Because Mohammad’s law code touches on every aspect of life–from politics, government, rules of war, marriage, sexuality, jurisprudence, dress codes and how to go to the toilet–it is practically impossible to separate the “religion of peace” from Islamic culture. Furthermore, it is my impression that most Muslims do not want to see a separation between their religion and their way of life. I can understand that. If you think your religion teaches you what to believe, then it ought also to teach you how to behave.
This difficulty becomes most acute when the religion not only labels other believers as infidels and apostates but also specifies how they are to be either converted or persecuted. Moderate Muslims may re-interpret these strictures in light of other verses in the Koran which forbid cruelty and co-ercion and they are right to do so. However, fundamentalist interpretations too often prevail in the popular mindset and David French’s article shows just how widespread these attitudes are in the Muslim world, and shows especially how virulent and widespread the anti-Semitism is among Muslims worldwide.
While everyone acknowledges that all Muslims are not terrorists, it is also true that there are very significant numbers who are sympathetic to terrorism, even more who are sympathetic to a strict interpretation of Sharia law, and an even larger number who are sympathetic in general to the idea of a caliphate and Muslim domination.
Does this mean we have to hate all Muslims? No. Of course not. That’s not only not Christian. It’s stupid.
However, we can get our heads out of the sand and dispel the myth that there are only two kinds of Muslims: a few fanatical terrorists and all the rest peace loving, enlightened people who embrace Western liberal values. This is untrue. It is much more complicated than that.
Many Muslim leaders themselves (both political and religious) are working for a reformed attitude within the Islamic religion and culture–in which the truly peaceful and tolerant values inherent in some Islamic teachings can be brought to the foreground and the necessity to enforce a bellicose, seventh century Arabian law code become increasingly subordinate.
I might add that while we hope Muslim leaders continue to work to eradicate negative fundamentalism through education, preaching and good example, we Christians should do the same. I don’t for a moment believe that Christian fundamentalism is on the scale of Islamic–either by levels of danger or numbers, but people tend to slip into fundamentalist attitudes when threatened and ignorant. I can see a trend within American Protestantism (and in some corners of Catholicism) where we are in danger of drifting into a violent, intolerant and ignorant kind of Christian fundamentalism…
…and that ain’t gonna get us nowhere fast.