Is Islam a Religion?

In a previous column, I discussed books by two ex-Muslim women, Nonie Darwish and Wafa Sultan, relating their experiences after years under Islam. Darwish comes to the most extreme conclusion – that Islam is not a religion at all, but a political ideology in the guise of religion. She also specifies what should be the essential characteristics of a religion: 1) a religion must be a personal choice; 2) no religion should kill those who leave it; 3) a religion must never order the killing and subjugation of those who do not choose to be its members; and 4) a religion must abide by basic human rights.

Could it be true that Islam is not a religion? St. Thomas Aquinas, in defining religion, utilizes Cicero’s broad characterization according to which religion  “consists in offering service and ceremonial rites or worship” to “some superior nature that men call divine.” Aquinas adds that this definition applies to religion in general, but that further specifications may be derived from revelation:

It belongs to the dictate of natural reason that man should do something through reverence for God. But that he should do this or that determinate thing does not belong to the dictate of natural reason, but is established by Divine or human law.

Under Cicero’s broad definition, Satanism, which recognizes Satan as the supreme superior nature, would qualify as religion; and abhorrent pagan practices such as child sacrifices, would qualify as ceremonial rites related to worship of pagan gods.

But we have received revelation about what God expects – including respect for human life (Genesis 9:5-7); keeping the Ten Commandments (Matt. 19:17); knowledge, love, and service of God (Lk. 10:27). The Epistle of James adds that for true religion it is necessary to bridle the tongue, visit orphans and widows in their tribulations, and keep oneself unspotted from this world (Jas. 1:26-27).

But, aside from revelation, if we admit that even Satanism, Aztec worship, etc. are “religions” in some sense, can we deny that category to Islam?

An analogy with democracy may be helpful. The egalitarianism of the French Revolution, which led to the Terror; Karl Marx’s movement in 1843-1844 to communism as “true democracy”; Pol Pot’s massive exterminations of people and property in Cambodia during the 1970s to establish “Democratic Kampuchea”; and similar massive “levelings” in the name of democracy, by throwing out the “baby” (individual freedom) with the “bathwater” (social inequalities) do not deserve the title of democracies. And any “democracy” that is dedicated to the destruction of all other democracies, would qualify as a “limiting case” – a self-nullifying concept. A government tolerating groups dedicated to the overthrow of itself would be carrying the democratic value of toleration to an extreme of absurdity.

So also, a religion like Islam that enjoins submission to Islam of all other religions (Qur’an 9:29), extermination of all unbelievers (9:5; 2:191-193), withholding friendship from Jews and Christians (5:51), and finally conquering all other religions (61:9), offer us a “limiting case” of religious co-existence.

The various Islamic practices that Christians and others find objectionable in Islam – the subjugation of women, genital mutilation, sex slavery, child marriage, polygamy, “honor” killings, execution of adulterers, etc. – might be tolerated under the rubric of primitive religious practices. Even the violation of almost all of the Ten Commandments, and the complete absence of a “Golden Rule” in Islam, may be compatible with the “basics,” as indicated in Cicero’s broad definition.

The Islamic tenet of execution of any Moslem who converts to another religion does not differ from the practices of some religious cults; thus Islam could be recognized as a massive worldwide religious cult, jealously guarding its members against incursions from alien sources.

But the “limiting case” has to be Islam’s programmed extermination or subjugation of all other religions. Beginning in 635 A.D., invasion after invasion, with forced conversions (“convert or pay the Zakat”), followed one another for centuries: Damascus, al-Basrah in Iraq, Antioch, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Armenia, Egypt, various cities of North Africa and Persia, Spain and Sicily, and finally Constantinople in 1453.

Robert Spencer, in Arab Winter Comes to America, comments on the following passage (2:193) in the Koran: “Fight them until there is no (more) fitna and (until) worship is (acknowledged to be) for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors”:

Fitna is a key sin in Islam; the word is variously translated as disturbance, upheaval, chaos, and sedition. If Muslims are to fight until there is no more fitna and worship is for Allah, non-Muslims will have to have all become Muslims, thereby eradicating the fitna caused by unbelief, and ensuring that worship is all rightly directed toward Allah.

The fate envisioned for the United States is of a piece with this script. Omar Ahmad, cofounder and previous chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in 1998 informed all who are interested that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”

The presently ongoing extermination of “unbelievers” as the ultimate goal of a worldwide caliphate leads us beyond the concept of a tolerable religion, with all the rights and privileges accruing to other religions. This is not a religion but an anti-religion “holy” war.

