Thursday, April 12, 2007

What Is Islam?

Why is it that Islam seems to be the only world religion which consistently produces large-scale terrorism and suicide bombers who kill and die explicitly in the name of their faith? Who are the people who commit such terrorism in the name of Islam? What do they want to achieve through their violent actions, and why?
The current struggle against terrorism won't accomplish a great deal unless people understand just what it is they are fighting against. It simply is not enough to label terrorists "evil people" because few, if any, consciously set out to commit acts they regard as evil. On the contrary, they believe they are doing something justified and righteous - and if that is the case, then no military victory alone can last long. An ideological victory must quickly follow in an effort to change people's minds.

It also is not enough to understand Islam as a religion, because these events are not solely religious. Although religion plays an important role, so do a variety of cultural, political and historical factors - and all of these must be taken into account. In this book, Esposito spends a great deal of time covering the history of Islamic extremism. This is important because Osama bin Laden did not simply appear out of nowhere to capture the hearts and minds of millions of devout Muslims.

Bin Laden is a product of a long history of religious and political ideas, a convergence which may not have been predictable, but it has certainly been destructive. This highlights an important issue which people in the West must learn to understand:the degree to which past and present are deeply intertwined for the Muslim world.

For Muslims, the past is not so much a subject of academic study as it is a reality which is lived and experienced on a daily basis. Thus, European Crusades and colonialism are not parts of the past but rather current events. This is why, for example, there were such negative reactions across the Middle East when President Bush originally described the campaign against terrorism as a "Crusade."

Muslims today see the existence of Israel and most Western foreign policy as simply continuations of the Crusades and colonialism, a fact which Osama bin Laden has exploited regularly. A person like bin Laden can make vague references to historical events which occurred as part of the Crusades and colonialism and expect that the average Muslim listener will immediately know what he is talking about - it is in this context where his widespread appeal can be found and understood.

Thus, understanding Muslims' reactions to the West are key to understanding bin Laden's appeal and current events.
Islam is a "religion of peace,"........or that the origins of Muslim violence lie in the unbalanced psyches of particular individual "fanatics," must be considered as disinformation intended to induce the infidel world to let down its guard. Of course, individual Muslims may genuinely regard their religion as "peaceful" -- but only insofar as they are ignorant of its true teachings, or in the sense of the Egyptian theorist Sayyid Qutb, who posted in his Islam and Universal Peace that true peace would prevail in the world just as soon as Islam had conquered it.
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." 1 John 2:22

Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins and to show us what our Heavenly Father is really like. The Bible teaches that the antichrist will come and deceive multitudes, making them believe that they can be saved in their sins; his actions will show the world what his father is like.
The word 'antichrist' in the new testament Greek language means 'an opponent of the Messiah.' The dictionary also gives us the meaning of the two words 'anti' and 'christos.' The word 'anti' means an opponent and substitute while the word 'christos' means the 'messiah' or one anointed to religious office. Putting these definitions together we find that the antichrist, while being opposed to Christ, is not openly opposed, but rather a deceiver and substitute for Christ who acts as if he is serving Christ.
In other words, the antichrist is one who tries to take the place of Christ and overrule His authority in religious matters, while claiming to be His servant.

Where are the Muslim moderates?
That is a question that many of us have been asking in recent years. Now it’s possible to provide an answer: They’re in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Secular Islam Summit
In one respect, Muslim reformists have also hurt their own cause. Until recently, they have not acted collectively and have seldom met, making their task that much more difficult. This conference is a welcome departure from this tradition. The Secular Islam Summit is an excellent example of what could occur if the United States, Europe and the international community would seriously consider supporting the Muslim intellectuals who seek pluralism, human rights and democracy: They would gain important allies in the war of ideas and the “War on Terror.”

“Why do they hate us?”An unambiguous answer: “They hate us because they were taught to do so.”

To Muslim protests that their religion is their own business, “If they tell you have no business in Muslim affairs, tell them they have no business meddling in non-Muslim affairs.”

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