On the Emerging Islamic Connection to the Boston Murders

 

Dzokhar Tsarnaev

 

I’m deeply saddened by the fact that there seems to be a clear and undeniable Islamic angle to the Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent violence (including the murder, late last night, of a security officer at MIT) in the greater Boston area.  I’m not especially surprised, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be so.

 

I’ve tried for many years now to make the case that Islam is not intrinsically violent, that Americans and others shouldn’t fear Muslims generally, that Muslims are and should be welcome in the United States and in our local communities, and so forth.  I still believe those things, and will still make the case.  Unfortunately, the task grows harder with each Islam-related terrorist incident.

 

I’ve never looked at contemporary Islamic societies and contemporary Muslims through rose-colored glasses.  The large majority of Muslims are innocent of these crimes, and are good and decent people.  But I’ve also said for years that it’s folly to pretend that this kind of terrorism has no connection whatever with Islam.  It plainly does, however much it distorts and abuses that Islamic faith.  And it’s long been obvious, and it grows more obvious with every new instance of Islam-related violence, that the Islamic community has a very big problem:  Some Muslims are dangerous, radical, and dysfunctional.  Some people are teaching a form of Islam that makes it a hateful ideology, a nihilistic instrument of death and violence.  And, ultimately, Muslims themselves need to deal with this.  For the sake of their own faith, they need to deal with it.  It’s a sickness.  It’s a cancer that needs to be removed.

 

Unjustly, in my opinion, Islam is becoming an offense to people in the West and in many areas around the world.  And, surely, devout Muslims cannot welcome this.  I certainly don’t.  But how can it be otherwise, given so many horrific events over the past couple of decades?

 

The Islamic community needs to repudiate terrorism and violence.  Decisively.  Unambiguously.  If it has already done so — and I know that many Muslims have already gone on record against the killing of innocents, and that most reject such murder — it needs to do so even more loudly and even more clearly.  Every pulpit in every mosque needs to ring out with denunciations of this kind of thing.  Every imam, every Muslim speaker and writer and teacher, needs to ensure that a peaceful, humane vision of Islam is inculcated in the hearts and minds of young Muslims and Muslim converts, and that such an Islam is proclaimed every Friday from every minbar.

 

Martin Richard with his mom and dad and siblings

 

I’m told that Dzokhar Tsarnaev is seen in one Boylston Street surveillance video calmly placing his bomb right next to eight-year-old Martin Richard.  (Here’s a photo showing him standing behind the little boy, apparently waiting to enjoy what was to come.)  Minutes later, young Martin was dead, his sister had lost her legs, and his mother was brain-damaged.  The children had come with their mother to see their dad cross the Marathon finish line.

 

This is, in my judgment, pure evil.  No words can adequately characterize it.  No words can adequately condemn it.  But, for their own sake and the sake of the religion they love — for the sake of a culture and civilization that has contributed much, and that deserves respect — devout Muslims need to work as hard as they can to remove it from their midst.

 

Martin Richard (d. 2013)

 

Two young Palestinian kids,
approximately the age of Martin Richard.
The last Arabic line reads, roughly,
“The Islamic Faction for Peace”

 

 

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  • http://www.trevorprice.net Trevor

    Isn’t part of the difficulty of seeing an “official” repudiation of violence from Islam the fact that it’s not a centralized religion? E.g. there’s no pope figure, no first presidency, no prophet that could issue such a decree.

    But I suppose that even if there’s no global, central figurehead or organization, it would still be useful for regional leaders to speak out prominently.

    • danpeterson

      Yes. That’s part of the difficulty.

      That’s why I call upon every imam, and every mosque, and every Muslim association — and, in fact, upon all devout Muslims — to speak out, as many times as need be, as plainly as they can, on this subject.

  • Dr. Steve R. Lynn

    In my humble non-Muslim opinion, but, according to what I have been told by my good Muslim friends, those Muslims who think the prophet Mohammed would have approved of this type of act are very wrong. It is spoken against in their Koran.

    • Al Miller

      Perhaps you ought to tell us why Mohammed would have disapproved.

