"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Prosperity's Importance Over Morality & Conflict with Muslims

From reading books and seeing the news I often get the impression that Muslims take very seriously any attacks on "their brothers" especially when it is outsiders who do it. Perhaps it's not such a big deal if it's sectarian fighting (e.g. Shia Muslims vs. Sunni Muslims), but when it's the "Christian" West (and I use that term Christian extremely loosely) then it's for sure the Crusade days all over again. 

Again, this is my impression.  I could be completely wrong.

So I was wondering when is it ever okay for Westerners to fight people in Muslim countries?  It seems many Muslims are fine with our bombing in Libya since Gaddafi isn't a favored Muslim with his silly Green Book, inflated ego and love of power.  But one of the things I hesitated on from the beginning of this imposed no-fly zone was that it would be turned into some propaganda of the Christians again hurting the Muslims.  Seems perfect recruiting material for Al Qaeda.  I think even Gaddafi tried to use it to his advantage.

I mentioned I was reading Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World by Akbar S. Ahmed and in the preface he talked about former United States President Bill Clinton.  The author was giving an example of Muslim perspective on the West and - like it or not - the USA often represents "the West" to the Muslim world.  So what about Clinton?

In August 1998 he admitted to an affair with Monica Lewinsky and followed this by bombing on two continents, in Muslim countries.  Mr. Ahmed said this confirmed "what Muslims widely believed...about American society: that it has little to offer the world except sex and violence."

Also President Clinton demonstrated his lack of honor: "a man caught telling lies to his nation, his supporters and colleagues, and above all to his family.  A man who had no honor was not a worthy man and could not be trusted." 

He continues: "Interestingly the fact that most Americans, through the polls, continued to support Clinton despite his lying and deceiving convinced the Muslim world that economic prosperity was more important than honor and morality to the Americans. The polls were showing that separation of Clinton's private morals from his public office.  This was a division that could not be accepted in a society which cherished honor."   (pg. xiii)

So do you agree that we value economic prosperity more than demanding morality in our leaders and in ourselves? Do you? Is this a good thing according to your perspective or not?  I must say that I heard plenty of people here argue about the value of demanding moral behavior from our President so while the wider American opinion may have been "who cares what people do in their private lives?", I know many people did have huge problems with our Commander in Chief doing such things.

Also since I brought up the topic, when is it permissible for the United States and other Western countries to fight in Muslim countries? Honestly I hate the distinctions that we are fighting Muslims as if our fight is always about a religion and not criminals who happen to call themselves Muslim, ya know? But it seems many enjoy labeling it such and I wonder if it has roots in that Dar al-Islam stuff which pits Muslims against the rest of the world.

Sadly there are times when secular nations and those with more Christians than Muslims have conflict with nations where the majority are Muslims. What should the criteria be? We can only fight against predominantly Muslim countries when the Arab League and the UN Security Council give their thumbs up to it?

I wish there were no reasons to fight. I'm getting very weary of it and wish we could all just

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." 
(ESV, Romans 12:10)


Suroor said...

Not only does the USA represent the West to the Muslims, it also represents Christianity! I don't see how Islam (a religion) can be compared to the West/USA (a place/system), but Muslims can't seem to see the difference.

Well yes Americans didn't question Clinton's moral values but how many Muslim countries have democracy to be able to choose a leader based on his moral values?

Wafa' said...

As much as i like to jump on the wagon and start blaming the west and the Christians like everyone else, i have to be fair to us first before anyone else. It's easier to blame other countries and religions for this and that but unless we are so weak then they can not force us to do anything we don't want. We can not attack the west or the Christians when we are attacking each other. I have heard it so many times here about the "real reasons" of why the west is attacking Libya and not once anyone gave a good reason of the fight between the shia and sunna now !!. is not stupidity to blame everyone-btw we like to blame Iran too- but ourselves.
If we are this stupid and weak and naive to blame it all on others then we deserve what we are getting.
And as much as I love what the west is doing in Libya as much as i hate it too. And you are damn right, the Qaeda will use that to their own advantage one day, sadly .

sanil said...

I don't think it's just about prosperity, but Clinton didn't bother me. There are a lot of things that matter in being the leader of a government...I don't think the leader's marriage is one of them. If they do a good job at their actual job, I'm not going to advocate firing them because I may disapprove of their private life. Many do, this is why some keep harping on the idea that Obama's a Muslim, Romney is a Mormon, etc. I don't see why it matters.

Suroor - Maybe it has to do with the fact that there are actually Muslim countries, and Islamic morality is the standard there? It might be hard from that perspective to understand a government that is separate from religion. On the other side, some do try to force Christianity onto the government in the US, making a fuss if a non-Christian (or even someone who might be, or who practices a less popular form of Christianity) runs for office or if laws are proposed that don't fit Christian views of morality. So it's not just Muslims that can't seem to tell the difference.

Susanne said...

