Muslim Speaks at My Church, Calls Me “Naive.” Also “Tough.”

Filed under:Religion — posted by Anwyn on June 25, 2007 @ 1:09 pm

None of my friends or acquaintances are Muslim. Maybe none of yours are, either. So when a speaker from Bilal Mosque was invited to speak at my church to “introduce us to Islam,” quoting from our church newsletter, I was interested in hearing what he would say and in asking him a few questions, since I’ve never had the opportunity to ask an individual Muslim how he or she views the gulf between the henchmen of radical, violent Islam and the rest of the world. His presentation consisted largely of a few facts about Islam guaranteed to appeal to liberal hearts, such as that “Allah” is used to name God because the word has no indication of gender, and some rambling stories, supposed to be heartwarming, about how the Muslim faith of people he knows is helping them through a horrific life situation and he’s not worthy of their belief. Here’s a brief recap of a few of our exchanges in the discussion period, the ones where I (or somebody else at my church) asked him a question and he responded.

I asked him about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch MP, former Muslim and self-described “Muslim atheist” who left Holland after being evicted from her apartment so that her neighbors would be safer from Islamic threats to her life. He responded that her situation is “contrived,” that she’s not in any danger, “it’s all to sell books,” “you watch,” she’ll live long and make lots of money. And on further reflection, he decided that I am “naive” for believing her tales. Who would bother with her, he asked rhetorically.

Well, obviously, the same people who killed Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker with whom Ali collaborated on the film for which he was killed by a second-generation Muslim Dutchman. From the above-linked article:

Ms. Hirsi Ali first got police protection in 2002 and then went into hiding in November 2004, following the murder in Amsterdam of Mr. van Gogh by a second-generation Dutchman of Moroccan descent. The killer plunged into Mr. van Gogh’s chest a long knife, which pinned to the corpse a rambling and venomous note addressed to Ms. Hirsi Ali. It vowed that she, too, would die.

Naturally I then asked about the murder of van Gogh. Our speaker’s response: “An aberration.” Surely the stated target for murder of even an “aberration,” as Ms. Ali was targeted by van Gogh’s killer and has been publicly marked for death in the last three months, must be in danger? No, it’s all contrived.

But how can it be contrived or an aberration when so many rioted over the Danish cartoons? His answer: “Touch Mohammed and there will be riots.” He went on to stipulate that it’s fine with him if I then turn around and say that Islam is not a religion of peace, but nevertheless, touch Mohammed and riots will happen.

So let me get this straight: Riots of thousands are the natural consequence of offensive newspaper cartoons, but a brutal murder is an aberration, and danger to the murderer’s stated next target, who has been driven out of her home because all her neighbors believe the danger to her was dangerous to them, is contrived? Hirsi Ali has gained traction in part because of the riots that are threatened because of her presence and the riots that actually took place around the cartoons and the death of Theo Van Gogh. But instead of disassociating himself or Islam itself from those acts, our speaker denied their existence, wrote them off as an anomaly or preached that we must accept them as a matter of routine when Mohammed is insulted. Which is it: anomaly or routine?

A member of our church asked why we don’t hear more from Muslims who condemn violence committed in the name of Allah. His pat answer: “Where are you, during the illegal occupation of Palestine?” Me: “But it doesn’t justify people strapping bombs to their chests and blowing up innocent people.” Him: “If that’s what you think, that Palestinians are always going in and killing Israelis, then I can’t change your mind.” He flatly stated that CNN and our other internal news sources, as opposed to CNN International, are basically a web of lies and propaganda. Yeah: propaganda against the Palestinians. Chew on that one for a minute. At this point I was fairly sickened at the way a few members of my church spoke up eagerly to, basically, agree with him on the point of Jewish lies and propaganda.

On the subject of Islam’s treatment of women, he told the story of Mohammed’s first wife, Hadijah, and how she had built up a vast caravan business, how she proposed marriage to him, how it was she whom he went to when the angel visited him, etc. I asked how this prominence of woman squares with their treatment in, say, Saudi Arabia. His instant answer: “Saudi Arabia is a problem.” He compared it unfavorably to Bangladesh (where he is originally from, I believe) in oppression of women, etc. I asked if this is because of the government structure; his response was “it’s cultural. Mostly cultural.” I had previously asked about supporting governments that suppress freedoms, such as the freedom of women to dress how they choose, and he had countered with Turkey, where, he said, women are not allowed to veil. Actually, though, according to The Economist, it’s only women who work for the state who are barred from veiling.

