Statement made in an official press release from Hizbullah and repeated as a part of their manifesto.

In Hizbullah's case, it's self-evidently misleading if not actual bullshit. Islam may reject violence, and even though that's a big statement, it's fully justified by the Koran, but Hizbollah most definitely don't. They've made car bombs a trademark over the last few years and, for example, the one in the great Covered Market in Jerusalem was not exactly aimed at driving Israel out of Lebanon or indeed, at what they call "legitimate, military targets".

This is one of many attacks on civilians which, along with the famous exploding busses tends to cast a shadow over any official rejection of violence.

Please note - this node concerns Islam as practised by Hizbullah. It's a bit of a similar comparison to Christianity as practised by Aryan Nations. No insult or slander or those who do not use their faith to justify atrocities is intended.

Oh please. A religion or set of beliefs and the actual people that happen to label themselves as such, are two totally different things. Simply because Christianity says that killing is wrong, obviously there have been people who label themselves as Christians out there shooting people randomly. Or fucking their neighbour's wife, or yelling back at their parents, or whatever. This, of course, means Christianity is bullshit, right?

Yeah, right
Actually, not obviously bullshit. Islam preaches freedom of religion. Verse 256 of the second chapter of the Qur'an translated roughly reads:
Let there be no compulsion in religion, truth stands out clear from error

However, Islam is not a pacifist religion by any stretch; and we make no bones about it. Muslims believe in a just war; a war fought to protect the Muslim community, a war fought to defend Muslim property, or a war fought to remove injustice. But there are rules even to war, which we will leave to another node.

Now, with regards to fighting, the verses of the Qur'an are very clear (Chapter 60, verse 8 and 9):

8. Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.

9. Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong.

Now, let's have a look at Hizbullah's activities, shall we? If we assume for the moment that the media is reporting without bias, (yeah right!), then at least from their perspective, the Israelis fall into the second category (yes, Israel has exactly done what is suggested: they drive Muslims out of their homes -- Israelis admit this). So why shouldn't they fight them? Do you expect Hizbullah to fold its arms while Israel kicks Palestinians out of their houses?

A reply to Spuunbenda's comments and questions:

I quoted the above verse to you clearly; Islam is not a religion that forces anyone to accept the creed. Have a look at history. Within their own areas, other religions were allowed to consume alcohol; have their own marital rules, etc. There are special rules with regards to non-Muslims living within an Islamic state; and one of them is that they are allowed to be there, to have their own laws within themselves and to exist peacefully. This is not just theory. There have been non-Muslim societies living within Muslim ones; historically mostly Jewish and Christian ones. For example, how do you think that Egypt has a native ten per cent Christian minority that traces its history back to the Gnostics, if the Muslims used this strategy of "accept or die"? There are letters of the Prophets not just to Christians, but to Christian monasteries, guaranteeing them religious freedoms. Several Christian monasteries have writings indicating that they preferred to be under the protection of just Muslim leaders, than the unjust and barbaric Christian leaders.

Ok, let's take just one of your cases. Algeria: Learn some history. In 1992, there was a democratic election. The FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) won by a landslide ... something like 67 per cent in favour. But there was a military coup, supported by French petrodollars, removing the democratically elected Muslim government. Anything said by "democratic" countries, say, the United States? Later "terrorist" attacks have been shown to have been done in many cases by the government itself, to drum up sympathy. Sounds strange? This is what a UN inquiry found. The Algerian government refused an enquiry into the issue. I wonder why. All the attacks seem to occur within 50km or military bases.

Be careful where your information is coming from; the media, for whatever reasons, finds it easy to demonise Islam. I did a recent survey on Muslim nations in a national newspaper and out of 30 articles, 27 were about war or oil. Now, you have 1 billion Muslims in the world, there's got to be other interesting things that they are involved in ...

It's a bit early in the AM here to get into Lebanon's recent history, but the proximate cause of Israel's disastrous 1982 invasion as I understand it was Hizbollah lobbing rockets over the border onto farming villages. Violence begets violence, and we have the situation we have today.

But on the original point, Islam's famous toleration of violence as a tool of political expansion was characterized by and I think predicated on honorable combat, ie. by the sword. Car bombs and indiscriminate rocket barrages do not fall in this category, and that's why I consider Hizbollah terrorists. I suspect ymelup's invitation to "look more closely at Hizbollah's activities" is rhetorical, because what we'd actually detect is the smell of death.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but were not early opponents of Islam given the choice: Accept the Creed or Die? Rhetoric may have become subtler since the ninth century but violence is still fundamental. For evidence look at Algeria, Sudan, Afghanistan. IMHO, Islam loves peace, but on its own terms. When it comes to coexistence with folks who hold different views on, say, the morality of intoxicants or the role of women, never mind the nature of God, Islam considers those positions "injustices" (see above), and turns uniquely bloodthirsty.

ymelup: First, you didn't answer my clear and direct question: never mind what is written, did or did not the peoples in the path of Islam's expansion get offered the choice to convert or die? I believe they did, and your evasion of the question suggests you're not real happy about what kind of light that throws on Islam.

