Prayers for Peace

The Heritage Foundation Joseph Loconte

The response to the terrorist attacks in London last week suggests something about the soul of Western democracies.

Political leaders in Britain and the United States have repeated their resolve to defeat the strategic threat of radical Islam. Politicians understand the potential to wreak havoc on civilian populations with the world’s deadliest weapons. But many religious figures in the West seem reluctant to confront the ambitions of Osama bin Laden and his allies.

Of course, we expect church leaders to offer their prayers and condolences in times of suffering, and such prayers were graciously offered. Yet I can’t help thinking that we expect something more: Those who are attentive to things of the spirit should speak, with clarity and force, about the existential threat these attacks represent.

Instead, we hear wishful words of sweetness and light. A coalition of churches in Britain has announced its desire “to grow together in mutual understanding.” The World Council of Churches reaffirms its “commitment to building a just and peaceful world.” Frank Griswold, bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, says we must “overcome the fears and hatreds that divide us.” And Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, challenges all religious communities “to pursue peace in a thousand ways.”

What does any of this have to do with an enemy sworn to destroying the foundations of civilized life? And where is the moral vision to defeat it?

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24 thoughts on “Prayers for Peace”

  1. If the Church looses sight of evil and is afraid to call evil by that name, then she has indeed lost her savor and will be tossed out and trampled under men’s feet. All Christians have a duty to confront evil, 1st in themselves, then in their family, their worshipping community, and finally in the world at large. Our victory over it cannot be just spiritual. At times we are also called to confront evil physically whether we choose to use weapons or are called to the path of martyrdom matters not. We must be willing to lay down our lives for our friends.

    Peace is not an absence of conflict. We are called to be peacemakers, not peace whiners. In an old Robert Schuller add, he was exhorting from the pulpit, “Don’t just sit there, get up and DO SOMETHING!”

    We will not have peace with Islam if we dither. We will only have peace if we face the evil it carries head on, without fear of offending.

  2. Michael writes: “If the Church looses sight of evil and is afraid to call evil by that name, then she has indeed lost her savor and will be tossed out and trampled under men’s feet.”

    The above allusion is to the fifth chapter of Matthew and is in the context of a number of specific commands to the followers of Jesus concerning *not* resisting evil:

    “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. . . . Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

    Don’t the church and state have different roles? Don’t they act in different ways? Don’t they have different concerns? It seems to me that if the church acts as the religious cheerleader for the state, then indeed the church has last its savor.

    As far as evil, there’s a lot of that going around, and the Muslims don’t have the market cornered.

    But back to the role of the church. One looks in vain for even a single verse in the gospels or the rest of the New Testament urging followers of Jesus to be involved in the punishment of evil through state action. In the midst of a brutal Roman occupation, the followers of Jesus are never commanded to condemn or support that occupation. In the midst of Jewish revolutionaries and assassins there is no command either to condemn or support them.

    So it seems to me entirely appropriate for the church to advocate a just and peaceful world even in the face of evil, and even when evil acts are done in our own countries. That doesn’t ignore evil or imply an acceptance of evil, but rather is a response to evil that is necessarily different from the state’s response.

    The church’s response to evil is different from the state because it is the role of the church to articulate an ideal vision of life that transcends the present reality. In this regard I am reminded of the words of Abraham Kook, chief rabbi of Israel in the 1930s:

    “The great dreams are the foundation of the world. . . . The crudeness of conventional life, which is wholly immersed in its materialistic aspect, removes from the world the life of the dream, the splendor of its wide horizons, its ascent above ugly reality. Thus the world is in convulsion with pains engendered by the destructive toxins of reality, devoid of the brightness of the dream. But these pains are the sufferings of love, they will purge the world, make it clear it how grave is the error of those who boast of reality in its defective state, while only the uninhibited dream, which is in revolt against reality and its limitations, is truly the most substantive truth of existence.” — from _The Lights of Holiness_

  3. We are still responsible for pointing out evil whereever it exists and witnessing to the fact that it is evil. The Muslims don’t have a corner on the market, but they seem to be the most aggressive purveyors of it right now.

    “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

    When we stand around and dither in false sanctity for fear that we might offend someone, we are doing less than nothing.

  4. Michael writes: “We are still responsible for pointing out evil whereever it exists and witnessing to the fact that it is evil.”

