SOMEONE LEFT a comment on the article, What Makes Islam So Successful, and I broke the comment up into several statements and answered each one. When I was done answering the several statements, I thought the whole thing would be an article worth reading, so here it is:
The commentor wrote: "Almost all, if not all, of these points also apply to Christianity."
(Note: The article, What Makes Islam So Successful, is a list of some of the fundamental ideas of Islamic docrine such as, "A Muslim must pray five times a day," "Women are to be subjugated," "Muslims are permitted to spread the religion by war," etc.)
My response: Thank you for asking questions worth answering. In answer to your first statement, almost none of these points apply to practiced Christian doctrine. I'm not a Christian or a Jew. I don't have any religion. But it is such a common response that people use (that Christianity is just as bad), I ended up writing a list of some of the important differences between Christianity and Islam. You can read it here: Why I'm Worried About Islam But Not Christianity.
Another aspect of this is the nature of the violent or intolerant statements in the Old Testament versus the Quran. In the Old Testament, the verses are applied to very specific places, times, and people. In the Quran, the verses are open-ended and for all time, such as "slay them (non-Muslims) wherever you find them." Here's much more about that aspect.
The commentor wrote: "There most definitely are moderate Muslims, and the people behind the mosque proposed for 2 blocks from Ground Zero say a big part of their proposal is to give a face and presence to moderate Islam, as opposed to fundamentalist Islam."
My response: There are definitely heterodox Muslims who disregard some of the teachings of their own doctrine, but it is explicitly forbidden to do so in the Quran, their most holy book. To employ only part of their teachings is considered apostasy, the penalty for which is death. Yes, many Muslims in Western democracies get away with apostasy for now, if they don't live in one of the Muslim-only enclaves that have sprung up all over Europe, where such apostasy can be life-threatening.
The whole concept of "moderate Islam" is suspect. For the most part, Muslims who are not interested in violence are considered moderate. If they are still interested in pursuing Islam's prime directive to bring all people on earth under the domination of Islamic law, but are doing it by peaceful but stealthy means, Muslims are generally considered to be "moderate." They are committed to non-violence — not because they abhor violence, but because it is tactically foolish for the accomplishment of long-term plans (and this has been expressed explicitly in documents siezed at the Holy Land Foundation trial), but to me this is not comforting in the slightest.
The largest international Islamic organization in the world, the Muslim Brotherhood, has made it their goal to dislodge non-Muslims from power in Western democracies by stealthy (and non-violent) means, and they have been pursuing this in America for decades.
The commenter wrote: "The Bible is filled with all kinds of stuff similarly: It's OK to stone adulterers, women should subjugate themselves to their husbands, Jesus is the only way, justification of holy wars (Remember the Crusades?), hellfire and brimstone, etc., etc. Just as so many (if not most) Christians do not take all these writings literally, all Muslims don't take their Islamic corollaries literally."
My response: I appreciate your desire to learn more, and I hope you read more. I know it must seem to you I am a "hater" or "Islamophobe," but I have simply tried to learn more about Islam, and found out a lot that most people are unaware of. I agree that the information is not pleasant.
Yes, it's true, there are similar passages in the Old Testament. But when is the last time you heard of someone being stoned to death by Christians or Jews? Yet Muslims still do it today. This is because Mohammad apparently learned something about how to make a religion stick to its teachings by watching how Jews and Christians did it. So in the Quran and in Mohammad's statements preserved in the Hadith, rules were laid down about the penalty for not following the teachings.
There have been many movements in the Islamic world to "modernize" Islam, but counter-movements always come along to "get back to the basics" because Islamic doctrine is very explicit about this. It is not vague. These back-to-the-basics movements are not done merely because people think they should get back to the basics. Allah Himself and Mohammad himself said straying from the path cannot be allowed and needs to be harshly punished. As a result, Islam, as it is practiced throughout the world, more closely follows all of its teachings than either Christianity or Judaism. Unfortunately for the non-Muslim world, the teachings are hostile, intolerant, and supremacist.
About the Crusades: Islam had taken over most of the Middle East by force (it was largely Christian when Islam began), had conquered part of India, most of North Africa, and had invaded up into Europe, seizing Spain. Islamic warriors came north into Europe as far as modern-day France before they were stopped.
