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The Threat of Islam
Posted: 28 February 2012 08:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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dougsmith - 28 February 2012 08:18 PM
lreadl - 28 February 2012 08:06 PM

I do not retreat from the observation about the spread of Islam in Europe and that the faith’s goal of the establishment of the Caliphate is an essential tenet and is deliberately being spread as in a military campaign of conquest.

Same thing was said about Catholics in the US: they intend to bring about papal rule. Sure, there’s some truth to that: some US Catholics are in favor of theocracy. But it’s far from universal.  There are plenty of liberal Catholics. (And the Catholics are far from being alone among US Christians when wanting theocracy, anyway).

I don’t see that Islam is materially different. It’s just a more recent wave of immigration and hence seems stranger.

Sorry, Doug, here we differ substantially. Let me try to reduce it to one line: Christians believe (are taught in mainstream practice) that they must spread the word of the Gospel to all; but if you reject it, they are satisfied that you will suffer your own consequences. Muslims believe (are taught in mainstream practice) that they must spread the truth of the Prophet Mohammed, but if you reject it, they are warranted in bringing you physical harm. It is materially different.

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Posted: 29 February 2012 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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lreadl - 28 February 2012 08:47 PM

Sorry, Doug, here we differ substantially. Let me try to reduce it to one line: Christians believe (are taught in mainstream practice) that they must spread the word of the Gospel to all; but if you reject it, they are satisfied that you will suffer your own consequences. Muslims believe (are taught in mainstream practice) that they must spread the truth of the Prophet Mohammed, but if you reject it, they are warranted in bringing you physical harm. It is materially different.

This is historically backwards. Many Christians believed what you say Muslims believe, and historically Muslims were much more open to allowing other religions within their borders than Christians. (Up until the late 20th century).

E.g., there were never expulsions of Jews and Christians from Muslim lands as the Christians expelled Jews and Muslims from Spain. There were never anti-Jewish pogroms in Muslim countries as there have been in Europe for millennia. The holocaust was a typically Christian phenomenon, coming after centuries of antisemitism in central Europe. While Muslims always considered Jews and Christians secondary citizens, there was typically no notion that they were to be harmed for not being Muslim. That’s a Christian phenomenon.

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Posted: 29 February 2012 05:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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E.g., there were never expulsions of Jews and Christians from Muslim lands as the Christians expelled Jews and Muslims from Spain. There were never anti-Jewish pogroms in Muslim countries as there have been in Europe for millennia. The holocaust was a typically Christian phenomenon, coming after centuries of antisemitism in central Europe. While Muslims always considered Jews and Christians secondary citizens, there was typically no notion that they were to be harmed for not being Muslim. That’s a Christian phenomenon.


This refutes George’s theory that genetics is the cause of so much violence in the Middle East, i.e. the historical background. As Islam began after Mohammad’s death it was twisted as usual by his followers into the “bible or the sword”. Also, the Arabs would absorb certain cultural attributes after conquering an area. Thus the continuation of certain scientific fields and the creation of a higher math, ex. algebra. And if we’re to become so Arab-phobic? why not toss out their numerals and replace them with the one that we originally used? (Roman, ever try to divide using them?) If Arabs were so genetically preprogrammed to violence then why didn’t that Arab family we met at Disney on Ice last weekend stick me in the gut with a scimitar? I mean, I am an unbeliever and not a “person of the book”. I don’t mean to sound facetious here and I am studying the effects of genetics on behavior, but have no evidence compelling me to believe that a culture is driven to act only on it’s genetic make up.


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Posted: 29 February 2012 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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I should probably weaken my claim somewhat. There were at times anti-Jewish pogroms in Muslim countries, but the lot of Jews and Christians was typically better in Muslim countries than was the lot of Muslims and Jews in Christian ones, and there were no wholesale expulsions as in Europe. See for example HERE:

Arab antisemitism is believed to have expanded since the 19th century. Jews, like other minority groups within the Muslim world, were subject to various restrictions long before that (see Dhimmi). However, despite its restrictive nature, dhimmi status also afforded the “People of the Book” relative security against persecution and welfare most of the time—a protection that was missing for non-Christians in most of Europe until the institutionalization of equality under a secular idea of citizenship after the French Revolution—and allowed them to enjoy their respective religious laws and ways of life.

