Understanding Islam: A religion born in violence

Arabia's hostile landscape fostered the violent culture that gave birth to Islam. Obama calls it a "religion of peace" with the ignorant naiveté of a schoolboy.


CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 28, 2015 — Islam is undergoing a mass revival, perhaps its most important revival in modern history. With an almost daily drumbeat of terrorist incidents in the news, most involving Muslims, policy makers must confront the reasons for the problem and learn how to deal with it.

The first step is to understand the beliefs and motivations of those who instigate and perpetuate the turmoil that has come to be known as jihad.

Rather than take a pro-active approach to learning more about Islam, President Obama has determined that it is best not to educate ourselves about the religion, to ignore its radical ideals, and to take on faith that it is a “religion of peace.” Consequently, many in his administration—like many in the media—opine about a subject they know little or nothing about, which in the end makes Islam even more mysterious and dangerous.

In Chapter 4 of his book “The Great Heresies,” noted 20th century English historian Hilaire Belloc prophetically wrote:

“Millions of modern people of the white civilization—that is, the civilization of Europe and America—have forgotten all about Islam. They have never come in contact with it. They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them. It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past. The suggestion that Islam may re-arise sounds fantastic but this is only because men are always powerfully affected by the immediate past: one might say that they are blinded by it.”

Using Belloc’s premise, look at this religion we know as Islam.

In his novel “The Haj,” Leon Uris describes early Bedouin tribes and their mentality:

“The Bedouin had always considered himself the elite of the Arabs, the true Arab.

“The Bedouin had been the original driving force behind Islam, for it was their men who had filled the ranks of Mohammed’s first armies and spearheaded the Moslem conquests. The Arabian peninsula, from which he sprang, had remained remote and beyond the grasp of the early conquests of Egypt and Rome. In the punishing desert a cruel culture evolved that matched the brutal dictates of nature. While the world of progress passed him by, the Bedouin survived largely by plundering the vulnerable. Strong sheiks with no more compassion than the blistering sun showed little mercy to the weak. A system of absolute social order emerged, so that each man had a specific place in the tribe into which he was locked from birth to death.

“The only way to rise was to destroy the man above and to dominate the men below. The demands of survival left no room for convocations of Bedouin to debate democratic principles, for the law of the desert was absolute.

“The Bedouin was thief, assassin, and raider, and hard labor was immoral. Despite his raggedness and destitution, the Bedouin remained the Arab ideal, for he was the man with stars for a roof.”

This tribal society explains much about pre-Islamic Arabia that carries over to the Arab sense of morality even today. Despite innovations such as air conditioning, motorized vehicles and other creature comforts, desert tribes retain their ancient “eye-for-an-eye” mentality. The harsh Arab climate established a tribal society for which violence remains the norm in the 21st century. Violence continues to be an attribute of modern Islamic culture.

An excellent example of this can be seen in the classic motion picture “Lawrence of Arabia.” Lawrence, played by Peter O’Toole, and a colleague are traveling by camel through the Arabian desert when they stop at a well to get water. In the distance a rider emerges from the searing heat, which distorts his image as he nears the two travelers.

When the stranger arrives, he takes out his gun without saying a word and shoots Lawrence’s companion, killing him instantly as the stunned British soldier looks on.

“Why?” O’Toole asks in bewildered amazement.

“Because,” replies the Arab, “You are welcome.”

It is a powerful vignette that sums up everything you need to know about the laws of the desert, even today.

Next we will look at how this attitude influenced a man named Muhammad, an illiterate personality who changed the course of history and who continues to affect our contemporary world in ways that even he could not have imagined.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News. Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod.

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