Has anyone noticed how the mainstream media goes out of its way to neutralize criticism of Islam, a courtesy rarely, if ever, extended to Christianity?
Since September 11 we've been constantly reassured that Islam is a religion of peace. In fact, we've been told that the word "Islam" means "peace."
Now, I take words very seriously. Words have meaning and they have a context without which they lose their meaning. The word "Islam" is no exception here.
"Islam" may mean peace, but what we aren't being told is the context in which this peace is achieved. Perhaps that's because Islam's vision of "peace" is so radically different from our western Christian one, that even the media can't believe it. Well, that's something many in the media are going to have to come to grips with, like it or not.
Islamic peace comes through surrendering. Etymologically the word depicts a foot across the throat of an enemy. It graphically illustrates Islam's fundamental principle: peace comes by the suppression of all opposition either by elimination or submission. Thus it is a peace for Muslims, and Muslims alone.
Moderate Muslims won't stand for this caricature. They're quick to point out that the word "Islam" simply expresses the "process" of spiritual submission to Allah. When we submit to Allah we are at peace with our self and with him.
In fact, some have equated Islamic peace with the Christian doctrine of the "mortification of the flesh," which teaches that Christians must wage holy warfare against their sinful nature and submit their lives as a holy sacrifice to Jehovah God. But this blurs fundamental differences between Christianity, which believes in original sin and a sin nature, and Islam, which does not.
But while moderates deplore this view of Islam, others have embraced it and it does the media no good to cover this fact up.
In his interview with ABC's John Miller, in May 1998, Osama bin Laden articulated in very concise terms what "Islam" means: "Allah has ordered us to make holy wars and to fight to see to it that His word is the highest and the uppermost and that of unbelievers the lowermost."
So that there would be no mistaking his meaning, Osama said, "[Muslims] should all unite in the FIGHT against polytheism and they should pool all their resources and their energy to FIGHT the Americans and the Zionists and those with them...[our] FIGHT [is] directed against unbelief and unbelievers."
Following President Bush's lead, the media has been quick to reminding us not to paint all Muslims with the same Osama bin brush. Osama and his motley crew represent a lunatic fringe of the extreme peripheries of the very extreme Islamic fundamentalism, we are told.
In fact, it was President Bush who declared that Osama has "hijacked" the Islamic faith to "justify his murderous hatred." But as a friend of mine recently put it, the problem with that position is it implies that other Muslims see Osama and his organization as apostate. To date not one high-ranking Islamic cleric has denounced Osama as an apostate anywhere.
Others have suggested that the al Qaeda's vision of Islam is roughly equivalent to what the Ku Klux Klan is to Christianity. But there is one major problem. Racists who hide under the mantle of Christianity are a minuscule minority within Christendom.
By comparison, Islamism (the sort represented by Osama), according to WorldNetDaily, is one of the fastest growing religious movements in the world, and easily represents 10 to 15 percent of the global Muslim population (of 1.2 billion). In crass figures this represents well over 100 million Muslims. Folks, we're not talking about a minuscule minority here, we're talking about a mass of people!
Major media has keenly promoted the cause of religious tolerance. Understandably they fear a backlash against Muslims from westerners. With equal tenacity they have reminded us that every day the U.S. air strikes persist, the risk of killing innocent lives increases. I will admit that appeasing the anxiety of western Muslim is prudent.
But, while we're being inundated with slogans like, "Islam is a religion of peace," let's not forgot that two million Christians have been slaughtered in the Sudan because of the Islamic government's policy of jihad. Three hundred thousand East Timores Catholics have been murdered by Muslims in Indonesia. And at present eight Christian workers who left the comforts of the west, travelled to Afghanistan to help poor Afghans find food and shelter, find themselves accused of proselytising and await execution if the Taleban survives.
I challenge the media to remind Muslims everywhere that toleration and peace is a two way street. If they want peace here (our kind of peace), then its time that Christians have peace there - in Islamic states worldwide.
- Tristan A. Emmanuel