      • Waldir

        He definitely would have disapproved. Its absurd to consider otherwise.

        • danpeterson

          I agree.

          • Al Miller

            Why?

      • Nampal

        “Kill wherever you see an infidel” is a standing instruction in Quran by Muhammed for all Muslims. You can see peaceful words by Muhammed in the first part of Quran when Islam was weak but hateful violent instructions in the latter part when Islam started to make gains.
        Only internet illeterate fools can deny facts that prove that Islam is inherently violent.

        • danpeterson

          Thanks for the hilarious spoof, Nampal! “Illeterate fools” is an especially nice touch, as is the notion that the Internet represents the peak of human learning.

          There are, obviously, people out there who really believe that all they need to do is to glance at a few propaganda websites and, having done so, that they’ve understood the world.

          And, yes, the claim that all Muslims are ordered by the Qur’an to kill all non-Muslims is precisely the sort of ignorant nonsense that many websites trade in. You’re spot on.

          There’s much to be celebrated about the wonders of the Web. But its superb quality control isn’t among them. Anybody can set up a website and pose as an expert. No real knowledge is required.

          • Kurt Liechty

            Dan, it’s clear you have never read the Koran yourself if you think that these injunctions to kill unbelievers are not in there. How about Koran 8:12 “I will terrorize the unbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.” Or Koran Koran 9:29 “Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.” How about Koran 4:95 “He (Allah) prefers jihadists who strive hard and fight above those who sit at home. He has distinguished his fighters with a huge reward.” I could go on and on. There’s hundreds of passages just like this in the Koran. And this is not an “alien reading” or a few “picked words” out of the Koran as Tim suggests below. This is their doctrine. Why do you think there isn’t a louder voice of condemnation from the Muslim community about terrorist attacks like this? Because they have no doctrinal leg to stand on. Even if you consider the very few peaceful passages out of the Koran, they have all been abrogated (or superseded) by the more violent, war-like, and later “revelations” that Muhammad “received.” Now of course there are good Muslims in the world. Those are the ones that don’t know their religion or just don’t practice it fully. And I’m thankful for them. But as we see in the case of these brothers, the “magnificent 19″ from 9/11 (that’s what the Muslim world calls those murderers by the way), and almost every other terrorist attack, the more these psychos immerse themselves in their religion, the more “radical” they become. Please read the Koran, Dan. Educate yourself before you try to indoctrinate people with your own baseless opinions.

          • danpeterson

            Kurt:

            I’ve read the Qur’an more times than I can count, in various English and German and French translations as well as, usually, in the original Arabic. I teach it twice annually — in English during fall term, and in Arabic during winter term.

            I don’t say that such passages aren’t there. I say that militant anti-Islamists such as you evidently are rip them from their historical context — and, ironically, that you do so, and thus distort their meaning, in precisely the same way that the jihadists do.

        • Tim Behrend

          Nampal, there’s a millennium and a half of commentary that represents how Muslims have understood, verse by verse and even word by word, what god intended humanity to understand through the medium of his word-made-text in the Qur’an. I get the feeling you are substituting a cribbed, tendentious, alien reading of a few words picked from the text for an engagement with historical interpretations propounded within the tradition. As Dr Peterson suggests, you have turned to sources that intentionally misrepresent something in pursuit of ends explicitly inimical to logic and reasonable understanding. You’re not alone by any means. You should think about whose interests — economic and political — are served by the proliferation of ignorance and hatred through the sort of propaganda you have been exposed to. At the very least, think about what real experts like Peterson have to say about the facts that you are so certain of. He has invested tens of thousands of hours over his lifetime to try and understand things from the inside, mastering half a dozen languages along the way. The same is not true of the original authors of the incitements to scorn that you have taken on board.

  • Al Miller

    Where would Muslims get the doctrinal foundation to embrace peace, love and coexistence? Their scriptures ands traditions don’t support these notions. They have no institutions that can redefine the religion. Sure there are tons of Muslims who are peaceful family loving people. They are Muslim because of tradition but almost none of them know anything about their scriptures or history. But scratch the surface and what you get is violence, treachery, conquest, rape, subjugation, sexism, racism and dogmatism.

    • danpeterson

      That’s what you get in MOST human history, alas. It’s not uniquely Islamic.

      And the Qur’an is far more complex than you seem to be suggesting.

      But that will require a substantial article, if not a book.

      • tao

        in my opinion there is no a way to stop the crime or terrorist in the world by doing of many Muslims. perhaps one solution to solve that problems is they should read and learn and comprehend to the Gospel.because their prophet him self believe in that book (qs 5:46,Qs3:45, Qs 19:19).

  • Matt Carlson

    I’m curious, what elements of Islam make it so easy for those who wish to pervert it to radicalize those who visit violence upon innocents?

    • Tim Behrend

      Another way to frame the question would be, what political, social and economic elements in [name your (post-colonial) (Muslim) society] help explain observed levels of social, political, cultural and personal violence. Assuming from the outset that the dominant “religion” will explain all will bias the answers you can come up with. Most modern scholars of religion believe that there are deeper forces at work that give rise to religious explanations (and critiques) of the status quo, not that religious teachings or theological positions are themselves fundamental forces giving rise to social formations.

      Dan, sorry for three quick posts in a row. Wish you the best in your own struggles to help conjure meaning and order in the midst of the chaos of humans being humans.

      • danpeterson

        Not a problem. Thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comments.

  • danpeterson

    Again, it would take a major article, perhaps even a book, to deal with that. And maybe I have to get to work on it. Not something that I would choose to do, but maybe something that I NEED to do.

    • Kent G. Budge

      Dan, I know you have many other excellent things to do with your time. But, y’know? The suggestion really seems like a good one to me.

      • Sam Smith

        I’ll 2nd that. Or would it be a 3rd? Would you be thinking of doing something peer reviewed and/or with an academic publisher?

        It certainly falls within your core expertise, will bring ever more prestige to your institution and even more esteem from your chair.

    • http://MeridianMagazine Earl Chantrill

      Dr. Peterson, I have read a number of books on Islam, but I fear that they may be as fair to Islam as the writings of Fawn Brodie and her ilk are to Joseph Smith and the LDS church. It is my understanding that to really understand the Qr’an it is necessary to read it in Arabic, which I have neither the time nor the patience to undertake. Do you know of any authoratative literature in English that would give a lay person correct information about Islam? I have time to read, but not the patience to learn Arabic script and language. My previous reading on the subject has been books by Nonie Darwish, Andrew McCarthy, Brigitte Gabriel and Robert Spencer as well as information from various websites. Thank you.

      • danpeterson

        Sorry to be able to give only a very hasty response right at the moment, but I would suggest, as alternative authors, Bernard Lewis and John Esposito (among a number of others).

  • Almiller

    I am sure it will take some serious scholarship to rescue Islam from Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia and Wahabism, Lebanon and Hezbollah, Palestine and Hamas, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Taliban, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Chechnya, Osama bin Ladin etc. ad infinitum ad nauseum. These all claim Islamic authority. But have at it, who are these people in the face of enlightened and earnest scholarship? You may change the world.

    • Megacles

      *Ad Nauseam*

      (a, not u)

      You’re welcome.

  • Fariba

    Unfortunately many Americans have let themselves be misinformed about Islam out of pure good intentions. I was born and raised Muslim and I can tell you that the violence, racism, sexism, and absolutism are codified and embedded in Islam. It’s a fallacy to say all other world religions and or cultures are just like Islam. That is moral relativism and it blinds us to the truth. Islam not only condones violence against non adherents, it commands it! Please get yourself better informed! Al Miller is correct in saying that yes there are peaceful Muslims, but the doctrine itself is deeply violent and intolerant.

  • Alece

    I definitely think you should write it, Daniel. You ARE uniquely qualified to write it.

