The problems of radical Islam have been escalating during the last few decades and have affected the world in diverse ways. On one hand, the socio-religious-political impacts have directly affected our homeland and national security; on the other hand, they have had a negative impact on our freedoms of expression and the social stability of many countries that have Muslim majorities or significant Muslim minorities.
An analysis of the current responses to radical Islam reveals many different schools of thought.
The first approach, which is used by many Muslims as a defensive mechanism for their faith, is to simply deny the existence of any ideological or religious role in the problem.
This group typically promotes that all interpretations in Islam are peaceful. Many approved interpretations of Islamic core text and Islamic jurisprudence books that exist today promote values such as declaring wars to spread the religion, and they justify killing Muslim apostates and allow the beating women, polygamy, and stoning for adultery.
In fact, such an approach makes things worse, as many Westerners become angrier when they learn more about the Islamic teachings and recognize the reality that not only do these violent teachings exist, but also that they are unchallenged in mainstream teachings.
Then there are those who can only see the violent texts in Islam. This group promotes that peaceful Muslims are the ones that do not apply Islam. In other words, they are peaceful despite Islam.
It is hard to explain the motives of such bashers solely on the basis of bigotry, as many of them did not have the same stand against Buddhism or Hedonism.
This illustrates that the views of this group are not just an issue of hatred against the others but, rather, a specific fear of certain violent teachings in Islam. It is virtually impossible to stop criticism of Islam until the mainstream Islamic jurisprudence and interpretation books clearly stop the discriminatory and inhumane edicts in Islamic (or Shariah) law.
Islamic teaching needs to change first, before asking this group to stop their criticism of Islam.
The apologists, who play a different role by blaming external factors such as socioeconomic and political circumstances (e.g., U.S. foreign policy) for being the cause of the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism, ignore the role of ideology in causing the problem.
The idealists are the fourth group, who assume that we must show ‘tolerance’ to any religion just for being a religion. This group fails as well, as tolerance for Islamic law simply means intolerance for its victims. In other words, tolerance of Shariah means extreme and sometimes fatal intolerance for apostates, adulterous women, and gays who will be killed with such a law.
The idealists need to distinguish between tolerating belly dancing under the banner of cultural relativism, and tolerating stoning of women until death under the same banner. Tolerating the part of Islam that teaches fasting in Ramadan is completely different from the teachings that promote suppression of women and justify killing homosexuals.
The fifth group uses a dishonest approach by selectively choosing information to prove their view that there is no ideological basis for the problem. For example, this group uses a peaceful but an atypical definition of jihad to prove that it is a peaceful concept and ignores the more widely used violent definition and usage of the word.
Every sane person who will do honest research in Islamic theology and history will recognize that this approach is unscientific and misleading.
Each of the former groups can contribute to solving the problem of radical Islam.
Those who deny the existence of any violent teaching in mainstream Islam must face the unavoidable reality that violent teachings do exist, and are still unchallenged in the mainstream Islamic books. This group needs to provide at least one single mainstream-approved Islam book that negates and theologically refutes violent Shariah concepts. As long as this approved book does not exist, the problem will remain, claiming that “Islam is peaceful” without changing the violent teachings is merely unrealistic lip service that aims at deceiving others.
The bashers can declare that they have no problem of peaceful coexistence with a new Islamic teaching that refutes the violent edicts of Shariah and emphasizes the peaceful aspects of the religion. This will put more responsibility on the shoulders of the Islamic scholars to change the interpretations of the violent texts if they are truly willing to stop Islamophobia.
The apologists should stop ignoring the ideological component of the problem. Muslims will not feel the need to reform if others are telling them that the problem is all about the U.S. foreign policy and that it has nothing to do with the religious ideology.
Those who use the idealistic approach can also contribute to solving the problem by stating that tolerance must only be given to the peaceful teachings that do not harm other human beings and cannot be applied to the religious teachings that discriminate against or threaten the lives of other human beings. Failure to make this distinction can be fatal.
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