Islam and its Relation to the West – Part 2 – Three Areas of Concern

Earlier this month I was invited to speak at a formal dinner of a secular association on the subject of Islam and its relation to the West. I have expanded my presentation and am posting it in three parts. This is part 2 – to read part 1 go to:

https://thefullerreport.com/2014/10/25/islam-and-its-relation-to-the-west-part-1-three-areas-of-tension/

In the first part of this article I addressed three areas of tension between Islam and the West. I’d like to now consider three areas of Western concern as it relates to the Islamic world.

Firstly, migration is changing the shape of some societies. Since the 1950s migration particularly of South Asians to the UK, Turks to Germany and North Africans to France, has changed the demographics of those nations. There are now many second and third generation members of non-Caucasian communities living in those nations, sometimes integrated and sometimes alienated. Their presence has established the mosque in many towns and cities at a time when many traditional churches have closed their doors. Indeed in some places church buildings have been converted into mosques.

In the United States, itself a nation of immigrants, those arriving before the mid-point of the last century were largely from Europe and Latin America, carrying with them, whether religious practitioner or not, at least some understanding of the Judeo-Christian heritage. Since that time the majority of immigration has been from Asia, Africa and the Middle East and from among peoples whose heritage is Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim. As in Europe, some of these immigrants have not integrated well into their new surroundings. Reasons for tension within fractured society have flowed from failure to learn the host language, adapt to local culture and customs and embrace a different worldview. In the case of Islam these factors have been exacerbated by Islam’s religio-political nature which, within extreme interpretations, rejects non-theocratic governmental systems.

Many of those who migrated did so for economic reasons. Some relocated because their lands of origin did not offer the religious and political freedoms that the West offered. It is therefore frustrating to many in the West to see minorities exploiting Western freedoms for their own purposes and sometimes turning those against their new homelands. This became apparent in my own hometown of Luton, England, where the four back-pack bombers of July 7th, 2005, were filmed on CCTV entering the railway station, on their final journey to London. Three of them were born in the UK. Leaving aside their published justification for their actions it remains evident that freedom of speech in the UK contributed to the proclamation of a message of religious hatred that serves to radicalize some members of the community of Muslim-descent. Luton was also home to the so-called Stockholm bomber, Taimour al-Abdaly, who died on December 11, 2010 during an unsuccessful attempt to kill shoppers in a crowded shopping area of Stockholm, Sweden.

When I was in high-school in 1970s’ Luton, 95% of the 11th and 12th grade (Sixth Form College) were Caucasian. Today less than one third of students are Caucasian and nearly half have South Asian origins.

In August last year I wrote an article entitled Hometown Fanatics [1] referencing a BBC documentary that had been produced by a young woman who grew up in Luton and came home to interview Muslim fundamentalists and members of the English Defence League which despite a racist reputation contains within its mission statement the words: Promoting The Traditions And Culture Of England While At The Same Time Being Open To Embrace The Best That Other Cultures Can Offer. [2] It was clear in the documentary that members of the Muslim community (as indeed any other community) have a freedom to protest offensively that would be denied them in many places where their grandparents grew up.[3]

Muslims in the West are often portrayed as the most sensitive of immigrant communities. This may well be connected to the host’s perspective of the Muslim world, however, it has resulted in some extremes of political correctness in endeavors to avoid offense. Racial tension has been high in Australia recently partly because of political battles over the plight of sea-borne refugees from Asia, and partly because of Australian military engagement in Syria and Iraq. An Australian store recently had to withdraw from sale a T-shirt which under the Australian flag bore the slogan: If you don’t love it … Leave! amid protests that it was racist. Many might ask why patriotic pride in one’s nation and traditions should not be a subject to promote. Interestingly media attention resulted in a rise in online sales even though the shirt was no longer available at the store.

The spokesmen for radical Islam in the West are a second cause for concern. Abdullah Azzam was a Palestinian who founded a network of Islamic militant support out of Peshawar, Pakistan in the early 1980s. He was a founding member of Al Qaeda, became known as the Father of Islamic Jihad and was assassinated by persons unknown in 1989. Speaking in 1988 as the Russian invasion of Afghanistan collapsed he said: “After Afghanistan, nothing in the world is impossible to us any more. There are no superpowers or mini-powers. What matters is the will-power that springs from our religious belief … There is no turning back from the stone, to the pistol, to the Uzi, to the RPG and then you can expect Allah’s ultimate victory”. [4]

Those words were not spoken in Pakistan or in the Middle East, they were spoken to a gathering of Muslim immigrants in Oklahoma.

