It ain’t always easy being a friend of Islam

When a supposedly moderate Islamic government like Pakistan’s has a law on their books making blasphemy a crime, well, they don’t make it any easier for those of us who are friends of Islam.   And when a person is sentenced to death for speaking their mind then it is time for Muslims around the world to speak out against Pakistan and sharia law.  There is no way that any  reasonable person,  of any religious persuasion, can justify persecution.

I don’t care if the women is Christian.  That is irrelevant.  It certainly is a big deal to a lot Christians, but this  would be just as insanely horrible if the accused was Hindu or Wiccan or  Muslim.   Yet, this  incident is providing Christian Islamophic factions (as well as some impassioned atheists)  some heavy ammo in their battle against Islam. And frankly, this particular Muslim fundamentalist position is pretty well indefensible.

I used to think of Pakistan as a civilized place.  The country has produced some extraordinary people who achieved extraordinary things in science and the arts.  Cosmopolitan cities.  Ranked in the top 15% of the world’s economies, according to GDP.  Heck, they even have the atom bomb.

A theocratic country with a medieval  mindset that has the atom bomb. Actually, dozens or maybe hundreds of them.  Gives one pause, doesn’t it?

Now, in Pakistan, there are some loud and courageous dissenting voices, in the media and in government as well.  One politician has introduced an amendment to the anti-blasphemy laws that would eliminate capital punishment for the offense.  Now that’s a good thing but it is not good enough.  No country should have any laws on their books having anything to do with blasphemy or any law protecting any religion from spoken or written criticism.  No country should ever have an overt alliance with any religion, Muslim, Christian or Jewish (sorry Israel and Texas).

I’d like to ask what a lot of people have asked before: where is the American Muslim outcry against Islamist tyranny?  I just spent a lot of time searching for something like this on the web and, well, I can’t find anything of the sort. Why doesn’t CAIR have anything to say about this? I mean, how can they see a major threat to American Muslims with Juan Williams’ relatively harmless off-the-cuff remarks and not see the danger in keeping silent on the tyranny of Pakistani sharia? This is like upbraiding a smoker for polluting the air while sitting behind the wheel of an idling SUV.

I have friends and neighbors who are Muslim.  We tend to keep the conversation outside of religion and away from international politics. But tonight I might risk propriety and ask for their take on this. Do they think  my question is a valid one?   I’ve also met some interesting Muslims on this blog and would like to ask for their thoughts  as well.

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  1. #1 by anon on December 2, 2010 - 10:40 pm

    Chris–please accept my apologies if I was rude or emotional. There are real problems in the Muslim Ummah and yes I am frustrated—by 2 things—1) the slow pace of change within (but considering that the Muslim Ummah is global—this is somewhat understandable). 2) That “we” are our own worst enemy. Today, politicians are giving in to elements of fear and intolerance to keep in power–and this is all across the world regardless of any religious affilliation of the country. In the west Islamophobic voices proclaim an intolerant and voilent Islam—in Muslim countries, Islamists proclaim an intolerant and voilent Islam—-In my opinion—a counter narrative is needed—but when sane and intelligent people are disunited and working at cross purposes—how is this narrative ever going to gain ground?

