Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Is Armstrong an Apologist for Islam?

Efraim Karsh is calling Karen Armstrong an "apologist for Islam" in his NY Sun review of her latest book about the Prophet Mohammad.
In truth, Islam's actual meaning is submission and not peace, or to use Ms. Armstrong's own words, "the perfect surrender (in Arabic the word for ‘surrender' is Islam) that every human being should make to the divine." And it was to achieve this goal and subordinate the Arabian peninsula to his rule that Muhammad fought almost incessantly for the last 10 years of his life, having fled from his hometown of Mecca to Medina in 622 to become a political and military leader rather than a private preacher: not to bring peace to a war-torn country...

In contrast to Ms. Armstrong's depiction of jihad as a benign struggle for self-improvement, the Qur'anic revelations during Muhammad's Medina years abound with verses extolling the virtues of fighting "in the path of Allah," as do the countless sayings and traditions (hadith) attributed to the prophet. As he told his followers in his farewell address: "I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘There is no god but Allah.'"

The bold mark-up was made by me to question the proposition that Mohammad's reason for fleeing Mecca was to become a political and military leader. As far as I can remember - correct me if I am wrong - he was forced to escape to save his life; he was under attack and had to choose between fighting or dying; the community around him would have perished as well if he didn´t took the initiative and came up with some ideas for how to overcome the attackers.

At this point in our own time, it is worth going back to Karen Armstrong's extensive writing on the history of fundamentalism, to remember the many times in history when also Christianity was man's reason to take up arms, and how much more violent those struggles in the name of one God was (or are, I am not sure they have stopped). Armstrong is writing to remind us that it is not religion that is calling for violence, it is its fanatic interpreters.

So, in the difficult times that are ahead of us in the coming years, please do recognize that the people in the world that are most troubled with fanatic readings of important religious texts are the followers of that very religion. In other words, help the Muslims who believe Islam is a total surrender to the divine; those good-hearted people who cannot understand how people can seek to hurt each other; who are determined to stick to the right path and help their brothers and sisters to do the same.

Please also realize that a majority of these people live in oppressed societies without a functioning legal, political or economical system. Try to imagine what that does to a nation and how it would be to grow up and get by in such conditions. Think about your grandparents generation and how lack of education made them obey to the book because it was the only thing they know; the only legal and moral and ethical standard available to them. If you can understand this situation, it will also be easier to understand the mental constitution of the Muslim evil-doers you see on television. It will also become easier to sympathize with the Muslims who cannot stand up to them in their own countries, be it for reasons of fear or lack of courage of verbal and literal tools. Remember that they are largely on their own: no government, police, judge or social worker will set things right when they go wrong.

In the eyes of many (and I mean really many) Muslims, the persecution began long before 9/11 2001. If some of them fight back with violence, a lot of people will think the attacked had it going for them, it was well served. Understanding why is the only way to mutual understanding which is the only way forward.

Hat-tip: LGF

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