A Brief Open Letter to American and Other Muslims

 

Qur’an 24:35 (“The Light Verse”)

 

I teach Arabic and Islamic studies at Brigham Young University (BYU), and, incredibly, have done so now for nearly thirty years.  (Somehow, I never imagined myself becoming so old!)  This current semester, I’m teaching an “Introduction to Islam” course, a class on the Qur’an in English (I do it in Arabic during the second semester), and two independent readings courses.  I’m also team-teaching a class on the “Islamic humanities,” in which a colleague and I try to cover at least the basics of the art, architecture, literature, music, and film of the central Islamic lands.  Additionally, I’m the founder of BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, a project that publishes dual-language editions of texts from the classical Islamic period.  (I served as that project’s editor-in-chief until mid-August of this year.)

 

I’ve seen my role as, in part, being something of a missionary on behalf of Islam, though I myself am a committed member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka, the “Mormon” Church).  What do I mean by that?  I mean that I have sought to persuade my fellow Mormons and, beyond them, my fellow Americans and my fellow “Westerners” that Islam is neither intrinsically dangerous nor as “foreign” as many imagine it to be.  I’ve devoted a great deal of my time to this bridge-building effort, giving lectures and even media interviews aimed at general, non-academic, audiences in Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and across North America; writing a book for Mormons about the Arab world; publishing a narrative biography of Muhammad; recording several lecture CDs for general audiences, and so forth.

 

There are many others who are trying to build (or, in some cases, to repair) such bridges.  But several thousand of us couldn’t begin to undo the damage done to the image of Islam by such events as this weekend’s massacres at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi and All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan.

 

I know.  I know.  Not all mass murders are committed by Muslims.  Some (such as those at Newtown, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, and Aurora) are committed by misfits or the insane.  Some are committed for warped political reasons (e.g., Anders Breivik’s attacks in and near Oslo, Norway).  The recent shooting at the Washington Navy Yard was carried out by Aaron Alexis, who was, to the surprise of most people, some sort of Buddhist (in addition to being mentally ill).

 

But the simple fact is that, in the minds of many in the United States and beyond, the single factor that has come to be most closely associated with massive and deliberate violence against innocent people is . . .  Islam.

 

It’s hard to blame observers for this.  Given the horrific violence against civilians by the Islamist insurgency in Algeria, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 1993 Mumbai bombings, the 1994 Buenos Aires suicide bombing, the 1997 massacre of Swiss tourists near Luxor, the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the 2002 massacre at a Passover celebration in Netanya, the 2002 Bali nightclub attack, the 2004 Madrid training bombing, the 2004 Beslan school hostage killings, the 2005 London bombings, the 2oo5 bomb attacks at Sharm al-Shaykh, the 2006 Mumbai train bombings, the 2007 Qahtaniyya bombings, the 2008 Mumbai assault, the 2009 Fort Hood attack, the 2011 bombing of a Coptic Christian New Year service in Alexandria, the 2013 assault on the Boston Marathon, these latest massacres in Nairobi and Peshawar, and a host of other such crimes, they can hardly be expected to think otherwise.

 

And the list of horrors that I’ve just given above has been punctuated by such scenes as the 2002 beheading of Danny Pearl, the vicious 2004 public murder of Theo Van Gogh, the brutal 2013 killing of British soldier Lee Rigby on a street in London, and the damage or destruction of many Christian churches and monasteries in Egypt.

 

Moreover, we have no idea how many additional plots to cause sorrow and suffering in the name of Islam have been prevented, broken up.  We know, for example, that, in December 2001, Richard Reid, a convert to Islam, tried to destroy American Airlines Flight 63 in midair between Paris and Miami but failed in his effort.  Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab attempted to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day while en route from Amsterdam to Detroit.  In 2010, Faisal Shahzad tried to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square.  And so on and so forth.

 

The simple fact is that Americans, and Westerners more generally, don’t think of the Taj Mahal, the poetry of Rumi and Mutanabbi, the mysticism of Rabi‘a al-Adawiyya or Ibn al-‘Arabi, the splendors of the Alhambra or the Masjid-i Shah or the Sultanahmet Mosque, the brilliance of Avicenna and Averroës and al-Ghazali, the science of al-Biruni, the mathematics of al-Khwarizmi, when they think of Islam today.  They think of nihilistic violence directed against innocent people at shopping malls, coming out of churches, earning a living at a desk in an office, flying in an airplane to meet family, sleeping in a hotel.  They know that there are people out there who would love to murder them and their children in the name of Islam.

