For several weeks my friend and fellow CT contributor David Shedlock has been after me to write a piece on the nature of Islam, and with the recent flap between Bill O’Reilly and the ladies of The View being something of a news media sensation, I thought perhaps now would be a good time to address the subject.

By now you’ve no doubt already heard about O’Reilly’s appearance on the show last week in which he said, with no qualification, that Muslims attacked us on 9-11. Some of the ladies of The View went into near hysteria because O’Reilly didn’t say “Muslim extremists” or some other such qualifier, because, after all, most Muslims are peace loving people and are not terrorists.

The dust-up on The View really illustrated the difficulty we are having as a nation not only with dealing with Islamic terrorism, but even discussing it. Whatever the real truth may be about Islam and the West, the only positions that may be taken (according to politically correct conventional wisdom) must pre-suppose that most Muslims are peace loving people, and that Islam is a religion of peace. Any other position is assumed to be a bigoted, knee-jerk response to fanatical terrorists who don’t represent Islam at all.

O’Reilly later qualified his remarks by saying that he didn’t need to say “Muslim extremists”, that he assumed everyone would understand who he was talking about, and that was the terrorists. He didn’t back down on one crucial point, however. He pointed out that we have a problem with Islam: “…the truth is that there is bitter conflict between the Muslim world and the West. Why do liberals want to sever the connection between terrorism and Islam? If moderate Muslims would ally with the USA, the jihad would not exist”, O’Reilly said.

His comments about the bitter conflict between Islam and the West and the connection between Islam and terrorism get to the heart of the matter. Everyone understands that most of the one and one half billion Muslims worldwide are not terrorists. But does that mean that Islam can be separated somehow from the terrorism that is routinely done in its name? And no one dares to ask a more basic question: Is the real nature of Islam to be defined by the majority of Muslims who aren’t terrorists or by the smaller number who are? In other words, is this religion violent in its essence? Or is it really a religion of peace as evidenced by the many Muslims who don’t go around blowing things up or support those who do?

The answer to this question is that the Muslims that are engaged in Jihad against the West are closer to historic, orthodox, Islamic teaching than are those who are called moderate Muslims. Islam is a religion that historically grew in its power and influence through the use of force. As Roy Mohon observes, “The teachings of Mohammed quickly secured a large and violent following which led to prolonged wars, invasions and terrible loss of life.” Robert Raymond, while expressing his love and care for the Muslim world, nonetheless points out Mohammed’s “belief that he was to “make war on the unbelievers, and deal sternly with them” (Sura 66, “Prohibition,” verse 9; see also Sura 8, “Spoils of War,” verses 13-17; Sura 9 [virtually a declaration of war against unbelievers]”.

The doctrine of Jihad, as I understand it, was developed at the time when Muslims from Medina were raiding the caravans en-route to Mecca in the 7th century. By the time Islam had been in existence for only a century it had a powerful army of followers that invaded Europe. While some dismiss its historical importance, many suggest that Charles Martel’s defeat of the Muslim army at Tours-Poitiers saved not only France but the entirety of Western Europe from being overtaken by Islam. Some went even further: Edward Gibbon called Charles Martel the savior of Christendom.

Not unlike other religions, there are factions within Islam, and some are more “liberal” in their approach to things than others. But even though the more liberal (perhaps in this case, moderate is a better choice of words) factions may be more numerous than those that are not, Islam is still most accurately defined by its founder, his teachings, and the religion’s earlier history. True Islam, defined in this way, is aggressively expansive, intolerant, and unapologetically violent.

Some call this Islamic “fundamentalism” (a rather horrid use of this term given its origin as a description of the essential doctrines of Protestant Christianity in the early 20th century). Truthnet.org, for instance, defines Islamic fundamentalism as “a hard-line literal view of the world through the eyes of the Quran. Islam is at war with Jews and Christians for world domination in the cause of Allah. As the earlier Muslims were at war with cities refusing to accept Mohammed as the prophet, Fundamentalists see themselves involved in a Jihad or Holy War against the West.”

We should be thankful that there are only a relatively few number of Muslims who are committed to this orthodox view of Islam. But it is folly to ignore it. We do so at our own peril whether it is politically correct or not.

Robert Raymond writes: “Because of the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, by militant Muslims acting in the name of Allah, Christians in the United States of America should learn all they can about Islam and its spread in this country. A study titled The Mosque in America: A National Portrait, released on April 26, 2001, by the Council on American-Islamic Relations headquartered in Washington, D.C., reports that over 2,000,000 Muslims were attending 1,209 mosques in the United States at the time of the study’s release. What concerns me about these numbers is not so much these numbers per se but the fact that they represent a three hundred percent increase over the last six years, showing clearly that Islam is blossoming and flourishing in the United States.”

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