As most people who have been reading this web log for a while will have come to appreciate, I am not one to view the Muslim world through rose-tinted spectacles. Indeed I have never shied away from condemning the violence and depravity emerging from Muslim nations. I dislike the refrain that “The West” is to blame; those who study history and politics may see a shadow of truth in this, but the full picture is infinitely more complex. In any case, it is not really the traditional Muslim viewpoint. The Qur’an recounts the lessons of the Children of Israel – the Muslims of that age – precisely so that we may not repeat the mistakes of those who passed before us. But we do. I meet Muslims who consider themselves the Chosen People, who look upon others with contempt, considering their lives worthless like Gentiles deserving of whatever they get; meanwhile these Chosen Ones would never think to share their faith with them. Thus English Muslims like myself are not greeted with joy, but with suspicion and disbelief. But I digress.
This entry is a “But…” I agree that the Muslim world is awash with violence and depravity… But…
Yesterday I experimented with the Blogger search function, first typing in the word “Muslim” and then the word “Islam”. I cannot report that anything positive came back, at least amidst the first ten pages. All across the blogosphere people are writing about the barbarity of Islam; many of the US sites were also carrying a banner supporting a Democratic Iran – how considerate they are! Out there, Islam and Muslims are viewed with greater contempt than I could have imagined. Now some of this criticism is valid, but this is where the “but” comes in.
I came across a posting by a military man stationed at Pearl Harbour, USA, which argued that the “problem” is not with the extremists, but with Islam itself. It cited that horrific case where the so-called religious police prevented fifteen schoolgirls from escaping a burning school dormitory in Mecca because they were not “properly dressed”. Yes, you heard it; fifteen young girls burnt alive in 2002 because these imbeciles were worried that in fleeing their beds they would be wearing but pyjamas. The blogger’s opinion is that because Islam mandates a certain dress-code these people were correct according to their religion in preventing the children from escaping, which thus proves that Islam is a barbaric religion. Why then, if this were true, is a person facing starvation permitted to eat forbidden meat if nothing else is available?
Again, I do not deny that our house is far from being in order, but I have to object. The blogger calls Islam a barbaric, blood-thirsty and violent religion. I obviously do not believe that it is, although I do think that this description would suit some of our sick brethren. Yet this is where my “but” comes in. There is a vast amount of hypocrisy here which really irritates me. I suppose it irritates me more when it comes from those who passionately worship their nation, those who believe they stand at the pinnacle of civilisation. And there is hypocrisy.
Take this example: the accusation that we follow a barbaric, blood-thirsty and violent religion. You may not, but I see barbarism everywhere.
Which nation invented the nuclear bomb? It was not a Muslim nation. Which nation used the nuclear bomb, the combined death toll of which is estimated to range from 100,000 up to 220,000, of whom most were civilians? It was not a Muslim nation. Which nation created and deployed napalm (jellied gasoline) as a weapon of war, a substance formulated to burn at a specific rate and adhere to material and personnel? It was not a Muslim Nation (it was the Germans for the anti-Americans amongst you). Which nation has refused to ratify a United Nations convention banning its use against civilian targets? Which nation invented the vacuum bomb which causes its victim to implode from within when it is used? It was not a Muslim nation. Which nation undertook the extermination of up to six million Jews over a period of five years? It was not a Muslim nation. Which nation developed Botox and Anthrax as weapons of mass destruction? I could go on, but I won’t.
I see barbarism everywhere in this depraved age of ours. Muslim terrorists have hijacked and blown up civilian airliners, but so have Nationalists, Socialists and indeed States. In 1988 the US shot down an Iranian passenger jet killing all 290 people on board, while in 1983 the US accused the USSR of shooting down a Korean airliner, killing 269 people.
What can we say? Perhaps it is our mindset which is at fault, conditioned by the bloodiest century ever. What can be said of a race (the human race) which has turned killing into a form of entertainment? The Romans had their gladiators and we have Hollywood. We have got death and destruction down to a fine art: the subtle thriller about the lone murderer, the action packed adventure of one man verses the terrorists complete with buildings exploding and planes crashing, and the grim horror about the obsessed mass murderer. All in the name of entertainment.
The truth makes you weep. We live in a barbaric and deprave age. We see the kidnappings in Iraq today, but we recall the kidnappings of Afro-Americans in 1960s America. We see the beheadings of innocents today, but we recall the hangings and lynchings of innocents yesterday. We think of the bombs on the London tube system, but we remember the Omagh bombing as well. We lament the bombing of a mosque in Pakistan this week, but we remember the Oklahoma bombing a decade ago. We see Churches destroyed in Indonesia, but we recall the mosques demolished in Bosnia ten years ago. If we are honest, we see the depravity everywhere. If we remember, if we think deeply, we see the barbarity all over the place. All we can say is that we live in a barbaric and deprave age.
It is depressing, isn’t it?
So remember: we are not “all” killing each other. We are not all involved. There is light and love in the world. The Muslim doctor who will see you when you end up in casualty. The Christian nurse who will tend your scars. The aid workers to those in need. The man who makes sure his neighbour is well. Despite the depravity, there is still hope.
Remove the plank from your own eye and you might just see a little bit better.