Symposium: When Does a Religion Become an Ideology?

In this special edition of Frontpage Symposium, we have invited two distinguished guests to discuss the question: When does a religion become an ideology? Our guests today are:

Tawfik Hamid, an Islamic thinker and reformer who is the author of Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam. A one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt, he was a member of Jemaah Islamiya, a terrorist Islamic organization, with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who later became the second in command of al-Qaeda. He is currently a senior fellow and chairman of the study of Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

and

David Satter, a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He was Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times of London from 1976 to 1982, during the height of the Soviet totalitarian period and he is the author of Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union, which is being made into a documentary film. His most recent work is Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State.

FP: Tawfik Hamid and David Satter, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Mr. Hamid, let us begin with you. Make an introductory statement for us to get our discussion started: When does a religion become an ideology?

Hamid: A religion becomes an ideology when the followers of this religion cannot tolerate the existence of those who have different views or beliefs, and when they understand their religious text literally and refuse to accept any way of understanding the religion other than their own way of understanding.

FP: Thank you.

Dr. Satter how would you now build on Mr. Hamid’s statement?

Satter: I think another way of putting it is that a religion becomes an ideology when man-made dogma is treated as infallible truth.

Although there are adherents of all three major monotheistic faiths who believe that every word of the sacred texts is to be taken literally, for the post-Enlightenment rationalist mind, there is a distinction between transcendent moral truths, exemplified in the case of Judaism and Christianity in the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments and the dogmatic contents of the religions expressed in their historical accounts and ritual requirements.

This distinction is important to bear in mind because transcendent moral truths are never the content of an ideology. An ideology contains an assertion about society that is treated as ultimate truth and applied indiscriminately to explain all aspects of political reality. Since transcendent moral truths owe their character to the fact that they are “over and above” society, they cannot contribute to the content of an ideology. In fact, the effect of an ideology is always to destroy true moral transcendence.

The ritual requirements or dogmatic assertions about history of a religion, however, are perfectly suitable for the construction of an ideology. The obligation in Islam to wage jihad, properly interpreted, can be made the basis of an ideology which treats waging war on unbelievers as the highest obligation of a Moslem and evaluates all actions in terms of the extent to which they support this sacred obligation. Other religions too have aspects that could become the material of an ideology. One example is the doctrine of the Jews as the “Chosen People.” Although this doctrine has never been used to justify the oppression of others, it could be.

A religion becomes an ideology when its man-made elements become an idée fixe and are seized upon as an idea that can be imposed on all political and social institutions in the interests of power. The temptation was explained best in Dostoevsky’s tale of the Grand Inquisitor where the inquisitor explains to Jesus the essence of an ideology’s appeal:

Instead of the strict ancient law, man had in future to decide for himself with a free heart what is good and what is evil, having only your image before him for guidance. But did it never occur to you that he would at last reject and call in question even your image and your truth, if he were weighed down by as fearful a burden as freedom of choice.

Laying down that burden may be easiest of all if the mental prison thereby created is constructed with the materials of supposedly sacred religious teachings.

Hamid: In general, I agree with many of the above views. I would like to add that, based on David’s analysis, I see that having an ideology is not by itself the problem. For example, the ideology of the chosen people — as he mentioned — was not used to oppress others.  It is the part of ideology that is used to oppress others, such as ‘violent Jihad’ in Islam that is actually causing the problem.

A good distinction that David made was the distinction between true moral transcendence and ideology. It is important to mention that one of the main problems in traditional Islam is that the pillars of the religion [to say Non G-d other than Allah and Mohamed is the prophet of Allah, the 5 prayers, the obligatory tax (Zakkat), the fasting of Ramadan and the pilgrimage (Haj)] are rituals rather than moral values. In other words, based on the traditional views within Islam, Bin Laden can be a good Muslim because he follows the 5 pillars of Islam. On the contrary, if the pillars of Islam include ‘you shall not commit murder’ or other moral values, Muslims would not have seen people like Bin Laden and the terrorists as real Muslims. The ideology and the religious dogma of the 5 pillars made many Muslims unable to use the transcendent moral truth to judge people like Bin Laden.

Regarding the view that ‘man had in future to decide for himself with a free heart what is good and what is evil,’ I agree with this but I will add that the inspired moral values from religion such as ‘you shall not commit murder and ‘you shall not steal’ should remain as the back bone for future moral values. We may change some practical applications for these values but the pillars for such values will remain — at least in the view of many — as inspired values via the creator (i.e. not man-made).

