Monday, 5 November 2012

Knowing nice Muslim folk doesn't mean Islam is benign

I have overcome my own prejudice by getting to know Muslims.  [In "Is the New York Times Review of Books  afraid of Islam?"]
This is such a common comment: you get to know Muslims, your neighbours, or those on a trip to the middle east, or Africa, and they're just like ordinary folk! And so, by extension, there's nothing to worry about in Islam.
It's also nonsense. It makes no more sense than meeting nice folk in the old Soviet Union and concluding that there was nothing to worry about in Communism.
I have myself met many very nice and friendly Muslims: in all my travels in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East, so many, so friendly.  I had a Muslim colleague I was doing business with in Egypt, a fine man, we planned to joint venture with; nothing to worry about with him.  Indeed, I can safely say that I've not met one, not one Muslim anywhere in my travels, who's given me cause for concern about Sharia, the caliphate, Islamic supremacism, let alone terrorism.
But that's not led me to conclude that Islam is benign. Because clearly it is not: not in its Trinity of core documents: the Koran, the Hadith and the Sirah, the life of Muhammad.  Nor in its practice by the many many of that so-called "minority" of extremists.  They're many; just that I haven't met them.  It would be the grossest naive mistake to conclude from one's nice Muslim friends that there's nothing to worry about in the ideology of their religion.
BTW: one of Weiss' key points is that it's "Islamophobic" to suggest there's an aim in Islam to create a caliphate. He should get out more; or read more. The caliphate is a core aim of Islam.  Of that there is no doubt, as many pious Muslims will confirm.