"I am 12 years old and I memorize the Koran"

If you want to know what is wrong with the Arab world, if you wonder if a rational peace process can really progress, if you question whether Palestinian/Arab perennial indignation are more the effects of political marginalization or of the religious cancer that has now eaten into the vital organs of the Arab political anatomy, go have a look at some of these videos and transcripts:

http://www.memri.org/video/

Here you will see evidence of a culture (both religious and political) that is anti-rational, that does nothing to teach, encourage or safeguard any standard of detached analytical thought. You will see:

  • A Syrian Ramadan TV special (like a Christmas special but w/o Jimmy Stewart!) in which we see Jews doing what, you know, Jews do–murdering gentile boys to get blood for the matzoh, pouring molten lead into the open mouth of a non-Jewish man, the usual.
  • How to use your rod to instruct and discipline your wife (like Oprah, but with a big wooden stick!) and careful instruction on how you should not (you brute!) beat her around the face if, in fact, she must be beaten (which will probably be necessary at some point).
  • Discussion from the former head of the Palestinian Liberation Army (appointed under the more, ahem, moderate previous regime) on how Jews believe that all non-Jews were made from horse sperm, and how he would know…. he read it himself in the Talmud!
  • A Palestinian father explaining how he was delighted to give up his four oldest sons as suicide bombers and can hardly wait for his twelve-year old to get his own license to explode himself and some civilian Jews.

People, we are not dealing with mere political alienation. We are dealing with a religious culture that has merged into Arab nationalism to make a toxic compound that is primarily religious (and racist).

And the frightening thing in all of this is that it does not require a distortion or corruption of the Koran for them to get where they are.

“Fight those from among the people of the Book, who believe not in ALLAH, nor in the Last Day, nor hold as unlawful what ALLAH and HIS Messenger have declared to be unlawful, nor follow the true religion, until they pay the tax considering it a favour and acknowledge their subjection.”

That message–unremitting warfare against those outside of Dar al Islam–is written all over the Koran. I’ve read two copies under the tutelage of two dear Persian friends who were trying to show me the good side of the Koran, this message or some variation of it is written on every indignant, spazzed out, humourless page.

And what we see right now–burning down embassies over a cartoon in an obscure newspaper–is only one manifestation of this. (BTW, I am with Mark Steyn in wondering–where does one find a Danish flag on a Thursday afternoon in Damascus? Are there Muslim flag stores carrying all varieties of infidel paraphanalia on the assumption that at some point there will be demand for burning parties?).

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13 thoughts on “"I am 12 years old and I memorize the Koran"

  1. Ironically, the most open and ‘liberal’ media outlet other than the internet that the Arabs have is probably Al Jazeera.And by the way, it’s not like there isn’t plenty of fiery passages in the Bible where unbelievers are slaughtered on mass or punished in the most heinous ways. It might be hard for you to register this but Islam is actually unusual in that it recognizes that Judaism and Christianity have some merit- a Muslim accept the Judaic prophetic traditions and sees Jesus as a messenger of God. The reverse isn’t true of Christianity or Judaism- there traditional theology doesn’t recognize Muhammad as a holy man. And while you pull that one passage out of context for the purposes of your rant against Islam, if you bother to look you can find passages talking about respecting people of the book and how a person can’t have religion thrust upon them- they have to choose it themselves.

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  2. I agree with you about Al Jazeera, Akeel. It is unfortunate that the Bush administration designated Al Jazeera as an enemy. It indicates the limits of American commitment to democracy in the Middle East.It is true that Islam is more tolerant than Christianity or Judaism. One needs to keep in mind, however, that in spite of its Judeo Christian roots, modernity is not Judeo Christian. The real strength of modernity is secularization, which is the foundation of religious freedom.The problem is not that some people are Muslim and others are Christian. The problem is that some people use religion coercively.I have a lot of sympathy for downtrodden people who organize themselves religiously. Intolerance, however, is not liberating. Intolerance only brings about tyranny.

