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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Battle: Islam - Closing Arguments - Iron Blogger Republican

First of all, let me apologize for the link to Jay's website in my second rebuttal. I understand there have been some traumas as a result of exposure to his inner workings, as it were, and while years of therapy CAN help, nothing can take away that initial hurt.

This has been an interesting debate for me. I have been able to learn much more about Islam than I already knew, in part, thanks to the dedication-to-education of my opponent. The FEEL of this debate has been different as well. Other debates have buried me under stats and arguments and I felt like 2,000 words were never gonna be enough to answer everything. This debate has felt more peaceful, calmer and less frantic, at least on my end.

Perhaps this is because the whole debate boils down to a few simple facts which were buried by our own ignorance of what Islam really and truly is.

I was startled to read, for instance, that so many don't think God's will changes. I find that interesting. I cannot believe that God made specific rules at Creation, or when He gave the law to Moses, or whatever, that would apply in their entirety to us today.

I don't follow God's law concerning the eating of pork as laid out in Leviticus. You know why? Times change. We have refrigerators now. A hunk of pork is not likely to kill you anymore. Am I breaking God's law by eating sausage? I don't think so. I don't think it's God's will any more that I forsake pig meat. Why is this hard to understand?

I also made it clear that this is not some random, immediate process. I don't hover by the red phone waiting for God to phone in an update on His will. The world evolves when the world is ready to evolve. When the time came for polar bears to turn white, they did. When the time came for Muslims to lay down their swords, they (with the exception of the fundamentalist few) did. When the student is ready, the Eastern saying goes, the teacher will appear.

There is another level of this that I drew also: our understanding of God's will. We see, as Paul said, through a glass, darkly. This doesn't mean that faith is blind and stupid belief in fairy tales, just that only the fundamentalists insist on black and white from God.

While I don't believe God made specific rules that apply for all time, I DO believe God made more general rules.

The big one for me is "Love your neighbor as yourself." This is a general rule that always holds true, in any incarnation of Christianity (not counting Fundamentalists, of course). However, our understanding of this as God's will has changed drastically. Loving your neighbor used to mean pillaging his land and enslaving him into the Love of God. Then a little later, it meant Crusading.

To some today, it means standing on a street corner preaching. To others, it means respecting their right not to hear your beliefs. Very different views of the same will of God, yes? God is not a relativist, nor does God practice situational ethics. Our interpretation of God's law, however, is still only seen through that glass darkly. And so it evolves.

God's will is not fallible, but our interpretations of it are. In fact, we are to live, as Paul said, "working out our salvation in fear and trembling." It is those fundamentalists who are confident they are right, confident to the point of death that they finally have God's will nailed down, who are dangerous.

Me? I just try to do the best I can. Rarely do I claim any religious view is wrong and mine is right, although I do share my understandings in hope of growing (evolving) in my understanding of God's will and helping others do the same.

In this case, the understanding of a loving God has evolved into an Islam that was violent and is now compassionate and peaceful. I don't understand why this is hard to get. Then again, there is our own ignorance to blame, about Islam AND God's will. Maybe we just learned about them from the wrong folks.

Four years ago, this debate wouldn't have taken place. The only non-Islamic Americans who knew anything about Islam were those who had to take some type of comparative religion classes in college. Here they learned about the Five Pillars, they learned which way Muslims pray and where Mecca is, and then they promptly forgot again after turning in the final examination.

The only reason, frankly, these same folks knew much about Christianity was because of its geographical concentration in the areas they lived.

See, this whole discussion for me boils down to a simple three-word sentence, and here it is: Fundamentalists make noise.

The American version of this is the Religious Right. Because of all the noise this squeaky wheel makes, the perception of the Religious Right has grown from the truth (they are a few thousand dedicated, radical followers of Jerry Falwell and/or Pat Robertson) into the mythos (They are out there. They are a huge unseen, amorphous mob with tremendous political power that wants to convert the world to Christianity and take over the government.)

While the fundamentalist few are honestly and truly scary folks, they only represent a mere sliver of mainstream Christianity, if they represent Christianity at all. The problem is that the mainstream is a pretty friendly, laid back bunch, so all you hear is the hemming and hawing of the few.

The corollary to Islam is similarly true, just as there is a fundamentalist, more orthodox sect in Judaism. In Islam, there are nearly a billion and a half humans we never hear from, because they are quiet and peaceful and praying seven times a day, not to mention that they live way the heck over in Asia or Africa or wherever.

So we had safely placed them completely outside our national consciousness.

Until September 11, 2001.

On that day, we heard from the fundamentalist few who claimed to be from the mainstream of Islam. We didn't know mainstream Islam the way we knew mainstream Christianity. We only knew Islamic folk had killed thousands of our countrymen. They were out there. They were invisible and could strike any time.

So, we freaked out. Over-compensation is a classic human reaction in times of crisis, and so, I guess to be safe, we dumped all of Islam in a big box marked "Looney Bin." It's a common self-defense reaction and I don't blame us one bit.

The dust has mostly settled now, and the only way to sort out what's in the bin is education. It turns out the bin will take a long time to finally sort, because finding less than 3,000 fundies in a box of 1.5 billion peace-loving folks who also happen to be of Arabic descent is a toughie.

The other thing stalling the proper sorting of this bin is our own prejudice. Americans have loved a good prejudice since our country's inception, and we have more than a few bigots running around who practice "don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up" foreign policy.

It is clear to anyone who regards Islam objectively that there are not a billion and a half humans strapped in dynamite over in Africa, just waiting for a way to get over here and detonate.
It is clear, I trust, from all the information we've looked at this week, that those dangerous fundamentalists are not truly practitioners of Islam. They are, instead, a few practitioners of what Islam was a long, long time ago.

Prejudice dies hard, especially after the horrors of 9/11. It's easy to hate and fear that which is different. It's a heck of a lot easier than investing the time, love and risk that goes with truly understanding fellow humans whose ways are vastly different from our own. The truth is that it is time to give up those prejudices if we hope for peace.

We are still, in many ways, a Christian nation. Before we all freak out over that, let me refine it. We still think the way the Christians who founded this nation think. When we think of God, we think of the Christian God.

Before 2001, when we thought fundamentalism, we thought Falwell and Robertson. Now our prejudices have been challenged and we respond with our own idioms. After all, how did folks at ground zero respond to the horrors they were touching with their own hands? Did they erect Stars of David made of twisted metal? Did they construct an Islamic Star and Crescent from the wreckage?

Of course not, they built crosses. Those crosses gave comfort to Americans, even those who weren't necessarily Christian. It was a symbol we knew. It was something we understood, even if we didn't embrace it. The cross was a touchstone to our own culture, which had just been violently invaded by outsiders. It was something we could use that would let us somehow fight back against the Wicked Muslims who did this to us.

On some level, as much as I hate to admit it, the Cross of Jesus, that day, became a symbol of our prejudices.




Dan Champion, Iron Blogger Republican


Battle Islam- Challenger - Conclusion

Well, as scheduled, the week is now over. Over the course of this week, we debated the question: “Is Islam a religion of Peace or Jihad?” Though there are disagreements, I believe that I have provided the information necessary to prove to you that Islam is a religion of Jihad more than peace.

My honorable opponent contended that arguing semantics in this debate was wordplay, and nothing more than a disservice to the American dead on 9/11, however, I believe it is not. After all, when we are looking back to fundamental values of a religion, lives do hang in the balance of which words are chosen to describe ideas. Otherwise, how would we define the core tenets of religion? By grunts and other such unintelligible sounds? Words are the tool we use to describe the world around us, to communicate ideas, and cooperatively discuss problems and concepts… as we are using them now to do. In religion, theories on the very meaning of existence and morality is discussed, and the words chosen must be very carefully selected, otherwise the meaning is lost in confused understanding.

In my first rebuttal, I provided an extremely brief timeline of the rise of Islam, and a few passages that justified action in the name if Jihad. It is important that we recognize that concept in closing. The words used in the Koran to define acceptable morality and practice justified war in the name of Islam.

Well, the rebuttering must go on, so here’s what I’ll do: in the true spirit of Islamic “surrender,” I am giving in to Chris’ last post. I’m going to accept … the histories and definitions he gave.”

Let’s explore what Dan accepted in order to provide a more complete reading on the health of the debate: In my second rebuttal, I defined the three houses of Jihad, and illustrated how they are important to the furthering of Islam.

I defined “Islam” as “submission” with the implied “to the will of Allah.”

That means, that the will of Allah (which if memory serves me correctly, is infallible and not subject to error) is a determining factor in whether or not someone is truly a Muslim… If they do not “submit to Allah’s will completely” than the person in question is not a Muslim. And where is Allah’s will defined? In the Koran.

