Mental illness, Islam or revenge?: Understanding terrorism from the Navy Yard to Pakistan to Kenya

Sept. 16, 2013Police personnel near the Navy Yard.Matt McClain / The Washington Post September 2013 has been a cruel month. … Continued


Sept. 16, 2013Police personnel near the Navy Yard.Matt McClain / The Washington Post

September 2013 has been a cruel month. Three terrible acts of mass violence that have randomly taken innocent lives on three continents: 12 people shot at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., over 75 killed and a further 120 injured by two suicide bombers at a church in Peshawar, Pakistan, and more than 60 killed thus far at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

There must be nothing but utter condemnation for these and other similar acts across the world. There is no justification for such wanton bloodshed.

Because of such endemic violence, there is a necessity, however, to analyze the situations in order to understand them and hopefully find solutions. The violence must be stopped.

While all three are shocking acts of murder, they nonetheless can be put in different categories. Aaron Alexis who perpetrated the mass killing at Washington’s Navy Yard is part of the now familiar pattern of lone gunmen striking at American society with sickening frequency. There was no rational, political, social, or religious arguments behind what Alexis did. His actions, though thoroughly condemned, were explained away as the wayward and solitary acts of a mentally disturbed individual. America made the right noises–the president said the right words–and then went about its business.

The American media, after sniffing about for any Muslim connection and discovering none, did not use the word “terror” to describe the incident at the Navy Yard. Terrorism has unfortunately become a shorthand for “a violent act committed by a Muslim.” We see no “terror experts” pouring through the verses and holy books of Alexis’s former religion, Christianity, or his new religion, Buddhism, to find any reasons for his murderous act, as is the case whenever a Muslim commits any such violent crime. They rather pointed to his history of mental illness and paranoia, such as reports of hearing voices and claiming people followed him with a microwave machine.

What happened in Nairobi and Peshawar was quite different. In Peshawar, the Taliban group responsible for the attack declared that they had committed the suicide bombing of All Saints Church in revenge for American drone strikes in the Tribal Areas. A Taliban statement read, “Until and unless drone strikes are stopped, we will continue to strike wherever we will find an opportunity against non-Muslims.” In Kenya, al Shabab announced its assault on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi as revenge for the 2011 Kenyan military invasion to oust al Shabab from control of southern Somalia, where Kenyan troops are still stationed. An al Shabab spokesman stated, “Either leave our country or live with constant attacks.”

It is clear that the actions of the Taliban and al Shabab, both emerging from tribal societies (the Pashtun and Somali, respectively) with defined codes of honor, is not motivated by religion but a mutation of tribal behavior which emphasizes revenge. All their violent actions, despite the ominous warnings of the “terror experts” who point to verses of the Quran, are in fact antithetical to both their tribal and Islamic traditions.

Islam categorically rejects this kind of violence, calling upon Muslims to practice compassion above all. Abu Bakr, the first caliph after the prophet, laid down the rules of war which were to be practiced by all Muslims, among them the forbidding of killing innocent people. The prophet was, likewise, explicit about the prohibition of violence against Christians. In a letter to St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, he wrote, “No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses The Muslims are to fight for them Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.” The violence in places like Peshawar and Nairobi has nothing to do with religion, but rather the broken relationship between central governments and tribal peripheries.

Since the dismantling of the administrative structure in the tribal areas and the invasions of the Pakistani military beginning in 2004 to catch militants fleeing across the border from the American invasion of Afghanistan, the relationship between the center and periphery has been marked by increasingly horrific and frequent acts of violence. The introduction of American drones in the region the same year only served to exacerbate the pace of the conflict. The Taliban groups which have emerged from the tribal areas, deadliest among them the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, have resorted to use of the deadly suicide bombers in revenge attacks for the purpose of causing pain to the soft underbelly of the nation at large—targeting innocent people, minority groups, and others such as the Shia and Ahmadis. Likewise, al Shabab which emerged from the chaos of the devastating Somali Civil War in the 1990s following the fall of Siad Barre’s government increasingly targeted innocent people through the use of suicide bombing for the purposes of revenge, including a 2010 bombing which killed 74 people in Kampala, Uganda in revenge for the Ugandan military invasion of Somalia.

The traditional use of revenge in tribal societies, largely existing outside the structures of the state, is a measured response meant to correct a perceived injustice. It is, as the Bible states, “an eye for an eye” with strict rules for what is and is not permissible. Often times, tribal elders and religious leaders are able to mediate conflict without resorting to the use of violence. After being battered by military invasions, drone strikes, and suicide bombers for almost a decade, these traditional avenues of justice are gone. We see the men of violence lashing out in unchecked revenge and central governments responding with brutality in kind. It is this quickening cycle of violence between center and periphery which must be halted before peace can be found.

