Islam: It’s not what you think (and yes, it is)

I’m not a Muslim, so from the outset I admit it’s unfair of me to even attempt any real assessment of the faith. However, I live (as do we all) in a world that is awash in Islamic issues and Islamic news stories and Islamic internecine conflicts and Islamic soul-searching.

Just today I came across two articles which I thought were intriguing and revelatory.

The Trouble Within Islam

The first, by the honorable Tony Blair [1], points out, legitimately, that there is a problem within Islam that it would be folly to ignore. This is, as the body of the article goes on to explain, is entirely different than claiming that there is a problem with Islam, as so many inflammatory websites and news pieces would have the world believe. It has become de rigeur in some circles to label any criticism of Islam as racist, or “Islamophobic;” nothing could be farther from the truth.

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If there is a problem with any ideology that threatens the peace and harmony of people and cultures which touch it, it must be subject to the closest of scrutiny and be willing to succeed or fail on its own merits. We are seeing this today, particularly in the USA where I live, as the humanist community shines the light of reason on the follies and excesses of religions, but particularly Christianity. If the institution has merit, it will endure. If it does not, ultimately it must re-invent itself or fall.

So yes, I agree – and have felt this way for a long time, particularly since the horrors of September 11th – there is a problem within Islam. However, as the second article illustrates, Islam is not what the slavering haters would have us believe.

Global Muslim Delegation Issues Unprecedented Statement Against Anti-Semitism

I have long called for the Islamic mainstream to stand up and shout their outrage about the rot that festers within their own community, much in the same way that mainstream Christians decry the brutal ignorance of the Westboro Baptist Church, and these brave people are doing just that. I laud them for their courage and humanity.

I’ve traveled much in the world, and spent a fair piece of time in Islamic countries. Islam is as varied as every single one of its practitioners, and as a result it’s an exercise in futility and unfairness for either outsider or insider to state unequivocally, “Islam is…”; but recognizing both that there are problems within the community that need to be addressed, and that there are people within the community who are making an effort to do so, are affirming and encouraging – at least to my way of thinking.

As humanity scrabbles its way out of the mud and continues to take baby steps towards the stars, it behooves us all to act as though we are living in a world that works for everyone, even if such a dream is still beyond our grasp.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] Whether you think Mr. Blair is honorable is up to you. I know that during his tenure in office, he was probably as universally reviled as George W. Bush, with whom he collaborated with regards to the Middle East. History will judge; for myself, I respect the man and his efforts.

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