An extremist Islamic group has called on Australian Muslims to prepare for jihad against anyone standing in the way of an "Islamic superstate".
Radical clerics from the militant Hizb ut-Tahrir group converged on Sydney yesterday to deliver their message - kill Muslims and non-Muslims who threaten the unification of the world's 57 Islamic countries under the one leader.
"If two people are united and a third person comes along and tries to incite disunity . . . kill him," Palestinian Sheik Issam Amera said… "The establishment for Khilafah (Islamic superstate) is an Islamic duty. The evidence for the duty for establishing Khilafah is confirmed in the Koran."
The six-hour session of violent rhetoric came after NSW Police Minister John Watkins called for the meeting in Sydney yesterday to be banned. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock rejected calls to ban the group and demanded more evidence.
"Though European Crusaders may have been sincere, they wandered off from the origins of Christianity when they slashed and burned and forced conversions. Jesus never used violence; neither did he call his disciples to use it...
In contrast, Muslims who slashed and burned and forced conversions did not wander off from the origins of Islam, but followed it closely.
It is a plain and unpleasant historical fact that in the ten years that Muhammad lived in Medina (622-632), he either sent out or went out on seventy-four raids, expeditions, or full-scale wars, which range from small assassination hit squads to the Tabuk Crusade..."
- James M. Arlandson
"We will cut off tongues of those who try to distort Islam with reform and progress - they are serving the west."
- Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abd Al-'Aziz
"Whoever by words, either spoken, or written, or by visual representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly, or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death."
- Pakistani blasphemy law
Islam and jihad
1) Words to consider carefully
"Killing the infidels is our religion, slaughtering them is our religion, until they convert to Islam or pay us tribute."
-- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, 2005
"[Islam] is a rapidly spreading religion because of its cultural and political appeal and its universal message of peace, temperance and the brotherhood of man."
The religion of Islam was begun by a man named Muhammad in the 600's. It has since split into multiple denominations; each the result of different beliefs and interpretations of Muhammad's life and sayings. Islam's practice of jihad is a concept which likewise defies monolithic definition and has taken different forms.
The threats, murders, and international plots being carried out in the name of Islam and jihad are undeniably a part of why the two are so widely discussed in the West today. This violence has become so widespread and integral to the religion (according to terrorists) that it is tempting to let the violence dominate the debate. However that would be a mistake because there is far more to evaluating Islam than being swept away by the terror act of the day, though those must be addressed. And there is much more to Muslim people than murderous extremists bent on world subjugation, though they too must be accounted for.
What is Islam?
3. Prescribed way of life
4. Governmental system
5. Bedouin culture
1. Community -- The chief word Muslim apologist Reza Aslan uses to summarize the many faces of Islam is "community." The welfare of the community, the honor and protection of the community, regulation of the community, submission to the community - all have very high importance in Islamic culture.
2. The word Islam itself means "submission" and submission to Islamic authority is strictly enforced in many Muslim dominated countries. It's been that way ever since the time of its roots in desert Bedouin tribes. From arranged marriages to honor killings, the individual is consistently held in submission to the community. This stands in marked contrast to the individualism, freedom, personal liberties and self-rule that typifies and is cherished by the West.
3. Entwined with its communal aspect, Islam can also be a very prescribed way of life. From livestock exchange rates for brides in more fundamentalist sects, to all the rules concerning what cannot be said, implied, printed, published, or illustrated about the prophet Muhammad, Islam has a plethora of civic and social rules; so many that they comprise their own legal system called Sharia (or Shariah) law.
That a highly controlled culture can appeal at all to freedom-accustomed Westerners is revealed by a Newsweek finding in 2005. It surveyed American and European women who had converted to Islam. While Islam is a generally male-oriented religion, the women stated they were attracted to it because under Islam many aspects of life were "all decided" and little remained for the individual to have to "figure out."
Survey respondents faulted Christianity and the West as being overly burdensome in terms of not having well-defined rules in regard to daily living. These women were more than happy to trade the freedom of choice, or to them the burden of choice, for the security of rigid rules which, if followed, yeilded guaranteed acceptance within the community.
