What is it with Islam?

What is it with Islam?
: The former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, asks some touch questions about Islam, giving a lecture in Rome and calling it, the Telegraph says, “authoritarian, inflexible and under-achieving.”

In a speech that will upset sensitive relations between the faiths, he denounced moderate Muslims for failing unequivocally to condemn the “evil” of suicide bombers.

He attacked the “glaring absence” of democracy in Muslim countries, suggested that they had contributed little of major significance to world culture for centuries and criticised the Islamic faith….

He acknowledged that most Muslims were peaceful people who should not be demonised. But he said that terrorist acts such as the September 11 attacks on America and the Madrid bombings raised difficult questions….

Dr Carey said that moderate Muslims must “resist strongly” the taking over of Islam by radical activists “and to express strongly, on behalf of the many millions of their co-religionists, their abhorrence of violence done in the name of Allah”.

He said: “We look to them to condemn suicide bombers and terrorists who use Islam as a weapon to destabilise and destroy innocent lives. Sadly, apart from a few courageous examples, very few Muslim leaders condemn clearly and unconditionally the evil of suicide bombers who kill innocent people.

“We need to hear outright condemnation of theologies that state that suicide bombers are martyrs and enter a martyr’s reward.” …

: See good comments.

: Also, I’ve just started reading Irshad Manji’s The Trouble With Islam. Haven’t gotten far enough in to review yet but I like this perspective very much: a call for an Islamic Reformation.

  • Dear Mr. Jarvis:
    Perhaps this is the beginning of a long-overdue dialogue in the West. There may be limits to what we can reasonably ask of Muslims no matter how peaceful and devout. I’m trying to be analytical here rather than deprecatory.
    Isn’t this an article of faith among Muslims? Something along the lines of “thou shalt speak no ill of thy fellow Muslim”? The Ummah? This is a sincere question. I don’t know the answer.

  • Walter Wallis

    Long overdue is right. Remember, it was the revulsion of the Southern Baptists that finally denied the KKK their claim of “Christian values.”
    Islam must take back their good name or concede it to the terrorists.

  • onecent

    Dr Carey is trampling on a very sensitive area by referring to the Koran and the traditions of the Prophet.…….the response from a “saddened” Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain.
    This response says it all. Because of his kafir status, the archbishop’s comments were out of bounds. That Islam passed on to Europe the writings of Aristotle, but retained none of his wisdom, speaks volumes. The chances of an Islamic reformation are zilch. It would require curiosity, openness, tolerance, self-criticism, everything inherently missing.

  • tim

    And then there’s this:
    (London)-In his homily yesterday during a memorial service for Palestinian suicide bombers, the Right Reverend Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, denounced Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” as being “overtly pro-Christian.”
    “This film is going to have a devastating effect on Anglicanism worldwide,” said Reverend Williams. “Impressionable persons may be unduly influenced and actually begin attending church. And it would be a great tragedy if the Church had to divert its precious resources away from protesting against capitalism and democracy and use them instead for religious purposes.”

    Yes. I know. It’s a joke. But speaking as an often-frustrated Episcopalian, it’s not that far off the beam…

  • Among the three major religions, Islam is the only unchallenged one and consequently it is still not reformed. The push from science and technology for Christianity, and being a minority for Judaism kept these two faiths under scrutiny –I am gonna use economics terms here– and competition. Once Islam is also pushed back to the private corners of people’s lives instead of in their face, it will try to survive and make the right changes. That is what it is with Islam.
    About the specific question that you have regarding the moderate voice and suicide bomber, I just can think of some sporadic comments right now:
    – Those voices for some reason are not heard here. It could be media that fails to pick up those.
    – I agree with you other commenter. Although I don’t know either if “thou shalt speak no ill of thy fellow Muslim” exists in Islam, I do know its culture is strong in the middle east

  • Kat

    Well, I can somewhat understand not daring to speak against the atrocities of islam in the ME–I can’t understand the Fifth Columnists trying to prevent our speaking against the suiciders and those who condone them and support them financially, in America. If you dare question islam, you are a bigot.
    The media failing tp pick up moderate voices is a joke–the media bends over backwards to sugarcoat islam–to the point of making me puke. Moderate muslims excuse the atrocities by blaming others–US policy, Israeli policy–what about muslim policy–that is the root of the problem, as outlined in the Koran.

  • onecent

    Right on, Kat, with eyes wide shut the multiculturalists which permeate our media and schools, in spite of all of the Islamic carnage, keep to the delusion of the all-religions-are-equal meme. Islam may have the numbers, as if there is a real religious choice where it resides, but, should it really, in it’s present fascist incarnation, be given equal status? Hamas promised that pitiful retarded suicide kid money and paradise. That says it all.