 

Even for me, the very first thought that came to my mind when I heard of the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard was “Oh no.  Not another Islamist terrorist attack!”

 

I write to you not only because my personal efforts to improve understanding between the West and the Islamic world don’t amount to much, but because my efforts and those of the many others who are attempting the same thing in their various ways can’t amount to much as long as such bloody and destructive acts as those I’ve partially listed above set the image of Islam for many non-Muslims.  This is a problem that you, the umma of Islam, the Muslim community, must solve.  Outsiders cannot do it.

 

I’m perfectly well aware that the majority of Muslims — certainly in the United States and Canada — are peaceful people who simply want to live and let live, who hope the best for their children, and who neither engage in nor support terrorist violence.  I’m aware, too, that many Muslims and many Muslim groups have spoken up against violent extremism.

 

But you have to speak up more loudly.  Others — I promise you this, from innumerable conversations and questions after lectures, over years — are not hearing your denunciations of the extremists.  They aren’t aware of your efforts to distance yourselves from these terrible acts of bloodshed and oppression.  Your message isn’t getting out.  You need to speak louder and more clearly, until it’s heard.

 

Otherwise, in the meantime, the very name of Islam is being brought into disrepute.  Even God and faith themselves are being dragged through the mud when vocal atheists cite Islam — and not without superficial reason, not without plausibility — as their parade example of the evil of theism.  Religion, they say, should die out, as illustrated by . . .  And, then, all they have to do is to fill in the blank with the latest bombing, the latest massacre of innocents.

 

I implore you, as a community, to rise up and denounce these acts.  If you’ve already done it, do it again.  Louder.  Make your disgust at these abuses of your faith unmistakably clear, unavoidably heard.  Not only by non-Muslims but by that minority of extremists within the Muslim community who have made Islam a term of horror and revulsion to far too many people worldwide.

 

It is, to my mind, absolutely tragic that your great civilization, the largely unacknowledged birthplace of much of the science, mathematics, medicine, and philosophy that helped to create the modern West, is now associated by outsiders more with nihilistic violence than with great culture, marvelous art, high ideas, and humble devotion.  It is simply wrong that the very term for a student – talib (“seeker”) — which, in its appropriate form, figures in the remarkable admonition, generally attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, to “seek [utlub] knowledge, even unto China,” has now come to be associated with the Taliban of Afghanistan, a group whose closed-minded intolerance for different ideas was revealed clearly in its gratuitous 2001 destruction of the fifteen-century-old Buddhas of Bamiyan.

 

Again, I beg you to speak out, and to speak out now.  Loudly.  Clearly.  Decisively.

 

I sincerely wish you well.  Although I’m not a Muslim, I respect and revere your tradition, and I, too, seek to submit my will to that of God.  I wish you well for your sake as also for mine, and for the sake of my family and all other non-Muslims worldwide.  A seriously damaged Islamic umma will do none of us any good.  It will put us all at risk, and it surely won’t glorify the God whom you and I both seek to serve.

 

 

Print Friendly

  • Sammy Caudle

    I have read the majority of the Quran and watched hours of video on Islam, but it has been your work Dan that has made me defend Islam to people. My opinions on the Quran, Muhammed as a prophet to his people, and violence in Islam has swung all over the place, but your writings have given me a good solid christ centered place in which I could stand and view Islam. I just wish I knew Arabic so I could truly enjoy the beauty of the Quran. In the end I don’t see the Islam that Muhammed established as a religion that murders children or blows up innocent people.

    • DanielPeterson

      Thank you, Sammy Caudle, for your kind and encouraging note.

  • Ryan

    My admittedly inexperienced perception is that Islamic extremists are not delineated from the wider Islamic community by sharp, contrasting lines, but rather are interwoven by a smooth, pernicious gradient.

    I think apathy, and even varying degrees of sympathy, are more to explain for the unheard objections from wider Islam than, as you seem to suggest, a lack of communications experience.

    • DanielPeterson

      There’s truth in what you say. Though I certainly don’t blame the situation on “a lack of communications experience.” That thought never even occurred to me.

    • Eric Ringger

      Regarding lack of delineation: in every community to which I draw close, including my own extended family, I see gradients into extremist mindsets. The humble and forthright Christ calls us back to the two great commandments. He did not say, “Blessed are those who clear the world by force, for they shall inherit the Earth.”

