Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Islamic Sycophancy

Here is another GSI (God Save Islam) post from Fr. Jim. It used to be that I'd see it and think, "huh, well what can you do?" Now it just seems to be degrading. From someone who is an ordained presbyter of the ecclesiastical body with such celebrated events as the Crusades and Lepanto in her history, it would make my year to see him once, just once come out and criticize the faults of Islam (that is, of course, going on the assumption that the good Father perceives there to be faults).

Don't get me wrong...there are quite a few loonies out there droning on about how we should go crusading and who make other claims that I freely admit to be over-the-top. I have no quarrel with anyone condemning those especially not since, if memory serves, I've condemned them once myself. But turning a blind eye of denial to the blatant faults of Islam is simply degrading.

"In neo-con circles, one often encounters the Muslim-baiting that takes extremist groups (such as al-Qaida) as examples of pure Islam that is true to its inner nature."

Sounds stupid, doesn't it? Almost as stupid as someone who sees some Muslims protesting for peace and equality and then goes off singing about how that's what Islam truly is.

I remember hearing Fr. Jim make a fine concession that the Koran has some "rougher" verses (this is, along with a 'now, of course, I don't believe in Islam', is about the only criticism I've ever heard). Horse shit. That is, of course, that there certainly are rougher verses, but to present them as if they are an exception and misconstrued anytime anyone who uses it part-in-parcel to criticize Islam is horse shit.

I remember another GSI post was titles something like "Ya' know, the Koran says...", obviously being critical of those who cite the Koran in an attempt to criticize Islam. Gosh, I'm sorry Father, but should we not appeal to the Koran? It seems like in the book Fr. Jim reads from, you criticize Islam without even any citations and you're a bigot who can't even be bothered to read the holy book. Oh, but if you do cite the Koran in your criticisms, you're an ignoramus who has no idea how to read or interpret or anything like that.

In yet another GSI post, we sat in on a class that taught us how to read the Koran. It was essentially instructing us on what power we should turn the garden hose to for the purposes of watering down. Less for more placid yet still silly areas, more watering for the particularly violent areas (dillute the blood, if you will). Honestly, what does it say about a religious faith when "kill the Christians and Jews wherever you see them" is expected to be interpreted as something other than the rhetoric of a warmongerer?

"These are the folk who claim that the Muslim world is literally at war with the West and its values ... and that there can be no peace with Islam until all non-Muslims are subjugated to dhimmitude."

In the Koran, there is the Dar al-islam. This is translated the "house of submission", "Islam" coming from the Arabic word "islama" which means "to submit". The Dar al-islam refers to all those places where Islamic rule is accepted and it's inhabitants worship Islam except for those Christians who are servants/slaves and who are pressured with extraordinary and exorbitant taxes (which will, to be fair, cease when they convert).

Then there is the Dar al-harb which translates "house-of-war" and it refers to all places that don't accept Islamic rule (i.e., the west). Simply because modern Muslims have forgotten this does not mean that it isn't part of Islam. Simply because it was forgotten does not mean it wasn't a part of it...that pretty much sums up Modern Islam to those who, like Fr. Jim, point to Islam's adherents who practice a far looser and more watered down version of that faith; a version which, whatever else it may be, cannot be said to be the version preached by Mohammad on any other basis than denial of historical fact.

Something that I have noticed, and am curious to see if anyone else has as well, is that when Fr. Jim speaks out against Islam-bashers, it's always the objections that come from the man in the street which can certainly, at times, be rather loopy and irrational. These objections, even if right in themselves, come from someone whose not a scholar on the Koran and couldn't quote chapter and verse (or rather surats and ayats). On the other end of the scale, I have yet to see Fr. Jim debate the likes of Tim Staples, Jonathan Riley-Smith, or Robert Spencer, folks who know the Koran pretty well, to say the least. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time, I suppose.

One more thing, and I honestly believe this boils my blood more than anything else, and that is that with all that is going on in the Church - from desecration of the Eucharist to bishops who make Cranmer look like a saint, to the downright rampant dissent among the clergy and laity who disregard the beliefs that define the Church (often, the most basic beliefs), choosing instead to idolize a facile and imbecilic feeling of community - the thing that seems to rub Fr. Jim farthest in the wrong direction, that pushes his buttons the hardest, and which earns his ire the quickest is Islam being ridiculed. I mean, never mind all the crap going on in the Church! Don't stand up and preach against that because, dammit, there are Muslim feelings being (possibly wrongly) hurt!

Earlier I spoke of how gratifying it would be to see Fr. Jim come out and criticize Islam. I ran the risk of sending the wrong message, which is that, like a kid who sees his sibling or friend praised or sees himself scolded, wants to see himself praised or the other boy scolded just so he appears to be as good or no worse than the other boy. This is not what I intended it to sound like and is certainly not my motivation.

It's true that John Paul II was perhaps a less challenging towards Islam than he should have been and far more so than Benedict XVI has been or will be. But John Paul - and certainly Benedict - never pretended that the differences between Islam and Christianity were anything but serious. For this reason, it sends the wrong message to be silent towards the differences and the seriously erroneous beliefs that are in Islam. It leads to complacency that, though one should be knowledgeable enough to fall into, nonetheless will only trip those who are less knowledgeable and mislead them by failing to teach that, while there should be Christian love and respect, there should be plain, honest opposition to the beliefs of Islam. Instead, they hear that we are all overreacting. Would someone like Fr. Jim object to someone respectfully yet plainly saying that they oppose the beliefs of Islam? No, I doubt it, but then opposition to Islam isn't something talked about now so we might never know, now will we? I don't believe that there is any line of moral or religious relativism that did not have its seeds nurtured by this line of complacent silence.

I remember reading a Catholic newspaper that I liked (and still like) that had a story of some Muslims in Iraq who were indignant and the blowing up of a Catholic church in their country. "The Christians are good people," I recall the article citing a Muslim, "they do not deserve this." This shocked me as I, being quite young at the time, was not accustomed to this idea of Muslims saying something as compassionate as that. For a while, I held on to this idea that sure, there were some serious differences between the two faiths but that what is more important is the fact that most of the clan really aren't head-hunters. It was then pointed out to me despite the warm, fuzzy feelings I received (even if the warmth and fuzziness spawned from admirable sentiments), all of Islam rejects such fundamental Christian tenets as the divinity of Christ. I do not abandon my acceptance of the undeniable fact that there are so many Muslims who are peaceful and peace-loving, but the differences cannot be ignored and left untouched. For example, Fr. Jim is a fine priest whom I admire much (no, really), but that doesn't mean that the differences in the two approaches to Islam are left alone as if they were a hot potato (believe it or not).

One more time, put down the delusions of grandeur that have you valiantly crusading against Islam, blasting towels off heads with your M-16 and RPG that you pried from a cold, dead, heretical corpse. At the same time, stop day-dreaming about holding hands and singing songs with Muslims while prancing around the gardens of heaven. It's really degrading.