Salmon Rushdie may have been the first to flee the wrath of angry Islamic hardliners but now whole nations are on the alert. It is an easy thing to hide one man but nations are another matter. World reaction is followed by world opinion and depending on how much dust has to settle, following close behind is worldwide action. That action has been everything from hunting down major terrorists and dangerous extremists to digging for the root causes for all this anti anything that isn’t Muslim.
Immediately after 9-11 President Bush sought to encourage Americans and warn the perpetrators of the attack in New York. We rallied around his comments with ears fully opened and hearts still burning with grief. Almost un-noticed in the melee of words and emotions he also said, that we knew the Muslim religion was a peaceful religion. Do we really know that? Up to that propitious moment in our history we knew pretty close to nothing about the Islamic faith. Since those remarks were made there has been a rush to correct our general lack of knowledge about Islam. So what do we know now?
The first person to cast doubt on the peaceful religion remark was Franklin Graham the son of evangelist Rev Billy Graham. He simply pointed us to the Quran where it can be seen in black and white that the cost of not converting to Islam could be our lives. The first reaction to Graham’s divulgement was a little shy of a good old tar and feathering. Since then we have poured over the newly offered enlightenments put forth by authors, preachers, news people and others. Graham has been vindicated, our president has been a good deal less vociferous on the peaceful religion idea, and we have had a non stop crash course on the entire subject via the shock network from, Indonesia, Spain and London.
College freshman still argue that more wars have been fought and more lives have been lost to religion than for any other reason. Only a little more learning and they eventually stop sounding that obviously exaggerated claim. Most of the lives lost in war had to do with territory, politics, fascism and all the other reasons on a long list of which religion is but one. But how many converts are won as a result of religious wars and bigotry? Why can’t the Muslims take a hint from this? How many people really wanted to be Catholics during the Papal inquisitions? How many got converted to Christianity because of the crusades? How about a modestly conservative, very few if any, for a fair answer?
About as much time as it takes to get a college degree has passed since 9-11 and Americans have been immersed in both its details and its concomitant effects. We have all figuratively earned our degree in the effects of terrorism. We have had our education bolstered with remedial courses from the subways of Spain to the underground of London. If we have learned nothing else we can at least say with surety that Islam is not a peaceful religion. It assuages us little to be reminded so often that there are extremist Muslims and moderate Muslims, when we know their guide book puts forth a mandate to take the extreme.That information leaves us with only two lousy choices. One is to be ever watchful of the extreme Muslims and the other is to hope the moderate Muslims don’t get to serious about the Quran’s extremes.
Perhaps a better question is what have Muslims learned? Has the slaughter of unsuspecting, un-armed and un-prepared people added any converts to Islam? Has it caused anyone to rush to join their ranks? The world consensus may be hard to accurately measure but it seems safe to say that not many are taking the bait.
We still live in a world where people don’t like being blown up for holding an opposing view or for not being inclined to become adherents to one religion or another. I think that is why we call it civilization. Most people like to come slowly to their conclusions about God. Most folks still prefer spiritual experiences rather than human coercion. Most people would prefer a gentle Jesus to a poisoning Jim Jones. Even the cults have sense enough to feign love to the unsuspecting to lure them into their folds. What nation or what culture has ever been found to eagerly accept a religion that thinks blowing people up is pleasing to God? Why don’t Muslims see they are doing more to harm their cause than time and forgiveness may ever be able to repair?