Islamic fundamentalists are a fringe? Think again

  1. I wanted to post this website that is from those that are of the Islamic faith, but have rejected the theocracy that most Islamic countries in the middle east live with. I have been disturbed by those that want to paint this religion as one that has spread by peaceful means, by those that say this is one of the most peaceful religions and Christianity has been much worse. To say this is to not understand truly the Islamic faith or it's history. Both those in western countries that are not Islamic and those that are that insist Jihad is a misunderstood precept do so for their own particular reasons. Politics and religion. Remember Islam is a faith that put a death sentence on Rushdie for daring to write something that was critical to the faith. In my mind Islam stands where Europe stood just before the age of Enlightenment. It must be remembered that the Church of the dark ages went to many lengths to keep it's religious and political power, it was only through the efforts of brave people willing to risk much, including their lives, to break the power of the Church and begin the age of reason.
    I may set off a firestorm here, but I went looking because I wanted to know a whole lot more about a religion that would condemn me for 1. Being an American 2. Being a Christian as well as a religion that had I been born in an Islamic country instead of here would have found me covered in a veil, unable to drive, unable to participate even minimally in the society at large. If the brand of Islam that Usama bin Laden practices was so out of the norm why would those in the Muslim not thoughly condemn him ages ago, not to mention what is going on in Afganistan. The reasons for this have a lot more to do with the basic tenats of the faith than it does with the anger at the US for whatever various reasons get cited.
    Take a look, I think some of you may be a bit surprized by what you find here.
    www.secularislam.org
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   nurs4kids
    Helen,
    You know, I started out with a bleeding heart for the people of Afghan when talk of retaliation began. I got into some heated arguments here and at home with people whom I saw as blood hungry. Then one day, instead of listening to the peace lovers tell me what wonderful people those who follow the Quran are, I pulled up the Quran on the internet and was horrified. It didn't take me long to realize Islam is not a "loving" religion, but one of prejudice, intolerance and violence. I'm still being told by Muslim friends and associates that there are several divisions of those who follow the Quran, but I still can't see how you can get anything positive for humanity from this book.

    This site you linked is obviously set up to pull those away from the Islamic religion, so it may be a bit biased. But, in reading the Quran for myself, I got alot of the same impression that this site gives. I'm not sure who or what to believe. Was the interpretation of the Quran, that I read, authentic? Is the site you linked sincere or just an attempt to spread more hate? I'd love to think both were the case, but I'm afraid they are both accurate. I don't know..it's scary, that's all I do know.
  4. by   Chellyse66
    Good post Helen and thanks for the link. I also read an article today that points out a differing angle and this is the place to share. I do not agree with all , and many will argue that "Islam is a radical monotheism and therefore strongly opposed to nihilism.
    But read this anyway...

    The Enemy Is Not Islam. It Is Nihilism

    Source: Weekly Standard
    Published: October 22, 2001 Author: Charles Krauthammer



    EUROPE'S GREAT RELIGIOUS WARS ended in 1648. Three and a half centuries is a long time, too long for us in the West to truly believe that people still slaughter others to vindicate the faith.
    Thus in the face of radical Islamic terrorism that murders 6,000 innocents in a day, we find it almost impossible to accept at face value the reason offered by the murderers. Yet Osama bin Laden could not be clearer. Jihad has been declared against the infidel, whose power and influence thwart the triumph of Islam, and whose success and example--indeed, whose very existence--are an affront to the true faith. As a leader of Hamas declared at a rally three days after the World Trade Center attack, "the only solution is for Bush to convert to Islam."

    To Americans, who are taught religious tolerance from the cradle, who visit each other's churches for interdenominational succor and solidarity, this seems simply bizarre. On September 25, bin Laden issues a warning to his people that Bush is coming "under the banner of the cross." Two weeks later, in his pre-taped post-attack video, he scorns Bush as "head of the infidels."

