion and peace. Bin Laden and his henchmen have hijacked Islam; perverted it into a religion of hatred, death and martyrdom; and used it as a means to gain absolute control over the Middle East, America and eventually the world.

Islam is not the enemy. Bin Laden and the other terrorists are the enemy. This is not a religious war. It is a conflict with international gangsters who use terror to achieve their Hellish goals.

Bin Ladenism is a Cult

Bin Laden thinks of himself as a religious leader. Many in the Arab world worship him as the embodiment of God. But he is a phony who makes his own laws as he goes along. Take suicide bombing, for instance. According to the Koran, suicide is a terrible sin. Lawrence Wright, who has written "The Looming Tower," the book that details bin Laden's transformation from Saudi dissident to the most infamous terrorist leader he now is, says this:

The question of suicide was even more problematic. There is no theological support for such action in Islam: indeed, it is expressly prohibited. "Do not kill yourself," the Quran states. The hadith, or sayings of the Prophet, are replete with instances in which Mohammad condemns the action. The specific punishment for the suicide is to burn in hell and to be forever in the act of dying by means of the same instrument that was used to take his life. Even when one of his bravest warriors was severely wounded in battle and hurled himself upon his sword only to relieve his terrible suffering, Mohammad declared that he was damned. "A man may do the deeds of the people of the Fire while in fact he is one of the people of Paradise, and he may do the deeds of the people of Paradise when in fact he belongs to the people of Fire," the Prophet observed. "Verily, the rewards of the deeds are decided by the last actions."

Muslims frown on suicide. Through rationalizations and logical contortions, bin Laden came to the conclusion that in some circumstances - those he chooses - suicide is not only OK, but necessary. He has corrupted his followers to believe this.

Bin Laden and other terrorist leaders celebrate death as though it is desirable. No it is not. Muslims tell the tale, as do all Abraham's descendents, of Abraham who was going to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God stopped him before he could do this. From this incident we - Christians, Muslims and Jews - may draw the conclusion that God prefers life. Again, when he advocates death, bin Laden is defaming Islam.

Bin Laden has so defiled Islam, that he represents nothing but a cult. We in the West have no quarrel with Muslims. Our quarrel is with bin Laden and those subscribing to the bin Laden Cult of hatred, death and martyrdom.

Religious Freedom

Muslims have a history of religious tolerance. One example. All Arabs revere Saladin, the same way all Americans revere George Washington. Saladin conquered the Crusaders, and Washington conquered the English. Like Washington who was tolerant of people with different religions, so was Saladin. As a matter of fact, the Jewish physician and sage, Maimonides, was a consultant in Saladin's Court.

True Muslims are peaceful and tolerant. It's hard to believe this because we hear only the voices of hatred, the voices of those who have been radicalized by bin Laden and other terrorists. These voices are not attacking only America but also Islam. As a matter of fact, their primary target today is Islam. Terrorist leaders attack Arab leaders. In Iraq, they are instigating a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites, hoping that it would bring a bigger war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

The bin Laden strategy is based on inflaming religious bigotry and hatred, among the Muslims, and between Muslims and members of other faiths. The best way to fight bin Laden is by spreading the foremost American ideal of freedom of religion throughout the Middle East and throughout the world.

Freedom of religion has worked like a charm to prevent religious conflict in the USA. We feel that each person may exercise his religious beliefs or non-beliefs as long as he does not harm others. We must now spread the word all over the Globe. Freedom of religion is the message the entire world is dying to hear.

The Pope had the right idea when he went to Turkey for a religious dialogue; his implementation was not very good. However, this is a good example to follow. Could we get our president to go to the Middle East to talk about freedom of religion? Could we get members of Congress to do this? How about religious leaders?

Arabs tune in to Al Jazeera; we condemn it. How about a member of this administration appearing on Al Jazeera to talk about freedom of religion?

We have nothing against Islam. Both Islam and us are under siege by the bin Laden Cult. The best weapon at our command is spreading the word about freedom of religion.

Posted by Paul Siegel at January 2, 2007 5:39 PM
Comments
Comment #201210

Our war as humanity, is with every thug, miscreant, black mailer, terrorist, abuser, and powerful intimidater who believes they are exempt from the rules of humane treatment toward our fellow citizens of the world.

We the civilized people of the world vastly outnumber the uncivilized. That is why they cannot win, if we choose not to support them. From President Bush to the lowly terrorist in the making in Pakistan, we the civilized people who choose peace over war, prosperity over ignorance and want, security over fear and intimidation, and liberty over blackmail and subjugation to the power of others, can and will prevail. All that is required is the refusal to comply with the wishes and rules of the uncivilized.

To stand up and declare wrong doing wrong, even if it costs us our job. To reject intimidation by exposing the intimidator, even though we may be harmed by them. To vote against the powerful who use fear to sway us toward them, even if it costs us a weaker leader. To report crime and abuse when we see it, even though we may feel it is none of our business. To network with each other when our neighborhood is terrorized and besieged by thugs, and in greater numbers take them down, if the police and government won’t.

