“Normal Muslims” And The Paris Assassins
By Kenneth G. Crosby
A commentator on CNN, addressing the hideous assassinations in Paris, said that in reacting to them we non-Muslims must be careful not to foment a backlash against “normal Muslims.” Who are “normal Muslims”? They must be those who believe and act as the commentator considers normal for Muslims, which is absurd. The fact is that the Koran, the sacred scripture of Islam, tells Muslims that sarcasm directed at the religion’s prophet or other criticism of him is prohibited and that those who violate that prohibition must be killed. (Remember the fatwa proclaiming that Salman Rushdie must be killed for having insulted Muhammad in a novel.)
Recall the assassination of Theo van Gogh for making a movie criticizing Islam. His collaborator on the movie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, remains a stated object for assassination, and just last year Brandeis University reversed its decision to award her an honorary degree because main-line Muslim groups complained about her criticisms of Islam. We non-Muslims appreciate Muslims who do not implement the Koran’s command, but they cannot be considered to be more “normal” followers of the religion than those who would follow it more strictly.
Consider the views of Christians concerning homosexuality. Their sacred script, the Bible, plainly states that men who have sex with men should be put to death. Most Christians, although they know that, and may even believe that it is what their god has commanded them to do, choose not to act on it, which we who do not think that homosexuals should be killed appreciate.
We may applaud them as “enlightened” Christians, but they cannot claim that their belief is based on their Bible. Some Christians do believe that the command to kill men who have sex with men should be carried out. That was recently illustrated in Uganda, where, with the encouragement of Christians from the U.S., Christians passed a law invoking the death penalty for homosexuality. Who are the more “normal” Christians, those who do, or those who do not, carry out what the sacred text of their religion says that their god has commanded them to do? (I am ignoring here those Christian homosexuals who maintain the absurd position that their sacred text does not really mean what it plainly says.)
Devout Muslims know that the sacred text of their religion commands them to kill people who insult their prophet. Statements of Muslim leaders following the outrage in Paris could not honestly claim otherwise. It can only be said that those who do not act on that command are appreciated by non-Muslims.
I recently heard an uncelebrated commentator from India or Pakistan, I cannot remember which and it makes no difference, addressing the continuing violent conflict between Muslims and Hindus in those countries, to which little attention is paid in U.S. media. All violence, he said, has its roots in religion, and since people cannot agree on religion, they must simply accept the fact that people have different religious beliefs and agree not to fight over them.
The root cause of religious violence is religion—all religion—which evidence shows is harmful to humans and their societies. Authentic Islam is currently inspiring violence, just as authentic Christianity did with the Crusades and the burning of heretics and witches (and as authentic Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism is also doing now). Religious violence will not end until all religion—all belief in the existence of supernatural entities and forces, for which there is not a scintilla of evidence—and all other superstitions, are replaced by reliance upon science and reason to guide our lives.
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