Who is the extremist?


Recently, Rev. Jerry Falwell wrote a commentary piece, "The Loving Rebuke," about the recent "rebuke" meted out to him and other Evangelical Christian leaders over their remarks about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Leaving aside his arguments about whether or not the rebuke was appropriate, I was intrigued by this statement: "While we reach out with the Gospel, we must also retain our right to disapprove of the scores of violent occurrences that take place--frequently at the cost of Christian lives--at the hands of militant Muslims worldwide. The politically-correct notion is to pretend these actions do not exist so that the lives of American missionaries and fellow believers in Muslim nations will not be placed at risk. As Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of the Washington Times, said, the translation is, 'We've got to say how peaceful they are, or they'll kill us.'" 

This statement reveals a great deal of Falwell's thinking and logic when it comes to Islam and Muslims. Rev. Falwell, it seems, reflects upon all of Islam the violent acts of a minority of Muslims. I got this sense even further when I read this in his article: "[Robert Spencer of the Free Congress Foundation] said if evangelical leaders are going to be challenged in their interpretations of Islam, then those who are intent on promoting it as a peaceful religion need to confront the 'unpleasant facts' about Islam too." 

What are those "unpleasant facts"? The scores of "violent occurrences that take place...at the hands of militant Muslims worldwide." Or, again quoting Robert Spencer, "the truth that 'Christians continue to be persecuted all over the Muslim world.'" 

Let me be clear: I defend Rev. Falwell's right to disapprove of the violent acts committed by militant Muslims around the world. In fact, I support this stance wholeheartedly. That is not the issue I take with Rev. Falwell. Had he stopped at the condemning the violent acts of militant Muslims, there would be no problem. No, he declared on CBS' program "60 Minutes" that Muhammad is a "terrorist" who set an example opposite to that of Jesus and Moses. It is this conclusion that I have a problem with.

I have written about this before, namely, that the sins of Muslims should not be confused with the tenets or doctrines of Islam. Yet, this line of thinking continues to rear its ugly head. Whenever Rev. Falwell is asked to clarify his statements about Islam, he usually cites the actions of Muslims around the world. The two are not related.

Islam's other Evangelical Christian critics follow a similar logic. In an interview with Beliefnet.com, Rev. Franklin Graham said, "There was this hoo-rah around Islam being a peaceful religion--but then you start having suicide bombers, and people start saying, 'Wait a minute, something doesn't add up here.'" He connects suicide bombers--murderous Muslims, no doubt--with Islam as a religion. Gary Bauer, another conservative critic of Islam, wrote: "When Muslim Palestinian suicide bombers kill innocent Israeli civilians, the knee-jerk reaction in the media and among some apologists for radical Islam is to blame the policies of Ariel Sharon or Israeli settlements or you just fill in the blank." Again, he cites the actions of Muslims to explain why it was wrong to bash Falwell et al for criticizing Islam.

I absolutely agree that some Muslims use Quranic verses to justify their murder of innocent people. But the Bible has also been used to justify the enslavement of Africans (a large minority of whom were Muslims), or racial discrimination here in the United States. Scores of Orthodox Christian Serb soldiers systematically raped tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslim women in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The members of the Klu Klux Klan are devout Christians. Can I conclude that Christianity is a racist and "evil" religion? Of course not. Islam is not accorded this same treatment, and it is wrong. I would have thought that this fallacious thinking would have been eradicated by now.

 

Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and columnist for the Independent Writers Syndicate. He is author of "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," published in the Book Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith (Rodale).


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  14 Comments   Comment

  1. Ryan Patrick Jones from USA

    At the root of this article is logic and reason; however, most of the mainstream news Americans recieve does not follow such logic and reason.I don`t care who wrote it, man or woman, Asian or African, Christian/Jew/Muslim or Athiest, because it makes sense. As an American, it upsets me terribly that the most easily accessed/readily available news and opinion is not based on this reason. Many Americans claim to know a great deal about Islam because of what they hear in the news, but this is a ridiculous claim. Many Americans get their news spoon fed to them, and they blindly follow and believe without any independent intellectual interpretation. Why? Why has a large part of our media lost logic and reason? And why are so many Americans unaware of this?

  2. abul from USA

    I agree with Marwan regarding American public opinion. Most of the Americans are being led by the pied-piper (the media) into the "sea". It is difficult to reason with those following the pied-piper. It is better to say "peace" (salaam) and not worry about what they think of us and Islam through their hijacked minds.