It goes without saying that many Muslims (like Catholics who know little about the New Testament or the Catechism) are unfamiliar with the Koran and the Ahadith (traditions about Muhammad) – and this may be a blessing! But “ecumenical dialogue” with devout Muslims, who must be familiar with their ultimate goal (a worldwide caliphate and the nullification of all religions), is something like a death wish.

One thinks of Captain Yossarian’s sudden wartime realization in Catch 22 that “they are trying to kill me!” A “religion” dedicated to ending all other religions, by force if necessary, is a clear “limiting case” for meaningful religion.

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz, Emeritus Professor at Marquette University, is the author of twenty-five books on German philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, and religion, and over a hundred articles in scholarly journals, print magazines, online magazines, and op-eds. He was a recipient of an NEH fellowship for 1977-8, and Fulbright fellowships in Germany for 1980-1 and 1987-8. His website is at Marquette University.

  • Quaecumque Vera

    Thank you for speaking the blunt truth about Islam. Another way to come at this is simply to document the unimaginable barbarity of Islam in the world today. This gets kind of terrifying however since no action however horrific it is seems to provoke any reflection by followers of this so called religion. Think about the fact that there have been ten of thousands of atrocities carried out by followers of Islam in just the last decade–not a single day goes by when hundreds or thousands of people are not slaughtered by practicing muslims. then think about how many conferences have been organized by followers of Islam to ask what is our religion doing in the world–there have been none. The peaceful Muslim is a fiction but even if he is not conducting the slaughter himself he chooses to do absolutely nothing about it.

  • Paul

    Definitely some problems there and I don’t have much hope for reform, they seem to be getting more fundamental in their beliefs. Mutually assured destruction only works if the other side doesn’t want to die and go to paradise. As a Christian I don’t want to live under Sharia Law but I also wouldn’t want to live under Mosaic or Canon Law either. All three would want to kill me in the most horrible ways for just expressing my beliefs.

  • Bruno

    Interestingly, of all of the cited criteria mrs. Darwish uses to recognize a ‘religion’ none has anything to do with God.

    Denounce Islam if you must. Make clear its incompatibilities with Christian faith. Call its beliefs false.. But don’t say it is not a religion, then you’re playing with words.

  • Randall

    I second what Bruno has written and add that I think the question of whether Islam is a religion is a waste of time. The vast majority of people aren’t interested in any academic hair splitting about what qualifies as a religion. What is important is showing how Islam -whether you call it a religion or a political ideology – is defective. We could start with Pope Benedict’s Regensburg lectures.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Bruno is right
    The French Conseil d’état provided a very useful definition of Religion (culte) “the performance of rites to propitiate a non-natural power,able to help or harm.”

    This is close to Cicero’s definition and it shows why, for example, Vaudun and Bò are religions, whilst Scientology is not. It also distinguishes a philosophy, which is concerned with belief, from a religion, which is primarily concerned with «accomplissement des rites » or ritual practices,hence the reference to “free exercise” in the US Constitution.

  • Anon

    Just a quick correction here, if I may. It’s a bit off the main thrust of this article but I find it a little annoying none-the-less.

    Satanists do not typically see Satan as the supreme divine nature, no. He’s created just like everything else. Honestly, I can’t think of a single satanist that thinks the devil has all of the classical divine attributes; immutable, eternal, omnipotent, all-good, perfect, simple, all-knowing, etc.

    Kinda doubt most of us have even delved into those sorts of questions.

    Nope, we’re pretty aware that we’re just attaching ourselves to a creature. Some believe Satan is a more neutral force… and some of us are less deluded.

    Nope, as dear ol’ Aquinas states, we tend to fall under the heading of superstition.

    – Just another satanist.

  • DeGaulle

    Two points.

    1). To the anonymous self-proclaimed follower of the Devil:
    Not a word from a follower of the Father of Lies can be believed, so your commenting here serves no purpose except to attract prayers for your perdition-threatened soul.

    2). Can anyone explain why John Kerry is at the moment appealing for the rights of the Muslim Brotherhood with the president of Egypt, even as the US regime studiously ignores the deadly plight of the wife of one of its own citizens in Sudan?

