Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tolerance For Intolerance Is Not a Virtue

A phobia is an irrational fear. When people use words such as “Islamaphobe” or “homophobe”, they are implying an irrational fear of Muslim or gay people. The “phobia” implication is misleading. If a person disagrees with policies (say gay marriage), that does not mean that the person fears gay people, yet he is likely to be hit with the “Homophobe” slander for that opinion.

Recently, with the Islamic “Cultural Center” being proposed near the World Trade Center, people have had to ask some poignant questions about why it shouldn’t be built. Is there an irrational fear of the Muslim religion and are people who want to prevent this Cultural Center/Mosque from being built truly “Islamaphobes”? Are they judging the Islamic religion in a different way than they would judge other religions and if so, is that justified?

Both George Bush and Barack Obama made the point that Islam is a religion of peace that has been co-opted and used by those who want to pervert the religion. But if the people who have co-opted the religion are the ones in charge of the religion, and if the people who have co-opted the religion are the ones who are making the rules, then the religion, itself, is not a religion of peace. If the people who practice the religion are afraid of those who have co-opted it, and have no power to change it, then why pretend that the religion is something that it clearly is not?

In a book titled “The Trouble With Islam”, the author Irshad Manji brings up a term that should be better known and understood, yet it is rarely mentioned. The term is “ijtihad”. According to Manji:
“Not jihad, but ijtihad…the Islamic tradition of independent reasoning…allowed every Muslim…to update his or her religious practice in light of contemporary circumstances.”
Unfortunately, the radical ayatollahs and imams have crushed the idea of ijtihad.

Every religion is filled with some contradiction and, to some extent, has to grapple with interpretations of religious texts as times change. People have always struggled trying to maintain their faith and meaning in a constantly changing world. For true believers of a religion, science and changing times don’t change the intent of religious texts. They can interpret their religion to the changing times while maintaining the faith, the meaning and the good of what the religion stands for.

Unfortunately when radical imams took control of Islam and took it upon themselves to determine the meaning of that faith, they created a religious dictatorship. In getting rid of “ijtihad” they put themselves in a position where they couldn’t be questioned or contradicted. In so doing they didn’t take the best of the Muslim religion, they took the worst of it and institutionalized it so that theirs was the only interpretation possible.

There are passages in the Koran and in the hadith that speak of Jews and Christians in praiseworthy ways as “People of the Book”. In other passages, Jews and Christians are described as inferior and sometimes, even subhuman. This is where a rational and sane interpretation would be needed but that is exactly what the people who are in control of the religion are NOT doing.

Even outright lying in negotiations and breaking signed treaties has been deemed acceptable if it furthers Muslim goals. This goes back to an interpretation of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya. This treaty was signed in 628 AD and declared a truce between the Meccan tribe of Quraish and the Muslim community in Medina. It was a 10 year treaty but was broken when Muhammad invaded Mecca and forced the people there to convert to Islam.

The imams who make the rules for Islam constantly refer to the Treaty of Hudaybiyya when they negotiate with those whom they consider to be their enemies such as Israel. How can any sane person or country negotiate with people who say right up front that they have the right to break a treaty any time it is convenient for them to do so? Their word is worth nothing and that is their official stated policy!

In every country where Islam has become part of official government policies, there is cruelty and intolerance, even in the so called moderate ones. Those who write books critical of Islam such as The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, get contracts put out on their lives. A simple cartoon critical of the religion causes riots and death threats. A film maker, Theo Van Gogh, who made a film that was critical of the way women are treated in Muslim countries, is murdered for daring to tell the truth. Van Gogh’s film was based on actual facts of the treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who writes in her book “Infidel” about how she was genitally mutilated and about how women are told to bear the treatment of being beaten by their husbands because that is what the religion demands of them.

The Muslim religion has become a cruel, cultish nightmare for those who are forced to live in countries where the religion works its way into government policies. Terrorism is just a natural byproduct of a religion where a few “privileged” people get to rationalize any behavior, no matter how cruel or immoral, if it is deemed to advance the cause if the Islamic religion.

Countries, in general, and the U.N., in particular seem very selective in how they condemn the actions of different nations. They rightly condemned South Africa for practicing apartheid but where is their condemnation to Muslim countries that routinely discriminate against non-Muslims? Non Muslims living in Muslim countries live in Dhimmi status which means they are officially second class citizens and have inferior rights to Muslims. Why won’t the U.N. condemn the concept of “Dhimmi” status as the discriminatory policy that it is?

The sad reality is that the U.N. and many nations are afraid of the Muslim religion. Perhaps, even though they may disagree with the cruel treatment of women and non-Muslims, they have a common enemy with them in their hatred of America, Israel and, in some cases, the west in general. It’s been said that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” so many excuse the behavior of crazy Jihadists in the name of some perceived greater good and end up rationalizing and excusing the behavior of these crazy imams and Ayatollahs.

They are doing no one a favor by turning a blind eye to this radicalism. The people who live under these religious dictatorships, those who want to raise a family and make a better life for themselves and their children, are not helped by this pandering to the crazy imams. The people of Iran tried their best to let the world know they wanted freedom but the world, to its everlasting shame, did nothing. By doing nothing they sided with the bad guys.

George Bush had it right and hopefully history will correct the record on his Presidency. Help the people who want freedom, give them reliable support and the Muslim religion can get rid of the crazy imams and ayatollahs that are making these people (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) live in misery. When the people of Iran saw what happened in Iraq they were inspired. They wanted their chance at freedom. Unfortunately, things have gone back in the other direction. The people in these Islamic dictatorships know that they can’t count on reliable help from the US and from the west, in general, and therefore are forced, out of fear, to submit to the crazy imams.

So now the crazy imams want to build a 13 story “cultural center” near the site of the World Trade Center. People who have tried to bury Jewish history by building mosques on top of Jewish shrines and temples, people who have taken over the city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and created an atmosphere where Christians are afraid to be in their holiest site, people who have destroyed ancient Buddhist statues and artifacts that could never be reproduced now have the unmitigated gall to talk about tolerance?

Muslims need to clean their own house before lecturing others on tolerance. It is not for the US to show that it is tolerant of the Muslim religion. The burden of proof is on the Muslim religion to show that it is tolerant of others. Perhaps one day when “ijtihad” returns and Muslims can be allowed to interpret their religion in a way that is not so cruel, then there can be a “cultural center” near the WTC. In the meantime, the one being proposed is nothing more than a tribute to the worst, not the best, of the Muslim faith. It is a tribute to the very imams that have taken this religion back to the seventh century and it should not even be considered to be built at the holy site of the WTC.

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