We are living in a culture of tolerance and freedom in the West. We allow others to migrate to our countries and they often bring with them a clash of laws and values to our own. As we are preaching tolerance and ratifying this with racial vilification laws we are getting to the point where we are losing ourselves in favour of those who migrate.
It is difficult to have a debate between a secular person and a religious person because the basis for each of our ideas is founded in different styles of reasoning and different worldviews/paradigms. Perhaps we can try anyway? In fact, it is becoming increasingly necessary to bridge this paradigmatic gap. We need greater dialogue. We need greater understanding.
My perspective is based on the problems inherent in how to integrate society with fundamentalist Islam and how political correctness and racial vilification can create a tolerance of such radicalism to our detriment as a whole society. I appreciate that I am not an Imam Quran scholar – my references (in the article text below) however, did indeed come from the Quran (the English Translation by the Penguin Edition). But I will have a go, thus, and try to learn along the way. The following is from a recent discussion/ argument with an islamic commentator:
If you are going to say that ‘Islam is not at all like this – you people are ignorant’ then please tell us how you interpret the quotes referenced. I am struggling to find a better way to interpret them myself. Do you think the English translation I’ve referred to is somehow flawed? If so, then how?
My experience has been that extremists are somehow interpreting the Quran and associated texts differently to moderate and peace-loving Muslims. I would like to know what the main difference is. You cannot simply call us ignorant and not tell us why and how we are wrong. I would be remiss to convert to Islam myself as then if I questioned the religion and its texts after the fact, and decided to leave the religion, I may well be guilty of apostasy. This attracts the death sentence in your Sharia Court. Or are you living in a secular Muslim society which does not have a Sharia Court?
Are you arguing that Sharia law is a good thing? Or are you saying that only misguided muslims, like those in the previous Taliban-run Afghanistan would misinterpret Sharia law? Are you not aware that women are second-class citizens under Sharia and that their testimony is, truly, only half that of a man in its weight and power?
Please understand, again, that I am not saying other religious are better. In deed, the Jehovah of the Old Testament can be seen as a capricious, vengeful, jealous, violent and merciless god as well. Christ can be interpreted, not as fostering such old views, but of challenging them and instructing people to be peaceful and loving and not to be hypocrites. There would be inherent contradictions, therefore in the Bible; parts emphasising hatred and revenge and others love and forgiveness. However – the New Testament (of Gospels describing the life and teachings of Christ) in this way is clearly demarcated from the Old Testament (The Book of the Jews). I am sure that there are further contradictions in the Gospels about Christ as well. Again, I am not saying that any religion is better. However I would say that Christ never did tell people to kill each other for offending his beliefs. He preached tolerance and forgiveness, but also to stand up for against injustice, crimes against humanity, and call a spade a spade – as he indeed did so himself when he criticized the Jewish pharisees in their money lending in the temples.
In a sense, IF the Quran tells its believers to be equal, loving and peaceful and treat westerners / infidels and women with respect, and then in another section tells you to kill the infidel and beat the woman – this there is simply a contradiction that needs to be reconciled. I am sorry, but I cannot put in any other way.
Perhaps in this way, considering that all religions rely on ancient static documents then there is a problem with religion itself.
Perhaps this is why various Muslim sects interpret the Quran and associated religious texts differently – different parts are focused upon and others overlooked? Again I am not a religious scholar – just a man who would like to generate debate in this area and THEREBY learn more.
Additionally I am painfully aware that Islam has been exploited by some Western power groups – particularly the previous Bush Administration and USA war monger groups that profit on continual war and fear to control the people of America and capitalise on the poor of the world. I think this is absolutely terrible. I am also aware that many Islamic extremists have possibly been ‘set up’ by these ‘powers that be’ in the world as a scapegoat, just as the Jews were by Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. We are also aware that the CIA trained and munitioned many such terrorists – and that the American covert dabbling and complicity has a lot to answer for in the current Global situation.
I am painfully aware that you and many other muslims would be worried, afraid and down right angry at this injustice – however by being Aggressive and /or not separating from solidarity with extremists then extremists and moderates alike may be equivocated accordingly.
I understand that I am raising more issues here, but burying our head in the sand and ignoring them in such a geo-political climate will not do any of us any favors.
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Islamic migrants are organized and united under common principles, and ironically, they are against assimilation and often preach intolerance of all others setting themselves against the countries they migrate to. As Westerners we are not united under a cultural identity and thus we are unable to push back against this tide of intolerance and oppression and we risk losing our countries and the liberties and values we have fought hard for over the centuries. For democracy to work we need debate and also an educated population. We need to take a position against the other. If we do not do this the other will take over. However if we debate, both sides are enriched with greater knowledge and the truth emerges between the two. It is as simple as this. However, if we have laws preventing us from speaking out against others (racial vilification laws which contradict freedom of speech laws) then we are not able to have any debate. We are not allowed to criticize the ways of others, even if they are disgraceful and violent in case we are deemed racist. We are so afraid of being deemed racist that we tolerate discrimination and hatred against ourselves. Let's be clear - this is not about racism whatsoever, it is about our society, values and laws being under threat.
