Islam, Steve Waldman, and the Fog of Ignorance

by Silas

Currently there are many conflicting statements on Muhammad and Islam in the public forum. Muslims in America tell us that "Islam is a religion of peace," while Muslims in Islamic countries chant "Death to America the Great Satan", and hope for more terrorist actions. The Muslim murderers of 9/11/01, and of many other terrorist events since, are praised by the same Muslims. Further various Muslim groups around the world are promising more murdering of Americans yet to come. If you follow the news you’ll know that Muslims have recently murdered a Christian nurse in Lebanon and murdered a diplomat in Jordan. In Indonesia and Pakistan Christians are still being attacked because of their faith.

The Islam in Islamic countries is not the Islam of some whitewashed Muslims living in the West. Either Islam is a religion of violence, or it is not. Both sides cannot be right.

If you want to understand real Islam you’re going to have to do some reading, studying, and independent thinking. You’ll need to read the Islamic texts of the Quran, Hadith, and Sira. Study Muhammad’s teachings and actions, and study the subsequent history of his closest followers – those that acted in strict obedience to his commands. Thereafter you’ll be able to draw your conclusions.

Otherwise you’ll be left in the fog of ignorance and be unable see if Islam does indeed have a violent component.

Recently Steve Waldman, of Beliefnet wrote a satirical "defense", of Pat Robertson, found here:

Waldman attacked Pat Robertson, and his critical comments of Muhammad and Islam, by pointing out violent verses in the Bible. Waldman’s attack on Robertson is meant to make a point: the Old Testament is filled with violence, and Christians who criticize Islam overlook the violence in the Old Testament.

When Waldman finally got around to commenting on whether or not Islam was violent, he stated (in the middle of the second page):

"I am not saying Islam is a "religion of peace." That actually seems as unprovable as saying it is a religion of violence. What matters fundamentally is how the religion is practiced now. Modern Christians and Jews have proven capable of rising above the violence of the Bible and so have many modern Muslims. That doesn't mean they necessarily will in all cases, but if they choose a path of violence it is not because it is embedded in the Qur'an but rather because they, as individuals, are twisted."

Steve Waldman is one of the owners of the Beliefnet website. It is a well done site that is viewed by many. Waldman is a successful and experienced journalist. I spent some time reading his various articles and he struck me like a journalist Jimmy Carter. Hence his site is fairly benign. That’s fine and good for the most part.

People in America want to assume the best about others and appear to be non-judgmental. However, the fear of being labeled a hater, or racist, or bigot, etc. hinders people from examining issues thoroughly. When it comes to bashing Falwell or Robertson, Waldman has no hesitation, but, when it comes to examining the possibility that Islam is a violent religion, Steve fears to go there. The outcome would not fit his pre-conceived ideas, and could go against his politically correct grain. Waldman puts his rosy-colored glasses on, buries his intellect, and makes the statement,

"I am not saying Islam is a "religion of peace." That actually seems as unprovable as saying it is a religion of violence."

"Unprovable"? Excuse me? We’re not talking about semi-conductor physics here, or the existence of quarks, or about the existence of Atlantis. We are talking about a religion that has a documented history and a collection of theological books that detail the aspects of its faith. One aspect is violence. Dealing with Islam is not like dealing with black magic or esoteric science. It ain’t that difficult to understand. Get a hold of the Islamic books and study them.

The future’s stakes are high. With respect to real Islam, Waldman owes his readers more. When it comes to examining Islam, Waldman is not troubled by research, study, and thinking things through. That’s okay for some topics, but with the spectre of Islamic terrorism and massive casualties within our own land, Waldman should try to do a bit more in assessing real Islam. It isn’t good enough for Waldman to hide behind the journalist’s veil, shrug his shoulders, and say,

"I am not saying Islam is a "religion of peace." That actually seems as unprovable as saying it is a religion of violence."

The people of New York deserve better.

Take a look at Waldman’s confusion in the fog of ignorance. He says,

"I am not saying Islam is a "religion of peace." That actually seems as unprovable as saying it is a religion of violence."

but then he goes on to say,

"[ If Muslims] choose a path of violence it is not because it is embedded in the Qur'an but rather because they, as individuals, are twisted."

If Steve doesn’t know if Islam is a religion of peace or violence, how is he able to judge the violent Muslims as "twisted"? According to Steve’s thinking, isn’t it possible that the non-violent Muslims are "twisted"? If Waldman can’t judge if Islam is violent or peaceful, how can he judge if violent Muslims are twisted, or doing / not doing what is commanded in the Quran and Hadith?