  • Chris in Maryland


    Per your question #2 – I think the answer is – its part of the current administration’s political economy – they are exchanging money and power with the Muslim Brotherhood – at the peril of the rest of us. This goes for other politicians, R and D, accepting “donations” from Islamist agencies and agents.

    So are all of the colleges that are in political economy with CAIR and other Islamist propaganda machines.

  • Mack

    Well and bravely said.
    Paul, you’re simply wrong about Mosaic law and (presumably Catholic) canon law. Please stop reading that third-party script and consider Judaism and Catholicism themselves.

  • Jack,CT

    Bruno speaks well for me as well-

  • Rich in MN

    Thank you, Dr. Kainz, for your column. One of the cavalier ripostes is, “Well, isn’t that behavior true for all religions that become dominant? Were not other religions suppressed when Constantine made Christianity the state religion? In the Middle Ages, did not Christianity use the Inquisitions as a tool in its own ‘jihad’ against heretics?”

    I know a bit about the rationale behind the first few Crusades (touched on in your column) so as to offer some defense against that canard, but I am still woefully ignorant in how to defend against the general attack that Christians oppressed others (in the 4th Century, the Middle Ages, etc.) when they came to power. Do you have any good ‘general treatment’ books to recommend on the subject of Christianity vis a vis other religions in its history?

  • grump

    How is it that victories by Christian and Jewish forces throughout history are any different than triumphs on the battlefield by Muslims? When the Jews prevailed throughout the Old Testament over their enemies or the Crusaders beat back the Moslem hordes, the victors always gave the credit to God, saying it showed divine sanctioning of their religions.

    A bit of historical perspective is in order. Dare we ignore the Inquisition, witch hunts “holy wars” that stain Christianity’s past?

    In this discussion, do we conveniently skirt George W. Bush’s “faith-based” bloody invasion of Iraq in the guise of the “war on terror,” enhanced by Obama in the quest for American hegemony over the world. America purports to be the most “religious” country in the world yet is the most violent.

    Hitler, a professed Roman Catholic, was confirmed as a “soldier of Christ” in that church. In “Mein Kampf” he wrote: “I am completely convinced that I am acting as the agent of God. I am now a Catholic and will always remain so.”

    In a 2002 letter to the American people, Osama bin Laden wrote: “You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day. It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet when 3,000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down.”

    Whether is Sunni-Shia, Catholic-Protestant, Muslim-Christian (insert your own religious conflict here), history is replete with examples of mass murder in the name of religion.

    I’m not here to defend jihad, which Muslims are waging mainly to avenge deaths caused by US foreign policies in the Middle East. And, to be sure, the atheists have buckets of blood on their hands. The point is that to single out “Muslims” as the “bad guys” is refuted by any objective study of history.

    “Just wars” are almost an oxymoron, Augustine and Aquinas notwithstanding. “War,” as Gen. Smedley Butler, once said, “is a racket.”

  • Katherine

    What seems to be missing from the discussion is the distinction between religions that are false and the Religion that is true. It seems to be taken for granted that religion, per se, is a good. On the contrary, false religions are all, to one degree or another, evil.

    Of course, under St. Thomas’ definition, Islam is a religion. It is simply a false religion. Its god is false; its revelation is false.

    Ms. Darwish’s definition of a religion might be taken as the description of a — for lack of a more fitting word — safe religion, which may be true or false. Her requirements should also apply to political ideologies.

    I don’t know what is meant by a “limiting case,” but as for the intention to wipe out other, competing religions, as just one example, think of God’s repeated commands to His people to exterminate the false gods in the Land. Should the ancient Hebrew religion be disqualified?

  • Howard Kainz

    @Grump: Re: anecdotes about violent Christians: If you read the New Testament, you will find not one passage advocating violence. The closest you come to violence is from St. Paul, who advises his Roman congregation (Rom 12:20) to be charitable to their enemies, and promises that by doing this the Roman Christians will “heap coals of fire over their heads.” Violent Catholics can give their own spin to Christianity, however. They have free will.