Second, don't patronise me. "Learn some history"? OK, let's look at Algeria, indeed. Since the French left, there have been, what,

400,000 deaths?

...and since the stolen election, perhaps another

35,000 deaths?

See, that's the thing: if I were faced with an injustice, and a possible remedy involved the death of 400,000 people, I would look very f*cking hard for another remedy. In fact, I hope I would would sooner die than carry out that remedy. If instead one is authorized by Scripture to shed blood as remedy for injustice, one loses a powerful incentive to look for less bloodthirsty alternatives.

And the killing goes on...

As ril mentions in her w/u, A religion or set of beliefs and the actual people that happen to label themselves as such, are two totally different things. I'm no great historian, but I believe that while the Qur'an may (I'm no great religious scholar, either) preach solely for just war, the spread of Islam from the Arabian peninsula was certainly anything but peaceful. I further believe that many Muslims have adopted the Jihad as an extra pillar of the Islam. The term "Dar el'Harb" (land of war), I am told, relates to all countries not under Islamic rule.

Like the other two monotheistic religions, the Islam has produced many great scholars, some of whom have preached for peace. Some modern Islamic thinkers have defined jihad as the inner war one wages against his evil side, and like Christianity and Judaism, Islam can be used as the reason for the most wonderful acts, or as the excuse for the worst of them.

All this not withstanding, The Hizbullah, a name that translates to “party of god”, is no peace party. They have fought bloody battles not only with the IDF and SLA, and not only with their Druse and Maronite neighbors, but also with their fellow Shiites from the Amal movement. Are the Amal men driving their brothers from their land?

Islam may preach peace, but the Hizbulla practices war.

My memory may be betraying me again, but didn’t the Shiite sect of Islam start after a bloody battle about who the true Khalif is? Just a thought...

The word Islam has a meaning somewhere between "peace" and "submission". You may find this strange to think about, but we're the good guys.

Islam teaches us to strive for peace and justice, and to use violence only in those situations where violence is used against us. Palestine is a classic example of this - a country filled with muslims which was forcibly taken and whose people have suffered torture, execution, organised theft and enforced misery for most of the last century. It is the sort of conflict that we would normally think was consigned to the history books long ago, and perhaps that is why we seem paralysed to do anything about it today.

Another example of paralysis in the face of recurring historical patterns surfaces in Bosnia, with the Serbian concentration camps for Muslims, the fall of Srebrenica, and other atrocities. If something like that happened to your city, wouldn't you take up arms to defend your individual rights to live? Never mind to protect your family?

We often don't think. The term "Islam" has been badly watered down by the West. It is now synonymous with "terrorist", not because this is what Muslims are, but because people who live in the West are afraid.

"They want us all to be Muslim!"

"Just look at the way they treat their women, barbaric!"

"September the 11th, we can't trust them after that!"

"Their justice system is cruel! They execute people without a fair trial!"

How many times has a Muslim ever come up to you in the street and tried to convert you? None. Really? Have you ever had a private conversation with Muslim woman? If so, did she seem trapped? What? No? Strange. Are you completely sure the people who perpretated 9/11 were Muslim? If so would you regard the KKK as representative of normal Christian mentality? Have you ever investigated the crime rates in predominantly Muslim countries? No? Well then. As for execution, how many people does the USA kill per year, what about Saudi Arabia? The US kills more, really? Do go on... Do all Muslim countries execute criminals? No? Well I never.

You see?

We're so caught up in learning the socially acceptable view of Islam, that we don't actually stop to see it. Most of the conflicts that you watch on tv have no bearing on Islam, or it's value system, they are rooted firmly in politics, which most people, including muslims such as myself regard as a dirty business.

Look, I work hard, try not to get into trouble with the authorities, worry about having enough money to pay my bills. I have friends, family, a life. I like to live in Northern Ireland, very much, and I pay my taxes, reluctantly, like anyone else. I agree with the nodetitle 1000%. Islam has not ever, nor will ever use violence to gain power. The only caveat is the one that you would reserve for yourself, and that is that violence is permitted only as a last resort to regain freedom that was taken from you using violence.

