Christians and Muslims: Fundamentally Differentby Rit Nosotro
How do Christians and Muslims differ in their interpretation of historical events
President George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, the nation of Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Christian and Muslim fundamentalists; what do they have in common? All have lived through the same events in history such as the events of September the 11th and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why are their interpretations of these events so tremendously different? What are their fundamental differences?
First, one has to define what fundamentalism is. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, fundamentalism is defined as the following, “religious beliefs based on a literal interpretation of everything in the Bible and regarded as fundamental to Christian faith and morals.” The second definition states that fundamentalism is, “the 20th century movement among some American Protestants, based on these beliefs.” Interestingly enough, it only mentions fundamentalists as being Christian, a rather one-sided view. Whereas, in the Encyclopedia Americana, fundamentalism is said to be found “to greater or lesser degrees in all of the major world religions: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well as Sikhism and Neo-Confucianism.”
According to Encyclopedia Americana, “Fundamentalists seek to preserve belief in a supernatural reality at a time in history when such belief seems to be waning. These self-styled ‘defenders of God,’ as they would be called in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, are dedicated, sometimes fierce, opponents of the modern world’s elevation of human reason, material goods, and historical processes to the level of ultimate value.”
Such French philosophers of the eighteenth century, as Voltaire and Diderot, brought forth to the West the idea of supreme confidence in human reason, which did not require divine revelation. These philosophers rejected any role for sacred scriptures or revealed religious truths needed for humanity to prosper. Throughout the following centuries, this kind of thinking was promoted via communication technologies, schools, and national governmental systems. Consequently, in America, this led to the separation of church and state. This is not true in Islam because it is a social, political, economic, religious and military system.
Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Muslims rejoiced that the “Great Satan” (America) had been crippled by their powerful blow. The rest of the Christian world, some non-fundamentalists Muslims, and other unbelievers were shocked and horrified at the mass slaughter of innocent lives. Unfortunately, many Muslims do not really know the Qur’an, the teachings of the Hadith, or the real origins of their religion.
When it comes to military actions, the Muslim world sees situations like Afghanistan and Iraq as a punishment for their worldliness and apostasy. However, the Christian fundamentalists believe such actions prove necessary to free people from the oppression of the Taliban and other dictatorships. Also, the campaign was seen by the Christian fundamentalists as a way to improve the conditions under which the people were living. For example, the rights of women were non-existent under the Taliban regime. Under the current democratic government, there has come freedom for women to go to school, to live “out from under the burka,” and to have a voice of expression.
Another point of difference, regards the nation of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Christians all over the world saw the establishment of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, while the Muslims viewed this as a punishment for their sins. “Just as some Christian fundamentalists saw the creation of the state of Israel as fulfillment of biblical prophecy heralding the Day of Judgment, so too will some Muslim fundamentalists interpret the U.S. occupation of Iraq as setting the stage for the final battle between good and evil . . .” stated Husain Haqqani.
Another point of dispute concerns President George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. To some Bush seems a war monger, however to others he is a duty bound president who represents the Christian right. Unlike his antagonist, Osama bin Laden, Bush sees his role as a liberator of the oppressed peoples in Iraq and Afghanistan. Equally, he sees his duty as to track down Al Qaeda and all other terrorists organizations and bring them to justice. He stated on November 20, 2003 during his press conference in London, England that it was his responsibility to protect the people of his homeland, as well as all those who love freedom.
On the other hand, Osama bin Laden is a hero to the fanatics of the Muslim religion. He furthered their fanatical ideas by causing what he called a “crippling blow to the Great Satan of the West.” However, to Americans and many other nationalities, he is no hero, but instead the master-mind behind numerous unpardonable attacks on humanity. His agenda for America and her allies, however, is not “salvation,” but “to steal, kill, and destroy.” (Does that sound familiar? See John 10:10) Ultimately, bin Laden’s plan, through domination and intimidation, is to cause all to “bow the knee” to Islam.
In closing, the differences and conflicts that occur between the fundamentalists Muslims and Christians, lie in their enormously different roots and world views. The current war on terrorism is not a war between Christianity and Islam. It is much deeper than that. Ephesians 6: 12-13 states, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” May Christians be faithful to do as they have been instructed.
Works Cited List
CNN, November 20, 2003, press conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush.
Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition, “Fundamentalism” Appleby, R. Scott
Haqqani Hussain, “The American Mongols” Foreign Policy, May/June 2003
New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, vs. “fundamentalism” (C) 1986
Scott, Dr. Daniel*, “Lectures on Islam” Summer Institute of Muslims Studies, Colorado Springs, Colorado. July 2000.
The Holy Bible, New International Version, U.S.A. September, 2001 (C) 1984
*An alias had to be used for security reasons.
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