Until those in charge of law and order understand what is going on, we will unfortunately see similar acts in the future. The current strategy to contain the violence isn’t working. There are ways to deal with men of violence and they have to be located urgently. It is no longer a matter of salvaging our generation; the very future of our children and grandchildren and how they live their lives is at stake.

Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC and the former Pakistani Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Harrison Akins is the Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service and served as the senior researcher for Ambassador Ahmed’s latest book The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (Brookings 2013).

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  • allinthistogether

    Thank you for the insights. This explanation helps to illustrate a horific mosaic of religion, cultures forced to change from outside to in, misuse of power, victimization, desperation to regain control of one’s own life and children’s future, and violence reinforcing violence into psychotic habit. As communication, transportation and economic forces change our world without conscience, it is only individual humans who can make the choice to perceive and discern more accurately and respond with compassion and support, rather than violence. The first step for Americans is to see through our all too automatic “us vs. them” reaction. Next steip is to reduce the violence we perpetrate (reduce drone strikes by moving the target quantity and selection process to a wiser group of folks), then carefully reduce support for oppressive regimes, and greatly increase aid to the victimized and the destitue. I know there is tremendous resistance among some populations to aid from the U.S., but that resistance is not the position of the majority of the populace, and can be overcome.

  • ThomasBaum

    Intuitive1

    You wrote, “We are told again and again by experts and talking heads that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace.”

    But isn’t the “peace of islam” when the whole world either follows islam or is subjected to islam?

  • 3vandrum

    Aaron Alexis case was clearly mental illness. If the authorities had removed the gun after knowing his mental illness the tragedy would have been prevented.
    The attacks in Nairobi and Peshawar were clearly based on religious ideology (Jihad). The terrorists who killed innocent people in Nairobi and Peshawar (Pakistan) church attack were not mentally ill. There is no excuse for that, the American drone attacks or the Kenyan military invasion do not justify killing innocent people. If these “tribal societies” have code of honor, they do not kill innocent people including women and children. Let us face the facts and deal with the root causes including religious extremism. Moderate Muslims should stand up and speak against these terrorist attacks and do something constructive to stop these terrorists from attacking churches and other non Muslim places of worship in Islamic countries. “There are ways to deal with men of violence and they have to be located urgently”. The governments alone cannot do this, it needs community support.

  • Oozy

    So far every American mass killed is made mentally sick all others are sane, this is to say white men do not carry out crimes of this nature.
    Any person who kills any innocent person is insane or mentally deranged.
    Islam does not promote killings of any innocent person, men , women ,the sick, children or anyone who does not intend to harm you.
    In USA they kill over 30 persons a day in gun violence ,
    abortions at 21,000 per week,
    every 7 seconds a women or child is raped
    350 kids are snatched from their homes .every day,
    357 suicides a day these unfortunate have no will to live
    Where is the moral values of American heading???????

  • Oozy

    You are a really bitter person, I have sympathy for you and your family and what you said went thru . May the Lord above bless you.
    Islam does not promote violence at All.
    Islam in their mind has been wronged by the west which in most cases may be true, looking at the various blogs which is written by instant Muslim experts with no proper knowledge of Islam.
    They have a set of 20 or so false beliefs which they keep on harping upon.
    Islam has a tough time with so called experts talking about a subject which perhaps they have no knowledge.

  • GregAbdul

    Ozzy is doing a pretty good job. I want to thank Doctors Ahmed and Akins for their article. The real problem in America though, is one of dishonesty. The safety net for millions of Americans is being shredded and it’s not because they are Muslims. They fight to take food from poor children and it is not because they are Muslim. We have a huge segment of America being manipulated by the idea that is cool to be racist and mean, even as they themselves end up bring victims of policies that only favor the richest 1% of the country. One of the main ways this kind of people has always been tricked is to trot out some small difference (as in I don’t pray the same way you do) and they buy media to pound at this difference until the rubes buy in. You see it in comment boards all over the internet. Blacks, Jews and Muslims are hated. Immigrants are hated. And in the meantime we have a disappearing middle class. Go ask the mean ones about their actual situation and they could care less about the facts and all of being in a sinking ship. Somebody told them they are supposed to hate me because of how I pray and the world can burn down….they are going to hate me because of how I pray. The big lesson we are getting in modern times is the intoxicating and lasting power of hate.

  • nkri401

    Intense desire to kill, in revenge, those who are preceived to have done the wrong is not ipso facto mental illness. It may just be the human nature shaped by the evolution.