  • Augustine Thomas

    Your entire conclusion is based on a false premise. The United States did not murder 1.5 million people in Iraq and is not responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people compared to the rest of the world, Islam is.
    (You’d be better off arguing against the cruelty against Japanese civilians. Though again, your case would have to confront strong counter arguments.)
    It’s clear that Christianity has worked its way out of the tendency to murder in the name of preserving orthodoxy.
    It’s dubious to suggest that the reformed/reformer and the unreformed are in the same situation.
    Still, as a believer, I also disagree with the whole premise that the religious shouldn’t take up arms to defend their beliefs.
    The more the world falls into heresy, false religion and apostasy, the more it suffers and the less it progresses than when the great powers were all devoutly Christian.
    It’s truly child abuse to raise your children in a secularist world where they most likely won’t have access to an authentic religious experience that can make real in their lives what is constantly confirmed by (even leftist) scientific studies: that those who regularly attend church are the healthiest group on the planet.
    Historically, this age is just yet more proof that nations rise to unimaginable heights with Christianity (e.g. Galileo, Copernicus, Descartes, Kepler, Leibniz, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Michelangelo, di Vinci, Fr. Lemaitre, etc.) and fall to horrifying depths (e.g. mass child murder in the womb, children attending public celebrations of sodomy, mass pornography addiction, etc.) without it.
    As for Hitler, there are diverse primary sources that attest to his real feelings about the Church and religion in general. He thought it was useful to control the masses. All of his closest allies and supporters were atheists and many were homosexuals.

  • Quaecumque Vera

    I guess I should have known it would come–that Muslims are just avenging deaths caused by US foreign policies. This would work except that everywhere that Islam is practiced innocents are slaughtered–thousands of them everyday. How does abducting children for sex slavery in Nigeria or shooting shoppers in a Kenyan mall, or shooting Catholics as they worship in the pews avenge US foreign policy.

  • Chris in Maryland

    To DeGaulle:

    Explanation re: your #2 – the answer is the current administration is in a political economy with the Muslim Brotherhood – they are exchanging money and power with the MB, which has funneled money to them. This is not unique to the Obama admin of course – what makes it legitimate is that many US politicians and institutions are accepting “donations” from agencies/agents of Jihad.

  • Chris in Maryland


    I’ll be waiting to hear your citation from Canon Law about The Church “want[ing] to kill me in the most horrible ways for just expressing my beliefs.”

    Your clock is running Paul…

  • Bruno

    Hi, Rich in MN,

    You might enjoy professor Thomas Madden’s course on the Inquisition. I heard it through ‘Audible’, don’t know if it is available elsewhere. His course on the Middle Ages is also instructive.

    Overall I would advise you to judge Christendom as you would judge a person: the same way you should not judge a Christian by his perfection (which belongs to One alone), but by his trust and willingness to accept Christ and work with (or rather be worked by) the Holy Spirit, so you should do with Christendom.

    I once struggled as you probably do, and had difficulty understanding how this Church which is so sinful could bear the mark of holiness. Well, suffice to recall that the most righteous men we know of were too men of many faults: King David, Peter, Paul. See how God works in them, and loves them, despite of, because of and with their faults. Why would it be different with the Church?

  • Chris in Maryland

    I think that “THE BIG DIFFERENCE” btw the case of where Christians criminally slaughter others versus where Muslims criminally slaughter others is that the Christians were disobeying the Gospel, whereas the Muslims are obeying the Koran.

    Christianity views the criminal slaughter of others as a crime. Obviously, as the words of the Koran testify, Islam views the criminal slaughter of others as a righteous act.

  • Rolando Rodriguez, OFS.

    “A “religion” dedicated to ending all other religions, by force if necessary, is a clear “limiting case” for meaningful religion.”
    Wasn’t that the reason and cause of the Crusades, the cleansing of Moors and Jews from Christian Spain, and the “evangelization” of the New World?

  • Rose

    Islam is a Christian heresy!!! There is no more Judaism. That belief system was ended with Jesus’ founding of Christianity. There is no “Judeo-Christian” value system. The true religion we will find out when we die. But the best and only true religion on earth is Christianity. The other “religions” are strange belief systems.

  • Howard Kainz

    @Rich in MN: In addition to the suggestion above by Bruno, I would recommend James Hitchcock’s recently published “History of the Catholic Church” — a very objective treatment of this history, including “all the warts.”
    The point that “Chris in Maryland” makes above is important: If one is looking for excuses for rejecting Christianity, there are a lot of examples of Christians misinterpreting their faith, but violent jihadists are not misinterpreting their scriptures.

  • Howard Kainz

    @Katherine: I discussed the ethical issue of God’s commands to the Hebrews in several articles, including philosophy journals. One accessible online article is “When Religion Gets Violent,” in Crisis Magazine, May 21, 2009.

