• Condemning Islam is the wrong course


    WASHINGTON,DC: Days after the video appeared of a Jordanian pilot horribly burned to death by an Islamic State death squad, President Obama told the National Prayer Breakfast that all faiths can be “twisted and misused in the name of evil” and that terrorists who profess “to stand up for Islam” are, in fact, “betraying it.” Critics found Obama’s timing offensive and his message about Islam naïve: He should avoid moral equivalence, stop playing the theologian and recognize that Islam has a unique problem with violence and extremism.

    Days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — in which temperatures inside the collapsing World Trade Center reached 2,000 degrees and the bodies of many passengers on the airplanes were consumed by burning jet fuel — George W. Bush took off his shoes, entered a Muslim prayer room at the Islamic Center of Washington, spoke with Muslim leaders and made a short statement. “These acts of violence against innocents,” he said, “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. … The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.”

    On Sept. 20, 2001, speaking to a joint session of Congress, Bush called the teachings of Islam “good and peaceful.” “The terrorists,” he said, “are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself.”

    Later in his presidency, when the charge came that America was fighting a war against Islam, Bush answered that it was radicals who had “spread the word that this really isn’t peaceful people versus radical people or terrorists; that it is really about America not liking Islam.”

    “I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace,” Bush said. “And I believe people who murder the innocent to achieve political objectives aren’t religious people, whether they be a Christian who does that — we had a person blow up a federal building in Oklahoma who professed to be a Christian, but that’s not a Christian act to kill innocent people.”

    Those who long for greater clarity in describing the peculiarly Islamic nature of terrorism (see Bobby Jindal: “Let’s be honest here: Islam has a problem”) should also be clear about something else. They are proposing a fundamental shift in the rhetorical strategy of the war against terrorism. In the Bush/Obama approach, terrorism is an aberration that must be isolated. Critics believe it emanates from Islam and must be expiated. And some urge the president to declare that one of the Abrahamic faiths belongs in a special category of menace.

    There are, of course, consequential historical differences among faiths. It is harder to separate divine law from positive law in a faith where the founder was also a political and military leader — though it was hard enough even in a faith where the founder was killed by political and military authorities.

    But those who wish the president to publicly explore these matters are the ones urging him to act as a theologian. Presidential rhetoric on this issue should not be theological but phenomenological. The vast majority of the world’s Muslims — and an almost unanimous majority of American Muslims — believe their faith to be inalterably opposed to putting people in a cage and setting them on fire, or employing the mentally disabled as suicide bombers, or burying children alive. This is the actual division that matters most, and the rhetorical division that best serves American interests: peaceful people versus the terrorists.

    Most of those urging Obama to assert that Islam is somehow especially flawed among the great faiths have never been closer to power than a fuse box. There is no possible circumstance in which a president could say such a thing. It would cause a global firestorm, immediately alienating Muslim allies and proxies whom we depend on to help fight the Islamic State and other enemies. How would the king of Jordan, for example — a 41st-generation descendant of the Prophet Muhammad — be forced to react? How would the terrorists use such a critique in their own propaganda? Some of the president’s critics are blithely recommending a massive, unforced geostrategic blunder.

    Obama’s speech at the prayer breakfast was cliche-ridden and historically shallow. But its basic framework — pitting true faith against nihilistic violence — will be adopted by every future president. Some of the intense reaction against Obama’s formulation is rooted in a broader fear that he is not serious enough in prosecuting the war against the Islamic State — a concern I share. But the answer is to prosecute that war more vigorously — not complicate it with careless and counterproductive rhetoric.

    © 2015,The Washington Post Writers Group


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    2.   Is it right to be disrespectful towards any religion that we don’t believe in and spit on the image of their founders? 

      It is not right to be disrespectful towards people. But beliefs are not people. There is a difference between being disrespectful and slandering a person and being truthful and stating the facts that can offend someone who hold lies dear.

      Cursing, insulting and being rude reveals our own lack of education, and character.  Muhammad himself used to invoke the curse of Allah on his enemies, sometimes for 30 consecutive days. He even cursed his own uncle and the dead people. We don’t have to follow his example. We can do better. 

      People have to be respected, beliefs don’t have to. Beliefs have o be scrutinized and if found wanting, they should be abandoned.

      Some beliefs are evil. It is absurd to respect them just because someone might get offended. If people are offended by the truth, let them be offended. Truth must be said whether the lovers of lies like it or not. 


    3. Im a non believer in any god. There is a guy Richard Dawkins & since finding out about him & reading what he says & listening to him when he speaks with anyone from any religion, it makes it so clear why i think now like i think. I grew up believing in god as when i was young we had to go to church & also had religious lessons at school. Its called indoctrination. They teach you not to question religion. Well since ive leraned a little during my life i learned a simple question, when someone says you cant question this i ask why. Let them then give you the answer & then make your own mind up.
      If there is a god im sure he wouldnt allow these people to do the things they do especially in the name of god. Then you might get told oh god gave us free will, then ask why. If he is the all knowing surely he would have known that people with free will can & will do horrible things, so surely that person would then say they dont need that much free wil & so adjust it accordingly.
      I could go on & on but i know get rid of all religions in the world & there is then one huge reason less to fight.
      It always makes me laugh when you have to sides fighting & both say god is on their side, now surely they both cant be right.