It’s interesting that on Waldman’s site is a quote from one of the Muslim writers. Alex Kronemer wrote:

"By today's standards, Muhammad engaged in an appalling amount of violence ..."

but Waldman is even unable to admit that there was "an appalling amount of violence" committed by Muhammad. Steve is afraid to go there because of his political correctness. Hence his intellectual resignation.

Of course violence is imbedded in the Quran! It is more fully developed in the Hadith. Read Muhammad’s Hadith, you’ll find numerous exhortations to "jihad", and many of these are related to aggressive wars of conquest, not self-defense. When Muhammad told his followers, that in the future they would be fighting in "holy war" he was not talking about some "internal jihad", (ref. Sahih Bukhari 4:792). When Muhammad told his followers that they would attack and conquer other countries (ref. Sahih Muslim No. 3200), he was not talking about battling against the internal lusts of the flesh.

I’m just hoping that sincere guys like Waldman could at least meet the American public half-way and admit that there is a violent component in Islam.

Below is a short recording of one of Muhammad’s offensive actions. It details his threatened attack and subsequent extortion of a small Christian town. Muhammad had no intention of living peacefully, side by side with non-Muslims, even with those who were far from his community’s borders. Non-Muslims were his enemies because they rejected him. As recorded in the Quran, non-Muslims had these options: become Muslim, pay extortion tax, or fight and die.

An account of Muhammad’s attack on the town of Ayla is given in

The account describes that Muhammad heard a rumor that the Romans were going to attack him. He marshaled 30,000 of his troops and they went north to the town of Tabuk to do battle with the Romans. However, upon arriving, they found that there was no threat at all. Since there was no one to fight, Muhammad sent a detachment to Ayla, to give them three options, convert, pay the extortion tax – "jizya", or die. The Christian leader there decided to pay tribute.

I’ve extracted this excerpt from the webpage above.

"To John ibn Rabah and the Chiefs of Aylah. Peace be on you! I praise God for you, beside whom there is no Lord. I will not fight against you until I have written thus unto you. Believe, or else pay tribute. And be obedient unto the Lord and his Prophet, and the messengers of his Prophet. Honor them and clothe them with excellent vestments, not with inferior raiment. Specially clothe Zeid with excellent garments. As long as my messengers are pleased, so likewise am I. Ye know the tribute. If ye desire to have security by sea and by land, obey the Lord and his Apostle, and he will defend you from every claim, whether by Arab or foreigner, saving the claim of the Lord and his Apostle. But if ye oppose and displease them, I will not accept from you a single thing, until I have fought against you and taken captive your little ones and slain the elder."

Don’t Muhammad’s orders to John sound exactly like a crime boss’s orders to a subjected businessman? "Do what me and my henchmen tell you", "Give us your finest merchandise", "Give my son the best you got", "Pay me the money and you’ll be safe", "Get me upset and you’ll be sorry". Frankly, Muhammad’s words to John read like a script from "The Godfather".

Now then, take a look at the verse below from Chapter 9, verse 29 of the Quran:

9:29 "Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in God, or in the last day, and who forbid not that which God and His Apostle (Muhammad) have forbidden, and who profess not the profession of the truth, until they pay tribute out of hand, and they be humbled."

Do you see how Muhammad carried out his actions? Do you see how the Quran means for Islam to be practiced? Muhammad’s actions speak loudly here. Committed near the end of his life, they clearly portray what he wanted his followers to continue to do: attack and conquer non-Muslim people.

Jesus taught,

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20.

The "appalling amount of violence committed by Muhammad," is indeed repugnant, having been committed by someone who claimed to be a great example for mankind. There are many, many, many, more men and women who certainly are greater examples for humanity to follow. Muhammad’s fruit was bad fruit. As Muhammad grew in power more blood flowed and assaults against non-Muslims increased. Muhammad’s Islam was never a religion of peace, and it is certainly not a pathway to God.

It is certainly possible to define Islam as being violent, or non-violent. Non-Muslims are at risk and hiding in the fog of ignorance is not the way to approach a potentially lethal religion. Neville Chamberlin refused to see Hitler and Nazism for what they were, and a great destruction broke out upon the earth. We must examine real Islam and determine if it is violent.

See also the article Violence in the Bible and the Qur'an: A Christian Perspective to get a more balanced view regarding Steve Waldman's approach of defending Islam by way of reference to violence in the Bible.

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