Dan has also accepted that for the best view on how a Muslim should act (according to the Koran) one must look to the clergy as it is their job to preserve Islam. This is what they’ve done for centuries, and will continue to do as long as they perceive threats to their “path of righteousness,” or weakness within the Islamic world. The power given to the clergy to solve perceived problems are the three houses of Jihad, and guidelines of Jihad are defined by which house they fall under. It is important to note that there is no Jihad off-limits to Islam if it is used to push Islam further, or “help” submission to Allah. Therefore, the third house of Jihad, the one us in the USA are worried about, is always an option to use against us as our culture is a threat to Islam on a daily basis.

It is even more unsettling that Jihad is such a big part of Islam- after all, without it, Islam isn’t a whole lot different than any other of the “Big three” as it shares the Old Testament and the New Testament as Holy Scriptures. And as Dan pointed out, peace is promoted to a point in the Koran- even if it is simply peace between fellow Muslims and non-kufr almost exclusively.

As I’ve stated in my second rebuttal, Islam is not as strong it used to be- like in Catholicism, there is a growing majority of “cafeteria Muslims” who do not necessarily submit themselves completely to the will of Allah… and therefore does not make them a true Muslim, no matter how set they are in like ways. It is this that makes apparent the connection between those who truly follow the religion of Islam (see my First rebuttal for definitions of Islam and religion, and the relevant connection between them) are separate from the majority of those who are Moderate Muslims. The representation of the Islamic religion is skewed because it is common practice to look at the 1.5 billion who identify themselves as such as a whole, rather than look at the fundamentals of the religion, then compare those with who hold those beliefs and exercises those values religiously and identify those humans as true Muslims. Obviously, that number is smaller than 1.5 billion, and needs to be viewed separately from the rest of that number.

Throughout this debate I’ve given you all information about Islam that will no doubt come in handy at some point in time for your own use and exploration. I hope I’ve provided enough of an insight into why I believe that Islam is more a religion of Jihad than a religion of peace as (according to the Koran) you must first have Jihad to achieve peace with Allah and infidels. I also hope I have not led any of you to believe that I single out Islam as an odious religion. It is simply a religion I see as having fundamental flaws, much like Christianity and Judaism have. There are no perfect religions, and in the end, it is a personal choice what one finds Truth in. If one believes that Allah is the one true god, and is willing to defend Allah’s will with their life, that’s fine with me… as long as the third house of Jihad is not invoked against me. It becomes a much different story when my beliefs and freedoms as an American are jeopardized or trampled on, and that is where the third house of Jihad and America fall into furious conflict.

I realize I’ve been arguing an unpopular position, and I know that many of you probably would not even want to consider what I have to say as it speaks against flaws of a religion I am not even remotely tied to. I myself am uncomfortable discussing religion because… well, it’s the one topic guaranteed to set people off! However, I would like to point out that I have spent the entirety of last year researching this touchy topic, and I have a fairly good understanding of its core values, customs and beliefs, and I have formed my own beliefs according to my experience in this world. However, given that I am so young, I can tell you with confidence that I will change, as will all of you at some point or another. The world has so much to offer because of this innate ability we all possess. Take advantage of it.


Chris from NH


Friday, August 06, 2004

Battle: Islam - Second Rebuttal - Iron Blogger Republican

Well, as per normal, now I’m REALLY confused.

Since we’re so big on Webster these days, let me pull out this little gem of a definition:

Noun 1. rebuttal - the speech act of refuting by offering a contrary contention or argument.
2. rebuttal - (law) a pleading by the defendant in reply to a plaintiff's surrejoinder.
Synonyms: rebutter

I guess I’m a “rebutter,” then, which to be honest sounds more like what you do with a dry muffin.

Muffins aren’t, however, the heart of my confusion. This time.

The heart of my confusion is, as a rebutter, which Chris do I rebut? Do I rebut the Chris who said what he said on his website? Do I rebut the Chris who says his website was not what he intended to say, for a variety of reasons I didn’t really understand? Do I rebut the Chris who just posted, and seemed to agree with the post he said he didn’t want to write the way it turned out? Or, knowing that Chris posts on the Internet items he doesn’t necessarily mean, should I discard his first three postings in this debate and rebut some phantom, possible fourth posting?

My thinker hurts.

Not only that, it’s taking all my emotional strength not to use the words “John Kerry” and “flip-flop” in this post, so that should be taken into consideration as well if I start to babble.

Well, the rebuttering must go on, so here’s what I’ll do: in the true spirit of Islamic “surrender,” I am giving in to Chris’ last post. I’m going to accept at face value the histories and definitions he gave in his very last post. So let us get to those definitions, and quickly, before any of his teachers get there first.

In my haste, I am even going to leave behind a few paragraphs I had prepared in response to Chris’ statement that “Islam is the problem in Islamic terror,” which is all well and good as platitudes go. It fits on a bumper sticker rather nicely, but in the end, I really do suppose that “terror” is at least part of the problem. We aren’t fighting a war on Islam, after all, but a war on terror.

The most important thing is that Chris rightly separates Islam from terror. As I have asserted all along, the true spirit of Islam has nothing to do with terror at all.

Even if you could somehow get me to accept that the terrorist members of Al Queda were true members of Islam (which you can’t, any more than you can get me to accept that an apple is an orange), then it is still an undeniable truth that, compared to a religion approaching a billion and a half members, Al Queda is teenie tiny. In fact, there WERE only about 3,000 members out there before we started killing them. Somehow 3,000 and 1,500,000,000 got confused.

Let us be straightforward on this point: Al Queda is nothing more than a handful of fundamentalist crazies who use religion as an excuse to do what they like, which is blow things up. As a point of fact, to find anything even remotely as crazy, you have to look here, or even, God forbid, here.

Let us move along then, to the key definition offered in Chris’ last rebuttal, which I am, again, duty-bound to accept:

A Muslim is a believer in or follower of Islam. The word Muslim means one who submits and implies complete submission to the will of God…Thus a Muslim strives to surrender to God's commands every step of the way. There is no distinction made between daily life and religion or politics.

Very good. Now, I think I see one source of confusion. Chris’ confession of faith (if that’s what it’s called when you don’t have faith or maybe you do have faith, but in nothing – or is it faith that there is nothing? I’m getting confused again) states that he is an atheist. Well, to me, that explains it. It isn’t really fair to expect an atheist to understand the concept of “the will of God.”

Fortunately, you can expect a Baptist Pastor to have a little better grip on the idea, so let me cut to the chase.

This is important, so I’m gonna type it slowly: Just as Islam and Christianity have changed and evolved over the years, so too does the will of God!

Write that down somewhere.

The only real disagreement in churches is whether the will of God itself changes or whether our human understanding of the Infinite is what changes. That change occurs in the heart of a religion is never in doubt, unless you’re one of the fundamentalist few we’ve been talking about all along.

Over a week or so, changes in God’s will aren’t generally discernable, but over, say, the length of time Islam has been with us, changes are plentiful and idiom shifts are many. Unless, again, you’re a stick-in-the-mud fundamentalist, for whom “that old time religion” works much better to justify the bombings.

So, since Chris used Christianity, in the form of Catholics, as a corollary example (“damn free speech” were his exact words, if it helps you find the exact spot I am rebuttering, or whatever Webster calls it) of seeking the will of God and discerning between the true and “cafeteria” Catholics (excellent turn of phrase there, by the way, Chris - I've already stolen that terminology for this week's sermon), I shall do the same to illumine the ways in which God’s will changes.

Outsiders to the understanding of God (a category into which I would firmly place atheists) have this odd and utterly untrue misconception that the Bible (indeed all religions' holy scriptures) somehow presents God and God’s will as eternal, unchanging and strict. This is just wrong.

The Bible itself (and the Quran!) contains many updates and corrections of its own words, never mind the changes that have come since. And the corollary is an apt one, insomuch as it holds true of all the major religions.

The updates of God’s will in the Bible are innumerable, if by innumerable we mean “Dan doesn’t really care about this enough to count them all… it’s a big book, you know,” so I shall point out a few of the more major evolutions (I bet it crawls right up the fundies’ noses that I keep using that word). Got your Bible handy?

- 1 Samuel 15:35 God realizes it wasn’t a good idea to make Saul king and “repents” of His idea.
- Jonah 3:10 God’s will changes from destroying a town to letting the sinners have one more chance.
- 2 Samuel 24:16 God’s will is to send a feisty Angel of Death to wipe out Jerusalem, which it starts to do, killing folks left and right, when God suddenly changes His mind and orders the Angel back after “repenting” of His earlier Will.
- Old Testament, the whole deal: Salvation comes through obedience to the Law and blood sacrifices when you mess up. New Testament, the whole deal: Salvation comes only through belief in Jesus.
- Matthew chapter 5 has a heaping handful of updates from Jesus himself, all in one fun location. These updates of God’s will include: divorce (previously allowable to rid our families of foreign wives, now a no-no), swearing oaths in God’s name (previously ok, now not-so-much), equal revenge (previously an eye for an eye, now God’s will is for us to turn the other cheek) and dealing with enemies (previously we were to love our friends and hate our enemies as enemies of God, now we are to love our enemies – another civilizing, evolving update that fundamentalists conveniently overlook).