Four of the five major centers of Christianity had been attacked or conquered by Muslim warriors. The only one left unbesieged and unconquered was Rome. Besieged Christians in the Middle East begged Rome to help them. Rome wanted to unite Europeans and help defend Christians in the Middle East, but the European countries were independent, usually competing with each other rather than cooperating. Rome saw that the only thing that could unite rival European countries was their shared religion and a common enemy, so he called for a Crusade, not to try to free all the Christians who had been subjugated to Islamic rule, but to simply make it safe for Christians to make their pilgrimages to the Levant and to help prevent any more Christian areas from being conquered.
In other words, the Crusades were a late (and rather weak) response to about 400 years of Islamic conquest and aggression.
How did we get such a distorted view of the Crusades? Some time ago, as part of the stealth jihad, some Muslims set themselves up as "historical accuracy checkers" for school textbooks in America. They made what seemed like a perfectly reasonable suggestion: If Islam is going to be mentioned in school textbooks, it should be checked with Islamic historians for accuracy before being printed. But what they did was scrub Islam's image clean, and give the false impression that the Crusades were an unprovoked attack on poor, innocent Muslim countries who were living in peace and harmony. Your perception is very common. It has been orchestrated carefully and they've done their job well. The purpose of this "textbook jihad" was to make Americans unsuspecting of Islam, and distrustful and suspicious of their own cultural heritage, and it has succeeded to a remarkable extent.
The commenter wrote: "I find so many of these comments chilling, along with the atmosphere of anti-Muslim sentiment. (Note: I am not a Muslim!) Just as in Christianity, there are all shades of Islam. We know several very progressive, kind, loving, peaceful, enlightened Muslims who have nothing to do with the extreme fundamentalism which lay behind the 9/11 attacks."
My response: When you learn about Islam, when you read the Quran, I'm afraid you will be even more chilled. It is shocking and disturbing in a way you now can't imagine. I had exactly your point of view before I began learning about this. And when I heard "anti-Muslim" statements, I distrusted the source.
But I would like to say in my defense that after learning that there are 245 verses in the Quran that say something positive about non-Muslims, but they have all been abrogated, and that there are 527 verses in the Quran that say something negative about non-Muslims, including 109 that call for violence against non-Muslims, and that none of them have been abrogated, that I definitely developed an anti-Islam sentiment. As a non-Muslim, I see nothing to like about any of this.
About the fact that you know some peaceful, loving Muslims: I do too. Three of them are my friends. They are truly three of the nicest people I know. Not one of them has read the Quran. That's part of the confusion. There are lot of Muslims whose only knowledge of Islam comes from their heterodox parents, who happen to be nice people and who ignore much of Islam's teachings.
But another issue is perhaps more important here. The existence of nice Muslims does not invalidate the statement that Islamic teachings advocate intolerance and violence toward non-Muslims.
The fact that you know a Muslim who knows how to get along with non-Muslims does not mean he would not also advocate imposing Sharia law on non-Muslims, and does not mean he is not actively striving toward that goal.
The fact that he is really nice does not mean he repudiates the supremacist nature of Islamic teachings. The existence of a Muslim who happens to be charming does not discredit a single thing written in this article.
The commenter wrote: "It's ironic that there were places and times where Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together peacefully; it's scary that in this day and age it seems an ever-more-elusive goal."
My response: When the Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together peacefully in Muslim-dominated countries, the Jews and Christians were subjugated second-class citizens. They were under the "dhimmi laws" where they paid the jizya (a tax for non-Muslims), where they couldn't hold any positions of authority over Muslims, where they were strictly limited in their ability to express their own religion, and where they were subject to occasional pogroms.
The reason living together peacefully seems an ever-more-elusive goal is that for the first time, non-Muslims are learning about Islam's political intentions before being subjugated. Because of printing presses and the internet, and because of the large-scale attacks in New York, London and Madrid, which made many non-Muslims interested in learning more about Islam, more non-Muslims know about Islam than any time in history.
Most subjugated non-Muslims in history had no idea what Islam was about until it was too late. It has often been illegal in Muslim countries for a non-Muslim to even touch a Quran, much less read it.
But those days are over. Not only is the Quran available in English in most bookstores in the free world, but many Qurans are available to read for free online. And to make things even better, unscrambled versions of the Quran are now available (the message in the Quran has been made difficult to decipher).
Non-Muslims, for the first time in history, are learning about Islam.
Before making up your mind about any of this, I hope you will take the chance and read the Quran yourself. And then decide what is really true. I urge you to take the pledge and read the Quran.
Thank you for taking the time to make your comments.