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Author Topic: How do you give an Orthodox perspective on Islam?  (Read 4938 times) Average Rating: 0
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88Devin12
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« on: April 20, 2009, 11:05:24 PM »

I am currently taking a class on Middle Eastern religions, and we have a test tomorrow on Islam. A recent essay we wrote, (based on opinion and other factors) our teacher wrote a note on mine saying: "It sounds like your understanding of Islam is what Aslan says that most Americans have - the one the media presents which tends to be about 20-30% or less of all Muslims."
And yet, my opinion isn't based on the media (which I don't watch/listen to) but rather, reading Orthodox perspectives and talking to Orthodox Christians about Islam.

I also had a conversation with a fellow classmate who stated: "Yes there were some periods of violence (between Islam and other religions), but it mainly occurred when the other side tried to rise up against Islam"
The only response I could come up with was that the statement definitely was NOT true.

How can I express an Orthodox perspective on Islam without sounding hateful or resentful towards Islam? Or sounding like a puppet of western media? How can you express the truth about Islam to people in America (especially in a university setting) without sounding uninformed and hateful?
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2009, 11:21:52 PM »

The linked article below offers one view on this topic which may be of helpful interest to you:

http://www.myocn.net/index.php/Orthodox-News-Weekly/An-Orthodox-Christian-Perspective-on-Islam.html

+Cosmos
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2009, 11:34:06 PM »

Thank you... But my one issue is...
Is Islam a violent religion or is true Islam a peaceful religion?

My view is this:

It really doesn't matter what Muhammad preached, because in Islam what he said can be interpreted in many ways. We really get perspective on Islam by looking at the practice of his immediate "disciples" and decendents. Looking at the early history of Islam, IMO is not a pretty one.
Their faith was NOT spread like the Christian faith.

Violence and conflict arose even immediately after Muhammad's death. How can a politician, warrior/commander, religious leader decide to not leave an heir knowing (as all good leaders do know) that not leaving an heir will only result in pain, conflict and "war".

Compare Islam and Christianity, not just the teachings of Muhammad and Christ, but also the practices of early Christians and early Muslims.

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How can I frame an Orthodox view using our beliefs and the writings of the Saints?
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2009, 11:43:45 PM »

Hey Devin,

 Remind your professor that Muslim's are not homogenous.  Ask him/her to clarify which branch of Islam you are to comment on and then which school of thought, and then which culture.  For example; should you write about Indonesian Sufi's from Sulawesi or Azeri Shi'ites from Azerbaijan or are you to simply write about the generic Arab Suni Muslim?  In addition, your prof probably wants you to focus more on the good of the Islam and less on the violent Wahhabist Sa'udi Arabian strain.  I'm guessing your prof wants you to talk about your generic Arab Suni Muslim from the mashriq area and more specifically about the 5 pillars of Islam in the average Muslim's life.  Most Muslim's do not subscribe to the non-sense we see on the TV so I'd steer clear of that in your paper.  If your prof has given you the OK to add your opinion, I'd still try to focus on the good aspects but I'd also add something about Jesus (Isa in Arabic).        
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2009, 11:45:00 PM »

"The central, root difference between Orthodoxy and Islam is that Orthodoxy affirms the Incarnation wholeheartedly and Islam wholeheartedly denies it. If you want to see what difference believing or not believing in the Incarnation makes, look at the differences between Orthodoxy and Islam."

The Incarnation: Orthodoxy, Islam, and the Reformation
http://jonathanscorner.com/incarnation/


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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2009, 11:51:52 PM »

I am currently taking a class on Middle Eastern religions, and we have a test tomorrow on Islam. A recent essay we wrote, (based on opinion and other factors) our teacher wrote a note on mine saying: "It sounds like your understanding of Islam is what Aslan says that most Americans have - the one the media presents which tends to be about 20-30% or less of all Muslims."
They just happen to be the 20-30% who are running the show.

Quote
And yet, my opinion isn't based on the media (which I don't watch/listen to) but rather, reading Orthodox perspectives and talking to Orthodox Christians about Islam.

See if you can get the book "Seeing Islam as Others Saw it" by Hoyland.  It has CONTEMPORARY sources to the rise of Islam.  And of course, consult St. John of Damascus: his family worked for the caliphs in their capital.

Quote
I also had a conversation with a fellow classmate who stated: "Yes there were some periods of violence (between Islam and other religions), but it mainly occurred when the other side tried to rise up against Islam"

Neither the Romans nor the Iranians had any plans of "rising up against Islam," which wasn't on their radar: they were too busy with each other.
The only response I could come up with was that the statement definitely was NOT true.

Quote
How can I express an Orthodox perspective on Islam without sounding hateful or resentful towards Islam? Or sounding like a puppet of western media? How can you express the truth about Islam to people in America (especially in a university setting) without sounding uninformed and hateful?

Just quote the Muslims: they provide plenty.
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2009, 11:56:22 PM »

One of my thoughts has been that modern "peaceful" and more "reformed" Islam seems to reflect true Islam as much as reformed Christian (or Jewish) church reflect true Christianity (Or Judaism). However that sounds too prideful and too condemning, so I try not to think like that.
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2009, 11:58:03 PM »

Thank you... But my one issue is...
Is Islam a violent religion or is true Islam a peaceful religion?

My view is this:

It really doesn't matter what Muhammad preached, because in Islam what he said can be interpreted in many ways. We really get perspective on Islam by looking at the practice of his immediate "disciples" and decendents. Looking at the early history of Islam, IMO is not a pretty one.
Their faith was NOT spread like the Christian faith.

Violence and conflict arose even immediately after Muhammad's death. How can a politician, warrior/commander, religious leader decide to not leave an heir knowing (as all good leaders do know) that not leaving an heir will only result in pain, conflict and "war".

Compare Islam and Christianity, not just the teachings of Muhammad and Christ, but also the practices of early Christians and early Muslims.

_________________________________________________________

How can I frame an Orthodox view using our beliefs and the writings of the Saints?