    Can he be serious? This idea is so alien that our learned commentators, Western and secular, have gone rummaging through their ideological attics to find more familiar terms to explain why we were so savagely attacked: poverty and destitution in the Islamic world; grievances against the West, America, Israel; the "wretched of the earth"--Frantz Fanon's 1960s apotheosis of anti-colonialism--rising against their oppressors.

    Reading conventional notions of class struggle and anti-colonialism into bin Laden, the Taliban, and radical Islam is not just solipsistic. It is nonsense. If poverty and destitution, colonialism and capitalism are animating radical Islam, explain this: In March, the Taliban went to the Afghan desert where stood great monuments of human culture, two massive Buddhas carved out of a cliff. At first, Taliban soldiers tried artillery. The 1,500-year-old masterpieces proved too hardy. The Taliban had to resort to dynamite. They blew the statues to bits, then slaughtered 100 cows in atonement--for having taken so long to finish the job.

    Buddhism is hardly a representative of the West. It is hardly a cause of poverty and destitution. It is hardly a symbol of colonialism. No. The statues represented two things: an alternative faith and a great work of civilization. To the Taliban, the presence of both was intolerable.

    The distinguished Indian writer and now Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul, who has chronicled the Islamic world in two books ("Among the Believers" and "Beyond Belief"), recently warned (in a public talk in Melbourne before the World Trade Center attack), "We are within reach of great nihilistic forces that have undone civilization." In places like Afghanistan, "religion has been turned by some into a kind of nihilism, where people wish to destroy themselves and destroy their past and their culture . . . to be pure. They are enraged about the world and they wish to pull it down." This kind of fury and fanaticism is unappeasable. It knows no social, economic, or political solution. "You cannot converge with this [position] because it holds that your life is worthless and your beliefs are criminal and should be extirpated."

    This insight offers a needed window on the new enemy. It turns out that the enemy does have recognizable analogues in the Western experience. He is, as President Bush averred in his address to the nation, heir to the malignant ideologies of the 20th century. In its nihilism, its will to power, its celebration of blood and death, its craving for the cleansing purity that comes only from eradicating life and culture, radical Islam is heir, above all, to Nazism. The destruction of the World Trade Center was meant not only to wreak terror. Like the smashing of the Bamiyan Buddhas, it was meant to obliterate greatness and beauty, elegance and grace. These artifacts represented civilization embodied in stone or steel. They had to be destroyed.

    This worship of death and destruction is a nihilism of a ferocity unlike any since the Nazis burned books, then art, then whole peoples. Goebbels would have marvelled at the recruitment tape for al Qaeda, a two-hour orgy of blood and death: image after image of brutalized Muslims shown in various poses of victimization, followed by glorious images of desecration of the infidel--mutilated American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of the USS Cole, mangled bodies at the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Throughout, the soundtrack endlessly repeats the refrain "with blood, with blood, with blood." Bin Laden appears on the tape to counsel that "the love of this world is wrong. You should love the other world...die in the right cause and go to the other world." In his October 9 taped message, al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman abu Ghaith gloried in the "thousands of young people who look forward to death, like the Americans look forward to living."

