Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Can We All Just Get Along?

If any Muslims happen to be reading my blog, welcome. You need to know that people are reading the Koran, not by checking the book out of the library or learning Arabic -- we're reading you. You can tell us "Islam is a religion of peace," well enough, but what about your Muslim brothers blowing up trains? You tell us that your religion offers freedom to all, but what about the place of women in Saudi Arabia? You say Islam has brought about some great art, and so it has, but what about those Buddha statues in Afghanistan, what about the destruction of the historical churches in Kosovo, what about the Taliban?

You say those dark aspects don't represent Islam any more than the KKK represents Christianity, and I say, that's good, but whereas the KKK is a marginalized cult with no relationship with any historically connected Christian body, jihadist Islam seems to be vying for placement as mainstream Islam.

Nevertheless, I said that I believe Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and atheists can live side by side and carry on normal lives in harmony, freedom and faithfulness to their own religion. A commenter expresses skepticism, based on the same questions I've expressed in the paragraphs above. Kind and thoughtful Brits are discussing the same question.

I still believe it's possible. It's a departure from the patterns of history, partly because throughout much of history, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and atheists didn't live side by side, and when they did, it was such an anomaly that they gathered in their own districts and often had to live by separate rules. But it's a new world now, and they do live side by side, and it's the ideal of many of us that we all live by the same rules, so that we all have the same freedom. So the departure from historical precedents is all around us.

I also know that there are many Muslims who are willing to live on those terms. I offer for example The Religious Policeman, a Saudi blogger and someone I would want for a neighbor, who, tellingly, hasn't posted since August of 2004. His site is worth keeping on my blogroll even though it's been dormant so long.

I offer all these conflicting thoughts and hopes to my hypothetical Muslim reader and say that the only person who can really say whether we can live together in peace is the Muslim. I'll support war against your tyrants if it becomes necessary, even as I excoriate Rep. Tom Tancredo for threatening to bomb Mecca. I'll continue to worship the God I believe in (may God give me strength to do so) regardless of whether you live next door or not. I'll speak and drive and go out with my face uncovered and write what I think, even if it scandalizes you and makes me look like a fool.

Now you tell me: in your effort to bring the message of Islam to the world are you willing to take "no" for an answer? And in your co-religionists' effort to bring death and Islamic power to the world, do they have an enemy in you?

UPDATE: Moderate Muslims Split on Suicide Bombings

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