There is plenty in the writings on the neo-martyrs.

Btw, of the "4 rightly guided caliphs" only Abu Bakr died in his bed, after killing enough Muslims to force them to accept his authority as they accepted Muhammad's. 'Umar was killed by a Christian slave, after 'Umar, for unrelated reasons, hunted down the Arab Christians who refused to convert.  'Uthman and 'Ali were both killed by their fellow Muslims, and the following caliphs specialized in killing their fellow Muslims and in turn being killed by them, with few respites (e.g. 'Umar II).
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2009, 12:16:11 AM »

Thank you... But my one issue is...
Is Islam a violent religion or is true Islam a peaceful religion?

How can I frame an Orthodox view using our beliefs and the writings of the Saints?

In light of the fact that many millions of decent, good hearted, gentle spirited, and God fearing Muslims live throughout the world today, I believe that the violent, militant Muslim extremists who have attracted so much negative attention to Islam clearly represent a small minority of the worldwide Muslim population, similar to those who are members of various White Supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, or Mafia soldiers, who commit terrible acts of violence and murder, but may yet consider themselves to be Christians by regularly attending church services and financially contributing to their churches. Such people are to Christianity what the radical, militant Muslims are to Islam, IMO.

Genuine Islamic teachings, as found in the Holy Koran/Quran, even accept many aspects of traditional Christianity such as the Virgin Birth of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead by the grace and power of God (Allah), but Muslims do not believe in the Divine Incarnation of God as Jesus of Nazareth or that Jesus Christ is the Messiah long awaited by the Jews. They simply see Jesus as the last in a long line of great Semitic Prophets preceding the Prophet Mohammed.

So as long as you understand that apparent lines of common belief are always flavored with Muslim interpretations of Old and New Testament theology according to the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, you may be able to engage in some degree of cordial and meaningful dialogue with them.

Good luck!

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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2009, 12:25:07 AM »

How can we say that Islam is peaceful though with the actions of early Muslims and the deaths (unwarranted) of our Neo-Martyrs?

It isn't a new phenomena in Islam where those of non-Muslim religions are killed for not being Muslim.

Edit:
Sorry, I guess I should be more humble...
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2009, 07:40:41 AM »

Devin,

I agree with what has already been said, especially by Gabriel. Indeed, we as Orthodox Christians must try to be truthful in everything. The truth about Islam is, first and foremost, that it is not a homogenous teaching by any stretch. From the very beginning, Islam had, and still has, very loose structure, if at all we can talk about any "structure" while researching Islam. There is no theology as such in Islam; a Muslim is defined as someone who confesses that "there is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is the Prophet of Allah," prays in a certain way (facing Mecca, making prostrations, baring the feet, etc.); reads the Koran and considers this book holy; gives alms; fasts during the holy month of Ramadan; and, if possible, makes a "hajj" to Mecca. The "theology," however, is, essentially, what a local learned man in the mosque (the "imam") teaches, and this can be pretty much anything, from syncretism (like in many Sufi mosques) to extreme "Puritanism" (like in Wahhabi mosques).

There was a big article in "National Geographic" about Pakistan a while ago, and it said that there is a very serious revival of Sufism there; it's a very interesting "mystical" sort of Islam, very peaceful, absolutely non-violent and striving to reach unity between different peoples and cultures. The Sufi imams in Pakistan preach peace with Hindus, and really try to find some "common denominator" for the monotheist Islamic culture and the polytheist Hindu culture.
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2009, 08:54:30 AM »

I do not think cooperation is part of the package but domination of alternative societies. The revolutionary activist Seyyid Qutb expresses such a sentiment which is true Islam. Qutb was executed by General Nasr in Egypt for an attempted overthrow of Nasr's secular regime in the 1960s. In his book "MIlestones" (1964) Qutb says," It is therefore necessary that Islam's theoretical foundation- beleif- materialize in the form of an organized and active group from the very beginning. It is necessary that this group separate itself from the jahili (against god) society, becoming independent and distinct from the active and organized jahili society whose aim is to block Islam." (p.47). Let us pause here, and note the last sentence and note that this clearly applies to a "jahili" society that would permit mass immigration but the host is still considered to be actively opposed to sharia (whatever its disposition). Realize that in Britain that the Archbishop of Canterbury believes some surrender to sharia in certain communities is necessary. Qutb says further on, "The decisive step must be taken at the very moment a person says, 'La ilaha Allah, Muhamadar Rasul Allah' with his tongue. The Muslim society cannot come into existence without this. It cannot come into existence simply as a creed in the hearts of individual Muslims, however numerous they may be..." (p.48) An Islamic leadership "indepent of jahili leadership..." "directs them to abolish the influences of their opponent, the jahili life." (p.48). Compare this to Romans 13 and I think the situation in Britain indicates Qutb's sentiments are probably shared by many (to varying degrees). Quotes from "Milestones" edition of Dar Al-Ilm, Damascus, Syria
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2009, 09:00:06 AM »

Quote
Genuine Islamic teachings, as found in the Holy Koran/Quran, even accept many aspects of traditional Christianity such as the Virgin Birth of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead by the grace and power of God (Allah), but Muslims do not believe in the Divine Incarnation of God as Jesus of Nazareth or that Jesus Christ is the Messiah long awaited by the Jews.

A brief correction from a former Sunni (Ash`ari and Shafi`i) Muslim: They say Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, because He was never killed. There are differing traditions as to what exactly happened, but it's pretty unanimous that there was only the appearance of Jesus being crucified, but He actually escaped and ascended to heaven (Surah 4:156-157). He is the messiah, and near the end of days will return from heaven to do battle against the Antichrist (see Sahih Muslim 41:6924) along with the Mahdi.
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2009, 09:31:47 AM »

"The central, root difference between Orthodoxy and Islam is that Orthodoxy affirms the Incarnation wholeheartedly and Islam wholeheartedly denies it. If you want to see what difference believing or not believing in the Incarnation makes, look at the differences between Orthodoxy and Islam."