The heart, you will notice, remains the same: God is always Love, in Christianity and in Islam. Our imperfect understanding of perfect love is what evolves, and God makes allowances as we grow in that understanding. This is why there are now women pastors. This is why we no longer remove from membership folks who drink alcohol, or fail to tithe (my church has minutes of meetings this actually happened in, from back in the day - fun!). This is why we are beginning to suspect that if one girl likes another girl, they might not be damned to fiery torture for all eternity. Catching on?

So, in fact, if God’s will evolves as human culture evolves, there must be a term for those who refuse to change with it, yes? Oh, that’s right… fundamentalists. Well, thank goodness there are so few of them to worry about in Islam.

Which is truer, then, since we are debating, as Chris puts it, “the true Islam”: the Islam of over a billion humans that changes and grows out of their barbaric past into a future of peace, or the Islam of a couple hundred lunatics at most, that sticks with strict, defunct rules a couple thousand years old and promotes violence as religion?

Finally, let us not play games with the term “Jihad.” We all knew what my beloved Chairman meant when he asked if Islam was a religion of Jihad. Holy war. Planes crashing into buildings. Dead American brothers and sisters.

Maybe some dictionaries give secondary and symbolic meanings that reference Jihad as personal struggle, in the same way a deep pass in football is called a “bomb.” Nobody expects it to blow up when the receiver catches it; it is a non-literal reference. Any word games that try to make “Jihad” some kind of fun spiritual adventure in America are just that: word games. Not only that, they are word games that, in this culture, do disservice to 3,000 American dead.

“Jihad” may have a spiritual meaning in Islamic culture. We, even my beloved Chairman, may use it wrong on this side of the Pacific. Nevertheless, we know the meaning it has for us, the meaning the Chairman referred to when he posed the question, and the meaning Chris has been arguing since the opening statements.

“Self-meditation” (I guess you can meditate for someone else now?) never brought down a building, and we all know what the Chairman meant by Jihad. He used it in contradistinction to the word “peace.” Peace or War. It’s really just that simple.

As simple as 1,500,000,000 or 3,000.

Respectfully submitted,

Dan Champion, Iron Blog Republican


Thursday, August 05, 2004

Battle Islam-Challenger-Second rebuttal and Three Houses of Jihad

Dan, readers of IB, and other Iron Bloggers… I am thoroughly surprised at you. Instead of giving me the benefit of the doubt, and leaving what you perceived my position to be at what I’ve written, you immediately made the incorrect jump that I am claiming the ENTIRE mass of people practitioning Islam to any degree are crazies, crackpots and terrorists. You will find, in my opening and first rebuttal, that nowhere have I said this, or even implied this. Instead, I have asserted that those who practice Islam more completely, and stick to the pure, strict form of the religion and its doctrines are driven to jihad in any of the three houses, and it is true. I will explain the three houses of Jihad later.

Dan used a tactic that was really a grab at straws, and a double-edged sword. I’ll admit, yes, it was a good idea to use my blog, especially since its sole purpose was to explore the bloodshed in the Middle East, and the problems with Islam itself, but I hadn’t expected the words he grabbed to be used first and foremost. But if he’s pulling information and points from documents I’ve written, does that now mean that I am a reliable source for information? Is what I say now truth?

Of course, I must attack the credibility of that post because it was edited by a faculty member of my school. Yes, it’s true that I wrote about Hegelian dialectics and triads at Sam’s Blog some time ago. It’s also true that I was reprimanded for my original post that has since been deleted because of its “offensiveness.” I was given an outline of what I could and could not say, and essentially, I was not given the ability to knock Islam or those who practice it directly. However, I was allowed to blame Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Confucians, Taoists (didn’t matter who just as long as its someone else) for anything they might have done to “damage the collective psyche” of the Muslim world. Why? Because after my project caught the attention of the US Senate (I’ll see if I can get the letters hosted online.. I can email them if requested) by sending morale-boosting letters to Fallujah, S------- High School thought that any negativity from me would reflect poorly on the school, and given the fact that it was a public school, open to all who come, they didn’t want people thinking the staff was “Muslim unfriendly.” Ain’t Political Correctness great? It’s the reason you all call me Chris, when that is only a shortening of my real name; and it’s an ironic one at that: I am an Atheist named Christian.

However, I was able to embed my original argument in it to a point. Zeitgeist translated from German to English means life of the Present, or state of the now. It encompasses anything and everything that alters or is a part of the current “life” or state of any designated area or group of people, or a commonality among them. What is this commonality in the Islamic Middle East? The Islamic clergy, and theocracy.

The Islamic “republics” and monarchies all share one thing- Islamic rule. Many, like Iran, had at one point, Islamic clergy members in its government applying Islam to politics, completing the theocracy in that particular country. They issue fatwas, edicts, rulings to do certain things, or determine what violated Suras and other Koranic passages. A common position you see is the Allatoyah- It is their duty to guide their “flock” and to lead them to a life of submission under Allah. It is their role in society (as is the role of clerics and mullahs to keep the “faithful” from leading lives astray from acceptable and traditional VALUES and BELIEFS.

Essentially, it is the job of the Clergy to preserve Islam. In order to access their fatwas and edicts (translated into English,) it is often useful to read MEMRI. Believe me; they are not as pretty as one may think they should be. They are steamed about our presence in the Middle East, and I’m not talking about marines in Baghdad, I’m talking about posters of Britney Spears showing her navel, and underwear billboards… When these people look towards the west, they see our decadent lifestyles, and how we represent everything they are not- we violate just about every core belief of Islam every single day, and instead of the punishment that is promised to the “unbelievers,” we grow richer, and richer, and richer. Some interpret passage (2.137) to justify followers being enabled and commanded to carry out “Allah’s will.” It is this group of people we saw on 9/11. (I must make a small note here that this is the FIRST time I have even referenced this tragic event, or the people who perpetrated it.) It is for this reason I believe that one day, Las Vegas will be a prime target for terror.

But enough about that- what about what “Islam” truly means? Although some believe that “Islam” means “peace”, it most certainly does not. Never has, never will. The most accurate translation of “Islam” is “submission” with the implied “to Allah’s will.” So when Dan said goodbye yesterday, instead of typing a variant of the popular “Peace” he wrote “submission.” Kinda odd, isn’t it?

However, there is more definition fun we need to have, most notably the definition of a true Muslim.

From WordIQ.com:
A Muslim is a believer in or follower of Islam. The word Muslim means one who submits and implies complete submission to the will of God
Thus a Muslim strives to surrender to God's commands every step of the way. There is no distinction made between daily life and religion or politics.

Here is where I’m going to use a separate model (pre-emptively used in the comments sections… damn free speech….) Take Catholicism for example. There are very few “true Catholics” left in the world, and there is a massive number of “cafeteria Catholics” in their stead. Instead of strictly following the catholic faith, they pick and choose what they believe in, and practice what is acceptable to them in order to reach their peace with god. Though the definition of a Catholic is someone who practices the catholic faith, omission of part or whole of catholic doctrine means that one is no longer truly catholic. These “cafeteria Catholics” are closer to Unitarians, like me, who believe in the search for personal truth above the search for god. If god is Truth, we reason, then it will be our answer to our quest for Truth.

There is a similar phenomenon in the realm of Islam today: Moderate Muslims. Like the cafeteria Catholics, they identify themselves as their original religion, but instead pick and choose what to follow. This is not true Islam.

If one word could sum up true Islam, it is submission. Followers of it must submit themselves completely to Allah and Allah’s will. They must remain unquestioningly in perfect accordance with the will of Allah, or they will find themselves the target of the First house of Jihad:

This happy little Jihad is reserved for friends, and those who are not as righteous as you. It is most often used in battling your own weakness, and personal demons. In this house of jihad, warriors of the Faith are commanded to lead by example, and inquire into the infidelity of purported followers. If they repent, all sins are forgiven. (I’m sorry I have no links, only class notes from Chester College, and my professor’s notes from his field work.)

This is why the answer to the Chairman’s question comes naturally to me- of course Islam is a religion of Jihad! It could not survive without it!! Jihad can mean anything from self-meditation or passing out supportive Islamic passages with the intent to “save” individuals or members of a larger group, or aggressive war to protect the spread of Islam. Jihad is simply “struggle” for Islamic preservation.

[2.137] If then they believe as you believe in Him, they are indeed on the right course, and if they turn back, then they are only in great opposition, so Allah will suffice you against them, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.