      • Ryan

        “Clear the world by force”? I don’t know what you are saying or to whom you are saying it.

        • Eric Ringger

          To be clear: I’m generally agreeing with you. In that quoted passage, I’m paraphrasing (perhaps in an over-simplistic fashion) the thought embodied in militant extremism on either side of a fence. A brother-in-law of mine used the phrase “nuke ‘em all”, which captured that mentality in three syllables.

  • brotheroflogan

    Is this letter published anywhere else, or sent to prominent Muslim leaders?

    • DanielPeterson

      No. I’m hoping that it will get out there and be noticed, to at least some small degree, via the usual Internet means.

  • Mark O’Brien

    All religions should follow the Golden Rule, period. One must also look to the source and aim of terrorist acts. One can easily use the lure of a religious pretext to mold followers to carry out acts which do not serve their religion, but serve to push an agenda. Surely, people that have killed abortion providers or have bombed Planned Parenthood clinics are also terrorists. Yet, because they stem from “Christian” activities, they do not get labeled as such by our media.

  • DanielPeterson

    Dear Mr. Salaam:

    I understand that this is a problem. And not merely for good Muslims. The media are almost always more interested in the negative than the positive, and in the exceptional (e.g.. “man bites dog” rather than “dog bites man”).

    It’s a challenge, but not, i think an absolutely insurmountable one.

    Muslims will need to come up with the ideas, of course, but I’m happy to brainstorm with or alongside them.

    The social media aren’t under the control of the broadcasting and publishing elites, for example, and much can be done with them. They’re powerful.

    I can also easily envision mosques holding open houses for their neighbors to make clear their revulsion at mass murders in the name of Islam. (Such open houses would do a lot of good: I receive calls fairly frequently from decent Americans who are terrified when they hear that a mosque is going up in their neighborhood. Mosques need to be made less mysterious and foreign, which is easily done — just inviting non-Muslims in for a visit would accomplish much of what’s need.)

    I don’t think this will be accomplished in one single spectacular gesture. It’s going to require a lot of “acting locally” while “thinking globally.” But it’s worth it. In fact, I think you and we have little choice.

    I realize that the two ideas listed above aren’t much. I don’t have much time at the moment, but I would like to continue to think about this. And I’m willing to help wherever I can.

    • Robert Salaam

      Thank you for your commentary and advice. Many young Muslims and majority youth organizations are using social media and trying to get the word out. The open house idea is one I and others have advocated for quite some time to little effect unfortunately. However, I believe the problem is largely cultural and as evidenced from surveys conducted by MPAC and other organizations the shift toward changing leadership at Mosques from immigrant to US born Imams and others may help impact the decision making and see an implementation of these forward thinking ideas. Again, one can not underestimate the power of the media to convey messaging. For instance, for the third year in a row there was a Muslims For Life campaign held on Capital Hill where Muslim groups encouraged people to donate blood to the Red Cross in order to save lives. Hundreds have participated, to include Congressmen and other government officials. Not even the local DC area media covered the event in any year. Who wants to hear about Muslims encouraging saving lives by donating blood? Again the need to push forward should not be hindered by any real or perceived obstacle and I thank you for being another voice in the struggle for truth, decency, and common well-being amongst faith traditions.

      • DanielPeterson

        I agree that part of the problem is cultural. Many Muslims have emigrated from countries where it’s not wise to be too vocal or visible in the public square, etc. I think the rise of a generation of imams born and raised in the West is going to be a very good thing, both for the Islamic community and for the West.

        I’m sorry about the media blackout you’ve been enduring. For what it’s worth, I would appreciate it if somebody could let me know about such events as you describe. (I hadn’t heard of the Muslims for Life campaign, but would like to have publicized it a bit.)

        For what it’s worth, I not only have this blog but I write a weekly column for one of the two major newspapers in the state of Utah — one that actually has a substantial Mormon readership beyond the state’s borders, particularly in the American West but also nationally and internationally — and I do a biweekly column with a historian colleague. I could, once in a while, use those platforms to call some attention to good things in the Muslim community.

        It’s very little, perhaps, but I would be delighted to do it.

        • Ryan

          I’m a little confused as to what the overall purpose of your open letter and above comments is. Is it to address Islamic extremism? Or is to address American ignorance of Islam?

