Russell and Duenes

Can Islam “take it?”

with 3 comments

I’m including a section of an interview that Guy Benson, guest-hosting for Hugh Hewitt, did with Mark Steyn. I include all of this so my readers can get the context, but I want to focus on a particular sentence by Mr. Steyn, which you will note below. Here’s the brief exchange.

GB: All right, I saw this story in the New York Times this morning, Mark, and I immediately thought of you. It’s not at all surprising, says Patricia Cohen, reporter, New York, Times, that the Yale University Press would be wary of reprinting notoriously controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a forthcoming book. So Yale, and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam. And the recommendation was unanimous. A book, “The Cartoons That Shocked The World”, should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September, 2005. The author has reluctantly accepted this decision. So a book about the cartoons cannot include the cartoons, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yeah, which makes the point more effectively than anything that is going to appear in the text of that book. And the lesson is, which is a very dangerous one to teach people, is that if you threaten, well, not just threaten, if you actually kill and burn and destroy to get your way, people will listen to you. Everybody knows the way this works. If you do a Broadway play in which a gay Jesus has sex with Judas Iscariot, there will be outraged Catholics holding placards on the sidewalk outside, as happened a couple of years ago. If you were to do that same play about Muhammad, there’d be an entirely more motivated group of people waiting for you at the stage door. So we now have essentially a situation where Islam has become extremely effective at forcing the rest of the world to submit to a form of Islamic law. What is most interesting about the Yale decision is not so much the decision not to publish the cartoons, because very few people in the United States or Britain or Europe or anywhere actually have the guts to do that. But they’ve actually said no, you can’t show any representation of Muhammad. So for example, Gustave Dore’s, and Botticelli’s illustrations of Muhammad from Dante, that’s gone, by the way. They’ve been kicked out, too. So it’s not just so long to some obscure cartoonists in Denmark, but it’s so long Botticelli and so long Dante. I mean, this is a retreat into darkness.

GB: And Mark, what shocked me was they said they consulted two dozen authorities, diplomats, experts, whatever that means on Islam and counterterrorism, and they said they were all unanimous. They all said let’s lot publish them.

MS: Yeah.

GB: And not a single dissenting voice?

MS: No, and that’s what’s very depressing, because my natural reaction when the cartoon thing came up, I posted them at my website at the time, because the minute a guy says you publish this and I’m going to kill you, that’s the time to stand up and say hey, nuts to you, pal. Every single newspaper on the planet is going to publish these things, and you can’t kill us all. And you have to at some point stand up and resist this thuggery. And if you’re…and this gets to the heart of the problem with Islam’s relation with the Western world, is if you’re so sensitive, if you’re so touchy about it, you look at what Christians put up with. They have to have…you look at a guy like Bill Maher, who thinks he’s Mr. big, brave, you know, transgressive, bold, provocative comedian, mocking Christians all the time, mocking them all the time, all the time. Christians put up with it. They shrug it off. Who cares about Bill Maher? Why is it Islam can dish it out, but they don’t want to take it? And that is a problem, ultimately, for Islam’s place as part of Western society. [End of interview]

The bold sentence grabbed my attention, and I wonder if Islam’s inability to “take it” has to do with a fundamental theological difference between Christianity and Islam.

Biblical Christianity teaches the disciple of Christ to “have the same attitude among yourselves [that Christ had], who although He existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but laid aside His privileges, taking the form of a servant…And being found in appearance as man, he humbled Himself by becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” St. Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong, therefore I will boast all the more in weakness.” So Jesus and His disciples gain life by losing it in love for others, by giving it away in humble submission, by being weak and despised and persecuted, by being willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake.

Is this also true of Islam? Does Islam teach that weakness in Allah is actually strength? Is there a cross to be borne? I think not. Orthodox Muslims are appalled by the notion that God Almighty would allow himself to be “defeated” by crucifixion. The Quran speaks highly of Jesus, but is clear that Jesus did not die on a cross. This is beneath God or a prophet of God. God cannot be weak. He cannot be vulnerable to the foibles and bloodthirstiness of men. God cannot die, cannot willingly give up His life. And it would appear that Allah’s followers should not be weak either. They should not accept defeat for the greater glory of God. I gather that much of the Islamic world is ashamed of the fact that they have not been political conquerors in the modern world. There is no cross in Islam. So there should be no “taking” what others dish out.