  • Chris in Maryland


    The reason for the “Reconquest” of Spain in the war against the Moors was that the Moors invaded and conquered Spain, just as had other Islamic armies invaded and conquered numerous other countries in North Africa and Europe in the one-thousand years of war between 600 and 1700.

    For example – you may have read that one of the first official acts of Pope Francis was to beatify 800 Italian men who were martyred when the Saracens invaded and conquered parts of southern Italy. The men refused to deny their faith and submit to Islam – so they were beheaded – as commanded by the Koran – just as Islamists are doing all over the middle east in the Arab Winter.

    The reason for the Crusades was not to end Islam in the Holy Land – it was simply another counter-attack in the one-thousand year Islamic War, in this case to permit the freedom of Christians in the Holy Land (after the Holy Land was invaded and conquered by Islamic armies) and to end the associated atrocities, e.g., the massacre of the pilgrims of Bamberg.

    The Crusaders committed atrocities. But Crusader atrocities don’t permit painting Islam as the victim of the West, or erasing the history of one-thousand years of Islamic atrocities.

    The evangelization of the new world was carried out to spread the Gospel, and those missionaries that went to the New World did so at their peril, and faced martyrdom, not fame and fortune (e.g. Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs).

    Yes, other Europeans travelled to the new world for worldly purposes. The actions of those Europeans may be analogous to those of the wars of Islamic conquest.

    Catholic history books for both adults and school children disclose the atrocities committed by the Crusaders. It is reported that Islamic history books do not disclose the history of Islamic atrocities, and it is reported that western history texts for schools are sanitized of Islamic atrocities by agents of CAIR and other Islamic organizations, who have corrupted many US and European “education” and “publishing” establishments in their US and Europe in the course of their world-wide propaganda operations.

    Summing up – the answer to your rhetorical question is “NO.”

  • Jack,CT

    Insulting a “Real Faith” that has a Billion+
    in it’s flock is playing into the other side!

    Radicals exist in the over all Christian faith
    especially nut jobs like Pat Robertson and the
    700 club that blame Natural disasters on religion and
    one can go on and on………..FACT is he speaks NOT
    for all of us so the RADICAL JIHAD” speaks less
    for Islam,come on try not to take the bait!

  • grump

    @Howard. Jesus Himself said, according to Luke 11:21, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.” Although the New Testament does not advocate violence, it does assert the right of self-defense.

  • Brad Miner

    @Jack: Of Rev. Robertson’s duplicity, there are many examples. But he’s no jihadi, unless you’re bleeding meaning from the word. But we have tens of thousands of examples of actual murder committed in the name of Allah derived from the Qur’an. Robert Spencer and Robert Reilly, among others, have written extensively about the various suras that contain calls to oppress and even kill unbelievers. Have you been watching the news lately?

  • Quaecumque Vera

    Okay yet another smoke screen–Christians are not kidnapping young girls to sell as sex slaves, are not commandeering airplanes and flying them into buildings to immolate themselves and as many others as they can, are not filling pressure coolers up with shrapnel and detonating them in front of the most beautiful 8 year old boy, are not lining up hundreds in a ditch and mowing them down with machine gun fire, are not setting off bombs in places where others worship, are not shooting up malls. Followers of Islam alone are engaging in this barbarity and there is no significant examination of this within Islam.

  • Howard Kainz

    @Grump: I think you are right about that; it seems to offer some support to just war theory.

  • John II

    The curious thing about Islam is that (a) it actually practices the depredations attributed to Christianity by militant western secularists and (b) it gets a complete pass from the secularists.

    There are interesting historical reasons for this apparent anomaly going back at least to the Reformation, but no attempt at a rational explanation should obscure the deepest trouble with Islam amid all its routine outbursts of irrationality, cruelty, and compulsive violence.

    The Allah worshipped by Islam is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the angel who dictated the Qur’an to Mohammad was not Gabriel.

  • Ronald Sevenster

    It is certainly not true what is stated in the article, that religion should be a personal choice. The great counterexample is Judaism. Judaism is clearly a religion, and yet in normal cases — i.e. apart from the possibility of rabbinic conversion — a person is Jewish by birth and by this fact mandated to follow the Torah as it applies to him, in all details. The Jew has no personal say in the matter. He is sanctified from the womb, yea even earlier, in his forefathers, and is chosen to participate in the divine service that belongs to the nation. Judaism’s project is the sanctification of the entire human life, in all its aspects, and throughout the entire time of a person’s existence. The divine calling precedes and overrules one’s personal choice. A person has simply to obey the Torah because he was born in the people which has the Torah as its constitution.