He told the story of Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael. In the Bible, Abraham’s twitchy, childless wife, Sarah, told Abraham to take her servant, Hagar, as another wife and get children from her. When Hagar’s son, Ishmael, was about fourteen (according to the Bible), upon Sarah’s insistence, Abraham took Hagar and Ishmael out into the desert and left them. I asked how Muslims interpret God telling Abraham to take Hagar and Ishmael out and abandon them. He replied, basically, so what, or why does that bother you. I started: “Because I’m a mother–” he got animated. “You are a mother through the mercy of God. … He could snuff you out” *snapped his fingers.* I.E. there is no explanation needed–God said to do it, Abraham was therefore justified in doing it, end of story. Whereas I always look on the story of Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael as a shameful example of the frailty of humanity in both Sarah and Abraham–and Hagar and Ishmael as well, since it was their open contempt of Sarah and Isaac that got under Sarah’s collar to begin with. To my further question of how Muslims interpret God deliberately setting Isaac and Ishmael on paths that were bound to clash, he answered that the Koran says that God could have made us all one people, one brotherhood, all hugging all the time, all loving all the time, and what would be the meaning in that? He says it’s to test us, and may you never be tested. I wonder how he supposes one is to get an “A” in this particular test.

So, I asked, if God created us differently on purpose, then in the same way you resent Christians asking you to convert (something he’d mentioned before), you’re not in favor of Muslims asking Christians or others to convert? His response was, essentially, an appalled God, no. There is no missionary component to Islam, he said–our faith and our souls are our business. He’s to take care of his own. Later, after the discussion of Hirsi Ali, I went back to this regarding Muslims who leave the faith. He said that of course they’re not happy when somebody leaves the faith, that he’s been introduced before to people who have become Christian from Muslim and “…I’m supposed to be happy about this?” (he most clearly was decidedly UNhappy). Me: “So how does that square with ‘take care of yourself and let others do the same?'” His instant, honest response: “It doesn’t.”

He even had his own Muslim version of Truthernut salad. With no prior question or mention, he brought up Chechnya, which, he said, has been trying to “break free” for hundreds of years. Me: “What about Beslan?” He said that was unacceptable, or wrong, or words to that effect, but followed it up with the idea that Beslan may have been orchestrated by Putin. A “school of thought,” he said. I alluded obliquely to “schools of thought” cropping up their ugly heads in the U.S. but didn’t really want to go down the Truther road any farther.

While our speaker is of Bangladeshi origin and I do not know how long he has lived in America, he is a PhD in electrical engineering and works for Intel. When our pastor, on his “feel-good” side of the agenda, asked if “we should be afraid of Muslims,” our speaker’s response was “It’s up to you.” There was more to it, and he went on that he hoped we wouldn’t, that he makes efforts like this (the interfaith sessions) to overcome that fear, but that response in itself is in no way reassuring. If the violence, other than the riots over Mohammed, is aberrant as he says, why is the answer not “Of course not”? It must be because we infidels will eventually again “touch Mohammed” and invite it on ourselves.

Some of this took place in the general group, some afterwards when me, my pastor, and two other people stayed around to discuss some more. During that small discussion after some semi-pointed exchanges, he shook my hand (he was preparing to leave but ended up staying for more discussion), said “We’ll get through this” (meaning the larger strife), paused and added, “She’s tough,” indicating me. I walked with him to his car after it was over–we were parked next to each other. He said he appreciated being at our church and having the discussion and talking about the hard questions; he said he thought feel-good fluff was a waste of time, that nothing can be solved that way. On that point he has my total agreement.


The stated purpose of the visit, from my church’s perspective, was printed in the newsletter: “In an increasingly fragmented world in which followers of other religions are often viewed with fear – how wonderful it would be to build bridges.” But when we’re told flatly, “Touch Mohammed and there will be riots,” it’s obvious that it’s less about bridge building and more about schooling us as to how we are and are not to behave to avoid what Muslims who think like our speaker believe are the reasonable consequences of offending Islam–or even the more “aberrant” consequences. Ironically, this pattern reminds me of radical feminists, whose aim is to curtail the behavior and speech of people, particularly men, whom they deem offensive. In both cases, this reveals an absolutely infantile grasp of human relations that insists you tightly align your behavior with their proscriptions because they simply cannot handle, or respond appropriately to, what you might say or do. Our speaker, in answering my questions about the Mohammed cartoons, asked vehemently and self-pityingly why we could not leave Mohammed alone, why Islam cannot have even one thing that is sacred from the opinions of others (my words). I remember pathetically wondering this myself when my sister wanted to play with my toys–when I was about eight. But this begs for control of the behavior of others rather than planning for measured responses of one’s own.

Confronting this rigid insistence on speech and behavior control, Christians, atheists, and Jews should be making common cause to resist this backwards thought process. But I watched while at least three members of my church eagerly attempted to make common cause with the speaker who had essentially just told us we were not entitled to publicly express our own opinions of Mohammed, who repeatedly gave himself away with anecdotes about being introduced to non-Muslims whom he was sure he would hate until he actually met them, and who tried to make jokes about the wives he knows ruling the roost over their husbands, but told several stories of their actual subservience and dependence on their husbands’ pronouncements.

You cannot build a bridge from only one side of the river–but too many Muslims expect non-Muslims to bridge 100 percent of the gulf between our “offensive” behavior and their delicate sensibilities.


