Hearts of Darkness 4 - The Nature of Man

Islam has no "brotherhood of man" like Christianity does.

An individual's view of God greatly affects his world view.  Islamic terrorists gleefully murder thousands of "infidels" on the command of their god; America's founding fathers based their political philosophy on the belief that God cares about everyone whether they believe in Him or not.

We've looked at where the great religions differ in their views of God; now we'll see how they differ in their views of man, with respect to man's place in the universe, and regarding how God thinks men should interact with one another.  These views are of great practical importance; a religious individual is naturally going to be influenced in how he deals with his fellow men based on how he thinks his god views them and him.

As our Founders were well aware, Christianity asserts that the God of the Bible loves each and every individual person.  Because people are important to God, they ought to be important to each other.

The Christian Bible teaches that all men are created "in the image of God," regardless of their own beliefs.  This belief leads inevitably to a belief in the inherent dignity of man no matter what - a fundamental principle, if not the fundamental principle, of Western thought.  The entire rationale behind government-provided welfare, health care, and all sorts of other "entitlements" is that people are worth supporting by virtue of their very existence, even if they make no effort to support themselves.

The best expression of this logic can be found in our own Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

In other words, our Founders believed that the foundational unit of importance was the individual human being and that Government exists merely to serve the people.  This is deeply contrary to the view that has prevailed throughout most of human history, where the king occupied the throne by divine right and the common people existed merely to serve and to support his grandeur.

This revolutionary concept of the importance of each person individually is drawn from the Bible; this philosophy is found in no other foundational religious or secular work.  The Greek philosophers gave the Founders the idea of democracy, but theirs was a very limited democracy, restricted to elite citizens and completely barred to women, slaves, and the foreign-born.

Greek democracy was more of a democratic aristocracy; a popular "democracy" as we know it today is the result of combining Greek structural philosophy with the Biblical view of the importance of each individual no matter how lowly.  The Greek idea of limiting the right to vote so as to keep undesirables from meddling in government rears its head now and then, but over time, the idea of "one man, one vote" has gained ground.

Hinduism teaches that all beings, including animals and man, are part of God.  The rationale is that since God is infinite, He takes up all the space there is.  There is no room in the universe for anything to be separate from God.

Thus, in contrast to the Christian teaching that God and his creation are separate in some sense, Hinduism and many other Asian religions teach that God, people, animals, plants, and even the earth itself are inextricably woven together.  One might think that this belief ought to induce Asians to be concerned for preserving the ecology and taking care of animals, but it is an unarguable fact that both the environmental movement and movements to protect animals originated in the West and sprung out of a historical Christian tradition of being "good stewards" of what God had created.

That leads to the point of considering where other people rank.  Islam sets non-Muslims far below Muslims.  They identify various groups as "less than human" - Jews are referred to as dogs, pigs, and so on; Saddam Hussein's uncle, who raised him, once published a tract entitled "Three things God should not have created: Flies, Jews, and Persians."  Given this view, killing infidels of any sort is OK because they aren't "human" in the same sense that Muslims are humans.

The English translation of the Koran at http://www.islam.tc/quran/ uses the pejorative terms "disbelievers" and "idolaters" to mean anyone who is not a Muslim.  The Koran is divided into surahs which are roughly equivalent to Bible chapters; each surah consists of numbered verses.  Surah 2 says:

002.190 Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities.  Lo!  Allah loveth not aggressors.

002.191 And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter.  And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them.  Such is the reward of disbelievers.

Sura 9:5 says:

009.005 Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.  But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free.  Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Various Islamic commentaries state that this passage, which is sometimes called the "verse of the sword," came late in the Koran and has therefore replaced all earlier verses calling for patience or forgiveness toward Christians and Jews.  The verses supporting tolerance were written at a time when Islam was a small religion threatened with extinction.  When he became more powerful later on, Mohammad commanded his followers to be less tolerant now that he and his followers no longer had to be tolerant.

As Winston Churchill put it,

Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as deadly in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities ... but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.  Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. [emphasis added]

The Institute on Religion and Public Policy reports that the Maldives constitution states that Islam is the official state religion; this is interpreted to mean that non-Muslims cannot be citizens.  The Islamic attitude that the only good non-Muslim is a dead or enslaved non-Muslim is promulgated by Islamic textbooks distributed worldwide by the Saudi Arabian government.  "A school for scoundrels," an article by Cal Thomas, warns:

Despite a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., has continued to use textbooks that teach hatred of everyone not of their specific brand of faith, the U.S. State Department has yet to act to close down the school.