    Mental illnes part may be in how one percieves who the “enemy” is.

    Until the society condems the act of “going out in a blaze of glory” heroic or not, we will have these wanna-bes to act out their vengence in a shoot out style.

    IMHO. BTW, good article.

  • ThomasBaum

    Oozy

    You wrote, “May the Lord above bless you.”

    Actually, God has blest the whole human race in becoming One of us in the Incarnation and living and dying for the Salvation of All of humanity.

    You then wrote, “Islam does not promote violence at All.”

    Isn’t there a “House of War” and a “House of Peace” mentioned in the koran?

    You then wrote, “Islam in their mind has been wronged by the west which in most cases may be true, looking at the various blogs which is written by instant Muslim experts with no proper knowledge of Islam.”

    Many people, it seems, get their “knowledge of Islam”, proper or not, from the events happening in the world.

    Are you saying that Islam, the religion, has been wronged or that Muslims, people, have been wronged?

    Do you think that someone should not be allowed to express their opinion about a religion?

    You then wrote, “They have a set of 20 or so false beliefs which they keep on harping upon.”

    Could one of these be that the god of islam denies the Divinity of Jesus which Jesus clearly said in the bible and yet claims Jesus as a prophet, could another be that the Trinitarian Nature of God be denied by the god of islam where it is clearly spoken of in the bible, could another be that the god of islam gets upset if anyone calls him father when Jesus, in the bible, clearly asked us to think of God as Our Father and even proceeded to make a prayer of this, could any or all of these be some of the “20 or so false beliefs” that you are referring to?

    You also wrote, “Islam has a tough time with so called experts talking about a subject which perhaps they have no knowledge.”

    Could at least part of this be because there are so many instances in the present where the “religion of peace” seems anything but peaceful?

    Could it also partly be because even in some of the places that it is “peaceful”, those with minority beliefs and non-beliefs are looked upon as second class, or worse, citizens?

  • ThomasBaum

    By the way, you didn’t answer the question I asked, which was: “But isn’t the “peace of islam” when the whole world either follows islam or is subjected to islam?”

    Except to say, “You are a really bitter person,”, isn’t what I asked what the “House of Peace” refers to?

  • Secular1

    Greg Abdul good try. Please do not confalte the rightwing assault on pregressive and liberal ideology with some kind of assault on Islam. Eventhough you initially make statements otherwise. The resentment towards Islamists and their apologista like, you, Ozzy and the idmoitable ambassdor, are not at all related. While I do not much care to distinguish between group A versus group B and mete out seperate treatments to teh group members, I am pretty sure about my distinctions of the memes peple hold near and dear to their hearts. In other words I do not treat budhists and different from jains and sikhs, just because theye are jains and sikhs. But i definitely am scathing about Bolshevism, collectivism, etc over Capitalism or Secularism. Nobody hates you because you are muslim (but a very few) most of US does not gives a scat who you are. So give that a rest.

    No

  • Arif2

    The problem with Islam today and all along has been its ability to never accept wrong, never accept blame. Muslims will never acknowledge there is an inherent problem with their religion; violence. This is not tribal, it is real, and Islam is violent in nature. You so-called scholars are to blame; you are the people who should open the dialog and point fingers at yourself and your doctrine. Write about why Muslims erupt when their prophet is criticized for what he did; evaluate yourselves when you burn churches, bomb innocent civilians and follow the pattern your very own prophet followed to stifle freedom. He burned looted and pillaged innocent people. These incidents mirror what your prophet did 1400 years ago. Not the press, not the Jews, Muslims it is YOU, your Koran your prophet. Look inward and heal yourselves. The world has moved and left you in the dust, your only way out is to blame and destroy.

  • Secular1

    Aah! There he goes again this High Commisioner. WaPo needs to know that Common Wealth countries do not exchange ambassadors, they exchange High Commissioners. Mr. Akbar rises to the defense of Islam, every opportunity he gets. His fellow muslims (the lunatic and the bigoted) give him plenty of opportunities with their frequent atrocities.

    Today he wants to conflate the Navy yard shootings with the daily murderous goings on in his beloved Pakistan, and in Niarobi conducted by the fanatical and bigoted co-religionists. In case of his beloved Puristan, he rationalizes or rather blames US for the thugs and cowardly co-religionists massacre of minority Christians. Purported revenge for the US drone strikes. He has the gall to tell us that the poor wretched souls could not figure out their fellow Christian citizens were not in cahoots with the US military. Are his fanatical bigoted brethren are really that dumb and stupid, or does he think we are that dumb and stupid to swallow this crap he is trying to feed us?