In the Second House of Jihad, the target of Islamic Warriors are infidels. Friendly infidels. Not quite kufr, but not quite at salvation. It is in this house of Jihad that Warriors are commanded again to lead by example, and to inquire into the vices and weaknesses of their target. This house of Jihad is the turning point in most conflicts, as Islamic “warriors” are often thorough in their petitioning of support for Allah… by that I mean they dig a bit too deep, hit a nerve, and it is not uncommon for an argument or hostile action to ensue. If the infidel repents his sins and submits to Allah’s will here, again, all sins are forgiven.

[2.120] And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah's guidance, that is the (true) guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper.

However, this stage of Jihad sometimes turns to the third house of Jihad:

The struggle against the Kufr, or warrior infidel.

This is the stage of Jihad that the western media has an orgy of words editorials about. Reuters and AP sell their stories, and every time “Jihad!” is declared, ratings jump up ten notches. Why? Because of the implications of this word. Most often, just saying “Jihad” does not mean conflict, it means attempted conversion. However, “Jihad” nowadays is invoked against countries, or influential parties.

But, at this stage of Jihad, there is no hope for salvation for the kufr. If he is met in battle, and surrenders, he will often be beheaded on the spot, or taken prisoner if he is useful, or other fun stuff. We saw this in the Seventh Crusade when the French King Louis failed to burn bridges behind him when retreating, and his entire army was captured or killed by “holy” warriors.

[8.12] When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

This stage of Jihad is initially a defensive one- as are both the other houses as they are in place to protect Islam (that’s the clergy’s job.) However, if Islam is threatened by an external source, aggression is justified, and encouraged. This is the “jihad” that Islamic terrorists use to justify their actions in west when they perceive America could pose a threat to the “path of righteousness.” This is not to say that actions taken in the name of the third house of Jihad are just, as baring one’s navel does not justify stoning or maiming.

I hope this has been useful in your understanding of Islam… However I suspect that this is no more riveting than watching Bob Dole speak. Rather than take advantage of ignorance of Islam, I would like to think that I am able to enlighten instead. After all, I’m here to learn as well as you are.

It is with this that I must leave my final rebuttal as I have run out of time (you have any idea how long it takes to flip through an old marked-up Koran?!) I hope I’ve succeeded in enlightening those who read carefully to more of what Islam is really all about.

Salaam (THAT's what ACTUALLY means "peace and wellness!!")-
Christian from NH


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Battle:Islam - Iron Blogger Republican - First Rebuttal

Well, I have good news and bad news for myself.

The bad news is, my opponent isn’t playing my game (as determined in the Iron Blog guide). The good news is, in this case, I can win both my game AND his game.

To be fair, my opponent finds himself in an unenviable position. In essence, he has to convince the judges that the world’s largest non-Christian religion is populated by well over a billion adherents who are all crackpots and crazies who want us dead.

The only thing really working in Chris’ favor is our own ignorance of Islam as a whole; we have only seen the fringe, extreme, killing side, just as abortion clinics are rarely visited by the cute old ladies in my church who bake the pies.

Let us disabuse ourselves of that ignorance in this very post, then.

My talented opponent’s logic begins where it must when one tries to defend this untenable concept – with history. He wisely plays the biggest card in his deck from square one, and I must concede immediately that Islam was a violent religion from its inception.

Here are his words from the opening statements:

These three, in order were Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, one of these religions is not like the others. One of these religions came into existence through war, was sustained by war, and aims to use war eternally until every single human being on this planet earth is of that religion. One religion is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of dead, and is responsible for more genocides than any other group the world has ever seen.
I thought for a second that he might go with Christianity or Judaism here, but he (wisely, given his assignment) named Islam. Of course, in selecting one to win the title of Most Violent Religion Ever, he discounts a solid performance by Judaism in the Old Testament, as well as years of Roman Catholic murder-for-God. If you combine the two, the Judeo-Christians win in a landslide.

Judaism was founded in circumstances every bit as violent as Islam. Old Testament examples of Jihad are too numerous to cite, but I’ll pick one as a representative from Deuteronomy 20, specifically verses 16 and 18.

However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes…Otherwise they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

Time for church… where’s my sword?

And really, for a late-comer, Christianity is gaining ground on Judaism in terms of pure violence. So it’s a shame my opponent writes off the other two of the “big three” when they have at least as much claim on the title “religion of Jihad” as Islam does.

The point is, of course, that this is what the big three religions WERE, not what they ARE. The case that the big three are violent is exceedingly simple to prove if one only uses Scriptures written thousands of years ago and recent actions of fringe fundamentalists as proof.

The question posed by my beloved Chairman was framed in the present tense. IS Islam a religion of peace, or a religion of Jihad?

In the right now, my contention has been, and remains, that those who use terror and murder as tools, then claim to be Muslim or Christian, are liars, brainwashed or otherwise self-deceived. Again I state: the 9/11 hijackers were not practitioners of Islam, and those who kill in the name of Christianity are not followers of Jesus.

Given that every religion is made up of fallible humans, and given that any large group of fallible humans will contain a small percentage of violent jerks, and also given that all three of the major religions in America were founded on spilled blood, let us turn our attention to the heart of Islamic faith.

Once we find the heart of the thing, we can tell more clearly if the 9/11 hijackers in particular were acting according to the Islamic faith, or acting on their own urges and merely seeking pseudo-divine justification.

For questions of world religion, I always turn to Huston Smith. He wrote the textbook, The World’s Religions, that I used as a collegian, and he has since become the world’s foremost authority on comparative religious studies.

So let’s see what he has to say about Islam:

It is ironic that of the major faiths outside Christendom, Islam stands closest to the Judaeo-Christian West both geographically and religiously... On reflection, though, while this is indeed ironic, it is not surprising. Common borders provoke border disputes, and these can easily escalate into raids, blood-feuds, and full scale wars. During most of their history, Muslims and Christians have been at odds, and rivals are not known for having the most objective views of each other.

The proper name of this religion is Islam. Derived from the root s-l-m, which means primarily "peace" but in a secondary sense "surrender," its full connotation is "the peace that comes when one's life is surrendered to God." This makes Islam — together with Buddhism, from budh, awakening — one of the two religions that is named after the attribute it seeks to cultivate; in Islam's case, life's total surrender to God.

Wait a second… “Peace that comes when one’s life is surrendered to God?” That’s not at all how Chris used the word “surrender.”

Far be it from me to question Chris’ credibility on this issue (although the not-so-subtle allegation that Jesus never existed didn’t help, never mind that Jesus DID NOT advocate peace at all costs as Chris tries to use in counterpoint to Mohammed… I remember Jesus talking about coming to bring "not peace but a sword" in the gospels - not to mention the downright scary descriptions of his return, when he, in apocalyptic terms, opens a can of whup-tooshie to the tune of 1/3 of the earth destroyed by fire, mountains tossed into the sea and all of his enemies slain by his armies, many by a sword that comes out of his own personal messianic mouth, no less), but I might just anyway.

And so, finally, we come to my opponent’s first rebuttal.

This interesting bit of communication can be broken down into two major phases. Phase one is his attempt to prove that because Islam still promotes acts such as public beheading of capital offenders and cutting the hands off thieves, that the religion as a whole is inherently violent to this day. Phase two, which I shall mostly ignore, proves historically, again, how violent Islam’s past was, a point I conceded from the opening statements.

As for phase one, I can only answer with a hearty, “C’mon, now.”

This is how Islamic nations choose to deal with convicted criminals. We have seen on this very website how even our own country has a death penalty system in place. Are we to believe that because a government based on Islam has a more strict legal retribution system than we do, the religion as a whole is full of terrorists? C’mon, now.

As to that apparently harsh legal system, I would say two things.

(1) America is not far behind the public beheadings as eye-for-an-eye capital crimes go. Electrocution is more painful than beheading (remember the fun twitching description from 1999 I cited in the Death Penalty debate?) and has been used over 150 times in America in just over 25 years. There are even movements afoot to make executions public as a deterrent here in the States, or just for ratings. In one study presented before the U.S. Government, nearly half said they’d watch an execution on television.
(2) Humanitarian that I am, you can’t argue with success. Get your hand chopped off for using it to commit a theft. Cruel and unusual? Only cruel compared to our own legal code. Only unusual because of the astoundingly low crime rate in Muslim countries. Per thousand people, where the U.S. has 81.55 total crimes, Turkey chimes in at only 4.2. I would have given the stats for the Islamic countries we’re more familiar with, but they didn’t even make the list, as you can see. Even the Muslim communities in America reflect this low crime rate.

Chris goes on to ask:
“Has the Pope declared war on any country in recent memory?”
This question was presented in direct comparison to the Islamic code of law. Hmmm… a Pope known for peace hasn’t declared war, but Islamic law is stricter than ours… why, the Muslims MUST all be terrorists! This, as far as I can follow, is the chain of logic we are meant to believe.

