Extremism — reblogged


Charles de Steuben's Bataille de Poitiers en octobre 732 depicts a triumphant Charles Martel (mounted) facing 'Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi (right) at the Battle of Tours.
Charles de Steuben‘s Bataille de Poitiers en octobre 732 depicts a triumphant Charles Martel (mounted) facing ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi (right) at the Battle of Tours.

Here the object is to tag a fairly simple thought onto a more complex post, Extremism byKeith DeHavelle. Extremism considers the possibility of reforming Islam.

The Middle East is starting to look more sensible about Islamic extremism than is the Obama administration. Isn’t that a sad thing to say?

Here is a Saudi Arabian author being interviewed on television, and he describes the problem. He notes, correctly, that there is little difference between the “moderate” Muslim clerics and the most radical Muslim Brotherhood jihadist supporters: Both groups preach the same concepts from the same revered sources. He suggests that Islam needs a Reformation like Christianity had, and not just a Luther but a Calvin as well:

Turki Al-Hamad: “I don’t want to make generalizations, but most of our sheiks and preachers – or those who call themselves preachers – are incapable of producing discourse that would counter the extremist discourse, because the extremist discourse draws upon the same texts and sources as most of our sheiks and preachers. Their interpretation may differ, but the source is one and the same.”

What would a reformation of Islam look like? Sadly, we are seeing a reformation of Islam, but we just don’t see it as reform. However, ISIS and other radical Muslims probably do.

Perhaps we should try putting ourselves in their shoes. When Europe experienced the Protestant Reformation, what happened? Didn’t Christians make a large-scale effort to return Christianity back to its first century roots. Because those in charge of the status quo fought the change, many associate the Protestant Reformation with religious warfare. However, because Christianity does not support violence (Substantial numbers of Christians are pacifists.), when people began reading the Bible in large numbers, the violence subsided.

What would Islam’s 6th/7th century roots look like? When Muhammad started spreading Islam, he did so with force. Muslims warred upon infidels and punished those who refused to accept their religion. The violent spread of Islam is still the way large numbers of Muslims view at least one aspect of jihad (Jihad: holy struggle or holy war?), and their efforts to form an Islamic Caliphate in the Syria and Iraq looks altogether too much like what has happened before.

Depiction of the use of Greek fire, miniature from the Madrid Skylitzes (Related to the Seige of Constantinople (717-718))
Depiction of the use of Greek fire, miniature from the Madrid Skylitzes (Related to the Seige of Constantinople (717-718))

Would publishing the Qur’an and encouraging people to read it help? No. The Qur’an encourages Muslims to war against and maltreat infidels. Therefore, when we consider how to deal with radical Muslims, we may wish to review the events that stopped Islam from spreading into Europe. We may wish to remember that Christians fought back because hostile Muslims left them no other option.

Battle of Vienna, 12 September 1683 (from here)
Battle of Vienna, 12 September 1683 (from here)

9 thoughts on “Extremism — reblogged

  1. Well said. Thanks for the link, Tom. On the internet I seem to encounter a lot of people who perceive Islam as a type of Christianity. They never bother to do any research or to learn the tenets of that faith. Of course there are peaceful and moderate Muslims, but what marks Christians as different is that salvation is ours because of who He is, not because of who we are. In Islam people must be justified by their acts, and one of those acts is to wage war and punish infidels.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Qur’an is a rather obvious knockoff off the Old Testament. Muhammad may have understood the Bible, but he seemed more interested in using his holy book to scare people in obeying him than anything else. Thus, the Qur’an justified Muhammad and whatever Muhammad said.

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      1. @Citizen Tom, who wrote:

        The Qur’an is a rather obvious knockoff off the Old Testament.

        This is not actually obvious to me, at least. The Qur’an re-tells some of the stories of the Bible (from both the Old and New Testaments), but not many. And the tellings are often very different indeed. This part could be called a “knockoff” but it does not strike me as mimicry so much as an attempt to change the explanation.

        But the Qur’an is mostly new stories, of war and conquest and inter-tribal struggles and new fantastical tales in a setting very different from the Bible’s. To the Arab audience, these were not stories of ancient history, they were news of recent events with guides to behavior implicitly or explicitly included.