    I don’t think anyone (of rational mind) thinks that the recent attacks weren’t evil. And certainly the great majority of Muslims in Britain don’t support such attacks. I read a report about one bomber’s family that said that “the family of one suspect released a statement Saturday expressing their ‘deepest and heartfelt sympathies’ for the victims. They said their loved one must have been ‘brainwashed’ and called on people to ‘expose the terror networks which target and groom our sons to carry out such evils.'”

    Compare that response to the response of Timothy McVeigh’s sister Jennifer. The government had to threaten her to get her to testify (under immunity) against him, and during the trial it came out that he had told her that “something big” was going to happen, and that he had a thousand pounds of explosives in his car. And with that knowledge she did nothing.

    So there’s plenty of evil and guilt to go around all over the place, and not just in the Muslim community. The issue of course is the response of the church to that, and as I mentioned before I think the role and concerns of the church are necessarily different from those of the government.

  5. Jim,Totalitarian Thought System Enforced with Violence Protects Terrorists

    The penalty in Islam for “apostasy” from Islam or “blasphemy” against Islam is death. Think about that. This is true today is every Islamic country, it isn’t part of medieval history, it is true today. If a non-violent Muslims turns in a terrorist, that non-violent Muslim has more to fear from other Muslims than he has to fear from the authorities for failing to turn in the terrorist.

    I think you have either heard or read Muslims described Islam as “a complete way of life.” It is, beyond the Koran, there are volumes and volumes of “sacred” literature called the Hadith which contain instructions regarding “everything in life.” There are rules about family structure and relations, cooking, cleaning, holy day observations, personal grooming and on and on and on. [You ought to try reading this stuff it is the most ignorant pileof nonsense I have ever seen. Anyone who actually reads the Hadith will stop calling Islam one of the world’s great religions.]

    Combine this with the idea of the Islamic idea of “apostasy” and “blasphemy” encompasses far more than the Western definition of these ideas. Someone who failed to follow Mohammed’s cooking recommendations could be considered to have blasphemed the “Prophet” and “insulted Islam.”

  6. Muslim Integration into Western Society is a Oxymoron

    From the Economist:
    An ICM poll in early March, for instance, found that 13% of Britain?s Muslims would regard further attacks on America by al-Qaeda as ?justified?.
    http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2569554
    Note: Thirteen % of millions of people is a very large number indeed.

    From the Telegraph:
    One in five British Muslims feels little loyalty towards Britain, according to a poll for The Daily Telegraph. The YouGov survey also found that a minority of Muslims were not prepared to condemn the terrorist attacks carried out by Osama bin Laden nor acknowledge al-Qa’eda as the perpetrators. Just under half of those surveyed did not accept that the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were carried out by Muslims.
    However, the poll suggests that the majority of British Muslims wish no ill towards the West and are concerned that the attitudes of some are damaging Islam’s reputation in the eyes of the world. An overwhelming majority said the atrocities in the United States on September 11 last year were not justified.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/12/06/nmus06.xml

    From the Hindustan Times;
    An analyst told the Hindustan Times that even among the very loyal and fairly loyal one should discount for those who might have been “diplomatic”.
    http://www.geocities.com/bharatvarsha1947/January_2003/britishmuslimsterrorists.htm

  7. Missourian, at least one female Muslim agrees with you. Irshad Manji is a Canadian tv presenter whose book “The Trouble With Islam” caused such a stir that she received numerous death threats when giving a presentation at Oxford. One interesting tidbit about being rewarded with “72 virgins” in the afterlife:

    [Manji] says recent research shows all that virgin stuff was based on an erroneous translation of the Koran: what awaits in heaven are 72 raisins. What? Could 54 people really have been blown up for a bag of raisins? ?Well in 7th century Arabia raisins were so exalted as to be promoted to paradise.?

    Hopefully there are more Muslims like Irshad who become more vocal in their opposition to totalitarian Islam. Whether you like her personally or not, it’s a promising sign.

  8. JamesK:Byond opinion, JamesK, my note is a recitation of fact

    There really isn’t much to agree or disagree with concerning my note 5

    You can go to various sources to confirm what the terms “apostasy” and “blasphemy” mean in the Muslim world. Not too long ago, a Pakistani college professor was jailed when he made comments about the “Prophet’s” personal grooming habits that his students thought contradicted the Hadith. This is fact. As a consequence, every academic in Pakistani has to live in fear of stepping over the line and having some fervent Muslim student call for his imprisonment.

