From The Australian - article "Most ADF soldiers ‘believe Islam promotes violence and terrorism’" (subscriber-only link, sadly), reporting Dr Charles Miller, a lecturer in Strategic and Defence Studies at the Australian National University"
“The best estimate … for the proportion of soldiers who have received cultural sensitivity training and who believe that the Muslim religion promotes violence and terrorism is 91 per cent.
“The corresponding figure for those who have not had cultural sensitivity training is 17 per cent.”
Have you ever noticed how the "sensitive elite" talk lots about "sensitivity training", "deradicalisation", and so on, whilst obviously having little clue about the core belief system that these "programs" and concerned with? Not talking about Dr Miller, but about the mindless promoters of these "fix it all" programs. In this case the "fix" made the problem over 500% worse!
Disclosure here: I believe Muhammad was a prophet, but I am not a Muslim. Likewise I believe in Jesus, but I am not a Christian; repeat for Buddha, Moses, Krishna, and others.
The relevance: Having read the Quran at least three times from cover to cover, both in the normal order and in order of revelation (as well as a lot more stuff), I know vastly more about what Muhammad taught than the administrators and politicians who think that throwing money at a problem, without understanding it, might fix it.
Have you ever tried to explain something to a politician, something that you are expert in? Here's how it usually goes: the politician smiles understandingly, but one or two sentences in, their eyes glaze over. Another few sentences and it's "Yes, well, we'll look into that... ho, hum, hah, must go."
That is why politicians are generally useless with the hardest issues. Unless you are willing to "get inside" an issue, you will never be able to make useful contributions to fixing the problems. By being generally unwilling to listen, by trying to fit everything into their political narrative instead of seeking the truth, our political masters perpetually remain nothing more than useless decorations on the national stage.
I am going now, with the above disclosure on record, to give you my personal view on whether Islam is a religion of peace.
First the bad news. A plain reading of the Quran, without reflection, does seem to support the claim of the terrorists that they have the correct interpretation of the teachings in the Quran. Hold that thought though, I will shortly give you one simple demonstration that this interpretation is not the right one.
But now the good news. Unfortunately I need to give a serious warning here, before you take the rash step of reading further:
You'll have to do some thinking!
Yes, yes, I know, it's harsh, life wasn't meant to be easy.
Are you still with me? Righto then. But to soften the blow let me give you that demo as to why the terrorists are not the real Muslims. A recurring theme in the Quran is Muhammad's white-hot anger at cruelty to animals. Yes. He was utterly opposed to animal cruelty; those who practise it can expect only the fires of hell. Yet the hard-liners generally defend and endorse all manner of cruel "traditional" practices towards animals. On that score alone, the whole lot of them are disowned by their own prophet. The peace-loving Muslims, usually, are the ones who also oppose animal cruelty. If we take the teachings of Muhammad seriously, the truth must lie with the peace makers, not the warmongers.
That said, the hard bit can't be postponed forever; here goes.
What is the central message of the Quran?
I submit that it must be: "He is the compassionate, the merciful."
"In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" is the very first sentence of the Quran and is repeated at the head of all but one of the 114 chapters.
Although we can never be God (or Allah), it just cannot be that God would ally Himself with those who are unreservedly, willingly, and unapologetically the direct opposite of Himself. That is, He can never, obviously, regard as His friends and allies those who are willingly callous and cruel; He will support and befriend those who work in their own lives to emulate as best as they can His own nature of compassion and mercy. Compassion and mercy is the basic nature of the loving God who created the universe. To align with those values is to align with God Himself. Those are His true followers. The slavers, the head hackers, the terrorists and murderers, these are all opposed to Allah in the very core of their being, because nothing they do is compassionate or merciful. All their acts are uncaring and cruel. They are the enemies of God. This should be self-evident to any sincere and caring person, regardless of religion.
But the question will immediately arise: If all this is true, why, then, can these murderous fanatics find support for their beliefs in the text of the Quran?
This is the hard part.
It might be hard in different degrees for different readers. Some, who don't believe in God, might just think of this as an exercise in nonsense. Maybe. But if you are in that group, read this for interest only, but please don't try to run a "cultural sensitivity" course anywhere, any time, because you'll only annoy people.