This is a difference worth exploring and pondering. I think I will, to see if there really is something to it.



Written by Michael Duenes

August 14, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Posted in Duenes, Islam, Theology

3 Responses

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  1. Insightful.

    But as for “comedians” and publishers, what’s wrong with Mom’s advice: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it”? If I think your outfit’s tacky, I should keep it to myself, thank you very much. Freedom of speech and of the press was designed for sane and civil political and religious discourse, not to insult others so as to draw attention to oneself. Respecting those who are wrong is the foundation for earning the trust to convince them that they are.

    Steve Gillette

    August 15, 2009 at 2:36 am

    • Excellent point, Steve. Concur. There is no point in making inflammatory cartoons of anyone, let alone someone who is revered and who has had a profound impact on history such as Muhammad. I would only add this about Steyn’s larger point: If our “free” speech and press don’t begin calling a spade a spade when it comes to Islamic designs on imposing Sharia Law in this country, they will cease to be free.



      August 15, 2009 at 4:45 am

  2. Mike:

    I think the issue is power not the thickness of ones skin. Power allows control and that is not what Christians are allowed to have. Power can certainly flow through the Christian and must if we are to accomplish anything but we cannot use power for our purposes. But that is what Islam teaches. Islam teaches that their rules will be the source of the integration the world needs and since the leaders of Islam are responsible to achieve this integration, this implies that any means to achieve this end are justified. God does not have the right to keep power from man–or Lucifer so we are going to force the issue.

    The Christian, on the other hand, knows that Integration of the world will not occur by human hands (Daniel 2;34 I think). We have to wait until God decides to take this rock and smash the governments that have been allowed to rule and wait for the establishment of Christs throne on this earth. I also believe that too much of the Church is lukewarm and cannot allow the message of Christ to be presented in the time of relative freedom that remains. Some might think that a new Crusades would be an indication of a hot church but the Crusades were the same sort of attempt to take God’s place rather than present to others the message of submission to the One Who will bring order and that He will do it in His timing–He does not need mans help.

    An event that our church is participating in, is a 30 day prayer effort directed towards the work of missions with Muslims. A little bit of history is taught and then some directions given for prayer for the day. Might be a good thing for our Bible students to be doing. I will admit that I am not ready to go to a Muslim country and become a missionary but I sure can get on my knees once a day for 30 days and join other Christians around the world to pray for the harvest.

    Will we lose our freedom if we do not resist? Yes! But I also am of the opinion that that is what the near future holds. We are very near the smashing of the human governments that Daniel and Revelation tell us about. Redeeming the time is to pray and share about the only One who is omnipotent and can actually bring the integration that the world is now seeking and even crying for. The Anti-Christ will get his turn and then the One with the Power will say enough and bring the obedient with Him and smash those who presumed to take God’s place. Most journalists are blind to what is actually happening and, I believe, will be shocked when they will be controlled. Maybe that act will lead them to think about with Whom power really resides and seek a different integration point but recent evidence indicates they are not getting it. This morning we read about the need to cry out in order to satisfy our true needs. Not being willing to cry out is a sign of being lukewarm. Maybe each Christian needs to ask God with passion if we are lukewarm and if so what He can do to change us.

    One last thought. Reform has its place within the system of human government that God has allowed for the last 2500 years or so since God spoke through Daniel. But Integration will not come about by reform. If that were so then What would Jesus do? would be a good question. But Integration will take place by a complete transformation which can only be done by the Holy Spirit Who has the power needed because of what Christ said in the Garden: “Never-the-less not my will but yours be done.” Then God’s will could be done and, therefore, the Cross and the Resurrection are the basis of the power of God to transform and that He will do. But not before some very awful things are going to happen on this earth.


    David Peterson

    August 18, 2009 at 8:27 pm

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