"But what do they actually know about Islam?"

Via The Anchoress in email comes a piece by David French that takes an honest look at Islam and at her defenders:

One of the more interesting phenomena of recent times has been the cultural elite’s aggressive defense of Islam. Whether they’re decrying the alleged “Islamophobia” of their fellow Americans, storming off TV sets, offering impassioned defenses of religious liberty, or offering uninformed theological statements about the religion’s alleged true nature, many of our most educated and politically aware citizens are united in outrage. A great religion is under attack, they say, and it’s under attack by a bigoted citizenry who let the actions of a tiny few define the nature of the many.

But what do they actually know about Islam?

Isn’t the “true” nature of a religion defined through its theologians and adherents? “True” Islam has been debated — and fought over — for more than 1,000 years. The existence of Sunni and Shi’ite divisions demonstrates that there is no monolithic definition of Islam even within the Islamic world. And yet men like our most recent presidents purport to define it as a “religion of peace” (President Bush’s favorite phrase) or a “religion that reaffirms peace, fairness, and tolerance” (President Obama’s recent description).

Again and again when I face outraged and indignant liberals — people who defame Ground Zero mosque opponents as bigots or pass around the latest Jon Stewart video as if it were more documentary than comedy sketch — I find their knowledge is skin deep, at best. “Jihad is really the inner struggle,” they say. “Islam had a glorious civilization in the Middle Ages,” they argue. Some cite the Muslims they know — kind-hearted, hospitable people — who serve as stand-ins for Muslims everywhere.

As for me, I spent a year in Iraq, talked to countless Muslims, have read the Koran and much of the Hadith, and I still don’t know what “true Islam” is. How could I? I struggle enough to define (and live) “true Christianity.” Can I really purport to understand Islam in all its complexity?

But I’m not entirely ignorant. Some things I do know, and I know them all too well.

French goes on to spell out what he knows in a refreshingly honest way. 

Read it all, pass it on, and take comfort in knowing that opposition to what is evil is hardly bigotry or Islamaphobia… it’s common sense and it’s decent.

And it’s especially decent to make you aware of yet another example of the religion of peace’s tolerance and open-mindedness to underscore the point:

A Christian woman has been sentenced to hang in Pakistan after being convicted of defaming the Prophet Mohammed.
Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five, denies blasphemy and told investigators that she was being persecuted for her faith in a country where Christians face routine harassment and discrimination.

Christian groups and human rights campaigners condemned the verdict and called for the blasphemy laws to be repealed.

Her supporters say she will now appeal against the sentence handed down in a local court in the town of Sheikhupura, near Lahore, Pakistan.

That coming our way via Donald Sensing who finishes his piece thusly:

The blasphemy law in Pakistan is used routinely and regularly to persecute non-Muslims to make sure they know their place there as third-class citizens. This is not “extremism.” It is a mainstream, government-sanctioned practice in one of the most populous Muslim countries in the world. And almost no Pakistani Muslims speak out against it.

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