For the past several weeks I have been studying Islam as mentioned in this post. The quest started when the Wife asked me during one of our nightly conversations beneath the stars, “Who exactly is Muhammad anyway?” I knew the basics – his late (age 40) revelations, his flight from Mecca to Medina and his eventual return after much butt-kicking and converting – but nothing much beyond that. So I started reading – NOT on the Internet – but these wonderful things called “books” that it seems have become so passe these days. I checked out the sources of the books and read critically – sensitive to the author’s bias’s whether unwritten or not. Many of these books were on the shelf, but those that weren’t were easily found at Amazon.com.
Having studied the era he lived in from other perspectives, the rise of Byzantium and the migrations of Central and Western Europe, the cultural supremacy of China and the nascent state of Japan in Asia, I felt that it was important to approach Muhammad and early Islam from the perspective of the time. I’ve always bristled when Leftists have condemned President Truman as a war criminal for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ignoring Truman’s perspective forged in the ferocity of the Japanese resistance at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Or disregarding the contributions made by American Founding Fathers because they owned slaves and didn’t grant women the right to vote, two standards that were prevalent throughout the world at the time. The Seventh Century was a brutal one by modern standards, and so I wanted to approach Muhammad’s life in that era with that in mind.
And the truth be told I wanted to see Muhammad as many Muslims see him: as the Ideal Man and a great prophet who founded one of the world’s great religions. Having lived and worked among Muslims I found each call to prayer by the muezzin that I heard as sublime as the first. During Ramadan I respected the fasting of the faithful by avoiding food myself or taking it in private. I celebrated Eid ul Fitr with them at Ramadan’s end. I befriended many Muslims over the years, and owe many a debt of gratitude for the kindnesses they showed me – from putting up with my naivete travelling abroad to the kindnesses shown to me by men like Jan Mohamed whom I view as one of the greatest people I have ever been fortunate enough to meet.
I mention this to establish the fact that when I began my study I wanted to believe that Islam as laid out by the Prophet Muhammad was a religion of peace. I had personally experienced the peaceful nature of its adherents, so I wanted to find its basis in the Koran, or the Hadith, and the other writings Muslims view as part of their religion. For the amateur scientist in me, I was going to try to prove the hypothesis that Muhammad was a man of peace and deserved the designation of Ideal Man. Any evidence that contradicted that hypothesis would have to be incontrovertible to turn that bias.
The conclusion of my research left me cold. A billion people, more than one out of every six people on the planet were following a philosophy of brutality, hatred and violence built by a man who was closer to Charles Manson in word and deed than he was to Jesus Christ or Mahatma Gandhi. Christ never preached violence or personally murdered anyone; Mohammad killed at least 700 people, and more likely many, many more. Martin Luther King jr was Christlike by preaching and practicing non-violence. By personally beheading captive Nick Berg, an infidel, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was acting according to the example of the Ideal Man, Mohammad. After all, it’s what Mohammad did when he received the captives of the Qurayzah who were brought to him in batches and he struck off their heads and kicked their lifeless bodies into trenches he himself had prepared.
Islam has not been hijacked by extremists; it was founded by extremists, has resisted moderation for over 1,300 years, and empowers extremists today to act in its behalf. The question is not what causes Muslims to become extremists, it’s why more Muslims don’t pick up the sword and gun and follow Mohammad’s example. As with most religions there is a spectrum of belief, with the vast majority of people in between the extremes of Muslims-in-name-only and Koranic scholars. But even within that majority there are problems from the modern point of view when 2/3rds of Muslims surveyed worldwide support a global caliphate and the imposition of Sharia law.
Mohammad dealt with moderation himself. The Koran blasts Muslims who attempt to moderate Mohammad’s teachings and Allah’s will, viewing such actions as a rejection of the faith: “That is because they believed, then they rejected Faith: So a seal was set on their hearts; therefore they understand not. When thou lookest at them, their exteriors please thee; and when they speak, thou listened to their words. They are as (worthless as hollow) pieces of timber propped up, (unable to stand on their own),” Koran 63:1-8. When a prophet of such stature as Mohammad speaks against moderation, and the Koran – a perfect copy of a book owned by Allah Himself – warns against watering down its teachings, it makes it impossible to find room within its suras for an interpretation of the religion that disregards its violent teachings and intolerance.
Mohammad witnessed how apostasy and heresy weakened other religions: the Arabian peninsula was full of Christian and Jewish sects that deviated from the dogma preached in Jerusalem, Constantinople and Rome. He therefore made it a point for Islam and the word of Allah to be taken literally; there was little room for interpretation – and that fundamentalism carried throughout out the Koran, the Hadith and other Islamic texts.
In so doing he prevents any interpretation of Islam that would allow Islam to compromise with other faiths or for Islam to experience a reformation along the lines that Christianity did beginning six hundred years ago. While Christ may have stopped the stoning of an adulterous woman by crying “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” (John 8:2-11), Mohammad had no such compunction. When a couple were accused of adultery, Mohammad ordered the couple stoned to death. A witness reported “I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones.”
Mohammad built his ideology for the Ages, and after 1300 years, no religion has stayed closer to its founder’s beliefs than Islam. It is that success that allows us to judge his ideology by modern standards because the Islam that Mohammad created carries the 7th century’s attitudes and morality unadulterated into the modern era. By those standards Islam cannot coexist with Christianity or Judaism: it views the former as lied to by its founders, and the latter filth for having rejected Allah’s teachings. It cannot accept democracy when the Koran speaks of nothing but Allah’s will and law. It will not tolerate the equality of women when they are viewed in the Koran as those who corrupt the pious, nor will homosexuality be allowed to exist except under a hail of stones.
National Review editor Rich Lowry once wrote that although Islam is a religion of peace “seems a polite fiction, it is an important one. Influential Muslims believe it to be true, and it is crucial that they prevail in the Muslim struggle for self-definition.” But it is a fiction, and finding a solution to integrating the modern world with Islam requires that we understand the facts no matter how inconvenient or down-right painful they may be.
UPDATE: Here is an attempt by CAIR to embarrass Lt. Col Rep. Allen West in public. As Joshuapundit writes:
This Muslim Brotherhood shill confronted Congressman West and asked him to point out where in the Qu’ran it gives orders to Muslims “to carry out attacks against Americans and innocent people.”
After pointing out that the Koran was written long before America even existed, West cited chapter and Surah from the Qu’ran and then proceeding to list a whole catalog of Muslims acts carrying out exactly what it says in Suras 2-9…where it does indeed tell believers to kill and enslave infidels.
West then mentioned Fort Hood and his own battlefield experiences hearing our country’s enemies yelling ‘Allah Akbar!’ and told Hamze not to “try to blow sunshine up my butt.”
When Hamze played the Islamophobia card, West trumped him by reminding Hamze that he had put his life on the line on the battle field to liberate Muslims.
Lesson? Don’t mess with Lt. Col. Allen West.