Thursday, 31 March 2011


This post is going to summarize a great deal of noise I hear about how Islam is worse than other religions and how much fear and violence Muslims spread. I will then explain why that kind of characterization is false by comparing it to other religions and events in the world.

One of the big arguments is that wherever there are Muslims there is violence.
Yes, that's true, but that's true about almost any given (exclusive) group in the world. Any group with some kind of ideology has committed violence.
Some examples of this would be: (very simplified, but I can go into details if anyone asks for them)
- Sri Lanka : This is where Buddhists (supposedly another religion of peace) Sinhalese people killed thousands of Hindu Tamils.
- Ireland/UK : Catholics vs Protestants (Fixed, thanks to AG)
- China : Government vs students
- Rwandan genocide : Tutsi & Hutu
- Biafran war : Igbo vs others
- Congo
- Drug Crime in Mexico
- FARC in Columbia

Basically every place with people who have a strong sense of identity to a group (self-identified and/or imposed) has had violence there, which is a main reason why there seems to be a lot of violence with Muslims. It's a group which has very strong ties to certain ideologies. Additionally, consider the fact that Stalin (a non-theist) murdered millions of people, how can you keep saying that just Islam carries violence?

It's part of humanity. Humans everywhere have been fighting for one reason or another and it all basically boils down to power.

Muslims are trying to take over the world
This makes as little sense as saying this about any group in the world. Islam is as fractious as any other large group in the world. Muslims are not all controlled by some master brain which tells them do go forth, kill, multiply and conquer...
Most ideologies do try to advertise themselves as the best or only ideologies that matter, which is true of many religions but also of other things such as political ideologies. People who are politically on the right would almost automatically dismiss whatever people on the left of the aisle are saying no matter what it is, and vice versa.

Islam is no different in this regard and does try to get more and more people to join, but this is also true of Christianity, but would you say Christians are trying to take over the world ?

Islam is a religion of hatred and warmongering
I don't even think I should bother with this one. But basically what people do is find verses in the Quran that tells someone to murder people and this way justifies that the whole religion supports murdering people.
You can do this with the Bible and the books of most religions or ideologies in the world too.

Muslims get all the social benefits in the country they live in but would not offer any if it became a Muslim country
Have you thought that maybe they came to these countries because they like these benefits and it would be something they would not want to change ?

They want to institute Sharia Law everywhere
It's funny you'd say that when it is exactly Muslims who are fighting with their lives right now to become democracies. They are doing the exact same thing the French did in 1789 !
A lot of Muslims want to be able to have Sharia alongside civil law, yes that much is true, but people who live in Western countries or most of them do not want to institute stoning and so on which is part of the original form of Sharia law just as it is in the Torah or Bible.

This is a very old trick people use where Muslims - all of them - are lumped together in one group, called "They". People do not realize that similarly to any other group in the world, Islam and Muslims are divided into many sub-religion and sub-beliefs. The two most famous ones are Shia and Sunni Islam, which are the two main denominations, but then each of these are divided yet again into smaller systems of belief.
To lump all Muslims into one big black pot is the same as saying that all blondes are stupid.

Last but not least
Islamophobes would certainly keep finding out things to say against Muslims. They will scour the net for news about Muslims hurting others. However, they would miss everything else in its entirety.
They would miss the news in the Ivory Coast where Muslims are being attacked by Christians under Gbagbo.
They would miss the news of Muslims being attacked by Hindus in India and Pakistan.
They would miss the news about China arresting bloggers speaking their mind as I am now.
They would however find out about every single Muslim attacking non-Muslims in the whole world. Of course, there are more than a billion Muslims and a big part of them live in countries with faithful of other religions, so it makes sense there would be attacks between them.

Inherent Fear
This fear of Islam and Muslims seems to coincide with the fall Communism. People seem to need to fear something. After World War II, the West feared the big bad Red wolf of Sovyet Russia. Now that the big bad wolf is only a medium-sized wolf, a new lion has emerged that makes people afraid again. Islam is a very efficient tool for politicians to use to rally people to a shared cause, similar to the Crusades in the Middle Ages. Beware the big green lion of Islam, he's going to eat you!

