One of the silly things bandied about since 9-11 has been that Islam is a “religion of peace.” Certainly peace has a place in Islam. As far as I can tell, peace has a place in most of the things we call religions. But the presence of that single word (in English translation, of course) doesn’t tell us very much. In today’s Al Qaeda message, for example, we’re told:
“Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Allah willing. And this time, don’t count on us demonstrating restraint or compassion,” the tape warns. “We are Muslims. We love peace, but peace on our terms, peace as laid down by Islam, not the so-called peace of occupiers and dictators.”
At least one self-avowed Muslim admits that there is more than one kind of peace. As Steve observed a couple of weeks ago (talking about the word “god”), the mere use of a word doesn’t get us anywhere. We have to do the hard work of contextualizing the word and figuring out what it means and how it functions.
Call me a radical, or put me on Homeland security’s watch list, btu Christianity is often like Islam on the matter of peace. But then again, so are Liberal Democracies….
Every organization/institution/movement that talks about peace does so in a context of a worldview, desires, actions, practices, etc. What ought to surprise us is not to find the same word meaning something different, but to find it NOT meaning something different.
So are things hopeless? Does total incommensurability rule? No. But incommensurability is real and take hard work and much time to overcome.
Absolutely right, Islam is not a religion of peace.