TED Conversations

Ghassan Mustafa

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Is Islam tolerent religion or not?and do you think that Muslims are isolated?

Many people say that Islam makes Muslim tend to be isolated and does not accepte the other. "God made us tribes and nations to get to know each other." This is a quote from Quran that displays that Islam is tolerent and it is not an isolated religion. Islam acceptes and respects the other and gives the other the freedom to practice their religions. Islam does not attack other religion and people and does not force them to converte into Islam. Many stereotypes of Islam tend to deform the image of Islam. One of the ways to know more about Islam is reading books by moderate Muslim or going to Muslim countries. Islam is the religion of peace and tolerence and this is applied to all religions over the world. Islam prohibits extremism. Therefore, Muslims do not consider extreme people as Muslims and representative of Islam. Muslims should communictate with people from all over the world. If non-Muslims need help, Muslims will definitely help them because we are all humans.

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Closing Statement from Ghassan Mustafa

Ted..this debate is supposed to end within 9 days from now!!

  • Apr 13 2012: What does it say about apostasy in in the Koran. Is it true that one is threatened with death or imprisonment for leaving Islam? Which countries practice this? What do you think about this practice?
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      Apr 14 2012: Before you convert into Islam, you should make sure 100% that this is the right religion. You should believe in Islam from your heart. The one who converts into another religion is condemned to death because you chose Islam after believing in it 100% and because you chose the right religion. This what Islam says. I do not think that there are countries in the world apply this. The one who converts into another religion could face problems with her or his family whether you converted into Christianity r Islam.
      I have never heard on news or in any country that this is applied till now
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        Apr 14 2012: Religious persecution,I can only recall from memory of a young girl who converted to Baha'i but i cannot remember or have actual links to prove this as it was from a Baha'i documentary on PBS.
        Does this happen? one could put a twist into any video work.
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      Apr 14 2012: And the old testament says kill adulterers, people who work on saturday, disobedient children.

      It just depends on which bits you choose to follow and which to ignore.

      Personally, I prefer to ignore the whole lot as bronze age or medieval superstition.

      The more enlightenment values like equality, the more you need to ignore.
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        Apr 14 2012: "And the old testament says kill adulterers, people who work on saturday, disobedient children."

        I have seen you use this statement many times throughout many conversations.

        Is there an example of the actual law being put to use?

        Do you understand the reason behind the law?

        Have you stopped to consider the significance of such statutes?

        I know, I am off topic.......if you are able to reply through an email, I will appreciate it......
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          Apr 15 2012: I'm pretty sure these are in Leviticus. I haven't picked up a bible in a while.

          I also recall God exterminated everyone except Noah and a few others.
          Sodom, Gomorrah destroyed by god.
          God ordering Abraham to kill his Son.
          Didn't Moses order the levites to kill the people who built a statue of the golden calf.
          God and his angels helped his chosen people defeat their enemies.
          Guidelines for Jewish slave owners.

          Even if you are a Christian, this is talking about god the Father.

          Thankfully this not happening now that much in the Western world.

          But this is the immutable story of god. The same source as Islam.

          This is at times a god that takes sides, kills people, that eternally torments people in hell, that needed a blood sacrifice.

          You just cant take the bits you like and ignore the rest. .

          My point is Christianity has some potential for violence and evil, just as Islam does. More so than Buddhism or Jainism. This has something to does with the shared source material.

          The West had the enlightenment and the development of increasingly secular governments - not universally - I guess the church of England is the state religion, but for a few hundred years the Catholics and others have been able to worship freely. Slavery abolished a few hundred years ago in the west. Nearly all men got the vote, not just the wealthy or land owners about a 120 years ago and women a few decades later. Although Australian aborigines had to wait until the 1960's coinciding with the US civil rights movement. Homosexuality was only decriminalized a few decades ago. for different races.

          Western Science officially dropped supernatural explanations a few hundred years ago.

          I guess after thousands of years of so called human civilization the Western world is only a few decades, maybe a century or two ahead of the Islamic world in terms of human rights.

          But I still think they are bogged down and their religion is part of it.
          Secular muslims do much better.
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    Apr 11 2012: Shouldn't the people participating in this debate be Muslims?

    The rest of us will only be saying what we perceive......or have been led to believe through the media and history books.

    I for one would love to see Muslims from all over the world participate in this debate....why don't you tag it to one or more of the talks???

