There’s much discussion about terrorism and Islam being a religion of peace. 22 were killed and more than 50 were injured outside an Ariana Grande concert on May 22. Most recently, at least 7 were killed and dozens wounded in London.
Is Islam a Religion of Peace was the subject of a debate between four scholars (Zeba Khan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maajid Nawaz, and Douglas Murray).
A van driving at high speed mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge Saturday night before the occupants got out and began stabbing patrons at nearby bars and restaurants, witnesses said in an attack that police described as terrorism.
Before the debate, the audience was able to vote if they agreed or disagreed that Isalm was a religion of peace. 41% said it is a peaceful religion; 25% said it isn’t; and 34% were undecided.
After the debate 55% said Islam is not a religion of peace; 36% said it was a religion of peace, and 9% still remained undecided.
ISLAM IS A RELIGION OF PEACE from Intelligence Squared US.
I think that the speech that “won” the debate in the mind of the audience was given in Round 1 by Douglas Murray:
But you’ve got the largest Sunni state of Saudi Arabia, the most important Sunni state in the world, the most extraordinary closed prison of a society. It’s not a detail. It’s not a one-off nut job. The Shiite republic of Iran is what it is, led by the people it’s led by. That is not an accident. It’s not a detail.
The thing that worries me is that although tonight we hear from the panelists here about how Islam is a religion of peace, the fact is that the people who are making the decisions in the religion, the people who are preaching the religion, the heads of that religion, people like Sheikh Qaradawi who broadcasts anti-Semitic — the most appalling filth every week on the main network, that is the faith that is speaking for you guys.
The problem is that Islam is an unstable component, as a religion, an unstable component. A thousand years ago, the Mustabalites [spelled phonetically] tried to reform the religion. They were wiped out. The fact is that Islam is many things, many, many things. But to say it’s a religion of peace is nonsense. It’s to ignore reality. It’s to ignore very difficult but necessary facts, not paradigms, but facts.
To say that Islam is a religion of peace is to say something based entirely on hope. It’s to elevate a hope into truth. And I hope, as you will note, history teaches us that’s a very bad thing to do. Thank you.
Other highlights from the interchange between panelists:
Maajid Nawaz (believes Islam is a religion of peace):
There’s a tendency when discussing Islam to suspend the tools that we have learned and studied, and that you have studied as well, that we use to analyze every other piece of scripture and literature in the world, and that is that we recognize that texts do not speak for themselves. We recognize that when we interpret scriptures and texts and books and poetry that they are contextualized, that we have methodologies to approach them, when we’re reading Shakespeare, when we’re reading anything. We recognize that there’s a way to interpret text and there are schools of thought and differences over how to approach texts.
Now, if we contextualize Martin Luther, and say the Reformation was a good thing, despite the fact that he said, “Kill and slay the peasants wherever you find them,” when they follow Thomas Muntzer — when he was calling for not just breaking away from the papal authority but also for rebelling against the monarchies and the dictators that they found themselves in — Martin Luther sided with the tyrants against Muntzer, and said, “Kill the peasants wherever you find them.” Despite that, I’m prepared to say the Reformation was a good thing. And the reason I’m prepared to say that is that Martin Luther must not be judged by the standards of civilization that we, after an accumulation of thousands of years, have arrived at. He must be judged by the standards of civilization that were around during his time. And that’s how society evolves.
One of the main points Maajid Nawaz made was that those who argue Islam is not a religion of peace have failed to “contextualize actions for the standards of their time.” Even though Maajid Nawaz was against Muhammad taking a six year old to be his wife, he believes the Qur’an and ahadith can be contextualized in a peaceful way for the standards of our time. There are several problems with this:
- Times change
- The words of Prophets should be able to transcend the fallen standards of their time.
- Jesus – in both words and actions – transcended the standards of His time.
Maajid Nawaz made a point of comparing Muhammad with Martin Luther. The problem is that Martin Luther was not a prophet. Martin Luther did not bring new revelation.
There were no Christians on the panel. This, by itself, is not problematic. However, there were several half-truths or untruths the panelists made about Christianity and the Reformation that Christians would take issue with. As a Christian I would emphasize that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and compare the teaching and life of Jesus with the traditions of Muhammad which Muslims believe are a form of revelation.
I surprised by Maajid’s earlier comparison of Muhammad to Martin Luther. In this section he compares the Qur’an to the Constitution of the United States and the founding fathers. The Constitution can be amended, but most Muslims would not agree that the Qur’an can be amended. The founding fathers were not claiming to have revelation from the angel Gabriel. The lives of the founding fathers are not like the Sunnah of Muhammad. The founding fathers can be criticized and pictures can be drawn of them without fear for one’s life. This is not the case in Islam.
What do you think? Which panelist won the debate?