September 15, 2010

The Truth About Islam

Posted in books, church, spirituality at 2:25 am by jimazing

The heightened interest in the “truth of Islam” should not be a surprise with anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by Islamic Fundamentalists, the threats of Qur’an burning and of course the ongoing battle about whether or not a Mosque should be allowed near the ground zero site.  That it is part of the conversation does not bother me.  What bothers me are the presentations created for the sole purpose of stirring people up; a common technique used to motivate groups of people to action by touching sensitive triggers… especially fearful ones.

coexistBetween Facebook and the inevitable email forwards, I notice a definite trend towards more presentations of the “truth” about Islam.  These presentations are full of facts and often well produced.  The slick way they present the information is a hook to the reader/watcher/listener.  The web presentation I saw last night really drew me in.  It was compelling because of the way it “painted” words on the screen as they were spoken.  Very nicely done… and the information seemed accurate.  I have not read the Qur’an, so I cannot actually speak to its accuracy, but I was pleased that they encouraged people to read it for themselves for confirmation.

What I have read is Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, which I highly recommend.  Mortenson has humbly served the people of Afghanistan for many years now.  He builds schools for them so they can learn.  Why?  Because it turns out most of them are illiterate.  Illiterate people in a country that is overrun with fear and extremism. It turns out, these Islamic Fundamentalists who hate us so much do not hate us because of the Qur’an tells them to hate us, they hate us because they are taught to hate us by people who were taught to hate us by people who were taught to hate us by… They cannot read the Qur’an and neither can their radical Islamic “teachers”!  What the Qur’an literally says is irrelevant when the people we are discussing cannot read it.

Back to the web presentation… one of it’s main points was how radical Muslims are more aligned with the words of the Qur’an than moderate Islam.  As if we should discount the moderate voices and let the extremists be the true representatives. In most any religion, the radicals are the ones quoting chapter and verse to support their teachings?  Fundamentalist fringe groups are always so stuck on “being right” that they

  1. Lose sight of the big picture.
  2. Decide what is more important than anything else
  3. Take a stand on whatever that is
  4. Draw a line to determine who is in and who is out
  5. Turn against or wage war on everyone on the other side of that line

As a Christian, I personally do not want to be defined by any of the Christian fringe groups.  In fact, as a person, the only way I want to be defined is that I am myself.  If someone wants to know what I believe, they should ask me.  Don’t put me in a box with someone else that calls themself a Christian.  There are many “Christian boxes” and so far as I can tell, I don’t fit in any of them perfectly.  (Note to self… practice what you preach).

Let’s characterize the greater Islamic community, not by what their ancient writings say, but by the way they translate it into actions.  How do we do that?  Observe.  Ask.  Listen.  The vast majority of Muslims are peaceable people.  Most of them reject the violence of the radicals. To lump them all together with the radical factions is to invite them to lump people like me in with the likes of Fred Phelps (no link provided… look him up if you are interested).  It is not a fair representation. As Emerson might have said (or not) What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you your sacred text says.

Lastly, I abhor the use of fear as a motivator in any context.  I especially despise it with religion.  The present move to frighten people about Islam is gaining momentum and it will backfire.  Stirring up hatred is not a Christian concept. Did not Jesus say to “love your enemies”?  What would he do?


  1. The most revolutionary words in the history of our world were those that came forth from Jesus’ mouth as recorded in Matthew 5,6,7. He has done more with the sword of his mouth to set mankind aright than all the sharp swords of christendom or joshua or islam put together. His cutting edge separates corrupt soul from infinite Spirit; its surgery lasts eternally and its power is perfect love and it does stir up that love in the hearts of men instead of hate.
    Thanks for sharing, jimazing–great way to start my day. Now I’m going watch the link.

  2. Yep. Now I’ve watched the lesson you posted on sharia, taqqiyah etc, and I’m definitely sticking with the Jesus definitions and instructions in this “religion of peace” conversation.

  3. Hi NB. I enjoyed your posting today. I am reading it over and I have watched the video presentation. I have associated with many who ‘quote chapter and verse’ and have found them rigid and unbending. I despise that kind of religion, whether, Muslim, Hindu, Christianity… Alternately, I have associated with many who ‘quote chapter and verse’ and have found them to be no less sure of the Truth they observe, while being very loving and respectful. I covet that kind of faith-walk.
    It has always been my aim to be a part of the latter group. It has been my experience that if one does not stand for Truth then he will fall for anything. I believe it is possible to know the Truth and be set free by that knowledge…so free, in fact, that you allow others the freedom to believe as they wish, and endeavor to live before them the redemptive life left to us by the Lord Jesus Christ through the indwelling Presence.
    I can stand firmly in Truth and still love and respect one who believes differently from me. I believe it is not my assignment to draw lines in the sand. I may feel I have knowledge of who is “in” or “out”. The Truth itself will draw the line. The only One who has the right to draw those lines will do so on judgement day when the ‘sheep’ are divided from the ‘goats’ and the ‘wheat’ is separated from the ‘tares’.
    There are things in life that are more important than anything else. We make numerous decisions, minor though they be, everyday, which indicate our prioritizing of what is most important to us. In this world filled with a maze of religions and where each thinks his way is the right way, it seems vital that a true demonstration of the God we serve is imperative. One of the unique characteristics of Christianity is that God is not only ‘Holy’ but He is also ‘Love’. To try to have one without the other is to have a God who is emotionally unstable or one who is unjust. God as revealed in Christ is the perfect balance of all.
    I join you in the frustration you experience from those of our faith, who consign people to hell, even in our own faith, for a failure on some doctrinaire issue (not doctrine, but doctrinaire). I love you and appreciate your honest exploration of your faith. Thanks for posting.

  4. Yes. Let’s hear more of what you’re thinking.

  5. jimazing said,

    Thanks all for your thoughts and your encouragement. There are lots of things that keep me from writing. As I said in an earlier post, fear is one of them. Right now I’m feeling another one altogether… time pressure 😉

    It feels good to take a risk and find out it is ok. It makes me more likely to take another and another…

    Interestingly, the comments so far are about the lesser of my own stirrings. I was motivated to write this because of the growing number of “truth about Islam” messages I am seeing… and how they miss the point. No matter how accurate their presentations, it doesn’t matter if the people they are informing about cannot read. The point seems to be to frighten people.

  6. jimazing said,

    I also want to know why everyone else has an avatar that works and mine is just the default stick man. 😦

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