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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

January 16, 2003

moral equivalence.

Tacitus has a vibrant comment thread sparked by the assertion that "Moslem fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists are not very different." (with which, obviously. Tacitus disagrees).

The comment thread has a few lone dissenters, but the overwhelming consensus is that as a faith, islam elicits violence (and thus is inherently pro-terrorism) compared to Christianity (which, it shoudl be pointed out, is not the actual focus of the original question that Tacitus wished to discuss). The usual examples abound - stereotypes about what Muslims believe, grosssly innaccurate/polemical views of history (such as the reference to the swordpoint-conversion meme), etc. It reads like an LGF thread (my favorite of which is this one, for purely egotistical reasons). To his credit, Tacitus does not ascribe terrorism to Islam but rather to cultural forces, pointing out that Muslims in Indonesia etc don't seem to be susceptible to terrorism as those in Saudi The comments left by his readers is telling, as indicative of public perception as a whole (especially among conservatives).

I'm hardly interested in defending Islam against this kind of attack - mainly because I don't feel Islam needs to be defended, and it woudl simply be a waste of my time (does anyone with that view of my faith really have enough of an open mind to be convince-able? I sincerely doubt it).

However, I do want to point out that teh question as posed is inherently comparing apples to oranges. It has to do with a double standard, applied to Muslims and Christians, about the very word "fundamentalist". Fundie Christians (FC) actually comprise a significant fraction of mainstream Christianity in America, because it's a diluted concept. It simply means, "Christian who is aggressive about prosletyzation, and about judgement". The former leads mainly to annoyance, the latter to often overt discrimination since Christians are still the most powerful majority in the US. Judgement means, "I'm right, you're wrong, you're hellbound, I am saved". This often leads FC's to bizarre morality judgements - Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are obvious examples, blaming 9-11 on homosexuals (the irony of this is clear when you consider the actions of Mark Bingham, a hero of United Flight 93.).Despicable, but hardly violent.

There ARE violent Christians - most notably the abortion doctor murderers, but also fringe groups such as the KKK and most militias and white-supremacy groups, for whom Christianity is an integral part and motive for their terrorism. But no one (myself included) includes these in the definition of "fundamentalism" when it is applied to Christianity.

For clarity, let's call these two types "A" and "B".

Contrast this with the word "fundamentalist" as applied to Muslims - there are both Robertson/Falwell types of Muslims, as well as the terrorists. Both are lumped together in the word when it comes to Islam. In fact, most people who argue that Islam is inherently violent often invoke the words of Muslims of type A as proof that the actions of type B are mainstream. This is fundamentally dishonest (pun intended), though to be fair it is also unconscious.

As a result, the righteous outrage evoked in Tacitus' thread that Falwell could be compared to Bin Laden is actually justified - because Falwell is type A and bin Laden is type B. Falwell is not OBL.

But if you hold Islam as a faith accountable for the actions of its type B minority, then it is hypocrosy not to do the same for Christianity (which has plenty of type B examples to go around, without any need for invoking the Crusades). And likewise if you use the words of type A muslims to suggest a predisposition towards type B, likewise hypocrisy.

Overall, the vast majority of Christians and Muslims are type C. Normal people. With families jobs, desires, dreams. They live and let livem practice their faith, and go about their business. But the double standard bias which exists, especially in America (which is not unuual, given that the US has a strongly Christian majority), certainly obscures these parallels.

As i will argue in my upcoming oft-promised vaporware finale post on the silence of the media, this double standard exists and muslims need to accept it. It is useless to try and fight it, which is why you don't see me on LGF or in Tacitus' thread.

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Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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