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911: Religion did this
Posted: 11 September 2011 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]
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911: Religion did this

I saw a middle-aged man on the subway yesterday who, by his dress, was clearly a Muslim. This was September 10, 2011 — one day before the 10th anniversary of 911.

I wondered what it feels like to be a Muslim in the United States on the anniversary of 911. Do they feel shame, knowing that the terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 people in the attack on the World Trade Center got their justification, if not motivation, from the same holy books as they read? Do they feel any ownership? Do they take any responsibility?

I hope they do. Many of those Muslims who eschew violence as a means of jihad managed somehow, through some fairly creative cognitive dissonance, to refuse to accept that fellow Muslims could have done something so evil, so they blamed it on some shadowy cabal involving George W. Bush and the Jews.

Muslims need to own what happened on 911 because an adherence to radical Islam was the one thing that the terrorists had in common. A religious doctrine has no force if it is not accepted and followed by large numbers of people. And it was a particular religious doctrine — Islam — that provided the fuel and the spark for 911, not to mention other atrocities against non-Muslims and Muslims alike (the stoning of women accused of adultery in places like Iran, for example).

Aman Ali writes a very good piece about how American Muslims feel about the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon: Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11.

I can sympathize with someone who must constantly apologize for the crazies within his religion. But without the religion, there would be a lot fewer crazies because it is the religion itself that gives thempermission for all manner of barbarism and perversity.

I do not buy the argument that a member of a religion that perpetuates atrocities gets to absolve himself from the actions of a minority within his faith. They may sing in different keys, but they are reading from the same hymnal (or sura, as the case may be). They may have different interpretations, but it is still the word of their God they are interpreting.

I say that someone who wants to truly absolve himself from the craziness of religion has to abandon the religion altogether, not try to isolate himself from the ones within his faith that somehow have misinterpreted the words of God and his prophets.

Ali enjoins us to pick up the Koran, if we want evidence that it doesn’t condone terrorism. OK. Explain this:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (At-Tauba, 29).

If you hate the West and are looking in the Koran or Haith for a justification to kill infidels, you can find it.

I know there are Christians, Jews and Muslims who say that agnostics and atheists like me must likewise take responsibility for the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin, since both were atheists. But there is no atheist doctrine, no scripture that orders us to stone adulterers and homosexuals, or murder Jews. Those are the kinds of brutal dictates that can only come from scripture. And even a casual reading of the Koran or Old Testament clearly shows that it is OK to, say, kill children for disobeying their parents, stone homosexuals, and wage war against those who do not follow your particular brand of religion.

I don’t accept the revisionist approach that allows adherents to redact the more barbaric passages of a religion on the basis that it is now historically irrelevant. If God said that it is required to murder a child for disobeying his parents, then that’s God’s law. Don’t tell, ‘Oh, well, that was written a long time ago, and things have changed.’” Was God mistaken? Or were his prophets?

You can’t have it both ways. If you accept that scripture is the infallible word of God, you don’t get to cherry pick from it and disavow those barbarisms which may no longer seem acceptable in a civilized world. It’s the word of God, is’t it? All of it, not just some of it.And if some of it is wrong, then all of it must be wrong.

As Christopher Hitchens has said, “religion poisons everything.” The antidote is not to try to water down the religion and sanitize it; the antidote is to reject it entirely.

But I can see where a Muslim might be reluctant to reject Islam outright. After all, in many Islamic countries, the punishment for apostacy is death.

Nelson Bennett
Vancouver, B.C.

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Posted: 11 September 2011 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Nelson - 11 September 2011 06:04 PM

I know there are Christians, Jews and Muslims who say that agnostics and atheists like me must likewise take responsibility for the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin, since both were atheists. But there is no atheist doctrine, no scripture that orders us to stone adulterers and homosexuals, or murder Jews.

Hitler got his ideas from people like Richard Wagner and Ernst Haeckel who got his ideas from Darwin, Lamarck and Goethe. I can listen to Wagner and read Darwin and I assure you I have no intentions to kill anybody. Similarly, there are millions of Muslims who read Koran and Hadith and wouldn’t kill a fly.

Also, if you read Scott Atran’s book on terrorism, Talking to the Enemy, you’ll find enough evidence that religion is not at fault here. Hitchens is wrong and so are you.

[ Edited: 11 September 2011 08:59 PM by George ]
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Posted: 11 September 2011 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Good essay Nelson Bennett.  I agree; religion did this, however don’t forget ethnicity, that played a big part as well, and so did masochism, perhaps emotional gratification over critical thinking is the main culpret.  I read the piece by Ali, it was lame for the most part;  but Muslims do not need to apologize.  Some high ranking magic carpet flying Muslims have apologized many times already, but apologies won’t bring back anyone, and for those who are deeply hurt, an apology is nothing-its like a raindrop in the ocean.  A person like Aman Ali can’t really ever be my friend, because his Islam is a big part of who he is and that is a big problem for me, I don’t want a pious Muslim as a friend, I would rather have them as my enemy!!!  I suppose it is not possible to seperate the faith from the act, and the people.