There are over 5o million muslims living in Europe. Australia is not in the same position, admittedly, as the muslim people are in a small minority and additionally to become a citizen and thus have the power to vote for parliamentary representatives and leaders you must first take a pledge of allegiance. This is not the case in Europe and Britain: they have oppressed themselves under the auspices of post-colonial political correctness, a correctness based on guilt due to confessions of past misguided arrogance of Empire and imperialism. This correctness now favours everyone other than the native inhabitants of their own countries. Australia, conversely, has a pledge of allegiance - It is not necessarily called this, but new citizens must first swear to uphold the laws and values of the constitution and of the land, based on principles of equality and freedom.This is what thwarts religious fanatics from entering our land or at least having any political clout when they do.
If you don't first seek a pledge of allegiance in your country then you are opening your country up to people who would put allegiance to their faith, religious extremism or mother country ahead of the values and laws of the country they migrate to. Over time, with successive generations (very large numbers of offspring are typical) these views become more extreme (even if they were initially 'moderate') as people seek a group identity and sense of meaning and purpose amongst those who are alike. Unless explicitly contravened, the sense of a minority's difference to the majority is bolstered by simply being there in that country. The very nature of the Quran, their holy book, is also fundamentalist where the word of their God, Allah, is sacrosanct and indesputable. The Quran means 'Recitial' as it is claimed that the messenger of Allah, the archangel Gabriel visited the prophet Muhammad in the 6th Century AD (CE) and told him to record and pass on Allah's laws. From this is derived Shariah Law. Shariah law is a system of laws based entirely on the Quran as well as the recordings of the life of Muhammad, in a document called the Sunnah. This is the reason why the religion itself, based on the Quran, does not encourage moderateness and will always have a tendency toward militant, fundamentalist, extremist fanaticism. The religion is fundamentally anti-democratic because Shariah law is based on indesputable divine laws which must be imposed without question and with a great degree of discrimination, absolute prejudice (to the point of death) racism, oppression and violence. Regarding gender equality, the Quran states:
Quran: 4:34 Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them.
In this verse we see a direct statement, from the mouth of God (if you are a believer) telling you that women are beneath men and that they must be beaten, not just if they 'misbehave' but if a man fears that a woman will misbehave and he is also directly instructed to isolate her and that she must be covered.
Regarding unbelievers, the Quran states this:
(4:51) Those that deny Our revelations We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. Surely Allah is mighty and wise.
From this section we see again a direct instruction from Allah that non-believers are not to be tolerated, as he himself does not tolerate them, and that they are only worthy of extreme punishment and pain.
Regarding terrorism and suicide bombers, again the Quran proclaims direct instruction which encourages barbarity:
(4:67)...Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter, fight for the cause of Allah; whoever fights for the cause of Allah, whether he dies or triumphs, on him We shall bestow a rich recompense.
We must understand that the idea of a paradise to attract terrorists and suicide bombers to kill themselves and others in the name of Allah, that this is not a twist of verse or an interpretation by a fundamentalist cleric. The instruction is pure and simple that suicide-homicide based in Allah's name is the highest honour and will be richly rewarded.
Regarding infidels (non-believers) the Quran is also extremely clear about how to deal with them:
(4:86) They would have you disbelieve as they themselves have disbelieved, so that you may be all alike. Do not befriend them until they have fled their homes in the cause of Allah. If they desert you, seize them and put them to death wherever you find them.
(4:87) ...lay hold of them and kill them wherever you find them. Over such men We give you absolute authority.
These sorts of calls to extreme violence and murder of unbelievers (the infidel) are hard to misinterpret (again not a suggestion but an absolute divine command if you are a Muslim because the word of Allah is irrefutable and perfect). The irony is that the meaning of the word Islam is 'way of peace' and the word Muslim means 'man of peace'. There is absolutely nothing peaceful about the above commands regarding how to treat others who are different to you, or in deed how to treat women related to you.
According to some outspoken critics, such as the Antitheist and Misoclere Society (empirical rationalists) amongst others amid a growing rebuttal against extremism, the foundations of the violence and oppression come from the essential nature of the Islamic religion itself as based on the Quran. Accordingly some think that the Quran is not a religious document at all as it does not adequately promote harmony and love or critical thinking as a basis of wisdom; rather it is a document commanding a fascist totalitarian regime, due to its negative and hateful didactic instructions, similar to manifesto documents of Nazism or Communism. The Quran does contain some positive elements: such as the instruction to look after orphans and widows, live a hygienic and disciplined life, to be fair in business and commerce dealings (it is forbidden to practice usury, which is the charging of interest for lending money) and also to treat travellers mercifully. However such notions are rather contradicted in subsequent sections with instructions to kill the infidel and oppress and beat the woman. I wonder what a devout follower is supposed to do if they came across an infidel adulteress who is also a travelling orphan? And if the terrorist who dies for the cause of Allah is actually female, is she also promised the virgin houri girls to tend to her in paradise? Do women (apart from the slave girls already there) even get into heaven?