  • Ronald Sevenster

    It is certainly not true what is stated in the article, that religion should be a personal choice. The great counterexample is Judaism. Judaism is clearly a religion, and yet in normal cases — i.e. apart from the possibility of rabbinic conversion — a person is Jewish by birth and by this fact mandated to follow the Torah as it applies to him, in all details. The Jew has no personal say in the matter. He is sanctified from the womb, yea even earlier, in his forefathers, and is chosen to participate in the divine service that belongs to the nation. Judaism’s project is the sanctification of the entire human life, in all its aspects, and throughout the entire time of a person’s existence. The divine calling precedes and overrules one’s personal choice. A person has simply to obey the Torah because he was born in the people which has the Torah as its constitution.

  • Robert Hill

    The more relevant question is whether Muslims worship the One True God. I do not think “good” Muslims do. Islam is a degenerate and wicked, heretical version of Christianity. However, there are “bad” Muslims, and as C.S. Lewis points out, those who worship God without knowing it are still blessed.

  • Ernest Miller

    Rose and Robert Hill have it right.

  • Paul

    If we were presently living under Mosaic or Canon Law wouldn’t we have the death penalty for blasphemy also?

  • Jack,CT

    @brad,I never called Robertson anything except what he
    is a radical and only in comparison to radical
    Islamics,and yes I have seen the news sir.

  • Ron Goodman

    This article looks like a good illustration of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. The difference I see is at this present time in history, Islam, or some of its adherents, is willing to use violence to further its goals, whereas Christianity isn’t. That hasn’t always been the case.

  • Howard Kainz

    @Paul: Nonie Darwish mentions the strange aspect in Islamic law that “the laws of Islam…do not automatically carry a death penalty for insulting Allah, but do carry a death penalty for anyone who criticizes Mohammed, whether the person repents or not.”

  • Ron Goodman

    This article is a great example of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. The difference between Islam and Christianity/Judaism is at this point in time, Islam, or at least a part of it, is willing to use violence against outsiders. This has not always been the case.

  • Chris in Maryland


    Good morning. It’s your Day 2…your clock is still running.

    So far…just crickets…

  • downtown dave

    There is another kind of violence. There is the physical violence you speak of that has been carried out by various religions, and then there is the violence of keeping people from the knowledge of the truth and ensuring they will go to their destruction as a result of never hearing and responding to the true Gospel.

  • downtown dave

    There is another kind of violence. There is the physical violence you speak of that has been carried out by various religions, and then there is the violence of keeping people from the knowledge of the truth and ensuring they will go to their destruction as a result of never hearing and responding to the true Gospel.

  • Chris in Maryland


    Evening falls Day 2…cheep-cheep…cheep-cheep…

    Perhaps you’re researching…

  • Shannon

    First, let us not forget that the vast majority of the victims of Muslim religious violence are other Muslims. Indeed, this has been true since at least the turn of the last millennium… if not five minutes after the death of the Prophet. The only question is whether, between the death of Mohammed and the conversion of all of North Africa and the Middle East, plus most of Asia Minor, more of the wrong kind of Muslims were killed or more of the indigenous polytheists who refused to “see the Light.” I suspect it’s “more of the wrong kind of Muslims”, because the local polytheists who did convert didn’t get killed for not converting, but they still faced the chance to be killed for converting the wrong way.

    It is also true that, until the Ottoman Empire collapsed under the weight of the incompetence and depravity of its inbred Emperors, the treatment of adherents of the other Abrahamic religions in Muslim states was, while still wicked by modern (and I think more correct) moral standards, not bad by historical standards, and measurably better than the treatment of Muslims and Jews in Christian Europe, especially before the 18th Century.

    NOTE: This should not be read to minimize the Holocaust. The application of the tools of modern industrial war to Europe’s two favorite scapegoats, the Jews and “Gypsies”, is sui generis. That it happened does not make it untrue to say that life for Jews in Western Europe improved enormously between 1700 and 1900.