<snip>

For most of the past fourteen hundred years, according to Bernard Lewis, Arabs have not been antisemitic as the word is used in the West. In his view this is because, for the most part, Arabs are not Christians brought up on stories of Jewish deicide. In Islam, such stories are rejected by the Qur’an as a blasphemous absurdity. Since Muslims do not consider themselves as the “true Israel”, they do not feel threatened by the survival of Jews. Because Islam did not retain the Old Testament, no clash of interpretations between the two faiths can therefore arise. There is, says Lewis, no Muslim theological dispute between their religious institutions and the Jews.

<snip>

Jews, along with Christians and Zoroastrians, typically had the legal status of dhimmi (protected minority) in the lands conquered by Muslim Arabs, generally applied to non-Muslim minorities. Jews were generally seen as a religious group (not a separate race), thus being a part of the “Arab family”.

Added: For more on “Dhimmi” status see the Wiki on Dhimmi.

[ Edited: 29 February 2012 05:44 AM by dougsmith ]
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Posted: 29 February 2012 05:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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I don’t see or feel a threat from Islam.  I do see and feel threats for any extremist no matter their religion or lack there of.

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Posted: 29 February 2012 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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Lreadl,

Your previous post:

“Sorry, Doug, here we differ substantially. Let me try to reduce it to one line: Christians believe (are taught in mainstream practice) that they must spread the word of the Gospel to all; but if you reject it, they are satisfied that you will suffer your own consequences. Muslims believe (are taught in mainstream practice) that they must spread the truth of the Prophet Mohammed, but if you reject it, they are warranted in bringing you physical harm. It is materially different. “

  I have seen views that agreed exactly with your post; however, I don’t have the references.  Reality does change as we move in space and time, so what may be true in one location and time period may not be true in another.

  I guess that we cannot do too much relaxed reading now.  We will also have to note the references so that we can quote them later.

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Posted: 29 February 2012 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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dougsmith - 29 February 2012 05:10 AM
lreadl - 28 February 2012 08:47 PM

Sorry, Doug, here we differ substantially. Let me try to reduce it to one line: Christians believe (are taught in mainstream practice) that they must spread the word of the Gospel to all; but if you reject it, they are satisfied that you will suffer your own consequences. Muslims believe (are taught in mainstream practice) that they must spread the truth of the Prophet Mohammed, but if you reject it, they are warranted in bringing you physical harm. It is materially different.

This is historically backwards. Many Christians believed what you say Muslims believe, and historically Muslims were much more open to allowing other religions within their borders than Christians. (Up until the late 20th century).

E.g., there were never expulsions of Jews and Christians from Muslim lands as the Christians expelled Jews and Muslims from Spain. There were never anti-Jewish pogroms in Muslim countries as there have been in Europe for millennia. The holocaust was a typically Christian phenomenon, coming after centuries of antisemitism in central Europe. While Muslims always considered Jews and Christians secondary citizens, there was typically no notion that they were to be harmed for not being Muslim. That’s a Christian phenomenon.

Absolutely correct. Maimonides specifically wrote that he preferred to live under the Caliphate than Christian rule.

But that was about a thousand years ago and the world hardly resembles itself from then, now. What I am describing is the condition on the ground. Christianity has been reformed since then. Once through the invention and rise of Protestantism and more lately through Vatican II. The western monarchies that colluded with and co-corrupted the Church are gone and (more or less) secular political institutions have replaced them. To use a beer analogy, what we now have is a kind of Christianity Light—Less Violent, More Forgiving. Islam, on the other hand, has morphed from its beginnings as well, but in the opposite direction. Maybe I should have prefaced my sentence above with the word “Today,”

Let me ask it this way: Would you care to don a t shirt comprised of a large cartoon character of the Prophet Mohammed on the front and back and then be blindfolded and dropped off on a street corner in each of 10 cities in the world chosen at random? Would you have the same answer if your t shirt had a caricature of Jesus instead?