    That is my humble opinion.
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    Apr 13 2012: Although it would be difficult to separate Islam from a Muslim individual I will attempt to do so:

    Based off what I know about the tenants of Islam and if we just focus on these tenants I would have to say that no, it is not meant to be tolerant to those on the outside. As a matter of fact it does not seem to be tolerate of certain sects within its own religion.

    With that being said, I understand there are great, tolerant and friendly Muslims individuals. As a matter of fact I know a few. Knowing this I would have to say Islam practiced in the west is different than Islam practiced in the middle east.

    According to the Qu'ran I can see how such violent and intolerant behavior can be justified but I tend to think that in spite of this people can be good in spite of what they may believe but I also believe that beliefs have consequences.

    I hope this does not come off as saying all Muslims are bad. What I"m attacking is the religion and not the individuals and stating that certain beliefs in propositions can lead to bad behavior, which I think many people in the west tend to ignore.
  • Apr 12 2012: Could someone please explain this phenomenon to me....?
    Just open the link. Amnesty usa

    Is it a cultural thing? Why is honor more important than your own daughters life..? Does it have anything at all to do with Islam and the Koran?

    http://blog.amnestyusa.org/women/the-horror-of-honor-killings-even-in-us/
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      Apr 13 2012: This is a cultural deed, but we are against it because this is killing. The so called"honor killing" has nothing to do with Islam and Qur'an.
      It has nothing to do with Islam at all. The one who did it is a Muslim, but that does not necessarily mean that he follows the teachings of Islam. As a Muslim, I am against the so called "Honor Killings" for it is against humanity and against the law of Islam. One thing that the west does not understand about Islam that they judge Islam without knowing anything about Islam; they consider anything done wrong done by Muslims is part of Islam, so this totally wrong. For example, the one who shot people in Norway months ago was a Christina,but as Muslims we did not consider him as a representative of Christianity. The same is applied to Al-qaida, we as Muslim are against this terrorist organization because Islam and of course the other religions are against bloodshed and killing.
      This man should be punished.
      Thank you very much for raising this issue.
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        Apr 13 2012: Yes,honor killing is specific to the people who practice this or allow this to continue, like that of acid burning in Pakistan? and other countries.The real problem with this type of practice has got to do with us men as men not ones religion.
  • Apr 12 2012: The issue is the same with all religions that follow ancient texts and dogmas; the old books are open to a great degree of interpretation because of the rampant contradictions that exist in the Bible or the Quran or the Torah.

    As society progresses, it becomes harder and harder to reconcile the old and archaic bits of religion with the reality of modern day society. This inevitably results in intolerance and/or isolation. Islam isn't unique in this problem the same issues exist with Christianity and Judaism.

    Secularism gives us the best chance at people of all religions co-existing and happy under the same proverbial roof. It doesn't necessarily reconcile the archaic bits of religions though eventually the religions have to own those and move past them (i.e- Certain delusional religious folks in America trying to get fiction taught as science in public schools as "creationism").
  • Apr 11 2012: My own personal experience leads me to believe that Islam is no more or less tolerant than any other religion. I do not think that Muslims are more or less isolated than followers of any other religion.

    I think the very best way to get to know more about Muslims, if not Islam, is to go to a Muslim country. I visted Turkey in 2003 not long after the start of hostilities in Iraq. I found there was the same broad spectrum of viewpoints about that conflict as there was in the UK, my homeland. Some thought the war was a good thing as they despised Saddam and could tell me tales from refugees of that regime. Other's were completely opposed to the war and others held the same viewpoint as myself that there should have been no conflict without a UN mandate and the war was therefore illegal.

    I found the people of Turkey without exception to be hospitable and charming. Many assumed that comming from a European country I was a Christian and were somewhat suprised when I told them I was atheist, but they were not hostile towards me. In fact they seemed to be a lot more tolerant of my lack of belief than some people from my own home-town where there is an evangelical Christian church who regularly hold meetings in the town centre and try to convince people to come to their church.

    I do think that media stereotypes warp peoples viewpoint. In UK the media made much of an extremist Islamic group who held demonstrations against returning British troops from Afghanistan, spitting at them, burning rememberance day poppies and calling for Sharia law in the UK. The Muslim Council of Britain who, while not agreeing with the war, condemned this action were given virtually no media coverage.

