In the blog post entitled “An Atheist Muslim’s Perspective on the ‘Root Causes’ of Islamist Jihadism and the Politics of Islamophobia” ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ali-a-rizvi/an-atheist-muslims-perspective-on-the-root-causes-of-islamist-jihadism-and-the-politics-of-islamophobia_b_3159286.html ) Ali A. Rizvi provides a curious view on the current problem of terrorism that the world is facing. He seems to be trying to say that religion, all religion, is the real cause of terrorism.
He states, “The taboo against criticizing religion is still so astonishingly pervasive…” However, as an active member of the Roman Catholic faith, I can assure you that there is no such taboo in this country. The profit making businesses that are called “the media” usually avoids direct criticism of any large group of people who pay for their services. But there is unlimited direct criticism from not-for-profit sources as well as a good measure of carefully worded indirect criticism from the recognized media. However, I have not seen a blanket criticism of ALL religion, except for an occasional individual’s statement, and I suspect that this what Mr. Rizvi is referring to in his comment.
The problem with a blanket criticism of all religion is the immense difference across the entire spectrum of religious belief. In addition to the broad array of stated dogmas of the many religions of the world, every religion has an array of differing views of that dogma across its membership. I suspect it would be difficult to find two humans on the planet who precisely agree on every detail of their religious views.
While many of these differences may be trivial, there are some very important differences that steer the various religions in different directions. The two largest religious groups in the world are Christianity and Islam. One of these was started by an itinerant preacher who taught love and forgiveness and the other was started by a military leader who conquered and killed.
Mr. Rizvi Goes on to talk about fundamentalism by stating, “…extremism in any ideology isn’t a distortion of that ideology. It is an informed, steadfast adherence to its fundamentals, hence the term ‘fundamentalism.'” Within Islam, this would be true since its founder justifies the use of force with statements like “Permission to fight is given to those who are fought against because they have been wronged -truly Allah has the power to come to their support- those who were expelled from their homes without any right, merely for saying, ‘Our Lord is Allah'”. He also led his followers in directly offensive battles like the caravan raids, “The Caravan raids refer to a series of raids which Muhammad and his Companions participated in. The raids were generally offensive.” (Wikipedia).
But fundamentalist Christians would need to ignore all of the words of their founder to support violence. Jesus continuously spoke about love and peace, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13:34). He also led his people by example in the greatest possible non-violent resistance. He was sent to his death for his teachings and he never attempted to use even the slightest violence to resist it. So while there are people who call themselves Christian and advocate violence, these people are not fundamentalists in the sense of Mr. Risvi’s definition. They are simply extremists who ignore the teaching of the faith they claim to be defending.
In defense of the ordinary Muslim, Mr. Risvi says, “…I know that most Muslims are good, peaceful people who have barely read the Quran and seldom follow it except for the occasional cherry-picking and hearsay, much like the adherents of any other religion.” While there is no way to prove this statement, I certainly agree with it. However, “most” is a very subjective word. Technically, 50% plus one defines most,but I think Mr. Risvi means substantially more than that when he uses the word.
I saw a survey (unfortunately, I can’t give a reference to it since I have lost it) where Muslims in the United States were asked if they believed killing in defense of their religion was justified. About one per cent said always and another nine percent said sometimes. That implies that ninety percent of American Muslims oppose violence in the name of religion. That sounds good and it confirms Mr. Risvis statement. However, if Non-Muslim Americans endorsed violence in the name of religion at the same ratio, we would have nearly thirty million killers and people who endorse the killing in the country.
There are extremists calling themselves Christians who have done violence or endorse violence in the name of religion. However, the number is so small that percentages are meaningless. There are only a small handful of people who have actually done such violence and I doubt that more than one hundredth of one percent of the non-muslim population endorse it. So even if the survey methods were flawed or the the scope was too small to be meaningful, it is clear that simply stating that the majority are good says very little.
My conclusion is that A religion is a major cause of terrorist violence, not all religion. While I have not done extensive research into all religions, I have tried to learn about as many as possible in the time I have. As far as I have been able to determine, Islam is the only religion that has endorsements of violence in its basic tenets.