    Then he goes on to blame Kenyan troops called into that wretched Somalia to keep peace, for the attack in Nairobi, by his fanatical bigoted brethren. Does he think that his fanatical bigoted co-religionists are too dumb to figure out why the Kenyans are in that wretched Dar-ul-Islam called Somalia? Does he not know that the Kenyan soldiers, in that wretched Dar-ul-islam, are protecting poor miserable co-religionists from the bedlam that country is? Or does he think we are too stupid and dumb to buy his horse manure.

    Continuing Below:

  • Secular1

    Continuing from Above:

    Then he goes on to make this truth claim “It is clear that the actions of the Taliban and al Shabab, both emerging from tribal societies (the Pashtun and Somali, respectively) with defined codes of honor, is not motivated by religion but a mutation of tribal behavior which emphasizes revenge.” No Mr. High Commissioner, it is not at all clear that their conduct is not motivated by their religion – ISLAM. In fact the contrary is clear. They perpetuators proclaim it and your scripture and Hadith proclaim it loud and clear. Your prophet in his raids against his foes has spared not grotesque methods n getting rid of them. He even went to the extent of ordering the butchering of a pregnant poetess who made a fashion of mocking him. The fact that Sunnis of his beloved Puristan routinely massacre their own kind, just because they are just a shade different from themselves – Sunnis. I am talking about Shia, Boharis, Ahmediays, etc, etc. And of course the Shia of Iraq and Iran return the coin in the same fashion.

    So please do not try to pull the wool over us, that the religious ethnic cleansing that the fanatics and bigots practice is mutation of tribalism gone hey wire. It is in keeping with the scripture.

  • GregAbdul

    Ozzy is doing a pretty good job in answering the haters. But I will add a little. I want to thank Doctors Ahmed and Akins for their article. The real problem in America though, is one of dishonesty. The safety net for millions of Americans is being shredded and it’s not because they are Muslims. They fight to take food from poor children and it is not because they are Muslim. We have a huge segment of America being manipulated by the idea that is cool to be racist and mean, even as they themselves end up bring victims of policies that only favor the richest 1% of the country. One of the main ways this kind of people has always been tricked is to trot out some small difference (as in I don’t pray the same way you do) and they buy media to pound at this difference until the rubes buy in. You see it in comment boards all over the Internet. Blacks, Jews and Muslims are hated. Immigrants are hated. And in the meantime we have a disappearing middle class. Go ask the mean ones about their actual situation or facts and they could care less about the the truth of all of us fighting on a sinking ship. Somebody told them they are supposed to hate me because of how I pray and the world can burn down…. Disappearing middle class be damned, they are going to hate me because of how I pray. The big lesson we are getting in modern times is the intoxicating and lasting power of hate.

  • GregAbdul

    Secular. I think this article is written by a couple of Ph.D’s. One is a scholar on Islam. You bash and rant about them, but really…what are your qualifications? Do you think you being hateful puts you on there level? Do you have some real world facts or study that shows them as wrong? The Shabab specifically said they wanted Kenyan troops out of Somalia. They did not make any religious demands after they took hostages. In fact, they wen straight in and starting shooting kids right out of the gate, so there was no “religious agenda.” That is the point these scholars are making. Now you are no scholar. but you got a computer and in your mind, that makes you smarter or know more than them? You hate Muslims. Does that make you wise? Isn’t hate a stupid thing?

  • GregAbdul

    Arif is a Muslim name. Now be honest. Tell us why you should tell a billion people their business? And I don’t mean you know were the Muslim hates sites are either.

  • GregAbdul

    No Thomas, taht is not when the whole world prays under Muslims. We strive for the truth to be supreme. Now our truth is that God is One, without partner or associate. We have no mandate to kill anyone in spreading that truth. The Quran forbids us from coercing anyone when it comes to faith.

  • GregAbdul

    The Peace of Islam is you knowing in your heart that God controls everything. The peace of Islam is that you know in your heart that God gives a mercy that sustains every single thing in this seen universe and in the unseen world, God is supreme and His mercy carries our every step. The Peace of Islam is that we know God is love (al wadood) and He gives us chances and makes ways for us where there is no way. Finally the peace of God is that we know God forgives and He is so great and He needs absolutely no help in forgiving anyone in His creation.

    I hope I cleared that up for you.