    Once again, the world is faced with a transcendent conflict between those who love life and those who love death both for themselves and their enemies. Which is why we tremble. Upon witnessing the first atomic bomb explode at the Trinity site at Alamogordo, J. Robert Oppenheimer recited a verse from the Hindu scripture "Bhagavad Gita": "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds." We tremble because for the first time in history, nihilism will soon be armed with the ultimate weapons of annihilation. For the first time in history, the nihilist will have the means to match his ends. Which is why the war declared upon us on September 11 is the most urgent not only of our lives, but in the life of civilization itself.
  5. by   fergus51
    Personally, as I get older I am starting to think that the root of all evil is religion.... All religion at that. If we are going to judge a religion by its followers I can't imagine one that I would describe as peaceful and loving (Buddhism?). I listened to a journalist talk about "western fundamentalism" and it rang very true to me. I can't believe how people ignore the faults of those who follow their religion but always notice the faults of others. And the Christian church has been brutal here in the RECENT past. Ask anyone who was ripped away from their family and put into a residential school to be abused and acculturated.
    I posted once about why I didn't think Islam in itself was a violent religion and included tons of quotes from the Quran which denounced violence, encouraged tolerance and even women's rights. I am sure I could find a bunch from the Bible which would make Christianity sound bad. That doesn't mean anything because I am sure every religious book is full of contradictions. I don't think our society is liberated BECAUSE of Christianity, I think it is liberated IN SPITE OF it. I really believe that our way of life is cultural and not religious.
    I have many devout Christian friends I met while in the US (we seem to be a lot less religious in Canada) and the striking thing about them was their intolerance. I know it's only natural to think that your religion is right (otherwise why would you follow it?), but I couldn't believe some of the things these "Christians" would say. Gays are going to hell, anyone who has an abortion is going to hell, accepting Jesus is the only way to salvation (I assume this means only Christians in heaven), blacks and whites shouldn't mix, etc. Of course they can sleep around and they're still fine I don't think that makes the whole religion bad, but it scares me all the same. We don't have any tolerance or understanding of people who aren't like us. Americans are taught about religious tolerance?? Where?
    And no, I don't mean we should tolerate terrorism. I don't defend fanatics or Bin Laden. I just think that saying Islam is violent is only half the story. I have never had a run in with an evil muslim who wanted to convert me. I have quite a few turkish friends who dress like me and think a lot like me. They've never told me I was going to hell and tried to convert me or declared jihad against me. I have had a couple mormons do that...but that's another story!
  6. by   rncountry
    Fergus I don't think that all religion is wrong. Nor is the root of evil religion. It is the imposing of human wants and desires onto religion. It is imposing racism and hate onto religion, it is wrapping of cultural norms that have been outgrown onto a religion.
    The so-called Christians that you speak of in your post are doing just that. In my mind too many Christians use the old testament to argue their points. While the old testament is used to say that homosexuals are evil, those that use it do not believe in many of the other laws you will find under Moses' name such as the dietary laws or the more disturbing ones, at least to me, in reference to the laws that apply to women who have been raped and what role the women play in that. I recall debating once with a bible literalist and telling that person that maybe Moses had not been allowed into the promised land precisely because he imposed his own idea of what God wanted rather than saying what God actually wanted. I got an very nasty, yet quizzical look. I pointed out that in one battle for the promised land Moses had said God commanded the Hebrew army to annihalate this entire tribe that had resisted the Hebrew's. Don't recall the name of the tribe right now, in any case the Hebrew's took the town killing all the men in it. Came back and informed Moses. Moses became very angry because all the people of the town had not been killed like he had said God had commanded, this would include the women and the children. So the Hebrews went back, killed everyone except the virgins, who they kept for themselves and made Moses happy. I told this person that I certainly did not think that God had commanded Moses to annihalate like this, and perhaps it was this type of activity that had landed Moses in hot water with God. The old testament is full of examples like this. Want a book with plenty of violence than this is the place to find it. Want one with plenty of sex? This is the place to find it. Read Song of songs if you doubt that. Christian fundamentalists tend to put more stock in the old testament in my opinion than they do the new testament.
    You will find people of the Chrisitian faith in this country that do not rant and rave over homosexuality, abortion etc... You will find this in what are called mainline protestant churches. Episcopalian, Lutheren, Presbyterians, Congregationalist, Methodists. Each of these demoninations ordain female Priests/Reverands/Pastors. The Episcolpal church ordains gay/lesbians. You will also find many liberal American Catholic churches that while they nominally follow the teachings of the Pope and all that one associates with Catholicism, they also don't push the dogma.
