I think there are key differences between Muslims and the other faiths, Muhammad is the only religious leader who lead his faith from the point of a sword. I think that creates a very different outlook on faith then almost any other. Crimes have been committed in the name of peaceful faiths since the beginning of time but none have promoted violence like the Muslims do.
Many have, and a careful study of the earliest Muslim texts will show that the last thing happening among Islamic scholars was promotion of violence. There was a defense of past violence and an attempt to explain the status quo antebellum with the Byzantines during the 8th and 9th centuries, but the only ones in early Islamic history who ever approached something promoting violence i.e. something distinct from Roman and Christian just war concepts are the Kharijite cult (who were friends with no one but themselves).
Jesus Christ died for our sins, he believed all people could be saved, Moses never engaged in violence himself to save his people, Buddha Gautama tossed away all possessions and discovered enlightenment, and the list goes on.
The list of Old Testament patriarchs who engaged in serious violence is extensive. But it is not exactly true that either Moses or Jesus shirked away from violence - they like many prophets followed a biblical tradition of promising and threatening violence on those who did not join them. The actual violence would be committed by God.
Muhammad alone believed in violence in the name of god and claims god supports violence for the sake of oneness no matter how many beautiful aspects exist in the Qur'an, I dont think it can remove that taint because it exists in the core of its faith. There are no less than 109 verses that call for war against non believers in their book of faith and while Christianty has violent verses its in historical or storytelling context the Quran does not have that, its open ended and preaches eternal war until all exists under their faiths banner.
Quran (2:191-193) - "And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah."
Quran (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"
The Quran in fact is not open ended. Any and every reading of tafsir - official commentaries on the Quran - all tie every verse relating to violence to a specific time against a specific tribe in a specific context. Exactly like the verses in the Old Testament. The very clue is in the first verse you quote: "and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out
That is anything but general and open-ended. Verse 8:12 by the way is quoted incompletely, and is as follows: "[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels
, "I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.""
Again, no different than any other verse in, say, the Old Testament where the wicked are smote with flaming swords from heaven.
Muhammad led his people too Mecca and he led them in war against the native peoples. HE did it, not a Muslim king but the prophet himself.
Muhammad and his people were the natives of Mecca. It was their home before they fled in exile. What makes Muhammad unique isn't that he did something no prophet had done, but that he did the collective work of more than one as equal parts Jesus, Moses and David. As Jesus during his years preaching to the poor, the downtrodden, and the enslaved while being persecuted and harangued by the powers that be. As Moses during the exodus of Muslims from Mecca into Medina and Ethiopia and their subsequent rebuilding of society away from their past lives. And as David fighting back against the Meccan coalition and ultimately returning to Mecca as a conqueror to establish the city as both holy city and capital.
There are some (Anti religious factions) who believe Christ had a temper, but the difference here is huge. Christ may have lost his temper in between self sacrifices. Muhammad was a warlord.
A warlord is someone who usurps power from a legitimate central authority through force of arms, and for that reason is a pejorative. In this case it's little more than a buzzword tossed around on the blogosphere in lieu of actual debate and conversation. Muhammad was invited and elected to be chief judge of the independent city-state of Medina. That is not warlordism anymore than Obama is a warlord.
I am not saying regional issues don't have an effect on the state of each individual country and their reaction to Isreal and the West in general. What I am saying is that the sword of Islam holds more weight for the use of violence and the spreading of violence among Muslims than anything else.
This is unconvincing considering the lack of violence and spread of violence among Muslims in the three hundred or so years before the 20th century, where we suddenly see a sharp spike in violence brought about by radicals. If this is proof of anything, it is that regional and economic issues are the greater factors in determining the use and spread of violence far more than a theoretical sword of Islam.
India was colonized robbed by British Imperialism, they dont act like the Muslim nations. You dont have Hindu's murdering people because one of their gods made it into a Simpsons sketch. You can blame anything you like for the state of the Middle East but that does not change the fact that their faith has core issues that will never disappear they are a violent religion while every other faith just has violent individuals.
You may be unfamiliar with India, but yes you do
have Hindus who murder and riot because someone insulted a Hindu god, or dared to convert one of their children to Christianity or Islam, or thought to slaughter a sacred cow for food, or release a bawdy Bollywood movie where a man and woman kiss on screen. Few if any of the objections so far heard are even a part of Islam's core teachings to begin with, and to believe it alone is special and cannot be changed is unjustified hubris. It was doing just that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
I would argue that many of those cultural advances in the Middle East belonged to the Orthodox Christians of the Eastern Roman Empire (That later became Byzantium) the Middle East and Muslims simply benefited from Geography they had China and India to the East and all the secrets of Rome to the West and gained a great deal from these 2 regions and this may have moderated the Muslim peoples...
Yes. Western Europe compared to the Middle East was barbaric. What I am saying is that the enlightened state of the Middle East is not due to Middle East innovation but the innovation of Asia (China and India) AND the remnants of Rome in Byzantium. They gained most from the trade lanes that moved through those regions.