  • Oozy

    There goes the bitterness of non Muslims against Islam.
    Islam does not tolerate injustice, which is being done to them.
    I do not promote violence of any kind, in my ideal world there should be peace and harmony worldwide. Unfortunately the world has seen peace for only 250 years in the history of the world.
    A Muslims never ever degrades Jesus Christ then why should the non Muslims say draw unfitting pictures of our prophet, can you tell them to stop immediately(you cant).
    The Quran is the word of Allah any remarks on it are most unwelcome.
    Many people have not read the Holy Quran and know nothing about it, it was revealed over a period of 30 plus years (by Allah) and was instructions to our holy prophet what needed to be done AT That time. That time is over. The Holy Quran has many verses that promote harmony and peace , there is no compulsion in religion, all religions belong to Allah and Muslims are not guardians over them. Per the Quran if Allah wanted the world to be Muslims He would have done so, He tests people for their faithThe job of the Muslims is to tell the world that there is only one GOD-Allah, The following up would be done by Allah himself via whatever means He sees fit.
    Islam on the other hand will never tolerate in justice and this can be done by peaceful means too.
    Life right now is in turmoil not only for Muslims but for other religions too but they (seeth) not.
    We all need to work together to make peace not hate -you and me are included in this process.

  • Oozy

    You have lot of hate in you, your own problems you have to sort out yourself.
    Just pass it on to Jesus who will save you for eternal life because you believe in the doctrine.
    Each person is responsible to write message promoting peace and harmony.
    The time is NOW to start.

  • Secular1

    Aah!! Greg aren’t you the smart one. You have no way of knowing anything about, while I do know something about this High Commissioner. You are hurling invective at me by accusing me of ignorance about the authors. On teh contrary you know absolutely nothing about me, but you are perpetuating the very stuff you are accusing me of. I have spoken to the High Commissioner on at least one occassion and perhaps twice, when he was in my home town. Now let’s see your charges against me.

    “What are your Qualifications?” you ask. My answer is the same as yours. I am adult American wh o follows international affairs very keenly, as well as domestic affairs as well. Besides that I study comparative religion and their associated superstitions and dogmas. Besides does anyone need to hold some minimum qualifications to contribute on this blog? Are you the one who will be governing the qualifications of the contributors? How do you think, you are qualified either.

    You claim, “One is a scholar on Islam. You bash and rant about them”. But pray tell us all what makes an Islamic Scholar? Should learning of the nuances of superstition, speculations, outright lies, and dogmas qualify as scholarship? By that standard, every Al Chemist can claim to be a Chemist or every numerologist can claim to be a mathematician. I submit not.

    Besides Mr. Akbar was one of the officials who aided Zia in implementing the much grotesque Hudood and blasphemy laws and was the High Commissioner during Zia’s tenure. This is the man we are to concede as an authority?

    Continued Below:

  • Secular1

    Continued from above:

    Then you go on to claim “The Shabab specifically said they wanted Kenyan troops out of Somalia. They did not make any religious demands after they took hostages” On the contrary even the Islamic Apologetic American media is now reporting that they indeed made sure the Muslims were spared. That is not to say that muslime were not the victims of tis atrocity.They did have religious agenda. The likes of Al Shabab, Al Qaeda have only one agenda, that is Islamic agenda.

    Then you accuse me of hating Muslims. I hate all religion, and perhaps more so Islam for it is the vilest of the contemporary religions, in practice. So is Judaism, from its original scripture it is too a grotesque religion, but thankfully most of it is repudiated, unlike the Islamic scripture. You have no clue about my relationship with muslims. I grew up with them, in the neighborhood, went to schools and colleges with them and am close family friends with them and break bread with the families all the time. So do I do that with Hindus, Christians, Parsees, Jains and others. Just because I hate a religion (just a man made social meme), then I would be a lonely person given that vast majority of people have some religious affiliation.

  • Secular1

    Oozy, right. I guess the rest of teh churches in Dar-ul-islams are spontaneously crumbling and or going on fire. And for every tolerant (early verses) in your AL Kitab, there are perhaps a score of hateful ones. Enough of tehis nonsense.

  • ThomasBaum

    GregAbdul

    You wrote, “Now our truth is that God is One, without partner or associate.”

    As I have said before, the very core belief of Christianity is that God became One of us in the Person of Jesus and that God is a Trinity and this Trinity is referred to as: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    This is the simple reason why I say that the God of Christianity and the god of islam are not the same, one or the other could be true, both could be false but they both can NOT be true.

    You also wrote, “We have no mandate to kill anyone in spreading that truth. The Quran forbids us from coercing anyone when it comes to faith.”

    Mandate or no mandate, many have been killed and are still being killed around the world for simply disagreeing with what you called “our truth”.

    There are also countries in the world that justify coercion and worse that use as their justification the Quran and various other islamic teachings in fatwas issued by religious authorities that are under islamic rule.

    Are you saying that the countries under islamic rule, that is governed by islamic law, that use the Quran as I have mentioned above, are illegitimate?