In a separate statement, the co-authors [of the report from the Commission on International Religious Freedom] write, "The books reveal an uncompromisingly hostile attitude towards the West, especially the United States and Israel. In fact, the curriculum's declared goal is to prepare the students for a global struggle against the West which bears alarming Messianic-like features to the point of self-destruction."

World Magazine's article "Unchanging Text" on p. 10 of the August 2, 2008 issue reports:

Under an arrangement with the U.S. State Department, the Saudis had agreed to a "comprehensive revision" by Sept 1.  But the latest textbook revisions, according to a report from the Hudson's Institute for Religious Freedom, continue to call Jews, Christians, and Muslims who do not share the Wahhabi beliefs and practices hated "enemies."  Jews and Christians are apes and swine, the textbooks claim, and a lesson from a 10th-grade text also posted on the Saudi Ministry's web site sanctions the killing of homosexuals and discusses methods for doing so.  the texts, used in Islamic schools throughout the world (including the United States) show the Saudi government continues to advocate "a worldwide theocratic dictatorship," writes former CIA directory R. James Woolsey in the forward of the report.  "These are essentially the same basic beliefs as those expressed by al-Qaeda."

Even international spectacles of brotherhood through sport is not immune from Muslim disdain for Jews.  The Beijing Olympics gives us this sad illustration, as reported in the Jerusalem Post:

Politics reared its ugly head at the Olympic Games once more on Saturday after an Iranian swimmer refused to compete alongside Israeli Tom Be'eri. Mohammad Alirezaei [a gold-medal favorite] was due to race against Be'eri in the fourth heat of the 100 meter breaststroke, but pulled out, apparently under the orders of the chiefs of the Iranian delegation.

If your god doesn't value people who don't believe in him, it should be no surprise if you don't value such people either.  In order to have freedom of religion, it's absolutely essential for each religion to respect the adherents of other religions that, from your point of view, are dead wrong.

America has done very well over the centuries by allowing each religion to make its own arguments for and against the various beliefs and to gather converts where they may, always ensuring that each individual person has the right to make up their own mind and be treated with equal rights and respect as a human being.

Islam, in contrast, teaches the exact opposite: you are fully human and deserving of rights only insofar as you worship Allah; if you don't, you're not fully human and fit only for death or slavery. A religion with that sort of fundamental belief is going to have a hard time peacefully coexisting with different religions, and indeed, that's exactly what we see everywhere Islam comes into contact with non-Islam.

But why is there such a great variety in peacefulness between different religions?  The next article will discuss why it matters how many gods you think there are.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for Scragged.com and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

. A Muslim charity In Swindon is bidding to run the first Multi-faith Muslim School for Muslim and non-Muslim children and have teachers from different faiths. An hour of the timetable each day would be dedicated to studying Arabic and the Holy Quran. Non-Muslims pupils would be able to be exempted from the lessons, but it is hoped that the majority would choose to stay in class to gain more "insight" into the Islamic faith.

. In my opinion, Multifaith school is not going to be successful because non-Muslim parents would not send their children. In the past, a plan for a Multi-faith secondary school in Westminster for 1000 pupils could not be materialised because faith groups could not come to any agreement. Now even Hindu community has set up state funded school in Harrow. Black community is also thinking of setting up its own school with Black teachers.

. According to David Lammy MP, there are still too many inequalities in the education system which prevents disadvantaged children from applying to study for a degree. British schooling is wholly responsible for the inequalities. A culture of low expectation and a lack of rigour holding these pupils back. Every child must reach his full potential regardless of his background. Justice Secretary Jack Straw MP said British society should be one which recognizes and celebrates differences. One in which we all have an opportunity to flourish, regardless of who we are or where we are from. British schooling has been trying to integrate and assimilate Muslim community through education in the name of integration. The Imams and Masajid have been playing their parts to keep Islamic faith alive, but that is not enough. British schooling does not promote global cohesion. It does not encourage dialogue and increases understanding.

. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. They need to learn and be well versed in Standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. They need to learn and be well versed in Arabic to recite and understand the Holy Quran. They need to learn and be well versed in Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry.
. Iftikhar Ahmad

December 26, 2008 4:20 PM
"They need to learn and be well versed in Arabic to recite and understand the Holy Quran "

The last thing this planet needs is more Muslims, state funded or otherwise.

If you want your children to "serve humanity" stop strapping suicide bombs on them.
December 26, 2008 7:52 PM
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