Islam is a respected worldwide religion articulated by the Qur'an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God and by the teachings of Muhammad, considered by them to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim. With over 1.5 billion followers Islam is the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing religions in the world. In the 21st century, thanks to threats and violence and a vocal minority of Islamic extremists, Islam has gotten a bad name. Some, specifically Osama Bin Laden and his followers, have formally declared war (jihad) on the US and its allies. Recognizing the danger presented by Islamic extremists, there is a natural and necessary need to be alert, defend against and eventually stop Islamic extremist violence. To accomplish this natural and necessary defense while recognizing the individual and religious rights of law abiding Muslims is very difficult. Islamaphobia naturally appears. However, minimizing the threat from Islamic extremists and dangerously limiting our defense against Islamic extremists as most leftists espouse in a foolish attempt to eliminate Islamaphobia is not the answer. We must be aggressive in our response to this obvious violent threat and active war while recognizing law abiding Muslim Americans. As responsible Muslim Americans have accurately stated, until we are able to mute the Islamic extremists it is the primary responsibility of law abiding Muslims to clearly identify themselves by their actions and support to stop the extremists and their publicly distancing themselves from those of their faith who are destroying it for the rest. In a February 27, 2012 TIME Magazine interview, Kareem Abdul Jabbar made this point when he said, "After 9/11, all of a sudden you have this suspicious spotlight on you just because you’re Muslim. It was a radical change, and it really bothered me. People understand that the KKK, even though they take a Christian identity, are not practicing what Jesus was all about. It’s the same thing with the radical Islamic people. They’re about hatred and trying to impose their will on people. I guess that was put in our laps, as American Muslims, to explain that." If you still don't believe the magnitude of this threat, read the articles and thoughts included below. And, to understand the death toll and put the worldwide damage done by Islamic extremists into perspective, read Religion of Peace.

Secular Stagnation, how religion survives in a Godless Age

By Shadi Hamid (a columnist and member of the Editorial Board at The Washington Post and Assistant Research Professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller Seminary),
from Foreign Affairs,

Until recently, it may have seemed as if religion were on the way out. As people grew richer and more educated, the thinking went, they would begin to rely less on the solace and meaning provided by faith. That is what happened in much of western Europe, where church membership rates have cratered over the last century. According to a 2018 Pew study, only 11 percent of people in western European countries say religion is a very important part of their lives. Proponents of so-called modernization theory see religion as a defense mechanism, a hedge against chaos and depredation; religions would invariably lose adherents in a safer, more ordered and comfortable world. As recently as 2020, the political scientist Ronald Inglehart claimed in these pages that religion was in global decline. “As societies develop, survival becomes more secure,” he noted, adding, “And as this level of security rises, people tend to become less religious.” But a wider look at trends in religiosity reveals a more complex reality. The story of religion over the past century is not one of contraction but of continued growth and consolidation. That, at least, is the contention of the British economist Paul Seabright’s new book, The Divine Economy, in which he insists that “the world is coming to be dominated by a handful of religions to an extent that has never been seen before.”

Christianity and Islam—effectively the Walmarts and Apples of today’s religious marketplace. ... religions succeed and spread because they provide “goods” that humans need and want. The data bear this out: religious people tend, on average, to be happier, more fulfilled, and more connected with their fellow citizens than those who do not. ... religions have a built-in advantage: they are concerned with ultimate meaning in a way that secular ideologies are not. Communism and fascism, for example, failed in a way that Christianity and Islam cannot.

... In the real world, the effects of losing the scaffolding that religion provides are clear enough. The rise of so-called deaths of despair in the United Stateshas been most concentrated in the areas that have seen the largest decreases not in religious belief but in religious participation.... So they channel it elsewhere—increasingly into partisan politics. One might call this the paradox of secularization: that even if religion matters less for individuals, it can still matter more for society at large. Like love or friendship, religion can make its presence felt through its absence.

If there were a world in which people cared only about calculating their economic self-interest, the power of religion would be significantly blunted. But the world does not quite work that way—and, if Seabright’s analysis is any indication, it won’t any time soon.

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