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Posted: 29 February 2012 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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lreadl - 29 February 2012 07:47 AM

But that was about a thousand years ago and the world hardly resembles itself from then, now. What I am describing is the condition on the ground. Christianity has been reformed since then. Once through the invention and rise of Protestantism and more lately through Vatican II. The western monarchies that colluded with and co-corrupted the Church are gone and (more or less) secular political institutions have replaced them. To use a beer analogy, what we now have is a kind of Christianity Light—Less Violent, More Forgiving. Islam, on the other hand, has morphed from its beginnings as well, but in the opposite direction. Maybe I should have prefaced my sentence above with the word “Today,”

Let me ask it this way: Would you care to don a t shirt comprised of a large cartoon character of the Prophet Mohammed on the front and back and then be blindfolded and dropped off on a street corner in each of 10 cities in the world chosen at random? Would you have the same answer if your t shirt had a caricature of Jesus instead?

Sure, nowadays Islam is typically backwards compared with the most advanced countries of the West. (Something Bernard Lewis has pointed out at length). My point is that this is not something fundamental to their religion; it’s a feature of recent culture. In particular, there never was anything like the European enlightenment in Islam, and the experience with the crusades followed by European (= Christian) colonization and the imposition of Israel have made many Muslims understandably annoyed with Western arrogance and boorishness. So yeah, many have chips on their shoulders.

Could something similar to the enlightenment happen in Islam? There certainly are westernized Muslim countries, and I expect that over time they will follow a generally Western path of liberal advancement, though it may take time.

But that said, the Islamic notion of dhimmi still makes it safe now to practice there as a non-Muslim, at least as far as mainstream religion goes.

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Posted: 29 February 2012 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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dougsmith - 29 February 2012 08:21 AM
lreadl - 29 February 2012 07:47 AM

But that was about a thousand years ago and the world hardly resembles itself from then, now. What I am describing is the condition on the ground. Christianity has been reformed since then. Once through the invention and rise of Protestantism and more lately through Vatican II. The western monarchies that colluded with and co-corrupted the Church are gone and (more or less) secular political institutions have replaced them. To use a beer analogy, what we now have is a kind of Christianity Light—Less Violent, More Forgiving. Islam, on the other hand, has morphed from its beginnings as well, but in the opposite direction. Maybe I should have prefaced my sentence above with the word “Today,”

Let me ask it this way: Would you care to don a t shirt comprised of a large cartoon character of the Prophet Mohammed on the front and back and then be blindfolded and dropped off on a street corner in each of 10 cities in the world chosen at random? Would you have the same answer if your t shirt had a caricature of Jesus instead?

Sure, nowadays Islam is typically backwards compared with the most advanced countries of the West. (Something Bernard Lewis has pointed out at length). My point is that this is not something fundamental to their religion; it’s a feature of recent culture. In particular, there never was anything like the European enlightenment in Islam, and the experience with the crusades followed by European (= Christian) colonization and the imposition of Israel have made many Muslims understandably annoyed with Western arrogance and boorishness. So yeah, many have chips on their shoulders.

Could something similar to the enlightenment happen in Islam? There certainly are westernized Muslim countries, and I expect that over time they will follow a generally Western path of liberal advancement, though it may take time.

But that said, the Islamic notion of dhimmi still makes it safe now to practice there as a non-Muslim, at least as far as mainstream religion goes.

I think that there are fundamental elements of Islam that make it more prone to be relatively “backwards”.  If there were going to be an Islamic enlightenment, what is keeping that from happening, in a world of mass communication and advanced technologies of all sorts?  Rather, Islam may be becoming less tolerant, in this modern age. 

Personally, I would not want to be a dhimmi even if I were religious.  I also doubt that being an out-of-the-closet atheist would be very comfortable (and perhaps not safe) in most Muslim dominated societies, today.  I don’t want to be controlled in any way by any religion.  Islam is/was tailor made to be a theocracy.  Iran has elements of theocracy in the world today.  It is quite possible that there will be more Muslim theocracies in the future.

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Posted: 29 February 2012 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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TimB - 29 February 2012 10:01 AM

I think that there are fundamental elements of Islam that make it more prone to be relatively “backwards”.  If there were going to be an Islamic enlightenment, what is keeping that from happening, in a world of mass communication and advanced technologies of all sorts?

