I’ve had a spurt of anti-Islamism vitriol by email demanding to know why the Government hasn’t been voluble in support of President Macron’s campaign to protect the French secular state from terrorism, and from the growth of an increasingly separated Islamic culture and practice.
Frankly, the Government has quite enough on its plate at present than to provide a running commentary on what is happening in France. I take the point however, and I share their President’s concerns.
Typically, my correspondents go on to elaborate, claiming the expertise and knowledge to pronounce that Islam is, of necessity, an inherently violent creed. Here I think they are quite mistaken. Of course, its history is quite as violent as the history of any other religion, but overwhelmingly it has been characterised by contemplative sufism.
My correspondents quote blood-curdling passages claiming authentic interpretation from the Koran. Well, as a Bible-believing Christian I’m quite able to quote any number of much more blood-curdling passages from the Bible -so, straight off the top of my head, what about the savagery meted out to Achan (Joshua 7 & 8): Stoned to death with his whole clan, including women, children and livestock when it was discovered he had hidden some booty from the destruction of Jericho, sufficiently annoying God so that he denied victory to the Israelites in their first attempt to capture the City of Ai. Having sorted Achan, the Israelites had a second shot at Ai, resulting in complete destruction -including every living thing within the city.
On the face of it we are supposed to approve of these actions, after all, surely Achan, his family, their animals, and subsequently the all inhabitants of Ai ‘had it coming’. I rather think however, that there is a subtly in the account, and ‘between the lines’ the narrator is asking us “…and do you really believe that this was the will of God?”.
I am not qualified to imagine what subtleties there may be in the Koran, I leave that to real Islamic scholars, rather than trust my correspondents.
As to the violent history of Islam. I wonder if it measures up to the blood- lust of Christendom: Crusades, pogroms, our wars of religion including the Inquisition, the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the Defenestration of Prague, the burnings during the reign of Bloody Mary, and on and on.
Secular religions, Fascism and Communism, have taken an even greater toll.
When my correspondents go on to claim that we are harbouring an alien and increasingly dangerous religious community in our midst I like to draw their attention to the contribution of Indian soldiers made to the defence of the Empire and to point to their WWI memorial in Barton on Sea in my constituency. Then, last week, I came across this magnificent passage whilst re-reading Churchill’s history of WWII
“…the glorious heroism and martial qualities of the Indian troops who fought in the Middle East, who defended Egypt, who liberated Abyssinia, who played a grand part in Italy, and who, side by side with their British Comrades, expelled the Japanese from Burma, stand forth in brilliant light.
The loyalty of the Indian Army to the King-Emperor, the proud fidelity to their treaties of the Indian Princes, the unsurpassed bravery of Indian Soldiers and officers, both Moslem and Hindu, shine forever in the annals of war.”
That is something to be proud of, and to continue to build upon. The irony is that some are now denouncing Churchill as a racist.