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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
The Enemy Within
England is slowly coming to grips with the threat in its midst.

LONDON — At least three of the four suspected homicide bombers who carried out the deadly attacks on London's transit system last week were born in England, and all four men came from Leeds in the English Midlands, according to British media.
Let that roll around in your brain for a minute. Imagine what we would have thought if the 9/11 terrorists were born in Detroit.

In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair met with British Muslim lawmakers and pledged to open dialogue to tackle a "perverted and poisonous misinterpretation" of Islam. He also said his government would begin consultations on new anti-terrorism legislation.
Is there anyone speaking for Islam saying this was a misinterpretation? Maybe the interpretation is good and the source is bad.

Addressing the House of Commons, Blair said the government also would look urgently at how to strengthen the process for excluding from the United Kingdom those who incite hatred and make it easier to deport such people.
That’s a good idea. Better late then never. There is finally the realization that Imams preaching death to the infidel for decades within your own border might be caustic to your civilization. I know; you thought they only meant Americans and Jews. Sorry. Welcome to the party. We’re all Israelis now.

Finally, Michael Leeden, in National Review Online, comments on Blair’s speech to the House of Commons. When listing the many countries attacked by terrorists, he neglected two: Iraq and Israel. Clearly the sensibilities of his (largely anti-war) constituency may have had something to do with that. Read Leeden’s article.

The war is just starting. I hope the English people will realize that the enemy is at home, and that aping Spain will not immunize them from further violence. After that difficult realization, they’ll have to pick a side. Blair has been steadfast, but without popular support. In World War II we sat out until the very last minute while England fought. Maybe this is payback and this was their Pearl Harbor.
I am not at all surprised that the bombers were Brits. That was what I presumed when I heard of the attacks. Right after 9/11 I saw an interview on TBN with a young Brit. He had been in Pakistan and was ready to bring the bombs to Britain. I guess Tony Blair doesn't watch TBN. When people vow a course of action, I believe them! Svenmom
I am skeptical about whether they will come correct here and do the right thing.

The war started a long time ago, we are just finally realizing that we are part of it.
Maybe the interpretation is good and the source is bad.

By "the source", you mean the Qur'an?

As a Christian, I am aware and ashamed of the bloodier eras of Church history: the Crusades, the Inquisition, antisemitism, etc.

I believe Islam is passing through a similar stage in its history. Great evils are being perpetrated in the name of Allah, Muhammed, and the Qur'an. But I don't feel I'm in a position to throw stones, given the Church's blemished (to put it charitably) history.

I have not studied the Qur'an much, but I did dig into it briefly after 9/11. I stopped when I realized that the Qur'an contains two strands of teaching. One is pro-Christian and pro-Jew, acknowledging believers of those faiths as fellow "people of the Book", and enjoining Muslims to be tolerant of them.

Consistent with that strand of teaching, I understand that Muslim rulers during the era of the Ottoman empire were tolerant of Jewish and Christian minorities, at least by the standards of the time. (Though I know very little about the Ottoman empire.)

But there is another strand of Qur'anic teaching which regards Christians and Jews as enemies. It encourages hostility toward them, and even violent resistance.

Muslim apologists say that Muhammed penned the intolerant texts earlier in his career as a prophet, and the ecumenical texts later. The later texts supposedly supercede the earlier texts.

The problem is, there is no such demarcation in the text of the Qur'an itself. Both strands of teaching are jumbled together. As a result, Muslims are likely to emphasize that strand of teaching which agrees with their presuppositions, whether tolerant or hateful.

Is the source "bad", then? Perhaps. But the Jewish and Christian scriptures are open to similar criticism. For example, I know of a passage in the Psalms that exults in children being bashed against rocks. Similarly, there are texts in the New Testament which are open to abuse if interpreted without regard for the principle themes of the Bible, including God's mercy and benevolence toward us.

I think the real problem is historical. Islam needs to pass through a period of enlightenment, and divorce itself from the worst tendencies of the Qur'an, as some Christians have done with respect to the Bible.

(I won't attempt to speak to Jewish history.)

To be clear, none of the above remarks are intended to excuse terrorist acts or Imams who propagate violence. It's just that I don't think I am in a position, as a Christian, to issue a blanket condemnation of Islam.
Svenmom: Yeah. I think it's safe that if a group repeatedly states publicly that they want to kill me, it's reasonable to take their word for it.

Jack: Immediately after the attacks last week I was more optimistic. I'm beginning to share your skepticism.

Q: Yes, I meant the Quran. I agree with basically everything you're saying. Islam needs a reformation. Powerful religious authority is in general a bad idea, especially when it mingles with state power. I'm happy to extend what you said to Judaism. Witness the situation in Israel where all Rabbis are basically civil servants, state employees. It makes for a very intransigent Rabbinate that feels it doesn't need to compromise, and ironically causes much more secular / religious animosity between Jews than there is in the U.S. And don't even get me started about the religious political parties there. It would be like here having a Evangelical Christian political party and a Lutheran party…

So, in general, reformation brings competition between denominations within a religion, and seperates religion from state power. The problem with Islam is that a reformation can only come from within and there is no sign of any movement within Islam to bring this about. Those of us on the outside can only fight against Islamofascism; whether or not this destroys Islam is up to Muslims.
Those of us on the outside can only fight against Islamofascism; whether or not this destroys Islam is up to Muslims.

Well said! That's a powerful statement.
Q: Well, thanks!
People have very short memories and they tend to want to think the best of others.
Jack: Yes. They also don't want to believe that we're in a war brought to us by our enemy. It's comforting to believe that if it wasn't for Bush and his cabal of neocons peace would reign.

It is a strange world sometimes, but it is all we have got so we might as well make the best of it.
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