Friday, July 22, 2005

Is Islam to Blame?

Irshad Manji believes that, in part, Islam itself is to blame for terrorism and argues that her fellow moderate Muslims who do not strictly interpret the Koran need to raise their voices.

While I have studied Islam and the Koran, I claim no expert knowledge. But what I do know is that, like many religious texts, the Koran contains many thoughts, some of which are contradictory and some, if read literally, are disturbing in their implications. And that is the problem with religious fundamentalism. It is, by definition, intolerant and can lead adherents to justify cruel acts as God’s command.

While fundamentalism is not in-and-of-itself wrong, there is a reason why it is religious fundamentalists and not religious moderates who commit the vast number of crimes and murders “in the name of God.” That’s why I think Manji is correct. One way to fight terrorism is for moderate Muslims to become the dominant voice in Islam. Right now, fundamentalist Islam is too powerful and that helps create the conditions for terror. It would be very helpful if that were to change.


At 9:44 AM, Blogger Shay said...

Thanks for the heads up. BTW, Irshad Manji is female and not male. She is a well-known Canadian feminist.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

The Bible, on several occasions in the OT, has God ordering the slaughter of not just enemy combatants, but their wives, children and, oddly, animals.

Interestingly, even Christian fundamentalists who claim to take the Bible literally, do not take this as divine marching orders.

Fundamentalists, ours and theirs, always claim to take their scripture literally but end up interpreting, dismissing, ignoring and reinterpreting in order to reach the political answer they seek.

Moderates don't quite realize this, I think. As a result Moderates assume that Fundamentalists are being more true to the scriptures they share and thus exhibit a sense of inferiority and insecurity. I think it is that lingering sense of unworthiness, infidelity, that handicaps Moderates in some cases.

Michael Reynolds

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Joe Weedon said...

Following my post yesterday on Terror, my friend (let's call her Susan) and I had another long conversation on this issue.

She would completely agree with Manji. She believes that Islam, in its pure form, endorses violence and calls for all non-believers to be killed.

When I said yesterday that we need to address the "grievances" of terrorists (not referring specifically to Islamic terrorists, but rather any group that utilizes terror), I did not mean to imply that we should give into their demands. We need to be strong in our resolve against these groups, fighting them and destroying their ability to wage war against us. But, we also need to work with moderates within groups that support terror to improve their lives and remove the imputus for terrorist actions.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


Thanks for alerting me to the error, it has been corrected. I was unfamiliar with her, but am now quite interested in reading more of her writings.

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous kenB said...

...exhibit a sense of inferiority and insecurity. I think it is that lingering sense of unworthiness, infidelity, that handicaps Moderates in some cases.

Say what? Speaking for myself and all the moderate Christians I know, far from feeling inferior, we think the hardcore fundies are simpletons who totally miss the point of Jesus' teachings. The things that handicap moderate Christians in the political sphere are (a) the tendency of the media to ignore us and present right-wing Christians as if they were the official representative of Christianity; (b) the absence of the true-believer, God-in-my-back-pocket mentality that motivates the fundamentalists to try to force their beliefs on everyone else.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...


your reason b makes it a lot easier for your reason a to happen. Why is it that conservative Christians talk and "push" their views on others while moderate Christians do not? Do we have less to say? Do we not want to stomp on anyone's toes or offend anyone? One point that conservative Christians don't miss about Jesus's teachings is that stepping on toes and risking offense is needed in faith. As moderate Christians we do ourselves a great disservice by not being more vocal about our faith. It really bothers me that moderate Christians to a large degree shy away from speaking out and using the Bible to get their point across. As a moderate Christian...crap, as a liberal Christian, it's my Bible too and I will use it to defend gay rights, non-violence, social welfare, etc.

So I agree that one avenue to waging a fight against terrorism is to embrace moderate Islam and to help give them a voice, with the caveat that I've always held which is that inserting any logic into terrorism is by definition a semi-wasted exercise.

At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Irshad Manji is not a Muslim nor does she have a clue what she is talking about.

At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 'flaw' of Irshad Manji, is that she stills claim to be a muslim, and yet she is angry with Islamic teachings!

You can't be a leafe of a plant and yet go on undermining your roots or the initial seed that gave life to the plant in the first place.

The history behind that verse where the Qu'ran permits killing, is not explained my Irshad.

The background is that during the advent of the verse in question, the early muslims were cornered all most to extinction becuase some muslims thought they had Allah on their side, so there was no need to worry!

Thus, some sort of 'guidance' was given by Allah to fight and kill your enemy in a just manner, BUT do not kill becuase of greed or without any justification, if you did then one will face punishment as if you have killed all humanity.

War is a reality of mans existance, so having some sort of rules, just like all the other leading democratic and peace loveing nations, it is nothing evil about the Qu'ran telling men on rules of fighting/killing/war etc.

At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, what really matters is not the ideals of religion, but how it is followed.

In a world full of political grievances, the fiery orator who preaches hate in the name of religion is likely to have more of a following then the one who preaches tolerance. This is particularly true for people whose world view is limited by suspicion of alien culture borne out of colonial experience. They are particularly vulnerable to simplistic reasoning and convoluted conspiracy theories to explain their lot.

What makes some of them dangerous is a totalitarian aspect to their thinking--that they are the only true believers and that it is their duty to execute God's will, as they understand it, even if it means murder and mayhem.

Moderate muslims are complicit in not understanding the extremist threat from within and concentrating too much on how the media portrays them.


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