These are the rights and responsibilities of free people. It takes a strong will and stout heart to live as a free person. Sometimes freedom must be purchased with one’s life, or well being. But, such as these are merely ordinary persons who one day resolutely decide, freedom is worth any price, and fear is no way to live for a civilized human being, and no legacy to leave their offspring.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 2, 2007 6:26 PM
Comment #201220

Paul

We have to recognize the Muslim medieval “tolerance” for what it was. It was tolerance in the true sense, not the modern way we use the term. Tolerance means you tolerate, you do not accept or affirm. You can withdraw your tolerance whenever you want. You might tolerate the weeds in your yard or the squirrels in your attic. It does not mean you like them.

Tolerance of Christians and Jews in Muslim lands was like toleration of blacks in the south in the 1930s. They suffered under permanent second class status and were “tolerated” as long as they knew their place. One of the Sultan’s top jobs was to ensure the primacy of Islam in any dealing between the faiths and when Christians and Jews misbehaved they suffered.

Again, it is like the south and blacks. Blacks and whites lived together in peace most of the time, presence was “tolerated” but not trangressions against the established orders. There was no trouble as long as everybody knew their place.

I agree with you re American freedom of religion. I am not sure Islam will allow it at this time, however. Think about this last year. Some Muslims are in a perpetual state of outrage.

Religious freedom includes the freedom NOT to believe in a religion and even to show disrespect. I might want to do business on the sabbath. I cannot care if it offends Christians or Jews. It is none of their business what I do. I might just believe that Jesus, Mohammed, Moses etc were not holy. If I talk about that, the recourse of the beleiver is to shun me but they have no right to punish me.

Most Muslims are okay with that. I happened to be in the airport in Ankara when a large group of pilgrims was on its way to the holy cities during Ramadan. A couple of Germans and I were the only ones not wearing those white robes. I was drinking a coke when they all walked in. I put it aside out of respect (and it is just bad manners to be an eat in fronter) but NOBODY gave me a hard time. I think that is as it should be. We should show respect but NEVER be compelled.

Take away Islams belief that it can punish or coerce and we will have modern tolerance. When Muslims boycott, but do not attack a brat & brew in the suburbs of Mecca, we will know we have arrived at the toleration as we use the term.

BTW - Administration spokespeople DO appear on Al Jazeera to talk re religious freedom. Al Jazeera is actually fairly open to these sorts of things. If only that were sufficient.

Posted by: Jack at January 2, 2007 9:05 PM
Comment #201222

http://www.pregnancy.net.in

The period during which a developing fetus is carried within the uterus. In humans, pregnancy
averages 266 days (38 weeks) from conception to childbirth. Traditionally, pregnancy duration
is counted from the woman’s last menstrual period, which adds roughly 2 weeks to gestational
age. This is how physicians arrive at a pregnancy length of 40 weeks (280 days).

Posted by: pregnancy at January 2, 2007 10:07 PM
Comment #201224

http://www.flowers-shop.org

In modern times, people have sought ways to cultivate, buy, wear, or just be around
flowers and blooming plants, partly because of their agreeable smell. Around the world,
people use flowers for a wide range of events and functions that, cumulatively, encompass
one’s lifetime

Posted by: flowers at January 2, 2007 10:10 PM
Comment #201225

http://www.women1.org/

a woman, or the feminine in men and women, seeks to share deep awareness of the world
in a sacralized communion. the presence of soft candle light, wild flowers, and the
rituals of dressing for the occasion are simply metaphors acknowledged and “lived out”
in honor of the moment. in honor of life. in honor of shared awareness of the infinite
in a moment.

Posted by: Women at January 2, 2007 10:13 PM
Comment #201244

Well, I haven’t learned anything from Paul Siegel’s post about the true nature of Islam. Have you read the Koran and its incitements to wage perpetal war, behead infidels and spread their religion by the sword?

At least there’s something informative here about pregnancy, flowers and women—irrelevant? Or is it?
I’m not sure.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 3, 2007 1:01 AM
Comment #201245


Jack: While Christanity was destroying everything it could get its hands on, Islam was preserving. Islam played a much greater role in the creation of modern western civilization than Christianity did.

Posted by: jlw at January 3, 2007 1:10 AM
Comment #201247
Jack: While Christanity was destroying everything it could get its hands on, Islam was preserving. Islam played a much greater role in the creation of modern western civilization than Christianity did.

Classic proof that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Only a nominally educated person would be able to come up with that bit of sophistry—yes, Islamic scholars had an important role in preserving some of the classical writings of Hellenistic and Roman times. But no, they did not produce it, and for better or worse, what makes up modern western civilization IS either directly a product of or a reaction to Christianity.

We can debate whether the Christian influence is good or bad, but the Islamic influence, apart from contributions equal to that of a librarian, is virutally nil.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 3, 2007 1:34 AM
Comment #201248

Paul,

Much of what you’re saying hear reminded me of an article I read after the Reyes flap:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/weekinreview/17cave.html?ex=1167973200&en=5a52a5cd4cf40b71&ei=5070

From which I quote:
“Religious fervor may be an exaggerated indicator of whether any individual will turn to violence. A recent Gallup poll of nine Muslim countries found that radicals are no more likely to attend religious services than moderates.”