Some readers might believe in God, but not in Islam or not in Muhammad, and might even think that "God" and "Allah" are not one and the same loving creator. In that case, what I am about to explain might not "affect" you; you may be able to read it without difficulty; maybe you will even welcome it as evidence that Islam is false or Muhammad is not a prophet from God. Well, I agree with one thing here: if God really cared what religion we belonged to, He would make just one of them a whole lot more obvious than He has done. I don't think any truly fair thinker can conclude that one religion alone holds all the credibilty cards. So if those readers in this camp want to be part of the solution, please read the following with an open mind, not with the plan of just collecting more evidence against Islam.
For those readers who do believe (like me) that Muhammad was a prophet from God, what I am about to say might be extremely hard - or it might not, it might immediately gladden your heart; since I only go part of the way with you, I cannot see things through your eyes. But regardless, I can only implore you to think deeply about it and allow God to fill you with His compassion and love.
Having given all those warnings, the following might be disappointingly short and simple. Short, yes, but simple - only deceptively. I can only say what I have seen, and leave the importance of it up to you.
Keep in mind the central teaching of the Quran: He is the compassionate, the merciful.
But there is another message repeated often, perhaps most succinctly in the sura, The Night Journey. This version from Sahih International:
"And whoever Allah guides - he is the [rightly] guided; and whoever He sends astray - you will never find for them protectors besides Him, and We will gather them on the Day of Resurrection [fallen] on their faces - blind, dumb and deaf. Their refuge is Hell; every time it subsides We increase them in blazing fire."
Note clearly (and this is repeated elsewhere): it is God Himself who does the misleading!
The first question that obviously occurs is: Why on Earth would God deliberately mislead anyone? Any number of non-moslem websites can be found that use this as conclusive proof that Islam is not from God. Also, we might perhaps add that no good answer to these criticism has been forthcoming. This is a mattter of opinion, obviously, but so it seems. I, too, am not going to offer an explanation for this seeming paradox, except to say that it can be found by anyone who believes in Jesus (as Muhammad did!) but who does not believe in magic.
If we set that issue to one side, then, another, supremely important question might occur to us:
How does God mislead some people?
We need to free ourselves of magical thinking to answer this. By magic I mean anything that is logically inconsistent or contrary to the laws of physics. We must do this or else we will go off into neverland imagining all sorts of airy fairy mystical influences that will get us nowhere.
If, however, we look at it as a simple matter of fact: How does God guide people? With the text of the Quran. Likewise, therefore, He misleads them the exact same way: with the text of the Quran.
This is why the violent warmongers find confirmation of their evil ideas in the Quran: because both the right path and the wrong path are laid out for anyone to choose. Which path is right? The one that is in fundamental agreement with the core teaching of Muhammad: He is the compassionate, the merciful. The wrong path is the one that opposes that core message.
I know and understand why what I have said will be very painful to a great many. But the truth of this is laid out in detail in the book itself if, as I said above, we set aside magical thinking and just look at what the words actually say.
Many distrust Islam. I would argue that this distrust is entirely due to the wrongful acts of those who have chosen the false path. They try to intimidate those of us who are not Muslim, and they try to do likewise to other Muslims who just want a decent, peaceful life in which to raise a family. And there are a great many of those; they can't always speak out, from the threat of the head hackers, but they are there, they are our friends, if only the menace of the violent so-called "fundamentalists" can be unravelled.
I am aware that what I have said will raise a whole lot of other questions that I haven't discussed at all. This blog isn't intended to be directly religious, so I have cut it short, but something had to be said because the public "political" discourse is so far off the rails they are messing things up instead of putting them right.
As for what I have said above, I have said it because I believe in Muhammad as a prophet of God. God's teachings (all of them, in the writings of both religious and non-religious wise teachers) give the guidance to live a good and loving life if we align ourselves to God's true nature of love, care, mercy, and compassion. If we don't believe in God, we can surely believe that either possibility is present in the universe: the choice of good, or evil. It is up to us.