Is Islam a religion of Peace?
There is no doubt generally that Islam today - is peaceful. But it is virtually impossible to deny that Radical Islamists practice 7th century Islam and demand it of both Muslims and infidels.
It's growing and it's dangerous - surely that's significant. It makes no sense debating whether modern day Islam is peaceful or not. To do so is like debating who left the gate open and let the horse out - it doesn't matter. The horse is out. The horse of radicalism is the debate not the corral of peacefulness.
Let's talk about the horse.
Christianity is not a state religion. Jesus never made it that way - hated the thought of it - and fought it His entire ministry. Many defenders of Islam portray the two religions as similar by comparing some of the historical violence as reason not to single out the violence in historical Islam. They have similar histories they claim. Those barbaric acts by Christian religious states were wrong and Jesus would say they were too - unless He was kidding about the peace He talked about so often. Christianity as taught by Jesus doesn't support state religion - ever - but Islam as taught by Mohamed does.
Islam IS the state - the religion can not legally be separated from the state. The Fundamental Islamists are correct; they quote the Koran accurately and are merely attempting to return modern watered down peaceful Islam to it's - state religion context - as lived throughout it's entire history until the early 20th century.
In Iran, Khomeini instituted Sharia law and his successors created a Theocracy whereby the state and religion were one. They did not make this up out of their imagination. They got it from the Koran and historical precedent. In their writings, they claim that modern Islam had left it's historical roots. This is the underlying basis in which Iran supports terrorism and Jihad throughout the Middle East.
Similarly, Saudi Arabian Wahhabism is also a fundamentalist belief. In this belief, the foundational concept is that Islam has left it's roots and needs to follow it's original methods. Inherent in that is Jihad. Once this belief had settled into the peninsula, it was promoted with a rod of steel. However, it was interrupted by the discovery of oil. Wahhabism diminished as western oil companies developed the oil districts and Saudi rulers were flush with cash. Never the less, the horse was out of the gate. Many followers of the return to fundamentalism of Islam in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, were appalled at the westward drift of Islamic perspective. They in turn countered the apostasy with more violent methods.
The birth of Al Qaeda and numerous other fundamental Islamic sects, and State Theocratic Islam as in Iran, and the Taliban of Afghanistan and Pakistan, are really a revival of Islam as practiced in it's first 300 years of violence and expansion. It is interesting to consider that all three revivals happened independently of each other.
Does that make it a coincidence or a trend based on fact?
All of these movements have the identical goal - a goal that mirrors Islam's roots. They want a single ruler, they want a single state and they want it ruled by Sharia law as practiced in the beginning. That in and of itself is hard to argue with as to whether it is right or wrong. The wrongness comes in by the methods they employ. The state they want will obviously be violent and they want to spread it over the entire world.
Don't get mad at me for saying it. They say it in virtually all their writings and speeches. Be mad at them. If there really is an Islam of peace it rests not in these movements but in the mass of Muslims who are silent about those movements and their goals and methods.
Never the less, not too many are talking about these silent majorities, they are discussing the violent minorities and they are fearful that they may become majorities very quickly. Not because they have a better message - but because they use brutal violence to spread their message. They say their message comes from the mouth of the prophet Mohamed. Whether that is so or not as debated by the peaceful Muslims is irrelevant. Peaceful movements are not dangerous.
That said, the discussion is many splintered among people who are afraid of the one and not very understanding of the other. In their ignorance they misplace the blame onto all Muslims but in any event - they are scared to death. Their fear is justified even though their words may be harsh and ill informed at times.
I would much rather overlook ignorance than be blind to an expanding terror.
Concerning the comparison of Christianity to Islam one has to remember that Christianity is far from State Government if followed as taught by Jesus. Christians claim they are not of this world, render unto Caesar what is his and the Lord his, and as best they can - be at peace with all men. Now whether it is practiced that way is beside the point. It is taught that way. That is a far cry from how Islam in it's original context was taught, lived and grew - exactly like the Islamists want to return to.
Comparing the violence of the 1st 300 yrs of Islam to the violence we see today - which uses those 300 yrs as their model - is the horse that left the corral of peaceful modern Islam.
The 1st 300 yrs of Christianity were not violent at all - and clearly there are no Christian Fundamental sects attempting to takes us back to the violent roots as practiced in it's origins. There was none - unless one considers the violence practiced AGAINST Christians as indicative of how violent Christians were. So the argument is disingenuous to say the least which compares Christian violence to Islamic violence at discordant periods of their histories.
It wasn't until States married religion that Christianity as practiced by states became violent. And this, some 800 years after it's peaceful and humble birth. Even then, the state persecuted it's enemies which were other religous and secular states, and Christians refusing to be absorbed into state religion.
Jesus clearly taught how the Kingdom of Heaven beginning with John the Baptist would suffer violence and that non religous men would attempt to make the kingdom of God on earth through violence . Thus they killed John, then Jesus, then the disciples and the early believers by the millions.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
True Christianity suffers - false Christianity is violent because they will not repent and enter into the Kingdom of God. They wish to impose it violently. But Jesus said my Kingdom is not of this world. For if it was my followers would fight.
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
37"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.",
Then for 300 years and deep into history - His followers were persecuted mercilessly and they suffered it. Eventually, the various states absorbed a great deal of Christianity and made it their state religions in direct opposition to Jesus's teachings and example. That generally lasted until the founding of the United States where it was once again separated.
The origins of the two religions are poles apart. Origins bespeak truth more than interpretations by later generations. Thus we see Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims both attempting to return to their origins in these last days.
Jesus's prophecy concerning the state of the Western world at the end times - and what Christians were to do when they see it - was this,
"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people, unless you share in her sins, and unless you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities'" (Revelation 18:4,5).
These are the same sins that the Fundamentalist Muslims accuse us of - and they are correct in many ways of what they see. However, it is their prescription for solving the sins of the West which abhors us all. Khomeini was a great Fundamentalist teacher. His message is spreading throughout the Middle East. Several nations are embracing it, among them Syria, the Islamist minority in Turkey whose President wants to transform it into a modern Iran (so he says) , Bahrain, portions of Lebanon, Azerbaijan, a third of Iraq and most of it's government and portions of Gaza. Here is what Khomeini taught when alive and the references he quoted. (He's speaking as a recognized Islamic scholar)
“Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world....But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world”
Khomeini also rebuked the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace concept by saying:
“Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]….Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Qur’anic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.”
No one can show that particular Christians teach these things and so equate the two as equal. And no one can show a Christian person of such hatred - that might have even a following of 1000's - let alone 150 million like the Khomeini followers - and the nation states - that are embracing these ideas in one form or another.
Their words say a whole lot more about Islam than Islam says about their words.