One of the blackest holes in my knowledge of the history of the world's religions is Islam. Excessively ignorant, but at least I am self-aware. Given that Islam played a major role in Byzantine History, however, I realized that this is a situation that demands more swift rectification than, say, my interest in Ancient Chinese History. Over this Christmas break, then, I have been trying to get a bit of a foundation for Islam, reading the Koran and the Sirat (Life of the Prophet).
I'll be frank, it has not been either uplifting, encouraging, or inspiring and it has not helped me to at all appreciate statements by President Bush about "good muslims" and their compatability with America and her goals and values. Aside: it is perhaps unfair to label our President with this, since he is probably simply taking the word of a trusted advisor, which I don't have a problem with in and of itself--he is the last in a long chain of education and thought. However, our President vocalizes the --almost unquestioned-- majority opinion among intellectuals, and the implications and extensive consensus of that majority opinion, and so I think I am justified as using him as a current figurehead. Enough.
I still have a significant portion of both texts to read, but thus far I have been extremely unimpressed with the person of Muhammed. In fact, downright disgusted. I will perhaps explain myself more when I have finished my little reading list (which includes a few other texts) and provide a plethora of examples, but for now my opinion on the subject is similar to that expressed in a quote by Alexis de Tocqueville that I happened upon:
"I studied the Koran a great deal ... 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 Muhammed. As far as I can see, it is the principle cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world, and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion infinitely more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself."
Here's the thing (and it will take me a little bit to get back round to my main point, but bear with). There ARE the people within the folds of both Christianity and of Islam who fall into the (actually useless) labels of "fundamentalist" that the MSM likes to continually use. There is the potential person, somewhere in Christianity, who still actually thinks and would vocalize that we need to fight a holy war against the Infidel and take back the holy land and that such an enterprise is explicitely blessed/commanded by God. I am willing to say this person exists somewhere because I have met people who exemplify tendencies or parts of this vision, but not the whole. So, all right, let us grant that this Christian exists somewhere.
However, in all my years being raised in a (warning you may be offended by me after I use these labels) fundamentalist evangelical family, Church and frequently schools, I have yet to meet this person. There are an infinite number of reasons to support the state of Israel that have nothing to do with the so-called "Zionism" that is supposedly the characteristic mark of Evangelical Fundamentalists: it is gross error to attribute America's allegiance with Israel as only upheld by foamy-mouthed "Zionists" (wherever they may be). The point here is that the "fundamentalism" in Christianity (as characterized by MSM) is truly on the fringe. There are those ideas within the Christian fold, but they're strange, they're not standard, they're not explicit, and they are certainely not required by either Holy Bible nor by Holy Tradition.
MSM, and their liberal intellectual chums attempt to parallel the fundamentalism of Islam with the "fundamentalism" of Christianity. What they do have right is that "fundamentalism" as methodology is basically a return to the literal strictures of the Book. As presented it is simple, populist and on the surface: anyone can pick up the book, read, and say, yep, I see where you get that. The problem is that it is not the methodology that is the problem here, though that is what is always blamed and used as the label. Rather, it is difference in the content of the respective books. Do any of the people who throw around these labels actually read the Bible and the Koran? Notice any [?!slight!?] differences?
Christian fundamentalists are not required to be "Zionist Crusaders". As I said above, the great majority are not. On the other hand, a Muslim fundamentalist is, by definition, a jihadist. 100% of Muslim fundamentalists believe the jihad (the physical one) is divinely ordained. Why? Because its in their texts, it is explicit, it is obvious.
A Christian reading the Bible has to jump through major interpretative hoops to get to Zionism.
A Muslim reading the Koran has to jump through major interprative hoops to get out of Jihad.
This is a major difference, my friends, and no one is acknowledging it.