The Incarnation: Orthodoxy, Islam, and the Reformation
http://jonathanscorner.com/incarnation/
That was really good, thanks for that. I talked to Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro from Friends of Indonesia a couple of months ago, and he said he was finishing a book on Orthodoxy/Islam. I have heard him speak before on this topic of Islam in the light of Orthodoxy, so see what you can find on that book. Here is a link to FOI. (By the way, let us continue to pray for Father Daniel. He is going through many hardships right now.)
http://www.friendsofindonesia.org/
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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2009, 10:19:45 AM »

Quote
Genuine Islamic teachings, as found in the Holy Koran/Quran, even accept many aspects of traditional Christianity such as the Virgin Birth of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead by the grace and power of God (Allah), but Muslims do not believe in the Divine Incarnation of God as Jesus of Nazareth or that Jesus Christ is the Messiah long awaited by the Jews.

A brief correction from a former Sunni (Ash`ari and Shafi`i) Muslim: They say Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, because He was never killed. There are differing traditions as to what exactly happened, but it's pretty unanimous that there was only the appearance of Jesus being crucified, but He actually escaped and ascended to heaven (Surah 4:156-157). He is the messiah, and near the end of days will return from heaven to do battle against the Antichrist (see Sahih Muslim 41:6924) along with the Mahdi.

Very interesting, thanks! So this understanding of Crucifixion is very much like what the Doketes (or Docetes) taught... Docetism is, AFAIK, a very popular heresy of the 2-4th centuries A.D. that taught, among other things, that some other man died on the cross, while Jesus Christ became invisible and hid in the crowd, laughing at the Romans whom He so cleverly deceived.
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2009, 10:21:55 AM »

"The central, root difference between Orthodoxy and Islam is that Orthodoxy affirms the Incarnation wholeheartedly and Islam wholeheartedly denies it. If you want to see what difference believing or not believing in the Incarnation makes, look at the differences between Orthodoxy and Islam."

The Incarnation: Orthodoxy, Islam, and the Reformation
http://jonathanscorner.com/incarnation/


But that also applies to other teachings, for example Arianism (and its modern version, the teaching of Jehowah's Witnesses), and perhaps Mormonism?
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« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2009, 10:41:01 AM »


Very interesting, thanks! So this understanding of Crucifixion is very much like what the Doketes (or Docetes) taught... Docetism is, AFAIK, a very popular heresy of the 2-4th centuries A.D. that taught, among other things, that some other man died on the cross, while Jesus Christ became invisible and hid in the crowd, laughing at the Romans whom He so cleverly deceived.

The Romans?  Huh

Gnostic docetism was anti-Semitic. The followers of this heresy taught that Jesus deceived the followers of Judaism through an optical illusion. Thus, the so-called deception was directed at Jews, whose God was believed to be materialistic and evil. 

Although Islam refused the main Gnostic doctrine that denied Jesus' incarnation, this theory of illusion was adopted rather vaguely into the Koran solely because Mohammad delighted in the idea that Jews had been fooled through a miracle. We owe the Islamic denial of Jesus' crucifixion in the Koran to Mohammad's anti-Jewish sentiments.

My article on this issue will soon be published at answering-islam.org.
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« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2009, 11:08:06 AM »

I would recommend the writings of Patricia Crone, whose take on the rise of Islam and its relationship to Arab national identity makes for a very interesting read.

Anything by Bernard Lewis is also well worth reading.
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« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2009, 12:03:55 PM »

Thank you... But my one issue is...
Is Islam a violent religion or is true Islam a peaceful religion?
Or, is Islam just a religion, and its adherents either peaceful or violent?
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2009, 01:23:26 PM »

Comparing Christianity to Islam is like comparing apples to oranges.

Christianity's foundations were imminently apocalyptic: the early Christians expected Christ's imminent return, and thus had comparatively little interest in setting up an earthly state. Whereas Muhammad was a political and military leader, intent upon establishing a state governed by divine Laws (often involving forms of punishment repulsive to modern, Western sensibilities).

A more proper comparison is between Judaism and Islam, since both are historically linked to a state and to a legal system; and between Christianity and Sufism, since both involve comparatively greater freedom from both state and law.
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« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2009, 01:35:15 PM »


Very interesting, thanks! So this understanding of Crucifixion is very much like what the Doketes (or Docetes) taught... Docetism is, AFAIK, a very popular heresy of the 2-4th centuries A.D. that taught, among other things, that some other man died on the cross, while Jesus Christ became invisible and hid in the crowd, laughing at the Romans whom He so cleverly deceived.

The Romans?  Huh

Gnostic docetism was anti-Semitic. The followers of this heresy taught that Jesus deceived the followers of Judaism through an optical illusion. Thus, the so-called deception was directed at Jews, whose God was believed to be materialistic and evil. 

Although Islam refused the main Gnostic doctrine that denied Jesus' incarnation, this theory of illusion was adopted rather vaguely into the Koran solely because Mohammad delighted in the idea that Jews had been fooled through a miracle. We owe the Islamic denial of Jesus' crucifixion in the Koran to Mohammad's anti-Jewish sentiments.

My article on this issue will soon be published at answering-islam.org.


Thank you, Theophilos, very intersting and enlightening!
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« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2009, 04:32:13 PM »


Thank you, Theophilos, very intersting and enlightening!

You are welcome. If you have any questions about the Islamic creed, I am at your disposal Wink
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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2009, 04:49:05 PM »

Thank you... But my one issue is...
Is Islam a violent religion or is true Islam a peaceful religion?
Or, is Islam just a religion, and its adherents either peaceful or violent?

Islam is not only a religion, but a mundane ideology that aims to combine theology with politics. As long as it has political aspirations and ideals (conquering the whole world and making everyone subject to the Islamic Law of the Koran named Shariah), Islam cannot be a peaceful and tolerant religion.

