Debate - Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

The question of whether Islam is a religion of peace is, as any intelligent person realizes, extremely complex. When debating any issue, philosophers are fond of trying to define their terms so that the conversation is focused and everyone understands what everyone else is talking about.

In that spirit, for instance, one could try to make a distinction between the religion of Islam itself and what some individuals do in its name. The fact that some extremists do extreme things in the name of their religion doesn't necessarily mean the religion itself is to blame. Just think of lunatics in your own religion: do they speak for your religion?

We should also be weary of creating hasty generalizations from what a vociferous and militant minority may do to what most followers of a particular religion do. Sure, it's the few nutcases that make the news, so we should always ask ourselves how representative of the larger population the nutcases really are. As a minority (assuming they are a minority), the extremists could not, by definition, represent Muslims generally.

On the other hand, if we look at the religion itself (its scriptures, history, cultural practices, etc.), one could make the argument that those we call 'extremists' are actually simply taking their scriptures, respected figures and cultural traditions more seriously than the vast majority of nice, well-meaning moderates. In that case, the fundamentalists would be the right representatives of their religion, since they take its commandments to be categorical and not merely suggestive. This, of course, would apply to all religions.

Finally, we can't arbitrarily pick and choose only passages of scripture that confirm our initial position and ignore those that contradict our intuitions. That's both lazy and irresponsible.

As such, my view (if you care at all) is that Islam is neither a religion of peace nor a religion of war: because its messages are so self-contradictory, logically inconsistent and convoluted, my verdict would be that Islam is a religion of schizophrenia... and ditto for Judaism and Christianity. As such, I do tend to see them all as dangerous to the mental and psychological health of their followers. And if you don't believe me, just look at what happened to G.W. Bush :)

Anyway, here is the debate between Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray vs. Zeba Khan and Maajid Nawaz.

Did you ever imagine that a debate about Islam would include two cuties? :)

Check out other important and stimulating debates.
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