Azzam was Palestinian-born however some of the most high-profile proponents of militant jihad in the West today are Western-born. Robert Musa Cerantonio is Australian, born to an Irish mother and Italian father. He was raised Catholic but converted to Islam at age 17. Facebook shut down his page in April 2014 because he was using social media to encourage acts of terrorism. Speaking in Sydney in 2012 he asked: Who are the real terrorists? His remarks left no doubt that he believes Islam demands that the enemies of Allah are never comfortable with us. We are to inspire terror (the fear of God) in them, he says.[5]

Nicolas Blancho is a Swiss Caucasian who heads the Islamic Association of Central Switzerland. Although not directly associated with the advocacy of violence he ascribes to the Wahabist form of Islamic fundamentalism often associated with Islamic terrorism. He has stated that stoning is a valuable component of his religion [6] and his views are so distasteful that the Swiss based Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan has said: The majority of Muslims in Switzerland do not recognize themselves in his words. [7]

A third cause for concern is the lack of debate about the behavior of Muhammad in the public arena. Much more is known about Muhammad from an historical point of view than is known about Jesus Christ. Ibn Ishaq compiled a biography of Muhammad little more than a century after Muhammad’s death, relying upon the oral traditions about the founder of Islam. The original work did not survive and today we rely upon the record of Ibn Ishaq’s work made by Ibn Hisham in the ninth century. However, this record has been a major source for subsequent Muslim historians. In a recent article entitled: Why is there such historical animosity expressed by Arab to Jew? [8]I referenced the beheading of the Jews of Medina by Muhammad. Although some Muslim historians including Ibn Hisham’s contemporary Malik Ibn Anas, have tried to discredit the account believing that Ibn Hisham relied too much on contemporary reports from sons of Jewish converts, many others, including the twentieth century Egyptian writer Muhammad Haykal have referenced it. Muslims have such a reverent view of Muhammad that on a recent occasion a Muslim acquaintance would not agree that a writer he had referred me to had repeated this account as part of the historical narrative, when the text was in front of him. Following the example of Muhammad, Islam spread outward from the Arabian Peninsula with frequent resource to the sword. By contrast there is no evidence that Jesus Christ was ever anything other than the Prince of Peace in his dealings with men. On the one occasion that the gospel records a sword being taken to his defence, he rebukes the perpetrator and heals the wounded.

Douglas Murray is a British academic and an atheist. Writing in the Spectator following participation in a discussion on the subject of the Islamic State televised by the BBC Sunday Live program in September, he said: While it remains inconceivable that we would have a discussion about Christianity without reference to the teachings and the life of Christ we are still trying to have a very public discussion about Islam while refraining from mentioning any of the more ‘challenging’ aspects of the teachings or actions of Muhammad. [9]

Serious questions have to be raised about the foundation of Islam but on the wider issue of Islam in relation to the West the debate is much more about differing worldviews than the mere fact that a radical minority have chosen to use select passages from the source documents to justify vengeance against the western world that they perceive to be the source of greatest offense against them.

This is part 2 of three parts – to read part 3 go to:

https://thefullerreport.com/2014/10/27/islam-and-its-relation-to-the-west-part-3-three-signs-of-hope/

[1] https://thefullerreport.com/2013/08/

[2] http://www.englishdefenceleague.org/mission-statement – accessed October 24, 2014

[3] The documentary can be viewed here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgKMI1wV0ps

[4] Steven Emerson – Jihad in America – SAE Productions, PBS Video, © 1994

[5] Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0PSoySAat0

[6] http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/schweiz/standard/Nicolas-Blancho-Spuren-fuehren-zu-alQaida/story/19838860 – accessed October 24, 2014

[7] http://www.20min.ch/schweiz/news/story/14151951 – accessed October 24, 2014

[8] https://thefullerreport.com/2014/07/18

[9] The reluctance to talk about the link between beheadings and Islam – Douglas Murray – The Spectator, August 26, 2014

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2 Responses to Islam and its Relation to the West – Part 2 – Three Areas of Concern

  1. Pingback: Islam and its Relation to the West – Part 1 – Three Areas of Tension | THE FULLER REPORT

  2. Pingback: Islam and its Relation to the West – Part 3 – Three Signs of Hope | THE FULLER REPORT

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