Those who defend Islam as a religion of peace dissemble and have their heads in the sand (so to speak). Those who claim Islam is rotten to the core and needs to be gutted and refuted wholesale are also wrong and guilty of selective vision.
American-Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi, who would appear to have been reading the better blogs for the last year, says there is a third way:
- With the globalization of Islamic terrorism and mob violence, it is becoming increasingly absurd to ascribe the threat to a fanatic fringe. Yet between those who dismiss the growing Islamic assault on the West as marginal and those agitating for a war of civilizations, a third way exists: offering Islam the respect it deserves as one of the world’s great faiths while insisting that it confront its outmoded theology of domination.
Muslims who note that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance are right, but only in a medieval sense. Muslim law does indeed permit freedom of religion for Jews and Christians, who are cited in the Koran as “peoples of the book.” But the prerequisite for Muslim tolerance is Muslim rule. Even Muslim Spain, the medieval world’s most inspiring example of religious coexistence, was premised on the primacy of Islamic dominance.
….Those who want us to believe that the anti-Christian riots in Nigeria and the terrorist atrocities aimed at international tourism in Indonesia and Kenya are merely the work of a frustrated fringe are weakening the West’s ability to recognize the scope of the threat and to defend itself from a new totalitarian onslaught. But those who label Islam as inherently violent and intolerant are denying its capacity for spiritual growth. And they are abandoning those still-rare but extraordinarily courageous voices within Islam calling for theological modernization.
Winning this war, then, requires a two-pronged approach. First, the West must respond to aggression without sentimentality or self-recrimination. At the same time, we must support those who are struggling to help Islam evolve so that it can become again a crucial shaper of civilization. [LA Times]
Crush those who would crush – encourage those who would reform. I would add to this the importance of individuality: no pity for the Islamofascists – no prejudging of individuals. Or, think globally, act upon individuals individually.
Thomas Friedman sees (what’s with that Frito Bandito mustache, by the way, Tommy?) this crucial struggle for the direction of Islam going on right now in Iran:
- What’s going on in Iran today is, without question, the most promising trend in the Muslim world. It is a combination of Martin Luther and Tiananmen Square – a drive for an Islamic reformation combined with a spontaneous student-led democracy movement. This movement faces a formidable opponent in Iran’s conservative clerical leadership. It can’t provide a quick fix to what ails relations between Islam and the West today. There is none. But it is still hugely important, because it reflects a deepening understanding by many Iranian Muslims that to thrive in the modern era they, and other Muslims, need an Islam different from the lifeless, anti-modern, anti-Western fundamentalism being imposed in Iran and propagated by the Saudi Wahhabi clerics. This understanding is the necessary condition for preventing the brewing crisis between Islam and the West – which was triggered by 9/11 – from turning into a war of civilizations.
To put it another way, what’s going on in Iran today is precisely the war of ideas within Islam that is the most important war of all. We can kill Osama bin Laden and all his acolytes, but others will spring up in their place. The only ones who can delegitimize and root out these forces in any sustained way are Muslim societies themselves. And that will happen only when more Muslim societies undergo, from within, their own struggle for democracy and religious reform. Only the disenchanted citizens of the Soviet bloc could kill Marx; only Muslims fed up that their faith is being dominated by anti-modernists can kill bin Ladenism and its offshoots.
Unfortunately, we cannot sit back and allow this process to unfold over the 200 or so years it took for Christianity to reform itself, we must physically eliminate those who would harm us simply for not being like them. Is this hypocrisy? No – self-defense.