Regarding the statement that “Laying down that burden may be easiest of all if the mental prison thereby created is constructed with the materials of supposedly sacred religious teachings.” I have seen the practical application for this in our Islamic society when many in the Muslim world adopt Islam as an ideology as a reaction to the moral relativism concepts that flourished in the Muslim world in the 1950s and 60s partially due to the work of liberal movements. The Islamic societies could not tolerate the lack of clear borders or ‘prison’ for their mind and it was much easier for many in these societies to follow an ‘ideology’ with clear borders rather than having the burden of freedom of choice.

Satter: Muslims, of course, are not the only ones who seek “clear borders.” Very few people have the confidence to identify their fundamental moral values and apply them to the myriad of complicated situations with which life confronts us. Even the most educated people fall back on mental borders that are the product of past habit and unchallenged assumptions. The problem becomes much greater when the mental borders are ubiquitous and the product of a false universal theory – as in Nazism or communism – or the dogmatic contents of a religion as in the case of radical Islam.

We are also confronted with the problem of group dynamics. Ethical judgment is the property of an individual. Dogmatic rules guide the behavior of a group. They eliminate differences and mobilize people for common action. So to the difficulty of thinking for oneself is added in an ideological situation the emotional trauma of confronting the group. Under the circumstances, it is small wonder that fanaticism in power has such terrible force. It operates on the difficulty that people have, when challenged, of defending what is truly human in each of them, their ultimate moral sense.

So what can reinforce the moral sense of the individual in the face of religious or secular fanaticism? If I understand him correctly, Tawfik provides the answer with his reference to the five pillars of Islam, none of which deal with ethical values. I think we need to be very clear in distinguishing between dogma and genuinely transcendent values. In the case of Nazism and communism, the task was easier because there were no transcendent values. Communism prided itself on its rejection of metaphysics. But in the case of radical Islam, the fanatics can draw on an authoritative religious tradition. Every word of the Koran is treated as divine truth and the authoritative interpretation of the Koran is or, at least, can be seen as being implicitly terroristic.

It seems to me that, under these circumstances, we must insist on our ability to define terms. To be truly religious, values must be transcendent. They cannot be derived from a political objective, for example, creating a classless society or a restored Caliphate. They can’t be based on the hatred of outsiders whether capitalists or infidels because the tensions that these hatreds reflect owe their origin to society which higher values necessarily transcend. Where the measure of right or wrong is the interests of a group, whether the proletariat, Aryans or the ummah, we are dealing with man made dogma regardless of any pretended religious justification. Its absolutization creates an ideology not a religion and it should be treated as an ideology and not granted the legitimacy of a religion with which it actually shares nothing. In the case of Islam, this does not mean an attack on Islamic practices as such but only their use in the service of terror under which circumstances, the issue of transcendence becomes relevant. To search for meaning is only human but it can lead to barbaric conclusions if it proceeds without ethical guidance. In a nuclear world, we need to defend the distinction between higher values and dogma as a matter of fundamental self defense.

Hamid: I agree with the points that David mentioned and would like to add more applied points that relate to Radical Islam.

David raised the point of “Difficulty to think for oneself”. This is exactly what happened to me and to many members in the Radical organizations. We felt that we are like sheep that just need to follow the leader. Individual thinking was lost especially when the radical leaders discouraged us from ‘thinking’.

David considered the ummah concept as “a man made dogma regardless of any pretended religious justification”. This could be true however; Muslims see the ummah concept as a religious based one. It is vital to understand how Muslims see such a concept in order to be able to approach the problem and deal with it correctly. In this regard, it is also important to emphasize that Communism and Nazism were seen by most of their followers as manmade ideology. In Islam, the situation is completely different as most Muslims see the ideological component as a religious revelation from Allah. In the former situation (i.e. manmade ideology) it is much easier to change the ideology as you can prove it wrong. When the ideology, as in case of Islam, is processed at the subconscious and emotional levels of the brain (as a religion) rather than the high cortical levels (as the case of communism and Nazism) it is much more difficult to change it.

I completely agree with David about the need to have a clear distinction between religion

and Ideology. Islam that only works inside a mosque as a form of individual worship can be considered a religion. However, Islam that is used as a political power and a controlling system for the society must be treated as an Ideology. The West need to be clear about this issue, as giving the Ideological part of Islam (that promotes violence and control of others) the protection and privileges that are given to a religion can be catastrophic. This ideological part of Islam has to be fought as the case with fighting communism and Nazism. If we failed to make such a separation between Islam as personal type of worship and Islam (or its interpretations) as a political and driving force to dominate others we will not be able to control radical Islamic ideology in the future. In fact we may be actually giving support to the radical ideology if we gave it the advantages of a religion. Allowing the ideological part of Islam to flourish under the banner of religious freedom weakens the spiritual part of the religion itself and makes things more complicated.

Satter: Politics dominates our lives and there is always a temptation to make a religion out of politics. If a political objective has divine significance, it is worth dying for and, of course, worth killing for. Those obsessed with a political mission are fearless and resourceful. Relieved of the need to exercise individual moral judgment, they become ruthless spies, talented strategists and remorseless killers. This is why it is so important to show a political ideology in all its man made artificiality. Only in this way can an ideological movement be discredited.  One hopes that it will be harder to organize mass crimes on behalf of a system that has been shown to be not divinely inspired but man made. In any case, the effort offers some hope for the future.

FP: Tawfik Hamid and David Satter, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

  • Scot

    Then, Islam seems very much an ideology/cult to me! So now what? Any idea what needs to be done to a cult with few billion supporters, etc?

    • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mbaird628 Mark Baird

      Conservative Judaism and Chrisitanity in the US seems to also be a cult. It seems to me that all three Abrahamic faiths are guilty of this at one time in their history, today and in the future.

      • Foolster41

        Sorry, but you're foolish if you can't tell the difference between the teachings of Islam ("Slay ye the unbeliever") and Judaism and Christianity ("Turn the other cheek").

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/The_Inquisitor The_Inquisitor

      Treat it as the alien subversive enemy of America which it is. We did not tolerate a Nazi or a Communist Party. In the same vein we should not tolerate an Islamic Party posing as a religion.

      Once we entered WWII we would not tolerate swastikas parading down the street advertising and advocating Nazism. Neither should we allow the flaunting of burqas or other similar advertisements and advocacy of our enemy; such Muslim dress is a political statement and should be treated as such.

      During WWII we sent German citizens in America back to Germany. We should at the very lest deport Muslims who aren't American citizens and prohibit Muslims from entering America.

      • Setterman

        The problem is that the Gordian knot of Islam and other religions tied together as equals is false; Islam should be treated as an enemy, not because it is a religion, but it is a disease intended to destroy all other faiths, and that will include the Globalists and the Communists.
        The US Marines will not allow a Marine to have a Confederate flag tattoo, but a Muslim doctor was allowed to voice and preach Islam to his patients?
        Well, this is the kind of PC crap that you can expect to snowball with this new relationship we now have with the AOC.

  • Patrick49

    A discussion of a religion's beliefs and an ideology is an academic exercise when it comes to Islam as historically Islam was not spread by sandal shod mendicant mullahs preaching from the Koran but by mounted scimitar wielding jihadists as described in "Dhimmitude for Dummies" by Victor Sharpe in which the following is found:
    "But what of the peoples and nations that fell under Islamic occupation? For them the story was one of forced conversions to Islam, slavery, death and the Islamic institution of dhimmitude ."
    Here are the words of Winston Churchill on Islam from The River War (1899), his account of the Sudanese campaign. Winston Churchill was a man whose prescient warnings about Hitler were ignored by the world. Mr.Churchill' concludes:
    "Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science – the science against which it had vainly struggled – the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."
    The world appears to be doing the same today.

    Who and where is the authoritative voice of Islam? Actually no one Muslim or Muslim organization speaks for Islam. Any Islamic mullah can issue a Fatwa, an Islamic license to kill, on anyone for any perceived slight of Islam, the Prophet or whatever reason he thinks justifies a death sentence. In the real world, issuing an order to or soliciting for someone to kill another person is a criminal offense and subject to arrest and trial but political correctness allows Muslim clerics to order killings without fear of punishment and the Western world cringes at the idea that a fatwa or a threat might be issued for an author, comedy show, publisher, movie director, actor, historian, museum or even a University, the Metropolitan Museum and Yale are the most recent examples along with Comedy Central that have and so practiced self-censorship and political correctness under or to avoid threat or actual attacks from Muslims.
    Until the first arrest order is issued for a mullah who declares a fatwa against anyone for any reason, the rest of the world is under the control of radical Islam. Islam must rid itself of the jihadists who foment terrorism, murder and conquest under the banner of the Islamic religion.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ClaireSolt ClaireSolt

    Since 1917 the caesarpapism has spliit with the demise of the Ottoman empire. The emergence of national identies is the most promising antidote.

  • http://www.lifeshaven.net Utopian

    Islam is in a death-match with the world, as their own words attest: "Fight and slay the pagans [any non-Muslim] where ever you find them. Seize them. Beleaguer them. Lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war." Surya 9:5. Is it not an act of folly to grant citizenship to any group of men who are sworn adversaries to American liberty, liberties granted to us by the shed blood of so many? The momentum of this religious bigotry will not cease until verses like this and others from the Koran are publicly condemned by Muslims. Only then can they be entrusted with American citizenship.

    • Tanstaafl

      As long as the Qur'an is viewed as the words of Allah (Muslims believe that the original Qur'an exists in heaven) there will be jihad.

      8:39 "So fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief [non-Muslims]) and all submit to the religion of Allah alone (in the whole world)."

      Muslims not only have to condemn ayas (verses) such as this, but also allow Muslims to leave Islam (the current penalty for apostasy is death) and concede that the Qur'an was written by human beings and not Allah.

      • Wael

        The problem is that some people try to interpret things according to their understanding without contextualizing the holy Koran. What do you make of the holy "crusade war against Muslims," declared by George Bush? Or what do you think of the two million innocent people who lost their lives under the pretext of freedom and war against terrorism? What do you think of the armed Israeli soldier who spares lives innocent children and women just because they throw a stone or stand against Israel? What do you think of the Palestinian diaspora in all over the world and how can you solve all these problems by your Utopian society? Please, do not forget the red Indian massacres and the intimidation of African American slaves throughout the American history! Please, do not take one verse and you build your own argument on it while you lose sight of other verses in Holy Koran like this " God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God loveth those who are just." Definitely, this verse interpret the verse you used to build your argument on the aggressiveness of Moslems, fueled by Koran. Self-defense is a legal right for everyone to protect family, property, country, etc. I hope that this response is enough to say that you have to provide a whole vision of I slam and not be a picky choosing verses and interpreting them according you whims and hidden agendas!!

  • Gamaliel Isaac

    There is confusion here about what a religion is that stems from the irrational assumption that all religions are good. According to that line of reasoning if all religions are good and many Muslims do bad things than they must not be motivated by religion but rather ideology. Religions are quite capable of being bad. Get the delusion of the religion = good out of your brains boys!

    • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mbaird628 Mark Baird

      All three Abrahmic religions use their faith in the service of their egos. It is always the "others" that are trying to destroy all that is good in the world. Where are the counter arguments in this article or is this about self-indoctrination.

      • Chezwick

        This is a classic case of moral equivalence. A half dozen abortion doctors have been murdered in America over the last 30 years by Christian extremists, and in Mark Baird's warped universe, this is no different than the hundreds of thousands of victims of Islamic terrorism worldwide over the same period.

        Yes, all Abrahamic faiths promulgate a negative parochialism, but Mark's apparent inability to distinguish the profound differences in their respective scope and degree reveals a very undiscerning and ultimately adolescent world-view.

  • BellaMia

    Great discussion. As a Christian, a Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) it is useful for us rely on the atonement (At-One-Ment) of Jesus Christ. As Christ has taken on the sins of the world, we can let offenses go and not seek revenge. Crimes against the community must be punished to protect people, but we have no need for scapegoats. We also don't need our neighbor to be Christian, it would be lovely if they were, but it is not necessary because we are not held accountable for our neighbor's sins. For most offenses our job is to forgive, and love our enemies; we pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us. The Great Arbiter will balance the scales of justice on our behalf.

    (When I think of how this works in practice, consider the case of the Islamist Trolley Square teenage shooter in Utah. As word got out that he had killed 5 people and injured 4, there was an outpouring of support for the shooter's parents who were immigrants from " Cerska, a town in the Vlasenica municipality of Bosnia and Herzegovina." Strangers from the community brought flowers, food, and condolences to the shooters parents and money was raised for the burial costs. Someone donated a gravesite. The parents had been initially fearful, but then overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and compassion.)

    • jack

      i hope i go to hell so i never have to see any christians or mormons ever again

  • Don L

    "When Does a Religion Become an Ideology?"

    Another answer might well be: when it spends all its energy fighting the existence of God.

    And so it is with the out- of-the-closet activist atheism that is rushing to catch up to the other formal religions as it unleashes its Catholic and Jew Bashing as the latest level of weapon of the decedant secular society of today. The ACLU is a religion!

  • Kala

    And when does an ideology like environmentalism become a religion? Or liberalism?
    Nancy Pelosi says she always works through "The Word"?

    • Ipso Facto

      In order to answer that question you must first define the word "religion".

      First and foremost a religion can be characterised by two features.

      1). It is a form of world view. Each religion interpret the world and why it is as it is. It also more closely defines the situation of humans in the world and express an attitude to what is important in life; and this attitude can be expressed in more or less precise demands as to how life should be lived.

      2). The second feature defining a religion is that it is not based upon rational reasoning. You can not achieve a religious belief by purely rational means – logical considerations or knowledge based upon experience – you must necessarily make a “jump” beyond rationality. That is the same as saying that a religion necessarily must be founded on BELIEF (which means, that you hold something for true without sufficient rational justification for it actually is true). When the belief can be supported by facts and become knowledge, it is no longer a religion.

      Cont …

      • Ipso Facto

        Cont …

        Therefore environmentalism or liberalism become a religion or has some features in common with a religion, if they are not based upon rational reasoning but upon irrational belief. (The second defining characteristic).

        In my view both ideologies are based upon irrational belief making them religious or pseudo-religious.

  • steven L

    For a significant minority of "extremists", it is/was/has been an ideology from day one. A big black hole based on domination at any price (kill anyone on your way) combined with hate of those who refuse to be their slaves.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JHY JHY

    I agree with all above.I think a religion is defined by a moral code based on text " Scripture " THE TEACHING of the scripture is THE PRINCIPLE source behind the choices & behavior of followers.
    Muslim identification since 9/11, irrespective of degree or type of religiosity, has become ideologised in the increasingly dominant discourse of umma nationalism.

    Umma nationalism seems to be, currently, a dominant mode of thought for many Muslims, in the west as well as the Muslim world. It conceives the political world as one of confrontation between Muslims on the one side and hostile Christians, Jews and Hindus on the other. It is a variant of the "clash of civilizations".

  • USMCSniper

    From Ayn Rand: The real conflict, of course, is reason versus mysticism. But if it weren't for the altruist morality, mysticism would have died when it did die — at the Renaissance — leaving no vampire to haunt Western culture. A "vampire" is supposed to be a dead creature that comes out of its grave only at night — only in the darkness — and drains the blood of the living. The description, applied to altruism, is exact.

    Western civilization was the child and product of reason — via ancient Greece. In all other civilizations, reason has always been the menial servant — the handmaiden — of mysticism. You may observe the results. It is only Western culture that has ever been dominated — imperfectly, incompletely, precariously and at rare intervals — but still, dominated by reason. You may observe the results of that.

    The conflict of reason versus mysticism is the issue of life or death — of freedom or slavery — of progress or stagnant brutality

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mbaird628 Mark Baird

    "However, Islam that is used as a political power and a controlling system for the society must be treated as an Ideology. " And Chrisitanity and Judaism are not in todays world with the rise of fundementalism in the US?____"Western civilization was the child and product of reason "____It would appear to me the fundementalism/ideological thinking is impacting all three Abrahmic religions even in the US. In fact, "reason" seems to be in decline throughout the US. Reason begs for the truth and as I see no counter arguements on this discussion I would say that this is more of an "indoctrination" rather then a discovery of truth.

    • Foolster41

      Keep chanting "three Abrahamic religions" over and over again as if it's true and maybe someone will believe it. As Islam wasn't a moon god that had nothing to do with Judaism (and illterate Mo got the Judaic history all wrong by the way) and Mo didn't try tacking on the Judeo-Christian values on to his "new" religion.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mbaird628 Mark Baird

    "is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left."

    This tells me alot about author of this article. Jamie Glazov's world is filtered through his ego just as they are with radical Islam. These types of people are not interested in the truth, only finding facts that support and protect their ego.

    Like radical Islam Jamie Glazov also has his enemies that are destroying all that is good in the world.

    • Chezwick

      And of course Mark Baird's world view is entirely unaffected by ego…and he is intrinsically interested in the truth.

      If you can't ascertain the the concepts of scope, extent and degrees when discussing the fundamentalism that afflicts the various religions of the world, then you are hardly a paragon of objectivity. You and Rosie O'Donnell have a lot in common.

  • Ipso Facto

    "When does a religion become an ideology?"

    The answer is quite simple. Any religion that does not implicitly in its own sacred texts separate the “two regiments” the divine or religious sphere and the empirical or political sphere can be described as political doctrines or ideologies given a divine justification.

    Or in other words the degree of acceptance of secularism is the defining criteria.

    It is impossible to build a political power upon the radical obligations Jesus put forward in his Sermon on the Mount. An army or a police force turning the other cheek; a tribunal that does not judge, is absurdities in our world. A state power trying to live by the demands in this Sermon has eliminated itself. Also the words of Jesus give no foundation for a violent transformation of a society.

    Cont …

  • Ipso Facto

    Cont …

    The individual must accept the political conditions ("Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.") or limit himself to some form of passive non-violent resistance.
    A preaching of this nature makes no demands to posses societal power. It does not give political laws, and it does not lay a foundation upon which it is possible to build a worldly power.

    Also in this more radical form the preaching of Jesus is defined by an acceptance of the division between religion and politics. Politics must look after itself. Jesus does not demand how the society should be structured, but he place moral obligations on the individual – demands the individual must fulfil on behalf of himself and not on behalf of others or the society.

    Cont …

  • Ipso Facto

    Cont …

    The very opposite is the case in Islam. There religion and politics are one and the same. Bernard Lewis makes this unity clear in “Islam and the West”:

    “To Muslims the state was God´s state, the army God´s army and the enemy was of course the enemy of God. Of greater practical importance was that the law was God´s law and in principle there could be no other law. The question of separating church and state did not arise because there was no church, understood as an independent institution which could be sorted out. Church and state was one and the same.

    Thats why Islam by necessity is an political ideology and Christianity is not!

  • Chezwick

    HAMID: "This ideological part of Islam has to be fought as the case with fighting communism and Nazism."

    We see this kind of nonsense time and again. As much as Tawfik and Hamid and so many others would like to believe otherwise, there isn't TWO Islams, a peaceful, individualistic one and a militant, violent one. There is only one Islam, of which violence, supremacism, and intolerance are an integral part.

    We'll never defeat the violence and extremism of Islam without an honest exposition of Islamic theological intolerance, including the profound moral failures of the "Prophet" Muhammad. This means deconstructing Islam in our schools and universities and speaking of it openly and honestly in our political discourse.

    In a sane world, we would be encouraging mass apostasy from Muslims by contrasting the values of an open society with the values promulgated by Muhammad in the Quran and the Hadith. THIS is how to defeat Islam…not by validating it and thus undercutting the efforts of genuine Muslim reformers, but by shining the light of truth on the theological and historical intolerance that has defined Islam since its inception.

    But of course, it isn't a sane world.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

      Chezwick, your post was a sane and well-reasoned exposition of the real problem that we face, throughout the world. Thanks!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Parmenter Parmenter

    I have a worldview, you have a religion, he has an ideology.

  • Richard Weinberg

    Islam is neither a religion nor an ideology. It is an evil, oppressive, murderous cult.

  • Beth

    Jamie,…. (Question: What makes a Muslim a Muslim?)

    The Koran puts forth several writings that specifically, and clearly, command Muslims to slaughter 'the infidels' (non-Muslims).

    To suggest in any way, those commands of the Koran are "an ideology" – is to keep from confronting the truth straight on. As much as the truth here may be offensive to the many,…Islam is a violent religion.

    The Koran speaks 'in a spirit' and commands humans to kill each other. It's a religion. The Koran is the sole supreme authority of Islam. Regardless of whether it is a false or true religion, it is still a religion. (if there are false gods and false prophets, then yes, there are false religions also)

    The Bible commands all "Thou shalt not kill". We are told that it is the angels (NOT HUMANS) who will come forth and sever the wicked from among the just – Mat 13:49

    The two (religions) can never be mixed. They'll never agree. Ever.

    • JESSY

      If you do not know the whole fact about a certain religion than please do not say anything against it!
      THE KORAN SPECIFICLY STATES THAT NO MATTER WHAT THE CURCIMSTANCE MAY BE, NO HUMANBEING IS PREMITED TO TAKE AWAY THE LIFE OF ANOTHER HUMAN AND THE ONLY ONE THAT HAS THIS RIGHT IS THE ANGEL OF DEATH

      • Beth

        I only know what I know from reading the koran online Jessy. The words say what they say…..and you are NO more intelligent than I am.

        My defense in this debate Jessy – is this: There is not one single sentence that exists in the New Testament that teaches humans to be violent with each other. Not one.

        There is an old chinese proverb Jessy….and it goes something like this: "Give me you child for the first five years of his life….and I'll make him mine forever."

        You'd think the leaders of this world….at this present time…..would take such wisdom into great consideration, if they truly loved their own children before themselves. But I digress.

        And so, I ask you…would it be wise to teach all young:

        Don't you lie?
        Don't you steal?
        Don't you cheat?
        Don't you murder?
        Don't you covet?

  • Beth

    Concerning borders….

    2Jo 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine [of Christ], RECEIVE HIM NOT into your house (in the Spirit), neither bid him God speed: [the Koran denies the Son of God and calls Him an abomination]

    Humans have a choice (and that's all they were given)…

    "thou shalt not kill" (New Testament)
    or
    "seize and slay without mercy" (Koran)

    Because of the numbers in each house, neither command can be changed, and nor can the two ever agree. Jam 3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

    Eph 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour:

    1Ti 1:18 …according to the prophecies which went before on thee – that thou by them – mightest war a good warfare.

    Those prophecies are about Palestine…
    (See the prophecies) The saints 'sing' this prophecy (song) Rev 15:3

    …..This is how (and the only way) to defeat Islam, a religion that declared war on all, – a long time ago.

  • Beth

    Jamie, the 'ideology weapon' is just another tool for Islam. It's an excuse for Muslims to continue denying the truth about their own sole supreme authority – their Koran, the most violent book on earth….

    Beheadings (047.004) – Racism (005.041) – Gang Rape (033.052) – Crucifixions (005.033) – Genocide (033.061) – Treason – (008.067)

    Because "we reap what we sow" it is very important to remember….the 'moderate' Muslims STILL bring their Koran with them. And no amount of any kind of 'discussions' will ever solve what that book produces.

    Personally, I would beware of such discussions.

    Beth

  • Asma

    Islam is a religion of peace.However its not a pacifist religion like Christianity. where as Christianity expects its followers to offer the other cheek when slapped,Islam expects its followers to slap back if someone slaps you,but advises that a superior
    action would be to forgive and not retaliate.
    Allah does not like aggressors so Islam forbids you to be the first to fight,but expects you to fight in Allah's name if others attack you. Islam hates idolatry .However it refers to Jews and Christians as people of the book.
    Islam is not about rituals ,it has two aspects for a Muslim's behaviour.:

    Huqooq ul Allah (Man's duties to Allah) which include the article of faith which states that there is one and only one God and Prophet Muhammad is the prophet of God., five times in a day prayers, fasting in the Islamic month of Ramadan, giving Alms to the poor and performing pilgrimage once in one's life time if you can afford it. All of these things have no value if they are treated and acted upon as rituals but are valued if done for Allah and Allah alone.
    Huqooq ul ibaad (man's duty to man) which include all the good deeds like not to harm fellow human beings both verbally or physically,being truthful at all times,being honest in money matters and transactions etc.

    • JESSY

      i agree with you 100% except the part of fighting in Allah's name if others attack you because i think one should leave it up to Allah to punish the wrong doers!

  • Beth

    Why you can not understand that such a teaching is offensive (and dangerous for a whole society) is mind boggling for me jessy.

    I did not write the words of your koran…and they are on the internet for all to see for themselves. And for you to say that I don't understand them – simply because you have more understanding than I do – is an insult.

    Do you belive in crucifying someone simply because they don't believe as you do jessy? If yo say yes…then you are a stranger and there is no futher debate to be had between us. But if you say no, then you are in total disagreement with that which you claim to be defending.

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  • Warmac9999

    This is an excellent discussion. The part of Islam that embraces personal struggle is not much different than the Christian ideas of sin and struggle. Unfortunately, islam’s face to the world is one of perpetual violence. The number of Islamic terrorist incidents around the world since 9/11 are approaching 22,000 and the number of dead in the hundreds of thousands. This is a level of violence akin to a low-intensity world conflict that can flare into a major war, even a world war. God forbid that the violent jihadists get access to a stockpile of modern nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. No one anywhere will be safe from mass annihilation.

  • joshyb

    Blame the Rothschilds!
    They caused all the wars and murders!
    They cause false flags and the muslims are blamed