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The Third Rock Forum - Religion

Article Title
Islam is not a religion of peace
Paul G
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Submitted : 20-11-2015 15:46
Amended : 00-00-0000 00:00
Status : Approved:  
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David Cameron and other Western leaders are for ever telling us that Islam is a religion of peace.  Their motives are entirely laudable.  They wish to minimise the chances of an all-out clash of civilisations between Islam and Western liberal democracy and they are eager to foster good relations with their own Muslim minorities.

The problem is that is isn’t true.  Islam is not a religion of peace and every Muslim knows it. 

That is not to say that Islam does not value compassion and peace.  Most Muslims, like most people of other faiths and no faith at all, wish to live their lives, raise their families and relate to society in peaceful and secure times. Looking back through history, it is probably fair to say that Muslims have had a better record of living at peace with non-Muslim minorities than Christians have with non-Christians.

But that does not mean that Islam at its core is a religion of peace in the same way that Christianity is, at its core, a religion of peace.

The Prophet Muhammad, who is revered as the perfect exemplar of humanity, was a man who engaged in war, fought in battles, killed his enemies, and executed prisoners.  While parts of the Quran tell us that no one should be forced to convert to Islam, other verses endorse the beheading of those unwilling to convert.

In short, Islam is not a religion of peace.  It is a proselytising religion which, in certain circumstances, accommodates violence to achieve its ends.

Why is it important to understand this?  Simply because Western attempts to deal with “extreme forms of Islam” are based on a false premise.  Those young people who set out for Syria to fight for Isil, are not demented or brainwashed.  They are simply taking seriously what the Holy Quran and the life of Muhammad tell them to do.

Every religion asks much of its adherents.  Christians,, who take the teaching of Jesus seriously, must learn to “turn the other cheek”, meet cruelty with kindness and give all they have to those in need.   Christianity’s teachings are too much for most of us, so we settle for a less demanding, more moderate version of Jesus’s morality and a more comfortable life. So, thankfully, do most Muslims in the UK and elsewhere in the world, because Muslims who take the teaching and life of Muhammad seriously are not demented or brain-washed when they kill their enemies and welcome martyrdom; they are fulfilling the fiercest demands of their religion.

In other words, Christian “extremists”, if they understand the teachings of Christ, become selfless, generous and, whatever the provocation, non-violent.   Muslim “extremists”, on the other hand, if they know the Holy Quran and admire the life of the prophet, become focused on the afterlife, domineering and, whenever, in their view, the need arises, violent.

Of course, the history of Christianity is one of violence and conquest and there are plenty of examples of atrocities to match anything carried out by Isil.  So what I have said here is not about what men have done in the name of their religions.  It is about the values that these religions endorse.  Christianity is essentially a religion of peace, compassion and love.  Islam is not.  

Because Muslim’s believe the Holy Quran is the revealed word of God and that Muhammad is beyond criticism, they are locked into a 6th century mind-set and follow the teaching of a medieval, tribal warlord who set out to lay the foundations of an empire as well as a religion.

Unless Islam can find a way to pass through a reformation (which seems unlikely), the oft-predicted clash of civilisations may be unavoidable. The best we in the West can hope is that, if we keep saying Islam is a religion of peace, that message, combined with the natural desire of women to be free from patriarchal domination and all human beings to be free to say what they think, will, over the years, bring Islam into the 21st century, despite the best efforts of the fundamentalists to bury it in the past.