    I think it is extremists of any religious persuasion who are the problem, not which particular religion they claim to represent. Plus media sensationalist bias.
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    Apr 10 2012: To me, this is a deeply philosophical quandary: The use of religion as mind control and a weapon. I think most major religions (and probably minor ones too) have been through a stage where a clever few have been able to manipulate the actions of the many towards a terrible distortion of the original tenents of the faith for centralized gain and profit. Belief, as has been shown, is a very powerful motivator. If we could survey everybody in the world I would predict that a vast majority want peace and brotherhood, yet we still don't have it. Why? I say because the 'strong and clever' still rule, and it is not in their best interest for us to tolerate and love each other.
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      Apr 11 2012: If we had leaders who were moral and compassionate instead of strong and clever, then we would live in peace with one another? I don't think so RH. Freely elected leaders are a reflection of the character of the people who voted for them, aka the majority. As for religious leaders the choice is there to change religions at will. That leaves the finger of blame pointing, rightly, at the individual. It is, as you said, a quandary.
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        Apr 11 2012: Thanks for responding, Edward. I don't think I fully understand your comment. Please elaborate a little so I'm clear for this conversation. Thnx.
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          Apr 11 2012: Clarity is so elusive. I will explain my meaning. My disagreement is with your statement that even though a vast majority of earthlings want peace and brotherhood we do not have it. You strongly suggest that the reason we don't have it is because we are under the control of the strong and clever leaders of the world. My comment is in opposition to that assertion. Individual action is called for. Our elected leaders will not dance to our music if we don't make it heard. If your religion is amiss, change it. If your elected leaders are off course, correct them, or replace them. Rugged individualism is what's missing.
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        Apr 12 2012: (in response to: Clarity) Ah. Thank you. I would certainly agree that 'rugged individualism' has been sorely lacking. But sometimes, and I think you would agree, that to stand-out as an individual in protest against an established, somewhat corrupted, religious wave could get you killed. Matyrdom is an elevated state of respect in religion, but it also fuels a deep resentment. My main point (my turn to clarify) was to somewhat reveal my opinion as to how religions - such as Islam as the example in this debate's case - get to be veiwed as 'intolerant' and 'isolated'. Ghassan tries very hard to dispel the common tabloid view of the Muslim practice of faith. I was trying to show that many other major faith's have and do suffer the same misconceptions, and my opinion as to why. Thnx again for responding!
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    Apr 10 2012: Is Islam a tolerant religion - I guess that depends on the interpretation or practices of the believers. Like any major religion, they are not monolithic. Perhaps it depends where you live. I know some Coptic Christians from Egypt and they felt persecuted by the muslim majoity.

    I don't know enough about the Koran to say whether it encourages tolerance. My understanding is historically Islam was tolerant of other religions in the lands they controlled.

    I understand Islam is believed to be the final revelation, building on the old testament and perhaps the Teachings of Jesus. The old testament god was not particularly tolerant. More like a jealous tribal god that killed nearly all humans with the flood.

    I think any religion has the potential to support violence and intolerance. For starters, most religions think they have the absolute truth. They also to some extent rely on faith, surrendering reason and questioning. It seems sometimes the most pious are the most dangerous.

    I guess societal and cultural issues play a part. Indonesian and Malaysia are mainly Islamic but not the same as Saudi etc. I am concerned about the spread of Wahabi islam. Even in Malaysia, if a Muslim changes religion the penalty is death. Not very tolerant..

    Also the issues regarding sexual equality clash with enlightenment values.

    Some of the violence associated with Islam, may be more political based reflecting a reaction to Western imperialism, power etc.

    There are plenty of wars fought over land without religion being a major feature. I think religious belief intensifies the issues in the middle east especially Palestine/Israel. Sometimes religion is a rally point, but believing god is on your side makes conflict more intense even if other factors are at play

    I would say that even though the US has a high proportion of evangeical christians they are not as violent as people to be claiming to be muslim. Maybe that just reflects a more peaceful and civil society and secular government.
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    Apr 14 2012: Which came first the chicken or the egg.
    Is Christianity more benign now because non relgious humanistic enlightenment values have filtered into many western societies, despite or against Christianity itself? Or is there something about the Christian religion that was amenable to the enlightenment.

    Is there something about Islam that suppports some of the backwardness in majority Islamic societies. Why did the middle east miss out on the enlightenment.

    I stilll think much of the issues in Islamic countries are driven by politics, post colonial dictators, oil. The West has a lot to answer for. But so do the people themselves. Relgion may be a tool. But perhaps there is something pecularier about Islam that holds back progress more than other religions. But suggest it is all a big mixture of lots of factors.