4. Islam is additionally a governmental system, or it can be. There is disagreement among Muslims as to what Muhammad's exact intent was concerning the relationship between mosque and state. This has long been a contentious point between liberal Islam and conservative Islam. To those whom Islam is a governmental system, it is a homogenous mixing of mosque and state, of religion and politics. A crime against one is a crime against the other. Defending one is defending the other.
Saddam Hussein, for example, is missed by very few people, yet his removal by infidel (non-Muslim) forces was perceived by some Muslims as an attack on the religion of Islam itself. That conclusion is misreading the West, of course, or else is a deceitful attempt to enflame resentment against the West. Understanding that some Muslims define Islam that way while others do not helps understand why America is both cheered and jeered across the Islamic world when it has undertaken such acts.
5. In another sense, Islam is Bedouin culture redressed in monotheism. Many Islamic communities or spokesmen still promote the ancient practices of honor killings, arranged marriages, wife beating, death for converting to a different religion, death or persecution for being of a different religion, death for insulting Muhammad, death for drawing a picture of Muhammad, death for being a rape victim, death for stealing, slavery, mutilation, and on and on. Seventh century living is the life pattern for believers of this variety even fourteen centuries later.
6. Lastly, Islam is a theology, but it's theological underpinnings may be its weakest point. Consider the defenders of Islamic theology compared to those of Christianity or Judaism. Establishing Islamic beliefs to be true and historical seems far less important within Islam than is exacting violent retribution against those whom it perceives to be rivals or offenders. Atheists write a book and Christians call for a debate; Salmon Rushdie writes a book and Islamic clerics call for his head. Some artist mocks Christ and Christians petition to cut off his public funding; some artist draws Muhammad and Muslims petition to cut off his life. Such Muslims do not speak for all, certainly, but their voices are loudest from where I'm sitting here in 2011 America.
Whatever your definition of Islam, that which Muhammad preached and enforced with the sword did have at least this benefit: it mimicked the unification that Christianity was bringing to Europe and portions of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. In both cases, Islam and Christianity, people separated by great distances were nonetheless being united by ideas - shared beliefs, values, and goals; albeit different beliefs, different values, and different goals.
So what's the goal here?
I began writing on Islam to facilitate a better understanding of the conditions which led up to the Crusades. This is a humble enough goal and still of importance. (The Crusades did not come out of nowhere, and they did not come from the Bible or Jesus' teachings. They were preceded and largely precipitated by Islamic jihad; in particular the type that demands the death or subjugation of all non-Muslims.) Yet the reason I've let this discussion of Islam and jihad expand into a significant set of chapters is two-fold:
First, western audiences need greater explanation of Islamic history and beliefs. Without knowing the basic background of Muslim faith and history, how can we sort out our own prejudiced illusions from the factual attributes which truly describe the religion and the people? You know of Islamic terrorists from the news; you may also know peaceful Muslims from work or next door. They both describe themselves as Muslim - what gives? I think I can help there.
Second, too many exposés on Islam simply knock down the straw-man of "violent Islam" (sometimes called Islamism, a contentious point itself). Knocking down the straw-man isn't hard to do, and was likely all my first effort achieved. But addressing radical Islam without accounting for other variations of the religion missed the chance to shed light on real quranic Islam; and by extention, missed the chance to compare it with true biblical Christianity. That is a very valuable comparison; and one that is key to the subsequent acceptance or rejection of Islam as the correction/fulfillment of Christianity which it claims to be. I can help there as well.
Let's get started.
"We are at pains not to fight a religious war. The trouble is, our enemies are fighting a religious war, and there is nothing we can do about it."
- Mona Charon
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NEXT : Who speaks for Islam?
WHY THIS CHAPTER?
The initial European Crusades were a response to centuries of Islamic jihad. To better understand why, one needs to know something about Islam and jihad.
Both are in the today's headlines constantly, yet there is still a general lack of awareness as to the their nature, beliefs, and origins.
chapters be of help.