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  3. <>It is true that Islam is more tolerant than Christianity or Judaism.<>This is not true. Islam is far less tolerant than either Christianity or Judaism. I’m really trying to keep an open mind on this, but you have me scratching my head on this one Hellmut. I simply cannot imagine what would motivate you to make that statement. Apparently, you actually believe it.Akeel is very uninformed about passages in the Bible that describe atrocities. <>Describing<> an atrocity that happened — even justifying the atrocity by claiming that God commanded it — is vastly different than the Koran’s <>prescriptive<> statements authorizing and directing violence against “infidels.”And when Akeel elevates Islam with the statement that Islam holds that religion cannot be forced on anyone, he does so (apparently) under the assumption that we in the West are uninformed enough about Islam to actually believe that. He probably figures noone around here has heard of certain hadith or other teachings of Islam. Maybe Akeel would like to explain the specific hadith currently being discussed at < HREF="http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2006/03/is-blasphemy-bunk/#comment-48939" REL="nofollow">this link<> for starters. I am interested to see what Akeel will say about that. (And maybe Hellmut can give it a shot too since he apparently believes Islam is more tolerant than both Judaism and Christianity. A better experiment might be for Hellmut to attempt going to a Christian church service in Saudi Arabia.)Akeel, I am sorry but the evidence is simply against you. However, if Islam ever grows out of burning down embassies and threatening genocide in reaction to a few simple (and not even that offensive) cartoons in a far away newspaper of a free people, then maybe you will have some basis for your position.

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  4. I’m with John. There’s crazy stuff in the Old Testament, but modern, mainstream Christianity doesn’t take much of it as normative. The Spanish Inquisition was a long time ago. How long do we have to wait for Islam to catch up?(Look, I have a lot of respect for Islam, but death-for-apostasy is B.S. with a capital B for Bamyan Buddhas.)

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  5. I am referring to comment 8 in that link, which quotes the hadith in question (for some reason the link did not go straight to the comment).Akeel, while you are at it, would you mind explaining to me why a good friend of mine in Oxford literally feared for his life at the prospect of returning home to his Muslim family and community in Kosovo after having converted to Christianity in England? Why do we have this case in Afghanistan where a man could possibly be sentenced to death for converting to Christianity? Why do Muslim clerics from Egypt to Saudi Arabia all the way to Iran and Indonesia teach people how to properly beat women by striking them on the bottom of the feet and by using other such techniques? I am sure you will answer that all of this is merely “propaganda” that our free press is telling us — pure lies calculated to insult Islam.In my younger, more naive days, I used to love Islam, and the idea of it. It seemed such a holistic and uplifting religion. Then I actually read in the Koran; watched the news; dealt with situations where people’s lives were in danger because they had converted to Christianity from Islam; read about the schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan; observed the methods and teachings of the Taliban; observed the attacks on 9/11; observed with close interest the second intifada and read about the first; observed Muslims slaughtering each other in Iraq over petty sectarian differences that in reality, noone should have to die over; and there is much much more. Explain these things to me please without saying that it is all just propaganda created by the West’s free media (because I have read about these things in the US, German, and French media, and see the same things reported in all of them. Therefore, you have a massive burden of proof to overcome these things.)

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  6. It’s not reasonable to credit Christianity for modernity. Liberty, democracy, and secularism are features of modernity, which Judeo-Christians Europeans did not enjoy for sixteen hundred years.Seriously, would you rather be a Spanish Jew before or after the fall of Grenada? The origin of the Spanish inquisition was about determining the true allegiance of converted Jews. In the face of Christian coercion, the assurances of converts were not credible. Hence Christians resorted to torture.Jews in the Baleares went so far as engraving hams and sausages on their houses to demonstrate their true conversion. Even that did not save them from torture. Under Muslim rule, they did not have these problems. While Muslims considered Jews and Christians second class, they were acknowledged people of the book. The fact that we enjoy greater freedom in Europe and North America today than in the Middle East is not due to Chrisitianity but the merit of the secular nation state.