Many thanks to See-Dub of the ol’ JunkYardBlog, who provided encouragement and assistance as I wrote this up.


  1. Hell Hath No Fury…

    Note to organizers of interfaith events designed to help Christians understand Islam: you might want to pick speakers who don’t dismiss a murder as an “aberration” and who consider it rational for riots to break out over a cartoon.

    Trackback by Electric Venom — June 25, 2007 @ 1:57 pm

  2. Must be one of those MODERATE muslims we keep hearing about…

    Again and again and again and again. Anwyn’s Notes in the Margin > Muslim Speaks at My Church, Calls Me “Naive” Also “Tough” You cannot build a bridge from only one side of the river – but too many Muslims expect non-Muslims to bridge 100 perce…

    Trackback by The Universal Church of Cosmic Uncertainty — June 25, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  3. Some of us are Naive indeed! For not fully appreciating the danger posed by the Muslim and their way of thinking.

    Its unfortunate but the reality of the matter is we have nothing meaningful in common with the average Muslim whatsoever. We must fully appreciate that fact nor does the Muslim have anything in common with us.

    Their hope is to destroy us not assimilate or mend or become apart of us or our way of thinking.

    Those of us who are ignorant of that fact will in turn make us more venerable to their destructive power. All Muslims are a potential danger and must be vigilant that they cannot attack us ever again.

    They should be invited back to their respective countries expediently!

    Comment by Rod — June 25, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

  4. Thank you, Anwyn, for taking the time to share what you saw and heard in this presentation. For the record: I’ve never thought you to be naive (misguided and wrong, sure) but there’s nothing wrong with being “tough” unless you’re a steak. ;-) Seriously, thank you.

    It is a shame this man decided to become argumentative when you asked him about why moderate Muslims weren’t speaking out to denounce the violence being done in the name of Islam. As it turns out, there are “moderates” in the Muslim world and they do speak out on occasion, especially here in the US. But a “moderate” anything is going to be less vocal than an extremist of the same group. (“Moderate” isn’t necessarily the best term. See this article by Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D. for a reasonable explanation as to why.) Instead the speaker decided to ask about where were the people speaking out against Israeli incursions into Palestinian interests. It sounds as if all he needed to do was look around at the people nodding in agreement as he listed off Israel’s “crimes.” His answer wasn’t an answer at all.

    It is equally shameful that he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) adequately address the violence threatened and realized against people such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Salmon Rushdie, and the late Theo van Gogh (just to name a few). Such violence just might not be standard operating procedure but he gave you no reason to believe otherwise.

    The mob violence following those Danish cartoons made me think of a key difference between Christian and Islamic reactions to “offensive” behavior. Burn a Bible (I was going to suggest a US Flag, but that’s an entirely different religion) in the middle of Washington Square Mall and you’re likely to start a ruckus. Mostly though you’ll be arrested for attempted arson and maybe be the object of derision in a few choice Christian publications. You certainly won’t be killed. Now, burn a Qua-ran in an Egyptian shopping center. If you survive to see trial, it won’t be pretty.

    To my admittedly simple mind, what Islam lacks (and what Christianity has) is an Enlightenment. Historically, there have been some super-nasty things done in the name of Christianity. But somehow (through the Enlightenment, changes in the way Scripture is interpreted, and secular government) Christianity got over it and turned into a more personal religion — removed from coercive and punitive tactics in favor of influence and persuasion. Most modern Christians are Christians because they arrived at their faith by reason. (Do I have to turn in my Atheist card now for suggesting such a thing?) They’re not “moderate” Christians, they’re “reasonable” Christians, if you take my meaning. We need an increase in the number of “reasonable” Muslims — again, if you take my meaning. I hope that can happen someday. The man who spoke at your church wasn’t one of those.

    I could be totally full of crap. As I suggested, this is only what’s going on in my head at the moment. I’m easily distra… wow! Look at that over there!

    Thanks for listening.

    Comment by Norm — June 25, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

  5. Great stuff, Anwyn!

    It’s interesting how predictable your church’s guest was. In particular the bit about Israel. There are about 1 billion Muslims in the world, of which 3.5 million or so live in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza. Yet we are asked to believe this somehow excuses or explains the fact that virtually all Muslims living outside the West are ruled by corrupt, brutal dictatorships, consigned to backwardness and poverty, senselessly and remorselessly murdering themselves and others for generation after generation.

    Yeah, right.

    President Bush’s strategy of fostering freedom and democratic government in the Middle East is the only one with any real chance of long-term success, but the problem is the “long-term” part. Our enemies cannot hope to defeat us militarily, but they have powerful, if mostly unwitting, allies closer to home who can.

    Nice of your pastor to make the effort, and nice of the Bangladeshi fellow to come, but as you say there is a huge gulf.

