This thread is hotting up slightly. Ismaeel, from the Muslim Action Committee, has been good enough to engage in debate about religious tradition. Ismaeel and I go back about eighteen months now, and I hope he will not think it inappropriate if I describe our relationship as one of courteous antagonism. MAC was formed to coordinate the British protests against the Danish cartoons, and in response to that I organised a rally in Trafalgar Square in defence of freedom of expression.
That's the context; here's the comment I just posted:
Perhaps the extremism lay in the nature of the response, rather than the fact of the response, Ismaeel. But I would not personally have used that word about your organisation's response to the Pope's speech, although I do think your organisation is extremist, for reasons I'd be happy to explain.
In fact, in his quoted remarks, Faiz Siddiqi was disingenuous and misleading. Criticising the Pope for remarks he quoted, as though he made them himself, is misleading. Speaking of Jihad as peaceful in this context, when the rather tetchy comments in question were made by a man actually beseiged at the very moment of his speech by a Muslim army was disingenuous.
As you know, some years later Byzantium was successfully conquered by a Muslim army who were not at that time engaged in peaceful internal dialogue. A four day orgy of sodomy, beheading and looting followed. Then the Christian Churches were turned into Mosques.
Even Mecca was converted to Islam by the sword, even Saudi Arabia, even the land crusaders later tried to win back for Christianity. Muslim armies first crossed into Europe in the early eighth century; eight hundred years later they were beseiging Vienna. In the centuries between those dates, they continually attacked Europe, just as Jihadists are attacking Europe today.
We have had a couple of centuries free from attack by Muslims, that's all. It was won by the scientific progress we were able to make as we pursued genuine knwledge after the Reformation and the Enlightenment pushed back religion. Apart from that, it has been nearly one and a half millennia of violence, conquest, aggression, slavery and supremacism - NOT peaceful meditiation - from Muslims.
In this context it is not Ali who is expounding a dangerous philosophy; it is you. Islamic tradition, as opposed to the Koran (with which there is also considerable fault), is what has given the Islamic world five centuries of underachievement and brutality. It is something to be contextualised and reformed, not perpetuated with absolutist and fundamentalist fervour.