Future of Islam
Beyond Rhetoric: A Future for Islam in American Thought
Furthermore, I wonder what critics of violent verses in the Quran expect Muslims to do. Do they expect Muslim scholars worldwide to gather and agree to remove or disavow the verses? The Quran was compiled around the year 650 C.E., and, apart from minor changes in vowelling, has remained unchanged since the early 700s C.E. The historical intactness of the Quran and the belief that it represents the literal word of God are, in fact, the foundations of Islam as a faith. Or do they expect Muslims to interpret these verses in ways other than as a mandate for violence against unbelievers? Yet, this is exactly what the stunning preponderance of Muslims already do.
The fact of the matter is that Islam does not cause violence or terrorism. Let us try to estimate the total number of Muslims terrorists worldwide (Muslims engaged in planning and carrying out acts of violence against civilian targets). Let us add all the Taliban fighters in Afghanistan (one 2009 estimate has it at around 25,000). Let us guess the total number as 400,000 people. Out of 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide, even this high estimate would mean that only 0.03 percent of Muslims are "terrorists." In 2007, the FBI reported that 1,408,337 violent crimes were committed in the United States. Even if we assume that each violent offender committed three offenses in that year, that would still mean that out of a population of 300 million, in the aggregate 0.15 percent of Americans are violent criminals!
According to this admittedly rough calculation, being American means you are five times more likely to be a violent criminal than a Muslim is of being a terrorist. I am certainly not a statistician, but I feel that we in the United States need to realize that on a global level there is no link between being Muslim and being a terrorist. If there were, then the 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide would be engaged in acts of violence or mayhem instead of farming, transacting business, and raising families like their fellow men.
Complaint: "Muslims want to spread the Shariah in America." -- Much of the controversy surrounding the Cordoba initiative involves Imam Faisal Abd al-Rauf's supposed desire to bring Islamic law to the United States. The first fact that should ease such a fear is that Muslims themselves cannot agree on what the Shariah actually is! Do Muslim women have to wear headscarves or not? Are interest-bearing transactions prohibited or not? Any group of Muslim jurists will disagree on these questions and others like them, so congregating to pass some U.S.-wide Shariah package would be nothing short of a miracle.
Second, when I read about this fear of "Shariah-fying" America, I wonder how such a take-over would ever occur? Would some band of Muslim radicals take over the Capitol by force, then make Congress pass a law at gunpoint mandating Islamic law for the whole nation? That seems unlikely and, more importantly, invalid. What if Muslims integrated themselves into American society, were elected to Congress, and ultimately achieved a majority in the House and Senate (how un-American!) . . . and then they passed the Shariah into law? If that were the case, then the U.S. would already be a Muslim majority country, and the whole parameters of this debate would have changed. That's a risk we run in a democracy.