They acted much as Western Europe did after they brought back their "Pillaged" knowledge.
This is a popular argument to make. It's also a very poor one and doesn't stand up to the most basic scrutiny.
Question: if many (or even some) of these scientific and philosophical advances in the Middle East belonged to the Byzantine Empire, then where were they? I mean, the Eastern Romans have had these very same texts for over 700 years. What did they do with them before the rise of the Muslim Caliphates? The answer is nothing. Or worse, outright destruction during incidents of fanaticism like the closing of the philosopher schools in Athens, the burning of the Library of Alexandria, or the famous persecution of Hypatia.
Ask yourself: were medicine, mathematics, engineering, astronomy, mechanics, optics, construction techniques, ship building techniques, any more advanced in the 14th century Byzantium than they had been in 4rth century Rome? No.
And then ask yourself the question: Why?
The simple truth is that the Byzantines did not care enough about secular learning. This explains not only their stagnation, but also the immense, both in importance and quantity, amount of knowledge that slipped through their hands due to negligence. How are we supposed to explain this harsh reality?
Do you know that of Archimedesí 38 known works only 16 have survived? Now, we canít conclusively blame the loss of all of those on the Byzantines, because large part of the Alexandrine library, which may have stored them, was destroyed in the fire of 48BC, but one can easily reproach the Byzantines for the following: of those 16 that have survived, 4 have survived in Arabic alone, which means that the Byzantines had possession of them until some point and then lost them, without even making an attempt to recover them later. The same is true with Euclidís Elements, the quintessential book of geometry whose importance cannot be stressed enough. It survived only in its Arabic verse. The same with Heroís Pneumatics, another monumental scientific treatise. Isidore, a great 6th century engineer who rebuilt Hagia Sophiaís dome after an earthquake, had access to Heroís Kamarika, an edition of which he had issued along with his commentary. Both works disappear from sight at a later date.
And this phenomenon is not just restricted to the natural sciences. Theopompusí hugely important History of Philip, in 58 books, existed in Constantinople in the 9th century. Later it was lost. The same story with the work of Ephorus, the greatest historian of the 4rth century BC. All of Polybius 40 books of his Histories existed in 5th century AD in the empire for sure, but today only 5 books have survived intact and the rest in fragments preserved in other works.
The amount of knowledge lost is staggering. And the truth is that this process was facilitated by a high degree of indifference, indifference of the kind displayed by the 13th century Levantine monk who erased a compilation of Archimedes texts (for the record there were just two other such manuscripts in the entire Byzantine world, known in modern bibliography as Code A and Code B) in order to use the bookís pages to write prayers! Thatís the story of the Palimpsest, for those who donít know, itís worth looking it up.
Now consider this: The vast majority of scientific texts and philosophy that influenced the Arabs came from the Greek Classical Age and similarly dated Indian golden ages, which predates Alexander's conquest of Persia. His empire, and the subsequent Seleucid successor, stretched from Greece to India incorporating the very same centers of learning the Muslim Caliphate did. Yet there was no known Golden Age even remotely comparable to the one in the 9th-13th centuries. The output of famous mathematicians in the Greek Classical Age was never matched by any age until the rise of the Islamic one, and then the Italian Renaissance.
I think I'll leave this point with the words of eminent Mediterranean historian Fernand Braudel:
For four or five centuries, Islam was the most brilliant civilization in the Old World. (...) At its higher level the golden age of Muslim civilization was both an immense scientific success and a exceptional revival of ancient philosophy. These was not its only triumphs; literature was another: but they eclipse the rest. First, science: it was there that the Saracens (...) made the most original contributions. These, in brief, were nothing less than trigonometry and algebra (with its significantly Arab name). (...) Equally distinguished were Islam's mathematical geographers, its atronomical observatories and instruments (...). The Muslims also deserve high marks for optics, for chemistry (...) and for pharmacy. More than half the remedies and healings aids used by the West came from Islam (...). Muslim medical skill was incontestable. (...) In the field of philosophy, what took place was rediscovery - a return, essentially of the peripatetic philosophy. The scope of this rediscovery, however, was not limited to copying and handling on, valuable as that undoubtely was. It also involved continuing, elucidating and creating.
... but as you see historically the rise of fanatical Muslims from the Central Africa which conquered Spanish Muslims and Christians alike violence remained the focal point of their faith.
First, from North Africa. Not Central. And second, the Almoravid and Almohad movements were anything but representatives of anything approaching normal Islamic doctrine. Morocco was a land of local saints and cult leaders, and these two Berber religious movements were no different. Their religion was indeed puritanical and promoted violence above learning and culture, but they were the radicals of their time. During this period Al-Ghazali was the most famous and most followed Islamic theologian of the age. His influence was felt from Egypt to India as his fusion of legalist and gnostic attitudes defined Islam for the next several centuries.
His books were also burned by the Almoravids and Almohads, the later even more heretical than the former as they proclaimed themselves caliphs - successors - not of Muhammad but their own prophet.