Last night’s post about Abdul Rahman brought in a rash of comments. Normally I respond to comments with my own comments, but a paticular entry posted by Adaneshju (a frequent and informative commenter) deserves a lengthy reply.
Adaneshju said, in part:
As counterpoints – the first Muslim martyr is as I recall one of the very early converts to Islam (a slave woman – remember early Islam was very often popular amongst the downtrodden) who was tortured and killed (forget the details, but I believe she was baked in the sun..) for her beliefs and refusing to renounce her monotheism. She was killed by the Meccans. This fits your “Christian martyr” definition to a tee.
As another, you better believe that amongst many, many others, the various crusader forces believed in martyrdom. Well, at the least the crusaders MADE plenty of martyrs..
Likewise, Byzantine forceslikewise were told to chant certain prayers as they entered battle, and could expect what if they died? – I’ll leave that to your imagination.
You list the Christian martyrs of Nigeria, Sudan, Malaysia, etc. I wonder, were the many Bosnians and Albanians and Kosovar Muslims martyred by Christians? What about the forced conversions and expulsions of Jews and Muslims in 16th century Spain. Countless Muslims/Moriscoes certaintly died for their beliefs at the hand of the inquisition.
My point is merely, this isn’t nearly so black and white an issue as you make it. However, MORALLY speaking it is. Abrurrahman’s trial is completely ridiculous. However, being morally black and white doesn’t make it a simply CHRISTIANITY IS THIS while ISLAM IS THAT.
First of all, I refuse to be drawn into arguments about the bad things that Christianity did hundreds of years ago. I’ll stipulate to them, and I’ll let historians argue about which religion was the most brutal and bloody in 1000 AD or 1500 AD or whenever.
I’m interested in now. The fact is that right now Islamic states are the only religious polities which imprison and execute people solely for their religious beliefs. The other states which do this are either the Orthodox Atheists (i.e. the Communists) or the ordinary despotic dictatorships.
Christians and Jews and Hindus have their own histories, and all have been guilty of sectarian brutality. But all of them have evolved into modern nation states with a general tolerance of religious plurality.
But not Islam. Wherever Islam is officially established as the law of the land, not being Muslim is punishable by law in one way or another.
Like it or not, the modern tolerant secular state was a creation of European Christendom, channeling the ethics of Judaism. Somehow the Hindus and Sikhs managed to assimilate it and develop their own versions, but so far the Muslims have not been able to.
And this is not a “Christianity is this” versus “Islam is that” issue for me. It is “Civilization is this” versus “Barbarism is that”. The fact that I am a Christian is irrelevant – the political space that I inhabit allows for all religions as well as none. That’s the genius of secular modernism. But each group within the civilized state has to abide by a common set of rules, and this is what Islam appears reluctant to do.
It’s significant that the only possible counterexamples of current Christian brutality that you can cite are in the Balkans, and also from the midst of a very nasty civil war. Those atrocities may be vendettas, reprisals, ethnically motivated, or simple mayhem and banditry. Do you have any proof whatsoever that non-Christians were killed solely for not being Christians?
In any case, a counterexample does not a counterargument make.
I challenge you, or any other reader, to demonstrate via published statistics the case that Christian or Jewish religious atrocities from the last fifty years approach those of Islam.
I’d bet money that deliberate religiously-motivated violence by Muslims exceeds that of all other religious groups combined by at least three orders of magnitude.
Go ahead; prove me wrong. I’m willing to hear it.