Realism and Islam

“…On the basis of evidence and theory, we cannot conclude from the fact that Islam is a “religion” that therefore it is not “violent” or is so only by abuse of its own founding. It is possible to be a religion and to espouse violence. (Were this not so, we would have to exclude many key passages on the Old Testament itself.) We cannot obscure what is there and affirmed to be there by Muslims themselves. Realism means that we can and should call what happens by its proper name. It also means that, if we cannot or will not make this proper naming, we are not realistic. We will inevitably suffer the consequences of our failure to state the truth of what is there.

These things are said not to promote counter violence against Muslims or to justify Muslim violence against others. Rather it is to respect Islam’s insistence that all those inside and outside of its enclosure be subject to the law of the Prophet. Whether we like it or not, this vision of world rule that is proper to Islam can only be called “religious” in nature. It is rooted in and promoted as a worship of the god called Allah. Not to take this wording seriously is unrealistic. The Muslims who claim that they can read their religious texts as if such violence is not advocated and justified may be applauded for trying to mitigate the historic record. But the fact is that those who see this violence as essential to the religion have the better side of the argument and are the better witnesses to what historic Islam stands for.”

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