On September 11, 2001, a new form of prejudice rose to eminence: fear of Islamic people. This is not to be confused with a fear of Islam, as most American people wouldn’t know enough about the religion to even relay its basic tenets. With a reported 1.3 billion followers (CantonRep), Islam is on track to eventually become the world’s largest religion were one to follow growth predictions.
At its core, Islam could be considered a hybrid religion, drawing especially from Christian and Jewish texts along with its final prophet Mohammed. Then again, every major world religion is a hybrid of something, with the differences between them rendered almost meaningless to all but the faithful. But this could be considered a dismissive statement: “All but the faithful.” The faithful make up the majority of the world population, outnumbering atheists, anti-theists, and agnostics by staggering percentages.
The heart of the debate between Islam and Christianity, ironically, has little to do with either religion’s mainstream principles or theology. Islam has always held a respect for the person of Jesus, whereas Christian teaching demands a sort of Earthly pacifism. Naturally, these principles exist only on paper as the ugly truth about all institutional religious systems comes to the forefront. The Catholic Church has slaughtered a greater number of people in its lifetime (some would say that figure is incalculably far-reaching) than the Taliban could dream to kill. With the Christian ties from everything to the Holocaust to slavery to the “War on Terror,” the idea that somehow Islam is an inherently more dangerous religion than Christianity is absurd.
What can be sociologically derived from the vicious rhetoric is nothing more than a turf war, predictably misguided nationalism. Christian America hates Islam because it is a threat to Christian power. Islam is a religion that is little understood by the mainstream population. Accusations of being a “Muslim” are the contemporary equivalent of similar past claims about supposed “Communists” (another powerful group of people feared by the general public).
Islam has become the whipping boy of religions, singled out arbitrarily due to its emergence as a key-player in religious politics. Christianity found itself in a remarkably similar position in years past. Let us not forget that Christianity’s most notable founder, Paul of Tarsus, was beheaded. Early Christians were often the victims of vicious and deadly discrimination by their host countries. When the Catholic Church rose to power, it wasted no time in exacting equally vicious deaths on existing religious minorities. How quickly the oppressed become the oppressors.
Proponents of Islam like proponents of Christianity will point to a similar set of benefits offered by their faiths: a sense of purpose, moral principle, a guarantee of a Utopian afterlife, and social order. The key ingredient to both systems is an element of required faith, belief in completely unfalsifiable doctrines. Does God exist as three beings in one Godhead? Mainstream Christian teaching says “yes,” Islam says “no.” Neither can prove their point as it’s inarguable from any logical basis.
Even the sacred texts themselves offer little consolation in resolving the various disputes, as most religious texts lack internal coherency. One need only read the Bible from cover to cover to notice the issues. The Hebrew text opens with contradicting creation accounts. The New Testament opens four wildly varying accounts by supposed eyewitnesses (Mark was the only realistically plausible eye-witness) of the life of Jesus. The variances become especially troublesome during the resurrection accounts. The Qur’an doesn’t fare an ounce better with its scientific gibberish and contradicting observations. [So the stars are Allah’s arsenal of Satan-preventing missiles? (Chapters 37 and 67)]
The whole affair reaches deeper into the throes of absolutely absurdity the further one bothers to dig. All major world religions contain the same troubling element of blind faith, the idea that one should be willing to forfeit higher thought and be subservient to a being with a voice promised the faithful upon conversion. It’s no wonder such a system leads to war and the suppression of knowledge. I for one couldn’t care less if the President was Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, or anything in-between. My concern is that his brain is shifted fully to the “On” position. And frankly, real adherence to any of the world’s predominant religious forces would render this impossible.