  • ThomasBaum

    GregAbdul in response to your comment of 3:20am 9-26 of original post of 2:14pm 9-24

    You wrote, “Now our truth is that God is One, without partner or associate.”

    As I have said before, the very core belief of Christianity is that God became One of us in the Person of Jesus and that God is a Trinity and this Trinity is referred to as: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    This is the simple reason why I say that the God of Christianity and the god of islam are not the same, one or the other could be true, both could be false but they both can NOT be true.

    You also wrote, “We have no mandate to kill anyone in spreading that truth. The Quran forbids us from coercing anyone when it comes to faith.”

    Mandate or no mandate, many have been killed and are still being killed around the world for simply disagreeing with what you called “our truth”.

    There are also countries in the world that justify coercion and worse that use as their justification the Quran and various other islamic teachings in fatwas issued by religious authorities that are under islamic rule.

    Are you saying that the countries under islamic rule, that is governed by islamic law, that use the Quran as I have mentioned above, are illegitimate?

  • GregAbdul

    Mr. Thomas, if I say a rabbit “became one of us” that is not even close to saying there is only one rabbit. The core of “trinity” is TRI…I think that means THREE. What you call “God the Father,” is what we worship. We worship the same one that Jesus worshiped while he was on his knees begging in the garden just before you say he died. It is written in your Bible that Jesus prayed. We openly declare that we pray to the same ONE (and only One) that Jesus prayed to. Many people of every faith are killed around the world everyday. Many Christians kill. For a long time many Christians have been making illogical unfair leaps when it comes to Islam. Special words like “Islamist” have been created to support a long simmering prejudice against Muslims. Mr. Tom, I study Islam. I go to mosque. I have travelled outside the US. When was the last time you visited a mosque and had a Muslim scholar tell you we are allowed to force people to pray in the way we think they should pray? Your question is sort of a good one, but you are not being rational. Russia is a country dominated by Christians and so is the US, but they have different laws and cultures. Many countries have many influences and usually we don’t blame even national sins on any particular religion. I ask you to visit a mosque to see if anyone coerces you. If you have money and time, travel to Turkey and see if any Muslim tries to coerce you. You are dealing in a stereotype. We choose Islam. We choose to cover. We love our faith. I have to keep saying, the only ones I really see forcing people to pray in what they deem is an acceptable manner are usually Christians. I thank God I am beyond that now.

  • GregAbdul

    My qualifications are I go to mosque and I swear, by Allah, I actually know a real Muslim or two or three or maybe more (I never count). How many Muslims do you actually know? When was the last time you visited a mosque? You say we are both adults, but adults know not to talk out of ignorance. Your computer and hate sites don’t count. Can you speak to us about your actual experience with Muslims? Professor Akbar has real world and book knowledge and by the way, they give degress in Islamic studies. And you don’t get credits by visiting anti Muslim hate sites.

  • Secular1

    GregAbdul, you say “My qualifications are I go to mosque and I swear, by Allah,” So you think one of the pre-requisites to comment here about Islam and Islamic practices one has to go to mosques and know muslims? Isn’t that wonderful? You really sound stupid and silly with your claims of qualifications.

    Then you ask me “How many Muslims do you actually know? When was the last time you visited a mosque?” Please let me know which part of the following do you not understand “You have no clue about my relationship with muslims. I grew up with them, in the neighborhood, went to schools and colleges with them and am close family friends with them and break bread with the families all the time. So do I do that with Hindus, Christians, Parsees, Jains and others. Just because I hate a religion (just a man made social meme), then I would be a lonely person given that vast majority of people have some religious affiliation.” Then I will clarify for you, I promise. Seems like you need some remedial English classes.

    GregAbdul, looks like you have been drinking KoolAid from Al Kitab by the jugs. BTW Abdul, you went off on a tirade against Thomas and his Trinity, have you ever read that silly stupid story of Zuk-Qurnayn in, that filthy tome superstition, ignorance and lies, Al Kitab? With your 21st century knowledge, what do you think of this priceless story? Can you rationalize to us, how you reconcile that piece of silly fiction is presented as fact in your Al Kitab?

  • ThomasBaum

    GregAbdul Part I

    You wrote, “Mr. Thomas, if I say a rabbit “became one of us” that is not even close to saying there is only one rabbit.”

    You can say whatever you want, what I simply said was that God, Who created absolutely everything except for God, chose to become One of us (a human) in His creation and did just that in the Person of Jesus.

    You then wrote, “The core of “trinity” is TRI…I think that means THREE. What you call “God the Father,” is what we worship.”