    The site that I posted is somewhat biased, I am sure Tracy. Just like if in the 17th century you had found a website put up by John Locke with his humanist ideas and how that ran counter to the idea of church and state infallibility. It would have been filled with things from the church that we know were completely wrong, like the earth is the center of the universe the sun rotating around the earth instead of the other way around. Or St. Augustines idea that women contributed nothing in the way of procreation except as a recepticle for a man's sperm. Like I said to me the Islamic world has yet to find their enlightenment. The enlightenment and age of reason is what brought Europe and eventually America into the secular democratic world that we live in now. There is a damn good reason the founders of this country insisted on a wall between church and state.
    One does not need to go far into the history books to find instances of horrid events perpetrated in the name of Christianity, that is a given. But to make it sound as if the Islamic religion is free of the same is wrong. The date for the end of the religious wars given in the article posted by Michele is the date the Europeans were able to push back an Islamic army that was banging at the gates of Vienna. The Ottoman Empire was an Islamic empire and if you please look up what the word dhimma means, and you will see how those that were not of the Islamic faith were treated, and how that brought us the civil war in what used to be Yugoslavia.
    I am not trying to make this a debate as to what religion is better, Christianity or Islam. I am trying to point out that the Islamic world has not been able to make that secular/religious separation that by and large Western Christian countries have. One only has to look at Saudi Arabia, considered a moderate Islamic country, to realize that. This inability has lead to the continuation of a feudal society that keeps it's citizens poor and in many cases uneducated to anything except the Koren. That condition has been used to blame the US for the attacks on our own soil. Those in power in the Islamic countries use religion in much the same way as the various Monoarchies in Europe once did. As much as I hate to quote a communist it is worth noting that Lenin once said religion was the opiate of the masses. And when used to keep people from looking to the true cause of their misery an opiate it is. The common citizen in nearly any primarily Islamic country lives in a world so far removed from ours that we can not even begin to grasp what it is to live their lifestyle. The scenes we see coming through our TV from the area that make us think of bibical times are happening in the 21st century. There is a reason for that and it is based primarily on the religious laws that the people in Islamic countries live under. We can say live and let live here, if the people there wish to live that way their choice right? Problem comes when those that live the Islamic faith are still in this day and age forcibly converting people of other religions. Witness what is happening in Nigeria, in Sudan for 18 years, in Indonesia, the list could go on.
    What took place in the age of Enlightenment was a humanist movement that pulled the Christian church with it. Perhaps it was a plain weariness of war, of poverty and of death that prompted the Enlightenment. It is worth noting that during the dark ages much of the world's learning was kept intact by the Islamic world in regards to ancient texts and medicine. The other little corner of continued learning was in Ireland, far enough removed from Rome to keep the texts inside and propagated in the monostaries, in the tradition of the Celtic churches. One has to ask what happened in the Islamic world that stopped that move to a more enlightened time that the western world took. The answer is found in the continued twisting together of church and state.
    Some have asked what world domination does Islam want? I say for the answer to that listen to the very words that bin Laden says, read the Koren and not just the peaceful words the Islamic apologists both in and outside of the religion want you to see. It may be politically correct particularly right now to say that basicly Islam is a peaceful religion and is simply being co-opted by the fundamentalists, but I am going to be politically incorrect and say look at the history, read the Koren as well as the books on Mohammads life and you will find something different. I don't think the world should shy from that anymore than they should shy from looking at the misdeeds of the Christian church, and I don't mean just Roman Catholic. There can be no apologist propoganda regarding the Spanish inquistion, the entire wiping out of the Carib indians by the Spaniards or what happened to the Incas. Nor should there by any apologist propoganda for the 1 million Christian Armenians that were wiped out by the Islamic Ottoman's. 12th century Islam is being perpertrated on people of other faiths in countries all over the middle east, Africa and parts of Asia and there can be no apologist propoganda that should hide that. 12th century Islamic practices have been brought to the shores of this country and to pretend otherwise is not only foolish it is dangerous.
  7. by   Ted
    I've said it before and I say it again, I make a very marked distiction between religion and spirituality.