If you read the stories of the former prophets in the Koran, you can see that the idea of religion is based on tribal system. God of Islam supposedly sends a messenger to every tribe/community and tries to transform an evil/pagan society into an Islamic one, appointing his prophets and messengers as the pioneers of a certain religious revolution. This ideal is believed to have been achieved by Mohammad, who became the final messenger with the universal mission of making the whole world the land of Islam and the Koran.

It is no wonder why the institution of holy order (clergy) is missing from Orthodox Islam: There is no Church to exert religious authority granted by God, but only a religious state that gets its sole authority from above. No separation between the state (secular authority) and the Church (divine authority) makes priesthod and monasticism unnecessary and obsolete in Islam.

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« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2009, 08:10:43 PM »

Comparing Christianity to Islam is like comparing apples to oranges.

Christianity's foundations were imminently apocalyptic: the early Christians expected Christ's imminent return, and thus had comparatively little interest in setting up an earthly state. Whereas Muhammad was a political and military leader, intent upon establishing a state governed by divine Laws (often involving forms of punishment repulsive to modern, Western sensibilities).

A more proper comparison is between Judaism and Islam, since both are historically linked to a state and to a legal system; and between Christianity and Sufism, since both involve comparatively greater freedom from both state and law.

I think that there could be some similarities in conduct when Christians/Christianity were in positions of great power and therefore able to exercise it on others who were not.

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« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2009, 08:14:17 PM »

How can we say that Islam is peaceful though with the actions of early Muslims and the deaths (unwarranted) of our Neo-Martyrs?

It isn't a new phenomena in Islam where those of non-Muslim religions are killed for not being Muslim.

Edit:
Sorry, I guess I should be more humble...

Unfortunately, it isn't a new phenomena in Christianity where non-Christians were killed or abused for not being Christian either.  Sad 


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« Reply #25 on: April 22, 2009, 12:18:32 PM »

In light of the fact that many millions of decent, good hearted, gentle spirited, and God fearing Muslims live throughout the world today, I believe that the violent, militant Muslim extremists who have attracted so much negative attention to Islam clearly represent a small minority of the worldwide Muslim population

I spent all winter hitchhiking around the Middle East, spending my time with simple local people. Support for violence to further the cause of Islam was near universal among those I encountered. While they were immensely friendly to me as an individual (the Muslim world does have the West beat when it comes to hospitality), they constantly spoke of how Europe should be attacked both with outright force and with subterfuge until it accepts sharia. The same person would simultaneously claim that Jews did 9/11, but also that Bin Laden was a great man for taking some kind of action. I tell people I come from Finland, with whom no one should have much of a beef, and I still got a flood of this rhetoric.

Considering that none of these countries have sharia, I was surprised at the level of support for it among the populace, and I think the situation will be really bad if strongmen like Mubarak die without handing over the reins to another strongman. The situation for the Copts is probably going to get even worse. So far the forces harassing them have been made up of fairly average Egyptian Muslims, not any tiny band of radicals.

Perhaps these average Muslims are likely to take up arms themselves, but they do seem to provide moral support to those do. FWIW, the only Muslims I've met who do not tend to speak of a war against the West, where violence can be used with religious sanction, are a few countries on the periphery of the religion like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Senegal.

There was a big article in "National Geographic" about Pakistan a while ago, and it said that there is a very serious revival of Sufism there; it's a very interesting "mystical" sort of Islam, very peaceful, absolutely non-violent and striving to reach unity between different peoples and cultures.

That self-proclaimed Sufis are universally non-violent is a bit of a myth. One of the major Chechen jihadists is a Sufi.
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« Reply #26 on: April 22, 2009, 12:44:13 PM »

I spent all winter hitchhiking around the Middle East, spending my time with simple local people. Support for violence to further the cause of Islam was near universal among those I encountered. While they were immensely friendly to me as an individual (the Muslim world does have the West beat when it comes to hospitality), they constantly spoke of how Europe should be attacked both with outright force and with subterfuge until it accepts sharia. The same person would simultaneously claim that Jews did 9/11, but also that Bin Laden was a great man for taking some kind of action. I tell people I come from Finland, with whom no one should have much of a beef, and I still got a flood of this rhetoric.

Considering that none of these countries have sharia, I was surprised at the level of support for it among the populace, and I think the situation will be really bad if strongmen like Mubarak die without handing over the reins to another strongman. The situation for the Copts is probably going to get even worse. So far the forces harassing them have been made up of fairly average Egyptian Muslims, not any tiny band of radicals.

I know that anonymity could be compromised in answering my question, so don't feel compelled to, but would you mind elaborating more on your points above, and some more specifics about the trip (specifically which countries you visited)?  I find your comments fascinating, and they seem to match up with some comments I've heard from a person who lives in Palestine.
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« Reply #27 on: April 22, 2009, 01:10:37 PM »

Ebor, thing is, the New Martyrs are all New Martyrs BECAUSE they were killed for being Christians.
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« Reply #28 on: April 22, 2009, 01:13:56 PM »

Quote
I know that anonymity could be compromised in answering my question, so don't feel compelled to, but would you mind elaborating more on your points above, and some more specifics about the trip (specifically which countries you visited)?  I find your comments fascinating, and they seem to match up with some comments I've heard from a person who lives in Palestine.

I traveled through Turkey (where the problems with extremism were around its "bible belt" of Konya), Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. With the exception of one hour in Bethlehem, I have not been to the Palestinian Territories.
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« Reply #29 on: April 22, 2009, 01:41:26 PM »




There was a big article in "National Geographic" about Pakistan a while ago, and it said that there is a very serious revival of Sufism there; it's a very interesting "mystical" sort of Islam, very peaceful, absolutely non-violent and striving to reach unity between different peoples and cultures.

That self-proclaimed Sufis are universally non-violent is a bit of a myth. One of the major Chechen jihadists is a Sufi.

