Atheists around the world are having a field day when it comes to proving their point that religion serves no purpose other than to oppress and prevent the growth of human civilization. It is problematic to mount up a defense of religion, especially when the deplorable acts of corrupt church leaders are grabbing the headlines. However, when it comes to violence, intolerance, dogmatism, and destructive capability, it is hard to compete with the adherents of an extreme form of Islam. Muslims preaching a radical version of Islam is destroying the foundations of ancient religion. For the benefit of the one billion faithful Muslims all over the world, it is imperative to redefine Islam based on an idealistic interpretation of the said religion.
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BBC’s documentary film entitled “Islam in America” attempts to provide an alternative view of the religion that Prophet Mohammed established more than a thousand years ago (BGSoftOfficial, 2016). Before going any further, it is important to point out a similar idea. In a widely received book entitled “No god but God”, the author asked pointed questions regarding the true nature and essence of Islam (Aslan, 2005). She wanted to find out if it is a religion of war or peace. Reza Aslan was determined to know if it is possible to establish this religion for the purpose of promoting democratic values, such as equality and human rights. After viewing the said documentary, it is prudent to give a yes and no answer to Aslan’s questions.
An affirmative answer is possible because Islam was based on Judaism. On the other hand, Judaism provided the essential elements in the development of Christianity (Litfin, 2016). Thus, it must not come as a surprise to find Muslims preaching peace and self-development. A good example was the former marine soldier who was converted and became a religious leader for Islam. In the said documentary, Malcolm X, a militant preacher for the Nation of Islam, was compelled to change some of his radical views after completing a holy pilgrimage to Mecca. The same thing can be said of celebrities like Muhammad Ali known all over the world for advocating tolerance and peace.
Difficulties in the Presentation of an Idealized View
It is possible to establish this religion on the basis of democratic values. However, somewhere within the Koran, one can find a message that compels followers to take a militaristic and zealous stance against unbelievers. Even if one ignores the current problems with Muslim extremists, it is not easy to explain the murder of Malcolm X, perceived by many as a retaliatory act after he confronted Elijah Muhammad (BGSoftOfficial, 2016). At the same time, it is difficult to justify Louis Farrakhan’s hate-filled speeches.
It is a challenge for the supporters of Islam to turn a blind eye to the criminal activities and a propensity for violence exhibited by followers and religious leaders alike. For example, the Imam preacher featured at the beginning of the film ended up in jail because he was caught carrying an unlicensed firearm.
The preacher’s illegal possession case was not the most problematic aspect of the story. Before the narrator provided the unexpected twist in the said story, there was short footage of the preacher antagonizing the owner of a liquor store, and the said Imam warned him about the upcoming Day of Judgment. However, he was not only referring to a spiritual confrontation, but he was also hinting at a physical confrontation with the followers of Allah.
Islam’s connection with Judaism and Christianity explains the presence of similar themes, such as the desire for peace, hope, and love. However, somewhere within the Koran, there is also a message that inspires radical Muslims to destroy the lives of unbelievers. In the BBC documentary of the growth and expansion of Islam in America, the intolerant and militaristic behavior of Louis Farrakhan creates doubt regarding Islam’s message of peace and tolerance. In addition, the behavior of a convicted Imam preacher makes it hard to believe that it is possible to establish the said religion on the basis of democratic values.
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Aslan, R (2005). No god but God. New York, NY: Random House.
BGSoftOfficial. (2016). Islam in America – BBC documentary. Web.
Litfin, D (2016). The real theological issue between Christians and Muslims. Web.