Let me give an answer to the question anyway, out of charity. Has the Pope declared war on any country in recent memory? Well, never mind that the Pope isn’t exactly in the health it takes to declare anything. As point of fact, and recalling the “big three,” Christian and Jewish leaders have recently called for war (just the fundamentalists, of course – the mainstream, that we never hear from over the fundamentalist din, remains against war, just like mainstream Islam). One exciting exception to this is Pat Robertson, who is for the war in theory, but would have much preferred “the assassination route.” Proud moment for Christians, that!

Chris would seemingly have us think that Islam as a whole is a religion of Jihad and terror, and that its proponents MUST support violence.

I mean, I THINK that’s what he’s saying. Really, you can’t blame me for being confused. Here are some quotes from Chris on his own website:

On whether Islam is the religion of violence:

Let me remind you that the Mullahs and "religious" tyrants ARE NOT Islamic…

…TRUE MOSLEMS ARE NOT THE ENEMY. It is the people who capitalize on their submission to Allah who are the ones we need to remove.

On whether the majority of those claiming to follow Islam are killers:

I am unsure of what the average indigenous Arab thinks, but I do know that it is not a universal mindset in their world. If it were, then there would be many MILLIONS more dying in a short period of time. So if this is true (and it is), than it is definitely impossible for everybody living in an Arab nation to be so blind and racist as this quote suggests.
Then later in the same posting, Chris gives my very definition of fundamentalism:

Now, there are REASONS that there are those who resort to violence and hate, and this is one of the biggest problems I see not only in the Middle East, but in the Western World as well: Ignorance, and false education

Later, quoting his own comments from another site (note that this is his most recent and final posting on the topic):

I blame the zeitgeist of the middle east as a whole for this. It was only a matter of time before the fascists had their opportunity for an attack, but you have to realize that these people who carry out these attacks only believe themselves to be moslems.. they are not. not by ANY stretch of the imagination.
Same post, later:

I Blame the Governments of the Middle East for creating a hostile and backwards zeitgeist that allows for stark ignorance to be passed off as fact, and for maintaining a mindset and culture that causes all of the violence, and is the direct root of the Middle East's problems.
I could not agree more… those who resort to violence are by no means true members of Islam - “Not by any stretch of the imagination.”

I thank Chris for phrasing it better than I could have.

Submitting in peace (or should I just say “Islam”?),

Dan Champion, Iron Blogger Republican


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Battle Islam- First Rebuttal and History of Islam- Challenger

Though it is useful to look at fundamentalism, it is also useful to look at the entire picture. In order to do this, one has to establish exactly what Islam is, what it is not, and its relationship to the concept of religion. Merely stating that Islam is a religion is not sufficient in defining its aims or exactly what it is.

According to the authority that Dan appealed to to define fundamentalism, Islam and religion are defined as such:

n. 1.
1. The religion of the Mohammedans; Mohammedanism; Islamism. Their formula of faith is: There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.
2. The whole body of Mohammedans, or the countries which they occupy.
3. Islam - the monotheistic religion of Muslims founded in Arabia in the 7th century and based on the teachings of Muhammad as laid down in the Koran; "the term Muhammadanism is offensive to Muslims who believe that Allah, not Muhammad, founded their religion"
Synonyms: Mohammedanism, Muhammadanism, Muslimism, Islamism

Re`li´gion Pronunciation: rė`lĭj´ŭn
n. 1. The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god or of gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service, and honor are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman and overruling power, whether by profession of belief, by observance of rites and ceremonies, or by the conduct of life; a system of faith and worship; a manifestation of piety; as, ethical religions; monotheistic religions; natural religion; revealed religion; the religion of the Jews; the religion of idol worshipers.
2. Specifically, conformity in faith and life to the precepts inculcated in the Bible, respecting the conduct of life and duty toward God and man; the Christian faith and practice.
3. (R. C. Ch.) A monastic or religious order subject to a regulated mode of life; the religious state; as, to enter religion.
4. Strictness of fidelity in conforming to any practice, as if it were an enjoined rule of conduct.

According to that, it is established that Islam is the religion followed by those who strictly adhere to its' principles and values. Those values include the three houses of Jihad, and they can be extracted by examining the history of Muhammed (you will not find PBUH here.) From this, I will guide you through a watered-down history lesson on the birth of the so-called Religion of Peace. However before I do, I must finish my rebuttal.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all share the Old Testament as sacred text, however, as Dan pointed out, Religion changes. This has happened with two of the three of the former. Since the writing of the old testament, Christianity has since ceased punishing those who sleep with a menstruating woman, has ceased the justification of rape and plunder, has ceased the justification of holy war. Has the Pope declared war on any country in recent memory? Of course not! However, we find that in Islam, it is still common practice to:

Publicly behead capital offenders (Sura 16.126)
Cut off the hands of simple thieves (Sura 5.38)
and a myriad of other offenses with rather harsh punishments, such as:
Crimes subject to the death sentence included murder, apostasy from Islam, adultery, drug smuggling, and sabotage. Under certain conditions, rape and armed robbery could also lead to execution. Executions could be carried out by beheading, firing squad, or stoning of the convicted person in a drugged state. All seventeen executions carried out in 1990 were by beheading.
Flogging with a cane was often imposed for offenses against religion and public morality, such as drunkenness and gambling and the neglect of prayer requirements and fasting. Although the flogging was painful, the skin was not broken. The purpose was to degrade rather than cripple the offender and serve as a deterrent to others. United States citizens have been flogged for alcohol related offenses, usually receiving from thirty to 120 strokes. A Kuwaiti sentenced to prison in connection with terrorist bombings in Mecca was condemned to receive a total of 1,500 lashes over the course of his twenty-year sentence.

from: allrefer Reference

What one should realize from reading all this, is that Islam HAS NOT changed ENOUGH to be the Islam Dan is talking about. Sharia, or Islamic law, is administered to this day, and whaddaya know? It is defined by the very teachings of Muhammed and the Koran! Apostasy from these core teachings carry the penalty of death. Islam will not change these tenets because in order to stay Islam, it cannot. Islam to this day is defined by what was written in 624 AD, and the edicts of the prophet Muhammed. Though they share scriptures from both of the other two major middle-eastern religions, the addition of Islamic texts added mostly warrior ideology and justification for war than peace. "Jesus" (I use quotes because I cannot prove he existed as a person) advocated peace at all costs, while Muhammed was a warrior.

Speaking of which, let us begin our history lesson, shall we?

I will condensethis down for you.

Our antihero, Muhhamed, was born in 570 CE. For the first 40 years of his life, nothing really significant happened (or events that would interest us at IB.. kinda sucks, doesn't it?) but in 610 AD, after meditating in the desert, Muhhamed claimed to have seen the angel Gabriel, who commanded him to publish the "religion of God."

Given that the Meccans worshipped a black hunk of stone (yes, don't say it) his teachings and preachings didn't go over well. So like any Bostonian fleeing the DNC, he went to the rival city of his hometown: Medina. Medina took Muhammed in, and received him much more warmly than the Meccans, and eventually he gathered a large following. When he had enough followers, he conquered Mecca with a relatively (to our modern armies) small army, but no small amount of blood. What is important to note here is that the conquest of Mecca was a HOLY WAR.

Once the Nation of Islam started to form, the war did not stop. Remember Suras (2.191, and 9.123)

[2.191] And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.

[9.123] O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).

In 636, Muhammed had conquered Syria, in 637 it was the entirety of Persia, and by 641, his forces reached Alexandria, and conquered it. Islam spread through war, and eventually pushed its way further into Asia, Carthage in 698, into Spain in 711 (no puns, please,) and into Saharan/sub Saharan Africa. In 751, they learned paper making from their POW's... from China. In 1529, Vienna itself was under siege by the Moslem invaders. Note that none of these conquests were peaceful, and note that ALL WERE HOLY WARS. The Islam in practice here is taken directly from the suras as is commanded by the Islamic texts themselves. The same words and same actions are still practiced today all over the middle east, and Sharia was almost enacted into LAW in.... *drum roll*.... *cymbal crash*Canada.

Islam is not an ideology that is localized, or alien to certain parts of the world. Through migration, terrorism, and the third house of Jihad (the war of conversion,) Islam has made itself present in every populated continent on this planet earth (minus the obvious Antarctica.. though I suspect Moslems have been there before...)

The doctrine of Jihad and conversion has remained unchanged since its inception, and with Neville Chaimberlain-esqe appeasement from the West, you will see more bloodshed in your lifetime from the arms of Islamic warriors. In fact, the Philippines are having an Islamic Terrorism problem even after they caved into demands from Zarqawi!

Think about it- the world's fastest growing religion- were there any other religions that pushed their boundaries as successfully as Islam without aggressive war? The answer to that question is an easy "no." Were the Southern Philippines peacefully converted? No. Was Nepal? No. India? No. Persia (Iran, the 'stans)? No. Northern Africa and Spain? No. Arabia? No. Anywhere?! No. Though the Christians, Romans, Egyptians did many of the same dastardly acts, it does not change the fact that Islam is not a religion of peace. It is far, far from it. To say that by calling Islam a religion of war you must also call Christianity a religion of war defies logic- though they share some core values... They are far different from each other, and are not synonymous. What characteristics one has are not necessarily a part of the other- Islam is not Christianity.