If Western nations wish to preserve their freedoms they cannot allow such tyrannical extremists to enter their countries or live there. The religion of Islam has an innate tendency toward extremism and murderous barbarity because those who are true believers and followers of the Quran must do what Allah tells them to do - and this is not about loving thy neighbour as it contains direct instructions to murder infidels, which is categorically everyone else apart from them who live in the western nations they are migrating to. In summary, the Quran tells them to discriminate against women and beat them and also to kill all others who disagree with them. There is no room for debate. If one was to state they were a moderate muslim, they would necessarily have to state that they do not believe in the instructions in the Quran. Would any Muslim state this aloud?
We in the West must get serious about our political and democratic position based on freedom. We need stronger politicians who do not allow hateful and violent people to enter our countries and discriminate against we who already live in the country and have fought so hard to create and preserve its liberties. This is otherwise a crime against humanity and a complicit fostering of those who would bring down our societies and subjugate all of us to Shariah law wherever possible. We must get vocal. We must not let this happen. We have too much to lose.
Post script (from Blog feedback):
I agree - the vast majority of muslims are wonderful, loving, hard working, good hearted people. There may be 'moderate muslims' but they are contradicting their own religion by doing so, and there may be a tendency to resort to its extremes given certain conditions (as we see with disenfranchised marginalized or plain obsessive type and unintelligent muslims who become terrorists) - and you don't see many Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist Terrorists now do you? You will find this is mainly because the holy books of these other religions simply do not preach hatred and violence toward women or non-believers. Jesus, for example, said 'let he who is without sin cast the first stone'.
My point is that Islam denies moderateness in and of itself because of the directness of its hate and violence-driven instructions, particularly regarding Westerners/ infidels (non believers), women, and petty criminals. There is no room for debate amongst these surahs. Non-believers are to be killed, women to be beaten and/or stoned to death for things like infidelity, and petty criminals are to have their hands cut off under Shariah law (I appreciate I am summarizing things here and there are mitigating circumstances accounted for under Shariah, but still.....). Under Shariah law, for example, in fundamentalist countries a womn can be raped then taken to a Shariah court, and as a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man's she is not able to have a comparative argument and he is able to state that she seduced him, or whatever, and thus justify the death penalty for her. There are clerics in the Muslim world who are arguing that women who wear a full hijab where just the eyes are visible, should only show one of their eyes as they would otherwise encourage men to rape them or at least have lusty unclean thoughts. Here we see that men are encouraged not to take responsibility for their own actions, rather to blame the woman for 'making them' lust after herand/or rape her. This is insanity.
I did not discuss Christianity or Judaism in the article, the reason being that my thesis was not about counterposing different religions and saying that one was better than the other for whatever reason. I was coming from a humanist western democratic perspective. I stated that Islam does not encourage moderateness because of the directness of its instructions 'from the word of God' requiring extreme prejudice and violence in order to be a true Muslim based on the instructions given. I was also stating that the problem with integrating Islam into western democracies is that as the religion is anti-debate there will be a tendency toward extremism over the long haul and also that Westerners need to have an opposition to this as democracy exists by virtue of debate. A turnary argument occurs amidst the binary opposition, and the truth is allowed to emerge within the discussion. No matter what argument is had, both sides will always experience a degree of education or enlightenment about their own view and the other's view, and the truth between it all, even if they deny this. The problem as I see it, and stated in the article, is that Western tolerance and political correctness denies us the ability to have this counter position and so radicalism continues rampantly unchecked even within Western nations. And in principle, it is my view that if a person migrates to another country then they ought to abide by the values and laws of that country; the country ought not change it self to cater for the migrant. This assimilation is not possible when the migrant's very religion tells them that non-believers will burn in hell and that if they are a true believer themselves that they should kill the infidel and thus be richly rewarded. If we have a pledge of allegiance then the migrant is at least forewarned and knows at the outset exactly where he/she stands. I have seen this, for example, as a domestic vilence worker doing groups with perpetrators who beat their wives in Australia thinking that it was their right to do so as per the Quran. Our secular laws and values had not been taught to them, as the values are only required to be stated in the pledge of allegiance if the person becomes a citizen, and as you know the migrant can live here as a permanent resident for as long as they like and there is no allegiance. I believe therefore, our allegiance needs to be claimed also for permanent residents as well.