    I hope and fear that we are seeing Islam’s modern equivalent of the 30 Years War.
    Hope, because after 5 generations of internecine politico-religious conflict, culminating in three decades of savage barbarism that caused more human and economic damage to Europe that anything since the Black Death, Europe finally figured something out. True faith cannot be compelled, and governments shouldn’t try. Every attempt to do so has ended with the official Church corrupted by the temptations of power, the State sanctifying its own corruption, and lots and lots of dead bodies. For the most part, we in the West have decided to let God/the Gods/nobody sort it out after the other guy is dead… preferably of natural causes, after a long, happy and productive life. Muslim peoples and States coming to the same conclusion would produce more good in the human world than any other single change I can think of.
    Fear, because by the time the lid comes all the way off, at least three nations, all of whom have long traditions of militant religious nationalism, will have nuclear weapons. So far, nuclear weapons have been the most potent driver of peace we’ve ever seen. In fact, no two nuclear powers have ever fought a direct war, even a purely conventional one. It’s simply too likely that the losing side will use them in the final hours before defeat. What does throwing The One True God ™ on both sides of the sword do to the thread that holds it? I don’t know, neither does anyone else, and there’s only one way to find out. Hence, I fear.

    Christianity and Judaism also have ideas baked into them that don’t make for pleasant neighbors. The difference is that most of their practitioners have chosen to ignore those ideas in the interest of living in a stable, prosperous and safe society. The problem with Islam is not so much the nasty parts of its scriptures, it’s that not enough Muslims ignore them.

  • cken

    Using the four elements for religion first mentioned, there is no such thing as a religion. All religious beliefs have violated one or more of those elements.
    Christianity according to the Bible should take strangers who enter their city and refuse to conform to their belief are to take them out and stone them. And clearly Paul felt women were to be regarded as second class citizens. Then there is also Paul’s homophobia.
    How many wars have been fought through out history in the name of God or Allah.
    Interestingly I agree Islam may not qualify as a religion but I disagree with the authors reasoning.
    I also know there are Apologetics excuses and specious logic for all those things in the Bible we Christians don’t like and don’t want to follow. The point is we need to tread very lightly when we accuse others as if we somehow have the moral high ground.
    Atheists are not exempt form various atrocities also.

  • Paul


    My last post was an attempt to answer you and a couple of other commentators. I assume you are referring to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, that is not what I an referring to. Perhaps I’m using these words incorrectly. Islam/Sharia Law, Judaism/Mosaic Law, Christian/Canon Law. I think I’m using Mosaic correctly, If you have the proper word to use for Christianity please let me know for future reference. I’m not talking about present day Judaism or Christianity because they would not have a law to stone some one to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or burn a heretic at the stake. My point is if we were a Christian Kingdom living under the Ten Commandments wouldn’t breaking one of those commandments be punished with the death penalty? I’m not talking about the death penalty for murder I’m talking about the death penalty for idolatry, blasphemy, not keeping the Sabbath, etc… Right now Islam is not looking so good because of all the radicals, but don’t think Christians or Jews can’t be radicalized. What if an Evangelical Christian shoots an abortionist, some Christians will say he is perverting our religion, some Christians will say he shouldn’t have done that but that guy won’t be aborting any more babies and some will say good start. Haven’t you heard the phrase “we need a Catholic king with a sharp axe”. The Bible warns us there is going to be one world religion some day and many will be killed, don’t think because Christians are going to be beheaded it couldn’t be by other “Christians”. The way thing are going we could have a horrible swing to the right and a whole lot of violence and death.

  • Chris in Maryland


    Thank you for responding.

    Re: “Right now Islam is not looking so good because of all the radicals,….” I think you are missing the fundamental distinction being made in the discussion above. This is not a “temporal” problem in Islam. It is a problem with the nature of Islam itself, because the Koran teaches its people that their duty is to commit violence against non-Muslims. This is why there was a 1,000 year war waged by Islamic armies world-wide between 600 and 1700 AD. Those Muslims who are peaceful are literally ignoring the parts of the Koran that call for violence against non-Muslims.

    When so-called “Chistians” commit atrocities (i.e., atrocities being what you imply when you use the term “radicals”) every odedient Christian on earth knows that those who are committing the atrocities are disobeying the Gospel.

    When Muslims commit atrocities, every Muslim and non-Muslim on earth who has read the calls to violence in the Koran knows that those who are committing the atrocities are obeying the Koran.