I offer my apologies to anyone I have infuriated or offended anyone. As I said, this would not be easy to stomach.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Battle: Islam - Opening Statements - Iron Blogger Republican

This just in from Webster’s Dictionary, circa 1913, under the word Fundamentalism:

"n. 1. A system of beliefs based on the interpretation of every
word in the Bible, both old and new testaments, as literal truth.

2. The beliefs or practices based on a rigid adherence to some
traditional doctrine; extreme conservatism; as, Moslem fundamentalism; the
political fundamentalism of the Christian right."

Fundamentalism, then, is by definition anti-modernist.

True religion itself, however, stands in stark contrast to the necessary freezing of ideology required to be a good fundamentalist. Religion has always been able to evolve, to change with the times to reflect the core messages as we enter brave new worlds.

Other side of the coin: fundamentalism requires strict interpretation of Scriptures and unchanging beliefs. In fact, Fundamentalists, again by definition, are trying to move BACK in time, to get to the original teachings of various faiths. Of course, here’s where the problem comes in: the people who originally started putting together ideas about God were savages.

Say you’re a Cro-Magnon. Lightning hits a tree outside your cave and, unable to understand complex weather systems yet (give yourself break – you just got the wheel thing down), you presume quite naturally that there are forces at work you can’t see. So you figure it out as best as you can and suddenly there’s a Zeus tossing around lightning bolts somewhere up there, probably on the top of that tall mountain you can’t see the peak of. You know, the one with all the loud thunderings?

Rudimentary faith forms in your sloping cranium. You puzzle and puzzle over the gods, doing your best to make sense of the savage world around you, pausing only to run from saber-toothed whatevers and wonk things with a club.

A hundred thousand years pass, and while your forehead isn’t quite as slopey, those ideas about faith are now firmly rooted.

Along comes Cro-Magnon number two and this guy thinks (if you can imagine the heresy) that the lightning is from the Great Blue Sneezing Whatzit, which releases its wrath whenever something tickles the hairs in its nose. What can you do about this religious controversy? Well, you ask, What Would Zeus Do (WWZD bracelets on sale as soon as cheap plastic is invented)? Look around - the world he created is savage and ruled by violence. So, quite logically and in religious fervor, you wonk the infidel with your club. Didn’t that feel good? Zeus be praised!

Next on the list: learn to write. Gotta get that Zeus story down on stone! Writing a thing down has a nasty habit of making it appear more permanent in the mind’s eye.

And THIS is the type of story that fundamentalists are trying to return to.

So let’s take a peek at some of those early religious texts, yes? I suspect my opponent will show off some of these gems as well, so I’ll be brief.

From the Quran, written in the neighborhood of 600 A.D.:

When the sacred months have passed away, THEN SLAY THE IDOLATERS WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM, AND TAKE THEM CAPTIVES AND BESIEGE THEM AND LIE IN WAIT FOR THEM IN EVERY AMBUSH, then if they repent and keep up prayer [become believers] and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them (9:5)

FIGHT THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN ALLAH, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, NOR FOLLOW THE RELIGION OF TRUTH, OUT OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE BOOK [Christians and Jews], until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and THEY ARE IN A STATE OF SUBJECTION. (9:29)

(and my personal favorite:)

"An infidel spy came to the Prophet while he was on a journey. The spy sat with
the companions of the Prophet and started talking and then went away. The
Prophet said (to his companions), 'Chase and kill him.' So, I killed him."

Sounds bad! Let’s compare and contrast with some good old peaceful Bible, shall we?

The Christian God would never support rape or plunder, right?

Lo, a day shall come for the Lord when the spoils shall be divided in your
midst. And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: the
city shall be taken, houses plundered, women ravished; half of the city shall go
into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be removed from the city.
(Zechariah 14:1-2 NAB)

Oops. How about genocide?

While there, the Israelite army had killed nearly every male in Edom. Joab
and the army had stayed there for six months, killing them. (1 Kings
11:15-16 NLT)

Yikes! I think that’s enough for now. There’s a clever bit about being stoned to death if you sleep in the bed at night (yes, the Hebrew here means just sleep) with a woman who is menstruating, and another heartwarming Psalm where David asks God to smash the heads of his enemy’s baby children against the wall, but you get the point.

Tough scriptures to swallow, indeed! Using these Holy Scriptures, we can conclude that both Islam and Christianity are religions of terror, right?

Of course not. Islam and Christianity have kept their peaceful cores intact to this day, and have long since grown beyond the rudimentary interpretations of the world around them that suggest club-wonking is a justifiable religious tool.

This becomes an important issue because the cowardly fundamentalists who attack, be it with planes on 9/11 or with words of condemnation, couch their insanity with religious identifications. If we care to take the time, it becomes fairly easy to see through these masks. Harun Yahya puts this deceit in these terms (from the introduction to his book Islam Denounces Terrorism):

Sadly, the fact that the perpetrators of various terrorist acts carry Christian, Muslim or Jewish identities cause some people to put forward claims which do not concur with divine religions. The truth is that even if terrorists have Muslim identities, the terror they perpetrate cannot be labeled "Islamic terror," just as it could not be called "Jewish terror" if the perpetrators were Jews or "Christian terror" if they were Christians. That is because, as will be examined in the following pages, murdering innocent people in the name of a divine religion is unacceptable. No one who is religious and fears God would do such a thing.

If the terrorists were vegetarian, would we be looking for the root (pardon the pun) causes of the vegan terror attacks on 9/11?

[IMPORTANT NOTE: As your pastor, I suggest you do not click the link marked crazies in the following paragraph. It links to the Army of God website, a fundamentalist Christian (and terrorist!) organization based in the United States. If you must look, I suggest you scroll immediately downward to the "heroic tribute" to Paul Hill, who shot an abortionist. The top of the page contains bloody, horrible pictures of babies they claim were aborted. The bottom of the page lists Bible verses that justify and encourage what Paul Hill and others have done in the name of religion.]

I can’t help but note that when Christians launch terrorist attacks on American soil, we correctly identify them as fundamentalists and crazies, but we never get around to labeling Christianity a "religion of terror," despite the fact that the murderers justify their acts with Bible Scripture in the same way the 9/11 murderers used the Quran.

Why would we be so forgiving toward Christianity and yet immediately want to label Islam as a whole a "religion of terror"? Probably because Islam is a religion that is "over there" in our minds. Muslims don’t look like us, for the most part. They have different ways. So the labels come from fear, rather than real, diligent research into who these people are.

There is always something to fear, it seems, when you approach strangers with doubt instead of love: it used to be the Russians, remember? As Sting would say if he wrote his classic song today, "I hope the Muslims love their children, too."

Of course the practitioners of Islam love their children. Of course they prefer peace to war. This is because they are what we call "humans."

We just happened to get our first real exposure to anyone claiming to be Muslim on 9/11. Thank God that we don’t judge all the Christians in our country by the acts of those fundamentalist few.

I can put this in even easier terms: religion moves on. Christians no longer kill folks for working on the Sabbath, and Islam doesn’t promote flying planes into buildings. The religions have moved on.

Fundamentalists, by definition, do not move on. They practice religions that NO LONGER EXIST. The Israelite wars, the Crusades, the wars led by Muhammed - these are the wars of religions since passed... except in the minds of fundamentalists.

Maybe Paul Hill called himself a Christian. He was not. Maybe Mohammed Atta called himself a follower of Islam. He was not.

The true practitioners of Islam were helping us find the terrorists after 9/11, as a matter of fact.

Of course, this isn’t Battle: Christianity. Because of our familiarity with Christianity in this country, we can see firsthand that it’s not a religion of terror. How can we do the same with Islam? Why, we can ask its leadership.

Truth be told, while it’s easy to pull out bits of the Quran that support our desire for revenge, it’s also easy to pull out just as many bits that support peace, which is the main idea running through Islam.

However, the mainstream is often made up of folks who talk the talk but quietly walk an entirely different walk. Take me, for instance.

I am the pastor of a mainstream Baptist church. I preach peace, but I have violent urges when someone cuts me off in traffic. I preach self-control, but I remain 15 - 20 pounds overweight. I preach dedication to one's spouse, but if Kirsten Dunst wanted to fool around, I wouldn’t even remember, um, what's-her-name.

I'm just a guy like anyone else… I don't make the front page.

We see the fundamentalists, though, more clearly than we see Joe Christian. It's the Southern Baptist fundamentalists who grab the headlines.

In the same way, you hear about the Islamic fundamentalists who smash planes into buildings, but never hear about the mainstream Muslims who work in this country to improve education, perform acts of charity as a pillar of their faith, and perform other good deeds.

