(See also: Two Shades of Dismay: The Perverse Bondage Wrought by Liberalism and Islam)
The 9th anniversary of 9/11, continued hostilities abroad, a Ground Zero mosque, Koran burnings—tensions between Americans and Muslims have never been higher. We should not be surprised. As the renowned and pioneering historian Bernard Lewis noted 20 years ago in The Roots of Muslim Rage, “the classical Islamic view, to which many Muslims are beginning to return, [is that] the world and all mankind are divided into two: the House of Islam, where the Muslim law and faith prevail, and the rest, known as the House of Unbelief or the House of War, which it is the duty of Muslims ultimately to bring to Islam.”
After the events of 9/11, Professor Lewis, in The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, also noted that much of the animosity directed toward the West, particularly the United States, is due to old-fashioned envy—stemming from Western progress and Islamic decline. As one reviewer put it, the crux of Lewis's argument is “the sources of rage among Muslims stem from the deep frustration over the loss of a cultural primacy that was once theirs and has now been lost to the forces of modernity, especially as represented by the United States.”
It is rather telling to examine “the loss of cultural primacy” within Islam, along with the overall effect Islam is having on nations and individuals the world over. Of the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), as rated by the Economists Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy, none are full democracies, while 35 are authoritarian regimes (dictatorships). Of the Index’s 10 most authoritarian regimes, 7 of them are members of the OIC.
Muslims are 23 percent of the world population and produce barely seven percent of global GDP. The median GDP rank for the members of the OIC is 124 (out of 181 nations). The total GDP of the 57 member OIC is approximately $4.2 trillion. That is less than one-third of the GDP of the U.S. alone ($14.3 trillion).
According to the United Nations’ Arab Development Report: More than half of Arab women cannot read; One in five Arabs lives on less than $2 per day; There are less than 18 computers per 1,000 persons in the Arab world, compared to the global average of 78.3; and only 1.6 percent of Arabs use the Internet.
In the 57 nations in the OIC there are a total of about 500 universities. There are over 5,700 in the U.S. In just over 100 years, the Muslim world has produced eight Nobel Laureates while a mere 14 million Jews have produced 167. There are about 400 scientists and engineers per 1 million people in research and development in Arab countries, compared to about 4,000 per million people in North America.
Particularly disturbing, and most telling, as one examines Islam, is the role of women in Islamic society. Islamic law (Shariۥa) prohibits women from looking men in the eye, forbids them from wearing shoes that make noise, and forbids them from becoming educated. As Ergun and Emir Caner note in Unveiling Islam, “women are considered possessions in any orthodox Islamic regime…The wife is considered the husband’s sex object.” Also, one of the most alarming admonitions in the Koran allows the husband to punish his wife physically.
Of the 8 nations that the U.S. has placed on its State Sponsors of Terrorism list, 6 of them are Islamic regimes. Of the 20 nations the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has under its Country of Particular Concern designation, or on its watch list, half are Islamic regimes (all of the others are differing authoritarian regimes, along with India, Russia, and Venezuela). Nice company, huh?
Religious freedom in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia is virtually non-existent. Like many other Muslim countries, Saudi law states that Islamic apostasy—denying the faith or converting to another religion—is a crime punishable by death. In 2006, Afghan citizen Abdul Rahman was arrested (after it was discovered that he possessed a Bible) and faced the death penalty for converting to Christianity. Intervention by Afghan president Hamid Karzai resulted in the charges against Rahman being dismissed.
Leading Afghan clerics were highly critical of Karzai, noting that “The Qur'an is very clear and the words of our prophet are very clear. There can only be one outcome: death.” This attitude is very prevalent across the Arab world, validating Professor Lewis’s notion that “many Muslims are beginning to return” to the “classical [violent and repressive] Islamic view.”
In Turkey in 2007, two Turkish converts to Christianity were killed in the Malatya Bible Publishing Firm murders. Also in 2007, Mohammed Hegazy became the first Egyptian Muslim officially to seek to convert to Christianity. An Egyptian judge ruled that, “He can believe whatever he wants in his heart, but on paper he can't convert.” Muslim clerics issued fatwas calling for his death. His wife’s family has sworn to kill her because she married a non-Muslim. They are both currently in hiding.
All of this pales to the slaughter in Sudan. The Institute on Religion and Democracy reports that “since 1983 Sudan has been devastated by a jihad or holy war led by the militant National Islamic Front, the ruling regime in Khartoum, against all in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains who opposed the imposition of Shariۥa, or Islamic law. The government-sponsored terror has resulted in the deaths of at least two million moderate Muslims, animists, and Christians.”
Of course, as the Caners point out, “Any major religion must first be seen through the eyes of its founder…Muhammad commanded in the Qurۥan, ‘Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them’ (surah 9:5)…in a world searching for peace, following the life of this warrior brings about bloodshed.” Moments before Abu Mus'ad Al Zarqawi cut off the head of American Nicholas Berg, he said these words in Arabic: “The Prophet, the master of the merciful has ordered to cut off the heads of some of the prisoners of Badr in patience. He is our example and a good role model.”
Zarqawi knew that Muhammad had often used beheading as the means of executing his enemies. Thus, Zarqawi was unmistakably choosing to emulate his “good role model” and spiritual leader.
Clearly, by and large, Islam is an enforced religion with a violent founder, a violent founding, and a very violent past and present. Islam is generally repressive to women and to those of other faiths. Islam is typically financially devastating and technologically backwards. Jesus Christ said, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart (Luke 6:43-45a).” The fruit of Islam is bitter, indeed.
Copyright 2010, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
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