Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word, “Muslim” or “Islam?”
Time’s up. If the first thing that came to mind was something along the lines of, terrorists, you’re stereotyping. The fact of the matter is, Muslims are a group of people who follow a religion called Islam, that’s it. You cannot refer to them as anything else as they are nothing more than followers of Islam. In the same manner Christians follow Christianity, you can’t really call them anything else.
Despite that very simple and glaring logic, many of us, as Americans, typically stereotype Muslims as terrorists. You’ll see it a lot in those forwarded Email messages written in all caps with about 20 different fonts and sizes. A lot of this recent bigotry is a direct result of the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. A lot of people felt that we were attacked because we were Christian. This is also incorrect, America is full of many religions, including Islam. If the terrorists attacked us because of our religion they were then attacking their own religion, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Many reasons were given by the attackers, our continued presence in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War (this was the big one), our support of Israel (as was this), humiliation as a result of the Islamic world falling behind the Western one. But no matter what excuse they gave it didn’t matter, it was still an attack by terrorists of a group called Al-Qaeda, we were not attacked by the Islamic faith. If an entire faith is to answer for wrongdoings of a handful of its members than we need to start answering for the KKK, many of whom are/were Protestant.
So why, with all these facts in place, are so many of us just assuming that if you’re Muslim, you’re a terrorist.
- Islam, throughout history, has been spread by violence.
Throughout history, events have occurred that reinforce this assumption. But guess what, Christianity’s past is tarnished as well, does the Crusades ring any bells. The Crusades began as a battle to reclaim the holy land from the Muslims but later morphed to include many causes, some of which were related to the spread of Christianity. Have a look at the Christian Bible, on the other hand, and you’ll find that the Old Testament is bursting at the seams with violence towards others. Hebrew scriptures describe God as condoning and, at times, ordering violence. It has been hypothesized that the scripture within Deuteronomy 20:16-18, was one of the leading causes of destruction of the Native Americans and the primary cause of the genocide towards European Jews during the 19th century.
- The Quran suggests violence towards those that are unwilling to convert to Islam.
Have many of us even read the Quran? I haven’t. I know some of us were too busy burning them like that political group, during World War II, that started with N, ended with I and rhymed Yahtzee. This topic is more difficult to pin down, as it’s all about interpretation. A quick Googling reveals sites with completely different opinions on this subject. Some say it supports violent actions, some say it doesn’t. Needless to say, it’s entirely too difficult to look at this subject without our bias and opinion being injected. The same could be said for that verse in the Old Testament’s Deuteronomy 20. Humans love taking things out-of-context and warping it to their own beliefs. Pope Gregory VII warmed the church up to the idea of a “Holy War,” by changing their attitude with the belief that it was okay to kill in God’s name. (talk about persuasion) This is just one of many examples, we could go back and forth all day on which book contains more verses condoning violence towards others. Equally so, we could go back and forth all day on which book contains more verses encouraging peace with others. Having said that, do we Christians do everything the Bible says? Of course not. Did you know that blasphemy is punishable by death? When’s the last time you saw someone beaten to death for using the Lord’s name in vain? The Bible also says homosexuality is punishable by death but…unless you’re one of these freaks…
I doubt that seeing this…
is going to make you go out and run Mr. Takei over with a gigantic American made vehicle. What else have Christians done throughout history in the name of God using violence: pagans and heretics were prosecuted and killed, the Inquisition, Witch Hunts, Slavery, antisemitism. Now what about towards each other, yes, Christians have even shown violence towards each other even recently in serious ways: Yugoslav Wars, Rwandan Genocide, Anti-abortion related terrorism. So the question must be asked, if we as Christians choose to ignore some of the “condoning of violence” references in the Bible, who’s to say that Muslims aren’t capable of the same choice?
- All Muslims are violent.
I went on as long as I did with number two to bring up a point. Not all Muslims are violent and certainly not all Muslims think violence is a great solution to any problem, Christians are very similar. Those examples of violence towards others by Christianity, in many cases, were enacted/performed/executed by extremists. Religious extremism by definition is this: A belief in a strict adherence to a set of basic principles (often religious in nature), sometimes as a reaction to perceived doctrinal compromises with modern social and political life. Expanding on that, these extremists have a warped view of their religion’s teachings and are willing to follow through with those views no matter how barbaric they may seem. This can be the case with any religion or even no religion, these people have a specific set of beliefs, and if they believe that the religion’s teachings they practice coincides with those beliefs, they will perform actions in the name of that religion.
The Christian Bible, like the Quran, may have portions in them that don’t necessarily fit in with today’s standards for treating others with dignity and respect. There will always be those that don’t see it this way, some of them, may act on those beliefs and harm innocent people. They will be referred to as extremists and fundamentalists but should be called out for what they are, terrorists. To me it seems that, like race and color, we need to start looking beyond a terrorist’s proclaimed religion and start looking at them for what they are, a terrorist. Not a Muslim terrorist, not a Christian terrorist, a terrorist. Don’t give them the satisfaction of labeling them with a religion, it’ll only make them feel as though they’ve succeeded.
I’m a Christian, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect, but neither is anyone else. Nobody is perfect! How about this for a Bible verse, why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3) By that verse alone we should realize that we, as humans, are in absolutely no position to judge others. Whether its homosexuality, abortion, or blasphemy, we are in no place to judge. Can we steer others away from these sins by pointing them out, sure, God has asked us to do so. But killing or threatening someone because of these sins is unacceptable. God is the judge here, not us, let him decide what he wants to do with sinners.
Take abortion for example, the extremists call their violent acts, “defense of a life unable to protect itself.” Do they say the same with the butcher killing a cow, chicken, or pig, they can’t protect themselves (just looking for consistency). I don’t like abortion either, but you’re no better than the person getting the abortion or the doctor performing it if you kill either of them. How about, instead of killing them (or outlawing abortion), we teach them the alternatives to abortion give them a way out that seems better than abortion and they’ll likely take it. I imagine, if I were God, that I would be extremely offended by someone killing another one of my creations in my name. This is God’s job, let him be the judge of what happens to these people.
Perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps God truly does want us to punish the sinners, and contradict His words of peace and love towards others. But if I’m right, than regardless of religion, God doesn’t want someone killing in his name. The point I’m trying to make here is this, if a terrorist is claiming religion as part of their acts, ignore it, it shouldn’t change what they are….a terrorist! If we don’t start treating religions we don’t fully understand with the respect they deserve than we’re no better than the terrorists that attacked us in the name of that religion.