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September 19, 2006

Islam FAQ

FAQ - Islam Edition!
Posted by Dean Barnett | 4:46 PM

1) Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

Well, um…No, not really.

2) So all Muslims are violent and bent on war. That’s a hateful and bigoted thing to say. You sicken me. And you’ll never carry Michigan.

That’s not what I said. You asked about Islam - I answered. You then erroneously inferred that I was speaking about all Muslims. I wasn’t. You misunderstood.

3) I don’t understand.

I know you don’t, and it’s not your fault. You’ve been poisoned by the forces of political correctness. You’re the product of a school system that valued sensitivity and self-esteem more than it valued truth and rational inquiry. As a consequence, truths which may be hurtful and disquieting will often flummox you. But you, and the legions of those like you, have to grow up.

4) So what about Islam is not peaceful?

Oh, where to begin. Actually, let’s just limit ourselves to the Koran, which is the revealed word of God and thus not to be trifled with. A few relevant Suras:

Say to the unbelievers, if now they desist from unbelief, their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them). And fight them on until there is no more persecution, and religion becomes Allah's in its entirety.... If they refuse, be sure that Allah is your Protector — the Best to protect and the Best to help. And know that out of all the booty that you may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah and his Messenger...

Sura 48:18-20: Allah promiseth you much booty that you will capture, and hath given you this in advance, and hath withheld men's hands from you, that it may be a token for the unbelievers, and that He may guide you on a right path.

Sura 9:5: Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each an ambush....

There is also the fundamental belief that since the laws of the Koran are divinely given, there can be no man-made law that supersedes the Koran’s dictates. That’s what Sharia is all about – no separation of mosque and state, only law by the imams.

5) But aren’t there are things in other religions that, speaking purely rationally, are kind of kooky, too?

I’ll stick to the Old Testament here, since I’m a Hannukah guy and so the first book is my primary area of expertise. Most every ritualistic thing you see that makes Jews seem different comes from man’s interpretation of God’s will. For instance, we fast on Yom Kippur because some guy a few thousand years ago decided that that would be the best way to atone for our sins and show our love for God. But there’s a difference between some guy’s word, regardless of how brilliant and beloved that guy was, and God’s word.

6) So it sounds like you’re saying all Muslims are unpeaceful, no?

No. Muslims are usually born into their faith, just like most Jews and Christians. Judging them from their birth circumstance is unfair, actually racist. But yes, anyone who decides that they’re going to pay special obeisance to the “slay the idolaters” parts of the Koran is unlikely to be a particularly peaceful person.

7) So the key question is what percentage of Muslims fall into that camp, right?

Yes! You’re learning.

8) So, what percentage of Muslims falls into that camp?

How the hell should I know? I spend most of my days typing away at a laptop for the amusement of others. But the information coming in from around the world suggests that we’ve got a much bigger problem than a few random kooks running around Waziristan fantasizing about an American Hiroshima.

9) What information are you talking about?

Well, if there was a real democratic election held in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood would probably win. They’re the ones who killed Sadat; Zawahiri is an alumnus of this group. Philosophically, they’re very much akin to Al Qaeda. If there were ever a real democratic election in Saudi Arabia, whatever group that replaced the House of Saud would be a bunch of Wahabbist nutjobs who would make the Muslim Brotherhood look like America’s Libertarian Party. And, let’s face it, the situation in Iraq and some of the statements coming out of there from the Iraqis’ democratically elected leaders don’t suggest a country entirely ready to join the community of civilized nations.

10) How about the American Muslim community?

That situation is a bit opaque. I wrote lengthy stories on the Islamic Society of Boston for the Weekly Standard. The ISB was joined at the hip with guys like hate-preacher Yussef al Qaradawi (who thinks gays should be killed and is wildly popular in the Middle East). Qaradawi was on the Islamic Society of Boston’s board of directors and helped them raise funds for their new mosque. Still, one of the terror experts I talked to about the story, and believe me this guy has had more fatwas issued demanding his head on a platter than Salman Rushdie, thinks that the ISB rank and file is okay, but that their leadership is, ahem, suspect.

11) Can you follow all the dictates of the Koran and be a good American?

Well, you can’t slay idolaters and be a good American.

12) Why are things different now? Jews and Christians used to live peacefully aside Muslims for millennia?

Well, Jews and Christians lived peacefully besides Muslims when the Jews and Christians agreed to peacefully accept second class citizenship. But your premise is still valid – things are worse now than they’ve been in quite some time.

13) Why?

I’m not sure. I don’t think anyone is, but a lot of people have interesting theories. My opinion is that hundreds of billions of petro-dollars have fueled an Islamic Great Awakening. But the conversation on that topic is really academic. The point is that we have a big problem.

14) How big?


15) When Gorbachev became the chief Soviet honcho, Margaret Thatcher said, “He’s someone we can do business with?” Are there any POPULAR leaders of the Muslim world of whom that can be said?

Yes. Sistani and…give me a minute. Sistani. Qadafi wants to do business but he’s not popular and he’s certifiable.

16) It sounds pretty grim.

It is.

17) So how do we win hearts and minds?

I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does. Tom Barnett writes brilliantly about integrating third world countries into “the Core” of first world countries. But what if some people, like radical Islamists, have no interest in the Core? What if an 8th century lifestyle is more to their liking?

18) So you foresee a global conflagration?

Not really. A truly global conflagration can only happen if we and our putative allies continue to fund those who intend us harm. At some point, that will have to stop. For instance, I assume we weren’t buying Krupps coffee-makers from Germany in 1943. But I do see lots of blood before this thing is done and the military can happily go back to preparing for a conventional war with China that will never come.

19) Isn’t it a little unfair to focus on Islam’s bloody past while ignoring things like the Crusades?

Not entirely. If America were pondering invading the Middle East to secure the Holy Grail and convert infidels, the Crusades might have more relevance. The reason that Islam’s past is relevant is because the Prophet’s rationale for war is exactly the same as bin Laden’s and others of his ilk. Walid Phares says it’s like Lord of the Rings – bin Laden and his ilk just picked up a “ring” that’s been hanging around for centuries. They didn’t invent anything new.


  1. But we did invade the Middle East. The question is, what do we do now? Iraq will never be a self sustaining democracy. They will never accept a permanent American presence. The same is true of Afghanistan but to a lesser extent. They never really have had a centralized government and so are not impacted by the lack of one.

    If we want to pacify Islamic extremists let's start in Minnesota and California, there's plenty there.

    We need to learn if it's possible to coexist with Islam. I'm not sure that it is but before we move on to the next step, we need to get our duckies in a row.

  2. Reddog, what you say is partly true. Iraq could possibly be home to a self-sustaining democracy, but it will never be accepted by its neighbors as long as there is an American presence holding it up.
    However that's a little outside the scope of this blog.

    The question you did hit on is what's important here. "...IF it's possible to coexist with Islam." A vocal minrity of Islamic extremists and a silent, consenting, (silence impilies consent,) majority of so called moderates indicates that it probably is not possible. Dang, I'm such a pessimist.