It is often asserted by Muslims and the liberal left that Islam is a religion of peace. I would like to examine this assertion from a rational perspective to see if the statement in the title is rationally coherent. Of course, I could approach the topic by looking at the practical world and check out what Muslims actually do, today and in the past, but that is not the approach I’m considering today. I would like to strip the assertion to its bedrock and relate to the actual teaching and doctrine of Islam as proclaimed in the Quran and check for logical consistency. If an inconsistency is found, even once, then we can be absolutely assured that the above assertion in the title is incorrect.
Firstly, we require a definition of peace. A word may have different meanings depending on context (and all is semantics). A sound definition is an important necessity and a precursor for rational consistency. If we don’t get this right what follows, in conclusion, is likely to be incorrect. A formal definition of peace states: peace is the absence of conflict. But is this a definition of which all can agree? Muslims, if they are, to be honest, and consistent with Islam, as defined by the Quran, define peace as: “Submission to the will of Allah in order to seek eternal peace and tranquillity”. Therefore, Islam is the definition of peace as experienced by Muslims. Thus, we note that peace, as defined by Muslims, has a biased agenda. To define Islam as peace and then conclude that Islam is peaceful commits the error of circular reasoning and as such the definition is logically unsound. There are Muslims who adhere to the formal definition that peace is an absence of conflict. What havoc can we muster here? They aver that violent acts committed by Muslims represent the actions of fanatical extremists. This assertion is, to put it mildly, total unmitigated bollocks. The Quran contains numerous verses exhorting its followers to commit violence. A poll (The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life) of 38,000 Muslims from 39 countries showed the following opinions. These opinions are not reflective of the ‘radical few’ but the majority of Muslims.
75% of Muslims believe that it is necessary to believe in Allah to be a moral person.
40% want the death penalty for apostasy.
60% want Sharia law to be the official law in their country of residence.
61% want homosexuals should be punished.
60% believe that a wife should obey her husband.
From this, we can see that the problem is not extremism. The problem of Muslim fundamentalism is that it is a fundamental tenet of Islam. Muslims are simply rendering the teachings according to the Quran and so-called extremists are merely conforming and, therefore, are not in conflict with its teachings; they are being true to the word of their God- scary ain’t it?
There is a viewpoint in Islam that Muhammed and the history of Islam should be considered in a historical context. Civilisation has now progressed and we are more ‘enlightened’ because of it. But, is this the case when we consider Islam? Islam has always stated that its teachings represent the final absolute word of God and by extension, its edicts are ABSOLUTELY FINAL. For a Muslim to state that the teachings of Islam are to be taken in historical context is to deny Muhammed’s revelation as final.
A further contention often put forward by Muslims is that Christianity is not a religion of peace. And I would agree with this assertion given the teachings within the Old Testament and historical reality. Hypocrisy is not exclusive to Islam. However, to advance this argument is to bring forth a ‘red herring’. Regardless of whether the contention is true or not is irrelevant to the case we are considering. It is just a sweet distraction and should be considered as such and ignored.
To be a peaceful Muslim requires a particular/peculiar interpretation of Islam that is not in doctrinal tune with its teachings. Tis a matter of cherry picking the Quran’s verses to find what is in accord with a peaceful outlook and blatantly ignoring the many that proclaim death to the unbeliever.
We have covered a lot of ground in this short post. Do you believe in my propositions and conclusions? I have endeavoured to keep the debate within the realm of reason and have tried to avoid the emotional content associated with religious consideration. Whether I have been successful, or not, I’ll leave my gentle reader to judge. Arse.