Suroor,I enjoyed your thoughts. What gets me is that many Muslims are quick to point out that Saudi Arabia or Iran don't represent true Islam and they have tribal/cultural extras (esp. Saudi) yet they think the US is Christianity without realizing there are many Jews, Muslims,Hindus, atheists, etc. who live here too. So yeah we have quite the variety contributing to the image we portray!

Wafa', I always love when you chime in on these topics! I remember a year or so ago when I was talking to Samer and he was telling me about the West or Israel "making" someone do some terrorist act. I was like "Really? Y'all are so weak that Israel can just put something in your hand and force you to blow yourself up?" I can't remember now what it was exactly, but he gave me this impression that they couldn't choose, but were forced to do something against their will. Eh, I just don't buy that. It's kind of like the argument of men being so weak they absolutely cannot resist seeing a lady without wanting to rape her thus the women MUST cover. Really? I've known many men who have seen half-naked women and resisted the urge! :)

Sanil, yeah, I keep wondering when someone outside of mainstream Christianity will be elected into office as it does seem a big deal to some. I really don't care so much about that since one's religious beliefs shouldn't really play into whether or not you are a good leader. Thanks for your thoughts on Clinton!

Amber said...

Thus I repeat: politics and religion shouldn't mix.

But the problem is that I don't think Muslim countries (or a lot of Muslims) understand the idea of a nation that is not ruled by the predominant religious faith of the people living within it. Islam was a political religion from the beginning, with the religious leader (Mohammed) being the prophet and theological head all at the same time. And the men who ruled after him were in the same position. Political/secular leaders while at the same time being the head of the religious faith.

So they don't get how we can have a leader and not think that his private behaviour reflects on America the nation. (Admittedly, sex in the Oval Office is not *precisely* as private as one would like, but you get the point.)

As for Clinton, specifically, 'meh'. Do I approve of him cheating on his wife and breaking the trust and promise he made when he married her? No. But did *that* make him a bad president? No. I've had this argument over dinner many times. My dad likes to take the Republican side, and I take the Democratic side.

And here's where I admit one of those weird twitches I have. I cannot stomach the thought of a Mormon or someone from a 'Christian' sect being elected president. And I *know* and *firmly believe* that religion should have *nothing* to do with politics and that, even elected, it's not like they could do something totally insane based on their religious beliefs. And it still makes me go 'Ack!' in that first second. However, the idea of someone from a totally different religion: Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, or any of the pantheistic faiths doesn't raise a blip.

Weird yet true.

Hah! captcha is 'blessign'

Lat said...

I think a oouple of years ago,in our national day speech,the PM said about the US although being secular has christianity based beliefs.And how a country acts can actually be seen thru' their religious or cultural thoughts.This topic came up when he refered to about Obama and how people mistook him for a Muslim because of the H in his name.Despite that his election did represent change as someone having more than one identity.

Interesting post and comments above.

Susanne said...

Amber, I love that you and your dad have these kinds of political talks. :) I do understand that Muslims have the church/state thing together, but they are projecting their views onto us so is that right? Sometimes I think the world was better off when there wasn't this instantaneous sharing of everything happening all over the world. Like if people in Afghanistan didn't know some idiot burned a Quran they wouldn't be killing people over there.

I don't approve of Clinton's behavior either. I might just belong to that group of people who rather like morality in their leaders just a wee bit. ;)

Funny that you are OK with a Muslim or Hindu President here, but not a Mormon. I think I'm the opposite if I had to say so.

I enjoyed your comment!

Lat, I think there are just so many Americans who are fearful and suspicious of Islam that they don't want someone with ties to it. And there's also the factor that some people didn't want Obama as the President due to either his race or liberal politics so they looked for reasons to not vote for him. If they can use the Muslim card, so be it. Obviously it didn't work. :)

Thanks for what you shared.

Amber said...


The best part is that we're both actually Independents. And he only takes the Republican side because he knows they tend to annoy me more than the Democrats and I only argue the Democratic side because he's arguing the Republican side!

Right. The Muslims are projecting their understanding of the way the world works onto us. Which is pretty much what everyone does all the time anyway...we all judge everyone else based on our norms.

Yeah. Technology is a wonderful thing, and a horrible thing, all at once. Like everything else. :)

Hah! When have we ever had a moral leader? If you say the Founding Fathers, I shall have to come over there and smack you with a history book... ;)

I *know*. I said it was weird. It's...I can understand and work with people who are entirely different faiths from me. But people who claim to be Christian but are from what I see as heretical sects...not so much. *looks around guiltily* I can't talk to the people who own the gym I work at because they're 7th Day Adventists. They leave copies of that Watchtower magazine out in the locker room sometimes. And I throw them away. *is ashamed of her prejudiced little heart*

Susanne said...

Amber, thanks for the Sunday morning laugh! :-D I enjoyed your follow-up comment! :)