How Should a Christian Handle Islam These Days?

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.

Two De-Politicized Thoughts About Terrorism

More than a day later, mainstream news outlets in Germany have only barely resolved–and only after receiving the blessing of their PC puppetmasters in Brussels–to call the Berlin marketplace slaughter a terrorist attack.  Nine bystanders were killed, and at least fifty more wounded, when a tractor-trailer plowed through a crowded shopping area in an attack distinctly reminiscent of the slaughter in Nice, France, a few months ago.  The legal driver, officially employed by the Polish trucking firm, was found stabbed to death in the passenger seat, and a 23-year-old Pakistani immigrant was apprehended fleeing the scene.  Yet the Deutsche Welle source from which I garnered details dropped the word “Polish” so often that one might have concluded the assault to be payback for the Third Reich’s leveling of Warsaw.  Oh, and a semi-automatic handgun was found in the cab.  It wasn’t used in the butchery–but we needed to know that the perp possessed such a forbidden item.

I’m really, really tired of politicized news, and I want to abstain from contributing to Such toxic slop in this space.  Allow me, then, merely to make two observations about terrorism which I’ve been repeating (to the interest of no one, apparently) since 9/11.

Observation One: massive, mounting unemployment is the inevitable destiny of unskilled laborers as the Industrial Revolution advances into its fully automated stage.    Young people were being siphoned off of farms and into cities as early as the late seventeeth century.  They could not always find employment, and what they found did not always pay a livable wage or escape the cyclical lay-offs integral to the free market.   They were never in any danger of being permanently replaced by robots, however. Now their descendants are in just such a pickle.  About the only work available to an uneducated street urchin is kidnapping and ransoming rich people or… growing and selling dope.  Ironically, the latter signals a return to agriculture.

Observatio Two: our high-tech world is encircling us in risk as sure as a python coils around its prey–yet we just keep calling for more coils.  We put ourselves in missiles filled with highly flamable explosive… and congratulate ourselves on modern air travel.  We build skyscrapers that may soon reach a mile into the clouds, if the one planned in Hong Kong gets off the drawing board… and we celebrate our economical use of space.  We construct major cities on seismic fault lines or along tsunami-prone coastlines… and we admire the view.  Soon our cars will be driven for us via satellite… and at this very instant I am wondering why my TV won’t pick up any channels.  We never ask before surrendering ourselves and our families to a new technology, “Now, how might this be abused by an evil mid?”  Never.  Always full speed ahead… and then we’re shocked when some unemployed, vindictive punk throws a wrench in the power grid.

At least some pieces of the terrorist puzzle are put on the table by the nightmare-rich potential of our surging, all-but-ungovernable technology.  Why can’t we use our high tech to irrigate the young punk’s ancestral desert, and send him home to farm?  But no, the great rivers of India and China are now too polluted to grow anything but killer bacteria; and as for the Middle East, the only rivers of any interest to us there run black.