Friday, October 12, 2007

"Muslims Seek Cooperation With Christians as a Step Toward Peace"

A news item with the above title in the latest issue of Spiegel Online International (,1518,511167,00.html) discusses a 29-page letter, signed by "representatives of many facets of Muslim life (who) have petitioned their Christian counterparts to help find steps to be taken toward erasing the misunderstandings about each other that often lead to violence".

Any initiative that improves the chances of peace anywhere in the world must be welcomed.

However, the item quotes Prof. Muqtedar Khan, director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware, as holding the view that it is "politics, not theology, (which shapes) anti-Western attitudes among Muslims". Professor Khan is reported to have said. "They have a problem with the occupation of Iraq, with the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians; it's not about Christianity."

This is typically self-serving mythification on the part of some Muslims. If the main problems were in fact the occupation of Iraq and the Israeli treatment of Palestenians, how does Professor Khan explain the virtual elimination of Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh, or the elimination of Christians, Parsees and other non-Muslims from most of the Middle East? Not only that, most Christian history of these areas (for example in Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Syria) has been erased from the culture - except in areas where it provides tourist dollars - but even there it does not enter the educational system, for example in the teaching of history in these countries. Having said that, I must admit that Hindus don't have anything like a perfect record either. We were responsible for terrible things that happened around the time of the partition of India and Pakistan, and many Hindus are still trying to "saffronise" (or "Hinduise") Indian history. However, the terribleness of Hindu deeds does not compare with the terribleness of Muslim deeds, because India to this day has more Muslims than does Pakistan, while Pakistan and Bangladesh have hardly any non-Muslims. Not that that that is an excuse for what we Hindus did, of course

However, to return to the matter of the letter signed by these distinguished people. I'm afraid there needs to be much more introspection and identification of where Muslim societies have stopped short of Islamic ideals of peace (where applicable) and where Islamic ideas of jihad, and dhimmi and jizya and sharia have to be publicly and comprehensively repudiated, before there is any chance of peace.

For a modern defence of Jizya, see

However, such a defence does n0t and cannot hide the facts that: (a) non-Muslims are discriminated against when it comes to military service in a Muslim state, and (b) there is not, and there cannot be, equality between muslims and non-muslims in any Islamic state.

This is quite apart from the state-sanctioned as well as non-state-sanctioned discrimination and violence that has historically been meted out to non-muslims. As I say, we Hindus have not been guilt-free on such matters either, but there is, at least in India, a secular law before which muslims and non-muslims are equal (and both suffer equally from the inefficiencies of the law). An inefficient secular law before which everyone is equal is better than an inefficient or efficient Islamic law before which non-Muslims are by definition inferior.

The difference between Islamic preaching on the one hand, and on the other hand, Buddhist preaching or modern neo-Hindu preaching or Christian preaching, is that none of the latter seek to establish earthly political power. By contrast, Muslim preaching must, if it is to be faithful to Islam, seek to establish earthly political power. That is the essence of the problem posed by Islam to modern society. Islam is simply incompatible with the modern world. "Moderate" muslims who compromise on this aspect know that they are betraying the Islamic ideal, and "purist" muslims know that they are following the Islamic ideal. That some "purist" muslims then take to violence (let's call them "violent purists"), while other "extremist" muslims don't take to violence (let's call them "non-violent purists") is of course a fundamental difference when it comes to the law of most countries.

My conclusion is that "moderate" muslims have to speak more with "purist" muslims (whether violent or non-violent) in order to take up the challenge of reforming Islam from within. Anything that muslims of whatever variety say to Christians (or for that matter to Hindus or Buddhists or anyone else) is far less important. Sphere: Related Content

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