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It's much easier to act as if critics of Islam have a problem with Muslims as people than it is to accept the uncomfortable truth that Islam is different


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What can we learn about
Islam from this woman?

Myths of Islam

 Islam is Tolerant
of Other Religions

The Myth:

Religious minorities have flourished under Islam.  Muslims are ordered to protect Jews and Christians (the People of the Book) and do no harm to them. In Sura 109, the Quran says, "To you, your religion.  To me, mine."

The Truth:

Religious minorities have not “flourished” under Islam.  In fact, they always dwindle to mere shadows after a few centuries of persecution and discrimination.  Some were converted from their native religion by brute force, others under the agonizing strain of dhimmitude.

What Muslims call “tolerance,” others correctly identify as institutionalized discrimination.  The consignment of Jews and Christians to dhimmis under Islamic rule means that they are not allowed the same religious rights and freedoms as Muslims.  They cannot share their faith, for example, or build houses of worship without permission. (See this link for rules imposed by the Islamic State)

Historically, dhimmis have often had to wear distinguishing clothing or cut their hair in a particular manner that indicates their position of inferiority and humiliation.  They do not share the same legal rights as Muslims, and must even pay a special tax (the jizya).  They are to be killed or have their children taken from them if they cannot satisfy the tax collector’s requirements.

For hundreds of years, the Christian population in occupied Europe had their sons taken away and forcibly converted into Muslim warriors (known as Jannisaries) by the Ottoman Turks.

It is under this burden of discrimination and third-class status that so many religious minorities converted to Islam over the centuries.  Those who refused faced economic and social hardships that persist to this day and are appalling by the Western standards of true religious tolerance and pluralism.

For those who are not “the People of the Book,” such as Hindus and atheists, there is very little tolerance to be found once Islam establishes political superiority.  The Quran tells Muslims to “fight in the way of Allah” until “religion is only for Allah.”  Conquered populations face death if they do not establish regular prayer and charity in the Islamic tradition (ie. the pillars of Islam).

According to Ibn Kathir, verse 58:22 of the Quran, warning Muslims against trusting non-believing family members and friends, was given in response to an episode in which a man killed his own father for promoting idols.  This would have been narrated by Muhammad at the time:
The father of Abu ` Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah was repeatedly praising the idols to his son on the day of Badr, and Abu ` Ubaydah kept avoiding him. When Al-Jarrah persisted, his son Abu ` Ubaydah headed towards him and killed him. Allah revealed this Ayah in his case.  (Tasfir Ibn Kathir)
Tamerlane and other Muslim warriors slaughtered tens of millions of Hindus and Buddhists, and displaced or forcibly converted millions more over the last thousand years.  Islamists in Somalia behead Christians.  In Iran, they are jailed.

One of the great ironies of Islam is that non-Muslims are to be treated according to the very standards by which Muslims themselves would claim the right to violent self-defense if the the shoe were on the other foot.  Islam is its own justification.  Most Muslims therefore feel no shame about the ingrained arrogance and double standard.

As an example, in 2020, Turkey decided to turn the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.  The church is one of the most historic in the world, having been the center of the Eastern Orthodox empire before its violent seizure by Muslims in 1453.  With Christian symbols throughout, it is no different from overrunning the Vatican and declaring St. Peter's Cathedral a mosque. 

There are about 500 verses in the Quran that speak of Allah’s hatred for non-Muslims and the punishment that he has prepared for their unbelief.  There is also a tiny handful that could be construed to say otherwise, but these are mostly earlier verses that many scholars consider to be abrogated by the later, more violent ones. 

As for Sura 109 ("to you, your religion; to me, mine"), any true Quran scholar will point out that the purpose of the verse was to distinguish Islam from the gods of the Quraysh (one of which was named "Allah") rather than to advocate religious tolerance for non-Muslims. 

At the time that he narrated this very early verse, Muhammad did not have any power, and thus no choice but to be "tolerant" of others.  By contrast, there was little tolerance shown when he returned to Mecca with power many years later and demanded the eviction or death of anyone who would not convert to Islam.  In fact, he physically destroyed the cherished idols of the very people he addressed in Sura 109 - and, like the Hagia Sophia, claimed their house of worship as his own (the Kaaba at Mecca).

If tolerance simply means discouraging the mass slaughter of those of a different faith, then today's practice of Islam generally meets this standard more often than not.  But, if tolerance means allowing people of other faiths the same religious liberties that Muslims demand, then Islam is fundamentally the most intolerant religion under the sun.

[Note: In 2023, professor Johnathan Brown of Georgetown, a prominent convert to Islam, candidly admitted  discrimination against religious minorities but defended it by saying that if non-Muslims want equal rights, then they can always convert]

Further Reading

How the Treatment of Minorities Proves that Islam is Different
Two Kinds of Dhimmis (Bill Warner)
Life in Pakistan: Hell for Non-Muslims
Turkey's Heights of Hypocrisy
The Antebellum-ish Myth of the Happy Dhimmi

Myths of Islam Index

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