Time for an honest discussion about Islam



A Pew Research Study, “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society,” shows surprising numbers of Muslims in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and other parts of the world hold beliefs many Westerners would find unquestionably immoral.

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Widespread beliefs about how Sharia Law should be implemented and how women should be treated are appalling. The cause of these beliefs can be traced back to European colonization, poor education and a history of psychopathic dictators; but follow the roots long enough, and they will lead to the words of the holy texts themselves.

Colonization and repression of the Muslim world had a huge impact on how the holy texts were interpreted, but this does not make the results any less of a problem.

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Let’s stop and take a look at the numbers:

Percent of Muslims who think Sharia should be the law of the land:

Afghanistan: 99 percent

Pakistan: 84 percent

Iraq: 91 percent

Egypt: 74 percent

Niger: 86 percent

DR Congo: 74 percent

Of those who favor Sharia being law of the land, the percent who think Sharia should apply to non-Muslims:

Afghanistan: 61 percent

Pakistan: 34 percent

Egypt: 74 percent

Of those who favor Sharia being law of the land, percent who favor corporal punishments for crimes such as theft:

Pakistan: 88 percent

Afghanistan: 81 percent

Egypt: 70 percent

Of those who favor Sharia being law of the land, percent who favor stoning as a punishment for adultery:

Pakistan: 89 percent

Afghanistan: 85 percent

Palestinian territories: 84 percent

Egypt: 81 percent

Iraq: 58 percent

Of those who favor Sharia being law of the land, percent who favor death penalty for leaving Islam:

Afghanistan: 79 percent

Pakistan: 76 percent

Egypt: 86 percent

Jordan: 82 percent

Malaysia: 62 percent

Iraq: 42 percent

Percent of Muslims who said a wife should be allowed to divorce her husband:

Pakistan: 26 percent

Morocco: 73 percent

Lebanon: 56 percent

Palestinian territories: 33 percent

Egypt: 22 percent

Iraq: 14 percent

And here’s a more hopeful statistic. Percent who said it is good that others are very free to practice their faith:

Bangladesh: 97 percent

Pakistan: 96 percent

Iraq: 91 percent

Jordan: 91 percent

Egypt: 77 percent

The Islamic State, commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL, is waging a massive, multi-front assault on the Middle East in Syria and Iraq. Most Muslims undoubtedly condemn its radical ideals and its barbaric practices of be-headings and taking sex slaves.

But many of the Islamic State’s practices, like sexually enslaving more than 3,000 Yazidi women, are justifiable through the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Muhammad openly took sex slaves and allowed his soldiers to rape slaves during their conquests, yet he is still held in high regard by nearly all Muslims.

Are there not better people to idolize than Muhammad, a rapist and a murderer?

It’s unfortunate that people justify the actions of Muhammad, and the actions of other equally psychopathic Biblical prophets, by saying, “But it was a long time ago.”

Standards of morality were worse back then. Most people and most religious scholars have moved past these disgusting ideals, but the legacy of these prophets and their doctrines still affect public opinion.

The argument that Islamic holy texts provide for a poor moral system is almost always matched by, “But the other holy books have immoral tenants as well.”

This is true. The Bible and the Torah are riddled with sexist, racist, homophobic and reprehensibly immoral systems of law. Read literally or even conservatively, verses in the Bible and Torah are equally as reprehensible as verses in the Koran and the Hadith.

But Christians in Europe and the Americas have largely done away with the parts of the Bible they don’t like. There is still plenty of work to do, but verses like — 1 Samuel 15:3, “Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey,” — are disregarded.

This is what needs to happen in Islam.

Muslims in the Islamic world must become more liberal with the ideals of women’s rights and just criminal punishment. Liberal scholars and moderate interpretations of religious texts must be upheld as the standard for morality and goodness.

Ignoring the problems that inherently come with interpreting Islamic texts will lead to widespread suffering for millions. It would be naive to promote the total abomination of the holy books, but the current interpretation held by huge numbers of Muslims needs to change.

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