          The discussion seems to be vacillating between the two, which can be upsetting when I’ve decided that you’re addressing extremism and then you suggest Americans be given tours of mosques.

          • DanielPeterson

            It was addressed primarily to the Muslim community. I thought that was quite clear.

            But Americans are, for the most part, fairly ignorant of Islam.

            Gulfs necessarily have two sides, and they’re bridged by connecting those two sides.

            I explained in the opening post (fairly clearly, I thought) that the peacefulness of the Muslim majority had not been adequately communicated to American non-Muslims. Communication, too, involves two sides.

            I’m not sure where the unclarity is supposed to reside.

          • Ryan

            The lack of clarity resides in you decrying a host of terror attacks and then inexplicably following it up with how Americans need to be more understanding. Americans’ lack of familiarity with “the science of al-Biruni” or “the mathematics of al-Khwarizmi” bears zero responsibility for a suicide bombing in Pakistan or a slaughter in Nairobi.

            Islamists know just as little, if not less, about Mormonism than Mormons know about Islam, and yet, incredibly, Mormons don’t shoot up markets in Mexico City or murder Canadian tourists.

            If you want to bemoan the West’s lack of appreciation for the good things of Islam, then that’s one discussion to have. And if you want to decry terrorism, then that’s another (far more pertinent) discussion to have. But let’s not conflate the two and suggest that the dearth of Islamic trivia contained in Americans’ heads is even remotely responsible for the actions of terrorists — who, by the way, aren’t exactly beacons of knowledge themselves.

          • DanielPeterson

            Your comment above, Ryan, so completely misunderstands what I wrote, so utterly misconstrues what (upon rereading) I still regard as quite clearly expressed, that I literally have no idea where to start.

            So, since it’s late and I have lots to do, I’m not going to.

            Please carefully reread what I’ve written, and see if you can’t come up with what I was actually saying. I really don’t think it’s very difficult.

          • Ryan

            I apologize. I have indeed misunderstood you. I was under the mistaken belief that your open letter was lamenting the violence. Rather, it was lamenting Islam’s besmirched image.

            Commenter: We’re doing our part, but the American media isn’t doing theirs!

            You: I know, try harder, American ignorance is a great challenge, but not insurmountable. Try giving them tours of mosques. Eventually their minds will grasp it.

            Commenter: Thanks for the encouragement. We will continue to make efforts to educate Americans.

            You: As will I!

            Incorporating lists of atrocities to bemoan the ignorance of Americans. Yes, oh the agony!

            *sigh*

            Maybe I’m arguing from a place of emotion, and being unfair here. I don’t know. I’m just reflexively sensitive to any talk of terrorism being mixed or punctuated with discussion of American deficiency or ignorance (or vice versa).

          • DanielPeterson

            Yes, you’re being emotional and unfair.

          • Ryan

            edit: Never mind. I’ll let it go.

  • David Miner

    I’m rolling off my chair laughing!!!! News flash… there are at least 14 clandestine terrorist training camps in The United States right now… and they are armed to the teeth and training mostly non-Americans who are here as our honored guests to kill us and our children indiscriminately in the streets and where ever they find us…..

    Wow… I don’t even know how to classify this kind of ignorance coming from a bonified PHD in Near Eastern Studies….

    • DanielPeterson

      I hope, David Miner, that you’ve informed the FBI about those clandestine terrorist training camps. They’re obviously DEEPLY clandestine and very well hidden, but America is fortunate to have you on its side.

  • Chris Baker

    Beautifully written. Thank you Bro. Peterson. As an ardent defender of all the good Islam has done for the west, especially during the period known as the “dark ages” in Europe, it’s always frustrating to hear people say that Islam is a religion of violence and oppression, linking modern day terrorist acts to the whole of a fascinating, and extremely rich culture and religion.
    But I’ve said before that I believe in order for the image of Islam to change, Muslims must take a stand, and do so publicly and loudly, and let people know that they will not tolerate such behavior, especially is said behavior is being claimed to have been done in the name of their religion.

    There is much good that Islam has brought the west. So few westerners even know of the contributions, as you said, to science, philosophy, art, and so on, that have literally saved the west. And it’s sad that a few nutjobs with explosives get all the press and notoriety. But in order for that to happen, more Muslims, and louder than ever, need to stand up and take back the face of their faith. And I will stand with them to help them do it.

