The Test of a Good Religion


It is the test of a good religion
whether you can joke about it.

–G. K. Chesterton‏

A Muslim Scholar Speaks Out



Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam.

Radical Islamic movements are nothing new. They’ve appeared again and again throughout our own history in Indonesia. The West must stop ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to “Islamophobia.” Or do people want to accuse me — an Islamic scholar — of being an Islamophobe too? . . .

And there’s an extreme left wing whose adherents reflexively denounce any and all talk about the connections between traditional Islam, fundamentalism, and violence as de facto proof of Islamophobia. This must end. A problem that is not acknowledged cannot be solved.

–Yahya Cholil Staquf,
One of Indonesia’s most influential Islamic leaders

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The frustration of an Islamic terrorist

islam-symbol-meaning1It must be incredibly frustrating as an Islamic terrorist not to have your views and motives taken seriously by the societies you terrorize, even after you have explicitly and repeatedly stated them. Even worse, those on the regressive left, in their endless capacity for masochism and self-loathing, have attempted to shift blame inwardly on themselves, denying the terrorists even the satisfaction of claiming responsibility.

It’s like a bad Monty Python sketch:

“We did this because our holy texts exhort us to to do it.”

“No you didn’t.”

“Wait, what? Yes we did…”

“No, this has nothing to do with religion. You guys are just using religion as a front for social and geopolitical reasons.”

“WHAT!? Did you even read our official statement? We give explicit Quranic justification. This is jihad, a holy crusade against pagans, blasphemers, and disbelievers.”

“No, this is definitely not a Muslim thing. You guys are not true Muslims, and you defame a great religion by saying so.”

“Huh!? Who are you to tell us we’re not true Muslims!? Islam is literally at the core of everything we do, and we have implemented the truest most literal and honest interpretation of its founding texts. It is our very reason for being.”

“Nope. We created you. We installed a social and economic system that alienates and disenfranchises you, and that’s why you did this. We’re sorry.”

“What? Why are you apologizing? We just slaughtered you mercilessly in the streets. We targeted unwitting civilians – disenfranchisement doesn’t even enter into it!”

“Listen, it’s our fault. We don’t blame you for feeling unwelcome and lashing out.”

“Seriously, stop taking credit for this! We worked really hard to pull this off, and we’re not going to let you take it away from us.”

“No, we nourished your extremism. We accept full blame.”

“OMG, how many people do we have to kill around here to finally get our message across?”

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar

Religious pluralism: a philosophical impossibility

Ravi Zacharias 4 copy 2Religious pluralism is a belief system that sounds good, but does disservice to all religions. All religions are exclusive. Even naturalism, which poses as irreligion, is exclusive. Every religion has its starting points and its deductions, and those starting points exclude. For example, Hinduism has two non-negotiable beliefs: karma and reincarnation. No Hindu will trade these away.

In Buddhism, there is the denial of the essential notion of the self. Buddhists believe that the self as we understand it does not exist, and our ceasing to desire will be the cause of the end of all suffering. If we deny these premises, we deny Buddhism.

Naturalism teaches that anything supernatural or metaphysical is outside the realm of evidence and purely an opinion, not a matter of fact. Islam believes that Mohammad is the last and final prophet, and the Quran is the perfect revelation. If we deny those two premises, we have denied Islam.

In the Christian faith, we believe Jesus is the consummate experience of God in the person of His Son, and is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We cannot deny these premises and continue to be Christians.

The question is not whether these are mutually exclusive. The question is which one of these will we deny as being reasonable and consistent? Which one of these will we be able to sustain by argument and by evidence? We can have pluralism in cuisine, clothing styles, accents, and other things. But if pluralism means ideational relativism and the destruction of the law of noncontradiction, it is absolutely unliveable and unthinkable.

–Ravi Zacharias

The myth of religious violence

wm. cavanaughThe myth of religious violence helps create the blind spot about the violence of the putatively secular nation-state. We like to believe that the liberal state arose to make peace between warring religious factions. Today, the Western liberal state is charged with the burden of creating peace in the face of the cruel religious fanaticism of the Muslim world. The myth of religious violence promotes a dichotomy between us in the secular West who are rational and peacemaking and them, the hordes of violent religious fanatics in the Muslim world. Their violence is religious, and therefore irrational and divisive. Our violence, on the other hand, is rational, peacemaking, and necessary. Regrettably, we find ourselves forced to bomb them into the higher rationality.

–William T. Cavanaugh
“Does Religion Cause Violence? Behind the Common
Question Lies a Morass of Unclear Thinking

Silencing dissenting voices

abu murray 1 copy[W]hen we look at the ways in which some in the contemporary secularizationist movement have silenced critics (or even those who don’t criticize but just offer a competing view), we see stark similarities with radical Islam’s blasphemy laws. Stephen Meyer has recounted in great detail how academics—even non-Christian academics—are silenced, fired, or otherwise held back from academic success and shouted down as practicing junk science if they dare to posit the possibility that the specified complexity of the universe and DNA suggest the hand of a cosmic designer.

Richard Dawkins, atheism’s best-selling spokesperson, advocated that secularists should “mock” and “ridicule” religious people openly and in public at the so-called Reason Rally of 2012 in Washington, D.C. Radical Islam silences opposition, sometimes through quite extreme means. While the vast majority of Muslims do not share these beliefs or practices, radicals in power may refuse to publish academic works that critically examine Islamic history, put pressure on non-Muslim broadcasters and publishers to silence critical voices, and of course, threaten opposition and apostates with violence. These kinds of radical tactics are indicative not of a worldview’s strength, but of its insecurity.

–Abdu Murray,
Where the Truth Lies