    There is something about most religion that is anti science and social progress. Sure there are great scientistics who are relgious but at some point they need to seperate their faith from scientific discoveries or adapt their faith.
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    Apr 14 2012: Wow! What a firestorm of misdirected vehemence this conversation has become. May I direct everyone's attention to the two simple questions asked by Mr. Mustafa and suggest that the focus should return to those two specific questions?
    1) Is Islam a tolerant religion? Some will answer yes and some will say no.
    2) Are Muslims isolated? Some say yes and some say no.
    Both are entitled to their opinion.
    Obviously Mr. Mustafa has brought-up a sensitive issue to us all. I appreciate the specificity of his questions and believe that surgical precision is necessary to have a peaceful dialog. Otherwise tempers are going to flare and only wasteful heat will be generated with no illuminating light.
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    Apr 14 2012: I would venture to say that most religions are intolerant if followed word for word, the mere idea of an in-group is in itself intolerant to the outsider. Luckily even the most pious of people don't (and some may argue in most cases can't, as exemplified by AJ. Jacob's experience of living Biblically) follow their sacred text word for word and therefore turn out to be decent human beings. Most will pick out the best of their text and make it their own. I think the problem is that the extremes are much more visible and therefore give the rest of the faith a bad name. Major events such as 9/11 have led to an uneasiness towards Islam and yes, it is quite unfair most of the time. What I will say is seriously lacking though is a condemnation of extremes by the moderately and liberaly religious (this is true for Muslims and for Christians). It is my experience that religious are quick to condemn those who criticize their religion rather than condemning those they think give their religion a bad name (at least those who think that, I'm optimistically hoping quite a few). I believe that there are some very deep changes to be made on both sides of things.
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    Apr 12 2012: A reply to all of your comments

    In every religion there are a group of people or individuals who deviate from their religion, they either go to extremes or be far away from the values and principles of their religion. When you want to think of Islam think of it as a religion that is represented by the ones who apply it in a right way. You can not be judgmental without knowing about Islam and its laws. Going to Muslim countries and reading about Islam and getting to know moderate Muslims who know about Islam well will make you understand Islam more. Do not judge Islam by leaders such as Saddam and organizations such as Al-Qauda. Theses leaders and organizations do not represent Islam at all, because they call for bloodshed and wars. In Islam, extremism is prohibited because it deforms the image of Islam and leads to many issues such as bloodshed and hatred towards other religions. For example, the KKK the organization that opposed the equal rights of African Americans are not representative of Christianity and the same applied to the Islamic organizations that do not apply Islam.

    "God made us tribes and nations to get to know each other." This is a quote from Quran that displays that Islam is tolerent and it is not an isolated religion. Many Muslim travel to the west as a sort of cultural exchange and to .Many Muslims like traveling to see the world and exchange knowledge and experiences. My father and my uncles and my friends traveled to the west.
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    Apr 11 2012: Many things done in the name of Chistianity are not consistent with the Holy Bible. That is not as it should be. Perhaps things are done in name of Islam and Allah that are not consistent with the Koran. That is not as it should be. Muslim nations are notoriously, militantly even, uncooperative with other religion's efforts to evangelize within their borders. That is not exactly tolerant of other religions, quite the contrary. That policy leads, naturally, to a single, dominant religion and an isolated atmosphere regarding religious freedom. If the Koran teaches religious tolerance it will come as a surprise to outsiders whose experience is consistently contrary to that idea. So, I say your answers are No, Islam is not tolerant of other religions, and Yes, Muslim nations are isolated (from other religions).
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      Apr 13 2012: A reply to all of your comments

      In every religion there are a group of people or individuals who deviate from their religion, they either go to extremes or be far away from the values and principles of their religion. When you want to think of Islam think of it as a religion that is represented by the ones who apply it in a right way. You can not be judgmental without knowing about Islam and its laws. Going to Muslim countries and reading about Islam and getting to know moderate Muslims who know about Islam well will make you understand Islam more. Do not judge Islam by leaders such as Saddam and organizations such as Al-Qauda. Theses leaders and organizations do not represent Islam at all, because they call for bloodshed and wars. In Islam, extremism is prohibited because it deforms the image of Islam and leads to many issues such as bloodshed and hatred towards other religions. For example, the KKK the organization that opposed the equal rights of African Americans are not representative of Christianity and the same applied to the Islamic organizations that do not apply Islam.