Classically understood, Sufi's practice a 'mystical' or 'inner' path of connecting to God.  Sometimes, Sufi's conduct their research within the 'boundaries' of Islam but often times they fall outside the pale of Islam (if we understand 'Islam' as the sum total of the Qur'an and Hadith -but even here we run into definition problems as many Muslims mix Islamic beliefs with other beliefs such as Muslims from Indonesia who also incorporate animist beliefs or Muslims from Azerbaijan who incorporate Orthodox Christian beliefs sometimes).  

Sufi's, because of their willingness to go outside of 'orthodox' Islam to reach their goal of uniting with God, have been persecuted and at times been outright denounced as heretics worthy of the death penalty.  If we look at the meaning of the word 'jihad', we see that there are two meanings that run side by side.  'Jihad' is an Arabic word that comes from the tri-consonant root word 'jahd' or 'jhd' which means something like 'to make an effort' or 'to struggle'.  Understood in a religious context, where it is usually understood, it means to fight our impulses to sin against God and our fellow man and thus, to unite ourselves with God through love.  The lesser meaning of 'jihad' is to defend one's family, friends, country and religion against an attacker.  Most Sufi's almost exclusively employ the first or 'higher' meaning of jihad and so are far less prone to physical violence.  Western Sufism has almost entirely, save for the Arabic or Persian language, lost it's 'Islamic' connections.
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« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2009, 02:11:55 PM »

There was a big article in "National Geographic" about Pakistan a while ago, and it said that there is a very serious revival of Sufism there; it's a very interesting "mystical" sort of Islam, very peaceful, absolutely non-violent and striving to reach unity between different peoples and cultures.

That self-proclaimed Sufis are universally non-violent is a bit of a myth. One of the major Chechen jihadists is a Sufi.

Classically understood, Sufi's practice a 'mystical' or 'inner' path of connecting to God.  Sometimes, Sufi's conduct their research within the 'boundaries' of Islam but often times they fall outside the pale of Islam (if we understand 'Islam' as the sum total of the Qur'an and Hadith -but even here we run into definition problems as many Muslims mix Islamic beliefs with other beliefs such as Muslims from Indonesia who also incorporate animist beliefs or Muslims from Azerbaijan who incorporate Orthodox Christian beliefs sometimes).  

Sufi's, because of their willingness to go outside of 'orthodox' Islam to reach their goal of uniting with God, have been persecuted and at times been outright denounced as heretics worthy of the death penalty.  If we look at the meaning of the word 'jihad', we see that there are two meanings that run side by side.  'Jihad' is an Arabic word that comes from the tri-consonant root word 'jahd' or 'jhd' which means something like 'to make an effort' or 'to struggle'.  Understood in a religious context, where it is usually understood, it means to fight our impulses to sin against God and our fellow man and thus, to unite ourselves with God through love.  The lesser meaning of 'jihad' is to defend one's family, friends, country and religion against an attacker.  Most Sufi's almost exclusively employ the first or 'higher' meaning of jihad and so are far less prone to physical violence.  Western Sufism has almost entirely, save for the Arabic or Persian language, lost it's 'Islamic' connections. 

I don't think his point was that Sufism is violent, but rather that one cannot say All Sufis are nonviolet because they are Sufis; instead, ISTM, his point is that some people are Sufis who also espouse violent creeds/etc (which may indeed make them bad Sufis, but it seems that Sufism is pretty diffuse and, thus, difficult to dogmatically pin down who is and isn't a "good Sufi").
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« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2009, 02:25:44 PM »

From another Forum....HAHAHA

The quran is at a job interview. The boss asks, "Do you have references?" quran replies, "Torah and Bible, call them." So the boss calls Torah, and Torah replies, "I have never heard of him." Confused, the boss calls Bible and Bible says, "I know him; he is a liar and a thief and is actually from Satan, the devil, don't believe him." Pressed by the boss, quran defends "they are liars." And the boss reasons: "if they are liars, why do you use them for references unless you are insane?"
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« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2009, 02:33:40 PM »

St John of Damascus wrote about Islam: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/stjohn_islam.aspx

Here is an article written by an Orthodox (?) Christian on the historic relations between Byzantine and Islam: http://www.answering-islam.org/history/byzantine_responses.html

I hope these will be helpful. Smiley
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« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2009, 04:02:16 PM »

One might consider the Ahmadiyya, who see themselves as 'Islam-Reformed' since they support a peaceful and non-violent Islam. Lahore Ahmadiyya see Muhammad as the Last Prophet; Qadiani Ahmadiyya deny that Muhammad is the Last Prophet. The Qadiani, understandably, are not considered Muslim by other Muslims.

Even further afield is equally peaceful and non-violent Baha'ism, which comes out of Iranian Shi'a Islam but which has developed into an independent religion, though still heavily Islamic.

Anjali's story of going from Hinduism to Baha'ism to Orthodoxy.

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« Reply #34 on: April 23, 2009, 03:32:46 AM »

Even further afield is equally peaceful and non-violent Baha'ism, which comes out of Iranian Shi'a Islam but which has developed into an independent religion, though still heavily Islamic.

Bahai hardly seems like a religion at all from its manifestation in the West. When I was active in the Esperanto movement, where there is a heavy Bahai presence, even the most fervent Bahais I met spoke only about peace and world unity instead of anything related to God or even some vague metaphysical reality. While hitchhiking in Estonia a few months ago, my driver was on his way to a Bahai meeting and offered to take me further later on if I didn't mind sitting through the Bahai event. I did, and it seemed nothing at all like a religion, and a lot more like a gathering of NGO delegates hoping for stronger international law. They don't have much in the way of prayer life, hymns are sung only if you are the minority who feels like it, and the only pilgrimage route they have is to look at some pretty flowers in Haifa. Weird people, though very easy to get along with.
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« Reply #35 on: April 23, 2009, 01:58:05 PM »

Ebor, thing is, the New Martyrs are all New Martyrs BECAUSE they were killed for being Christians.