    If you ever travel in the Middle East I would recommend that you adopt a very cautious approach to discussing religion, as there exist CRIMINAL STATUTES prohibiting “insults” against Islam, which can and will be applied to foreign visitors. This is true in Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh (not Middle Eastern, I concede), Iran and certainly Saudi Arabia

    The Organization of Islamic States has not agreed to endorse the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) promulgated by the United Nations BECAUSE the UDHR asserts:
    (1) that individuals have the right to choose and change their religion. This proposition is rejected in Islam. No one has the right to reject Islam after embracing it, apostasy is punishable by death under Sharia
    (2) equal political and social rights for women. This is proposition is also rejected in Islam because the Koran denies equal value to women’s testimony, it also denies equal rights in marriage and divorce to women, along with a long list of other policies which are rejected as discriminatory in the West

    Note, I have some of my own disagreements with the the UDHR but I do not disagree with the proposition that people should be able to choose and change their religion and I support equal political and social rights for women.

  9. JamesK Christoph Luxenberg is proof of my assertion.
    From http://www.tiscali.co.uk

    You should know more about the source of the “72 grapes” translation. Here is the scholar who is its source, he lives in justifiable fear.
    11/11/2004 22:35

    By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

    PARIS (Reuters) – When a Muslim radical murdered the Dutch director Theo van Gogh for a film criticising Islam, Christoph Luxenberg saw his name ripple through Internet forums 1,000 times and immediately knew why.

    “The safety of experts on Islam is topical again,” he said — in a surprisingly detached tone for the author of a critique of the Koran who fears it could one day spark similar anger.

    Van Gogh, murdered last week for a film slamming Muslim treatment of women, set out to be provocative. But such is the apprehension among critics of Islam that even an obscure German professor of ancient Semitic languages keeps a very low profile.

    “Christoph Luxenberg” is a pseudonym. The professor hides his work from his own students — even those who recommend it to him, not knowing he is its author. He gives interviews by phone and offers little hint of who he really is or where he lives.

    This has served Luxenberg well over the past four years, when his book “The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran” was only available in dense academic German. But he doesn?t know what to expect when an English translation appears next year.

    “I fear a strong reaction in the Islamic world,” he told Reuters late on Wednesday by telephone. “My Muslim friends tell me that many people will jump on this book.”

    The fate of Islamic reformers in the Arab world is sobering.

    In the 1990s in Egypt, the writer Faraq Foda was gunned down for criticising fundamentalists and Cairo University professor Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid was forced to divorce his wife and flee abroad for examining the Koran in its historical context.

    Luxenberg thinks the academic nature of his work sets him apart from Salman Rushdie, the British writer threatened with death in 1989 by fundamentalists insulted by his novel “The Satanic Verses”, which toys with the idea that the Koran is not infallibly divine.

    But although he originally thought he could publish under his own name, Muslim friends warned him not to. He said van Gogh?s murder “confirms how right they were”.

    NO VIRGINS, NO VEILS?

    Luxenberg?s book is a linguistic analysis of the Koran that appears arcane — but could be explosive underneath.

    He argues that many words that are hard to understand in the Arabic text actually came from Aramaic, a related tongue widely spoken in the Middle East when the Muslim holy book was written.

    His work recalls that of German Biblical scholars of the 19th century, who changed Christians? understanding of their scriptures by uncovering their multi-layered history.

    Luxenberg?s analysis is strictly linguistic, not theological, but it inevitably ends up questioning some traditions and dogmas that Muslims hold central to their faith.

    For example, he says the Koranic passage promising men “virgins” in heaven — often cited as a supposed incentive for male suicide bombers — really used a word for “white raisins”.

    The passage traditionally taken as an instruction to women to wear headscarves actually tells them to wear a belt or an apron around their loins, Luxenberg argues.

    SHAKING CENTRAL DOGMAS

    Even more seriously, he shakes a central dogma by saying Mohammad?s title as “seal of the prophets”, meaning last of the men chosen by God to proclaim his word on earth, actually only means that he confirms what the prophets said.

    His thesis that the Koran had Aramaic forerunners, possibly Christian writings, also challenges the tradition that the Koran was dictated in Arabic to Mohammad by the Angel Gabriel and consists of the actual and unchangeable words of God.

    “If you challenge that, quite a few things fall apart, so the Muslims don?t want to accept this,” Luxenberg said, adding that liberal Muslims had encouraged him to continue his work.

    “My work does not question the Koran, only the traditional exegesis of the Koran — what men have read into it.”

    “I?m not afraid,” he continued. “I know what I?m doing is serious and I?m not doing it to destroy Islam. But it would do Islam good if Muslims could discuss it freely. That would help them progress in so many ways.”