  • mad_organist

    The title to this is a bit misleading – only an academian would call it “brief” but it is worth every one of the 4 minutes it took to read it. The principle applies to so many situations – the extremest behave abominably, and become the distorted face of entire cultures. Unfortunately, in an age when anyone can immerse themselves in media that reinforce their particular bigotry, and interact only with people who will tell them just how right they are, we are growing more isolated. It we aren’t careful to connect ourselves with people who are truly different, we lose all sense if how powerfully our humanity connects us – and out fates.

    • DanielPeterson

      As to the brevity, you must understand that I grew up in an era when people still read books and hadn’t yet learned to tweet or to hold presidential debates via “sound bites.”

      • mad_organist

        Fair enough – we are using the most powerful communications technogies ever devised, & I’m not sure it’s progress. On the other hand, perhaps it gives your open letter a chance to see the light of day, so there may be some value & substance among the cute pictures of cats.

        • mad_organist

          BTW, I love your response to our friend who knows about the 14 training camps. With this knowledge, he has the opportunity to make us all much safer.

  • jafnhar

    I was raised LDS, but no longer practice. But before and after my departure when the topic of being or having been LDS would come up, the first reaction would sometimes be: “How many wives does your father have?” That only happened once or twice in the western portion of the US (where I’m from) but further east, in Europe, and especially Eastern Europe it happened fairly often. The LDS Church denounced polygamy a long time ago, but in popular imagination it’s still one of the major associations. That’s not your fault. All I want to say is that I’m pretty pessimistic about the prospects of Islam shaking the terrorist label no matter how loud or frequent the denunciations. Like a lot of problems there is not only no good solution, there’s probably no solution at all except to muddle through for a couple of centuries.

    • jafnhar

      At the risk of being in conversation with myself let me say a little more about this: the LDS Church is pretty mainstream nowadays – mainstream enough to have had a presidential candidate without too much fuss from the broader culture. How did the LDS Church get to this place over the last 100 years? There are probably a lot of aspects to that process, but yelling loudly about not being a polygamist probably wasn’t one of them. I would sum it up this way: Latter Day Saints have been at the same time conspicuously Mormon and conspicuously normal, They’ve been present as normal people in the community. There’s still plenty of anti-Mormon sentiment out there, but through numbers and normality they’ve eradicated a lot of the open bigotry. Who wants to be the guy who soured a business deal because he offended the Mormon guy at the other business? So my advice to Muslims would be this: assimilate, assimilate, assimilate… but stay Muslim. Keep your hijab, say your prayers, and be in all other ways as normal as possible.

      • DanielPeterson

        I don’t disagree with this at all.

        • jafnhar

          Glad to hear it, but I think in your letter you were emphasizing more what peaceful Muslims should be saying. I guess what they say is somewhat important, but I think what guys like you say is more important. It’s difficult for a minority to defend itself – of course, Muslims will say they are non-violent. That’s all part of the Al-Qaeda plot, right?

          But you can’t convince those who don’t want to be convinced and especially those whose paycheck depends on not being convinced. That is to say, you can’t convince the Fox News set – and many others – with denunciations of violence. There has to be an incentive for a person to change his opinion.

          My university put me through the standard sensitivity training and the assumption of the trainer seemed to be that people want to do the right thing and have the right attitudes. They just don’t know what the right attitudes are, so we have to educate them. I think that assumption is misguided. People rarely change an opinion – especially if that opinion concerns a distant minority – unless they have some concrete incentive to do so. I don’t know what that might be in this case.

          • DanielPeterson

            First of all, full disclosure: I’m a serious political conservative, and I regularly watch Fox News.

            But, more substantively, my major concern in this “Open Letter” wasn’t repairing Islam’s image in the West, although that is a concern for me. My larger concern is that Muslims in the West speak up more loudly against extremist violence for the sake of their own community. And is something that neither I nor any other outsider can do on their behalf. They need to do it themselves.

    • DanielPeterson

      The good fight is worth fighting, even if the prospects of full success are dim.

  • DanielPeterson

    “Blind in one eye and overly confident in the other…..”

    Curiously, David Miner, that’s how you come across to ME.

    And repeatedly insulting me is a rather curious way of showing your “love.” You haven’t offered a single bit of relevant evidence or argument to support what I assume, making my way through your dismissals and your put-downs, must be some sort of criticism of what I wrote.

    Finally, you seem to imagine that I support Barack Obama. Why you imagine that, I cannot say.