    In my humble opinion, religion is extremely man-made.

    And I also believe this . . . "fundamentalism" of any religion can be very dangerous. . . as we are now seeing.
  8. by   BeachNurse
    Again, great post, fergus. My personal opinion is that people use their religion in a way that suits THEM and suits their agenda. They twist the words of whichever bible their religion uses so that it suits THEIR opinion.

    I am not Christian, and I do not attend religious services on a regular basis, but come ON, I really don't buy that I will go to hell for those things. I dont drink, smoke, cheat on my husband, steal, or commit any other crimes.

    A co-worker of mine claims to be very religious (e.g. doesn't "believe" in Halloween and will take no part in it) and says she is a devout Christian. On the other hand, she also gets drunk every weekend, smokes pot, and "swings" with her husband and other couples!! BUT--since SHE is a Christian and goes to church every Sunday, she is going to Heaven?! Whatever!!!
  9. by   NCNocRN
    I think all of the posters will agree on the following points:
    1) There is a God, the Creator and Source of all things.
    2) God is good.
    3) He desires His creation to live in peace in harmony--to love and not hate.
    4) He has endowed mankind with freewill and therefore, God cannot be blamed for our bad choices--especially those things being done in the name of "religion."
    5) Killing/maiming/enslaving people in the name of "religion" is wrong and definitely not God's will.
    6) God desires some sort of relationship (worship) with His creation.
    7) God is in control. He hears our prayers. He moves on our behalf when we call. He hasn't abandonned us. But He is a gentleman and won't force His will/help on us.

    Jesus (as recorded in John chapter 4) had an interesting discussion with a woman about religion. He made this statement--that God is searching for true worshipers who will worship Him "in Spirit and in truth." Obviously, then, there is a distinction between those who are "religious" and those who are "worshipers" (kind of like efiebke's distinction between religion and spirituality). And God is actively seeking these true worshipers.

    Jesus was known for His compassion. He was a friend of sinners. He healed everyone who came to Him. In fact, He said, "those who are well don't need a doctor... I have not called the righteous but sinners..." He described Himself as the Good Shepherd. The only strong words Jesus ever spoke were against the self-righteous religious elite of His day (the Pharisees), whom He rebuked as being "blind guides," "fools," "hyprocrites," and "whited sepulchres" (Matthew 23). Obviously, He wasn't very well liked by these religious leaders, who lated plotted to kill Him!

    Jesus made this statement, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).

    The above statement describes the heart of true worship.
    Last edit by NCNocRN on Oct 20, '01
  10. by   fergus51
    I think we agree on a lot Helen. You posted a lot of what I was trying to get across. It's people who twist religion to be evil, not the religion itself. And ALL religions do that, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, whatever. And all religous texts including the Bible and the Quran can be interpreted to be violent and hateful! I really think most religions are essentially the same. They all teach us to be good, and each one thinks that it has the right answer.

    I just get ranting sometimes because we tend to ignore our own religion's faults and focus on the other religion, whatever that may be. And it's especially true of Islam. I don't know how these terrorists can even justify their actions or claim to be muslim. The Quran forbids the killing of women, children, old people, religious leaders, and non-combattants. It forbids the destruction of buildings and even trees! It forbids suicide and says anyone who commits suicide thinking they are doing something good is still going to hell. It forbids a non-defensive war. Find dhimma in the Quran and also and look up "people of the book" and it clearly states that the religous freedoms (especially of Christians and Jews) must be protected. It also states that people can not be forced into converting to Islam. It isn't possible. I don't see those terrorists in that at all. They are not following their religion. That's why I can't blame Islam for this. It would be like blaming Christianity for Northern Ireland. Or for my bigoted "Christian" friends.

