Islam Is Not the Problem

Islam is not a monolithic religion or a single coherent ideology, any more than Christianity is. Yet many people—as I discovered in the comments on my last article—are willing to blame Islam for the actions of people have taken in its name. That's understandable to a certain extent, since so many Muslim terrorists have themselves used their religion to justify their actions. And other Muslims have been sympathetic with the terrorist cause, or have at least felt that our own actions are equally bad. Nevertheless, many Muslims condemn terror and feel that it goes against the most basic tenets of Islam, which among other things clearly forbids the murder of non-combatants.

Islam, of course, has no single head who rules on points of religious doctrine. It's split into several major divisions, and different Muslim sects have as much in common with each other as Mormons do with Unitarians or Orthodox Christians. Many Muslim leaders have strongly condemned the attacks on the U.S. and terrorism as a strategy in general. The religious justification for the attacks comes from people like Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri—who have no religious authority—with the support of a small, but still significant number of extremist clerics. Their arguments have certainly struck a chord with many Muslims, particularly in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and among the disaffected immigrants living in Muslim ghettos in Western Europe. But they are using religious language to justify political and economic grievances, and their ideas are repugnant to many Muslims.


Nor do all Muslims ascribe to the radical version of shari'a practiced by the Taliban, which is Medieval even by the standards of Medieval Islam. While it's certainly fair to criticize the treatment of women in under shari'a law as practiced in some countries, many Muslims have a much more progressive attitude toward women. It is worth remembering that Pakistan elected a woman—Benazir Bhutto—Prime Minister in 1988, at a time when it would still have been practically unthinkable for a woman to win the U.S. presidency. And the world's largest Muslim country is not Saudi Arabia or Iran or even Pakistan, but Indonesia, where they do not practice shari'a and where fundamentalist movements have had relatively little success.

"I do not know," the great conservative statesman Edmund Burke once said, "the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people." Bin Laden justified the attacks on the World Trade Center by saying that we were all implicated in the crimes the West had committed against Muslims in the Middle East. He was wrong, in the first place, to blame the troubles of the region entirely on us. It's obviously a much more complicated story than that, and the Middle East's problems are in part the result of larger historical forces and the actions of corrupt local leaders. But from a moral perspective Bin Laden's greater error was to hold the West and Christianity in general responsible for having been part of an often destructive colonial system. We should not treat Muslims the same way, and assume that because they ascribe to the teachings of Mohammed that they are not deeply moral people or on our side. By lumping even moderate Muslims—and even those Muslims who serve with honor in our government and in our armed services—with fundamentalists and terrorists, we do a grave injustice to people who otherwise would be our friends.

Tesla introduces new Model 3 at $45,000

The new version's battery has a shorter range and a price $4,000 lower than the previous starting price.

Tesla Model 3 (Photo: Tesla)
Technology & Innovation
  • Tesla's new version of the Model 3 costs $45,000 and can travel 260 miles on one charge.
  • The Model 3 is the best-selling luxury car in the U.S.
  • Tesla still has yet to introduce a fully self-driving car, even though it once offered the capability as an option to be installed at a future date.
Keep reading Show less

Are you a Boltzmann Brain? Why nothing in the Universe may be real

A mind-bending paradox questions the nature of reality.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Boltzmann Brains are hypothetical disembodied entities with self-awareness.
  • It may be more likely for a Boltzmann Brain to come into existence than the whole Universe.
  • The idea highlights a paradox in thermodynamics.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain
  • When it comes to educating, says Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, a brave failure is preferable to timid success.
  • Fostering an environment where one isn't afraid to fail is tantamount to learning.
  • Human beings are complicated and flawed. Working with those complications and flaws leads to true knowledge.
Keep reading Show less

What is kalsarikänni? The Finnish art of being "pantsdrunk"

Drinking home alone in your underwear just might be what you need to be as relaxed as the Finnish.

Big Think art department / Finnish tourism department
Personal Growth
  • Päntsdrunk is the latest trend to come out of Northern Europe and it involves drinking alone at home.
  • Finnish writer Miska Rantanen outlines the philosophy in his newest book titled: Pantsdrunk: Kalsarikanni: The Finnish Path to Relaxation.
  • Kalsarikänni is a word in Finnish that literally means "drinking at home and alone in your underwear."
Keep reading Show less

Yes, Mega Millions just passed $1 billion. What does that look like?

It's hard to imagine such a number. But these images will help you try.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Megamillions_tickets.jpg
News/Social

The Mega Millions lottery just passed $1 billion for tonight's drawing.

What does that even look like, when represented by various currencies?

It takes just 6 numbers to win. You can only, however, purchase tickets up until 10:45 ET tonight.

Keep reading Show less

The surprising psychology of sex with your ex

We all know sleeping with your ex is a bad idea, or is it?

Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • In the first study of its kind, researchers have found sex with an ex didn't prevent people from getting over their relationship.
  • Instead of feeling worse about their breakup after a hookup, the new singles who attempted sexual contact with their ex reported feeling better afterwards.
  • The findings suggest that not every piece of relationship advice is to be taken at face value.
Keep reading Show less

Denmark has the flattest work hierarchy in the world

"It's about having employees that are empowered."

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
popular

Denmark may be the birthplace of the Lego tower, but its workplace hierarchy is the flattest in the world.

According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2018, the nation tops an index measuring "willingness to delegate authority" at work, beating 139 other countries.

Keep reading Show less

Relationship hack: Why class clowns make better partners

Want a happy, satisfying relationship? Psychologists say the best way is to learn to take a joke.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • New research looks at how partners' attitudes toward humor affects the overall quality of a relationship.
  • Out of the three basic types of people, people who love to be laughed at made for better partners.
  • Fine-tuning your sense of humor might be the secret to a healthy, happy, and committed relationship.
Keep reading Show less