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Posted: 11 September 2011 07:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Sure, Allah altered physics on 9/11.

psik

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Fiziks is Fundamental

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Posted: 11 September 2011 09:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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psikeyhackr - 11 September 2011 07:19 PM

Sure, Allah altered physics on 9/11.

psik

LOL

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Posted: 12 September 2011 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Wonderfully written and very throught provoking essay Nelson!

I would however like to offer a different possibility.  Having read the Quran, I can tell you that I found nothing in it that said something to the effect of;

“You should travel to distant lands and kill indiscriminantly the people of America if you are to be praised in the glory of Allah!”

Because of this lack of deliberate directive from religious authority, I find myself unable to place the blame soley on the Islamic faith system.  I DO however find it more plausible that there are a large number of people in the middle-east that blame America for wars, famine, supporting the expansion of Israel, and the spread of thoughts and ideas that would threaten the power and influence of many religious leaders.  Since it is in the interest of these leaders to retain power, they use blame, history and prejudice to attract people to their cause and religion as their rallying cry.  Victory over the infidels is assured by the will of Allah and those that die will be martyrs.  Those words are repeated over and over again in the Quran and gives the fuel to their fire.

I have my own opinions of different religions that relate to their levels of tolerance, social requirements, and philosophies but I try to treat each one and their practitioners with equal respect while I admit that is sometimes hard.  That said, I have a difficult time labeling the terrorists of 9/11 as Islamic Terrorists.  This label implies that religion the primary driving force for their actions and I think the true motivations run deeper than that.  I think that if I could draw one parallel between all “religious” confilicts, wars and attrocities, it would be the quest for power and control. 

Religion is and always has been used to motivate the soldiers once an objective has been defined by those in power as it minimizes or eliminates the consequences of their actions in the pursuit of victory.

Scott

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Imagine being a free-thinking intellectual from Seattle living in the Heart of the Bible Belt.  Where everyone regularly follows the chuch of Fox News.  Receives their sermons from Rush Limbaugh.  Invocation from Glenn Beck.  And Sarah Palin is their Prophet….

IF there’s a Hell…..  I found it.

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Posted: 12 September 2011 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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It’s quite obvious you used a christian apologetics site or something as it’s clear you cherry picked…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Tawba_29

CONTEXT is very important…if you don’t know the context you know nothing. There is also a question of cultural relativism.

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Posted: 12 September 2011 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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psikeyhackr - 11 September 2011 07:19 PM

Sure, Allah altered physics on 9/11.

psik

This is a gem.

Stephen

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Posted: 12 September 2011 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Nelson - 11 September 2011 06:04 PM


I wondered what it feels like to be a Muslim in the United States on the anniversary of 911. Do they feel shame, knowing that the terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 people in the attack on the World Trade Center got their justification, if not motivation, from the same holy books as they read? Do they feel any ownership? Do they take any responsibility?

I hope they do.

That’s sad.

Stephen

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Posted: 12 September 2011 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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George - 11 September 2011 06:33 PM

Hitler got his ideas from people like Richard Wagner and Ernst Haeckel who got his ideas from Darwin, Lamarck and Goethe. I can listen to Wagner and read Darwin and I assure you I have no intentions to kill anybody. Similarly, there are millions of Muslims who read Koran and Hadith and wouldn’t kill a fly.

Second this. It is no use to polarise and hate muslims for stupid passages in the Koran.

It is irrational to stimulate hate.

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Posted: 13 September 2011 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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mid atlantic - 11 September 2011 06:56 PM

don’t forget ethnicity, that played a big part as well

Sure. The always-expending and -colonizing English stirred up more trouble in our history than any other ethnic group. Is that what you meant?  cheese

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Posted: 13 September 2011 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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George - 13 September 2011 06:55 AM
mid atlantic - 11 September 2011 06:56 PM

don’t forget ethnicity, that played a big part as well

Sure. The always-expending and -colonizing English stirred up more trouble in our history than any other ethnic group. Is that what you meant?  cheese

What does that have to do with it?

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Posted: 13 September 2011 06:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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mid atlantic - 13 September 2011 06:37 PM
George - 13 September 2011 06:55 AM
mid atlantic - 11 September 2011 06:56 PM

don’t forget ethnicity, that played a big part as well

Sure. The always-expending and -colonizing English stirred up more trouble in our history than any other ethnic group. Is that what you meant?  cheese

What does that have to do with it?

You wanted to blame ethnicity, so I thought I would play along.

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Posted: 13 September 2011 06:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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George - 13 September 2011 06:38 PM
mid atlantic - 13 September 2011 06:37 PM
George - 13 September 2011 06:55 AM
mid atlantic - 11 September 2011 06:56 PM

don’t forget ethnicity, that played a big part as well

Sure. The always-expending and -colonizing English stirred up more trouble in our history than any other ethnic group. Is that what you meant?  cheese

What does that have to do with it?

You wanted to blame ethnicity, so I thought I would play along.

Ethnicity is a bond that some of the perps shared, it belongs on the table.

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Posted: 13 September 2011 06:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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What’s “perps”?

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Posted: 13 September 2011 07:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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George - 13 September 2011 06:43 PM

What’s “perps”?

Sorry about that George, “Perps” is American slang-short for perpitrator. In this case it means the guys who carried out the attack.

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