I apologize for being dense, but I'm not getting your point.  Non-Christians have been killed by Christians *for being* non-Christian.  Neither way is such an act a good thing; human beings are killed for not being the same religion as their killers.  So some people might ask about whether Christianity is really a religion of peace, just as some ask about Islam.

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« Reply #36 on: April 23, 2009, 02:34:57 PM »

I thought you were suggesting that Christians have been killed for reasons other than being Christian by non-Christian groups. So my response was that i know this, but the people the Church has declared as martyrs were killed because they were Christians.

Thing is with Islam, it's been violent since it's beginnings. Christianity hasn't.

Look at Christ, and his apostles/disciples (from the 12 to the 70 and others). Look at the early Church fathers and early Christians.
In contrast, look at Muhammad, his followers, and then the people that came after them.

____________

I will say though, modern reformed Islam is a peaceful religion and a religion of community and equality. However I do not believe modern Islam is the same as traditional/ancient Islam. Maybe it reflects the initial Ummah, but that is it.
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« Reply #37 on: April 23, 2009, 02:43:54 PM »

Christianity was not in the position of power in its earliest years. When it became dominant, some Christians acted in the same manner as Mohammad and his forces.   So in this case different situations in the early years are not the sum of adherents' behaviours, I don't think.   It's a very Human thing to resort to violence or to abuse others when one has power. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, it wasn't just those coming to arrest Jesus who had swords.  Jesus forbade violence, but humans don't always obey.


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« Reply #38 on: April 23, 2009, 02:52:28 PM »

Ah, but Muhammad didn't forbid violence. He only said that they cannot attack unless attacked themselves. IE: In self defense...
Instead of spreading Islam like Christianity was spread, they spread it through force.
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« Reply #39 on: April 23, 2009, 02:54:58 PM »

Christianity was not in the position of power in its earliest years.

Neither was Islam. But it got to its position of power by ruthless campaigning by Muhammad himself.
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« Reply #40 on: April 23, 2009, 03:01:05 PM »


A few sample verses from the Islamic scripture:

Surah 5:33
The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.

Surah 9:29
Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

Surah 48:28
He it is Who sent His Apostle with the guidance and the true religion that He may make it prevail over all the religions; and Allah is enough for a witness.

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« Reply #41 on: April 23, 2009, 03:14:06 PM »

I am aware of the historical rise of Islam while Mohammad was live and the raising of a group of followers who would fight for what they perceived as the right way.  My point is that once Christianity became the dominant Religion, the one of those in positions of power, it wasn't simon-pure and pacifist in all times and places either.  One should be aware of that because it has been used at times by persons who are not Christian to try and show how it is wrong and not true.

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« Reply #42 on: April 23, 2009, 03:35:02 PM »

However I don't really think the fact that those in power in Christianity abused their power is an argument showing that all religions can be violent.

What I'm trying to argue here is that Islam is a religion of violence. (at least TRUE Islam) Christianity is a religion of peace (at least true Christianity).

It is irrelevant to point out that over 300 years later, Christians started becoming violent because they were in power. That isn't the Christianity of the first 300 years, nor is it the Christianity of the Apostles.

It's almost as bad as arguing that Orthodox Christianity is equally guilty of the Crusades because the Roman Catholic Church began the Crusades, even though it was after the Schism.
Just because one group of a religion does something, doesn't mean all others in the religion are guilty of it or follow it... Same for Islam... They may have millions of people practicing peaceful Islam, but does that make it "true" Islam?


I'll give you an example:

Malcom X spent most of his life working for the Nation of Islam, which was a VERY violent and hateful group... In his later years, he began to change and became more loving and peaceful... When his views changed, does that mean he was still teaching the true beliefs of the Nation of Islam? No, in fact he later broke from them because they hated him for his new beliefs and teachings...

If a group of KKK or White Supremacists begin teaching equality with other races and love towards all... Does that mean that the KKK and White Supremacist groups are peaceful groups? NO... It simply means that those people aren't following the beliefs of their associated groups.

__________________________

I will say as a note though. I do hope that the reformations in Islam are successful, because it needs to reject it's true teachings and it's true beliefs. It needs to become peaceful. (same goes for all violent groups)
I will also say that I don't believe most Muslims are violent. However I do believe that Islam itself is a violent religion, but it is being changed by modern practicioners into a religion of peace.
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« Reply #43 on: April 23, 2009, 05:17:21 PM »


Malcom X spent most of his life working for the Nation of Islam, which was a VERY violent and hateful group...

Define "very violent". The Nation of Islam was actually quite peaceful in terms of day-to-day behavior. It didn't encourage killing people, or having riots, or fomenting revolution. It awaited God's Judgment on Western civilization, yes, but that would be God's doing, not man's.

Now, if like Malcolm, you started speaking publicly about the inner foibles of Elijah Muhammad, sure, that could get you into trouble.
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« Reply #44 on: April 23, 2009, 06:05:39 PM »

From another Forum....HAHAHA

The quran is at a job interview. The boss asks, "Do you have references?" quran replies, "Torah and Bible, call them." So the boss calls Torah, and Torah replies, "I have never heard of him." Confused, the boss calls Bible and Bible says, "I know him; he is a liar and a thief and is actually from Satan, the devil, don't believe him." Pressed by the boss, quran defends "they are liars." And the boss reasons: "if they are liars, why do you use them for references unless you are insane?"
You already posted this here:  http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20514.msg306666.html#msg306666.  Please don't cross-post like this again.
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« Reply #45 on: April 25, 2009, 12:00:49 AM »


Malcom X spent most of his life working for the Nation of Islam, which was a VERY violent and hateful group...

Define "very violent".

Virulently racist and 100% opposed to MLK's pacifist movement.  While X never did, many of his brethren were abusive to their wives also.

The Nation of Islam was actually quite peaceful in terms of day-to-day behavior. It didn't encourage killing people, or having riots, or fomenting revolution. It awaited God's Judgment on Western civilization, yes, but that would be God's doing, not man's.

