Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Islam: A Violent Religion?

Flag of Islamic State
Image from The Global Panorama
Christianity Today

Writing for Christianity Today (CT), Morgan Lee asks, "Does Islam Encourage Violence More Than Other Religions?" (September 12, 2014). I'm encountering this question more and more and listening carefully to people's responses. Nobody wants to come out and say directly that Islam is more violent, but their manner of expressing themselves reveals their answer to the question. Take Professor Rodney Stark, for instance:
In CT's interview with Rodney Stark earlier this year on why global religious hostility is on the rise, the Baylor University sociologist suggested that Muslim violence was largely because "most Middle Eastern nations have several Muslim groups that have been bitter enemies for centuries."
The primary example of this would be the Sunni-Shia conflict, which has been going on for 1400 years! This is evidence of what? That one Islam wouldn't be violent, but two 'Islams' are? Stark next offers a grab-bag full of reasons for Muslim violence, but read the reasons carefully:
"Some 75 percent of the people who died from religious hostility in 2012 were Muslims killed by Muslims. Then the terrible bitterness among them gets fanned by the enormous anger in these countries toward the West: the jealousy arising from poverty; technological backwardness; and then, of course, being appalled at the West's immorality, especially as depicted in the media," said Stark. He also argued that "religious violence isn't something new in the world,” and noted that he hesitated "to think there is anything peculiar to the Islamic tradition. There is a problem, to be sure, in that Muhammad butchered people for their irreligion. But the fact is, Christians have killed each other by the millions too."
Just consider that passing remark about Muhammad: "There is a problem, to be sure, in that Muhammad butchered people for their irreligion." These words reveal what Stark really thinks, but doesn't want to think. Stark knows that Muhammad is the moral exemplar for Muslims. If Muhammad did or said something, then that deed or word is the moral thing to do or say. If Stark thinks "that Muhammad butchered people for their irreligion," he is implying that Islam is violent at its very core.

The so-called 'Islamic State' (IS) also believes that Islam is violent at its core, else it wouldn't be showing to the world all those videos of its own atrocities - acts of violence that the IS considers sacred violence - and going on to justify the violence, even sanctify it by pointing to Muhammad's violence.

We call this "Islamism," but is Islamism simply the violence at the very core of Islam?

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