Should You Be Islamophobic?

People vs. Ideology

By Robin Schumacher

Originally posted at The Christian Post

In Part 1 of this post, we reviewed recent examples of Islamic-inspired violence (see another example of that here), looked at statements made in Quran and hadith material that appeared to prescribe violence, and proposed a couple of questions that help understand what any religion or worldview really teaches:
1. Are the practices in question a reflection of the worldview/religion's explicit and prescriptive teachings and/or a logical outworking of the worldview's philosophical conclusions?

2. Are the particular teachings/instructions in question properly taken from the religious text's context and is the historical milieu considered?
Application to Islam

What happens when we apply our two questions above to Islam? In short, it's difficult to do and former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi tells us why.

In his book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Dr. Qureshi chronicles his conversion from Islam to Christianity. Qureshi's story is a good example of how many Muslim families live and pass on their faith. Qureshi was not given an AK-47 when he was young and trained to hate people, but rather he was provided school books, loved by his very devout Muslim parents, and taught that Islam was a religion of peace.

Later in life, when he began to do personal research into Islam, he found the previously mentioned hadith and Quran verses in Part 1 of this article along with other similar statements, and brought them to the attention of his father and various Muslim Imams. No one could give him an adequate explanation of them to allay his concerns of what they appeared to prescribe, nor could they help with other difficult statements in the Quran that Qureshi presented to them.

Qureshi describes his dilemma this way: "I began processing these new verses, struggling to harmonize them with the contrasting verses I had memorized as a child...Muhammad dictated the contents of the Quran to his scribes over a period of twenty-three years. Only after his death was the Quran collected into a book. Verses that had been dictated years or decades apart are frequently found side by side in the Quran, often with no obvious connection. The result is that Muslims place relatively little weight on surrounding passages when trying to interpret sections of the Quran." [1]

Qureshi's point is that attempting to use context and historical setting for interpreting verses in the Quran is nearly impossible.

What about the statements from hadith material? Qureshi says in a footnote: "Most Muslims would concede the vast majority of hadith are inaccurate. Thus selectively drawing from the Bible still requires the consistent interpreter to reconcile contradictory passages once they are elucidated, whereas this is not the case with hadith literature...Selectively drawing from the massive pool of hadith affords exponentially greater opportunities for eisegesis [reading the meaning you want into the text] than does selectively drawing from the Bible." [2]

What does this practically mean? Quereshi sums it up this way, "Through selective quotation, Muhammad becomes the picture-perfect prophet...If a Western Muslim wants to paint a peaceful portrait of Muhammad, all they have to do is quote peaceful hadith and verses of the Quran to the exclusion of the violent ones. If an Islamic extremist wants to mobilize his followers to acts of terrorism, he will quote the violent references, to the exclusion of the peaceful ones." [3]

What You Should Really Fear

The pattern that Quereshi identifies — the selective application, omission, or manipulation of a religious or philosophical text's writings to justify a set of moral principles or actions — is not unique to Islam, but instead is found in nearly every worldview.

As Quereshi and many others have pointed out, it certainly occurs in Islam. There is no denying or countering the hadith and Quran statements previously documented and others in Islamic teaching that prescribe violence.

This being true, there is also no getting around the fact that Islam is very logically inconsistent in what it teaches where peace/violence is concerned. This naturally leads to the worry of which side will ultimately rule in the Muslim world.

But make no mistake — this also happens elsewhere. It is found down through history and up to our present day. Who can deny the philosophical impact of Marx on the abusive practices found in the Russian, Chinese, and North Korean cultures? What careful historian cannot underline the strong influence that Frederick Nietzsche's ideas on "the will to power" and master/slave morality had on the Third Reich?

This is where the whole [insert name or worldview/religion]-ophobia mania fueled by the media and extreme politically-correct groups fails. They wrongly identify the true source of what should be really feared: it is not the people per se, but the flawed ideologies.

Put another way, we must embrace the fact that all people should be respected and each person is created equal...but we also must understand that not all ideas are. And when flawed ideas are combined with sinful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), the results can be catastrophic.

However, we should be indebted to people like Quereshi who shows us that Muslim families like his should worry no one. They have the right to take their Islamic beliefs and enter into dialog with all other faiths and philosophies in the world's marketplace of ideas, which, if you read Quereshi's book, is all they ever did.

You and I should not be afraid of Muslim people, but we should very much be afraid of false teaching about God and Christ (which carries with it eternal consequences), and the violent prescriptive teaching found in some Islamic texts that extremists carry out.

In the same way, we should not be afraid of atheists, but we should greatly fear the worldview that denies a Creator and the extrapolation of evolutionary and nihilistic thought (the logical outworking of atheistic thinking) into the area of ethics that leads regime's such as Pol-pot's to look at human beings and say, "to keep you is no benefit; to destroy you is no loss."

As Winston Churchill said decades ago, "The empires of the future are the empires of the mind." He meant that ideas have consequences; people following good ideas generally result in benefits to society whereas people being led by bad ideas usually generate negative outcomes.

Looking at this from a Christian perspective, Paul says there are people who "do not obey truth, but obey unrighteousness" (Rom. 2:8). Interesting, isn't it, that Paul equates walking in the truth with being righteous whereas following a lie is obeying and being led by unrighteousness?

Wouldn't we say the same thing of any ideologically-inspired act of goodness or evil? The first is "true" while the latter is "false"?

So, in the end, should you be Islamophobic? Given the definition supplied most often by our culture, no. But when viewed correctly, and when the right questions are asked about the prescriptive teaching and logical outworking of any worldview's philosophical conclusions, you should take a cue from Paul and be quite afraid of any teaching that is of the lie and originates from the father of all lies (John 8:44).

1. Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014 Kindle Edition) pg. 172-3.
2. Qureshi pg. 325.
3. Qureshi pg. 210.

Image Credit: Jim Boud; "Colorful Muslim Family"; Creative Commons

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Published 8-18-14