I think you would agree, only the good guys would say something like that.

I would like to thank Transitional_Man for his sincere attempt to understand Islam, and while there are shortcomings, it is good to see that he is genuinely trying to understand how Muslims think. The problem is, he's wrong.

We're not disguised Westerners who secretly want to be American, but can't so we throw tantrums in the form of Sept 11th. No, we are ordinary people who believe that the rest of the world is too materialistic, greedy, and corrupt and people should stop grubbing for money for two minutes and actually listen to their hearts and minds and care for each other. We are normal.

It's quite clear from the wu below that he hasn't read the Quran, and is speaking from hearsay and conjecture. I would invite him to pick up a decent english translation and find just one passage that advocates violence for any other reason than restrained self-defence. That invitation is open to anyone else who reads this wu.]

Look, let's cut to the chase. I don't like being threatened by anyone, or any country. My way of life is sacred, and as such I will defend it with my life. I am sure that most Americans like the way they live as well, so let's leave it at that. The reason for the animosity against the West is that America is seen as causing most of the suffering in the rest of the world today, and the Muslims who live there don't like it. You who enjoy personal freedom in your country so much, would you deny others the right to fight for theirs? Most of the Islamic warriors on this Earth are fighting to overthrow the dictatorships in their own countries and bring peace and democracy to their people. The reason that this is threatening to the West is that it was America and Britain who set up these dictatorships in the first place, armed them, and let them loose on the populations. Then 30 years later condemned them for violating human rights and denying their people democracy. Hypocrisy, anyone?

If it comes to a war between America and Islam, Islam will win. A single country can't destroy a world wide religion. It has no borders, it can't be invaded and for every Muslim you kill, you'll make another in your ranks, especially when they see for the first time for themselves how Muslims lead their lives. I personally know several British soldiers who came back from Bosnian conflict and converted to Islam because of the example Muslim fighters vastly outnumbered and outgunned against the Serbs. It's tempting to believe Islam is like Christianity, that there is a separation between the religion and the way of life of ordinary Muslims, when as a Muslim, I know this isn't so. It is a different animal, one that a world view based on greed and self-interest can't fathom.

I think you don't understand us Transitional_Man, and you aren't alone. I would recommend talking to Muslims, and not talking about religion when you meet us. Ask about family, ask about our jobs and what sports we play, understand us as people, and you'll understand why we chose Islam. If you speak to people from many different backgrounds, you'll begin to understand the essence of Islam, and why it has become the largest and fastest growing religion in the world.

2002.10.02 at 17:06 rk2001 says: It would really abate my exasperation if you could add another note to 'TransitionalMan' within this wu in order to inform him that the non-believers tax is far less than the zakat that he would have to pay if he was a muslim (in such a society).

Jaez is quite correct. Islam is a religion that preaches peace. Islam began as an upstart religion, and early Muslims found themselves fighting to survive as a community. While there are violent passages in the Qu'ran, such passages also exist in the Christian Bible and the Torah. Psalm 21 is a very good example, and Leviticus is full of vile stuff. The more militant passages in the Qu'ran are immediately followed by more peaceful passages. The message is, yes, fight people who are trying to kill you but the moment they ask for peace you must make peace and sacrifice for it. Over 90% of all Muslims are ordinary people who just want to take care of their families and enjoy a good life. Sure they don't like Ariel Sharon and much of what Israel does, but they are not suicide bombers.

It is true that Islam is a peaceful religion. But that truth may be irrelevant.

Religions are judged more by the actions of their believers than by the creed. Many Christians have never read the entire Bible, and most Pastors return again and again to the same familiar passages. For most people, depth of study involves pouring over the text itself, often losing the scope of the whole book in individual passages. A real discussion of context and history is rare outside the seminary, monastery or the other places where Imams and Rabbis are trained. For many, faith is whatever their spiritual leader says it is.

Today the entire Catholic church is on trial and under shame because a tiny minority in the priesthood forgot their vows to serve God and celibacy because they could not control their lust. Many people who seek truth in America would never turn to Christianity because of the work of Fred Phelps, Richard Butler and Pat Robertson. Intelligent design is proof enough to them that religious belief is ignorant. Christians have turned Jesus into a tool of hatred. A few Christians seek to cover their moribund theology with ignorance. They have not forgotten that the Church once held that the earth was flat, that Christians have burned people as witches, and tortured those who would not follow the prevailing dogma. But they argue that this time is different, that they are somehow to wise to repeat the ancient sin of arrogance. Overzealous and self-righteous Christians have given their faith a bad name. I remember the day a friend of mine, a man of conscience, reacted to my declaration of faith by saying, "You're one of them!?"