The five pillars of Islam are faith in God, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Notice that none of those pillars were murder, suicide, beheading, Jihad or hijacking.

My contention is that those terrorists who claim to be Christian or Muslim or whatever justify themselves not at all. Any religious folks who support terror have left the faith and taken on another faith of their own invention.

A terrorist can no more make himself a holy, justified Muslim by shouting "Allah is the greatest" while flying a planeload of passengers to their deaths than I can make myself into a rabbit made of Velveeta by shouting "I’m better than cheddar."

When we were attacked on 9/11, we had a lot of these questions about Islam. Here's what the 9/11 Commission has to say concerning Osama Bin Laden's faith:

Seizing on symbols of Islam's past greatness, he promises to restore pride to
people who consider themselves the victims of successive foreign masters. He
uses cultural and religious allusions to the holy Quran and some of its
interpreters. He appeals to people disoriented by cyclonic change as they
confront modernity and globalization. His rhetoric selectively draws from
multiple sources - Islam, history, and the region's political and economic

Islam is not the enemy. It is not synonymous with terror.
Nor does Islam teach terror. America and its friends oppose a perversion of
Islam, not the great world faith itself. Lives guided by religious faith,
including literal beliefs in holy scriptures, are common to every religion, and
represent no threat to us.

Grace and Peace,

Dan Champion, Iron Blogger Republican

Battle Islam -Challenger- Opening Argument and Disclaimer


This battle will no doubt twist people’s panties and rub many the wrong way. There are many who will think I am a bigot, many who will call me a Nazi or other such endearing term, and there will be still others who get disgusted to the point at which they may never return to IB. Those people have already made up their minds about the issue, as most of us have, and can not be persuaded otherwise. I am simply here to make my case, and let it be judged. For the record, I am not a bigot. I am a Unitarian, and as such I am very critical of ANY words that claim to be Truth. I am equally critical of all religions, especially those that justify killing in the name of god… my grievances are not limited to Islam. That said, I am ready to begin.


Islam. “Submission.” Two words, one meaning. One religion, many faces. For as far back as recorded history goes, humans have been searching for Truth. In an attempt to make more sense of the universe, man made religion. Manufactured “truth” if you will. These “truths” are what major civilizations have found purpose in, and what has held masses of man together for millennia. At one point in our history, when the bulk of civilization was centered around the mid-east / Mediterranean area, three major religions building off of each other sprouted (though not at the same time.) These three, in order were Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, one of these religions is not like the others. One of these religions came into existence through war, was sustained by war, and aims to use war eternally until every single human being on this planet earth is of that religion. One religion is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of dead, and is responsible for more genocides than any other group the world has ever seen. Even the Romans, Nazis, Communists, Europeans, and Assyrians simply can not compare in terms of body counts.

This religion, is Islam.

In reference to the question itself, Islam could be defined as the “Religion of Jihad” more accurately because there are two aims of Islam:

Submission to god and god’s will, and making the world submit to “Allah’s” will.

In human history, there has never been a more misogynistic, oppressive and unsympathetic rule of any ideology. Which others in this day and age punish thievery by cutting off hands (sura 5.38?) Which others in this day and age justify the killing of nonbelievers if they defend their beliefs, or refuse to convert (suras 47.4, 4.89, 4.91, et al?) Which others liquidate the indigenous populations of an area they conquer (sura 5.33?) Which others are in constant war with the entire world, and are responsible for so many millions of lives lost (sura 8.65?) How long are we willing to tolerate this? Why do we prevent ourselves from attacking an ideology that actively tries ending our lives simply because we are not one of them? How long will it take for us to recognize that Islam is the problem in Islamic Terrorism?

Have you ever seen any Buddhist, Taoist, or Pygmy extremists?

This debate could go either way. That is based on the fact that style is highly rewarded, and the substance of the argument is not the trump card. If it were, there would be no debate on Islam. The simple fact of the matter is that Jihad, the struggle for conversion, is a central tenet of Islam, and a true Moslem MUST abide by this code of conduct if they are to call themselves truly Islamic. This is not hubris or blind hatred, this is truth.

To buck the trend of debates here at IB, I will not use my rebuttals for the sole purpose of rebutting. If I see something that must be addressed, I will address it, but to begin, it will go as such:

First rebuttal: History and Chronology of Islam (this will include body counts, Suras, and assorted Koranic passages)

Second rebuttal: Jihad and the modern world.

Closing: re-statement of the opening argument… Islam IS the problem in Islamic Terrorism, and in oppressive Islamic Theocracy. I would have LOVED to debate the cause of terrorism, because it isn’t always desperation. It is the mind that makes all decisions final, and employs ideas. It is these ideas that determine what one believes as appropriate action, and when one is saturated with any certain frame of ideas, they WILL act accordingly to them.

I realize that this will cost me serious style points. I realize that this may cost me everything. I am not here to win. Just like last time, I am here to learn, but this is a subject in which I have exhausted blood (yes blood), sweat and tears into over the entirety of the past year, and I have lost many a friend I care about to the “Religion of Peace.” Those I have not lost yet who reside in Iraq question the basis of Islam and the validity of jihad almost daily. This debate will not be personal, and I will not allow my true feelings to alter my argument. I will provide you with the information I have, and analyze it. Make my argument, and close it, nothing more.

Let the games begin.


Sunday, August 01, 2004

Tenth Battle

This week an old friend and Iron Blog regular returns to Challenge once more. Chris in NH first faced our original Iron Blogger Green, Robin Pratt over the Topic of Torture. It was a position he was not entirely in favor of or comfortable with, and so I am bringing him back to Challenge once more.

Iron Blogger Republican, Dan Champion, you have been called to Battle. May you uphold the honor and glory of my Iron Bloggers and claim victory in your first outing.

If memory serves me right, one of the aims I had in mind for Iron Blog was to make it a place where any idea, no matter how controversial, can be debated. Our second Battle, Gay Marriage, was our most controversial Battle so far. This week, that will change.

We debated the various possible causes of Terrorism last week, but still one question lingers in my mind. What role does religion play in it all? And so the Topic for the Battle is this:


In contrast to the broad scope of our last Battle, I wish for this one to be very specific. Is Islam a Religion of Peace, or a Religion of Jihad? Let us see what our Combatants have to say.

Allez Debate!

(NOTE: The Topic this week is highly volatile, but I will expect and demand the same level of civility in the comments as always, regardless of your stance on this issue. Chris and Dan are doing this to create a dialogue on a very touchy issue, and I will not tolerate flame wars.)

Battle Causes Of Terrorism - Verdict

This week's Battle has made me proud - a thoughtful, intelligent Battle that really probed an issue that is one of the most important we face, today. Both my Iron Blogger and The Challenger are to be congratulated for truly elevating the level of discourse and showing that severe, stark contrasts in position are not needed to have a worthwhile Battle. Nuance truly is a spice at Iron Blog.

And now, the Verdict.
Two enlightening cases, but only one victor. Challenger Frank LoPinto making a powerful indictment of the role of fanaticism in terrorism, and pushing the Iron Blogger to the limit of his abilities. But the Iron Blogger has come back strong, offering up a passionate case for the role of desperation as a true cause.

Who takes it?

Whose spleen vents supreme?

Iron Blogger Democrat, Jay Bullock

It's the Iron Blogger! The first to reach 3 victories and still undefeated in Blogging Stadium. Let's take a look at the scores.

Judge Joel C scores it 65-56 for the Iron Blogger.
Judge Jason N scores it 56-51 for the Iron Blogger.
And Judge CDT Michael scores it 72-61 for the Iron Blogger.

A close Battle on all three cards, but a sweep for the Iron Blogger! Another great Battle!


Battle Causes Of Terrorism - Judges' Comments

The Closings are in, the cases are made, Battle Causes of Terrorism is ovah!

On the Panel this week, are:

On the Left, Joel C of Nightmares For Sale.

From the Center, Jason N, regular of Iron Blog. (Complete scorecard available at http://xcf.berkeley.edu/~nordwick/IB-causes-of-terrorism.txt)

And from the Right, CDT Michael of The Common Virtue.

Let's see what the Judges have to say.

Opening Arguments

This is a good opening argument from The Challenger, but it is restricting in its exclusive focus on Islamic terrorism. In arguing his points, The Challenger does an excellent job and presents a tight and concise post that flows well and is easy to read, maintaining interest on a difficult and at times ponderous subject. However, the battle asked for a broader definition of terrorism than The Challenger applied. He certainly has some good information in this opening argument and makes a compelling argument, but he ignored many components of terrorism in the world today, overly limiting his subject.
Jay comes out with a good post, but it is not particularly strong. The desperation angle is a strong one, but it feels more like a component of the argument rather than the entirety of it as it is presented in this opening argument. As Jay himself says in the post, desperation alone does not lead to terrorism. Therefore, this OA could have been stronger if Jay had more quickly and succinctly made his point about desperation and then argued about the other component or components to terrorism,
perhaps talking more about the framework in which desperation fits.

