Earlier this month I wrote a post detailing seven admirable things about Islam. Though the actual idea was my colleague Mike Parker’s idea, I thought it necessary for several reasons:
1. True Latter-day Saints know that there is good in every religion.
2. I wanted to show that LDS opinion on Islam was knowledgable and even-handed. Most Latter-day Saints I know are not willing to accept the worst of Islam just because some loudmouth says so.
I would suggest reading Brother Spencer Palmer’s book, Mormons and Muslims, for a more thorough scholarly treatment.
3. Many people that I know, both LDS and non-LDS, seem to conflate Islam with its virulent cousin, what David Horowitz calls “Islamo-Fascism.” I felt that I had to properly define Islam before I could define Islamo-Fascism in contra-distinction. The two are different.
4. Perhaps most important, I am aware of attempts by people like Jon Krakauer and Timothy Egan to define the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by its worst elements–especially those who were cut off from the mainline Church long ago. The Church shouldn’t be defined by apostates who were excommunicated long ago; Christianity as a whole shouldn’t be defined by the behaviour of medieval knights a millennium ago; and certainly, Islam shouldn’t be defined by those who violently pervert it.
There are several differences between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) and its apostate cast-offs, such as the FLDS:
1. Though both accept the principle of polygamy, the Mormons–according to its law-abiding principles (See D&C 98:5-6 and AF 1:12)–discontinued the practice after the US Supreme Court declared its outlawing constitutional. The FLDS–to this day–lives in defiance of the relevant laws.
2. Even during their polygamy period, the Mormons limited the practise to those who could otherwise legally be married. The age of consent was lower during the 19th century, but as it rose, the so did the age of plural wives. Whether it is the first wife or the 25th, marrying underage women means excommunication. On the other hand, it is reported that the FLDS still forces 14-year-old women into marrying.
3. Related to #2, among the Mormons, polygamy was entirely voluntary. Not only must the intended husband and wife consent, so must every other wife. The FLDS, to the contrary, leaves no choice regarding who marries whom.
4. The Mormons did NOT require the practise. There is a story about Elder Reed Smoot, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who was facing expulsion by the US Senate because of the Church’s polygamy. Like the woman taken in adultery [John 8:3-11], Senator Smoot was dragged to the GOP Senate leader. Spotting a few adulterers in the midst, the leader bellowed, “I would rather have seated beside me in this chamber a polygamist who doesn’t polyg than a monogamist who doesn’t monog.” The FLDS tend to shun men who refuse to partake.
I will leave distinguishing extremists from normative Christians to the Apologetics Index, which declares, “The Westboro Baptist Church, of Topeka, Kansas, is a hate group masquerading as a Christian church.” Over the past two and a half centuries, the USA has been working on the art of marginalising extremist Christians. While we are still imperfect, the fact remains that the denizens of Topeka, Kansas need not worry about getting slaughtered by Westboro Baptists.
For the sake of those of us who must fight Islamo-fascism, and normative Muslims who wish to obey Allah’s will, rather than some mullah’s, I now distinguish the former from the latter:
1. Devout normative Muslims care about morality; Muhammed Atta and his ilk were seen in strip clubs on 10 September 2001.
2. Islamo-fascist state Iran executed a 16-year-old rape victim for “crimes against chastity.” Devout normative Muslims believe that it is the rapist who should be executed (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4366).
3. As my colleague, Dr. Greg Smith, pointed out, to a mainline Muslim, Jihad means to wage war against one’s sinful desires. To the Islamo-fascist, it means, “Kill the Infidel!” or, more accurately, “Kill anybody not like me!”
4. To the Islamofascist, possessing the Bible is worthy of death; normative Muslims want to possess the Bible to better understand their Christian neighbours. Moreover, mainline Muslims know that the Qur’an commands that Muslims study the Bible [Al-Baqarah, 2:121].
5. To the Islamofascist, Christians and Jews are infidels to be killed. To normative Muslims, they are “People of the Book,” and thus, allies in the fight against godlessness [See, for example, Qur'an, Al-Imran, 3:79-80].
6. As I said in my earlier post, Islam preserved and extended knowledge. Islamofascists prefer that we all live in the stone age.
7. Normal Muslims see honour in being good hosts. Killing Nick Berg, as the Islamo-fascists did–and prefer to do, is NOT hospitality!
Unfortunately, all this gets lost when, as commenter Rudy said in responding to my previous post, “moderate groups like CAIR” defend not only Muslims in general, but even extremists. It is one thing to say that one abhors killing; one must also move to ostracise the extremists, or risk being tied to those extremists.
I think that Islam could take a lesson from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It excommunicated Samson Avard and his Danites before they could do much damage. Unfortunately, that may have been too late to avoid Missouri’s extermination order.
Furthermore, the Church excommunicated not only the main perpetrator of the Mountain Meadows Massacre (John Lee), it excommunicated local authorities who were present at the atrocity–and did nothing to stop it. While Brigham Young was removed as Utah’s Governor, the excommunications probably prevented the US Army from continuing its quest to detroy the Church.
Why is there no overarching Muslim authority that condemns Islamofascist Jihad? One possible answer is that normative Islam is no more monolithic than Christianity. Not only is there a difference between Sunni and Shia Islam, each major group has many subsets. Osama bin Laden is the leader of an extremist group in the ultra-conservative Wahabbi sect of Sunni Islam, the Qutbists.
Perhaps the normative Muslims are afraid of the extremists…. That is entirely possible, seeing that many of us won’t help protect the good ones from the bad….
The good Muslims need our prayers; the bad ones need to receive exploding daisy-cutters.
UPDATE: There is a correction in the third from last paragraph. Hat tip to Ray Agostini.