Given the current state of affairs, it seems reasonable to firstly address the doctrine responsible for the current crisis of confidence in organised religion. Even saying that Islam is the most dangerous religion at the current moment strikes a lot of people as controversial, but this is not criticism of a defenseless minority, I’m not talking about the of Muslim minority in the UK (4.4%), I’m talking about blatantly negative practices that are subjugating the minorities in the Arab world. This is a religion of 1.7 billion, there are few other singular demographics that would yield such colossal figures, Muslims really are one of the world’s largest communities. If Islam was a country it would have the largest population in the world. This not anything like the Jewish minority (14 million), we really can’t afford to feel guilty for criticising the doctrinal practices of a community that makes up over 20% of the global population. In the west we have no reservations about scathing criticisms of Christianity, it’s time to extend this level of intolerance towards bad ideas in the Muslim faith. This isn’t to say all Islamic ideas are bad, far from it, but taking a moral relativist approach towards honour killings, jihad and executing apostates is not going to get us anywhere we want to go. If we find ourselves tacitly journeying into the heart of Islamic jurisprudence through cultural tolerance we’ll have few reasons to be surprised as we look back through the smoke and rubble.
The first fact that needs to be addressed is the sheer number of adherents that are in fact Islamists. There’s often an assumption that when we talk about Islamic extremism we’re talking about a few thousand neurotic fatalists, in reality, it’s far more sinister and widespread than that. A study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, analysing 61 elections in the Islamic world over 4 decades showed that Islamist candidates got 19.3% of all votes. True, this is a minority, but it’s uninspiring nonetheless. This seems like as good a barometer for Islamism in the Arab world as any. When a fifth of voters are keen to elect a theocrat then we have a flagrantly theocratic problem. This translates to over 300 million people keen to leave Governmental jurisprudence to an outdated, immoral, factually inaccurate handbook. Sadly, predictably, this has led to the election of genuinely deranged fundamentalists into national parliaments. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban were democratically elected representatives and the pro-islamism referendum that saw Erdogan wrestle democracy into theocracy is just the latest example.
A further demonstration of Islam colliding with Western liberalism is the highly concerning polling with regards to homosexuality. Let’s be generous and put aside the fact that a gay man in Palestine, Afghanistan or Iraq will be murdered for his insolent sexual preference and instead focus on the polling of Muslims in the comparatively liberal UK. In the 2009 Gallup Coexist Index, 500 Muslims were asked whether homosexuality was morally acceptable and frankly I’m as surprised as anyone that 0 of these 500 participants said “Yes”. Literally every single one independently confessed that such an act was morally unacceptable. Just how does this tie in with Western liberalism? One is inclined to say it doesn’t.
A frequent defence of Islam is that it must just be misunderstood, the advocation of violence is merely circumstantial or allegorical. After all, the bible and torah seem to be just as gratuitously barbarous, and yet, have evaded homicidal, terroristic and genocidal responsibility while Islam has become increasingly synonymous with such acts. But there are some clear discrepancies that are likely at the root of this problem. First, is the issue of Muhammad’s biography. Muhammad was not a peaceful man, he was closer to Genghis Khan than Buddha or Jesus. He was a genocidal maniac who actually succeeded in spreading his message by the sword. Saying this shouldn’t be at all controversial, this evidence for his crimes can be found within Islamic texts ad nauseam. The Quranic nudge towards violence is far too consistent and sinister for me to want to cite and recite unabridged but the line “paradise is found in the shadow of the sword” should paint a clear picture.
The issue with Islam is that it’s yet to overcome the taboo of criticism. The taboo phase of Christianity is history, that’s why no matter what I say about Christian doctrine I’ll never be called a christianophobe. I’ve never been called a racist for saying Dianetics is a bad read and yet so much as a criticism of Allah’s conquests is met with a slanderous backlash and forces us to walk on eggshells around the fatal issue of religious extremism.
Regardless of what apologists say in defence of their faith it is abundantly clear that triumphalism and Jihad are central themes of Islamic doctrine. It really is not difficult to derive the beliefs of ISIS from reading the Qur’an, it requires no mental gymnastics or linguistic folly to discern a violent message from the following Qur’anic passage:
“And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief) is worse than killing… but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah and worship is for Allah alone.”
From this passage, and 108 violent verses just like it, it is a fairly straight line to religious extremism and violence. But as many people recognise, violence and slaughter are key features of most religious texts, which begs the question: why does this violence materialise in the Islamic faith? It is the aforementioned triumphalist worldview that likely brings about 21st Century Jihad. The line “O people! No prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born”. This categorical opposition to other global religions is as clear and compelling a factor as any other. The violence stems from an absolute unwillingness to assimilate with non-Islamic societies or even accept their existence. Of course, the differentiation between Islam and Muslims is of vital importance and significant interest. Islam can be defined in 3 ways:
- The actions of its adherents
- Its scripture e.g Qur’an and hadiths
- The example displayed by Mohammed
Sadly, at this time in history, our only hope lies in the actions of the 1.7 Billion Muslims. The blood-drenched scripture will not be rewritten, Mohammed cannot undo his crimes. It truly is up to the contemporary moderates of Islam to establish their faith as a non-violent religion, such attitudes will not shine through by honouring its scriptural legacy.