Friday, October 21, 2005

Xtreme faith!

Read the previous post in this series, The End of Faith 2: The Legend of Tolerance.

"It is important to specify the dimension in which Muslim “extremists” are actually extreme. They are extreme in their faith. They are extreme in their devotion to the literal word of the Koran and the hadith (the literature recounting the sayings and actions of the Prophet), and this leads them to be extreme in the degree to which they believe that modernity and secular culture are incompatible with moral and spiritual health. Muslim extremists are certain that the exports of Western culture are leading their wives and children away from God. They also consider our unbelief to be a sin so grave that it merits death whenever it becomes an impediment to the spread of Islam. These sundry passions are not reducible to “hatred” in any ordinary sense. Most Muslim extremists have never been to America or even met an American. And they have far fewer grievances with Western imperialism than is the norm around the globe. Above all, they appear to be suffering from a fear of contamination. As has been widely noted, they are also consumed by feelings of “humiliation”—humiliation over the fact that while their civilization has foundered, they have watched a godless, sin-loving people become masters of everything they touch. This feeling is also a product of their faith. Muslims do not merely feel the outrage of the poor who are deprived of the necessities of life. They feel the outrage of a chosen people who have been subjugated by barbarians. Osama bin Laden wants for nothing. What, then, does he want? He has not called for the equal distribution of wealth around the globe….He seems most exercised over the presence of unbelievers (American troops and Jews) in the Muslim holy land and over what he imagines to be the territorial ambitions of Zionists. These are purely theological grievances. It would be much better, for all concerned, if he merely hated us."

-Sam Harris

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