Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Religious freedom

At a time when the latest Islamic nut case has been arrested for allegedly trying to blow up Times Square, it probably is useful to think briefly about Islam's contribution to the world.

Back in 632 A.D., Muhammad got a message from God and so knew - KNEW! - that he knew it all. Of course, many people before and since have gotten the same call. (Different messages, but, hey.) Still, it needs to be recognized that Muhammad's vision - unlike that of Christianity - contained not only religious and ethical teaching but also plenty of room for intellectual freedom.

And it is that intellectual freedom that delivered Western Civilization from the "Dark Ages."

Of course, people living in the West roughly between 650 and 850 A.D. didn't think of themselves as being in the "Dark Ages." But, judging from that time's output of philosophic and intellectual ideas, there they were. Heads befuddled by the church - not to mention attacks from Vandals, Goths, Muslims, you name it - fact is, they were going nowhere.

Meanwhile, Islamic scholarship thrived. It was Islamic translations of Greek thinking about science, logic, ethics, and even psychology, that eventually turned Western Civilization back on in the centuries to come.

In many ways, Islam ended up passing the intellectual baton to the West. But still, it retained it's intellectual nature. Never mind those jihad nincompoops. (Ever heard of the Inquisition? Christianity isn't exactly your bastion of justice or smarts.)

I say, let jihad nincompoops rot in jail. But give Islam the rights of religious freedom that have kept our country whole. Despite whenever somebody else gets a message from God - and of course they will, time and again - let's just make sure they and their followers get their happiness. Unless, of course, they want to blow up a federal building or something. We should do no less for the followers of Islam ... unless, of course ...

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