  10. Islam and Human Rights

    JamesK. I recommend Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics, a book by Ann Elizabeth Mayer. Ms. Mayer provides a very well researched report on the Muslim reaction to what Muslim’s consider to be Western human rights ideas. Specifically, she demonstrates that Islam does not afford equal rights to women, or non-Muslims and it most assuredly does not support freedom of religion.

    If you cannot change your religion without fear of criminal prosecution I would say that you live in a totalitarian society that asserts the right to control your thoughts.

  11. There goes the blog navigation column!

    Missourian: Tech tip:
    When including a hyperlink, type the following as such:

    <a href=”http://www.someurl.com”>this will be highlighted text</a>

  12. Ouch, sorry

    I thought the citation was low enough in the text so that it would not be picked up as part of the intro or title to the post.

  13. Missourian,

    You are correct in so many of your assessments. The governments in the Muslim world are so intent on punishing blasphemy as a play to the masses. The majority of people aren’t clamoring for free speech American-style in Muslim countries. Quite the contrary, Muslim fundamentalist parties tend to win and win big when elections are free and fair. A vocal and deadly group of Muslims, whether the majority or not is debatable, demand more Sharia, and that is what they get any time they are allowed to show up at the polls. Witness Algeria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia’s recent local elections, Hamas winning more seats in Lebanon, the cancelling of the Palestinian elections out of fear that radicals will win, etc.

    The Muslims in Western Europe are not integrating on the whole. The recent terrorist bombings in Spain and England were either carried out by native-born Muslims or at the very least, Muslims of long residence.

    Most of the September 11th hijackers were in the U.S. for long stays prior to the attack.

    Now the big question I have for all of the die-hard Bush supporters on this blog is this. If we can’t get Muslims to convert to ‘democracy’ while living in the West, what in the world makes you think that you are going to turn them into little Thomas Jeffersons by knocking over Saddam Hussein and occupying Iraq? What good will come of spending hundreds of billions of dollars, tying down our best combat units, and hurting our economy – if all that is accomplished is the Islamic Republic of Iraq under Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani?

    And if Democracy is all that is required to make bad Muslims turn good, then why all this violence related to Muslims living in Democracies right now? Remember Van Gogh’s murder? The bombings? The ongoing rash of rapes tied to Muslim men in Denmark and other European countries?

    Father Hans says religion begats culture. That is true, of course, I don’t argue against it. But then goes on to favor a nation building program in Iraq to create a Democratic paradise when we can’t domesticate Muslims who actually live in Western cities. Has the whole Republican world gone daft at once?

    That is why I’m so confused by your attitudes, Missourian, and others on this blog who claim to be conservatives. If Islam can be shunted off the world stage simply by having a few elections and getting the power back on, then why are you so afraid of Muslim immigrants to the West? If Democracy will make all the terrorists play nice, then why be alarmed that Muslims are taking over Western Europe?

    In my opinion, Islam is the problem and Democracy is NOT the cure. The cure is Jesus Christ, not the social gospel of the Left or the new political gospel of the Bushian Right. We have brought millions of Muslims into our midst, and have refused to reach out to them or preach to them. They have held to their beliefs, and we have abandoned ours.

    If you support this war in Iraq on the grounds that spreading Democracy will end Muslim terrorism – just please, please explain to me how that squares with what happened in Londonistan.

  14. Glen, you make some very good points

    One good outcome of our decision to invade Iraq is that Iran is now surrounded by the United States military. The current government in Iran must be eliminated as soon as possible. I am glad Saddam is gone. My joy as his departure is based primarily on the conclusions reached by Stephen Hayes that there existed a healthy mutual support relationship between Saddam and Al-Queda (short of actuall planning of 9/11 but still involved in other acts of terror against the U.S.)

    I can live without Western style democracy in Iraq as long as the new dictator closes the torture chambers and mass graves

    Had I been President on 9/12/05 I think I would have opted for a program of extreme pressure on terror supporting goverments in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and North Korea. I would have used our Navy and Air Force but probably stopped short on “boots on the ground.” We need to take out Iranian nuclear facilities as soon as possible, no matter what anybody else thinks. At the same time, I would work to eject Islam from the West. I would shut down immigration, deport every Muslim I could under current law. Work to block Turkey from EU membership. etc., etc., etc. Abolish the idea of “multi-culturalism.” [Queen Isabella without the pogroms or expulsions of the Jews.]

  15. Missourian: Does the Koran or any other authoritative Muslim document teach that good Muslims should violently overthrow non-Muslim governments of countries in which they reside?