Eh, sort of.  They encouraged the sometimes violent taking of the rights that belonged to African-Americans.

Now, if like Malcolm, you started speaking publicly about the inner foibles of Elijah Muhammad, sure, that could get you into trouble.

X had encountered true non-racist Islam in Mecca, and began to call Elijah out about it.  Truth is, the Elijah-bashing wouldn't have started without X's conversion to a non-political Islam.
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« Reply #46 on: April 25, 2009, 12:19:43 AM »

I thought X's trip to Mecca occurred after his break with Elijah?
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« Reply #47 on: April 25, 2009, 12:54:55 AM »

For the early Christians being entirely peaceful, they sure did love to desecrate the pagan temples whenever they could get away with it.  They would mar the images of the gods, steal many of the temples' gold and relics, and sometimes even burn them down.  This stuff really picked up after the Edict of Milan.

If that were happening today, then such people would easily be called terrorists.  "Radical Christianity", the media would call it!
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« Reply #48 on: April 25, 2009, 09:29:35 AM »

I thought X's trip to Mecca occurred after his break with Elijah?

Not to delve too much further into this aside, but... Elijah's health was deteriorating (and quickly), and many of the lieutenants around him were very jealous of X's fame (something Elijah predicted).  But the trip to Mecca was the big turning point for X.

I'd be interested to hear (maybe from folks who remember it firsthand) the image of Islam that was being projected by the Nation, versus what we've seen lately.

(It is interesting to note that of the two big Civil Rights personalities of X and MLK, one was a womanizer and a drunk and the other wasn't, and most people guess wrongly when posed with the question of "guess who?")
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« Reply #49 on: November 27, 2011, 08:56:31 PM »




There was a big article in "National Geographic" about Pakistan a while ago, and it said that there is a very serious revival of Sufism there; it's a very interesting "mystical" sort of Islam, very peaceful, absolutely non-violent and striving to reach unity between different peoples and cultures.

That self-proclaimed Sufis are universally non-violent is a bit of a myth. One of the major Chechen jihadists is a Sufi.

Classically understood, Sufi's practice a 'mystical' or 'inner' path of connecting to God.  Sometimes, Sufi's conduct their research within the 'boundaries' of Islam but often times they fall outside the pale of Islam (if we understand 'Islam' as the sum total of the Qur'an and Hadith -but even here we run into definition problems as many Muslims mix Islamic beliefs with other beliefs such as Muslims from Indonesia who also incorporate animist beliefs or Muslims from Azerbaijan who incorporate Orthodox Christian beliefs sometimes).  

Sufi's, because of their willingness to go outside of 'orthodox' Islam to reach their goal of uniting with God, have been persecuted and at times been outright denounced as heretics worthy of the death penalty.  If we look at the meaning of the word 'jihad', we see that there are two meanings that run side by side.  'Jihad' is an Arabic word that comes from the tri-consonant root word 'jahd' or 'jhd' which means something like 'to make an effort' or 'to struggle'.  Understood in a religious context, where it is usually understood, it means to fight our impulses to sin against God and our fellow man and thus, to unite ourselves with God through love.  The lesser meaning of 'jihad' is to defend one's family, friends, country and religion against an attacker.  Most Sufi's almost exclusively employ the first or 'higher' meaning of jihad and so are far less prone to physical violence.  Western Sufism has almost entirely, save for the Arabic or Persian language, lost it's 'Islamic' connections.
I have been wanting to learn a lot about islam and comparative studies to orthodoxy. I see that many of the modern peaceful muslims ascribe to what Gabriel posted. I have a hard time saying that this is true islam personally i believe that the actions of their prophet should speak for the nature of the religion and he was a very violent greedy and  ambitious man, however i do believe he sincerely thought he was keeping the will of God. modern islam on a whole has various sects conflicting with the interpretation of the koran so there is no doubt that modern muslims dont even know what true islam is anymore... some say all Christians are at war with God for not following and deserve to die other say its much more of a physical thing such as opposition with force. As far as a religion goes I agree that Islam is not truly a religion the purpose of the organization is to increase sharai law, the supposed law of God. As before stated the adherence to the law is what makes you a muslim.


*Edit* I was hoping others could elaborate more on their understanding of orthodoxy and islam as i would love to learn more!
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« Reply #50 on: November 27, 2014, 02:52:31 AM »

How the Christian Faith sees Islam:

1. Aspect of faith, specifically the Islamic confession (sahadat): Islam makes a creature (Muhammad) an object of faith together with the Creator (God). This is completely unacceptable to adherents of Monotheistic faiths. The equation of creature with Creator, borrowing an Islamic term itself, is the sin of shirk.

2. Aspect of practice, specifically moral (theoretical and practical): The life of Muhammad which is held up as the universal example for all Moslems at all place and at all time is completely unacceptable to every human being who is guided by reason and humanitarian values.

3. Aspect of prophetic claim, specifically the foundation of faith and practice: Muhammad's claim to prophethood is completely unacceptable because no signs and proofs of prophethood, namely miracles and or prophecies, have ever been given to substantiate this claim, in accordance with Divine Revelation regarding prophethood.
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« Reply #51 on: November 27, 2014, 03:19:42 AM »

How the Christian Faith sees Islam:

1. Aspect of faith, specifically the Islamic confession (sahadat): Islam makes a creature (Muhammad) an object of faith together with the Creator (God). This is completely unacceptable to adherents of Monotheistic faiths. The equation of creature with Creator, borrowing an Islamic term itself, is the sin of shirk.

That's not true; Muslims are quite clear about the fact that they do not worship Muhammad, which is why they reject the term "Muhammadanism", for instance. Muslims no more make Muhammad an object of faith than Christians do with the Virgin Mary (who is mentioned in the Creeds and myriad other places).

On the other hand, Sunni Muslims do consider the Quran to be eternal and uncreated, and believe it to be the Word in the same sense that Christians profess Christ as the Word (it eternally proceeds from the deity). Most Christians would regard that as bibliolatry (deifying a book) and do not, with the exception of some fundamentalist Protestants, ascribe a similar status to the Bible.