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  7. HL: I didn’t see anyone around here claiming that Europe and North America enjoy freedom <>because of<> Christianity or that they owe their freedoms to Christianity. Rather, you made the bald and untrue assertion that Islam is a more tolerant religion than Judaism and Christianity. Arguing against that assertion is not the same as arguing that the West enjoys freedom <>because of<> Christianity.Believe me, I have no love for medieval Christianity that reigned with blood and horror on the earth. That was demonstrably a completely apostatized form of the Christian religion, wholly alien to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the New Testament. And I make no excuse for it.But you still haven’t made clear how it is exactly that medieval Christianity’s abuses excuse the blood-soaked nature of modern Islam.

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  8. I am not aware that I excused Islamic violence, John. Islam on its own was more tolerant than Christianity on its own. Jews and Christians were allowed to operated businesses, own land, and practice their religion in the Caliphate. Muslims and Jews enjoyed less rights in Christendom.That’s a historical fact.The tolerance that we are enjoying in the west is not a fruit of Christianity. That’s also a historical fact.If it had been up to Anglicans, for example, then Ronan would not be able to vote. They tolerated dissenters only under duress. The same is true of Jewish emancipation. When Parliament granted Jews rights, Christians were rioting in the streets of London and mobbed members of parliament.It’s also true that Catholics granted religious freedom in Maryland. As soon as Protestants outnumbered them, Catholics lost religious freedom themselves. Henry IV was murdered by a monk for tolerating Hugenots.The list could go on forever. In the Caliphate those where non-issues.To take contemporary conditions and credit them to Christianity is an anachronistic, John. That’s just not how it historically developed. If Christianity was more tolerant than Islam then, we should have been able to observe that before the Reformation. Instead it took until the nineteenth century until most Christian nations afforded their residents more religious freedom than the Ottoman empire.In every case, the dominant Christian religion resisted the state when the latter instituted more tolerant policy. Tolerance was negotiated by politicians rather than theologically justified by scripture or revelation.Eventually, religion accepted the predominance of the state and we were all better off for it.That does not undo the militant preaching of the Qu’ran. It is nonetheless a matter of proper description to acknowledge that Islam provides traditional and scriptural resources for tolerance that the west only acquired when politics deemphasized Christianity.

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  9. HL wrote <>To take contemporary conditions and credit them to Christianity is an anachronistic, John.<>The point you are completely missing somehow is that I am not doing this. I am not crediting contemporary conditions to Christianity. I am saying that modern Islam is not a tolerant religion, and certain not more tolerant than Judaism or Christianity.

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  10. My apologies, John.How do you want to measure the relative tolerance of Christianity and Islam?My argument is that one would have to do that before the emergence of the secular nation state. If that’s the way to do it then there is lots of historical data as well as holy text that shows that Islam generated greater tolerance than Christianity.

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  11. I totally agree with Hellmut that the lack of secularization is the real issue. Looking at the history of the three monothiestic faiths, I think it is correct that Islam has shown more tolerance to the other two faiths than vice versa. The Dhimmi status as well as restricting the rights of non-Muslims was also actually a partial validation of their faith. In contrast, traditional devout Christians and Jews thought of ‘Mohammadens’ as pagans, duped followers of a conman, or devil worshippers. Muhammad being tortured in hell is a theme in Christian art. In contrast, if a Muslim was to portray Jesus as satanic they probably would have been executed for blasphemy. Frankly, I think this religious rejectionist tradition lives on today in some of the religious rights reaction to Islam. You can hear many cultural conservatives nowadays referring to the entire religion as ‘evil’ and ‘satanic’. Yes, there are many Muslims that would describe Christians as ‘evil’ nowadays. But the average traditional devout Muslim would hesitate to do so, since they also rever Jesus and his teachings and view the Bible as a corrupted but still holy book.Of course a critic is going to say- well what about now? Why is Islam so intolerant in modern times? As Hellmut suggests, this has to do with secularization. ‘Christians’ and ‘Jews’ are largely secular nowadays. In the West, the truth is the number of people who are devout and traditionally religious are a definite minority. In most of the Muslim world the ‘devout’ are still the majority. This is the root of the contemporary Islamic world’s relative intolerance.The question of what’s wrong with Islam has some merit. In reality I think it’s a question why Islam hasn’t secularized. The followers of all the other major religions have secularized to a greater degree than Muslims. Why would that be the case? The answer to this is complex, and I hope to address it on my blog at some point 🙂

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