Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part I: Introduction
Much of the world has been indoctrinated to believe that today’s landscape of the Muslim world represents the essence of Islam. An evil religion, with adherents who are a danger to the human race. A religion that must be confronted and annihilated. The trumped up failings of Islam are many, including a cruel and unforgiving God and the hidden agenda of forcing Shariah Law (alternatively referred to as Islamic Law) on the world, with a penchant for Jihad (interpreted as a war against non-Muslims), for global terrorism and for harsh and brutal teachings, for the subjugation of girls and women, for opposing freedom, for adopting oppressive rule and governance, for injustice, for underdevelopment, for backwardness, for opposition to all forms of progress, including in science and in the arts, for limited opportunity for education and self-development and for gross income and wealth inequality producing poverty alongside opulence.
What is seen and perceived about the Muslim world today is not a reflection of the Islamic teachings of the Quran and the practice of the prophet Mohammad. Similarly, what we see in the Christian world today is not a reflection of Christianity and the preaching of Jesus. But this Islamic straw man serves a destructive end — it divides the human race and fuels future global conflicts with Christians and Muslims each projected to constitute about 30 percent of the world population by 2050. It propagates a false and dangerous view of Islam to non-Muslims and their resulting Islamophobia projects hostile intentions onto Muslims, putting Muslims on the defensive and providing extremists with an army of recruits. This false impression of Islam is a self-fulfilling agenda to create growing hatred, division and conflict.
But by sowing hatred, suspicion, division and conflict, the straw man affords a number of diverse groups a message and a platform for influence, power and wealth. In the non-Muslim world, politicians and racists magnify the dangers of Islam, Shariah and “Islamists” (aka terrorists) to frighten voters, garner votes, fire up their base and justify the war against global terrorism and the support for brutal Muslim dictators (in the name of stability). The clergy play up the dangers of Islam to increase the number of their followers and to serve their masters, namely, the rulers. Selfish individuals attack Islam for the danger it presents for economic prosperity, wealth, income and material wellbeing. In Muslim countries, oppressive rulers appeal to Islam for legitimacy and project themselves as the defenders of Islam against would-be crusaders and sectarian heretics. Corrupt clerics amplify the negative and false perceptions of Islam in the outside world and its dangers for the survival of Islam. To recruit followers, terrorists spout the dangers of Christianity and Judaism and the support of foreign powers who collaborate with illegitimate Muslim rulers to plunder, subjugate, torture and oppress Muslims.
While this straw man, depicting a false picture of Islam, has its perverse uses for many sides, it will tear the world apart and make heightened terrorism and global conflict more likely by the day.
This is Part I of a ten-part short article series. In the parts that follow (roughly on a weekly basis), we hope to explain some of the important rules and implied institutions that are at the foundation of Islam. This in the hope that (i) the average Muslim will debate and understand his or her religion better and work toward establishing effective institutions for our time to build thriving communities and that (ii) non-Muslims will develop a more accurate and charitable appreciation of Islam and its institutions. In the process we hope to arrest growing global suspicion and division and begin to build trust and cooperation among all those who worship the same God. We emphasize that what we see in the Muslim world bears little resemblance to the message of Islam and that no religion should be judged by the actions and practices of those who claim to be, or who are labeled, its followers.
The nine parts that are scheduled to follow are:
Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part II: Islamic Teachings Overview
Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part III: Islam, Justice and Shariah
Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part IV: Islam, Human Life and Terrorism
Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part V: Islam, Wealth and Poverty
Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part VI: Islam and Governance
Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part VII: Islam and Education
Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part VIII: Islam and Freedom
Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part IX: Islam and the Economy
Islam’s Straw man will haunt the World, Part X: Islam in Our World Today