Quote
2. Aspect of practice, specifically moral (theoretical and practical): The life of Muhammad which is held up as the universal example for all Moslems at all place and at all time is completely unacceptable to every human being who is guided by reason and humanitarian values.

Arguably the same can be said about certain Old Testament figures, especially Moses, David, etc.

The difference however is that those figures are not held up as universal examples for Christians in the same way Muhammad is for Muslims. Even the Old Testament is quite clear that even the prophets were often very flawed individuals, in their personal and moral lives. So you're correct on this point.

Quote
3. Aspect of prophetic claim, specifically the foundation of faith and practice: Muhammad's claim to prophethood is completely unacceptable because no signs and proofs of prophethood, namely miracles and or prophecies, have ever been given to substantiate this claim, in accordance with Divine Revelation regarding prophethood.

Yep, Muhammad, like Joseph Smith, relied on private revelation ("you just have to trust me! I swear it's true!") whereas in both Testaments, most miracles and signs were very public.
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« Reply #52 on: November 27, 2014, 03:20:09 AM »

One might consider the Ahmadiyya, who see themselves as 'Islam-Reformed' since they support a peaceful and non-violent Islam. Lahore Ahmadiyya see Muhammad as the Last Prophet; Qadiani Ahmadiyya deny that Muhammad is the Last Prophet. The Qadiani, understandably, are not considered Muslim by other Muslims.

Even further afield is equally peaceful and non-violent Baha'ism, which comes out of Iranian Shi'a Islam but which has developed into an independent religion, though still heavily Islamic.

Anjali's story of going from Hinduism to Baha'ism to Orthodoxy.

I have read about Ahmadiyya before. Ahmadis are persecuted in Pakistan in a way that has been widely described as apartheid. The Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam was an Ahmadi and won the Nobel Prize in 1979, but the Pakistani government pretends it never happened because as an Ahmadi he's not a "real" Muslim in their eyes.
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« Reply #53 on: November 27, 2014, 02:10:50 PM »

Thank you... But my one issue is...
Is Islam a violent religion or is true Islam a peaceful religion?



My brother, I have read the whole Quran and made extensive notes on it, spoken to an Islamic scholar holding PHD in Islam and read a bit of Hadiths. I dont think it is a religion of peace, Islam means a complete submission.It is extremely violent, it preaches hate and mistrust towards Christians, especially Jews, and the rest of non Muslims. I am not saying that all of it is violent, but there is a lot of violence and anti kufar verses. Most Muslims are great people and peaceful peole, it is Islam that is not peaceful.

Jews and Chrsitians are the worst enemies of Islam as per Quran teaching.Not good this, is it.

 "Verily, the kuffar/infidels from the Ahlul Kitaab (the People of the Book i.e. Jews and Christians ) and the Mushrikeen shall live forever in the fire of Jahannam. These are the worst of creation. Surah 98. Verse 6. "

Jihad is mandatory in Islam- there is a link to some of the verses of the sword:

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/quran/023-violence.htm

There are about 164 verses of Jihad:
http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Themes/jihad_passages.html

Stick to Christianity, brother.

God bless.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 02:20:13 PM by andrewlya » Logged

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« Reply #54 on: November 28, 2014, 02:58:51 AM »

If you say "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah", you automatically become a Muslim.

If you only say "There is no God but Allah", that doesn't make you a Muslim.

If you say "There is no God but Allah and Moses is a prophet of Allah", you don't become a Muslim either.

So while they think they are monotheists, in fact they become polytheists and musyirikun because their faith does indeed make Muhammad an object of faith together with God.
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« Reply #55 on: November 28, 2014, 10:27:06 AM »

"The central, root difference between Orthodoxy and Islam is that Orthodoxy affirms the Incarnation wholeheartedly and Islam wholeheartedly denies it. If you want to see what difference believing or not believing in the Incarnation makes, look at the differences between Orthodoxy and Islam."

The Incarnation: Orthodoxy, Islam, and the Reformation
http://jonathanscorner.com/incarnation/
That article gets better and better as one reads along. The clarity of style reminds me of better examples of Lewis. Fabulous read.

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« Reply #56 on: November 28, 2014, 06:52:22 PM »

If you say "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah", you automatically become a Muslim.

If you only say "There is no God but Allah", that doesn't make you a Muslim.

If you say "There is no God but Allah and Moses is a prophet of Allah", you don't become a Muslim either.

So while they think they are monotheists, in fact they become polytheists and musyirikun because their faith does indeed make Muhammad an object of faith together with God.

Surely making something or someone an object of faith does not automatically imply worship. The Creeds mention the Virgin Mary. Surely that doesn't make Christianity polytheistic, even though in some sense Mary is an object of faith? I would venture to say that if you don't believe Mary was a virgin, then you're not a Christian because that would imply that Jesus was a mere man conceived by a human father.

Likewise we believe in the communion of saints; that's a necessary part of the Christian faith, but it doesn't imply that we worship the saints as gods. We also don't worship the Bible even though all Christians believe it's holy and inspired by God.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2014, 06:53:47 PM by Minnesotan » Logged
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« Reply #57 on: November 28, 2014, 10:36:12 PM »

That's because our Faith is in essence Trinitarian and Incarnational.  We in effect confess both Ontology (Trinity) and Economy (Incarnation).  In all this the Object of Faith remains God, and the Economy of God is elaborated in the Panagia and the Saints.  The Church comprising the Panagia and the Saints are the very perpetuation of the Incarnation of the Son of God.

So definitely not the same thing.  Further it is not the Symbol of Faith that makes us Christians, but Regeneration by Holy Baptism into His Holy Orthodox Church.

It is not so with Islam, which defines its faith by the Shahada, which requires Muhammad as an object of faith.

The Christian Faith and the Islamic faith do not have the same paradigm and do not share the same theological outlook.
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