Perhaps their distaste with the West?

There are certainly elements that make Islam prone to be backwards, but so too are there for Christianity.

TimB - 29 February 2012 10:01 AM

Personally, I would not want to be a dhimmi even if I were religious.  I also doubt that being an out-of-the-closet atheist would be very comfortable (and perhaps not safe) in most Muslim dominated societies, today.  I don’t want to be controlled in any way by any religion.  Islam is/was tailor made to be a theocracy.  Iran has elements of theocracy in the world today.  It is quite possible that there will be more Muslim theocracies in the future.

Agreed. But again, Europe was essentially theocratic for over a millennium. (The Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor, the Divine Right of Kings, etc.) What broke it was the rise of protestantism in rebellion against the corrupt, decades of religious wars, leading to a distaste with extremism and theocracy in certain corners of society, leading eventually to the Enlightenment.

Who knows? Perhaps the extremists we see in Islam fighting against corrupt, illiberal dictators are their generation’s protestants who will eventually bring a revolution in orientation?

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Posted: 29 February 2012 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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A couple of quick observations:

It appears to me that Islam and Christianity have a lot more in common than even secular folks in the West are comfortable admitting.

Could it be that the relative dangers posed by both religions is, and has historically been, more about how tight a grip each has on the societies that embrace it, rather then on the teachings and practices?

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Posted: 29 February 2012 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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dougsmith - 29 February 2012 10:22 AM
TimB - 29 February 2012 10:01 AM

I think that there are fundamental elements of Islam that make it more prone to be relatively “backwards”.  If there were going to be an Islamic enlightenment, what is keeping that from happening, in a world of mass communication and advanced technologies of all sorts?

Perhaps their distaste with the West?

There are certainly elements that make Islam prone to be backwards, but so too are there for Christianity.

TimB - 29 February 2012 10:01 AM

Personally, I would not want to be a dhimmi even if I were religious.  I also doubt that being an out-of-the-closet atheist would be very comfortable (and perhaps not safe) in most Muslim dominated societies, today.  I don’t want to be controlled in any way by any religion.  Islam is/was tailor made to be a theocracy.  Iran has elements of theocracy in the world today.  It is quite possible that there will be more Muslim theocracies in the future.

Agreed. But again, Europe was essentially theocratic for over a millennium. (The Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor, the Divine Right of Kings, etc.) What broke it was the rise of protestantism in rebellion against the corrupt, decades of religious wars, leading to a distaste with extremism and theocracy in certain corners of society, leading eventually to the Enlightenment.

Who knows? Perhaps the extremists we see in Islam fighting against corrupt, illiberal dictators are their generation’s protestants who will eventually bring a revolution in orientation?

We can hope.  However, e.g., Iran overthrew the Shah, some time ago, and they are still under theocratic control.  Currently, Egypt, is at a precipice.  It is possible, that in the not too distant future, Egypt may democratically choose to be governed by Sharia Law.

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Posted: 29 February 2012 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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TimB - 29 February 2012 10:52 AM

We can hope.  However, e.g., Iran overthrew the Shah, some time ago, and they are still under theocratic control.  Currently, Egypt, is at a precipice.  It is possible, that in the not too distant future, Egypt may democratically choose to be governed by Sharia Law.

Believe me, I’m not suggesting it would all happen in a generation. It could, as in Europe, take centuries.

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Posted: 29 February 2012 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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deros - 29 February 2012 05:45 AM

I don’t see or feel a threat from Islam.  I do see and feel threats for any extremist no matter their religion or lack there of.

Wholehearted agree.

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Posted: 29 February 2012 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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dougsmith - 29 February 2012 10:56 AM
TimB - 29 February 2012 10:52 AM

We can hope.  However, e.g., Iran overthrew the Shah, some time ago, and they are still under theocratic control.  Currently, Egypt, is at a precipice.  It is possible, that in the not too distant future, Egypt may democratically choose to be governed by Sharia Law.

Believe me, I’m not suggesting it would all happen in a generation. It could, as in Europe, take centuries.

If your hypothesis is correct, we (or our descendants) could have decades of religious wars to look forward to before the process plays out.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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