Some years ago I took a college class on world religions. My teacher, when we came to the section on Islam, said that she enjoyed teaching this religion because she wanted to help dispel the idea that Islam was a violent and evil belief system. And I agreed with that idea, because far too often we find ourselves in a spiral of denouncing something most of us don’t truly understand.
In the wake of the terrorist attack in Brussels last week, we are still in mourning and counting the dead. And, as with every terrorist attack revealed to be the fault of Muslim extremists, there are a certain set of reactions that make themselves known. I want to take a look at a few of them today and why I think they are misguided.
“Why aren’t Muslims out in the streets denouncing the attack?”
This is probably the most common one I hear. In the aftermath of every terror attack, this is a question that pops up. And despite the fact that plenty of Muslims do denounce the violent extremists, for some people it’s all or none. If you’re not publicly speaking out against it, then you must be secretly supporting it.
So why is this faulty logic? For much the same reason it would be to force all Christians to denounce the actions of someone who bombed Planned Parenthood. For much the same reason it would be to force the state of Kansas to constantly denounce the hate spewed by the Westboro Baptist Church. The actions of the few do not represent the perspectives of the many. Just because a few people somewhere are hateful or violent does not mean that all people who belong to a large, generalized group are the same.
Put simply, you cannot judge a book based on the cover someone else puts over it.
“Muslims are dangerous and I don’t want them in my country”
The Syrian refugee situation is probably the largest humanitarian crisis of our time. And yet, despite the fact that these are people in need, people who just want to get away from all the violence, they are often refused admission to other countries or are even placed into camps to keep them separated from the general public.
The reason for this is as simple as any: fear.
For countries over in Europe, the fear is two-fold. The first part of it is the common fear that terrorists will be hiding among the refugees. The second (and arguably more reasonable part) is that harboring the refugees will somehow make those countries a target for more terrorist attacks. Here in the United States, almost all the fear comes from that first part, the idea that terrorists will be hiding among the refugees and will carry out attacks on our so-called great nation.
Here’s the thing: a terrorist would have to be an idiot to try and get in through the same way as refugees. They have to go through an extensive screening process that can take eighteen to twenty-four months to complete, and that’s only after they get selected. I talked about this back in the beginning of December, and I linked to a John Oliver video that I felt explained the refugee application process well. I refer you to that video once again simply for the sake of brevity and not repeating myself.
But all that is even besides the point. Not all Muslims are terrorists. And that’s not some political correctness agenda I’m putting forth. It’s the simple truth. There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims all over the world. If they were all terrorists, we would be dead, plain and simple. A conservative talk show host once made the audacious claim that ten percent of the world’s Muslims were terrorists. This is an insane accusation because, as Cracked.com pointed out in 2010, that would equal about 150 million terrorists. And if they each pulled off an attack killing just forty people, they could wipe out all the non-Muslims on Earth.
Besides, statistics show that since 9/11 here in the United States, more people have been killed by white supremacists and anti-government radicals than Muslim extremists. Food for thought.
“Islam is a barbaric and violent religion”
I do wonder how certain types of people would react if they found my blog post. I’m willing to bet some would just shake their heads in anger and click off the page without even giving it a chance. So if you’ve made it this far, congratulations! And thank you for giving me a chance.
But I digress. Often, when the crusades come up in a discussion about religion, people among the Christian faith have one of two reactions. They either brush it off, asserting that the crusades are part of the past and can’t be used as a fair judgement of modern Christianity (which is a fair point). Or, they fire back, saying that the crusades were simply a defense maneuver against the onslaught of Islam in the Middle East.
There seems to be this perception in the western world that Islam must be a violent religion that spread by the sword. This probably stems from how fast Islam was suddenly a worldwide system of belief. Christianity took hundreds of years to go from being a persecuted cult to the state religion of the Romans. By contrast, Islam went from being one person’s epiphany to a dominant religious force in the Middle East and northern Africa in roughly a century alone. So the assumption was that for Islam to have spread so far and so fast, it must have been through violent conquest (and this was a conception that existed before 9/11, which honestly only exacerbated it).
But, as with a lot of things, the true history doesn’t really back up that idea.
If you compare Muslims and Christians during the time of the crusades, you’ll find out that Christians were far more brutal. They beheaded people…a lot. And by contrast? Muslims gave their defeated foes food. They fed their enemies.
The prophet Muhammad actually put forth a lot of progressive rules for conducting warfare. Among them was the idea that armies will not kill women, children, or innocents. Muhammad also barred them from burning trees or orchards or destroying wells. His successor even made these ideas the standard for Muslim armies. It was so much so that according to the Cracked.com article I linked you to earlier, one expert said that the Muslims “exhibited a degree of toleration which puts many Christian nations to shame”.
To finish this off, I will say that I have not read either the Bible or the Quran in their entirety, so my knowledge of both religions is incomplete. However, I will say this: all religions have misconceptions. They are all perceived one way or another, unjustly or otherwise. And when you consider that Muslims make up only around one percent of the population here in the United States, the overwhelming dislike of them starts looking ridiculous. The hatred has been allowed to breed because the voice of the minority group is drowned out by a larger and louder crowd. These people are never forced to confront their misconceptions because their chance of actually meeting or running into a Muslim in this country is so slim. By contrast, harboring a belief that all Christians are violent is nearly impossible because you can barely step outside the door of your house without running into one.
Humanity does not exist as sides of a coin. Humanity is a spectrum, filled with people who believe and feel in all different ways.
Well that’s all I have for you this time. Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.