  16. Note 15. Thin Ice, but here I go.

    I am stepping out on thin ice if I put myself forth as an expert on Islam, but I have done some extensive reading on the topic.

    SHORT ANSWER:A Muslim may not be directly required to take up arms for Islam but he IS REQUIRED TO SUPPORT JIHAD WITH THE MEANS AT HIS DISPOSAL. The term “jihad” is used here as it is understood by all Muslims– the struggle to expand and advance the power of Islam and the Muslim people, the Ummah. When used without a qualifier the word Jihad means the use of military force to spread Islam. Every Muslim has a duty to support jihad. An elderly man might collect funds for military forces but not necessarily try to fight himself. A good Muslim never supports a non-Muslim in a conflict with a Muslim. If the opponent of Muslim A is a non-Muslim, then Muslim B is compelled to support Muslim A. If Muslim A is finally shown to be a through going criminal, Muslim B will quickly state “he was not a true Muslim.” The frequently used term for non-Muslim translates as “unclean” and “dhimmi” means “criminal.”

    ISLAMIC WORLD VIEW
    Classical Islamic theology, as codified in the 11th Century, asserts that Allah [sic] delivered a set of rules by which Allah [sic] should be worshipped and human life on Earth should be governed. The laws governing human life on Earth are called the Sharia. They do cover everything. For instance, when bathing a good Muslim should wash the right arm first, then the left, and proceed after that according to a set of rules.

    Democracy posits that the authority to govern society is derived from the governed, this is anathema to Islam. In a democracy, if a majority of the citizenry agree, laws may be enacted, changed or repealed from time to time. In Islam the authority to govern society is derived from Allah [sic]. This means that all good Muslims must view democracy as apostasy. Al-Zawqhari in Iraq has issued statements attacking the very idea of a democratic government in Iraq (or any other Muslim country) as un-Islamic. Al-Zaqahari is attacking democracy because it is antithetical to Sharia law, which it is. He is entirely right in this assertion.

    Muslims were promised political and military dominance in this world; contrast Our Lord who said “My kingdom is not of this world.” Mohammed’s “kingdom” was and is definitely “of this world.” Mohammed stated “Islam shall dominate, Islam shall not be dominated.” He was not kidding and he was not speaking metaphorically. The Hadith teach that it is un-Islamic for a Muslim to be subordinate to a non-Muslim. This means that a Muslim should not have a non-Muslim boss and a Muslim woman should not marry a non-Muslim man. Muslim countries should not be subordinate to non-Muslim countries. Westerners need to understand that Islam is a POLITICAL IDEOLOGY concerned with exerting control over all earthly territory in the usual way with armies and governments under a Caliph. The Caliph is the successor of Mohammed. Of course, there have been some disputes as to who is or was the “true Caliph.” It is a dispute over the proper successor to Mohammed that primarily divides Sunnis and Shiia. It is questions of leadership, not theology that divide the major branches of Islam.

    IMPORTANCE OF MOHAMMED”S EXAMPLE. It is a fundamental premise of Islam that everything Mohammed did is worthy of imitation. Mohammed is the human who pleased Allah the most. It is unthinkable for a Muslim to criticize anything Mohammed did, it would result in a charge of apostasy. Tough luck for the rest of us because Mohammed’s career is the story of a long serious of military raids and military conquests. Islam is and was a fighting ideology. Mohammed spread Islam by the sword and no can assert that spreading Islam through violence is un-Islamic. Spreading Islam through violence is the story of Mohammed’s life. Mohammed’s life was perfect and he greatly pleased Allah.

    For example, if Muslims learned that Mohammed wore a particular type of sandal, every Muslim would immediately adopt the custom of wearing that sandal. If Christians could learn that Our Lord wore a particular type of sandal, we would think it was an interesting piece of trivia but we wouldn’t necessarily rush out to buy such a sandal and wear it in all situations. The Christian idea of Imitation of Christ is a spiritual concept not a material concept.

    Jihad has always been understood to mean military or violent conflict entered into for the sake of Islam, to defend Islam where it exists or to spread Islam. Jihad is one of the standard duties of a Muslim which include daily prayers and the pilgrimage to Mecca. Check out a book called “Reliance of the Traveler.” This is a compendium of Sharia law compiled by the leading Islamic theologists [sic] in the leading Islamic University in Cairo. Google for it and you will find an English translation.