    Comment by LagunaDave — June 25, 2007 @ 11:00 pm

  6. Anwyn’s encounter with a pseudo-Islamist–in a Christian church…

    It’s late and I’m turning in…but don’t miss Anwyn’s encounter with a Muslim advocate in an “interfaith” meeting. Good for her for having the guts to ask this guy tough questions. The answers were very revealing, and Anwyn’s conclusions are……

    Trackback by JunkYardBlog — June 26, 2007 @ 2:27 am

  7. I have some Muslim friends. Mostly Turkish women. They are really sweet and nice, etc. They really are. And I believe they are genuine, in part. However, I also believe that they say and do things, while thinking another. All of the hospitality and niceness is specifically because they believe that the more “good works” they do the better chance they have to get into Paradise. This is the same with all practicing Muslims. Especially if they can convince another person to become a Muslim. That’s a sure ticket to Paradise. You see, Islam does have an “evangelical element.” It’s called “da’wa”. It is the responsibility of Muslims to invite others to Islam.

    There is also something called “taqiyya.” I know an Afghan Christian who grew up Muslim and he says that Muslims can justify being two-faced and lying in any circumstance with taqiyya. It’s really hard to trust someone who can justify lying to you by refering to his or her religion. They can basically say anything they want.

    Comment by Sara — June 26, 2007 @ 8:35 am

  8. However, I also believe that they say and do things, while thinking another.

    I have muslim friends, too. I think you nailed it on the head.

    Comment by sam — June 26, 2007 @ 8:44 am

  9. Well, at least your church tried to understand Bilal. Unfortunately your side was the only one that made a sincere effort to “build bridges”, as I can see from this exchange. I really hope there are Muslims who want to reach out and understand Christians, as well as Jews, Hindus, and others. But people like Bilal refuse to see the crap in their own backyard and won’t deal with jihadi ideology that is inherent in Islam. I guess what interfaith exchanges do is postpone the inevitable war with Islam. Not just terrorism, but all of Islam.

    Comment by M. Ram — June 26, 2007 @ 9:22 am

  10. hello Anwyn, nice blog you have here! I’m going to say something which may sound hostile to you, but I really just mean it as a harsh fact of life. What you have experienced with your guest, is the treatment that late pagans experienced with early christians. The first were and are still seen as ruins from a past illogical past, while the second had just seen the ultimate Truth with their eyes and were basically the hottest thing ever. Actually, the first weren’t such hominous after all, they were humans as well: however, we christians still despise those old folks as the ancient regime of unfaithful villainy. Unworthy of respect. Now we are those old folks, being rushed on by the new thing to step aside. The new thing is not that much younger than us actually, but still has the brain of a prepotent child. I won’t ever ask you to change your mindset or anything, but maybe to understand that we are, yes, christians but also coming from a much longer history of previous humanity, is something which may prove useful to ensure critical thinking and to keep a distance between you and any other totalitarizing idea.

    Comment by Nick — June 26, 2007 @ 9:52 am

  11. Nick, I don’t view your remarks as hostile. But even if I stipulated the exact truth of everything you say, the present violence in the name of Allah is completely and totally unacceptable by any standard of human conduct–or should be, to anybody thinking clearly. And yet here he was stating to our faces that “always thus will be” and nobody in my church who heard him say it offered to tell him otherwise.

    The following comment on separation of government and Christianity was brought up by commenter Patricia at Patterico’s blog, and I commented there about “unjust harm.” The exchange is appropriate here both to answer this and as an addendum to Norm’s comment about the Enlightenment. In addition to the Enlightenment era, and at about the same time, Christianity largely underwent separation from the seats of government and thus, as Norm says, became more personal and less political. Today, however, multiple countries governed by Islam make it that much more difficult for the individual Muslim to break ranks and judge an act by a standard such as, “Will this cause unjust harm to others?” if their leaders proclaim something to be God’s will. Implicit in our speaker’s statement was the idea that unjust harm is irrelevant if something is dictated by God–a nice excuse for abrogating the individual conscience.

    In short, comparisons to ancient history are irrelevant to the fact that this kind of behavior is outrageous by any civilized standard, and the very people (hard leftists, usually) who want to remove every vestige of God from their sight and hearing are the very ones bending over backwards to accommodate those who use “God’s will” to dictate violence. It’s bizarre to me.

    (This comment was edited by the author for clarity after its initial posting. –A.)

    Comment by Anwyn — June 26, 2007 @ 10:05 am

  12. Anwyn, I got to your blog via lgf and enjoyed reading it. This is the way most of the so-called Bridge public/multicultural events have gone that I have attended.

    To get an insight into the ideology of political Islam(the visit by Muslim gentleman was da’wah as someone commented and a political encounter), please read this interview from FrontPage Magazine, The Study of Political Islam at

    The Center for the Study of Political Islam will be publishing a new book soon titled The Submission of Women and Slaves: Islamic Duality. If you would like an advance reader copy, please reply with a mailing an address.

    Thanks for your standing up and speaking out. There will be a few who gush over the words of the jihadi (this is jihad by speech) but many more who were there will be influenced by the answers to your questions.

