|Innocence or Redemption?|
While people all over the civilized world condemn the actions of Islamic extremists, some of
those same people are defending Islam. John Howard has stated that there is
nothing inherently violent
or extremist about the Islamic religion. Some would consider
this a contradictory view, others think this is common sense. Is there anything
inherently violent or evil about Islam, and if so can Islam be redeemed?
Islamic proponents are very fond of reminding us about atrocities committed
(particularly against Muslims), and about the progressiveness of Islam with
(for example) the rights of women. We are reminded about the Christian
Crusades, and told that Islamic women had rights to own land centuries before
women in Christian countries.
However we don't see many Christians waging holy wars against Muslims in
the modern age. And there is something slightly sickening about being lectured
to about rights of women by organizations who are intent on stoning them to
death for choosing who to have sex with.
But this begs the question 'what is Islam?', and even 'what is religion?'. Is it the
teachings of the prophet? The writings in recognized scriptures? Or is it the
actions of the followers?
The Islamic prophet, Mohamed, was a nasty individual who felt that he had
the right to force others to worship his god, and to kill those who
disagreed. The Christian prophet, Jesus Christ, was a confused individual who
was nailed to tree for insisting on his right to free speech. This is not to
say that all Christians are good people - they are not. Atrocities have been
committed in the name of all religions. But in the long run, followers in
search of guidance will ask the question 'what would the prophet have done in
Judging the religion on the actions of the followers gives an equally
disturbing picture. We see women being stoned to death for choosing who to have
sex with; ancient statues blown up because they offend Allah; fatwas against
writers who ridicule Islam; and women forced to wear clothes deemed
'appropriately modest' by the religious leaders.
While protestations abound that Muslims in first world countries are
the moderate ones, the question remains: is the difference between moderation
and fundamentalism any more than just a matter of degree? And being told that
all Muslims in Australia
are the good ones, and that all the bad ones are in other
countries is less than reassuring - particularly in an environment where so
called 'anti discrimination laws' are used to shutdown open discussion, and
where Australian residency and citizenship are regarded as a right to foreigners.
Every individual is free to make up their own mind about what they believe,
but decisions about how to contain the terrorist threat must be
made collectively. Hopefully people will be free to discuss the threat openly.
The stakes may be very high.