In 2006, sixty-one percent of the young adults of America felt that Islam was a peaceful religion. Fifty-six percent had a favorable opinion of Islam and fifty-one percent feel Islam teaches respect of others. Only ten percent felt prejudice against Arabs and Muslims.1
Some, perhaps, are encouraged by these numbers, for it appears that our young adults are growing up to be a very tolerant people. Most of our youth, after all, have repeatedly been told by our national leaders, "Islam is a peaceful religion." If this is true, why should we not reciprocate? In some ways, this is very commendable. All should strongly agree that one should not be prejudiced against anyone because of their nationality. But what if Islam is not a peaceful religion? What if it is not tolerant or respectful of others? What if, in fact, the religion teaches prejudice against anyone who is not Islamic and requires true Muslims to struggle against the infidel until the infidel is subdued? Then, perhaps, the older generation is not intolerant, as they may initially appear. But rather, they may simply not be naive having experienced more history and watched more news. As most of the elderly will tell you, youth has many wonderful advantages, but life experience is not one of them. Six out of ten of the older generation believes Islam is not peaceful. Seven out of ten look unfavorably upon Islam, believing it does not respect others. Put more directly, many of the older generation surveyed think that Islam is a violent and intolerant religion. If Islam is a violent, intolerant, expansionist religion, then this younger generation and the subsequent generations will make themselves increasingly vulnerable to the onslaught of Islam if they do not think clearly and respond accordingly. Who is analyzing the situation more correctly? What are the consequences for embracing each view? How can an objective person determine which view to hold? This study seeks to answer such questions. The best way to determine whether or not Islam is a peaceful religion is to look at Islam's leaders, its literature, its theology and its history. The body of this study will do just that, beginning with the pre-Islamic world, the life of Muhammad, the four caliphs, the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the period of fragmentation of Islamic lands, the Ottomans, Islam in the 20th century, and finally an examination of the present. Beginning with a Judeo-Christian perspective, this study demonstrates that Islam is bad theology and a profoundly bad actor in history. This study is a reasonable polemic against authentic historic Islam with an awareness that Jesus came to redeem every person on this earth, including Muslims. Many Muslims are profoundly devout, but devoted to a heretical, ineffective, and oppressive theology. Christians can no longer ignore Islam, for it is reemerging on the world scene and the consequences of apathy or ambivalence will be profound.
Discussion Questions: (1) What age group is most positive towards Islam? (2) What age group is least positive towards Islam? (3) Why the difference? (Include in your discussion the concepts of prejudice and naiveté.) (4) What sources of information would help determine whose analysis is correct? (5) What is the politically correct position and what do the P.C. think of those who disagree with them? (6) What are the potential consequences of the P.C. position to individuals and Western Civilization if Islam is not a peaceful tolerant religion at its core? (7) Is apathy a defensible or responsible position?
1Cathie Levine and Jon Cohen, "Broad Skepticism Of Islam Marks Post-9/11 Sentiment," ABC News/Washington Post Poll: Views Of Islam, March 5, 2006, http://abcnews.go.com/images/International/Islam_views.pdf. (accessed August 26, 2009).