Similarly to how kids get scared of monsters under the bed and how parents make sure that they would not leave their beds in the middle of the night. Fear of Islam is used to justify massive scale wars, it is used to justify the occupation by foreign troops of two countries.
Of course a lot of people start hating the West when all they see the West is doing is sending battleships, destroyers, gunships, fighters, bombers, UAVs into their (neighboring) countries !

There are many other examples like these in the world which try to defame all of a certain faith or belief system by tying everyone of the system together and putting bad connotations to all of them.
Yes, there are bad Muslims out there who condone violence and step out for it. There might even be a great amount of them numbering in the millions, but most Muslims are like any other human being and all they want is to live their lives in peace, take care of their family and so on.
I believe that this fear of Islam is something that is taught to children in a way very similar to West/East indoctrination of kids during the Cold War where each side taught that the other one was bad and wrong.
Unfortunately my blog is not going to change much of this, if any.
And I might of course be wrong about everything I'm saying, but probably not.

I hope this makes you think about something...


  1. Islam is a political force as well as a religion and it contains its own political and social values. In this, it has things in common with pre-Enlightenment Catholicism.

    The Middle East may be in crisis with its citizens in a number of countries pushing for democracy but one shouldn't imagine it is necessarily the same sort of democracy as in Western Europe.

    Much of Western Europe has a liberal democratic sort of system. That is, the values of liberalism are at its core. It is more than a system of government by the people for the people.

    Islam has values which are inherent to the religion which are at odds with those of liberalism. That is not to say that the two systems cannot co-exist but there will be systematic tension between them.

  2. Of course it might not be the same kind of democracy, but who knows, it might even be better. Liberal democracy does lend the voice to many stupid people unfortunately ... :D

    Yes, Islam does have those values, but so does any exclusive religion like Christianity and Judaism. Not that much different anyway. See Crusades/Inquisition for many examples of Christianity that can be used in a bad way.

    The Muslims in those countries are asking for equal rights in a similar way to the French in the 18th century, it did take several decades for France to become even close to what it is now, so I'm not expecting it to all happen overnight, but I think they're starting of well by kicking out the monarchs like the French did.

  3. One of the fundamental principles of a liberal country like the UK is that the State ought to maximise freedom.

    In common with other European countries, the UK recognises Article 9 of the ECHR and Article 18 of the UDHR. It also recognises Article 10 of the ECHR and Article 19 of the UDHR.

    What this means in the UK is that the State cannot mandate a religion, people can convert as they wish, and people may blaspheme against any religious idea. Those rights and values over-arch all religions, including Islam, as a matter of high principle.

    If Islam, i.e. its adherents, can accept that in the UK then it's all fine. If not then we have a problem I think. The same applies to Christians and others too, of course.

  4. I think the other reason Islam has gotten a bad rep is because the media has focused on overexposing the villains and the traditions in Islamic countries. Add this to the fact that Osama bin Laden managed to shake up the US and people are bound to stereotype.

  5. PS: "- Ireland/UK : Catholics vs Christians"
    It should be ..Catholics vs Protestants, just so you know...
    btw; great blog!

  6. AG, you're right :) That's what happens when you have no proof readers. I'll fix it now.

  7. AG is the person who posted a comment on the 6th of June before I posted mine.

  8. Great post! Fair, unbiased and logical. But I believe there is no smoke without fire. You see David, like you mentioned somewhere in your post, there are organizations like the Jemaah Islamiyah who are bad people wanting to do bad things and twist Islamic verses and teachings and make it some sort of holy Jihad to justify and garner support for their actions.And they have caused a few bombings and killed a few people. And of course you get the extremists like Osama Bin Laden who want to restore the Muslim Caliphate through blood and violence. You also get some fundamentalist clerics living in the UK who want to segregate themselves from the rest of the country and the vices that supposedly according to them a liberal Western Democracy allows.

    To my mind its a matter of choice. Coming from Malaysia, I have met all kinds of Muslims, and I think it actually is up to the individual to decide. There are those who let religion ( in this case Islam) engulf their whole life and identity, and that's when it get's dangerous. But there are those.... errm... more well balanced individuals who have far more nuanced and multi-faceted (i.e. more open minded). But this is the same for any religion, and I think you are right to point out that much of the Islamophobia is irrational and uncalled for