Thursday, April 14, 2005

Islam and Islamism

My friend Pastorius has been part of a fascinating discussion on whether "Islamism" is a weasel-word. Follow the links on his page. Here are my comments on the third post, but read the whole thing before contiuning:

The problem I have with the "crosswalk" theory is that in negotiation it is generally fatal to suggest a concession you would be willing to make before it is necessary. When Muslims are willing to admit the inherent violence of their religion, I would be willing to concede that not all Muslims are actually violent. But to lead with the latter proposition is to lower the standard without gaining anything in return. I ultimately agree with the "Islamists" that theirs is the proper interpretation of Islam, which is why I reject Islam -- or one of the reasons, anyway.

I respect Pastorius' compassion in seeking a peaceful engagement which allows Muslims to retain their dignity, but ultimately I don't think Islam can or should be reformed. It must be discredited. The Christian approach to all false religions has historically been to point to a better way. Being sinners we have often done this badly and there is much to be ashamed of in our own history (I am thinking especially of our treatment of Jews) but it remains the ideal. If we do succeed in defeating Islam, the remaining Muslims will certainly find a way to come to terms with the defeat as people inevitably do. But helping them do that without turning to the grace of Christ is ultimately more harmful to them in the long run.

Having said all this, I do frequently use the word "Islamist" in order to avoid the distracting explanations that simply saying "Islam" would entail. Count me as a weasel, I suppose.

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