The article caused me to search a bit more and I think you’d really find this good reading (pdf):

http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/middle_east___north_africa/egypt_north_africa/37_understanding_islamism.pdf

FYI registration is free and it’s a darn worthwhile read.

Great article Paul, and David and Jack both make really valid comments. Knowledge of ones enemies, their goals, and their causes are absolutely neccessary if one expects a less than disastrous outcome.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 3, 2007 2:45 AM
Comment #201253

Paul,

Good article, though there seems to be a few issues. For example, Jack makes a valid point about tolerance. By definition, tolerance says you don’t agree with something but you won’t take action to harm those who practice it. Spain prior to its reunification under Ferdinand and Isabella was tolerant of Muslims until, as Jack pointed out can be done, that tolerance was withdrawn. From the beginning, Islam was spread by the sword as Arab armies marched from the Arabian penisula and stormed into modern Iraq, Iran, northern Africa, and continued to spread. Only a successful military resistance, such as that put up by Charles Martel and the Hindu states of India, stopped Islam’s spread.

jlw,

Loyal Opposition already responded to your article, but I feel the need to add to his response. Your argument is false. Christianity and the writings of Enlightenment philosophers is the basis of Western Civilization, not the writings of the Greeks or Romans. These were different civilazations, both from each other and our own current society. The writings of the Greeks and Romans offer a basis of intellectual thought, but not the sole source. Further, perhaps you didn’t notice this, but there were a lot of civilizations from northern Africa to Indonesia (the “Muslim World”) that had there own civilizations which are now gone. Muslims did preserve the writings of the ancient philosophers they could find, most notably Aristotle, but they also burned the library at Alexandria, which was the foremost repository of ancient knowledge. Writing blanket statements about Christianity and white people is just as bad as the blanket condemnations of Islam and Muslim people you criticize.

Posted by: 1LT B at January 3, 2007 3:47 AM
Comment #201280

loyal-
Trouble is, a bunch of that ancient knowledge was written up by pagan Greeks and Romans. Also, the Muslims didn’t sit still, but did great things with the learning from them. Evidence of this is in the the extent to which words like chemistry, algebra, alcohol, a myriad of star names, navigational terms among other things find their roots in Arabic. It was Muslim learning that translated back into the renaissance, and from their into our modern development.

Which is not to say that we were just passive recipients, anymore than them. The people who’ve benefited from this knowledge are those who have taken the ball and run with it. Those who sit back and rest on their laurels, like we did after the fall of Rome, like the Muslims did after their territories reached their limits, and like we’re starting to do now, get left behind.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 3, 2007 11:36 AM
Comment #201342

Paul,

Whether or not I agree, your article was a very good read. I appreciate the level of research you have done, again, whether or not I agree with it. It is refreshing to see a piece like this which is not strewn with blame, inuendo or fingerpointing.

I believe Jack makes an accurate historical point, albeit outdated. Regardless of what the definition of tolerance was when it was written in the Koran, what we have to deal with is the current application of the term. We do not hold people to the same definition of “arms” as in right to bear arms today as we would envision it was meant in the days of Constitutional drafting.

“How about a member of this administration appearing on Al Jazeera to talk about freedom of religion?”

I can not think of a more frightening prospect. In just about any other administration in our history, I would probably agree with this request. But in this administration, I am having a hard time thinking of anyone (perhaps Condi) who could speak on the topic with any authority and wisdom, without offending or perverting something and making the whole mess more enflamed.


David R. Remer:

“All that is required is the refusal to comply with the wishes and rules of the uncivilized.”

I agree completely. The problem arises with the implementation of this axiom. Some would advocate simply ignoring the existance of the uncivilized. Some would advocate conversion of the uncivilized. Some would advocate the extermination of the uncivilized. Each have their own logic. The question becomes which means to the ends.

Loyal:

“Have you read the Koran and its incitements to wage perpetal war, behead infidels and spread their religion by the sword?”

Admittedly, I have not read the Koran cover to cover. I have not spent a lifetime in research. However, my life experience with a host of Muslims tells me, when taken in context, these incitements are meant as a defense of their religion and freedoms, not the brutal offensives of which you illude. I have asked Muslim friends to try to justify bin Laden and his twisted logic. Their response has been, “In true Islam, it is not possible”, almost to a man. So, to use such a broad brush is no fairer than to condemn all Christians for the acts in the Inquisitions.

Kansas Dem:

“Knowledge of ones enemies, their goals, and their causes are absolutely neccessary if one expects a less than disastrous outcome.”

Where was this lesson when this administration was formulating its “strategery” for dealing with Iraq post war?


Posted by: Chi Chi at January 3, 2007 4:54 PM
Comment #201471

Paul Siegal,

You may call the Islamic terrorists a perverted extension of Islam, or simply a cult.

I prefer to call them a hate group.

JD

Posted by: JD at January 4, 2007 1:37 PM
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