    Muslims living in Western countries, or any country which is not governed by the Sharia have various options. For centuries Muslims had been advised to avoid living in non-Muslim countries because it was not possible to follow all of the Muslim customs and observances outside a Muslim country. Muslim religious leaders rightfully feared that a family adrift in a sea of Christian or non-Islamic culture would lose their religion. This is happening in Europe to some extent but it is not publicized very much. In the last century, certain Muslim leaders have withdrawn that classic prohibition against living in non-Muslim countries and have openly endorsed the Islamification of Europe by immigration of Muslims. Pamphlets proposing this tactic are openly sold in Muslim bookstores in Britain.

    We (the West) made a huge mistake by allowing Muslim immigration into our countries, anything more than a small trickle per year is disaster. Talk to the Hindus, they have never been rid of problems associated with Muslims even though the Muslims obtained their own country, Pakistan, after independence from Britain.

    Is Islam consistent with democracy? Not unless the Classical formulation of Islam in the 11th Century is rejected and replaced with another set of ideas. Classical Islam assigns an inferior stauts to women and non-Muslims and prohibits religious freedom, hence it prohibits intellectual freedom. Censorship is fully compatible with Islam, as it is means of defending Islam.
    Remember when the King of England called himself “Defender of the Faith?” The future King of England is a defender of a Faith but it is questionable whether that faith is Christianity.

    There aren’t very many people in the West who really want to acknowledge this view of Islam, however, this is the view of Islam that was generally agreed upon in the 19th Century. It is a testament to the success of Islamic propagandists that speaking these truths is now not permitted in the West. See what Churchill had to say about Islam, and many others in the 19th Century and the 20th Century.

  17. Ecumenical Folly

    Muslims are taugt that the true God did reach out to the ancient Hebrews and did manifest Himself to the ancient Hebrews BUT that the ancient Hebrews betrayed the true God and twisted His Word. Muslims are taught that the ancient Hebrews did not properly record God’s Word, that they injected fabrications into the Old Testament. Muslims consider copies of the Old Testament to be abhorrent lies concocted by the Jews to conceal and distort the true Word of God.

    Muslims consider the New Testament as revered by Christians as blasphemous and false. Muslims consider the New Testament literature that we view as sacred as a compilation of lies about God.

    Good Muslims shouldn’t even touch copies of the Old and New Testament, let along read them.

    People walking around claiming that Christians and Muslims have Abraham in common generally do not know that the Muslim story of Abraham is different than that acceptted by Christians and Jews. The Koran contains oddly distorted versions of Old Testament stories.

    People claiming that Islam honors Jesus generally don’t know that Muslims believe that the New Testament assertion that Jesus was crucified is a falsehood, an intentional falsehood. Asserting the divinity of Jesus is apostasy in Islam.

    People don’t understand that if a person states that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.” that God can only be Allah. Muslims worship the God that dictated the Koran, the God that dictated the Koran approved of Mohammed unreservedly and considers the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures to be lies, distortions and forgeries.

  18. Missourian,

    As always, good points about Islam. Question though – is Iran surrounded by U.S. military, or is the U.S. military surrounded? Iran just put a virulently anti-American hardliner in power. The Mullahs don’t look cowed at all. And, they are EXTENDING their power next door in Iraq. Check out this recent tidbit about the Iraqi Defense Minister’s recent visit to Iran to confer with his Iranian counterpart:

    “In his news conference, Dulaimi hailed the military agreement with Iran as a crucial step toward repairing relations between two countries that were at war from 1980 to 1988. “What we lost by war,” he said, “we will win by peace and dialogue. We have no option but to live peacefully with each other.” Reacting to anger among some Iraqis that he had apologized to Iran for the massive loss of life it suffered in the conflict, Dulaimi maintained that the war had been the fault of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. “Before God, we are free from Saddam’s actions, and we apologize for all the victims,” he said. Dulaimi also said that the eight-day visit by his Defense Ministry delegation established that there were no surviving Iraqi prisoners of war still in Iran. “Those who are thought to be prisoners of war are only missing, but we are going to look for their bodies so their families can be comforted,” he said. While asserting that training of troops was not covered under the agreement, Dulaimi said it did call for Iran to give $1 billion in reconstruction aid to the Iraqi government, some of which would go to the Defense Ministry.”

    Let’s see. Prior to Saddam’s fall, the government of Iraq was dominated by secular Sunnis who hated Iran and whom Iran hated. Now, thanks to the U.S. invasion, a Shi’ite government with religious ties is sitting next door to the world nexus of Muslim funded terrorism. And they are making friends, while we look on and THREATEN Iran.