    Joan Warner

    Comment by joan — June 26, 2007 @ 12:39 pm

  13. It sounds like he was trying to teach you how to be dhimmies. Lying to the infidel in the land of dar al-harb is permitted, even demanded. Muslims like this are simply another face of jihad, one more insidious than the most visible ones–the terrorists. They are both after the same thing which is Islamic domination.

    Comment by Stephen — June 26, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

  14. The point here is that “interfaith dialogue” between Christians and Muslims is impossible, and it’s a demonstration of the milquetoast nature of modern Christendom that these fool’s errands are pursued by the wrteched old hippies that occupy the bully pulpits in the mainstream denominations.

    Look folks: Mohammed was a brigand and a pedophile. The Koran is a concatenation of Jewish and Christian legendrt the “prophet” misremembered from his date-salesman days. Islam is the enemy. Crusade is the answer — only when these miserable, blood-stained wrteched are extirpated, root and branch, from the earth, and the miserable population cowed into the fatalistic complacence that’s their true state of being, there will be peace.

    Comment by Oliver Cromwell — June 26, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  15. anwyn,

    What strikes me is Bilal’s confidence that he could utter these blatant prevarications and implicit demands (that you build the bridge while he sticks to his side of the divide) and barely be challenged. Apparently, he’s used to having the upper hand in these bridge-building exercises.

    Comment by Miss Orange — June 26, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

  16. I think that at all these “interfaith” or “bridge-building” events, the Muslim speaker should be pointedly, but politely, pressed on some variation or adaptation this question:

    “Why are all these ‘interfaith dialog’ meetings initiated by Christians and none by Muslims?”


    “When was the last time your mosque extended an invitation to a Christian speaker?”

    I think that even at its best, Islam is an aggressively intolerant religion and this fact should be made plain every time one of their PR guys wants to leave a different impression.

    Comment by OregonMuse — June 26, 2007 @ 1:37 pm

  17. Excellent analysis, please keep writing!

    Comment by EdSki — June 26, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  18. Bridges Made of Sand…

    Junk Yard Blog:Good for her for having the guts to ask this guy tough questions. The answers were very revealing,…

    Trackback by Isaac Schrödinger — June 26, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

  19. Joan, thank you for your comments. I’m interested in your work and will send you an email if I’d like the book–thanks for the offer.

    Miss Orange, I think you are correct in that he’s not used to being challenged. His name isn’t Bilal–that is the name of the mosque.

    Comment by Anwyn — June 26, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

  20. EdSki–thank you.

    Comment by Anwyn — June 26, 2007 @ 4:09 pm

  21. Hello. I enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for sharing it.

    Can you please comment on what your pastor thought about this man’s answers?

    I would like to think this opened his eyes somewhat. Maybe I am too optimistic.

    Comment by Christian — June 26, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

  22. The most amazing thing is that so many people, including yourself and many of the commenters here (and of course elsewhere) are knowledgeable, often very knowledgeable, about what Islam really is. This is a sea change from pre-9/11. If we fall like the Byzantines, we can’t say we were not warned.

    Comment by Seymour Paine — June 26, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

  23. Hello all, I’ve never commented here before, but I wanted to make a quick point:

    Anwyn said –

    “In addition to the Enlightenment era, and at about the same time, Christianity largely underwent separation from the seats of government and thus, as Norm says, became more personal and less political. Today, however, multiple countries governed by Islam make it that much more difficult for the individual Muslim to break ranks and judge an act by a standard such as, “Will this cause unjust harm to others?”

    I’ve read alot of apologetics suggesting that Islam is today where christianity was 500 years ago; that we shouldn’t fret because a reformation was surely on the horizon, at which point Islam would separate church from state and become a personal faith rather than a socio-political ideology.

    I, myself, have serious doubts, and here’s why..

    Philosophically, the separation of church and state was not difficult for Christianity. The early church was never an expression of State and early christians generally eschewed temporal power in favor of the spiritual kingdom of which Christ spoke. Islam, however, has always been a system of governance and social organization. Day “one” in the Islamic calendar is not the day of Mohammad’s birth, but the birth of the first islamic state ruled over by Mohammad as both a temporal and spiritual leader. For alot of muslims, any expression of islamic faith outside an islamic state/Caliphate is, by definition, flawed and incomplete. This is one reason why muslims often yearn for and seek the re-establishment of the ‘true Islamic Caliphate.’ They believe that they simply cannot perfect their faith and live as true muslims under any other system. Add to that mix the eternal, perfect, immutable character of the Quran, and you end up with an ideology that is almost certainly beyond reform, IMO.

    Comment by Epiphyte — June 26, 2007 @ 5:48 pm

  24. “Which is it: anomaly or routine?”

    I’ll go with answer C: near-naked threat.

    “I’ve read alot of apologetics suggesting that Islam is today where christianity was 500 years ago; that we shouldn’t fret because a reformation was surely on the horizon, at which point Islam would separate church from state and become a personal faith rather than a socio-political ideology.”

