November 15, 2015 by AK
The literal meaning of Islamophobia is fear of Islam and its adherents, and with every act of terror committed by Islamists this fear appears more understandable, if not justified. Neither ISIS nor Al-Qaeda is representative of all Islam of course, but ISIS’ doctrine as well the slightly less extreme Saudi version seem to be typical of the “back to the roots,” “true,” “pure” Islam.
The finest fruit of Islamic culture belong in the “impure” category. More often than not, calls for purity are calls for Puritanism or something similarly stiff-necked and simplistic.* Casting away all sophisticated interpretations of a religion’s foundational texts or myths leaves but the most straightforward interpretation.
Some American evangelicals manage to read the Gospels as a bigot’s little red book. By the reasonable person’s standard, it is hardly possible to ignore the Gospels’ emphasis on forgiveness and non-violence.**
Christianity started out as a much-maligned Jewish sect, continuing as an interethnic religion of non-violent martyrs until its gained widespread acceptance and become the empire’s state creed. Its foundational myth is the opposite of violent conquest.
In contrast, a “pure” Islam is bound to appeal to the experience of its first decades, to which violent conquest is pivotal.
* Simplistic despite Milton being a Puritan – but it’s unthinkable that a present-day Milton would join ISIS. There is something amusing about a Christian sect’s conceit that it is able to live by the literal meaning of both the Gospel and Deuteronomy when Jewish religious thought had abandoned literal interpretation by the time of Christ.