    Yes, TRI does mean three as in the Trinitarian Nature of God, Jesus spoke not only of The Father but also of the Holy Spirit and it was for Jesus’s alleged “blasphemy” saying He was/is God that He was crucified.

    Doesn’t the koran also say that Jesus did not die in the crucifixion?

    The god of islam not only denies the Divinity of Jesus but also gets mighty upset if anyone calls him father, is this correct or not?

    What I call God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I can’t explain the Trinity but I have met Dad and the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the Catholic Eucharist is Jesus, here is the Trinity, this is quite different from the godwannabe spoken of in the koran who basically says that the Jesus presented in the bible is a liar and then goes ahead with quite a different Jesus in the koran and then claims Jesus as his prophet.

    You then wrote, “Many people of every faith are killed around the world everyday.”

    This is true and just a guess but the majority that are killed for their faith are killed by Muslims in the name of allah and Mohammed including fellow Muslims.

    Also you wrote, “Many Christians kill.”

    People of all faiths and no faith kill, but it seems that the majority, in this day and age, that kill for their faith are Muslims, does this seem to be the reality of the day to you?

  • ThomasBaum

    GregAbdul Part II

    What I wrote about mostly was not the actions of people of faith or no faith but the difference, big difference, between the God of the bible and the god of islam presented in the koran.

    You then asked, “When was the last time you visited a mosque and had a Muslim scholar tell you we are allowed to force people to pray in the way we think they should pray?”

    I have never visited a mosque and I will attempt to follow the God that I met rather than the God or god or gods that some “scholar”, be they Muslim, Christian or any other faith, has studied about.

    You also wrote, “Your question is sort of a good one, but you are not being rational. Russia is a country dominated by Christians and so is the US, but they have different laws and cultures. Many countries have many influences and usually we don’t blame even national sins on any particular religion.”

    I may or may not be rational concerning this in your opinion but you are being evasive.

    You stated that Russia and the US are dominated by Christians, your opinion, but I asked about countries that were/are not only dominated by islam but islam is the law of the land as well as islam being the government, somewhat of a difference, wouldn’t you say?

  • ThomasBaum

    GregAbdul Part III

    You then wrote, “You are dealing in a stereotype. We choose Islam. We choose to cover. We love our faith.”

    If you choose Islam than that is your choice as well as anyone else choosing what they wish to choose and you should follow Islam how you feel you should follow Islam but not if it is to take away anyone else’s right to choose, this freedom to choose either includes all or it includes none.

    I would say that the vast majority of Muslims are very fine people, it is the god of islam that I have a problem with or to be more accurate the godwannabe of islam.

    As I have said many times, the True, Living, Triune, Triumphant God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof and It is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows.

    You also wrote, ” I have to keep saying, the only ones I really see forcing people to pray in what they deem is an acceptable manner are usually Christians.”

    I would say that there are some “Christians” that attempt to do this but to say what you say in this sentence seems to me to be “selective blindness”.

  • GregAbdul

    We both have to cut down on the words. Mainly because we won’t solve much here. Your Bible says, God is One. “hear oh Israel…” The first Commandment in your Bible says, “you shall have NO other gods before Me.” Right? Doesn’t NO mean NO? Yet you have a new god named Jesus. Now I don’t mean to insult you. Sometimes you guys like to seem rational. Jesus didn’t tell you to worship a trinity. That’s an invention after Jesus from the church fathers. You want to tell me what I worship and then say things that are false. When I say, you worship other than the God of Abraham, I am not lying. You have found something to worship besides the One and Only God. Well, you didn’t exactly find other things. They were forced on you as a kid and it is a truth that turns your world upside down. Old friends fly away, when you aren’t what you used to be. For me, it matters more what kind of Christian you are anyway. You might be an evil Muslim, in which case, God means for you to be Christian or whatever. I am an ex-catholic. My family is catholic. They are the best Christians, when they actually follow the Pope. Looks like you got a good one now. You are trying to tell me how many Muslims kill. Have you done a study? Or are you drawing conclusions from watching the news? Now you want to tell me about Islam and that is the only reason I ask you about the mosque. Seems to me, if you are being fairly rational, you would refrain from telling me about places and people that you know nothing about. Your base defense is, “you know God.” Well for us, we study and study and we always know and believe God is far beyond us. You don’t insult me when you say God is your father (or mines). You merely display more irrational thinking. Two dogs mate. One is the mother and the other is the father. Same thing with people. I have a father. I have a step father. They are men. God is not a man who slept with my mother. God is the Creator of everything. This is belief. We believe, God says BE and it is.

