Islamofascism is on the march around the world, which gives Islam itself the appearance of strength and power. (No, I do not equate Islam with the ideology of the Islamofascists, though they share many of the same basic errors and malign tendencies.) But the furor over the Pope quoting a Byzantine emperor’s undiplomatic comments about jihad reveals the true state of Islam today.
I agree with Mark Shea on this one: Islam is superficially strong, because many of its adherents carry out horrific violence in its name. With Belloc, I observe that Muslims are largely impervious to conversion — and today, they are seemingly unwilling to carry out anything like a dialogue. But neither of these things are indications of real strength. If they were truly strong, they would have the self-confidence to shrug off comments that they with which they disagreed, or that were blantantly offensive (and the Pope’s remarks were not.)
Instead, as if on cue, Muslims explode into intemperate rage when something offends their delicate sensibilities. But why are they so worred about what non-Muslims say about Islam, when so many of their own brethren say much worse? Islamfascists equate Islam with murder, forced conversion, political oppression, and even genocide, and it’s business as usual. Maybe Muslims should spend more time and energy refuting them, if they’re looking to preserve the good name of Islam and its “prophet.”
But how does one have a dialogue when the other party reserves the right to fly off into a self-righteous rage when they hear something the least bit offensive? I don’t doubt that there are Muslims in the world who can discuss their faith rationally, but when I’ve attempted it, I always get the same reaction, which is more or less, “You have to accept Islam before you understand it.” Maybe so, but why would I want to accept something that I don’t understand? And how can I understand if you won’t appeal to my intellect?
Good luck, Holy Father, in your efforts to promote dialogue with the Islamic world. They don’t seem the least bit interested, but God can find avenues that are invisible to the naked eye. The alternative — decades, if not centuries, of conflict and unrest — makes it worthwhile.