A loving God?
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist
"Another servant of Allah", strangely, sounds similar to "A". Many words and few to the points. Saying: "... many hundreds of thousands of non-Muslims who have converted recently in the West..." proves nothing about Muslims or Islam, and btw, where are the official statistics? Anyone (even a Muslim) can tell you many more have converted from Islam to other religions:
But these numbers are not that important, even if they're true. A lot more people in the world drive Hondas and Toyotas than BMWs and Mercedeses. Does that fact make a Honda better than a BMW? Christianity has more adherents than any other religion in the world, does that make it better than others?
It's all about personal choice and belief. There are several factors influencing one's belief, in religion as well as in any other choice in life. If people don't kill each other because of their choice for cars or clothes, then why shouldn't it be the same with their choice of religions? Yet many have killed and died because of their belief.
Religion is supposed to be a matter of choice of belief. Which God my friends believe in is irrelevant to me as a friend - his/her belief is as valid as anybody else's. But obviously certain Muslims don't think so:
Intolerance to other religions:
"The driver of the vehicle ordered his men to shoot. Amar tried to lunge at them but was restrained. The assailants pumped six bullets into his head and heart, shouting: "Allah Akubar (God is great)".
Intolerance to Muslims who converted to other religions:
"From its inception, Islam has rigorously sought to prevent its adherents from choosing any other faith. Such apostates are regarded as traitors and - according to shari'a (Islamic law) - should be executed."
Also, saying "If Muslims were as mendacious and unfair...you would see hundreds of Muslim-run websites in which we would simply cut and paste a google news search for one day worth of stories..." is exaggerating, emotionally defensive, and full of false assumptions.
The truth is, I've never read anything from atlasshrugs or any other related links before this post by David. This link came from a Google search, and was used as a convenient "source". Everyone probably has a view on Muslims and Islam just as on anything else, and so do Muslims on other religions, and that view doesn't necessarily come from one source or another. It's just an opinion formed over accumulated experience, evidences, news, and other sources throughout one's life. Some of these sources may be truthful and accurate, and some may not. Still, one's opinion and understanding of the world are nonetheless influenced by them to some degree, and rational people will try to ensure their sources of information are factual, but there's a limit to that. And an opinion is, after all, just a personal belief that may change with time or new facts. Who's to say one's belief is stronger, or better than others'? But of course many religious fanatics do.
First of all, I certainly don't allow any single source to shape my view on any subject. In fact, I think the things that atlasshrugs wrote about President-Elect Obama were full of s**t. Second, nobody (neither David nor I) said anything about "all Muslims were mendacious and unfair". We both referred to Muslim terrorists/radicals who killed innocent people (even their own kind) in the name of God, and who used religion to advance their own selfish, cruel ambitions and deadly hatred. Third, who stops Muslims from running an English-only website? Fourth, who can read and understand Muslim-run sites written in Arabic (except native Muslims) to know for sure such stories are not reported? And last, why bother? There are already thousands of English (and other languages) websites taking care of those stories. It's not a crime, for example, for Christians or Bhuddists to criticize certain aspects of their religions, or the teaching/propaganda of those religions, or even the religious founders, and they won't be considered traitors for doing so either. Is this true for Islam?
The fact is that cartoonists and writers don't normally receive death threats for drawing, or writing about, and/or criticizing Jesus or Christianity, but Danish cartoonists and other writers about Islam frequently do. The fact was that on 9/11/01, many Muslims in the Middle East (including many youths) were seen on TVs everywhere in the world cheering the fall of the World Trade Center and the death of thousands of innocent people. The fact has been that, since that fateful day, many radical Muslims have tortured, beheaded, bombed, and gunned down many more innocent people. True, not all Muslims behaved that way. There are good and bad people in every religion. There were many moderate Muslims who were silent, but probably saddened by what they saw. At least I want to believe so. A religion doesn't commit a crime, people who follow it the wrong way, or who abuse it, do.
I don't believe in "guilty by association". But many moderate Muslims remained oversensitive, defensive, and probably intimidated to speak out against those Islamic extremists, so they remained silent. And that might send the wrong signal to the rest of the world that they approve those actions. There are Christian (and other) terrorists too, but once they committed a crime, they're openly condemned. We don't hear things like "the Christian communities blamed these heinous acts on other "complicated" factors, including the fact that many non-Christians don't understand and learn enough about Christianity." Let's face it, bad guys are bad guys, no matter what culture, what religion, what country or what race, and should be viewed and dealt with for who they exactly are.
I came to David's defense because he's upset with the Islamic extremists (not the whole Islam world), and rightfully so. And instead of denouncing those radical Muslims you instead went on the defensive, unnecessarily, for the whole Islam. It's not about all Muslims or Islam, it's about those particular Muslim thugs. Acting defensively and illogically won't help the cause and progress of Islam, or any other religion for that matter.
Despite what religious fanatics believe, nobody has seen God, it's just a mental image in their minds. We're all mortal human beings and should deal peacefully with one another as we physically exist. Who cares if your belief is different than mine. I believe, if there is a God, then there may be only one God whose name and image vary from one religion to another. Sadly, some evil people took advantage of the blind faith of uneducated, intimidated followers of religions to commit horrendous acts in the name of God.
For people to be interested in something, it has to appeal to their senses, taste, preferences, or at least to their intellectual curiosity. Many Americans buy American cars, but many other Americans also buy Japanese and European cars, because they appeal to them one way or another (economically, technologically, aesthetically, etc.) Certain aspects of Christianity, Hinduism, Bhuddism, Taoism, and Confucianism appealed to me through conversations with my friends, which aroused my curiosity. We might occasionally tell each other about our religions, but none has ever said their God is superior, or is the only true God, or tried to persuade one another to convert to a different religion. And we all could still be good friends even with vastly different religious backgrounds.
Any religion that claims that their God is the only true God and denounces and/or antagonizes other religions is certainly not tolerant, not peaceful, not progressive, and not worth studying as far as I'm concerned. If something has true merits it'll come through naturally. There are plain rocks everywhere, but who's interested in them? But a little diamond appeals greatly. It's not quantity that counts, it's quality.
Moderate Muslims might be interested in this link: http://www.reformislam.org. It seems to have right approach. When someone in a family does something wrong, shouldn't that person be criticized, corrected, and/or disciplined? It's irrational to blame this person's wrongdoing on outsiders who "don't understand" the family. The same goes for larger communities and organizations. Moderate Muslims should stand up against the aggression and cruelty of radical Islamic fundamentalists instead of complaining about outsiders. Prove that Islam is a peaceful and tolerant religion.
On a personal note, from http://www.abcog.org/cislam2.htm:
"The power of God, especially in regard to predestination, being brought out into such strong prominence in the Koran, it is not surprising that fear and passive resignation, rather than love and active devotion, appear to be the prevailing attitude of the Muslim mind towards Him. This is indicated by the very name of their religion, `Islam' or `resignation to the will of God."
I wonder, why "fear God"? Isn't God all-knowing and all-loving? A misbehaving child may occasionally get punished by his parents, but normally he won't grow up fearing his parents, because normally he loves them, and he knows his parents love him. Fear and resignation may only create haters, submitters, surrenders, or, at best, blind followers, not creative leaders and contributors. Why not embrace a loving God instead of fearing him? Again, just my opinion.