      "God made us tribes and nations to get to know each other." This is a quote from Quran that displays that Islam is tolerant and it is not an isolated religion. Many Muslim travel to the west as a sort of cultural exchange and to .Many Muslims like traveling to see the world and exchange knowledge and experiences. My father and my uncles and my friends traveled to the west.

      Come to Jordan where I live and you will be amazed how Muslims and Christians live in peace and harmony.
      Muslims and Christians in Jordan share their culture and food. No Muslim can insult a non-Muslim, and if one did so that would be wrong and many people will condemn him.
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        Apr 13 2012: Thank you for your insight into real life in Jordan today. News reports are the primary source of information, and opinion forming, in America. The primary question to me is why are virtually all of the terrorists Islamic? Are all of our news sources biased against Islam and creating false impressions of it? The acts of these cowardly, psychopaths are done 1) in the name of Allah, 2) under the banner of Islam, and 3) by people from Muslim countries.. It is not easy to set all that aside and accept the explanation that they are not really Muslims, or Islamic, or following Allah or the Koran.
        You speak of "moderate Muslims". Does that mean there are "extremist Muslims", or what the world calls terrorists? How many categories of Muslims are there? These maniacal fiends who are slaughtering innocent people all over the world are members of the same faith as the millions of peace-loving, compassionate followers of Allah and his son Muhammed. The non-Muslim world is waiting for an explanation of that conundrum. Peace to you and to yours sir.
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          Apr 13 2012: Edward, what truly is a terrorist?

          People from Christian lands have pillaged and taken over other countries...well, look at the US.........If the American Indian had TED and the internet back then they would be saying Christians were terrorists.

          I think that like anything else in life, there are true Muslims, and false Muslims....true christians, and false christians.

          Jesus said that by their fruits you would recognize them.

          Anyone can claim to be a Muslim or a Christian Edward, but their words, their actions......, are they peace loving? Are they neutral when it comes to war and politics? There is alot to be said on this topic....but since we have discussed this before, I'll leave it here.

          I think Mustafa is trying to educate us as to true Muslims.

          I for one I'm very thankful for his kindness and willingness to share his faith, and his country's attitude towards a global brotherhood.

          Sending lots of warm salutations your way Edward........Mary
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          Apr 13 2012: You asked these questions: "The primary question to me is why are virtually all of the terrorists Islamic? Are all of our news sources biased against Islam and creating false impressions of it?

          Again I say to you......what truly is a terrorist.

          It is all interconnected ED, whether you want to admit it or not.....hence, I feel I have not gone off topic.......but thank you kindly for trying to correct my supposedly lack of focus.

          Here in the US alot of people got tarred and feathered during war time for being politically neutral, and exercising their right to love their enemy......they were "terrorized" by a government and people who were "Christians".....

          I don't deny what you have stated, the jail time, and other such things for evangelizing.....but it is a governmental decision....yes, based on their "supposed" faith in Islam.....but Islam is not united.......it has many factions, just like christianity....

          I will state again what I said, that Muslims should be the one's discussing this topic. NOT US.

          I will retreat.....leave you to it..
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          Apr 13 2012: To Edward
          There are many religious groups all over the world who uses religion as a way to lead and control people such as Al-qaida. In Islam, they have no right to do that and this in turn violates the principles of Islam. They do thing in the name of God or Allah, and we as Muslims are against this and we despise them as well. As I said before, you can not judge Islam by terrorist organizations. The terrorist organizations does not represent Islam and therefore they are illegal. You did not notice that I did not associated Christianity with the KKK or the discrimination by white people against the African Americans or Abu Ghreb jail in Iraq or the war on Iraq itself. All religions all over the world call for peace, but unfortunately some people violate the laws of their religions and they try to lead people by the name of their religion. These people are totally ignorant; they cause problems to the followers of their religion.
          I am going to mention again that Islam has nothing to do with killing. You could be a Muslim on your ID, but you has nothing to do with Islam and its principles or teachings.Therefore you could commit crimes against humanity.