As a Christian i live inside the church. I know the stereotype is innacurate. Even the fundamentalist Christians I know are honest, generous people, not abortion clinic bombers. But I stand inside my faith, and so my view is complex. From outside Christianity appears different. For many, the public face of Christianity consists of hypocrites, Jerry Falwell weenies like Ned Flanders.

Islam too will be judged by outsiders, and the basis of that judgement will be the actions of those who call themselves Muslims. Today the loudest Islamic voice comes from those who proclaim their faith with violence. I recognize that much of the anger directed at the West in general and the United States in particular comes from long frustration felt by a people whose governments are almost uniformly bad. The Islamic world has some legitimate grievances. None justify even a fraction of what happened on September 11, 2001. Nothing justifies the genocide being committed in the Sudan.

The stone-throwing boy or the peacefully disobedient represent a mindset that Westerners understand and sympathize with. We honor Gandhi and Martin Luther King. We honor the soldier who fights bravely and honorably, even in a losing cause. The suicide bomber and his sixty-seven virgins in paradise represents something bizarre and impossibly evil. By choosing this path, a few Muslim terrorists have placed themselves outside what we consider human. By association, Islam and those who practice it also fall under suspicion.

The challenge for Muslims is not to convince Westerners that Islam itself is not evil, it is to convince more radical Muslims that their ways will lead to disaster. If dirty bombs go off or airliners are rammed into public buildings, no protestations of innocence will suffice. Enraged people do not easily make technical distinctions.

The day I wrote this NPR reported that an al-Quaeda spokesman declared that another attack would soon come, and "it would not be less than we have already done". He claimed that Americans have caused the death of thousands of muslims, "so we are entitled to kill at least four million". He specifically claimed a right to kill one million American children.

Already anger toward Muslims is growing among ordinary Americans. It is well contained and quiet, but another attack of similar scale will bring it out into the open. It won't matter what George W. Bush or Tom Daschle say. There are many Muslims who live near my home. The Columbus office of al-Baarakaat was literally down the street before the FBI raided it. Women wearing the chador are common.

If another attack occurs, Muslim women will remove their veils. The chador will make them targets for harassment. A couple more such attacks and you will see mosques burning. Firefighters will remember their brethren who died in the twin towers and not respond swiftly. Policemen will stop to finish their donut before responding to calls. Harassment will become violence, and the attackers will draw more sympathy than their victims.

Osama bin Laden and his compatriots are teaching Americans to hate. To hate Muslims and Arabs. We may come to reject the freedom and openness that are America's true virtue. But for Muslims the question becomes more serious, for America is not a weak country.

In his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has a chapter called "Hama rules". The title refers to an incident that occured in Syria when the Muslim Brotherhood chose to challege the secular, Ba'athist leadership of Hafez al-Assad. Assad massacred over 20,000 people in Hama, a good size city that was nearly deserted when Friedman visited it. Friedman's thesis was that to some in that part of the world, restraint is seen as weakness. Only a massacre demonstrates serious intent.

Many Muslim radicals do not think the United States serious. They recognize our power and technology, but to them Americans are weak, effete people too fat and spoiled to resist violence. You hear this in their refrain We love death as you do life! They think that because Americans do not spend our soldiers' lives readily that we are a cowardly people. They think that of all the West, which is seen as a decadent and corrupt society.

I invite them to read some history. Read about Gettysburg, Antietem, The Wilderness, Bastogne, Iwo Jima and the Ia Drang Valley I have visited the Somme battlefieds and seen the acres upon acres of crosses lined up in rows. I have been to the beaches of Normandy where the tank traps still rust in the low tide. Every day unexploded shells are still dug up in Europe. Westerners make war with a singleminded ferocity matched by few cultures.

Soon after September 11 I remember Terry Gross asking one Arab reporter what America could do to satisfy the muslim radicals. He replied, "Move to another planet." Western civilization isn't going anywhere. A few Americans have already started to ask themselves if it is possible to live in peace with Islam. I have heard suggestions that America kill "half of them" to get the message across. With each bombing more will suggest such extreme violence. I think America can tolerate maybe two more 9/11 level attacks before we start going nuts. Killing a million American children will bring a new crusade. One where we play by Hama rules.

I would like to remind Jaez that the non-believer's tax makes for a very useful evangelical tool, as conversion is financially rewarded. And that Christians too are required to tithe. Do all muslims tithe? Are all devout? We both know the answer to that is no. .

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