  3. A.H. Mu'min from USA

    As sala'am alaikum rahmatullah to all. I am in agreeance wholeheartedly with the writer of the article. It is the very bigoted and intolerant thinking that brings about such discord and unrest that we are seeing in these times around the world.Yet it has all been prophesied that such atrocities would take place. We must trust in Allah, The All Wise. For He Knows what we know not. I truly expect nothing less from those that would propagate a religion that calls for the false worship of something or someone other than Allah, Most Merciful. I firmly believe that every human being will be held accountable for his or her actions in this life. And should be allowed to practice what religion they see fit, but the stereotyping of anyone is not acceptable...in a genuinely civil society. If myself and other believers did as the Reverends Falwell and Graham do, we would say that all Christians are fornicator,whoremongers and crooks. Based alone on the actions of Jim Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, and Oral Roberts. Also all Catholic priest would be classed as rapist and pedophiles.

    "Judge ye not, lest ye be judged." We Allah Be Merciful to us all. As sala'am alaikum rahmatullah.

    Sincerly,

    A.H. Mu'min

  4. arifin muftie from indonesia

    If you are small or weak country, you may be extrimist or terorist. But if you are big country, you can say a preventive of coming present danger.

  5. Alain Jean-Mairet from CH

    Everyone will agree to condemn terrorism in a context of political correctness. Even Arafat would. The question is rather: does Islam as such, even the moderate, peaceful, liberal one, promote terrorism? The link really is not direct (Muhammad definitely was not a terrorist, ha was clearly leading a war, with regular battles), so that the first answer is clearly no. But fact is too that many Muslims, including respected religious authorities (Mosque of Rome lately) do support terrorism. The basic body of believes behind Islam would sure condemn the cowardly aspect of terrorism, but the concrete political situation do lead a great many Muslims to support, actively or passively, terrorism, as being justified, after all, against the enemy of Islam (today, the US, and the West as a whole). And very little indeed is done to prevent that within the Islamic movement.

  6. Marwan from Ireland

    I am irritated by muslims who deny the aspect of Islam which allows for violence and killing and war. I am a devout muslim, and I never deny that there are times when I am justified in killing. The palestinian bomber are totally justified in their actions, they have no other weapons of such power, they live in desparate times, and I will not write them off as 'terrorists' just because I fear stupid american opinion. May the curse of Allah be upon all kuffar and munafiqeen. Salaam

  7. Akbar Khan from Canada

    Hey Chesley Johnson, those Palestinians dancing on the streets you saw on CNN and other AMerican news networks, when the WTC's were attacked, were videotapes from back in the early 90's being played. Did you know that? For a fact I do, because I rememebr seeing those exact same clips before on CNN. Did you also know that 10 percent of hte people in the WTC's who were victims of hte attacks were Muslims? Did you know this? Wait did you also know that there are Christians who are Palestinians who are dying at the hands of the Israeli's? Did you ever think what they would do to Bethlehem or Nazereth? they have invaded both cities with tanks and shot at building all around there. When you come on here and try to say that Islam is backwards, you fail to realize that Islam has for 1400 years given safety and security to Christians, and Jews alike. Of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, how many of them in Muslim countries go up to Nuns and rip their head covering off, or rape Christian women, or beat Christians to death just because they are Christian, or burn down Churches and send death threats to Muslim families???? ZERO, but you know what, even though Americans, British, Serbs, and anyone else is running around in their countries doing this to Muslims ever since September 11th, 2001, Muslims will STILL NEVER INSULT Prophet Jesus, Peace be upon him, the way Jerry Falwell insults Prophet Muhammad (SAAW), because we honour and respect Prophet Jesus (AS) and love him very much. Can you say the same for Prophet Muhammad (SAAW)? May God give you guidance towards the right path and show you the difference between what is true, and what is false, Ameen.

  8. Bonbitou from U.S.A.

    I don't think you will ever change the mind of theese biggot racist ....We should stop appologising fo been Moslems.We should call pat robrtson jerry falwell robert spencer and their hulks,what a bunch of cowards evil hatemongers who perpetuate hate troughout the world.

  9. abukhadijah from USA

    Very good presentation of the facts. The author attacked this faulty mental premise that Islam encourages and sanction actions of some of my Muslim brothers when they engage in acts that are contrary to the sources of Islamic jurisprudence. On the one hand some Christian fundamentalist say how barbaric Islam is when it decrees cutting of the hand of the thief who is stealing not for food or because he or she is poor and cant afford to buy their sustenence. But the who who intends to unlawfully seize the rights of others by taking what those not belongs to them as one example. However when we read the old testament much of the punishment perscribed therein is the same in the Qur'an, but the fundamentalist does not wish to make mention of thatm yet the call Islam barbaric.