  • DanielPeterson

    Why on earth do I need to “get back with you”?

    I first read the account of Muhammad’s call nearly four decades ago, and I’ve taught, written, and published extensively on it.

    You haven’t earned the right to condescend to me, David Miner.

    • David Miner

      Now tell me about the sacred black stone in the house of Allah….

      Then you can tell me about the black stone in the stone Hiram Page found….

      D&C 28:11
      11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;

      Then you can tell me about urim and thummim

      Then you can tell me about the color and shape and location of the kabbalah.

      Then you can tell me about the house of God that St. John The Divine was asked to measure with a reed… it’s shape, location, color…

      Then when you’ve finished with that we can talk about the meaning of Israel and Islam….

      Then we can talk about The Book of Abraham and the sacrifice required at the hand of Sarah.

      That’s just for starters.

      • DanielPeterson

        Who said, David Miner, that I have any interest in talking with you?

        • David Miner

          You’d better rethink that one as you don’t know who I am and that I will stand as a witness against you before The Lord.

          • DanielPeterson

            I’ll see you there, David Miner.

            Now, please, stop cluttering up my blog.

          • David Miner

            Fair enough… but I did my part.

  • DanielPeterson

    More insults, and more condescension, David Miner, but still no actual engagement with the facts.

    • David Miner

      The facts are everywhere…. just turn on the TV.

      Now I have given you a list of other things for you to explain… and as I know you don’t want to discuss them as they are deadly to your premise that Islam is not an inherently violent religion you will be forced to consider them with yourself… just as it should be.

      Here’s the list again…. later we will talk about other things you are selectively blind to.

      Now tell me about the sacred black stone in the house of Allah….

      Then you can tell me about the black stone in the stone Hiram Page found….

      D&C 28:11
      11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;

      Then you can tell me about urim and thummim

      Then you can tell me about the color and shape and location of the kabbalah.

      Then you can tell me about the house of God that St. John The Divine was asked to measure with a reed… it’s shape, location, color…

      Then when you’ve finished with that we can talk about the meaning of Israel and Islam….

      Then we can talk about The Book of Abraham and the sacrifice required at the hand of Sarah.

      That’s just for starters.

      • DanielPeterson

        “Just turn on the TV . . .”

        Years of study and teaching of the languages, years of reading and teaching the texts, years of living in the Middle East, years of knowing and talking with Muslims, years of studying and teaching the history . . . all of it worthless. “Just turn on the TV.”

        (Of course, I’m guessing that there are also a few web sites.)

        I hope that you’re a nice person in real life, David Miner. But here, I’m afraid, you come across as militantly dogmatic, ill-informed, and something of a fanatic.

        The combination of superficial knowledge, self-righteousness, and aggressiveness isn’t a very attractive or useful one.

        • David Miner

          I was referring to the recent attack in a Kenyan mall with 61 dead and more than a hundred injured..

          Naturally you can just go to Youtube if you want to see more but be careful… it may take a few weeks to go through them all.

          What isn’t attractive is loving a lie.

          • DanielPeterson

            I’m well aware of the attack in Nairobi, Mr. Miner. As the blog post above explicitly says, that attack was one of the motivations for my writing the blog post.

            Your self-righteous aggressiveness is on unmistakable display, for what it’s worth, in your casual willingness, above, to class me among the “dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” whom Revelation 22:15 deems unworthy of entry into God’s celestial city.

            I thank you for making your character irrefutably obvious, and I suppose that I should also thank you for your willingness to assume the Lord’s role as my judge.

            But, instead, I’m going to ask you, yet again, to stop cluttering up my blog.

            The next step I’ll take, if you don’t choose to stop posting insulting nonsense here, will be to bar you from doing so.

          • David Miner

            Well Daniel, I have clearly set myself up as a witness not a judge.

            And my simple issue is that you know better… and I have given you plenty of things to ponder just in case you missed the obvious.

            However, I don’t think you are completely unaware of the things I have given you to ponder…. and that is why I am disappointed in you.

          • DanielPeterson

            You’ve been posting nonsense, David Miner. Yet I think you’re completely unaware that it’s nonsense.

            However, I’ve now told you, several times, that it is. So the innocence excuse is losing its power.

          • David Miner

            Now show me how my points to consider are nonsense.

          • DanielPeterson

            I haven’t the slightest interest in conversing with you.

