Maria Bhatti, an Australian-Muslim lawyer, writes in The Age: “There are countless sayings of Muhammad (hadith) encouraging people to build community ties, and promoting love service, kindness, humility and other virtuous traits for a more meaningful life. In his last sermon, Muhammad left the following message for humankind: ‘An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.’”
Given the carnage, persecution and intolerance perpetrated by Muslims, under the claimed guidance of Muhammad and Allah, just how much of this soft-soap (however innocently and naively conjured) is it possible to swallow without throwing up? I must admit to having just returned from the bathroom. My limit had been reached and breached. Allah said:
Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by his Messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low. (Koran, 9:29, Pickthall version)
Now call me a paranoid unbeliever if you like but I don’t get the sense of universal fraternity here. True, it matters not whether I am black or white, which is some comfort for us lily-whites, but as a Christian, I am to be fought against, finding acceptance only by paying the tribute and being brought low. Was Allah mistaken in saying this? Did He really mean it? Muhammad’s last message seems so inclusive. It was probably an oversight that he didn’t mention people of different faiths or no faith. Or, men and women? Back to Allah:
Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other… good women are obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded…those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them…(4:34)
I don’t want to go on with this quoting from the Koran. There is a lot of intolerance to be found. Alexis de Tocqueville claimed to have studied the Koran. “I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad,” he wrote. Messages of peace and goodwill dripping from the lips of moderate Muslims don’t do it for me; particularly when I see the intolerance in the Koran being preached and acted out pretty well wherever Muslims form large numbers.
Of course, most Muslims are not radicals. However, it seems to me that only radical Muslims have any knowledge of Islamic scripture. So, never the twain meets. The moderates mouth platitudes based on their own imaginings while the radicals accurately follow their scripture.
There is no middle ground. Why is that? The answer is straightforward: there is no middle ground of consequence to be had. It is empty. It is no-man’s land. That’s why we never see, and will never see, meaningful Islamic scriptural debate. Allah’s words are Allah’s words. I have quoted some of them above. They can’t be gainsaid.
People like Ms Bhatti are genuine enough. It is wonderful that she gets comfort from her faith. I get comfort from mine. However, I have taken the trouble to understand my faith. But I tell you what; if Christ had advocated intolerance and I saw it being widely preached and acted out I would have long since found another faith. I wouldn’t be carefully picking and choosing among His words to find some beguiling quotes.