Is Islam a religion of peace? Any politically correct statement says yes it is, and most Muslims do not engage in violence. And yet, according to polls, the majority of Muslims appear to accept radical Islam, and at least tacitly support it. Very few Islamic voices cry out in sincere condemnation at incidents like those that occurred in London this week, except for the few obligatory and perfunctory protests.
Let’s contrast this for a moment with Christianity and Catholicism. David Koresh and Jim Jones were arguably versions of radical Christianity, did we see any support for them? No, not a lick. In fact, Christian society rejected them. Koresh was destroyed by an FBI siege and Jones commited his suicide atrocity in Guyana. Yet, Christianity has had brutal periods in its history, the Inquisition, justifications of slavery, violence to women, and much more. What makes Christianity and Catholiscism more peaceful?
We have a Pope.
I’m not giving credit to any particular pope, but rather the very fact of having the bureacracy at the head of the church allowed teachings of the current pope to be spread throughout the religion. We have the bible and its supporting materials, but the violent or otherwise irrational teachings have been removed or re-interpreted to reflect the true Word of God as seen in a more modern and peaceful society. And all Catholics accept and respect these adjustments (and arguably most of Christianity).
Islam does not have this. With no true leader, no one is able to remove material from the teachings of Islam, even when they are insane in a modern world.
Did you know that Islam has specific rules for conquering or converting non-Muslims? If your neighbors are not Muslim you have 10 years to convert them, otherwise Islam requires you to attack. You are then provided additional guidelines on who can be made slaves and who must be killed from the non-converted. Insane? Maybe not, in 700 AD.
Even thought these teachings likely originated from a more violent time and have no place in a modern world, they are still part of Islam, because no one has the authority to remove them. This makes them available to the less worldly radicals as true teachings and justifies their violent, arrogant, conquering ways.
Its time to invent ‘Suhl Islam.’
The word Suhl in Arabic simply means peace or reconciliation.
I propose (in perhaps a White House led effort) the Islamic leaders in the U.S. gather to decide what is true Islam. They should decide, at least for American Islamists, what are the teachings to be followed, and (more importantly!) what teachings must be specifically rejected. They should declare violent jihadism to be counter to God’s will, make new rules on human rights. And let’s give this new set of rules a name and declare a new branch of Islam – Suhl Islam.
What will this accomplish?
First of all, it would allow the leaders of Islam to transmit new values to their followers in a package with a peaceful message. These leaders could put pressure on the leadership of other Islamic groups to adopt the principles off Suhl Islam. It would provide a platform to talk about the rejection of violent teachings.
It would identify certain practices and attitudes as evil, reject certain perspectives the education of children, and permit no one to say “true Islam has these secret teachings” to find fodder for suicide bombs.
It would also provide a hook for non-Muslims. President Trump and other world leaders would be able to ask a simple question, do you subscribe to Suhl Islam or not. He would be in fact saying “are you our friend or do you have a secret agenda to conquer us?” The western world would actually be able to identify its friends.
With true buy-in from Islamic leaders, this will certainly spread. Suhl Islamists might spread a peaceful word, but leaders are always ambitious. With support of America and the rest of the free world, they would have the wealth and the political clout to push forcefully into the rest of the Islamic world.
Will this be easy? No, of course not. But the result would be the possibility of a coherent, explicit and transparent branch of Islam with no question of motives and no threat to non-Muslims.
In my opinion its worth a try.
And it may be the only way to avoid a world war.