Should Policy Makers See Islam as an Enemy of the West?

Should Policy Makers See Islam as an Enemy of the West?

BY: ANTONY T. SULLIVAN

(Sullivan, a senior scholar of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan, has written several books and articles about Islam.)

No: Islam, Judaism and Christianity historically produce societies with like characteristics.

Islam - as a religion, culture and society - most emphatically is not an enemy of the West.

Those who argue the contrary slander not only the third and last of the three great Abrahamic revelations but make all too likely the outbreak of either a religious war pitting Christianity (and perhaps Judaism) against Islam or a war of civilizations pitting the West against the entire Muslim world. And be assured: Any wars of religion or civilization will not be wars that the West or the United States - will win…

...Not only is Islam not an enemy of the West, but it, like Judaism, is part of the larger civilizational ecumene that we in the contemporary West know - or ought to. In fact, the West stops at the Indus, not at the Dardanelles. Today, Islam is part and parcel of the West, just as the West is part and parcel of Islam. What occurred on Sept. 11 was first and foremost an attack on Islam itself. Specifically, that criminal operation constituted an attack on the values of compassion, beneficence and mercy that pervade the Koran and that historically have characterized the practice of Islam…

...To the extent that the Koran endorses war at all, it endorses only defensive combat designed to protect the Islamic community in the most dire of circumstances. No faithful Muslim possibly could justify the operation of Sept. 11 within that limitation.

The Koran includes passages invoking violence. But so does the Old Testament, in considerable number. To wit, Deuteronomy 32:42: “I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the long-haired heads of the enemy.” (See also Deuteronomy 2:34, 3:6 and 7:2.) Evocations of violence in religious texts is one of many elements the Abrahamic religions share…

...Rather than any antipathy emanating from Islam, Americans and other Westerners should recognize that anger toward the United States in the Muslim world emanates primarily from the rage at specific American policies. US. partiality to Israel at the expense of Palestinians, maintenance of sanctions on Iraq that fail to weaken Saddam Hussein while resulting in the death of half-a-million Iraqi children, and consistent failure to support individual liberty and limited government in Muslim states are among their major grievances. Those who pontificate on Islam somehow being an enemy of the West almost never mention or grant any legitimacy to this list of complaints…

...As a Republican and a conservative, I call on my philosophical comrades in arms to reject the anti-Islamic triumphalist warmongering of neoconservative ideologues. And I urge all Americans to repudiate any belief that Islam is an enemy of the West. This idea is wrong. Worse, it is dangerous. To all of us. Especially now… 

Originally published on The Islamic Center of America website at http://www.icofa.com/IslamicPolicy.htm and reprinted in TAM with permission of the author.


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