    The difference is that Christianity was originally a peaceful religion that was corrupted into something monstrous by leaders who cared more about worldly gain than pure faith, whereas Islam was originally a monstrous religion that was corrupted into something peaceful by leaders who also cared more about worldly gain than pure faith.

    Islam has its Martin Luther already. His name is Osama bin Laden.

    Comment by Tatterdemalian — June 26, 2007 @ 6:22 pm

  25. Hi Christian: My pastor is rather a difficult man to sort out–he seems to be very much hail-fellow-well-met and not eager to promote debate, much less argument, but I will say he sat by me while I asked all this stuff and never turned a hair (to stop me or suggest that we not bring up these questions). I don’t suppose that our speaker’s statements had the same impact on him as on me, but it’s hard to say for sure. I was not encouraged by his questions or by the way in which he asked them: “So, should we be afraid of Muslims?” like it’s an all-or-nothing deal, either we’re afraid of them all or we’re ridiculous, there’s nothing to fear. That question, actually, expresses a larger stereotype than any that would occur to me. As I expressed it to him, I will maintain a healthy dose of fear for the ones who want to see non-Muslims suppressed or killed, and it’s certain those do exist. Our speaker didn’t really do much to disabuse me of the notion that many mainstream Muslims, either tacitly or openly, support that notion–especially when couched in language calculated to appeal to bleeding hearts, like “Why can’t we have this one thing that you leave alone?”

    Comment by Anwyn — June 26, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

  26. Philosophically, the separation of church and state was not difficult for Christianity. The early church was never an expression of State and early christians generally eschewed temporal power in favor of the spiritual kingdom of which Christ spoke.

    Wouldn’t want to nit-pick, but I’m not sure this view really stands up to historical scrutiny.

    Throughout most of its history, Christianity worked hand-in-glove with “temporal power”. Each used the other to cement their respective monopolies, from Constantine, to Charlemagne, to as recently as, say, Napoleon.

    Now, you say “philosophically”, and that I suppose is true as far as it goes, considering the teachings attributed to Jesus (“Give unto Caesar, etc.”) But as a practical matter, for the better part of two millenia, the separation of any state from the Church could only be viewed as the prelude or consequence of some truly cataclysmic departure from the natural order of things. For a couple centuries, Europeans fought savage, internecine wars to exterminate those who disagreed with them (or their King) over what you suggest is a trifling point…

    The present situation with Islam is different in a lot of ways. First, there is no single authority like the Catholic Church, which, whatever one thinks of its moral record, was historically a strong force for order and against radicalism. Second, I think the real conflict today is not between Islam and Judeo-Christian faiths, but really between Islam and secularism. Judaism and Christianity have largely (apart from a small minority of ultra-Orthodox/Quaker sects) accommodated themselves to the modern Western secular society. Sure, they complain, and sometimes with reason, about this or that, but they accept the individual freedom that a secular political society affords them in return for tolerating others who don’t share their faith.

    In order for Muslims and Westerners to co-exist peacefully, it is necessary for Muslims to be able to accept real or perceived insults to their faith. “Accept” not in the sense of “agree with”, which is what they demand of us, but rather in the sense of: “I won’t murder you, mutilate you or burn your house down for saying that.” What is most depressing about Anwyn’s account is how blithely and categorically the Muslim “representative” rules out any possibility of that.

    Comment by LagunaDave — June 26, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  27. Islam had no Age of Reason or Age of Enlightenment: There was no Muslim Renaissance. What little intellectual achievement there has been in Islam – mostly in the fields of music, mathematics and astronomy – was decidedly exceptional and happened outside of the main stream of Islamic “thought,” such as that is.

    As Islam is anti-dog it is also anti-thought: Just as “there is no fun in Islam” there is no logic either. That is why your Muslim speaker is perfectly representative. There is no contradiction in his mind as to what he says and believes, because contradiction does not exist for him. There is simply no cognative dissonance for him regardless of how obvious it is to us that his positions are contradictory: He simply reacts to any percieved threat to Islam in a dissociated stream-of-consciousness way, with no memory for how his tenets relate to each other en toto as a logical construct.

    Being a Moslem basicaslly means inheriting a culture that has been intellectually lobotomized.

    Comment by Hucbald — June 26, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  28. Islam had no Age of Reason or Age of Enlightenment: There was no Muslim Renaissance. What little intellectual achievement there has been in Islam – mostly in the fields of music, mathematics and astronomy – was decidedly exceptional and happened outside of the main stream of Islamic “thought,” such as that is.

    I think this misses the point. For its first 750 years, Islam far outstripped the West in intellectual accomplishments. Math and astronomy were the cutting edge by which measures such accomplishments, and between 750 AD and about 1500 AD, there were few if any Western intellectual accomplishments worth mentioning.

