The student who encouraged me to begin this blog as a means of promoting my literary ambitions is a devout Muslim.
Qanta Ahmad, author of a book I’ve just finished (In the Land of Invisible Women), is a fully credentialed M.D. who frequently and publicly criticizes the Saudi oppression of women… and she is also a devout Muslim.
Zudhi Jasser, another M.D. and author, likewise often chastises radical Islam as a FOX News contributor… and is likewise a practicing Muslim.
Abortion is not tolerated in the Muslim world; neither is homosexuality. Though the Christian approach to such behaviors is (or should be) more nuanced than outright condemnation accompanied by severe corporal punishment, most denominations today will not so much as imply that pulling the plug on the unborn is in any way wrong, or that same-sex ménages –and even marriages–are more a reaction to past abuse than a healthy expression of developing identity.
And yet, the Koran is full of passages that advise (not to mention enjoin) persecuting (not to mention slaying) the infidel… and yet, the Old Testament is full of passages where God is said to slaughter the enemies of the Jews–man, woman, and child–or to command their slaughter.
Yet in 2016, Jews and Christians do not read these passages literally and obey them to the letter, for the most part. A woman in my neck of the woods attempted to kill her three young sons a few years back (and succeeded in killing two) because, so she said, she was following the counsel of Deuteronomy 19. She was treated as criminally insane–and rightly so. Why, then, does terrorism remain a predominantly Muslim problem?
Most Muslims will never harm anyone–yet far too many seem unwilling to judge terrorist acts harshly in opinion polls. How many American Christians, though, are disturbed by the Obama Administration’s escalating use of drone strikes in an orgy of killing that has left perhaps a thousand non-combatant children dead?
I would like to write much more about Qanta Ahmad’s book, and especially her understanding of Islam, at a later time. She seems to be inspired with a keen sense of right and wrong, and to impose this sense as a filter upon her reading of the Koran. One might say that she is deluding herself… but do not humane, upright Christians filter parts of the Old Testament in the same way? Must they not? Is not our common conviction as Christians that God has entrusted to the fastnesses of our soul the spirit of truth, such that holy writ only teaches us explicitly what the wind had already whispered to us? And does that spirit of truth, then, not sometimes enlighten us in the interpretation of passages somewhat tarnished by cultural distortion? And if this is so, then should not a Muslim, as a human being, have sufficient hearing to detect the same whisper in interpreting different passages?
I think there are more evil men cloaking their designs in Islamic piety right now than in the parallel pieties of a pseudo-Christianity. We in the Christian world enjoy the odd luxury of being reviled by most members of our ruling class–a luxury which we should embrace more vigorously. It is good to be reviled by the vile. Islam has not achieved the same clarity, and appears to have a long way to go. I have a feeling that we can help out more by calling any bad act by its name than we can by categorizing it first as the work of a Christian or a Muslim.