  • Jae

    Isn’t the radicalization of Islam working for all Muslims in some fashion? The handful of Muslims I knew in college and my worklife were preoccupied with anti-jewish anger and racism that is pretty creepy. Better for them to go from the 1960s TV portrayal of them as greedy weaklings to today, where they are scary powerful figures. But not weak. They have made their culture immune from liberal interference. You won’t hear Gloria Steinhem threatening (again) that she and the gals will go sit on oil wells until their sisters are free. No… now leftists are on the side of the culture, and oppressors. Meanwhile, Muslims are managing to take the children. they have made quite nice inroads into liberal culture worldwide, gaining lots of coverts from youth raised to believe in liberal nothingness or those insufficiently catechised in their own faith. Why should they stand against violence? It’s working for them.

  • fedaa salah

    Islam-related violence,

    i wouldn’t say that …cuz Islam isn’t ,wasn’t motivate for such acts …at all ..we are deeply sorry for the victims who passed way and the ones suffering now , BUT Islam is tolerant religion and doesn’t promote for killing ..and who kill in such way is not considered to be a REAL Muslim , and yeah its problem that should be solved but not only in the middle east violent is getting more spreading phenomena everywhere , people dying everywhere , kids , women , old men , young men in Syria , Palestine mainly in middle east , Burma and a lot of places i don’t see people say stop the brutal killings there …what happened was wrong … but we need to open our eyes widely before judging on religion before individuals >>>

    • danpeterson

      I’m certainly not condemning Islam for the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers. And I don’t think that Islam, properly understood, endorses terrorism. But I also think it’s mistaken and naïve to claim that there’s no connection whatever between Islam and quite a bit of contemporary terrorism. Do terrorists misunderstand and misrepresent Islam? Absolutely.

  • Chris Frederickson

    Frankly, I do not understand how any informed individual can avoid facing the simple fact that Mohammed was a terrorist, a pedophile, and a military cult leader who slaughtered innocents and raped children through most of his adult life. He was Hitler with a made-up story about an arch-angel he claimed he heard. He was David Koresh with a bigger cult. Pol Pot with a pseudo-religious cover story. He was a Hitler with hatred of Jews AND Christians.
    If a rational person either (i) reads the koran or (ii) looks at the 1500 year history of muslim invasions, conquest and slaughter he or she will conclude that islam is not a religion at all. It is a foreign invaders’ army and all members should be treated as such. Do we embrace Nazis ? Why then embrace muslims ?

    • danpeterson

      I’m clearly not a rational person by your standard, because I know the Qur’an and Islamic history quite well (have, for example, published a biography of Muhammad, and teach the Qur’an in either Arabic or English every semester), and I regard what you say as false and obnoxious.

      • tao

        if may I suggest you to read the Qur’an well…and you’ll find there that Your Prophet muhammad suggested you to read and learn from the Gospel in order to make you to be a good man.(Qs 5:46,Qs3:45, qs19:19)please read it.

  • Waldir

    Thank you for this. We need more people to talk about this. Some movement needs to happen. Maybe a website to rally everyone?

    • danpeterson

      I’m going to be thinking seriously about what I might be able to do.

  • JamesJ

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/04/18/stray-dogs-not-lone-wolves-new-profile-jihadis/

    This “new profile of jihadis” corresponds to the uncle’s statement:

    “…Asked what he believed provoked his nephews, Tsarni replied: “Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves, these are the only reasons I can imagine. Anything else, anything else to do with religion is a fraud. It’s a fake. We’re Muslims. We’re ethnic Chechyans.”

    I’m sure there are many among the Muslim community that do not want to be defined by these “stray-dog” losers & cowards. They have to take a vocal stand against barbarity and for peace among their own—instill in their kids that such acts are the height of cowardice and shame, then things may change?

    Seeing the picture you posted of the kids with the sign gives me hope. I don’t know, but it seems to me that just having a sign like that in their possession takes a lot of courage.

  • TroyBraegger

    I may be wrong, but horrific bombings of civilians seem to be an unfortunate but predictable result of legitimizing similar tactics against Israelis. After all, a tactic or weapon that is OK to use against one enemy (Israelis) is easier to justify using against another enemy (Iraqis, Bostononians, etc.). And I’ve heard too many Muslim spokesmen who condemn specific terrorist attacks (like 9/11), but can’t bring themselves to say the same thing about “martyrdom operations” against Israelis. I’m afraid that until the tactic/weapon is seen by all as unacceptable under any circumstances, it will continue to be used. Given that we still hear of poison gas and systematic rape being used as weapons, I’m not hopeful that the worst actors will curb their worst instincts any time soon.