  • GregAbdul

    I sort of just responded to your points above. I would tell you that this thing where you believe you are related to God sometimes has this effect I like to see as an Adam effect. You sort of put it in your mind that it is for you to name things. This is a trap in Christian theology. You have never set foot in a mosque. You certainly have not been to an Islamic university or spoken with a Muslim scholar, but somehow, you leap to the idea that you get to tell me what God is in Islam? That is not a logical or sensible or reasonable leap of thought. I can only tell you what our book says and what I pray to in following our book. We pray to the God of Abraham, Jacob Issac and Ismael. We submit to him. We pray to the God of Abraham. I have already said, you are right when you say we don’t pray to the same thing. Neither Muslims nor Jewish people pray to a man. In your thing, there just is not a lot of thinking. 1) it is for you to tell me what I pray to, when you have zero real study on Islam. 2) here’s a closer for you. Muslims believe just as Christians do, that Jesus is the messiah. Now that is a Jewish term and there is your problem. Go and study something please other than yourself. Is the God of Abraham the same thing as the Messiah? If they are not, then Jesus can only be one. Yet your faith says, God is the Messiah. I am not impressed with people who are full of themselves because they “know God.” God knows seven billion people. and you have the nerve to think you have an overview of the One who sees all?

  • GregAbdul

    I answered your question about Muslim countries, but you did not hear. We are never one thing. In America we know people are influenced by a many blended things. This is certainly true for everywhere else in the world. So when you say a Muslim country coerces, my point to you was that that often this is an extreme counter reaction to colonialism. They drove people out and they want none of their people imitating the former colonial power. That is totally outside of religion. for example, the Saudis, forbid women from driving. You really think they got that from looking the Quran? They didn’t. You have I am evasive but this is not hard. They do get to make their own laws. We have people put in jail for possessing marijuana. The US is the biggest jailer in the industrialized world. I am not equivocating. I am telling you that politics law and culture go into these things. If you want to know the role religion plays, you have to get up and go talk to an expert. You don’t want to do that and that’s fine, but then don’t you be a fake expert, with your poorly drawn conclusions on how Islam affects people when you have never set foot in a Muslim environment.

  • GregAbdul

    *Muslims and Jewish people follow the First Commandment which forbids us from worshiping a man.

  • ThomasBaum

    GregAbdul Part I

    You wrote, “NO? Yet you have a new god named Jesus.”

    Jesus always was God but He wasn’t always human, remember, “Let US make man in OUR Image…”, just because we can’t, with our finite and limited mental ability, comprehend how ONE can be a Trinity, doesn’t mean that that is the only thing that is beyond our mental abilities to conceive of concerning God.

    You then wrote, “When I say, you worship other than the God of Abraham, I am not lying.”

    I don’t think that you are knowingly lying either.

    Then you wrote, “Well, you didn’t exactly find other things. They were forced on you as a kid and it is a truth that turns your world upside down.”

    Nothing was “forced on me as a kid” concerning God, however it was more like God finding me than me finding God, as God told us, “Remember it was I Who chose you, not you who chose Me”, as I have put it, God rewarded my faith with some knowledge.

    You then wrote, “You are trying to tell me how many Muslims kill. Have you done a study? Or are you drawing conclusions from watching the news?”

    Personally, I think it is a very small minority that engages in terrorism around the world but a very small minority out of about a billion can still be quite a few and yes I do draw some conclusions from the news, I can’t be everywhere to personally witness everything, I would say that at least some of the news is true, wouldn’t you?

  • ThomasBaum

    GregAbdul Part II

    You then wrote, “Now you want to tell me about Islam and that is the only reason I ask you about the mosque. Seems to me, if you are being fairly rational, you would refrain from telling me about places and people that you know nothing about.”

    If you read what I write, I speak much more about the god of islam and how some of the things in the koran do not jive with what is in the bible concerning Jesus and also the very start of Judaism, ie Isaac and Ismael.

    Another thing is that even tho there have been many who have attempted to set up a theocracy in the Name of Jesus, this is not even close to what Jesus taught, many have and still are attempting and setting up a theocracy in different places in the name of islam, this seems to be what the koran teaches, do you think that this is what is taught or are those theocratic countries going against what is taught in the koran and other teachings of islam?

    You then wrote, “Your base defense is, “you know God.” Well for us, we study and study and we always know and believe God is far beyond us.”

    Actually, I said that I met God and “know” that God Is and I “know” that God Is a Being of Love as opposed to Love being a mere attribute of God, people can study God until the cows come home, as they say, and still know nothing about God.

    God is closer to you and everyone else than anyone can even imagine but it is only God that can reveal this.

  • alltheroadrunnin

    Nah, Bush tried that “compassion” stuff. Didn’t work.

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