Bigotry and Ignorance of Islam
By Charley Reese
Clearing House" -- -- President George Bush's ignorance of the Middle East and its people
is well-known. So also is his habit of parroting words and sentences
given to him by other people. He hit a new low when he referred to
No two more opposite concepts are to be found. Fascism glorifies the
nation-state; Islam is transnational. Fascism demands slavish
devotion to a national leader; Muslims are far too
independent-minded to be slavish followers of anybody. Virtually all
the people Saddam Hussein murdered were people trying to overthrow
him. Fascism is militaristic. Islam is not.
Mr. Bush, who has dubbed himself the "war president," has made a
pathetic and absurd effort to picture himself as Winston Churchill
facing off against evil. He is no Churchill. Most of the enemies he
imagines, he has created himself.
The West faces no threat from Islam. Islam is one of the
fastest-growing religions in the world, but it really is a religion
of peace. More importantly, it is a religion that concentrates on
individual salvation. There is no Muslim pope, no College of
Cardinals, no bishops, no priesthood. Any five Muslims anywhere in
the world can start their own mosque. Imams are teachers and, like
Protestant preachers or Jewish rabbis, can be fired by their
congregation. The Shi'ite version is slightly more organized.
A fatwa is a statement issued by an imam, usually explanatory. It is
similar to statements issued by the pope, with this important
difference: No Muslim is bound by any fatwa. Muslims are free to pay
attention to it or to ignore it.
Islam, like Christianity, is a universal religion that ignores
nationality, race or color. To become a Muslim, one must profess
belief in one God, acknowledge Muhammad as his prophet, recognize
the Quran as the word of God, pray five times a day, provide for the
poor and, if possible, make a trip to Mecca once in your lifetime.
The God Muslims worship is the same God Christians and Jews worship.
To dispose of some of the slanderous misstatements being floated
about, Islam forbids forced conversions. People would do well to
read some history rather than rely on ignorant and malicious radio
and TV talk-show hosts. The oldest Christian communities in the
world are all in Muslim countries. There have always been Christian
and Jewish communities in the Muslim world. Muslims are commanded to
treat Christians and Jews as they would treat themselves. They
revere Jesus as a prophet and highly respect the Virgin Mary. The
disputes you see in the modern Middle East are not religious; they
are all about secular matters, principally Israeli occupation of
The Arabs see Israel as the last European colonialist state imposed
on them by the European powers. That's true, in fact.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are concerned only with ending Israeli
occupation of Palestine. Hezbollah is concerned with ending Israeli
occupation of Lebanon. Al-Qaeda wants to overthrow the Persian Gulf
governments and is at war with us because we are the principal
backers and supporters of those governments. Al-Qaeda alone is most
un-Islamic and has been so labeled by a majority of Muslims. It is a
If you wish to understand Islam, turn off your TV and go to the
library. Introduce yourself to some of America's 6 million Muslims.
You'll find them to be very decent and patriotic people. There are
some fanatics among Muslims, just as there are among Jews and
Christians. Most of the New England states were originally populated
by people fleeing Puritan rule in Massachusetts.
The way to combat the fanatics is to extend the hand of friendship
to ordinary Muslims and to protest the slander and libel of Muslims
and Islam, just as you should protest the slander and libel of Jews
and other groups. Bigotry should have no place in our public
dialogue, regardless of the target.
It's obvious that President Bush will never understand the world
into which he was born, but most Americans have more open minds –
except, of course, those who prefer to click their heels and salute
when their Fuehrer of choice speaks.