    We should have a new slogan: Religion doesn't kill people, people kill people.
  11. by   nurs4kids
    Great posts, helen & fergus. I completely agree that we tend to seek religion to suit our own culture/lifestyle. Beachnurse is exactly right in her opinion, and goes on to prove her point by stating her beliefs

    I think something that we, as American's, are having a problem with is the difference in the way religion is practiced here vs there. Help me out here, tracy & helen, if I'm wrong. Here, it's easy for us to blow off the extremist for whatever religion in question BECAUSE we have a separation of church & state AND because we have so many different religions AND because we practice religion of choice, so to speak. I think there's a certain amount of fear and hesitation toward the Muslim's of the East because this is THE religion there and they are intolerant of other religions. This is evidence by the missionaries who became hostages after 9-11 (using hostage loosely, I admit). We SEE how their women are treated, and quite frankly it's sickening. You don't see the Christian's and the Jews fighting a "holy war" in america. We can believe our religion is THE religion, but we do not try to use physical force to push our religion on another.

    So, as Tracy pointed out, we have those in the Christian faith who believe gays, abortion seekers, racial integration, etc are all doomed to hell. We have so many divisions of Christianity, we can blow off those believers as extreme, roll our eyes and go on believing OUR religion is THE religion. Whereas with Islam, we only see it as one religion, therefore if one of that religion believes something, we feel anyone following Islam follows this belief.

    American's are very ethnocentric be it their religion, race, culture..whatever. We're very competitive and we ruin the good aspects of competition because we only focus on winning, being the best, the biggest, etc. We forget about fairness, we forget that the competitor is playing the game also, we forget the competitor is a human being. We begin from day one teaching our kids that you have to succeed to be happy, and to succeed you have to be better than the other person. That may be true in business, but life is not business. Life is love, love is tolerance and tolerance is understanding. As imperfect as American's may be though, I'm damn proud to be one, and I'm more proud to live in a country that allows religious freedom and where there is religious tolerance, as long as the religion remains peaceful.

    I think this whole issue is just like death and dying. It is what we do not know about Islam that we fear. We coded on 9-11, and are still in the process of resuscitation. We are terrified that if we let down our defenses, someone will pull the plug. So, we're attempting to prepare ourselves for the worst. Preparing for the worst (believing the worst) and praying for the best (praying that Fergus is correct).

    Only time will tell and debating the Islamic belief is pointless. If they are "evil" we can't very well eradicate a whole religion and its belief, and if they are "peaceful" then we are passing some pretty harsh judgement.
    Last edit by nurs4kids on Oct 20, '01
  12. by   fergus51
    Tracy,
    Technically those missionaries were not arrested for being Christian, they were charged with proselytizing (I can't spell! ARGH!) Christian aid workers are allowed to practice their religion, they are just not allowed to try to convert muslims. (I wish we had a law like that here, the Jehovah's woke me up at 9 this morning when I went to bed at 8 after a LONG night shift!!! I think the Pope should decree that anyone who wakes me up early is definitely not making it to heaven...) Any muslim who does convert to another religion can be executed. Of course I hardly think you really have to argue much to convince anyone that the Taliban are tolerant of other religions! Excellent post though. I was reading and nodding...yes....yes....exactly...
  13. by   fergus51
    Originally posted by BeachNurse
    A co-worker of mine claims to be very religious (e.g. doesn't "believe" in Halloween and will take no part in it) and says she is a devout Christian. On the other hand, she also gets drunk every weekend, smokes pot, and "swings" with her husband and other couples!! BUT--since SHE is a Christian and goes to church every Sunday, she is going to Heaven?!
    Sucks doesn't it? LOL!
  14. by   nurs4kids
    Tracy,
    LOL, I KNEW I could count on you to correct me You can't spell? Hell, I don't even know what that means, or what you were attempting to spell..lol, but I got your point. I didn't mean they were arrested because they are Christian. My point was over their intolerance of other religions (ie; arresting Christians for attempting to convert Muslims). Not a bad idea, though..lol, they'd arrest all these so called evangelist, and of course the Jehovah's.

    You know, they are actually considering legislation, here right now, to determine if the Jehovah's should be allowed to go door-to-door.

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