    How fast do you think we would find ourselves facing a Sunni and Shi’ite insurgency in Iraq if we attack Iran? How quickly would Iranian-born Shi’ite cleric al-Sistani call for a jihad against us if we attacked Iran?

    Iran? Surrounded? Sorry, I see our best combat troops tied down fighting Sunnis while the Shi’ites consolidate power base that extends from Hamas-dominated southern Lebanon to the border of Afghanistan. And if we attack Iran, even by air, I see us suddenly facing a massive uprising all over southern and central Iraq as the Shi’ite rise up.

    I like your plan a whole lot better than the empty-headed mush coming from the Bush White House. Too bad you weren’t in Rove’s position when the real decisions were made.

    By the way, as a side note, I hear a lot of negative comments about ‘isolationism’ on this board. Not backing the war in Iraq is hardly symptomatic of being isolationist. Thinking a policy is wrong or senseless does not automatically mean that one supports the polar opposite. There are more than two choices in the world of policy.

  19. Note 19 Glen good points again.

    I agree that the potential for diaster is high. Apparently the Kurds are a balancing point. The Kurds physically control large oil fields. I have read that they will threaten to secede if the new Iraqi constitution is Islamist. The Kurds are our closest allies in Iraq, let’s hope we don’t abandon them or sell them out as we are wont to do. I read somewhere that someone described Clinton’s foreign policy as “appease our enemies and abandon our friends.” Sounds about right.

    Well, by the time 9/11 came around not only had the Islamist cancer had metastasized (sp?) and spread across not only the Middle East but Asia, the Pacific countries like Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Worldwide Jihad is on the move and there are 1.2 billion of them. YIKES!!! Happily a very large number of them are illiterate. Muslims are 20% of the world’s population and 50% of the world’s illiterates. Nothing like really reading the Koran and the Hadith to make you an ex-Muslim.

    By the way, I am sure that there exist a rather large number of Muslims who have absolutely no desire to engage in eternal war against non-Muslims, they just want to live their lives, however, unless these people organize effectively and act against the violent orthodox Muslims, their existence does not matter, it will not affect the outcome.

    It took the Spaniards 700 years to get rid of the Moors, it will take us a long time to suppress Islam, I see a 75 year conflict perhaps. This may be a very long exercise in values clarification, looks like the Brits are wrestling with that. Too bad the Archbishop of Canterbury is such a USELESS appendange to Christianity. Benedict XVI is a brilliant scholar and an eloquent speaker and writer. Theological differences aside, thank Goodness for any and all effective Christian leadership. Benedict XVI reads better in translation from his original Italian into English that Rowan Williamson does in his first language English. ARGH! We could use some help from Canterbury but they are consumed with you know what.

  20. I agree. But take the Spanish analogy a bit further. Let’s assume that in 1400, with the Moors still all over Southern Spain, the King of Castille had announced his intention to invade Morrocco. “After all,” he says, “Better to fight them over there than to fight them over here.”

    Well – they were there. All over the place. Spain did invade northern Africa and colonize it beginning in 1840. But notice that by the time Spain decided to attack Muslim lands, the Iberian Peninsula had been secure for several hundred years.

    There’s a lesson in this. We went on the offensive without properly securing our own homelands, and now Britain is paying the price for this awful folly. While Tony Blair spouts PC platitudes, London is starting to resemble Tel Aviv. Are we far behind? Will 9/11 find repetition – not in one big hit but in dozens of smaller incidents that paralyze us as a nation?

    25 million illegals or more are here. We are doing nothing to sort them out and detain the dangerous ones. More arrive every day. “Other than Mexicans” cross the southern border daily. All the while, we pour men and material into trying to secure the borders of an Arab nation thousands of miles away from home. All the while hoping to teach Muslims to live in Democratic peace in Bagdad, when they seem incapable of learning that lesson while living in London or New York.

    Missourian – to embrace a real sense of conflict with the Muslim world, the Bush Administration and the acceptable (that means mostly PC) Republican Right are going to have to have a sea-change in attitude. No more compromise on borders. No more securing Albanian control over Kosovo and facilitating its use as a terrorist haven. No more coddling Pakistan. No more pretending that Democracy is the magic bullet that we know it isn’t. No more killing people for high-sounding rhetoric that avails nothing on the ground.

