Asking tough questions about problematic aspects of Islam isn’t ‘Islamophobic’
By Moshe Dann
Supporters of building a mosque and huge Islamic center near ground zero have focused the issue on religious freedom. Since thousands of mosques have already been built throughout America, however, this can't be the issue.
Its location is sensitive because of the 9/11 attack by Muslim terrorists. But no one is accusing all Muslims of being guilty of this crime. This project, however, has become a rallying cry of pain, a howl of grief that every Muslim should hear.
Opposition to this project echoes 3,000 silent screams. That outrage needs to focus not only on the memory of lost loved ones, but on why so many Muslims are terrorists, and support terrorism. We need to ask some hard questions; and, it is not "Islamophobic" to ask.
Is Islam a "religion of peace," as President Obama and others say?
According to experts, suicide bombing ("martyrdom") and Jihad ("holy war") are not radical ideas in Islam; they are intrinsic parts of that belief.
Conventional wisdom says that there are radical Muslims and moderate Muslims, and that we must distinguish between the two groups and encourage those who don't want to destroy non-Muslims and their cultures.
No doubt, most Muslims don't want to fly airplanes into buildings, or blow up supermarkets and buses. But what does Islam say, and who is the authority? The problem seems to be that Islam contains both radical and moderate traditions, and both are authentic. Fanatic Jihadists and soft-spoken moderates consider themselves good Muslims; Muslim religious leaders are divided.
The leader of the proposed mosque/Islamic center in downtown Manhattan claims he is tolerant, and has suggested that the project may even include space for other religions, as if Christians and Jews would want to pray there. But this seems to be just another PR trick, since it violates strict separation mandated in the Koran, and also denies Muslim superiority. It is impossible, therefore, to know what kind of Islam will be taught there, or for how long.
Controversy over the building must move to a critical examination of Islam's theology, beliefs and practices.
Not very peaceful; not so tolerant
Why are Islamic leaders silent about stoning a woman to death because she was accused of adultery – then lashed 99 times when the charge was proved false? Why are Islamic leaders silent about the suppression of women, condoning slavery, the murder of homosexuals, and suicide bombings throughout the world? Where were they when violent Muslim riots engulfed Europe because of a cartoon?
Perhaps a few brave Muslims protested such barbarity, but whom do they represent and what is their authority? The fundamental problem in Islam is its principle of duality; it holds contradictory positions on many issues, both of which are valid.
Muslim leaders refuse to condemn the murder of Jews by Muslims – anywhere – especially not in Israel. Four Israelis (and one unborn child) were slaughtered on the road in Israel two weeks ago and no Muslim leader – not even moderates – protested. Even the secular PA did not condemn the attack as murder; only that it was against "Palestinian interests." The "timing" was wrong!
Islam preaches war against "infidels" and violence against those who don't follow the rules of Islam. That's not very peaceful. And Muslim leaders around the world encourage anti-Americanism – as well as hostility to Christians and Jews. Not so tolerant.
Despite extensive business dealings between Muslims and non-Muslims, many Muslim religious leaders foment a culture of hatred and violence. The problem is that they quote scripture and verse. And they are supported by a legal system.
Sharia (Islamic) Law mandates violent Jihad as a religious obligation, and extreme punishments for those who insult Islam, or violate its precepts. Moreover, since there is no central authority in Islam and there are conflicting factions, it is difficult to determine who makes these laws, and how they should be applied.
Where does Islam stand on terrorism, for example? Well, it depends on your definition – if you have one. As they say: "One man's terrorist …"
We need to know what Islam is. The failure to answer these fundamental questions lies behind the distrust of Muslims and suspicions about what Islam teaches. The crucial distinctions, therefore, may not be between "moderates" and "radicals," but those who are more radical than others – since they all use the same source, the Koran. With so many people in positions of authority, no one is, and it's chaos.
These questions need to be clarified.
We should be tolerant, open and respectful, but not stupid. That's why we keep asking!
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More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -