"The Conflicts" section has excerpts from a Karen Armstrong book and a Bernard Lewis article. I found both of these rather fascinating as Armstrong discussed Muslims and the West and Lewis, The Roots of Muslim Rage. It's like by reading their words I can see my people, my culture, my faith through Muslims' eyes. Of course Armstrong and Lewis aren't Muslims so I'm not positive that they have accurately represented the situation, but I like to think these historians know of what they write. Several things were interesting, but for now I wanted to share this. Read them and let me know your initial reaction to these words. Do you agree? Disagree? See any contradictions or things that may be problematic?
"It is better for the West that Muslims should be religious," Qaradawi argues, "hold to their religion, and try to be moral." He raises an important point. Many Western people are also becoming uncomfortable about the absence of spirituality in their lives. They do not necessarily want to return to premodern religious lifestyles or to conventionally institutional faith. But there is a growing appreciation that, at its best, religion has helped human beings to cultivate decent values. Islam kept the notions of social justice, equality, tolerance, and practical compassion in the forefront of the Muslim conscience for centuries. Muslims did not always live up to these ideals and frequently found difficulty in incarnating them in their social and political institutions. But the struggle to achieve this was for centuries the mainspring of Islamic spirituality. Western people must become aware that it is in their interests too that Islam remains healthy and strong. The West has not been wholly responsible for the extreme forms of Islam, which have cultivated a violence that violates the most sacred canons of religion. But the West has certainly contributed to this development and, to assuage the fear and despair that lie at the root of all fundamentalist vision, should cultivate a more accurate appreciation of Islam in the third Christian millennium. (pg. 190, Karen Armstrong)
And then this:
There is something in the religious culture of Islam which inspired, in even the humblest peasant or peddler, a dignity and a courtesy toward others never exceeded and rarely equalled in other civilizations. And yet, in moments of upheaval and disruption, when the deeper passions are stirred, this dignity and courtesy toward others can give way to an explosive mixture of rage and hatred which impels even the government of an ancient and civilized country -- even the spokesman of a great spiritual and ethical religion -- to espouse kidnapping and assassination, and try to find, in the life of their Prophet, approval and indeed precedent for such actions. (pg. 208, Bernard Lewis)
The Karen Armstrong bit I understood to the degree that ideally religions make us do right. They inspire us to live moral lives, to be compassionate, to help the weak, to be kind and all that. However, I think many people in the United States do not want Islam to be "healthy and strong." This is why you often hear a "whew!" sigh of relief when you find a liberal Muslim as opposed to a conservative one. Whereas we may be fine being conservative in our own faith, we certainly don't want Muslims to be the same. This is because we often feel taking Islam seriously and literally means they hate us and try to take over the world imposing their ideas and way of life upon us. Is this messed up? Is this too much stereotyping and taking what television shows and movies have shown us "true Islam" is and, therefore, it's making us fearful? Ohhhhh, real Muslims shout "Allahu akbar!" and then blow things up! So says the media quite often.
What do you think about the West being responsible somewhat for the development of fundamentalism? In what ways can you see this being true? How can Westerners "cultivate a more accurate appreciation of Islam"?
What most stuck out to you from this post? Anything you want to address? Please feel free to share your thoughts!