        Muhammad may have understood the Bible, but he seemed more interested in using his holy book to scare people in obeying him than anything else.

        Muhammad could not read nor write. This implies several possibilities about the Bible story overlap in the Qur’an:
        • He had these stories revealed to him in divine visions by the Angel Gabriel (who, known as “Jabreel” in Arabic, is the voice used throughout the Qur’an)
        • He heard these stories from Jewish travelers (which apparently were fairly common in his area at the time)
        • All these stories were created and adapted by later writers, since the Qur’an did not appear for more than a century after the alleged Muhammad’s death and the Hadith (stories about what Muhammad did and said) kept popping up for a long time thereafter.

        Of course, suggesting anything other than the first possibility will get you executed by the governments of several countries.

        But the organization of the stories, even the small portion that overlap the Bible, is very strange: They’re sorted simply by longest to shortest, regardless of chronological order. And yet the chronological order is absolutely crucial to Islam, since later rules replace earlier rules, so they had to deduce which rules came last. The “alcohol is forbidden/alcohol may be consumed in moderation” is an example of this. Another difference is the mild cooperation with other tribes evident in the early stories and then, after Muhammad gathered sufficient power, the “kill ’em all unless they submit” tone of the later stories. The “sword verses,” the famously violent command to conquer all, come last (chronologically) and are the most compelling to Muslims who pay attention to this. Happily, not all do.

        Thus, the Qur’an justified Muhammad and whatever Muhammad said.

        That is certainly true of the Qur’an and especially the Hadith.

        The difference between Sunnah and Hadith is tricky. Sunnah are generally ancient religious practices (and therefore Abrahamic in origin) venerated by Muslims, with differences (it’s how the Sunnis got their name).

        The Hadith are stories that justify Muhammad as you said: They use Muhammad as the Perfect Man and the role model for all men to emulate. Muslims divide this into what Muhammad did, what he said, and what he tolerated by not objecting to which much therefore be good behavior.

        So much of the Qur’an is so different from the stories of the Bible, in content, layout and tone, that I don’t think “knockoff” is the correct or fair interpretation of the relationship. Plus the Qur’an is just one part of Islamic holy text, with the Hadith/Sunnah carrying a great deal of weight in practical terms — there is no Christian or Jewish counterpart to this.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


        1. Keith

          I don’t think we really disagree. The Qur’an is a knockoff. However, people produce knockoffs with different objectives in mind.

          When people counterfeit things like clothing, watches, and software, they may or they may not desire to build a following of loyal customers. If they do want loyal customers, they will try to make their copies identical in quality. If they don’t, then the customer won’t buy from them again.

          Muhammad desired brand loyalty, loyalty to him. So he took ideas and even phrases out of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and he fit those ideas into a context that his people could relate to. Then he added whatever he thought necessary to convince his people he was the new and improved Moses.

          What did Muhammad do? He had the Angel Gabriel (Where have we heard that name before?) reveal Allah’s words to him, making him a prophet. As a matter of fact, the Qur’an even speaks of Adam, Moses and Abraham and of the deliverance of the people of Israel from captivity in Egypt. Muhammad tried to convert the local Jews to his new religion. When they refused, he killed them.

          Think about this statement from Sura 7, verse 179.

          They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth).

          Check Mark 8:17-18. The Angel Gabriel could not come up with his own lines or least credit Jesus? Or did Muhammad just borrow it?

          Since he could not write, Muhammad could not write his own book. Before the Qur’an was written, people memorized it. Hence, we end up with short little books recited in an arbitrary order. Apparently, the chronological order is partly known (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_surahs_in_the_Quran), and that order is a revelation of sorts (especially of Muhammad increasing hostility to Jews and Christians), but not of God.

          Anyway, Muhammed warred on idols, spoke of Judgement Day, propagated a bunch of laws, had great fun with Hell fire and Satan, and borrowed from the Bible. One of the continuing themes in the Qur’an is that the people who don’t do what Allah says Allah destroys. The Old Testament of speaks events such as Noah’s Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Tower of Babel. Thus, Muhammad “convinced” people to obey him, and he became Allah’s number one prophet.

          Why Allah? Supposedly, Allah is the name of one of the gods of the people in that area already worshiped, but the Muslims probably destroyed most of the evidence related to idol worship. Shrug.


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