We have entered a violent period in Islam’s history. Through most of its history the Muslim world does not seem to have been markedly worse than the West. But over the last thirty years it has got much worse: the horrors now done in the name of Islam almost as a matter of course were rare even a generation ago.
In a simple sense “Islam is violent” is a statement that almost proves itself: Last week Robert Redeker, a philosopher and high school teacher in France, wrote an article stating that Islam is a violent religion. It appeared in Le Figaro, a Paris newspaper, and now as a result he is in hiding after receiving serious death threats.
The way things are going, “Is Islam violent?” will soon become one of those questions that no one discusses in public. Which is bad for Islam because what will wind up happening is that most Christians and Jews will silently believe that it is violent – why else are they being silenced on the subject? What, because it is so peaceful?
My original thought was to go through verses of the Koran for and against the idea of jihad. But that is beyond my depth. And it is probably besides the point. To take a parallel case: a close reading of the New Testament in the years before the Crusades would not have revealed to the inhabitants of Jerusalem that their streets would soon run with blood at the hands of Christians.
Four signs that we are entering one of the most violent periods of Muslim history:
- Christians, who have lived in the Middle East for centuries, even as far back as Roman times, are now leaving. It is because Muslims are making them feel that it is unsafe for them to remain. Something they did not feel in past centuries, it seems. That means it is getting worse than it has been in hundreds of years.
- The destruction of the Buddhas in Afghanistan by the Taliban. Again, they have been there for centuries. Even Tamerlane, for all his destruction, left them standing. But in our generation they have been destroyed. Another sign that it is a lot worse than it has been in centuries.
- The rise of suicide killers as something new in Islam.
- The Ring of Blood: if you look at where people are dying because of war or political violence, you will see that most of it happens along the line where the Muslim world meets the rest of the world: Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya, Israel, Kashmir, Sulawesi, Nigeria, Sudan, Thailand and so on. Muslims make up only a fifth of mankind, so it is not a matter of chance. Nor was it true thirty years ago. Something new is happening.
Why has Islam become more violent? Because Iran, which supports a political form of Islam, and Saudi Arabia, which supports a severe form of it, have suddenly become very rich since the middle 1970s from oil money.