            I’m happy to talk with reasonable and informed people. I don’t care whether they agree with me or not.

            I’m happy to talk with reasonable and uninformed people who understand that they’re uninformed.

            I’m not interested in conversing with you.

            Nor am I willing to be badgered by you.

            Stop cluttering up my blog, or I’ll very soon start simply deleting your posts.

            I’ve asked you politely. I won’t repeat the request.

          • David Miner

            The best proof of the reality of Mohammed’s belief in the reality of the revelation, and of the completeness of his sincerity, is that he fell at the first into a state of doubt concerning it. (Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p. 46).

            This openly-expressed doubt about the source of the revelations strengthens all the more the suggestion that Muhammad really did see these two visions which took him somewhat by surprise. Nevertheless it is very interesting to find that Muhammad initially believed that these manifestations were probably demonic. A Muslim writer sets out his immediate reaction to them:

            Naturally he was scared, and intimated to his wife, Khadija, the fear that he might even be possessed by an evil spirit . . . Stricken with panic, Muhammad arose and asked himself, “What did I see? Did possession of the devil which I feared all along come to pass?” . . . When he calmed down, he cast toward his wife the glance of a man in need of rescue and said, “O Khadijah, what has happened to me?” He told her of his experience and intimated to her his fear that his mind had finally betrayed him, and that he was becoming a seer or a man possessed. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 73-75).

            So was the morning star that he saw Lucifer?… and was he possessed of a demon?

          • DanielPeterson

            Somebody’s been reading anti-Islamic websites!

          • David Miner

            What and who is / are The Morning Star?

            The second thing that tends to accredit these visions is Muhammad’s initial reaction to them. Instead of boldly asserting that he had seen an angel of God, he was considerably disturbed for some time and questioned whether the early revelations were really coming from heaven.

            “Once while I was walking, all of a sudden I heard a voice from the sky. I looked up and saw to my surprise, the same Angel as had visited me in the cave of Hira. He was sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. I got afraid of him and came back home and said, Wrap me! Wrap me!” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 452).

          • DanielPeterson

            Mr. Miner, stop copying and pasting this stuff on my blog.

            I’m about thirty seconds away from simply deleting all of your future posts.

          • David Miner

            You claim that I don’t know what I am referring to and that I am printing nonsense on your blog… So now I am deliberately cutting and pasting from other sources and asking legitimate questions….

            Furthermore, I have also given you my e-mail just so you can answer my questions in private without having them appear on your blog…

            But still you insist on ridding yourself of my questions….

          • DanielPeterson

            The cutting and pasting is slightly better, but I won’t permit my blog to be used as a venue for publishing propaganda.

            Stop it.

            I’ve written and published on the things you’re commenting about. Read what I’ve written. Stop trying to hijack my blog.

          • David Miner

            I’m not trying to hijack anything and I am not posting propaganda either… I am simply asking questions that most people would find reasonable considering religion is at the root of the subject.

          • DanielPeterson

            If you were a reasonable person, I would be happy to discuss these things with you. But you’ve given me no basis for presuming you to be reasonable or fair-minded, and abundant evidence to the contrary.

            Moreover, with the number of comments you’ve posted today, you’ve proven yourself to be, frankly, something of an obsessed fanatic, a crank.

            But you’re going to take a break now. I’m not going to allow you to post any more comments here until at least tomorrow.

            Pause and reflect. Cool down and think.

          • kiwi57

            Mr Milner,

            Nobody here is the slightest bit interested in your propaganda. We are interested in the intelligent views of an informed Islamist, not the haverings of a fanatical zealot who’s found a website on which to feed his bigotry.

            You are, despite your denials, attempting to hijack Dan’s blog.

            I invite you to go away. Maybe you and your like-minded friends might start your own blog.

            After you’ve burned a cross or two.

          • http://kgbudge.com kgbudge

            Dan, it’s a shame you have to decline David’s kind offer to pull the mote out of your eye.

            But I fully understand.

          • David Miner

            kgbudge,

            The offer is open to you as well… simply tell me about these items.

            Tell me about the sacred black stone in the house of Allah….

            Then you can tell me about the black stone that Hiram Page found….

            D&C 28:11
            11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;

            Then you can tell me about urim and thummim

            Then you can tell me about the color and shape and location of the kabbalah.

