reply to post by Siddharta
It's inherent to Islam , I believe, because of the beginnings of Islam, the environment and attitudes of the day.
This is, of course, just my opinion, based upon studies and experiences. In the beginning of Islam, Mohammed thought it good to start a new religion,
based upon what he apparently believed were conversations with an angel in a cave (if you're muslim, you can still visit the cave, just outside
Mecca). That wasn't taken well by the surrounding people, for a variety of reasons.
The Jews outright laughed at him, which sealed their doom - or at least a few tribes of them local to them. The Meccans had what I believe to be other
concerns, of an economic nature, which they disguised as religious differences. They didn't want polytheism, a proven money maker for them, to fall,
and incited the simpler polytheistic folks to support it. The end result was the expulsion of Mohammed from Mecca. That HAD to stick in his craw,
since he had previously been a respected Meccan merchant himself. Before the wars, he was VERY respected there.
After his move to Medina, he started preying on the Meccan merchants caravans, hitting them where it would hurt the most, in the pocketbook, as a
bandit. That was the best way he could think of to fight a war, and it's as true now as it was then. In the end, he took Mecca, and abolished the
idols in the Ka'aba. Then he turned to conquests further afield, believing due to his victory at Mecca that he had a mandate from Allah. He died
during that conquest, after having ordered the conquest of the Byzantines, killed at the hands (poisoned) by a Jewish slave woman whose entire tribe
he had destroyed, taking only the women and children for slaves.
During his lifetime, he swelled the ranks of his army by sharing out the booty of the conquered with them, which was the accepted practice of the day.
Most flocked to the ranks in hopes of personal enrichment. Upon his death, his successor had a revolt on his hands, and had to re-conquer large
portions of the Arabian Peninsula. When they thought the booty was going to dry up, they went home, back to their other gods.
After the reconquest of the Peninsula, the muslims got on with the business of conquest, probably in the beginning with heavily economic motivations,
mixed with religious and political considerations. That was a dangerous combination, and it still is for any group of peoples, not just muslims. After
a couple of generations, and decades of preaching it, the religious considerations came to the fore as the main motivational factor for conquest.
Booty was of course still taken, but as a secondary consideration rather than a primary one.
"True Believers" of any stripe, religious OR political, are some of the most dangerous people on Earth. The muslims had become True Believers over
time, rather than economic opportunists. That's where islam stagnated and stayed.
All of the foregoing is not meant to bash muslims, nor is it meant to give anyone a history lesson. It's just to set the stage of what the world was
like at the time. The same or a similar synopsis could be given for a number of other religions, both living and dead, from the Sumerians and their
city-state warfare based on what this state or that one's tutelary deity was perceived to want, right up through Canaanites, Hebrews, Babylonians,
Assyrians, Christians, et cetera.
Now here is what I believe makes islam different from the others, from then up until now: Most of those other religions died, and are no threat to any
one any more. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and a few others are still current, and so Could be threats. What makes Islam different is that it has
been allowed to stagnate at that stage, while the others haven't. They have moved on, and for the most part are not as prone to violence to get their
way, and then using their religion, or a facsimile thereof, as the excuse for their actions. For example, Jews practiced stoning, as muslims do today,
but have long since passed that point, evolving from a more temporal to a more spiritual stance. Christians are a special case, since their inception
was one of continuing persecutions at the hands of the others for a long time, until they developed a militant streak. Islam began with one,
Christianity had to develop one, but then kept on developing, going the same way as Judaism - from temporal towards more spiritual. It's been a long
time since Christians have gone to war to defend their faith. Islam hasn't gotten to that point yet, and appears to be suffering an arrested
I have hope for them, though. They will either have to press forward in their development, or join the Sumerians in oblivion. There are large numbers
of muslims even today that are perfectly willing to do that, and I truly hope they win out in the end. The main holdup these days appears to me to be
fear of what the extremists will do to them if they are too outspoken. That will probably eventually pass, and they will speak out in droves. Not yet,
but I have hope.
That is the ONLY way they can defend and eventually save their religion - not from US, from within their own ranks, from those who would hijack it
back to square one.
If THAT isn't done, I'm nearly certain that they will pass into oblivion.
Christianity is roughly 600 years older than islam, and still has issues in it's followers in some cases. The violent streak, however, is mostly
gone, and it's more chauvenism being the problem now than anything else. I hope we don't have to wait 600 years to see a similar development in
islam. I'm hoping they can find it in their religion to be better than that.