    When Galileo had the temerity to point out evidence that the Earth moves around the Sun, he was shown the instruments of torture and told to shut up or else, by the Pope. But in less than 100 years science began to flower (primarily in Protestant areas where the Pope’s writ didn’t run, I might add) and hasn’t looked back since in the west.

    That this has not happened in the Islamic world in the intervening 500 years is a consequence, not the cause, I think, of their inability to evolve a tolerance for disagreement.

    Let’s be fair, it is not as monolithic as you suggest, either. Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and Iran are either now, or were once, closer to the accepting modernity than the pre-Enlightenment Europeans. One of the tragedies of history is that modernizing trends in the Islamic world, when they have appeared, have not been able to sustain their gains.

    And the second time as farce: Western “progressives” are today exerting all their energies to making sure it happens again, in Afghanistan and Iraq…

    Comment by LagunaDave — June 26, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

  29. Submitted for Your Approval…

    First off…  any spambots reading this should immediately go here, here, here,  and here.  Die spambots, die!  And now…  here are all the links submitted by members of the Watcher’s Council for this week’s vote. Council li…

    Trackback by Watcher of Weasels — June 26, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  30. LagunaDave:

    I agree. The challenge is convincing muslims to accept the indefinite primacy of secular law over the Quran (and I should have been more clear. When I say the “early Church,” I’m talking about the actions of the founders of christianity in contrast to the actions of the founder of islam. You must agree, the two examples are diametrically opposed.)

    Comment by Epiphyte — June 26, 2007 @ 9:08 pm


    Here’s a fascinating blog post about a church that invited someone from the local mosque to speak to the congregation. The stated purpose of the visit, from my church’s perspective, was printed in the newsletter: “In an increasingly fragmented world…

    Trackback by trying to grok — June 27, 2007 @ 5:41 am

  32. The Bible and the Koran agree on at least one thing: if you would be justified in killing someone, you would also be able to justifiably deceive that person. The disagreement on this point comes when you try to define the “who” and /or the “situtation” in which you’d be justified in killing someone. The Bible lets an innocent person kill a would-be murderer in self-defence, but it sure does not say that “unbelievers in general” can be justifiably killed on account of their unbelieve. But that is exactly what the Koran and Hadith say about the “kuffar” or infidels. The “kuffar” can be justifiably killed in the context of Jihad. That also means that we can be justifiably lied to and deceived in the context of Jihad. So . . . how can we “kuffar” ever know when a Muslim is speaking truthfully to us, and when we are being lied to?

    Comment by Christopher Witmer — June 27, 2007 @ 6:35 am

  33. Its unfortunate but the reality of the matter is we have nothing meaningful in common with the average Muslim whatsoever. We must fully appreciate that fact nor does the Muslim have anything in common with us.

    I don’t even pretend to be able to hold my own with deciphering the ancient texts of the Bible and the Koran. I can, however, take argument with the above statement. I have a good friend who is Muslim and he is in my top 5 of decent people that I have ever met. He is American, very smart, has a high degree of integrity, is moderately conservative, and tolerant of others. I (being a caucasian, Christian woman) also happen to have a lot in common with him.

    To make such a broad-sweeping generalization adds no value to the discussion at hand.

    Is there such a thing as an “average Muslim”? Is there such a thing as an average anything when you are talking about people? God created us in his image, but every individual is unique. Your point would be valid if you pinpointed “radical Muslims”. And even so, I will take it a step further and point out that I or “we” don’t have much in common with radicals of any religion, even Christianity. Branch Davidians anyone?

    Comment by thelmajoy — June 27, 2007 @ 9:37 am

  34. Any “compare and contrast” exercise between Islam and Christianity needs to take into account the basic differences in the origins and history of these religions.

    For better or worse, Jesus lived in a part of the world that was subject to first the indirect rule, and then the direct rule, of the overwhelming regional hegemon- that is, the Roman Empire. It is, in context, hardly surprising that Jesus did not attempt to raise an army against Rome but instead famously counseled the wisdom of “rendering unto Caesar.” But Mohammad evolved from a small warlord into the hegemon. And, surely, these origins are well reflected in these religions’ sacred texts.

    Perhaps as a result, there is no real equivalent to a Caliphate in European history: the pope was the pope and the prince was the prince and the two institutions were never combined. Thus, even Constantine did not presume to declare himself Bishop of Rome, nor did Charlemagne grab the Pope’s vestments, nor did Innocent III declare himself king of France.

    In short, even in those states with Established churches, there was always significant tension between church and state (as, for example, in the various investiture conflicts)- a tension which appears to be mostly absent in Islamic history.

    Indeed, the role of religion in Islamic states seems deeper and more pervasive than has ever been the case in Christian states. Consider, for example, the meaning of “lawyer” in New York City, and in Tehran- the former is a secular professional, while to the latter, “law” is an implementation of Islam.