    • danpeterson

      I agree.

      And I’m sad about it.

  • kay2the2nd

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing…

    “The large majority of Muslims are innocent of these crimes, and are good and decent people.”
    Who do nothing to prevent the violence.

    • danpeterson

      What have YOU done lately to prevent any violence?

  • msullivan

    Most Americans don’t give a damn about the history of mohammed. All we know is that these people that are murdering Americans are doing it in the name of mohammed or islamist belief that us westerners, Christians or Jews need to be killed. I would think that most of these so-called peacefull muslims are getting very worried that there are going to be large groups of rednecks with no care of political correctness that will begin the dreaded profiling that will happen if this crap continues. These muslims need to understand that there are these groups forming that are going to only put up with so much of this bs on our soil. Go home islam and leave us alone.

    • danpeterson

      “Go home Islam”? Many American Muslims were born here. Many more of them are naturalized American citizens. Are you demanding that they be expelled from the United States? What kind of a country would we be if we did such a thing? I, personally, would not want to live in such a country, and would find it difficult to be loyal to any government that would do such a thing.

      You’re certainly right that most Americans know and care little about Muhammad. In that case, though, I would hope that they wouldn’t feel authorized to make statements about him.

  • http://tomsthird.blogspot.com Tom Haws

    I think that qualifying violence with phrases like “the killing of innocents” just preserves and justifies it. The fact is that all killing is barbaric, and that justifications for it are merely ornamentation on the pig. Why are we so hesitant to join the Masters and call for unconditional peace?

  • Al Miller

    I am looking forward to your book and your rescue of Islam from Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia and Wahabism, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Taliban, Iran, Lebanon and Hezbollah, Palestine and Hamas, as well as Ayatollah Khomeini, Osama bin Ladin and hosts of others ad infinitum ad nauseum. I am sure that it will be a feat of enlightened and earnest scholarship.

    • danpeterson

      I recognize, of course, that you think you’re being clever. But the fact is that even your long list of damning contemporary and recent things scarcely exhausts — and, in my view, scarcely represents — a fourteen-century-old complex of religion and culture that extends from Morocco (and, historically, Spain) in the West to Indonesia in the east, from Central Asia to West Africa, from Anatolia (Turkey) to Zanzibar and the Seychelles.

      • Al Miller

        In the coming years let’s see the direction the religion of peace. Let’s watch them end misogyny. Let’s watch them champion a true “liberal” education. Let’s observe thefoundation of representative government and free and fair elections. . Let’s observe the creation of free and wealthy economies based on the rule of law. Let’s observe them build institutions that are so strong that all the fundamentalist voices are marginalized and shamed. Let’s see them recognize freedom of religion and allow evangelizing of people whose families have traditionally been Muslim.

        • Christian Sorensen

          Interestingly enough, the bulk of your comment can also be applied to the Christian South . . . and the Mormon Corridor . . .

          • Al Miller

            There is no representative government in the Mormon corridor or the Christian south? Women can’t vote or drive or own property? They are not protected in divorce? There are no universities, no free economies, no institutions that marginalize terror? Pray tell? Where is the evidence for this foolish assertion? Are my very eyes fooling me?

          • danpeterson

            Don’t be silly.

          • Liz

            I strongly disagree! Mormons are Christians who believe the Bible to be the Word of God. They live by high standards and above all, live and teach the two greatest commandments. Love God, and Love thy neighbor!

        • danpeterson

          I hope that these things happen. They happened in the Christian West, finally. But it took a long time, and many people died along the way. It seems to me that it’s a bit odd to turn about, once one has, at the cost of real pain and labor, reached the peak of a mountain, and then confidently assert that those who are a few feet below you — and who once were far ahead of you — will never make it.