    In closing – when you “referred” to the term “Canon Law” in this discussion, this is a term which everyone understands as a reference to the Catholic Church. So yes, perhaps, as you suggested, you used the term incorrectly. But further, you asserted thereby that Canon Law, i.e., The law of the Catholic Church, sanctions violence against others. You were wrong to do that, in the context of this discussion, because since it is so blatantly wrong, it serves to triviliaze the “real horror” the whole world is suffering right now, non-Muslim and Muslim alike, at the hands of the Islamists (i.e., those who obey the Koran’s call to violence).

  • Chris in Maryland


    Please quote the passage from the New Testament which encourages Christians to “take strangers who enter their city and refuse to conform to their belief are to take them out and stone them.”

    I’ll keep an eye out for your reply.

  • Jack,CT

    IF we could Marry Cken and Shannon’s remarks
    The Article would not be so supine-

  • Paul


    I used canon as defined in my dictionary. Canon; a church law/ any general principle or body of principles. As far as I was aware this is a general term and not specific to the HRCC although used by them. As you noticed in my post I wrote Christian/Canon Law not HRCC/Canon Law. In future, I’ll clarify or not use this term because I gather from you RC assume it applies to them.

    I think you and I would agree just because someone says he/she is a Christian doesn’t mean they are. However, isn’t that what the Muslim would say about the Islamist?
    I’m very aware about the problems in the Koran and the history of Islam. I think you are missing my point though, Judaism and Christianity have radicals also, it isn’t as a major problem because the numbers are so small and we don’t have any Theocracies presently. Trouble is in a Theocracy it’s not the normal people that end up ruling it’s the kill’em all and let God sort’em out that rule. Have you thought what a Theocracy based on Judaism or Christianity would look like? I imagine stories in the Bible is what Judaism would be like and I’m pretty sure someone found guilty in a Christian Theocracy wouldn’t be told ” your sin is forgiven go and sin no more”. More likely they’d be beheaded or burnt at the stake.

  • Chris in Maryland


    I am not missing your point – I am staying on point, while I think you are trying to change the subject to something that is not at issue, so that we can avoid discussing the real issue.

    We have precious little time – so we must come to grips with REAL THINGS in this place and time, not the fictions you are conjuring. That REAILITY is violent Islam, spawned by obedience to the Koran.

  • Chris in Maryland


    24 hours have passed since I challenged you to produce…perhaps you have given up. I’ll keep an eye out for your response.

  • Chris in Maryland


    It might help you to understand the magnitude of the problem of Islamic violence, if you read through the data from the 2010 Pew Study on Muslim beliefs. I have studied it at some length. There are about 1.6 Billion Muslims in the world. The Pew study indicates that across the Muslim in various countries, 70% want Sharia, and 65% of these believe in deadly Sharia (e.g., stoning for adultery, and death for Muslims who convert to another faith). This translates to 739 Million Muslims, 46% of the Muslim world, wants to impose deadly Sharia.

    Now – 739 Million people wanting deadly Sharia is a REAL problem – a GLOBAL REAL problem. It’s “a might bigger” and “a tad more of a menace” than the minutia that several commenters are suggesting actually weigh in the balance.

  • Paul


    I’m aware of that information. Islamic violence is a serious problem but it is not the real problem. The real problem is the governments and the do gooders in Europe and North America. They are feeding it, they are emboldening it and they are making it grow because of action and inaction. What they are doing to me seems so crazy you would almost think they’re doing it on purpose. IMO you will see the backlash by citizens in Europe first, they are feed up and will vote in right wing governments and start fighting back with physical force. Could Sharia take over the world? possibly but I don’t believe so. Eventually we’ll live under a one world government and religion where you’ll be beheaded for breaking the rules but it won’t be Islam. The scary part is where could the several hundred million Muslims who ignore the kill the infidel verses in the Koran the way I ignore the stone the guy for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or the people caught commiting adultry in the Old Testament go? Could they convert to Judaism or Christianity? If so they would totally change their new religion the same way the gentiles changed Christianity in the first few centuries of the Church. Another wild card in this senario is will the Twelve Trbes of Israel be united at that time.

  • Paul

    forgot about Australia. If this discussion is only about Islamic terrorists are bad I agree. I think we should take the next step and talk about could Judaism, Christianity, Atheists, Environmentalists, etc…become radicalized like Islamists. I believe they can but I guess I’ll wait till the post — What will be the one world religion of Revelation?