    If I have been harsh on the U.S.—my apologies. But this was because I was also blind myself. —I was in a conversation with someone regarding the brutality of the Taliban (before the war). I brought up the point that with a whole generation that grew up seeing nothing but war—to expect these people to return to civilized behaviour as soon as they laid down their arms may have been over-reaching—since they had never been in “civilization”. To this, the other person replied that–in that case, it was a good thing that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan because the U.S. being so much more “civilized” was doing a good thing—installing institutions and what not. The argument made sense at that time….though I still had some reservations. Then some news came that a group of U.S. soldiers had cut off the fingers of a bunch of random Afghan men for sport. And I realized—We are all human beings. Under the stress of war we are all beasts—It was wrong to forget this point and fall into the trap of thinking some people are “uncivilized” and others are “civilized” On the other hand—this also means all of us are also capable of achieving peaceful, just and free societies/nations. We all have immense potential.
    Soon after—I got into another conversation with a Catholic who was doing some interfaith work who wanted to discuss the Pope’s new strategy of placing importance on Muslim-Catholic interfaith relations.—Much of the discussion on his and other Catholic blogs were debates on whether Islam was a bigger threat or “Secularism” (probably means athiest?). —And I’ve come to the conclusion that any religion or ideology that requires an “enemy” to prop up its propositions is a worthless sham. Instead of looking around for enemies people should unite together in order to create change for the better—otherwise we are wasting our potential…..? But there is no way we can unite to solve problems unless we get rid of this inherent idea that some human beings are “better” than others. We are all human beings—all the same—-and when we take the “labels” out, the problems also become the same—Justice, Liberty, and Equality for all. Yet, we cannot forget that we human beings are also diverse. So, even though the problems might be the same—the solutions are not. However, when diverse people work together, it is easier to come up with unique yet workable solutions that we may not have been able to come up on our own.

    This is a very unsettling and uncomfortable narrative Chris. —-Because this means that I am going to have to come off my “high horse” and admit that if we are all human beings, then I am no different from the “Islamists” whom I dislike. They, like me, have fears and frustrations and in their own way are trying to find solutions to a new, confusing and globalized world……It’s a thought that’s hard to swallow—which may have resulted in an emotional outburst—I may have been trying to convince myself more than you. —anyway—I am still trying to sort out this uncomfortable idea……and somewhat wishing I’d never thought of it at all……..On the other hand….there is no other way forward….? we really can’t go around looking for enemies….

    • #2 by Christian Beyer on December 3, 2010 - 9:21 am

      No apologies necessary. I think, that when addressing issues that we are passionate about, we tend to be polemical. Certainly you pointed this out to me, and I thank you for that. The tone of my post was poorly designed to promote meaningful conversation. With your response, I tended to focus on those points that, in some way, consciously or not, offended me. Once I got beyond my pride and was able to really comprehend what you wrote, then I began to see your point.

      That is what I am really thankful for. You have opened my eyes to how, though well intentioned, I was becoming a part of the problem, not pointing towards a solution (if there is any – I am in danger of becoming disheartened over the prospects of some type of understanding coming about, as long as fundamentalist of both Christianity and Islam hold sway).

      But….for me, this little episode has been very enlightening. Perhaps there is hope.

  2. #3 by anon on December 4, 2010 - 3:16 am

    Actually I think there is. And in my opinion we should look at Secularism. For example–take America. At its founding, it was a diverse disjointed group—all with different ideas/beliefs. Then a group of men came up with an idea/vision that was so powerful that it caught the hearts and minds of all the people— then—and now. What makes this vision continue to be relevant today is that it was based on our very basic and universal human aspirations and desires.

    That’s what we need today—to revitalize this idea/vision. I feel what we (at least the Muslims) are doing today is reacting to the fundamentalist phenomenon—that’s why they have the narrative. If you look at extremism in Europe—that’s whats happening there too—they are reacting to it rather than providing an alternative vision. The problem is that there is a precieved failure of “secularism” in many parts of Europe and Muslim countries.

    What the founding fathers of America were able to grasp—is that if there are basic universal aspirations —then it doesn’t matter if you are a fundamentalist or a non-fundamentalist—for they will speak to you regardless. That should be the starting point in forming a new narrative.
    then—perhaps, these ideas can be translated into a language that fundamentalists can understand and engage with….?

    I know that “fighting” them isn’t working–because when you “fight” someone—you are making them the “other”. —there has to be another way…….

    As a Muslim non-fundamentalist, I have a problem with today’s secularism. I think it has lost its way. The governments no longer represent the people, there is inequality and often injustice. The powerful often exploit the weak. Huge governments and mega armies eat up our taxes like crazy…..There is a general feeling that secularism has lost its ethical/moral compass….if I am thinking of these things—then it’s likely a fundamentalist is also…..?

    …..just some thoughts…….

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