Christianity evolved; but can Islam do so?
December 10, 2012 12:00 AM | 3537 views | 11 11 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two weeks ago when I implied that Islam might not be a religion of peace, I agitated a hornet’s nest. More than one reader came to the conclusion that I was a narrow-minded bigot. After all, only a mean-spirited racist could suggest any such thing.

Nevertheless, this is a serious question. With Israel again under violent assault, with Egypt being torn asunder by ferocious street demonstrations and with Syrians killing tens of thousands of their own, is there something about Islam that encourages this belligerence?

Over a decade ago the late political scientist Samuel Huntington observed that there was a ring of fire surrounding Islamic lands. He noted that almost everywhere Muslim territories abutted non-Muslim ones, there were violent clashes.

Today this remains true. Not just Israel, but places as far removed as West Africa and the Philippines have witnessed Muslims killing non-Muslims in the name of their religion. Indeed, the list is long one.

We can begin with Nigeria, where Muslims have been burning the churches and massacring inhabitants of Christian towns. Then we move north to Egypt, where Coptic Christians are under attack by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

If we travel even further north, we encounter the Chechens engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Russians. Heading east we find the Chinese suppressing the ambitions of Sinkiang Muslims. Turning south, the Pakistanis continue to harbor terrorists who intermittently cross to the border to slaughter hated Indians.

Resuming our journey east, we discover Thai Muslims at violent odds with their central government and Mindanao Muslims defying the Christian rulers of the Philippines. Even the Indonesians have had their quarrels with the Portuguese and Australians. Nor have I yet mentioned the Iranians, who seem eager to destroy the United States, or Osama bin Laden of al-Qaeda, who wanted to re-conquer Spain and the Balkans to restore the Muslim Caliphate to its former glory.

The enemies of Islam include not just Christians and Jews, but also Hindus, Buddhists and atheists. Simply refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of Mohamed seems ample pretext for jihad.

It may, of course, be argued that Christianity too has sponsored violence. And it certainly has. The Catholic Church organized crusades and inquisitions, while Catholics and Protestants butchered each other in holy wars. The difference is that was hundreds of years ago. Modern Christianity has no such impulses.

Many Islamic lands, in contrast, are mired in a medieval mentality. They do not promote religious tolerance, but instead call Jews “monkeys” who must be killed on sight and condemn Muslim apostates to death for the sin of changing religion.

Then there are all of those suicide bombers who cheerfully tear their own bodies to shreds on the promise that they will be rewarded with eternal glory in heaven. Yes, some Buddhists have been known to immolate themselves for religious causes, but they are few and far between.

It must be acknowledged that many Muslims are peace loving. Many of them are not about to become bomb-throwing jihadists. The religion to which they subscribe can be, and for many is, a force for kindness and understanding.

But what is possible is not necessarily customary. Christianity evolved from belligerence to tolerance. So can Islam. But to argue that it has already done so is to ignore the evidence. There have been too many conflicts, in too many places, to conclude that the religion has nothing to do with them.

Islam might yet become a modern tolerant faith, but non-Muslims must stop fooling themselves. Most Muslims are fundamentally decent human beings, but that does not mean their religion advances the same tenets as held by most Westerners. It is especially imperative that modern-minded Muslims participate in encouraging the necessary changes in attitude.

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is a professor of Sociology at Kennesaw State University.
Comments
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Akhem Allabar
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December 11, 2012
CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), an organization whose hateful biased mission is to destroy America as we know it. Thanks to the lamestream state controlled media few Americans are aware of CAIR's anti-American and Israel hating work here in America. Among other things, CAIR launders money which is then sent overseas to terrorist groups. CAIR provides the attorneys who file dozens of frivolous lawsuits in an effort to bankrupt small towns who object to the building of multiple mosques in their jurisdictions, the same mosques which raise money for overseas terrorism. CAIR haas bankrolled the invasion and take over of American cities like Dearborn, Michigan.
Gragn Ahmed
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December 11, 2012
The story is very biased. It is not true where ever the Muslim meet christian nations there is conflict. May be it is true if christians were the ones invading them. This article more of low quality article that gives no specifics. I hope the Professor takes out his prejudices and give rather hope for Muslims of America. It is very sad such scholars lack any data when they write on sensitive issues. Let us see if he can speak up against Zionists.
ajavrik
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December 12, 2012
well,the jewish question is a central indeed.

