Sunday, November 14, 2010

Islam has a Muslim Problem

On October 31st gunmen burst into Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation church during Sunday mass and opened fire killing two priests and 48 parishioners. The murderers belong to the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group called Islamic State of Iraq that has declared jihad against Iraq’s Christian population.

This is one of an on-going series of attacks on Iraqi Christians by Iraqi Muslims. Hundreds of thousands (the Catholic Church puts the number at one million) Iraqi Christians have fled to other countries to avoid being murdered at the hands of Islamic fanatics. And make no mistake these are Islamic fanatics; fanatics fuelled by their version of Islam. They are not attacking foreigners, but fellow Iraqis. Their hatred is not fueled by America policies or Israeli occupation of the Palestine. It is fuelled by a belief that Muslims must kill Christians.

Islam has a Muslim problem. The problem with Islam is Muslims who have signed on to a radical, violent, murderous faith that, while violating the deepest principles of Islam, continues to masquerade as Islam, and does so successfully.

Islam lacks a pope who can speak for the religion. And at the moment there is no Reform Islamic movement that can work to bring Islam into the 21st century as Reform Judaism has done for Jews. The kind of academic study of scripture and religion commonplace in so many Christian and Jewish seminaries is largely absent in the Islamic world. There is no quest for the historical Muhammad as there is the historical Jesus. Islam seems to know only competing orthodoxies when it desperately needs liberal reform.

There are factions within Judaism and Christianity that refuse to have anything to do with modernity, let alone postmodernity. And some among them are violent. But these groups are not engaged in wholesale slaughter of innocents. No matter how strongly I oppose the settler movement in Israel and condemn the violence that often defines it, there is no moral equivalency.

This is not religion’s problem; this is Islam’s problem. Only Muslims can solve it. And while no Muslims have asked my advice, I would suggest that someone convene a world council of imams who could make clear to Muslims and nonMuslims alike just what it is Islam stands for, and that would condemn unequivocally the insanity and violence that is perverting the message of Islam. I would also like to see wealthy Muslim visionaries fund
young American Muslims seeking to create a new kind of Islam that embraces science, secular scholarship, critical thinking, and nonviolence even as it affirms the prophetic message of Islam and upholds the beauty and genius of Islamic civilization. Without it I worry that Muslims are doomed to wage a civil war of Muslim against Muslim that will take thousands of nonMuslims down with them.

17 comments:

kat said...

"Fanatics are fuelled by their version of Islam"---This is not completely true. In order to understand---you might want to read Robert Pape's book "Dying to win" based on fact-based research.
The core agenda of these people is voilence for political gain. "Islamic language" may be used as a cover---that is true---but that is not what motivates them. Similarly, the American "right wing" radicals often use religious language, As did President Bush when speaking of the Iraq war.
Nevertheless, you are right---when so many "western" media go around telling imressionable youth that this voilent Islam is the real Islam---It is upto the Muslims to correct this mistake within the community so that young innocent lives are not lost to propaganda by both the radicals in the West and the Fanatics.

Grégoire said...

I think you make a great point about Islam not having a "pope", per se.

Judaism has the same problem when seen by non-Jews. Most others depend upon some authority structure to enforce the "official version" of the religion. When a Mormon or Catholic sees some looney terrorist celebrating the murder of Christians (or looney Rabbi celebrating the slaughter of Palestinians) pronouncing what is and isn't Islam (or Judaism), the Catholic or Mormon wonders why they're not being denounced.

For those of us who have some familiarity with the culture, we understand that the looney terrorist is just a looney, probably with psychological problems, and being that there is no established caliph any longer, that we should see him as nothing more than an abstract example of the existence of a Muslim equivalent of Pastor Fred Phelps.

Montedoro said...

Exactly the opposite is true. Muslims have an Islam problem!!! The problem with Islam lies in its very doctrines in the Koran, the Sunnah and the Shariah law which is based on those two holy texts. That is why there is no Islamic reform movement and why there can be none. The jihadists all have the Koran and Muhammad on their side.

Many Moslems do not follow the doctrines of Islam. Those Moslems are more or less secular, or merely ritualistic. They can never reform the religion. If there is to be religious reform, it must be led by religious authorities. Islam has no religious authorities who are reformist. Any reform in Islam, must violate the fundamental proposition of Islam, namely, that the Koran is Allah's literal word -- perfect, complete, immutable and valid for all of eternity. Not mortal human is going to dare monkey with Allah's words.

andrea perez said...

