February 28, 2007

The Beautiful Religion

I occasionally post on other forums about Islam (although not nearly as much as I used to). Yesterday, I wrote the below comment regarding the so-called "hijacking" of Islam by terrorists, and I thought that this analogy was decent (although by no means perfect).

I've had mixed feelings about addressing your post. Much of it is based on a misperception, and some of it doesn't make any sense. (What, for instance, is a "Koran Killer?") But I just saw a headline that gives me an analogy to try to explain what I think about this topic. The headline addressed the violence associated with soccer (e.g., the recent death of a policeman in Sicily after a Serie A match). The point of the article was that, if there is all this violence associated with soccer, why is it still called "the beautiful game?"

Soccer as a sport is played by thousands, if not millions of people around the world. Likewise, it is watched and supported by hundreds of millions of people. (FIFA has more member countries than the UN!) Yes, there is violence and racism associated with the game worldwide, and that is truly unfortunate (and the various leagues and FIFA are trying to eliminate this as best they can), but do we say that soccer is being "hijacked" by the hooligans and racists? No. For the vast majority of soccer fans around the world, soccer is and remains "the beautiful game."

The misperception so commonly held today is that Islam has been or is being "hijacked." This isn't true. Islam is practiced correctly by well over a billion people around the world. Yes, Islam does have its "hooligans," all the more dangerous because of their access to weapons. However, Islam itself is not the problem. The problem is, in part, the deviant interpretations of Islam with respect to certain topics. This is why, IMO, questions like, "Should all the major scholars and activists of all the Muslim factions and sects and schools get together in a great reform council for the Ummah?" are irrelevant. A "great reform council?" For what? This assumes that Islam is the problem and is need of reformation. I completely disagree. The key to solving this problem is largely one of education. Two countries that I'm aware of (Yemen and Singapore) have used this approach to help rehabilitate Muslim radicals who have been jailed. Imams have gone into prisons to discuss the Qur'an and Sunnah with these men, trying to educate them, show them their errors of thinking, bring them back to a proper way of thinking about Islam. "Islam is perfect, Muslims are not." Call it, "the beautiful religion." We know there are people who do not act as good Muslims should, just as we see people of other religions not living up to their creeds. We try very strongly to educate our own about our religion and, for the vast majority, we have been successful.

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