          During what distant epoch was representative government finally established in the West? How many human lifetimes ago did the last western European dictatorships vanish? How many eons back did we come up with the idea of inalienable human rights? How many centuries ago did we abolish slavery? How many hundred years ago were women given the vote?

          • Al Miller

            Well the key model for all future government was founded in the US with it formation and the development of its institutions but even that was founded on institutions and moral forces that date back to Abraham, Moses, and first and foremost Christ. That the path was not exactly linear cannot obscure its direction, nor does it hide the forces opposed to it. We can examine the crucial te ts of the West to find the roots of enlightened and classical liberal government. Help us Dr. Peterson divine these in the texts of Islam. Show us their defenders of freedom and their champions of rights. Plot a path for those who may come to arrive at the crucial truths of individual moral agency. If you can.

          • Al Miller

            One more thing. The Muslim world has had a worthy example in the west for political pluralism and human rights. Why have Muslims been so reluctant to embrace it?

          • danpeterson

            Such things take time. We didn’t achieve our current utopian state overnight, you know. King John signed the Magna Carta — a first baby step toward the perfection in democracy and human rights that we now enjoy — back in AD 1215. That’s very nearly seven centuries ago.

  • Lucy Mcgee

    Over a billion people understand the Qur’an to be the final word of Allah. Yet this word is ambiguous enough to be interpreted by a tiny minority to mean murder is not only permitted, but that accomplishing it will result in eternal paradise. The Qur’an contains numerous verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. How can this be overcome as long as these verses can be read, misinterpreted an acted upon?

    You never hear of someone practicing Jainism, strapping on a bomb and immolating themselves and innocent targets in some public venue.

  • Matt Carlson

    Dan, I’d love to see a book elaborating upon the question I asked. The Bible has obviously been interpreted in many ways and has led to fragmentation within Christianity. Although this hasn’t led to modern terrorism like interpretations of the Qur’an, the situation is at least representative of the fact that interpretation is key to fragmentation. It’s almost as if we have different sects of Islam, one being peaceful and committed to the overall message of Allah via Mohammed, and the other choosing to cherry-pick passages to justify violence. Am I anywhere near understanding this?

    • danpeterson

      Yes, you are. And such a book would be very useful.

      • Sam Smith

        Ignore Al, and let’s get going on the book. Its what you were born to do. No sense wasting time on something else.

    • http://thesacredgrove-nathair.blogspot.com Nathair /|\

      Matt, I have to disagree with your statement that “[Fragmentation within Christianity] hasn’t led to modern terrorism like interpretations of the Qur’an. While the Troubles in Ireland ultimately stem from English rulers’ desire for empire, the Catholic/Protestant divide has significantly contributed to the problem. Other than that, I do like your post and I look forward to Dr. Peterson’s proposed book as well.

  • Boyd

    I think that we are missing the point. The main issue is, I think, that the underpinnings of “the big three” abrahamic religions are rotten. Good parts, have, over time, grown around the rotten core, but it is still there, festering and fostering hatred. The Old Testament is rife with it. Kill them all, everyone, don’t leave anyone alive who doesnt believe as you do. Arguing over whether Muhammad would have approved is absurd. Read the books. Read exodus 32, particularly verse 28. That’s Moses folks. Numbers 25, 24000 dead, also Moses. The entire abrahamic tradition is based on coercion, violence, bloodshed. How blind can we be, to be surprised when Timothy McVeigh , or Osama Bin Laden, or the dirtbag of the week actually puts the writings into action?

    • danpeterson

      If there’s any evidence to support the claim that Timothy McVeigh thought he was acting out a scriptural mandate, I haven’t seen it. If I recall correctly, he was a self-described agnostic.

      Moreover, your portrayal of the “basis” of the Abrahamic tradition is, at best, a simplistic and hostile caricature.

