As rioting and violence once again erupt across the Muslim world in response to a perceived insult against their Prophet, the usual apologists are taking to the airwaves assuring the public that despite appearances to the contrary, Islam is a religion of peace. No scholar of Islam myself, I can only take these individuals at their word. I am certain I speak for many Americans however, when I say that I can’t help feeling a bit skeptical about Islam’s supposedly “peaceful” nature. If, as the Good Book tells us, “By their fruits you shall know them,” then what do the seemingly endless riots, protests, mobs, and murders tell us about this religion?
We are told that the current mayhem unfolding across the Middle East is the result of a movie mocking Islam that is, in the words of our Secretary of State, “disgusting and reprehensible.” While anger at having one’s religion insulted is certainly understandable, the violent backlash that inevitably results after an episode like this tells us that “turn the other cheek” is not a principle that holds much sway with Muslims. When Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was published in 1989 violence erupted across the Muslim world, death threats were made, a fatwa was issued, and the “blasphemous” book was banned in several Muslim countries. Filmmaker Theodore Van Gogh was murdered and nearly decapitated by a Muslim avenger for making a film critical of Islam’s treatment of women. His collaborator Ayaan Hirsi Ali still lives under threat of death for daring to criticize Islam and Mohammed. The Muslim response to Pastor Terry Jones’ “Burn a Koran Day” was violent and bloody, resulting in the death of dozens.
It is hard for Westerners to wrap their minds around such things. America is the land of “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” For American Christians, this means enduring all manner of insults and denigrations of our faith, from a crucifix suspended in urine being publicly funded as “art”, to an elephant dung smeared Mary, to a play depicting Christ and his disciples as gay lovers. And I hardly need list the history of insults and atrocities committed against the Jewish faith.
In her book, Infidel, the aforementioned Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a Somali born Muslim who suffered persecution and subjugation as a Muslim woman) asserts that bloody vengeance is the fruit of Islam, not the result of extremism. She argues that it is the logical consequence of mainstream Islamic teaching. Insult the prophet, off with your head. Dishonor your husband, off with your head. Explore alternatives to Islam, off with your head!
Islam, we are told, means “submission” – supposedly of the voluntary sort – to the will of Allah. But the kind of submission being lived out by the screaming mobs in the streets of Cairo, Tripoli, and elsewhere is not that of the “bondservant” set out in the Bible. It is not the kind of loving obedience born of humility before a graceful savior. Islam’s version of “submission” as it is now being played out around the world looks more like “submit or die.”
The time has come for Americans to come to grips with the implications of an Islam that is on the march worldwide. The goal of the rioters does not appear to be equality, but dominance – a global Caliphate. The Arab Spring has morphed into a winter of bitter discontent. Are we in denial about the true nature of Islam and its implications for religious liberty, political freedom, gender equality, and freedom of speech? Are we so beholden to the P.C. police that we can’t call a spade a spade, can’t ask critical questions?
In the past, America was blessed by relative isolation from these growing threats. This isolation was shattered on September 11, 2001, but eleven years later are we in danger of forgetting? If we don’t come to terms with what we are dealing with, it may soon be too late.