      • Justaskingseriously on

        Surely both can be right. Let’s take driving a car as a practical example. You can be right in driving your car on the left. And another can be right in driving his car on the right side of the road. Just make sure that you are driving in the right country.
        It does not have to be religion. World wars I and II were not about religion. And yet both sides believed in their reason(s). History, however, made the ultimate judgment by penalyzing the aggressors. But world war I did not stop wars although it was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Do you think that both sides were wrong in believing the reasons for the war(s)? Do you think only one side was wrong? It had nothing to do with their belief in God. And you say you have a way to wipe out all religions to end wars? Communism already tried it. But wars still go on. You might as well try to have some religion just in case you want to be on the right side of whatever, because as surely as there is Good, there is also Evil.
        It was during the first world war that religion made an impact. Soldiers from both sides inexplicably stopped fighting and shook hands to honor Christmas! Why they resumed fighting after that “Silent night, holy night” is for us to conclude that both sidess were correct in fighting for their own reasons. Everybody knows how to drive on the correct side of the road. Yes, even those without a license to drive.

    4. Justaskingseriously on

      In Arabic, Islam means submission. Submission to Allah is a very good thing. It makes followers of Islam committed to doing what Allah wills.

      That is right: there is a problem. Knowing that it is a good thing to submit to Allah, those who submit themselves cannot quite understand why “infidels” do not submit themselves to Allah. A good thing starts being bad when force is applied to make sure that the good thing spreads. Force in any form becomes justified. The submission that follows is tantamount to cowardice.

      Is submission a double-edged sword? Burning a Jordanian pilot in a cage is definitely the ultimate in submission. Even those who are submissive now see that. However, what President Obama saw in his prayer breakfast theologising in Washington D.C. is not the double-edged sword. He saw all religions from his own high horse as horse waste too. It was his version of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream.” He was dreaming. Dream on…

    5. This column from The Washington Post, while it’s about the US situation, is 100 percent applicable to the Philippine situation.
      We Christian Filipinos must never never make the mistake of thinking that Islam as a religion is the reason there are jihadist and extremist Muslims. Islam, while a heretical offshoot of Judaism and Christianity, does not teach cruelty and murder to its followers.

      • Your assertion that Islam is a “heretical offshoot of Judaism and Christianity” is devoid of truth, a mere product of your imagination. There is only One true religion from the very beginning. What do you think is the religion of Adam and Eve, of Noah, of Abraham, of Moses and even of Jesus, peace be upon them all? Was is Judaism or Christianity? Please give your proofs. Or is it Islam, which means submission, surrender to the will of Allah and obedience to His laws? Allah says: “Verily, the deen (religion) for Allah is Islam.” Qur’an 3:19. In reality, both Judaism and Christianity as religions are not mentioned in the Bible nor were mentioned by Moses and Jesus, respectively. Without a doubt, these two religions are corrupted and innovated versions of the true one, which is Islam.

      • Justaskingseriously on

        Alas, everything in our world has a timeline. No one is exempted from this earthly reality. Even if we may not know all timelines of all things, yet we know that there is always a timeline — from the fact that founders of religions and their followers are all subject to time and space.
        Religion comes from the Latin re (again) and ligare (to bind). Obviously there was no such word before Latin was spoken. The story about Adam and Eve is one timeline none of us would have proof of; whatever they had was definitely not religion. You could say they were definitely bound to their Creator just as everyone is bound to our Creator whether you like it or not. We can bind ourselves again to our Creator when we voluntarily bind ourselves. Religion is a term that describes that relationship. If Judaism, Christianity, Islam are now called religions for people of the book, it is because Latin labeled them as religions. Jacob for the Jews and Ishmael for the Muslims did not have religion: properly speaking, they had a relationship with the Creator. So, when the Christians who spoke Greek and Latin, started to categorize these as religions, then we can speak of Judaism first, then the offshoot that became called Christianity, and then the offshoot that started with Mohamed who showed up in history 600 years after Jesus. Peace be upon all people of the book!

    6. Pilipinas has a problem with a lot of people inside MILF and MILF “lost commands”. The problem is with MILF “lost commands” and MILF. The problem is real whether MILF/MILF “lost commands” are atheists or “spaghetti-VishawaKUMbaya” or “virgins plus” — the behavior (kidnapping, IED’s, taga-taga, extortion… in the name of an anti-Pilipinas calling).

    7. I agree. Comdemning Islam is wrong. I think wgat Obama means that the jihadists fanatically twist and misuse Islam.