You might have noticed that people are talking about Islam. They want to know if Islam is the religion of peace.
People aren’t just ‘talking’ about this question. They’re raging over it.
You can see this rage on online ‘print’ sites and on youtube videos. In this brave new electronic world, where opinions travel faster than a speeding bullet, you find both sides of this issue presenting their case. Both sides are passionate.
Depending on which day you troll on youtube, you might conclude on any given day that Islam is not a religion of peace; then, a week later, after a bevy of new videos have appeared, you might conclude that Islam is indeed a religion of peace.
Which is it? Is Islam a religion of peace, as many say? Or, is it a religion of violence, as others claim?
When you look at polls taken on Muslim attitudes, very few Muslims seem to support violence in the name of their religion. Last year (2015), Pew Research Center did a full survey of Muslim attitudes and beliefs in 39 countries (Michael Lipka, “Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world”, December 7, 2015). That survey suggested that Muslims are, typically, peaceful.
Of the questions polling agents currently ask Muslims, one question that might reveal any violence in Islam is the one that asks if suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam are justified. In this December 2015 survey (above), Muslims appear mostly to say that such violence is rarely or never justified (ibid). For example, 92% in Indonesia and 91% in Iraq suggest they reject such violence. In the United States, a 2011 survey found that 86% of Muslims reject such violence (ibid). That’s an overwhelming rejection of violence.
Among countries where there is support for such violence, the numbers in favour of violence are relatively low. One place that has among the highest support for such violence is the Palestinian Authority (PA). But even there, the amount of support doesn’t appear overwhelming: 40% of respondents in the Palestinian territories say that such violence is ‘sometimes’ justified (ibid). 39% in Afghanistan agree with that violence. 29% in Egypt and 26% in Bangladesh agree with it (ibid).
These are not big numbers. They suggest that Muslims are peaceful. So why do Muslims kill so many people?
For an answer, translate the survey percentage numbers into population figures. For example, the 8% in Indonesia who support bombings and other forms of violence against civilians means that more than 16 million people agree with that violence--because Indonesia has 200+ million Muslims (“Muslim population”, eenibusiness school, 2015). The 9% in Iraq adds another 2.7 million Muslims to the ‘we justify violence’ group. The 40% in the PA who support this kind of violence adds perhaps another 1.6 million (this is based on an aggressively inflated population estimate promoted by the PA). The 29% in Egypt who support such violence adds another 22 million.
By the time you finish calculating the real population figures, you’ve got at least 100 million Muslims world-wide (even after accounting for PA exaggeration) who support violence in the name of Islam. For some, that’s a low estimate.
Nevertheless, the majority of Muslims world-wide reject violence. In a world with 1.6 billion Muslims, most are peaceful.
From this, many conclude that Islam is a religion of peace. But that conclusion misses the point about Islamic violence. The point of Islamic terror is that all that peacefulness is irrelevant.
When the Nazis of Germany killed millions of people, the majority of Germans were peaceful (source: journalist Brigitte Gabriel). When Russia’s Stalin killed millions of people, the majority of Russians were peaceful (ibid). When Japan’s army killed millions of people (in World War Two), the majority of Japanese were peaceful (ibid). When Chinese Communists killed millions of people, the majority of Chinese were peaceful.
The point of Islamic terror is not that Islam is/is not a religion of peace. The point is there’s an evil within the Muslim community—just as there was an evil within the German community, the Japanese community, etc.
Islam’s intrinsic nature is irrelevant. Islam’s peacefulness is irrelevant. What’s relevant is the evil within the world-wide Muslim community that incites to kill.
The Nazis and Japanese stopped their killing after they were destroyed. The Chinese and Russians stopped their killing after they’d made internal changes.
Islam faces the same choices. Islam will change only through one of two ways: through a world war which will kill millions of Muslims (and non-Muslims); or, through internal changes—after millions of Muslims (and non-Muslims) are killed.
These are ugly choices. One of them—or both—could gut Islam. Millions will die.
To stop this killing, the nations must confront the evil within the Muslim world. No one’s done that. Instead, nations prefer to remind everyone that Islam is a religion of peace.
That won’t work. That peacefulness is irrelevant. It won’t stop the killing.