            Then you can tell me about the house of God that St. John The Divine was asked to measure with a reed… it’s shape, location, color…

            Then when you’ve finished with that we can talk about the meaning of Israel and Islam….

            Then we can talk about The Book of Abraham and the sacrifice required at the hand of Sarah.

            That’s just for starters.

          • DanielPeterson

            David Miner: This is the third time that you’ve posted this silly list. I realize that you imagine it to have a point, or to score one. But it doesn’t.

            And three times is the limit. Don’t attempt to post it again, as I’ll simply delete it.

          • David Miner

            Then answer me in an e-mail.
            dminermech@gmail.com

          • DanielPeterson

            I have not the slightest interest in conversing with you.

        • http://kgbudge.com kgbudge

          Dan, I thought about trying to join the conversation and try to talk sense to David, but I’m thinking life is already too short.

          But I’ll comfort you with some reminders of things you doubtless already know. The Doctrine and Covenants commands us to study things out in our minds and to seek learning by study as well as by faith. Joseph Smith’s interest in education was clearly manifest in such projects as the School of the Prophets and the University of Nauvoo. President Hinckley spoke often of the importance of education and instituted the Perpetual Education Fund. It seems to me that this is not a philosophy of Man that disdains the mind of Man as a “processor” or “meet box” (do you suppose he meant “meat box”? Though I’m still not sure that makes any better sense.)

          I appreciate the years of study you’ve put into understanding Islam and the Arab world. Not all of us are blessed with great minds, and not all of those who are have the opportunity to pursue learning full time. I envy you, but not in a selfish if-I-can’t-have-it-neither-should-you way; I’m glad you’re here.

          You’re not without your faults, one of which is an unfortunate knack for bringing cranks of all stripes out of the woodwork; but, on balance, I appreciate you and your efforts.

          For whatever it’s worth.

          • DanielPeterson

            Thanks, kgbudge.

            I don’t think education is the ultimately most important thing, but I do think it’s important. Knowledge is better than ignorance.

            We all know that, in most cases. We wouldn’t go to an amateur brain surgeon who just took it up a few days ago, or to an ignorant mechanic, or a self-anointed accountant who’s about to start working his way through “Tax Accounting for Dummies.”

            But, somehow, on many issues of public policy, some of which involve very foreign cultures and hundreds of years of history, some of us imagine that “just turning on the TV” is all that’s required.

            Whenever I encounter this mindset, it always amazes me.

  • gimpi1

    I think what Mark is referring to is that they are not called Christian terrorists, Elizabeth. When a Muslim person commits an act of terrorism, they are almost always identified by their religion first, a Muslim terrorist. When a Christian person commits an act of terrorism, they are generally referred to simply as a terrorist, or by some other modifier, such as “nationalist” for the IRA, or “extreme right to life” for abortion-clinic attacks or “racist” for the KKK. Most people don’t remember or acknowledge that all these groups claim Christianity as their motive.

    • Elizabeth Huntington Hall

      Such terrorists as you mention have some sort of “Christian” background either because that is true of most people in the United States, or because some terrorists–Right-to-Life extremists and the KKK for instance–frankly claim Christian scripture as the basis of their actions. My experience is apparently different from yours in that I *often* hear commentators and authors dwell appropriately on such hypocrisy. I mildly disagree that it’s because their activities “stem from ‘Christian’ activities [that] they do not get labeled as such by our media.” Rather, historical, contextual, and self-proclaimed factors make their connection to Christianity obvious. It would sound silly and superfluous to label them as “Christian terrorists” with every mention. In other words, their supposed Christianity is a given. Timothy McVeigh and his ilk generally claim political rather than religious motivations, so in those kinds of cases the point is moot.

  • Rhonda Kelley (nee Williams)

    Thank you. Nice to hear someone addressing this issue without “finger pointing” at the normal muslim community because they aren’t seen as being disgusted with the extremists. My Christian faith would never have led me to participate in the bloody Crusades, and I would not want to be held accountable for what those people did in the name of Christianity. I empathize with the majority of the Muslim faith who take no part in terrorism.

  • Elizabeth Huntington Hall

    Brother Peterson, I truly appreciated this article, as I generally do your essays and articles.

  • Joe Bradford

    With the recent LAX shooting, a similar call is being made by those that build bridge to American culture among Muslims and others. When will Americans categorically denounce violence in the name of Patriotism?
    http://www.joebradford.net/guest-post-open-letter-americans-patriots/


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X