Yes, We Can Expect Muslims to Exert Self-Control

In today’s debate over the responsibility of Muslims to rein in their excesses and terrorist activities, one writer posted some thoughts and questions.

In my particular stream of Christian experience there is a principle called “rightly dividing the Word” which usually concerns Bible study, but is a form of critical thinking that is applicable to thinking about issues, especially religious issues that we face in our present world. In that spirit I want to look at Dingo’s piece, Can We Ever Really Get Rid of the Messages of Hate?

One of his first statements is “a conversation I had yesterday….made me wonder, how much control the average Muslim has over these radical Muslim clerics. After all, I have no control over the radical Christian leaders.”
Following with several examples of his idea of Christian radical and violence-advocating leaders. Paul Hill -Reverend Bray -Reverend Fred Phelps -Jerry Fawell .

His next statement “While I don’t, for a second, think that the Muslim community is without fault in allowing the messages of hate and murder to flow from its mosques and schools, I also don’t think it is as easy as many Americans may think it is.” is also closely followed by his contention with Christians and their purported wrongs.

He concludes with “If we can’t reign in our own religious leaders from preaching hate, how can we blame the entire Muslim community for not being able to reign in their radical clerics.”

But I say, are we looking at similar situations? Just because you use similarities in terms, does this mean actual likeness in the objects of our reference? Moreover is Islam and Christianity enough alike to conclude similar outcomes?

First, let’s examine what we are looking at when we speak of the Muslim community exhibiting some internal control in the production of world violence and terrorism. We aren’t saying that the expectation is to control everyone’s mouth. The call to the Muslim community is to express rejection of those extreme elements, and to stop harboring and enabling the terrorists and their cells. To expose those who bankroll and encourage the slaughtering of people, the dissemination of terror for the sake of terror, and the intolerance of anyone unlike themselves. That is being asked, and it is a reasonable request. Stop supporting terrorists in your midst. Plain and simple.

I don’t believe Islam has the type of shunning and excommunication process of Christianity, but every religious and culture group has a peer system of pressure against those things which are taboo. We are saying to call outright unmerited murders of people taboo, and show in their actions and their statements that it is so. Stop enabling, stop excusing, stop winking your eyes at the evil in your midst, arising from your own.

This does not mean that the radicals won’t speak and teach their poisons anymore, it means that it will not be supported and approved by the group.

The basic premise which we have proven in our society is that the average guy does have influence over the leaders with prestige and power simply in withholding compliance and support. Leaders are nothing without followers. Simple truth. Leaders know this, how is it that Dingo has problems with the connection?

When I first read this post of Dingo’s I felt he was asking honest questions, but as I have looked with a narrowed eye here, what do I see? Displacement of the accusations… no longer are we discussing the problems of Islam in encouraging terrorism, no. We are now listening to the airing of complaints against Christians. After a sufficient case is made to blame them, we hear the wail of what can be done to expect any compliance on the part of Muslims? How can they accomplish or be expected to accomplish any sort of temperance of their violence?

Let’s look at this.
First, as a Christian I am only familiar with a couple of these named offenders of the Christian label. And one of those was not promoting hate or violence. Jerry Falwell’s comment on 9/11 was his opinion concerning God’s judgment. While it might be taken as approval of the events, I don’t believe – as a Christian who knows about such teaching- that this was his intent.

What it is in fact closest to, is the Left’s view that the terrorism we see is a result of the West’s actions. That is what it is closest to in spirit. Which in my opinion misses the point, but makes a lesser point. Not totally wrong, but wrong enough that it is an offensive stance to take. I don’t agree that we see such action/reaction results in these situations. We see accumulations of things that are very wrong, and that need a broadbased set of actions to right.

Phelps is outside the mainstream of what any Christian believes and thinks, and I will say this: more needs to be done to correct the message. More can be done. Perhaps as we look at the problems in the Muslim community it can help us see our own in a light that instructs us… but it is not apples and apples… and this must be made clear.

I would say first of all, that Christianity is clearly bound by tenets of peace. It has expressions of warfare, but these are relegated to spiritual fields in the teaching, in practice there is the rule to turn ones cheek and to bear with wrong as much as is possible. This is the personal responsibility, and the state has other responsibilities. The state must be a force for justice. and that will be so for those calling themselves Christians who overstep the bounds of law.

I don’t know that Islam has within itself the basic premises of peace. I know they claim to, but whether they can divest themselves of their violent tendencies I don’t know. It seems that jihad is intrinsic to the religion.

If it is, then Dingo gets his point, but not on the backs of Christians.
Not all fundamentalism is the same and not all has identical outcomes. It depends upon what one is fundamental about. And if that point is not driven home, then we are due to see some tragic injustices within our country.

8 thoughts on “Yes, We Can Expect Muslims to Exert Self-Control”

  1. Ilona, when I read Dingo’s post, it’s like an Escher engraving. You can see it two ways. I think it is a genuine question, for instance when he says:
    As we see in our own community, when we are free, we can never fully rid ourselves of these preaches of hate. The Muslim community does have a lot of culpability in the current degree of hate being preached, but if we ever expect them to live in a true democracy (as we claim we do) it will be impossible for them to ever weed out all of the religious extremists, just like it has been impossible for us to do the same.