  • tb

    This morning while riding toward Grand Central Station on the #7 subway I was standing next to a guy whose ethnicity was not easily determined. He was dressed like a messenger, jeans, sweatshirt, baseball cap, dark wraparound sunglasses and a messenger style bag, beard, dark complexion, could’ve been italian, greek, arab, who knows. Anyway, just say he stood out compared to everyone else( and trust me, theres all kinds on that train, remember John Rocker?)So, nothing happened, but I want to share what was going through my mind. I really wanted to know what he had in the bag. Others around me were also probably were thinking the same thing. Normally while riding the subway you just dont make eye contact with anyone, kind of like being in the elevator with strangers. When the guy started reaching into the bag then checking all his other pockets I actually felt pretty panicky, but Im pretty cool usually, i mean i dont think anyone including him could tell what i was thinking from my appearance. But, when he pulled out his cell phone and started punching buttons (cell phones dont work on the trains usually, especially where we were under the Easr river approaching 42 nd street, I’m rambling, suffice to say, it was unnerving.
    Now, this led to many thoughts for a few mins after getting off the train and walking to work.
    I’ll let the better writers finish the full argument elswhere but, if there is a bombing or something, in the future I think that situation I just described would turn out differently. I think that guy would be forced to open his bags any number of times during his daily routine, JUST BECAUSE OF WHAT HE LOOKED LIKE AND BECAUSE MUSLIMS DO NOT CONDEMN VIOLENCE.

  • PJ

    Kat is right. The media, educational system, and even the government give a pass to Islamic radical excess and even romanticize values that they would decry in their own modern experience and thereby silence the rest.
    If you were a moderate Muslim in say, Los Angeles, and saw the press fawning over your radical imam, would you speak up?

  • A_Reader

    You know, the one thing I loved about reading the Telegraph article was the use of quotes:
    the “evil” of suicide bombing
    What does that mean? That it isn’t evil? That maybe there are no bad suicide bombings, it just depends on perspective?
    Those quotes told me all I needed to know about the author of the article

  • Doctor Slack

    The Manji book is a good, populist attempt to get some serious dialogue going in and with the Muslim community. I could have wished for her to show some more awareness of existing reform movements, but that’s not a fatal defect.
    Manji’s site is also very good. Especially the letters page, where she shows herself to befiery, handy at dispatching cranks but also intellectually honest and willing to cop to her mistakes (for instance, when a number of her readers called her on the absurd airbrushing she gives Israel — probably the weakest part of the book — she came clean and promised to correct the problem in future editions).

  • Richard Bean

    God bless George Carey for his honesty. It takes courage to say these things in today’s world. As an Anglican who lived in Iran (Mar’02-Oct’03), I listened very carefully for any leader to speak out against suicide bombing. Among all the praise given to “martyrdom operations”, I heard only one dissenting voice. Change comes, but very slowly.
    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

  • Richard Bean
  • No

    Carey goes right. Shock and awe. Maybe Jeff would like to post the good Bishop’s praise of Mel’s movie next? Anyone want to set the over/under on that?

  • AST

    Does anybody think this will really have any effect? It’ll go over like pouring water on a grease fire.
    Islam has no central authority like the Catholic and Anglican churches. The only way to change the spread of this nihilism is to cut off the funding, which comes mostly from the Saudis whose state religion is the Wahabi sect of Islam. At some point, western strategy in this war will have to turn to stopping such funding, and even then it will take a long time to undo the damage. I wish we could undertake funding our own brand of madrassas, but any association with us would be the kiss of death for them. The better approach is to make Iraq into a demonstration that the U.S. is not the British Empire by delivering on our promises of democracy and economic change. Maybe then we could get some schools going with strictly secular education of the kind they could get in the U.S.
    I was worried after 9/11 about a backlash against Muslims, but if we have another like that, or even a series of suicide bombings, that could really break the restraint. Just denouncing the radicals and calling for moderation isn’t going to shut up the ones preaching hate and jihad. The only thing that will do that is for governments to use measures that western governments are unable to take without declaring martial law.
    If Iraq’s oil comes onto the world market, it could lessen the Saudi influence on world oil prices, and give us some freedom to insist that they really put a stop to this hatemongering.
    The more I think about it, the more I think that Bush’s strategy makes sense, but I don’t know whether the American people will go for it without the Democrats supporting it. Kerry is making noises like he would feel bound to stay in Iraq, but would he do it, and would he give it the kind of support it will take? I’m not even sure that Bush can get the support from Congress he needs for this, or that one more term is long enough to see results, although we’re seeing some in Pakistan, Libya and Syria. But I think that going back to Bush I or Clinton would be a waste of time and the money and lives we have put into this.

  • Richard, thanks for the link. Having now read the whole thing, it seems less impressive. I’d summarize it as: Why can’t we all just get along?
    Perhaps, given the source and setting, this qualifies as “tough questions”, but it seems more diplomatic, artfully balanced, and carefully crafted than “tough” to me.