  21. The Weekly Standard has a piece (Jihad Made In Europe) that argues we may be misinterpreting the dynamics of “home grown terrorism.” Quoting from the article:

    Some Europeans–and they are mostly French–have seen the future. Always ahead of his time, the French scholar Olivier Roy has written:

    When we consider the [Islamic] movements that embrace violence, we can see that they are not expressions of an outburst in the West of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict in the Middle East. Most of the young Muslims radicalize in the West: They are “born-again Muslims.” It’s here that they are Islamicized. Almost all separate from their families and many have marriages with non-Muslims. Their dispute with the world isn’t imported from the Middle East: It is truly modern, aimed against American imperialism, capitalism, etc. In other words, they occupy the same space that the proletarian left had thirty years ago, that Action Directe had twenty years ago. . . . They exist in a militant reality abandoned by the extreme left, where the young live only to destroy the system. . . . [This radicalization] isn’t at all the consequence of a “clash of civilizations,” that is to say, the importation of intellectual frameworks coming from the Middle East. This militant evolution is happening, in situ, on our territory. It partakes henceforth of the internal history of the West.

  22. Note 20 No real argument with you Glen. I am, however, impressed with Stephen Hayes new book and the evidence he supplies to support the proposition that Saddam was supporting and facilitating terror networks. Unlike Queen Isabella, we are confronted with the possibility that terror networks can acquire nuclear technology from Pakistan and Iran, this changes the picture. Other than that, we are really in greater agreement than disagreement.

  23. Father,

    Surely you can’t read the Weekly Standard with a straight face? This is also from the article you cite, “There is no satisfying, expeditious answer to Europe’s Muslim problems. If Olivier Roy is right–European Islam, for better and for worse, is now independent of the Middle East–then democracy could come to Muslims’ ancestral homelands even as a virulent form of Islamic militancy persisted for years in Western Europe. But the intellectual and family ties with the Middle East are probably still sufficient to ensure that if the Middle East changes for the better, the ripples will quickly reach Europe. The democratic discussion in the Middle East, which is often broadcast through media headquartered in Europe, is becoming ever more vibrant and powerful. If Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt begins to give way to democracy, it’s a very good bet that the discussion in every single mosque in Western Europe will be about the popular triumph and the democratic experiment beginning in the Arab world’s most important country.”

    Okay, let’s get this straight. Islamic fundamentalists are independent radicals who, while living in functioning and advanced democracies, have rejected the ideals around them and seek to destroy the very fabric of the surrounding societies.

    HOWEVER, it is within our power to bring ‘Democracy’ to the Middle East which will create a cascading effect that will end the uprising of Muslim nutcases who already live inside Democracies – including our own poor, benighted Republic.

    I can buy the idea that the Wahhabi-influenced, Sunni mosques of the United States and Europe are infinitely more sterile and inhospitable places than many more relaxed places in the world. However, I am not convinced that Muslims around the world, if given a vote, wouldn’t end up imposing the Sharia at the ballot box. And even if the Democratic governments formed in the Middle East did not impose the Sharia, why are we to suppose that the same breed of Muslim fundamentalists who killed Anwar Saddat wouldn’t do the same to any ‘apostate’ government who dared contradict Muslim Law on the basis of some abstract Western idea of freedom?

    You do remember that Muslim radicals killed Saddat, right? As punishment for making peace with Israel? This was a long time before the current ‘radicalization’ of Muslims in Europe. Do we also forget that Turkey, the only functioning Muslim sort-of Democracy has repeatedly voted more fundamentalist governments into power? Or that the military has overthrown the government four times in 60 years to prevent Muslim nutcases from coming to power?

    The article has good insights and quite a bit of truth in it. However, the ultimate policy prescription is laughable – building Democracy in the Middle East in order to quiet Muslim radicals living in Democracies already.

    Cute. Really, really cute. Let’s not focus on stopping radical clerics, busting up radical cells, stopping the flow of Muslim immigrants, curtailing Muslim evangelism, deporting illegal Muslims, and the like. No, instead let’s destalize relatively secular regimes like Mubarak’s and replace them with elected ones dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. That’ll really make the radicals sit up and take notice!

    To me, this article is just another version of the ‘hijacked religion’ theory floated by Bush after 9/11. The ‘good Muslims’ live in the Middle East and love folk dancing and music. Or, they live in Europe and have gone European. The ‘bad Muslims’ have ingested leftist ideas, mixed them with traditional Jihad, and are evilly spreading their venom around the world. “If only we can replace tyranny (because tyranny causes terrorism!) with Democracy, all will be saved!”

  24. Articles I post here are chosen for the quality of their analyses. You won’t find universal agreement among the analysts however and are free to argue against their ideas.

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