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Is Islam Itself The Problem?


Supporters of the planned mosque and Islamic center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero have focused on the issue of religious freedom. But as thousands of mosques have already been built throughout America, this is false – a straw man if ever there was one.

The location of the proposed center is a sensitive matter because of the 9/11 attack by Muslim terrorists. While no one is accusing all Muslims of being guilty for that crime, the project become a rallying cry of pain, a howl of grief every Muslim should hear. It is also an alarm.

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 or support terrorism. Americans (and others) need to ask some hard questions and it is not “Islamophobic” to raise them.

Is Islam a “religion of peace,” as President Obama and others say? Yes, but it is also a religion of war.

According to experts, suicide bombing (“martyrdom”) and Jihad (“holy war”) are not radical ideas in Islam; they are intrinsic parts of the belief system.

Conventional wisdom says 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 do Islamic leaders say, and who is the authority? The problem seems to be that Islam contains both radical and moderate traditions, and both are authentic. Both fanatic jihadists and soft-spoken moderates consider themselves good Muslims, and Muslim religious leaders are at odds.

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.

Why are Islamic leaders silent about the suppression of women, about the condoning of slavery, about the murder of homosexuals, and about 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 duality; it holds contradictory positions, both of which are valid. Against Jews and Israel, however, there are few, if any differences.

Muslim leaders refuse to condemn the murder of Jews by Muslims – anywhere. 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. It was against “Palestinian interests,” said PA spokesmen – i.e., only 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.

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 ”

Americans need to know what Islam is. The failure to answer these fundamental questions lies behind the distrust of Muslims and opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque as well as other Muslim centers around the country.

The crucial distinctions, therefore, may be not between “moderates” and “radicals” but between those who are radical and those who are less so – since they all use the same source, the Koran. Because so many people are in positions of authority – many with aggressive political agendas – and with the possibility of moving easily from moderate to radical positions, it’s lethal chaos.

These questions need to be clarified.

Americans are tolerant, open and respectful, but they aren’t stupid. That’s why they keep asking.

Moshe Dann is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem. He taught American history at CUNY.

About the Author: Moshe Dann is a writer living in Jerusalem.


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