“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Islam...Or Not Islam?

There was a report recently that Canada had begun looking at setting up a SHARIA court. The two FOX journalists were released, after converting to Islam. And, Islam has been the fastest growing religion in America for several years now. Those are some very interesting, and scary facts.

I did some studying of Islam over the last several years. I've attended a few lectures and seminars--religious and non-religious. Here are a couple of facts I remember from those days. Now, please, bear in mind these facts are from the fundamentalist viewpoint, or level. And, let's emphasize, and define, the fundamentalist part. "Fundamental" simply means the basic elements of something, the building blocks if you will--check the dictionary. Here are some facts I discovered during my studies that leave me suspect of almost any claims by Islamic extremists, and even some Islamic government leaders:

First, there are seven levels of hell in Islamic theology. Interestingly, the lowest level is reserved for those who have recanted their faith in Islam--not Jews or Christians. Christians actually rate a higher level than Jews, too. Other Muslims are bound, religiously, to kill those who recant their faith. There may even be legal prohibitions for not doing so--or helping to do so. Makes me wonder what will happen to those two journalists who "converted", should they decide not to be Mulsim. (I seriously doubt the at gunpoint part of conversion really matters in the eyes of their Islamic kidnappers.)

Second, according to their religious tenants, Muslims are bound to struggle to regain any lands that have once been under Muslim control. Those lands, in terms of their religious viewpoint, are and always will be Muslim lands subject to Muslim laws. Makes me wonder what will eventually happen in the Balkans, which were to a great extent under Muslim rule during the days of the Ottoman Empire.

(On a side note, did you know that according to the Koran if I, as a non-Muslim, give a quote from the text I am supposed to be subject to a death sentence?)

Third, under the rules of Islam, no one but Muslims have any real rights. It is legal, and may even be required, to lie, cheat, steal, or even kill a non-Muslim. Testimony or evidence presented by a non-Muslim against a Muslim is not necessarily admissable in a Muslim court , just because they are non-Mulsim. Now, the degree this holds true will vary depending on how fundamental or progressive the viewpoint is in that nation or culture. And, I know this particular facet of Islam has been debated, denied, and/or down played a lot. But, if you go back through history, that is exactly how Islam has been applied in every culture or nation it has held power. Personally, I will take historical fact over theological supposition.

Now, here is my opinion about the future of Islam and America. This opinion is based partially on my studies. It is based partially on my experiences with Islam or the testimonies of the experiences of others. And, ultimately, part of it is just my impressions of where things seem to be going. So, taking all that into consideration, here is my opinion--which I truely hope is wrong--and the reasons for it.

In its essence, Islam is a religion of anger and judgement. More specifically, it is a religion that justifies and makes holy the expression of anger. There is no forgiveness in its theology. There is only retribution and punishment. The only hope offered is to die for the cause. Islam justfies hatred and bitterness. And, it declares that violence and anger are righteous. Islam, in short, makes anger and violence holy.

Unfortunately, America is a very angry nation. We are so polarized that the "reds" and "blues" won't talk or listen to each other. The middle ground of compromise is, for all intents a purposes, gone. Worse, the generation of youth soon to take the reigns of leadership, have had all their expectations and hopes shattered. The "family" is just a word for most of us since we never see each other. This only increases the isolation or rejection that many feel. The "American dream" doesn't exist for many people anymore. It is believed, probably correctly, that social security will not be there for them. The government at all levels is proving it cannot be there to take care of security issues and needs. The job market is drying up, and the economy is turning back.

I believe Islam is growing so fast, especially among dis-enfranchised Americans, because it feeds on, and fuels, this widespread hopelessness and anger. It gives people a religious basis for their anger, and the expression of it. And, I think the American people, particular those of non-Mulim religions, are going to be surprised to see how much power and authority (political, religious, and social) the followers of Islam will have in this country. And, I think that surprise is coming very soon. I think Europeans are just now waking up to this reality.

Go ahead. Pick it apart. Call it all Christian, hate-based rhetoric if you want to. I've stated what I learned. And, I've stated what I think. Take it for what it is. Only time will reveal who is right or wrong. And, like I said, personally I hope I'm wrong.