    Comment by Peter Chrzanowski — June 27, 2007 @ 11:35 am

  35. I lived in the Middle East for a number of years in various nations. Christians and other religions are at best harassed. All are subjected to official government obstructionism and are often denied the protection of the law. At worst any religion outside of Islam is treated like the plague. Show me an area where Islam reigns and I’ll show you an area without tolerance.

    Comment by Thomas Jackson — June 27, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

  36. The Council Has Spoken!…

    First off…  any spambots reading this should immediately go here, here, here,  and here.  Die spambots, die!  And now…  the winning entries in the Watcher’s Council vote for this week are A Stunningly Dishonest Piece of Ad…

    Trackback by Watcher of Weasels — June 28, 2007 @ 10:03 pm

  37. Council speak 06/29/2007…

    The council has spoken. The winning council entry was Bookworm Room’s A stunningly dishonest piece of advocacy writing about the Supreme Court in which she deconstructs Jeffrey Toobin’s critique of the Roberts court for the New Yorker. Alas this tren…

    Trackback by Soccer Dad — June 28, 2007 @ 10:58 pm

  38. Inconvenient truths…

    In the name of understanding other religions, a Muslim visited the church of a blogger named Anwyn. Anwyn didn’t let all the obfuscations, platitudes and assurances of goodwill toward others go unchallenged.

    So let me get this straight: Riots of…

    Trackback by Hoystory — June 29, 2007 @ 1:13 am

  39. Watcher’s Council results…

    And now…  the winning entries in the Watcher’s Council vote for this week are A Stunningly Dishonest Piece of Advocacy Writing About the Supreme Court by Bookworm Room, and The Rupture by Seraphic Secret.  All members, please be sure to……

    Trackback by The Colossus of Rhodey — June 29, 2007 @ 5:35 am

  40. Wonderful piece, and a fine piece of advocacy on your part. This man is, at the least, a jihadist enabler. Certainly an apologist for jihad. He gives himself away at every turn of phrase.

    When he speaks of “The illegal occupation of Palestine,” of course this is code for the State of Israel. He is not talking about Gaza, which is now Judenrein (aparteheid anyone) nor Judea and Samaria (The West Bank) which so many would like to see Judenrein—as are the 22 Arab/Muslim nations.

    I’m not really disturbed by your Muslim speaker, coating jihad in sugary tones is business as usual for these creatures who make it their business to show up at these dopey inter-faith dialogues.

    Notice: Christians and Jews never explain their faith at Mosques. As always with Muslims, interfaith dialog is a one-way street—which ends at the muzzle of Kalachnikov.

    Your speaker: Fourth Generation Warfare par excellance.

    I am extremely disturbed by the naivete of the members of your congregation. I have lived in Israel, I can tell you that Muslims persecute Christians with great ferosity whenever they have the opportunity.

    The obsequiousness displayed by your pastor, and the members of your Church, verges on the, well, stupid and suicidal

    The Jews in Israel are fighting for their very national existence. They are also fighting for the existence of Judeo/Christian values. If Christians in America make common cause with jihadists under the fig-leaf of multi-culturalism—that spells doom.

    Comment by Robert J. Avrech — June 29, 2007 @ 9:44 am

  41. Islam has a weird idol worship problem compared to Catholicism, Protestantism, and various other religions. Even with Buddha and Jesus, they are not exactly worshipped as Gods themselves, yet with Mohammed he is a god and he is taken to be never wrong. Because Mohammed is a person, that produces a couple of logic problems.

    Not only because what Mohammed taught was wrong but rather that you cannot reform Islam if you name all your children “Mohammed” as if Mohammed was some kind of God you still worship. If you bring Mohammed to such a pedestal of perfection above God, then there is no way you can question his teachings and if you cannot quesiton his teachings then you cannot correct and reform them into something humane and workable for the 21st century. Just as it was with God, and following the literal word of God put down in the Old Testament; without the influence of Jesus and the New Testament, things would be a lot harsher. But even then, I don’t hear a lot of Christians naming their children “Jesus”.

    Comment by Ymarsakar — June 29, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  42. Even with Buddha and Jesus, they are not exactly worshipped as Gods themselves

    This is the most bizarre comment I’ve seen in awhile. I’m not a Christian believer myself, but if you think Jesus isn’t “worshipped as god,” you don’t know much about Christianity…

    But even then, I don’t hear a lot of Christians naming their children “Jesus”.

    I see you don’t get get to Latin America much, either…


    Comment by LagunaDave — June 30, 2007 @ 8:05 am

  43. A blogging force of extraordinary magnitude……

    …forged in the spirit of our ancestors, will be posting here for the next week or ten days while I am relocating. They have my…gratitude. Regular readers know Okie and Geoff already. Cameron may make an appearance as well. But……

    Trackback by JunkYardBlog — August 16, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

  44. Can you be killed for posessing a qua ran if you are a non muslum?

    Comment by levi.hollingsworth — November 4, 2008 @ 6:14 pm

  45. Da spam! Da spam! [Yes, it’s back.]

    Comment by Xrlq — September 23, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

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