          To Mary....what you said is totally right.
          There are false Muslims and Christians.They do not represent both religions at all.
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          Apr 13 2012: Edward, I have always wondered about people like you. How could one react differently to bloodshed??? It’s a pity that you are trying to say that the world was a beautiful harmonic utopia before Islam, and "sadly" now the whole world has to suffer from our extremists. Extreme behaviors had always been part of human nature since the dawn of civilizations. I do NOT justify such behaviors, but the fact that you would think that your precious American soul make much more value than the Arab / Islamic ones. How would justify the bombs over Gaza??? How would you justify massacres by the Israeli occupation over the Palestinian Territories??? How could you ever think less of the lives of civilians that were brutally killed in Iraq, Afghanistan or in Palestine??!!! How could you not call that acts of terrorism???
          we as Muslims and humans condemn all acts of terrorism wherever it accrued . we don’t teach our children to kill, we teach them LIFE, Sir!
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          Apr 14 2012: "why are virtually all of the terrorists Islamic?" 9/11 and co aside, why do you think? If you're talking about the continous attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq, the answer is pretty damn obvious, it's almost all Al-Qaeda. Have you completely forgotten about the IRA in Northern Ireland? What of the people that want their independence in Corsica and the Basque country? what about the countless people who have tried to kill a president? what about the People's Army in Colombia. Do you also make the illogical step of connecting every single Muslim who is branded a terrorist as doing it in the name of Islam? Do you think the Palestinians are really fighting in the name of Islam rather than because they have no country to call their own? Do yourself a favor too by realising that all news is going to be centered somewhat around the country that's giving the news. You're going to hear a lot about the wars and therefore a lot about the suicide bombers over there.
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        Apr 13 2012: Thank you for your reply.

        I couldn't help but go find some information on the Jordan.

        Look what I found:

        http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2006/71424.htm

        Very, very interesting, how many Christian faiths coexist with the Muslims, just like you said.
        Thank you very much again for your wonderful reply.
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          Apr 13 2012: "What is a terrorist?" That is not Mr. Mustafa's question. His question is precise. I think most Muslim nations are not tolerant of other religions. This is evidenced by the death penalty for anyone convicted of the crime of evangelizing for another religion. That sounds intolerant to me. Most Muslim nations are isolated from the influence of other religions. Two questions. Two answers. We should stay on-topic. Thanks Mary.
    • Apr 13 2012: There is no merit to single out Islam as a militant religion when the fact is that all major religions have militant histories.

      Christians were responsible for a remarkable amount of what we would label today as terrorism and war crimes throughout Europe during the middle ages. Even the west have dealt with fringe Christian militancy in modern times like the mentioned example of the KKK. Timothy McVeigh is another name that comes to mind.

      The Jewish state of Israel currently militantly oppresses the Palestinians effectively on the basis of ancient religious dogmas.

      SO I would propose that the very premise of one religion being more or less tolerant and militant than others is a faulty one. Islam has been singled out as a militant religion by the western media since the September 11th 2001 attacks, this is quite obvious in hindsight and not entirely difficult to understand.

      That is all neither here nor there the point is that we have a political model where all religions are tolerated and granted freedom (secularism) and it has had a reasonably successful track record thus far. It should be promoted more.
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        Apr 13 2012: The conversation is based on a very specific subject, Islam. Mr. Mustafa has requested to hear opinions on the subject of Islam. If you are answering, or asking, a different question than his then you are off-topic. Is Islam a tolerant religion? Are Muslims isolated? I hope you agree Mr. Mark, that we are obligated to stay on-topic. Thanks.
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          Apr 13 2012: Ed,
          I think part of the problem is that there is very little consideration of the histories of the various religions, as opposed to the claims.
          It could be said that religion presents society's vision of what it is about, while government is the management of society. For its first 700 years Islam was one of history's most successful political movements, then basically coasted on that success for the next 600 years and has only really been eclipsed by the industrialized west in the last hundred years, since the fall of the Ottomans. So there is a connection between government and religion which goes to the very core of Islam.
          On the other hand, Christianity was profoundly brutalized by existing government for its first several hundred years, before being co-opted by an empire in decline. In the process it was converted from a grassroots, multifaceted movement, to a highly centralized one, whose function was to validate the role of the government. The cross went from being a symbol of triumph over suffering, to a war totem. So there is a very deep and abiding split in Christianity between the church and state that is as fundamental to it, as the connection is strong for Islam.
          It should be noted, for those agnostic in religious affiliation, it was the polytheists who invented democracy. When you have a theology where the Gods argue, it's reasonable to have a political system based on debate. On the other hand, monotheism is very supportive of monarchy and other forms of strong state power, since if there is just the Big Guy in charge up in heaven, then it will likely get reflected down here on earth.
          The logical fallacy of monotheism is the idea of the absolute, the universal state, as apex, when it is basis; Neutral, not singular. So a spiritual absolute would logically be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. The forms we adopt are inherently subject to context. Religions are like language; Essential, but idiosyncratic.