You Need To Know Why Islam Is Not Inherently Violent
Ascribing inherent violence to any religion has its roots in secular philosophy and therefore only scores points against the religious people who use that line of reasoning. The opinion that Islam is somehow necessarily more violent than Christianity is fairly recent and in no sense part of any hard and fast consensus. Not too long ago the West used Islam to fight Western Christian extremism. Remember?
It’s at the forefront of jumping at the connection between Islam and violence. Claiming that it’s an inherently violent religion is easy for many, but the recent origins of the stereotype are too often lost. This mistaken belief applied to an entire religion happens to be a convenient cover for waging war against oil rich countries (Iraq) and countries who are located in geopolitically volatile areas (Afghanistan is near Iran, India, China, and Russia which is significant).
We forget how in the 1980′s the Reagan administration supported the “Freedom Fighters” of Afghanistan (a.k.a. the Taliban) in the fight against Soviet-Russian state terrorism. Remember also how Saddam’s Iraq was our ally in his war against the extremism of Iran? Iran was a close Soviet ally after the Islamic revolution. In 1979 the Soviet Union was the very first state to recognize the Ayatollah’s Islamic Republic. The Soviet Union, and then the Russian state that succeeded it, are behind the Iranian nuclear program, which is the major bone of contention between Iran and the United States.
Islam As An Ally of Western Extremism
The view of Islam as a possible ally against western extremism goes back at least to the 19th century when Islamic countries were the West’s close allies against the real threat Czarist Russia posed for the West. Some writers of the time, such as David Urquhart went even further and presented Islam as a potential civilizing influence upon Western Europe itself:
What traveler has not observed the fanaticism, the antipathy of all these [Christian] sects – their hostility to each other? Who has traced their actual repose to the toleration of Islamism? Islamism, calm, absorbed, without spirit of dogma, or views of proselytism, imposes at present on the other creeds the reserve and silence which characterize itself.
There is no such thing as a uniform Islamic civilization that might be either violent or peaceful just as there is no stereotypically uniform Catholicism. Coming to terms with this basic fact will go a long way to prevent confirmation bias against the unicorn we call “Islam.”
John Azumah sums it up best in his piece “Challenging Radical Islam”:
We need to strongly resist the view that Islam is the problem, that the Qur’an is the problem, that Muhammad is the problem. To denounce Islam as a death-loving religion—or the Qur’an and Muhammad as a constitution and example, respectively, for terrorists—provides excuses for twisted zealots. It reinforces their deluded belief that they and only they are the true Muslims. Moreover, it inspires fear and mistrust among the great majority of Muslims, who are not jihadists. If the Qur’an and Islam are the problems, what is the solution? Drop bombs on the Ka’bah in Mecca? Ban the use of the Qur’an?