but can the muslim take a breake for a minute and think about themselves? mr.fein did not mention zionists.

as a nasty child you cry:"but why he can?"

the jews had enough right blames from different pagans,chritians,muslims,mongols,comunists and nazis:they are guilty for plague,christ and antichrist,drink blood(you still believe it,do not you?),poison wells,responsible for wwi and wwii,and the world economic crisis etc.

i mean they play a big game.mr fein is talking about just a small minority in the world-muslims.

HansNL
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December 12, 2012
Sir, like most defending the muslim faith, you tend to blame the others for alleged attacks on the alleged peaceful muslims. That is exactly the reasoning used by the muslims to attack other religions. You, sir, are prejudiced yourself, becasue you did not read the article, you scanned it and then started to write in the prescribed way. And at the end you call the followers of muslims, and start to throw the word zionists around. The people of Israel, at least most of them, are called Jews, and that sir, is a religion like Christianity, like Islam. The truth is, Sir, that the professor is right and you are very much wrong.
jhubers
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December 10, 2012
The generalities and stereotypes you deal in make any conclusions you reach ultimately untenable. The assumption behind your assertions is that Islam is a monolithic faith that is the most determinant factor in the actions of its diverse adherents. All three faiths are treated this way, as though Christianity, Islam and Judaism are living entities dictating robot-like actions from their adherents. Worse is your sense of the victimization of Israel as though there is no legitimate grievance connected to the slow death of Palestinian aspirations to come out from underneath a crippling military occupation. Your biases and prejudices are hidden behind fine sounding words. But they remain exactly that - prejudices.
Fully Evolved
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December 10, 2012
Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment," Hutaree.com reads. "The only thing on earth to save the testimony and those who follow it, are the members of the testimony, til the return of Christ in the clouds. We, the Hutaree, are prepared to defend all those who belong to Christ and save those who aren't. We will still spread the word, and fight to keep it, up to the time of the great coming.
Too funny
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December 10, 2012
Islam is in desperate need of its own Renaissance and more importantly, its own Enlightenment. Secularism has all but extinguished the flames of murderous European and American religious zeal so hopefully the Muslim world will have a similar cultural awakening before too many other innocent people are destroyed in the name of crazy religious ideology.
anonymous
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December 10, 2012
Dr. Fein wrote the following, "Christianity evolved from belligerence to tolerance."

Christianity did NOT start with "belligerence"!

Jesus would have never promoted "the Crusades" or the fighting between Catholics and Protestants. These activities were done by misguided men.
KJV Only
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December 10, 2012
@anonymous

I agree. The problem is simple, the vast majority of people do not understand the difference between religion and Bible-based Christianity. Religion both here in Cobb and nationwide is doing a great business by giving people what they want, not what they need.
anonymous
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December 10, 2012
Another educational and insightful column by Dr. Fein. Thank you for daring to speak about things that even our heads of state won't discuss.

I'm waiting for Foley to start tearing it down in 5, 4, 3, 2,.... Because of course he is enlightened.
A Faith??
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December 10, 2012
Until Americans start seeing Islam for what it is, the problems these people are causing are only going to get worse. Where were they when we lost thousands on 9/11? And forget about religions being violent in the past. This is now 2012 and Muslims are still running

amok trying to cut people's heads off. If this is a religion, it is certainly a strange one and not one which is compatible with our society and system of government. Why not just be realistic and call it what it is? An ideology.
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