Overall, the case was presented fine. The background history was interesting, but the story put forth was fairly standard, nothing really unique. So no real dislikes in with the content.
It's very, very vague. Incredibly vague. So far, I know that you think desparation causes people to take terrorist actions. But that seems almost true by definition, at least partially. If suicide by its very nature is a desparate action, then any terrorist action that involves suicide is by definition taken out of desparation. That only leaves the non-suicidal actions in the argument. And desparation of what? The Flashpoint commentary is equally as vague, being basically a laundry list of why people can be desparate. Desparation could arise because of not seeing economic
advancement in front of them or because they see that they cannot turn the world into a Sharia state by democracy, so they need to enact it by force.
This is a very strong opening with a lot of good information. Infact, the information provided was great. The Challenger obviously knows his stuff. The structure was very well presented and had clearly defined segments, yet still flowed. We are given a very clear picture of why terrorism occurs in the Islamic world. It is important to remember, however, that there is terrorism beyond the Jihadists. True, Islamoterror is the clearest and most abundant form of terror at the moment, but the same reasons that apply to them may notapply to domestic or other forms of terror, although I assume an argument can be made that presents similar information and reasons.
A lot of good information was presented on domestic and non-Islamoterror groups. Definitly terrorism occurs outside of the Islamic world and some good reasons were presented. Also, the IB did a good job of addressing some of the concerns and arguments against his argument. However, I feel like the Iron Blogger dropped the ball a little bit in in arguing religion plays no role in the causes of terrorism. I do not feel convinced that his statement is true. More time should have been spent on that point.

First Rebuttals
A very nice first rebuttal here from The Challenger. He does a good job of arguing against desperation as the main factor in terrorism. Using specific examples of recruiting efforts is a very nice touch and lends the post a very persuasive air. The writing is excellent, as is the structure of the post, coming across as smooth and simple. It flows well and keeps the reader’s attention quite well. Indeed, the very straightforward and honest tone, devoid of snark or strained attempts at wit, is a great touch and shows much respect for the reader. The post could have used more sources, even though the main source used is a very good one. A bit more variety would have been nice, though. The post still feels somewhat limited in its scope, as was the opening argument, but that is more appropriate here since The Challenger does still do a good job of rebutting the IBD’s points.
While the IBD does have some good counters to The Challenger’s arguments, they are unfortunately presented in a somewhat poor light in his First Rebuttal. Jay does a good job of arguing that desperation is the key component, making good points about the framework being almost a secondary necessity—not having to be something specific, just needing to be a means through which the desperation, which is the main driving force, is channeled. However, the means of presenting this argument is weak. The post is unfocused and wanders, failing to truly capture the reader’s attention. The points are often vague and the transitions are not overly smooth. There is not much force to the post, leaving it feeling unconvincing even though the IBD has good points to make.
The high point is that Hirschkind article. The low point is you not using that article very effectively or finding anything else more detailed by him and not really going after IB Dem strong enough (argument-wise, not in a firery rhetoric way).
It was a good read, well written, and informative. I have no complaints except I don't understand where you are going with most of your post.
The Challenger does a good job of explaining his position, and why desperation is not only needed to create a terrorist. He does present a fairly good case that something else is needed, and usually that is a
religion or political cause. However, I just didn't see anything spectacular. I suppose part of the problem is the Challenger and IB are not exactly arguing or disagreeing on a lot. This is not like a battle feature tax cuts or abortion where there are two clear positions; this is much more blurred.
The Iron Blogger did a very good job with this one. The arguments are clear, and good arguments are made. Plus, the IB does a good job of taking on the Challenger's arguments. He does a good job of explaining that his and the Challenger's arguments are not actually that far from each other, and they agree on many things. The finer points, though, are being debated, which can make it harder. As always, more proof could be rendered to directly contradict the Challenger's claims.

Second Rebuttals
This is a decent, very readable post. However, one of The Challenger’s key strengths up to this point has been his tight focus and strong,
pointed arguments. Much of that style has been lost in this second rebuttal and it makes for a loose and, at times, wandering post that simply is not as convincing as previous ones from The Challenger. The sourcing and education is okay, but not particularly impressive. The style suffers from the lack of a tight focus. There is nothing glaringly wrong about this rebuttal, but it has a lazy tone to it that leaves the reader mostly unmoved.
A very strong second rebuttal from the Iron Blogger Democrat. The post is clear and easy to read, doing a nice job of moving amongst The Challenger’s arguments and rebutting them. Jay does a good job in many instances of casting doubt upon The Challenger’s points. There’s an underlying sense of indignation that gives this rebuttal some nice flair, capturing the reader’s attention. The sourcing and linking is very good, once again providing access to a wide variety of information that helps support and flesh out the arguments within the post.
So you've finally ditched the al Qaeda specific posts, and while al Qaeda is most definitely why we are having this discussion, the Chairman up front in asking you the questing specifically included non-al Qaeda actions. You can discuss the content of the topic all you want, but you really cannot try and convince people that the topic should have been something else. However, I'm kind of sad to see the Islamist focus go, since that was the only thing
specific enough to really follow. Now we have one side argueing some nebulous claim about desparation and the challenger pointing out an almost equally nebulous ideological reasons. You're score for this post really tanked because of the lack of relevant links or citations.
Why should recruitment be more important than ideology? So far, from IB Dem I just have assertion that it is. At least the Challenger is telling me that we are all members of groups and ideology is a defining characteristic of which groups blow shit up and which don't. Challenger's story makes more sense right now: people may join groups, but there has to be an underlying ideology that connects all the dots in such a way that terrorism becomes acceptable. You're kind of flailing right now.
Unavailable at time of posting.

Closing Arguments
This is a strange Closing Argument. Unfortunately, The Challenger
appears to abandon much of what he said in his Opening Argument and First Rebuttal. The nuance and persuasiveness of those posts—particularly the First Rebuttal—are lost by a simplistic conclusion that people join groups for unknown reasons and then
sometimes those groups carry out terrorist activities. This is simply a poor argument for the causes of terrorism. The post, however, is strong in its structure, moving very clearly through its examples and statements in regards to the structure and essence of groups. The style is okay, though there is an odd sense of inappropriateness to the Raccoon Lodge example. Much of this post simply feels like wasted space that does not address the issue at hand.
This is a stellar post. The IBD does a magnificent job of summarizing his case and presenting it in the best possible light. While doing so, he also summarizes his opponent’s case and does a good job of rebutting The Challenger’s points and minimizing their impact. Jay really gets into the details here without ever losing sight of the broader, overall theme of desperation. The post is clear, concise, and easy to follow without ever becoming boring or confusing. Indeed, this post really presents the most compelling argument for his case the Iron Blogger Democrat has yet made, which is exactly what a Closing Argument should be.
It's almost as if you wrote the closing before IB Dem's second rebuttal because you seem to ignore it. The Honeymooners tie-in was brilliant, and you coved the ingroup/outgroup very well, but you don't even seem to cover the desparation that IB Dem spends a significant number of words on is nowhere to be seen. I understand your position on it, but there are unanswered points and still a question as to how to understand desparation in terms of ideology. IB Dem didn't have a very good second reubttal, but you don't really take advantage of that. You needed to tie up two things -- ideology and desparation -- but you only seem to really give me one.
This was your most lucid explanation of your position so far, including a clear description of where you two differ. It's a great recovery from your low scoring second rebuttal. You deliver this nice tied up package of why ideology isn't enough, including harping on the RAND study that Challeger would sooner forget it seems (although I think you are getting away with making a stronger case than what it actually says). I think you kind of pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat here (or equally correct, Challenger pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory).
Unavailable at time of posting.

The Judges have spoken - now we await the Verdict from The Chairman.

Stay tuned!


Blitz Battle Winners
Chris in NH (BB #2)
Big Dan (BB #6)
Former Challengers
Jimmie Bisse Jr. of The Sundries Shack
Chris of World Inquiry
Dean Esmay of Dean's World
Big Dan of God In The Machine
Owen of Boots and Sabers
Frank LoPinto of Cool Blue Blog
Bryan S of Arguing With Signposts
Ralph Stefan of Ralph's Garage
Former Iron Bloggers
Rosemary Esmay (2-1)

The Agitator
American RealPolitik
Asymmetrical Information
Tim Blair
John Cole
The Common Virtue
Crow Blog
The Daily Blitz
Ben Domenech
Dan Drezner
Gerbera Tetra
Hugh Hewitt
Sebastian Holsclaw
Kaus Files
The Moderate Voice
Queen of All Evil
Right Wing News
John Scalzi
Donald Sensing
Matt Stinson
Sgt. Stryker
Andrew Sullivan
Transterrestrial Musings
USS Clueless
Matt Welch
Winds of Change


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