Part Two: Islam Must be Met
by a Stronger, Rational Philosophy
Most Westerners seem to believe that what will save us from radical Islam is moderate Islam. Being opposed to Islam itself would be too mean. You see, we Americans want Muslims to have their religion. We totally adore that they dress differently and have unique religious practices. Just please leave the terrorism at the door. If Muslims could just design a new variant of Islam that is terrorism-free, then the entire world would be happy.
This position comes utterly naturally to Westerners due to the way they view their own religion. The dominant religion in the west is Christianity. Most Westerners however are quite secular. But since Christianity is popular and few want to be unpopular, they self identify themselves as Christian. Meanwhile, they do not go to church, read the Bible, or live their life as a Christian. Thus they want Muslims to be Muslim in the same way they are Christian: in name only.
It is true that there are many people who self identify themselves as Muslim who are very decent people. Many are smart, loyal, caring, even patriotic! There are charismatic Muslim characters on television such as Abed from Community. Most seem to agree that Muslims in America are different than Muslims elsewhere in the world. This article seeks to explain how a Muslim becomes a decent person and why they are particularly decent in America.
First, it needs to be stated: Islam is a violent religion. There is nothing of redeemable value in it. Mohammed was a psychopathic warlord who raped women, murdered people, and ordered others to murder people. The Koran outlines how Mohammed’s wife did not want him to sleep with (read: rape) a slave he owned, but he told her Allah told him he was allowed. Hence to hell with his wife’s wishes! Islam was one gigantic excuse for Mohammed to do what he wanted in the name of religion. The Koran itself is one long vitriolic speech against infidels. Over and over again, believers are described as good while infidels are evil. There are clear calls to fight against infidels (not just historical stories of how infidels were killed) until they either convert; live as second class citizens; or are killed. The Koran makes it clear that the world is to be “all of God’s.”
No amount of watering this down will make a person good. At best, a person can evade, deny, or not listen to what is written in the Koran. But to make a person actually decent, they must have been influenced by some other, better, more rational philosophy.
I want to take a look at two men I knew, both very decent human beings, who were Muslim.
One was a retired U.S. Marine Officer. Like all retired Marine Officers I know, he was larger than life in every way. When they get out of the Marine Corps, many Marines’ exercise habits change but their eating habits often do not. Thus, they are round. They are not amorphously overweight like some are but round. His voice was loud and bellowing. You could hear him from several doors down the hall. He was extraordinarily extroverted and humorous. As far as how he treated his wife, I did not know him very well personally, but I do know he instructed his sons not to forget her on Valentine’s Day.
The other I only knew at a surface level. He was a boy, about 15 or 16, who was being awarded his Eagle Scout. An Eagle Scout is the highest merit in the Boy Scouts. I only attended the ceremony, but he was one of the few Scouts to give a speech due to his exceptional performance. His speech was endearing and his family seemed nice. Grandma had a head scarf on but mom and granddaughters did not.
Both of these men are not just decent but good men. But please notice something about both of them: they were influenced by another, better philosophy.
The retired Marine officer was obviously influenced by the Marine Corps. Marines have superb values, if not the best values. The Marine Corps is widely regarded as the branch of military service that holds itself to the highest standards. I have worked with Marines and I can attest that the idea that they are “strong but stupid” is total crap. They are bright, listen to what you say, and reliable. The Marine Corps is smaller than the other services so Marines have to do a lot with a little. This scrappiness begets initiative, independent thought, and creativity.
The boy was influenced by the values cultivated in the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts are an extraordinary organization. They seek to give young men good values. They raise men to not only be courteous and friendly but also heroes by giving them real skills to deal with challenges in life effectively (such as reading a map, tying a knot, etc.). The Boy Scout Law is that, “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.” The Boy Scout motto is to “Be Prepared.” These are wholesome, decent, and good values.
These men are good men because of the values they adopted into their life and lived—values cultivated by healthy organizations such as the Marine Corps and the Boy Scouts, not Islam. People are influenced by a wide variety of philosophies and the sum of their character cannot be summarized so simply as a sliding scale of moderate to extremist. Indeed, there was nothing “moderate” about either of the men. They were both exceptional in what they did. The boy in particular was extremely excellent for he received high commendations at the ceremony.
Similarly, nearly every accomplishment from the Muslim world was due to the influence of another, better philosophy. Take for instance that certain contributions in Algebra are accredited to Muslims. But the person who did this was Iranian. Another person usually referenced when naming Muslim achievement is a man named Razi. Razi made contributions in medicine, alchemy, music, and philosophy. Razi was also Iranian. He was so hostile to Islam that he actually wrote books denouncing faith.
The reason that they are Iranians is important is because the Iranians have a long history that values education and tolerance. It was this cultural influence that created these men who were capable of great achievements. Islam, a violent cult, simply cannot.
A similar Aristotelian influence impacted the Muslim world from about 700 – 1200 AD.
It seems by “moderate” what people really mean is “peaceful.” And “extremist” means “violent.” But if this is what they mean, why not define it as such? Nothing about “moderation” implies “peace.” By begging for a “moderate” Islam, really what they want is an Islam that does not take specifically the Koran so extremely, thereby admitting that the Koran is violent. The language is sloppy and effectively negates the fact that other, better philosophies cause people to be peaceful not simply “moderation.”
It seems to be widely accepted that Muslims in America are much more decent people than Muslims elsewhere in the world. I propose this is for two reasons: freedom of religion and economic opportunity.
It makes a huge difference if a person is Muslim or not if they are forced into it or not. Muslim countries force people to wear Muslim dress, parents must name their children with Arabic names (the language of Mohammed), etc. Islam in fact can only thrive under this situation: where it is forced. If they don’t have to incorporate Islam into their lives, a person is far more likely to turn from it completely or almost completely. Indeed, many new Muslim immigrants to America may wear Muslim dress but second and third generations typically do not.
There is something else in America however that allows Muslims to assimilate, whereas in almost every other country they do not. In America, they have upwards economic mobility. If they work hard and/or go to school, they can make something of themselves. It doesn’t take very long to realize that working hard and getting a nice house, car, etc., beats living in squander praying to Allah 5 times a day. Most other countries do not have this. For instance, France is developing a “Muslim problem.” Muslims riot in the streets; vandalize stores; etc. France does not have upwards economic mobility. Most of Europe is comprised of gigantic “good old boys’ clubs” (which are frequently comprised of women) where entering them requires you know someone. As such, Muslims remain poor.
A moderate Islam is not the answer. A moderate Muslim is one who simply does not take the Koran very seriously. These people are not our enemy but they are not our hope either. Moderate Muslims have been notoriously silent. Of the ones who are verbal, they fully admit that the Koran is violent. Moderate Muslims are simply ones who ignore or evade the Koran. When other Muslims commit violence in the name of Islam, how will the moderate Muslims know if they are being true to Islam or not? They have no idea.
If Islam is to be tamed, we cannot just water it down. It must be met by an equally strong or stronger, better philosophy. To remove the threat of Islamic terrorism, Islam must be intellectually discredited. In its place must be an enlightened philosophy: one that advocates reason, freedom, and a strong and decent morality.
September 19, 2010