    There is a question there that is valid. Freedom is not consonant with suppression of very much speech. There is a lesson there he is not getting, which is the one you explained in this post when you wrote:
    This does not mean that the radicals won’t speak and teach their poisons anymore, it means that it will not be supported and approved by the group.

    The reality is that far more than 95% of all Christians disapprove of messages of violence and hate. But in the Muslim world of today, at the minimum, a significant and substantial minority do approve at least cognitively of violence as a means of spreading their religion. If we look at our own religion, it is clear that whenever Christianity has tried to be a secular state it has taken some deviant turns.

    However, the union of the secular and spiritual community is a central tenet of Islam, so that is the doctrine that must change for conditions to change.

    In support of what you write about displacement, see this Common Dreams article:
    It begins:
    Now that imams in Britain and Canada are standing up and publicly condemning terrorist acts as anti-Muslim and against the teachings in the Qur’an, I wonder if pressure might be put on Christian leaders to take a similar stand.

    I have to admit that I am both confused and disturbed about the conflations I am seeing on the left. I believe that they are so fundamentally irrational that they leave us powerless in the face of a real and virulent enemy.

  2. I don’t have any history with Dingo as a personality, so I wrote on his post as a WYSIWYG. I don’t try to explain his intentions as a person, but the meaning of his posted words. Sometimes we do not ourselves see what we are actually getting at- and that is one of the assets of writing it out: it clarifies the thinking.

    I find that the Left is loathe to give up its war against the Christian, and is using this situation with Islam to exert leverage in censoring Christians all the more. Because it is not enough to remove the Ten Commandments from a hall of Justice.

    Since when did Christians as a group wage wars of terror on the inhabitants of the USA or UK that they should be called to toe the line? What is being asked of Muslims? That they stop killing – unmitigated and wanton killing- and that is why we ask for INWARD control. None of us are interested in handing them preformulated sermons.

    When Christians as a group are killing everyone that they can…. then go ahead, call in the censors.

    And this is the crime at the base of Dingos post: he is blaming someone else and spreading the culpability to Christianity. That was the message, MoM, no matter how nice a guy he is, that is what I saw after looking carefully into what the post was actually saying.

    I don’t excuse myself and I don’t excuse my friends if truly wrong. And we all will have to take up this attitude if we ask it from the Muslim.

    It is a matter of consistancy, in order to avoid hypocrisy.

  3. The IRA just decided to denounce violence.

    Anyway I think a basic skimming of the Qu’ran or any up-to-date book on Islamic theology would show that you that, like the Judeo-Christian religion, that both violence and peace is a characteristic of it’s faith (at least historically). Jihad, in the Muslim faith has both, the literal violent and the more spiritual meaning (you know, kinda like “crusade” for Christians?).

    Naturally one can’t equate the two: Christianity, because of Western (not necessarily secular now, don’t bite me) intellectual, social, economical and technoligical process is at a completely different place now. Islamic countries can’t say the same, for a number of a reasons, some of which has to do with “The West” whether we’d like to admit it or not, and many other’s that have to do with their own historical and cultural conflicts in the area dating back to B.C.E. It’s never black and white.

    I’m not particularly interested in arguments where people duke it out over which is the worst religion; I don’t think that’s productive. I guess my major problem with some of your points is that you look at the religion as a vacuum without distinguising between different cultural, tribal and theological differences that influence the Islam faith, not to mention the political and economical factors. Perhaps that’s intentional but it leaves a lot of gaps.

    And I guess I’ll never get over the fact that you think Muslims as a group are out to get you. 🙂

  4. One of the stumbling points for many who look at violent rebels against Christ who claim to be working for Christ is a lack of understanding of the New Testament and exactly what Jesus sacrifice means.

    No one upon reading and understanding the New Testament could justify the Crusades or fairly apply the blame for them upon those who are in obedience to Scripture.

    To even be a Christian implies that one is like Christ. Without acceptance and understanding of Him and His teachings, what is left is not Christianity.

    Without the New Testament teachings and understandings, you don’t have Christians. Can one (and I truly am asking, not being facetious) read the Koran from front to back and conclude that there is no standing call to violence? Those who say that about Christianity based on the Old Testament have no understanding of Christianity, merely The Previous Covenant.

    (Great post Ilona!)

  5. Mark, I think that is an excellent clarification. Sometimes I think Protestants have an easier time seeing the fact that the Crusades were an aberration.
    Although I would hasten to say that we need that insight kept foremost.

    Our present engagement with the political scene is a temptation to muddy the clear waters of the gospel. While we work within the culture and exercise our rights as citizens we will need to remember the important lessons from that. Ours is not a temporal kingdom.

    “The IRA just decided to denounce violence”
    I take it you think that is a religious conflict. It is a political conflict with religious lines and overtones.

    This is not at all comparable to the Islamic jihad. Where did the Catholic Church issue demand to fight in Ireland? Nowise. Because it is political in nature.

    “Christianity, because of Western (not necessarily secular now, don’t bite me) intellectual, social, economical and technoligical process is at a completely different place now.”

    It is at a different place now, one that I attribute to the Reformation, which was a call to return to the original writings of the Bible Canon. Technology had nothing to do with it unless you are talking about Gutenburg’s press. I would be hard pressed to find ecomonic reasons for any changes in Christianity. The biggest change was returning to the roots, the fundamentals. And I will dare to say that it will always be so… the farther out you go from that the more you risk becoming something other than Christian.

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