    The Bible perscribe also cutting the hand of hte thief. Even how the evangelicals relentless assault on the dress of the muslim women and contend that the men force their women to dress in this fashion. However Ask the about the dress of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the pious women during the time of Jesus (PBUH)&(PBUT). In the new testament the verses read, it is a shame for a woman to pray with her head uncovered, also in the book of Ephesians, there are verses that read, wives obey your husbands and be silent in the churchm if you have a question wait until you get home and ask your husband. Women are learn in silence and subjection. Do the Evangelical ever mention these and countless other verses that support racism against people of color, The verse reads Slaves obey your masters in the flesh and everyone nearly knows the story of cain and able. Lets study before we leave and as Allah says in the holy book, Let not the hatred of a people seduce you that you deal not justly. Stand out fim for justice even if it be against your own selves.

    AbuKhadijah

  10. Chesley Johnson from USA

    The difference is that Christianity is no longer used to justify slavery, etc. Main-stream, and even conservative, Christian leaders deplore it. There may be a few nut-case sects out there, but they are repudiated by all thorlogically orthodox churches.

    On the other hand, Palestinians cheered in the streets when 3000 americans were murdered by their co-religionists. There may be moderate Muslims out there, but Saudi Arabia, for instance, is packed to the gills with terrorist sympathizers. America keeps a close eye on the KKK, and throws members in jail for violent acts. Let the Arabs do the same.

  11. OsManli from Canada

    There is no such thing as muslims killing innocent people. Once we muslims except this blatent KAFIR lie, then THEY have succeeded in their efforts of open aggression against islam and its people! It is 100% clear that 9-11 was an inside USA military operation, aided by the israelis, to prosecute the neoconservative agenda of invasion in the mid-east and central asia, at the same time creating a owrld wide "new" enemy of "islamic" "terrorism".

  12. ahmedabul from USA

    The author forgot to mention that the evangelicals and the neo-cons use the Bible to justify Israeli occupation of Palestine. They fund and support illegal settlement activity. They are also against peace and all "road maps" (refer to their recent convention to oppose the road map). They support directly or indirectly the violence and terrorism against Palestinians fighting for their just cause against occupation. They also supported the illegal war against Iraq for the "security" of Israel. All this in the name of the Bible so that the return of Prophet Jesus (pbuh) could be quickened. There are numerous books and articles written about their beliefs and their activities.

  13. Abul from USA

    There seems to be no justice for the oppressed of the world. If the oppressed peoples are given their due rights they would not resort to violence especially not to suicide bombings. The UN has become defunct and impotent in this regard. It is there only to serve the interests of its most powerful members. The right to veto is so undemocratic. Now who is there to defend the rights of these oppressed peoples - Palestinians, Iraqis, Chechnyans, Kashmiris, Afghanis, etc.? The US, Israel, India, Russia, etc. have all the WMDs and other powerful weapons which they use frequently - these nations have terrorized and killed so many and continue to do so in the name of self-defense or in the defense of their economic interest - even at the cost of so many innocent lives? If you were in the situation or circumstances of these oppressed people, what would you have done if no body listened to you? You look for help and what you get is only fake UN resolutions, fake promises, etc. and all this time your people are being killed, and denied their most basic rights. These oppressed people have resorted to violence in despair because we have failed them. Yes, we have all failed them. Some for their helplessness, others for their indifference, still others for their selfish interests. It is an insult to injury when their legitimate struggle is termed terrorism.

    So what is the solution to their problems? Their genuine problems must be addressed immediately in a just manner. All UN resolutions must be implemented without delay even if they are against powerful countries like Russia, Israel, and India - just like they did for the people of East Timor.(But then Indonesia is a very weak nation.)

    The other solution is to provide arms to those oppressed people who are fighting the most powerful armies in the world. Lets remove the sheer imbalance that exits and which forces these people to resort to violence and suicide bombings.Mind you there can be no peace without justice.

  14. hamidjames from usa

    I like most of what is said in this article except for a paritcular example presented. Namely the "suicide" bombers in Israel. The palestenians have the right to defend themselves by the means they judge necessary. They have no other means to protect themselves and stop israley soldiers from attacking and destroying their entire community. Israelis who come from other nations and take over palestinian land and homes have nobody to blame but themselves if they are attacked. If their children are attacked it is also their responsibility. If someone comes and takes over your home and then brings his entire family to live in it, then you are left on the street to die, what will be your reaction??? In addition, if the palestinians are given weapons to defend themselves and enough to stop isralei soldiers then they will not resort to killing themselves, they can shoot to kill, just like isralei soldiers do. It is inexplicable that soldiers killing civilians is somehow morally acceptable, while if a civilain protecting his family kills his attackers by sacrificing himself is somehow jugded immoral.

    The palestinians situation is unique, they struggling against occupation. The pro-israeli media have used (9-11) and other islamically unacceptable bombings to confuse people and make it seem that what they are experiencing is also unacceptable. However, they say that targeting one to two people using missiles in crowded-Ghaza, killing 10s and injuring 100s, is justified.