  • Gene Darrah

    While I recognize that most muslims are not violent it seems to me that the radical Imams ARE the problem. They need someone to blame all the ills in the world and they have chosen to blame the western civilization and the U.S. in particular for all ills. It gives them a focus and they have a bully pulpit from which to spread their views. They preach that if the U.S. were eliminated the world would be a better place.
    Most of us feel powerless in this world. Powerless to effect change and make the world better and most of us want something we can “do” to make it a better place. Good Christians are just as frustrated as good Muslims by the evil we see all around us.
    Unfortunately, the focus they choose is to destroy rather than to build. Rather than fixing their own societies ills
    and condemning evil and asking for change within their members it’s easier to point the finger somewhere else. They think that their countries are poor and war torn because of the United States.
    I think they need to start looking in the mirror for answers to their problems.
    Although I understand where they’re coming from it doesn’t make it OK. From my limited view the Muslims I have heard speak refuse to condemn the violence.
    I have a perfect recollection of a particular interfaith function I attended. Representatives from many different faiths each had a turn to aid with understanding and peace among the local religions. Most of the ministers gave a short description of their faith and focused on similarities in religious beliefs. Then the Islamic representative rose and spoke. This Muslim woman instead of trying to calm the interfaith waters she chose to tell us all in no uncertain terms that God didn’t need a “son” to save us. He is God and can do all things. She did this in a militant voice and it was very offensive to those Christian faiths who were represented there. I will never forget that. It didn’t leave me with a very good impression of our Islamic “friends”.
    I have also read a book by a Dr. Nader Pourhassan. He also condemns the Imams. His book is called “The Corruption of Moslem Minds” copyright 2002 It’s extremely interesting because it is a Muslims viewpoint of how his Islamic faith is going astray. It’s a quick but riveting read.

  • Kyle

    The Bible has stoning women who get raped when the rapist chooses to not marry her, beating slaves until death, and dragons. Every religion with a book which is written by man(every religion)will have absurd atrocities that are evil but totally cool with your God or messiah.

    I do believe the Qur’an is a bit different when it comes to violence… because it does seem to sneak in words about violence while peace is constantly the main theme. The Bible is full of violence… and not against it or any sick crap. However; it’s not as ambiguous when it comes to straight up violence against your enemies or just different religions. Most Muslims don’t interpret it the way terrorists who actually want to kill people with different beliefs. I know this. I also know weak willed people and religion(any religion)can be dangerous.

    Every religion causes violence, and history of men have proven this. We don’t even need religion due to our inherent love of violence. The human race must just be obsessed with violence. Anyway, it’s not just Muslims. Look at how Christian churches that resemble cults attack gays, minorities, free speech, and etc… you know the church I mention if you pay attention to the world.

    • danpeterson

      For those who may not get the reference: Kyle is implicitly criticizing the Mennonites.

      • Erich Zann

        Yes, the intolerant Mennonite menace! We should round them up and send them back to Friesland!

  • Mavin 10
    • danpeterson

      Yes, there are, indisputably, anti-Islamic websites that carefully craft a case against the target religion.

      There are also anti-Catholic ones and anti-Mormon ones and so on and so forth.

      They’re not particularly good or reliable places, by and large, to learn about other religions.

  • Tim Behrend

    Dan, if you have a minute and think it worthwhile, could you comment on what you mean when you use the word “Islam”. To me your usage sounds as if it were something more than a handy category to organise and sort knowledge about the things that self-identified Muslims say, do and believe? Do you think that there is something solid, real and authentic at the core of “Islam” — a real Islam — that exists apart from human discourses about history, texts and life? I assume that as part of your personal faith you believe there is a “real” Christianity and a “real” Mormonism that possess truth and authority apart from human discourses of power and knowledge. If so, do you also ascribe a real, original, authentic identity to human cultural constructs that we sort into other synthetic categories, like “Buddhism”, “Islam”, “Khoi polytheism”, “Dayak shamanism” and so forth? I’m curious how you deal with sectarian competition for authority in traditions outside of your own.

    • danpeterson

      I know that I’m using “Islam” as a catch-all term for something quite complex.

      There is, I think, a broad common ground that can be called “Islamic,” and that manifests itself in a number of ways. And I think that some interpretations of the Qur’an are more true to the text than others.

      But I don’t minimize the complexity or the ambiguity.

      Sorry for the hastiness of the response; I leave the continent in a few hours, and I’m not quite packed — and I still have some other things to finish.


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