Islam has a problem. Not many of us really know what Islam is. All we are told is that most of "them" want to kill most of "us". Countries that are theocracies have a problem: they still think that "god" is on their side and everyone else is wrong. Therefore, they have a right to kill everyone who isn't like them. And that's where we stop. Scared that they are going to do something to hurt us.
Islam has a problem. They aren't one big group that agrees with each other in killing "us". They are too busy killing each other in order to defend their particular brand. How is that all that different from Catholics and Protestants spending six hundred years all across Europe killing each other over who is the real Christian? How is that all that different than the Israeli Orthodox telling the Diaspora who is really a Jew? The only thing that I see different is that there are over a billion of them, and they are the largest growing religious movement in the world today. And that is scary...Islam has a Moslem problem: they are fighting to see who gets control..hopefully it won't be the radicals...but then again, we did go to Iraq with all our "ideals" in place and kill over 100,000 thousand of their innocent citizens...Why should they use us as the examples of moderation and reform?
People learn by example: Where is the example of religious tolerance in this world? Where is the example of all people have a right to a peaceful life? We all lost that back in the 1400's.There was a time when Jews, Moslems and Christians were talking and creating together. How do we get back there? The world has a religion problem: too many wanting to kill each other over being right about something they can't see or even talk to: God. All the time forgetting that we are the image of God and we cause this mess ourselves.

Jordan said...

Shalom Rav,

Gut gezogt (well said) Rabbi Rami!!!

Wholeness,
Jordan

Rabbi Rami said...

Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I know it is not PC to think badly of any religion, but I suggest all three Abrahamic faiths have a violent streak that has yet to be openly acknowledged and dealt with. I don't think violent people simply use religious language as a mask. I think religious language helps create and celebrate violent people. Monotheisms are intrinsically exclusive: only one can be right, and this alone leads to violence. There is a battle of the gods going on within and between religions today, and few of us are really dealing with it.

Old Lady said...

Will the real God please stand up.

kat said...

As I said---If you make the effort to look at the issue factually---instead of speculating---you will find that the reason "terrorism" exists or existed---Not just in Islam, but elsewhere such as Sri Lanka, South America Ireland..etc is because there is a specific political agenda--to get the "foreign occupiers" out of lands they consider their own. However, terrorism is not just a problem of the "other" Amercians also engage in terrorism when they attack innocent villages using remote controlled drones (airpalnes) or they decimate civilian populations using illegal/fake charges to go to war or when they send soldiers to terrorize a population in order to get to the oil beneath that land (Yemen)---(which is what created the impetus for the recent attacks. Apparently the U.S. is partnered with Saudi on this one because the oil is in the border region between Saudi and Yemen)
Ignorant speculation doesn't advance knowledge or help solve problems...you need facts for that.

Jordan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jordan said...

Shalom Rav,

I just heard that this post has been awarded the Juan Williams Tolerance award from NPR. If I hadn't seen this under your authorship, I'd have been sure
that Dennis Prager was your guest blogger on this one!

Mazal Tov and thanks for your candor which most likely is not sitting well with readers on your left.

Wholeness,
Jordan

Barry said...

Rami is way more logical and tolerant in this post than Dennis Prager has ever been. And please, don't you think Juan Williams deliberately provoked NPR so they would have to fire him, and he would be "forced" to accept a multi-million dollar contract with Fox? Follow the money.

Rabbi Rami said...

I think Kat is making a lot of sense; I just don't think it is one or the other. There is a political aspect to this, and colonialism is certainly a big factor, but so is religion. To deny that is to deny the power of faith and the authenticity of people's proclamations of faith.

Could you really motivate people without religion? Are those who claim to kill for God lying? Even if they are being manipulated by others who are not religious, the manipulation only works because the religion contains seeds of violence. It makes sense to those who kill for God that God would ask them to do so.

If someone told me that the God of Israel wanted me to displace Palestinians or kill gentiles I would not be moved to do so because I no longer have faith in that god.But if I did believe I would act on that belief. Think of Abraham setting out to murder his son. It made sense to him that God would want this. Gods always do.

All I'm saying is that we must take religion seriously, and when we do we cannot fail to see how dangerous it sometimes is.

Peter Schogol said...

>I think religious language helps
>create and celebrate violent
>people.

Oh so true.

Blessings,
Peter

Peter Schogol said...

>I think religious language helps
>create and celebrate violent
>people.

Oh so true.

Blessings,
Peter

andrea perez said...

Rabbi Rami,
AMEN to your comment! I can't agree more. It's what makes belonging to any set doctrine so difficult: Our belief in SantaGod makes it really easy to do really horrible things. At least He/SanataGod stopped Abraham from killing his kid. Killing in the name of Him is one of the horrors of human existance. Until we start reading that Bible as if it is a lot of stories that tell us what NOT to do, we are doomed to keep repeating this mess. And thinking when someone from a different group does the same stuff, they are evil. Hate that word!

kat said...

Religion cannot be discounted--this is true---but as Pape mentions, ideology also cannot be discounted---for example, some of the Sri Lankan terrorists are Communists. Patriotism is also an ideology that can be misused to justify terrorism. But the key word here is "justify". For some reason---Human beings need justification to kill---and religion/ideology can serve this purpose and camouflage actual motivation which may be greed, power or other not-so-noble intentions......
To put it simply---any religion or ideology based on fear of the other should be suspect. Its the easiest emotion to manipulate.

Therefore--I would say, it is upto decent regradless of religion or ideology to stand up for what is right

Jordan said...

Shalom Kat,

How do you know what's right? Is there something external to your personal preferences, whims or choices that informs your decision on what's right?

Shabbat Shalom to all of us,

Wholeness,
Jordan