The Top Five Lies About Islam You Probably Learned in Church
An interview with Islam expert William Kilpatrick
Amidst the blur of violent, tragic events in Afghanistan, The Stream decided to ask for some perspective from an expert on the Islamic faith and its links to political conflict and violence, author William Kilpatrick.
John Zmirak: You’re an expert on Islam. You have a new book which I’ve been enjoying, What Catholics Need to Know About Islam. Surely all the information in it is of equal interest to every Christian. What drove you to write such a book? Do well-meaning Christians have false ideas about the nature of Islam? What would you say are the top five myths that are widely promoted by church leaders and the media?
William Kilpatrick: I wrote the book in order to present a fuller picture of Islam than is generally available to Catholics and other Christians.
In the Catholic Church, for instance, clergy and educators have for decades promoted a highly misleading view of Islam. One might add that it’s a dangerously misleading view because it leaves Christians unprepared for the dangerous realities of Islam. In short, Catholic leaders are guilty of covering-up Islam’s extremism.
The top five myths that Church leaders promote are as follows:
- Islam is a religion of peace; Islam has nothing to do with violence.
- Islam has much in common with Christianity, including a similar moral code, and similar ideas about marriage, family, and sexuality.
- The vast majority of Muslims are moderate.
- Jihadists misunderstand Islam. They have perverted a great religion. Luckily, they are only a tiny minority.
- Many Christians also misunderstand Islam. They suffer from “Islamophobia” — an irrational fear of Islam that can be overcome through dialogue.
Many in the media and in government share and promote the same deceptive myths about Islam. Much of our failure to resist the spread of Islam stems from these myths.
Was the Taliban Always Baked in the Cake?
We are witnessing the brutal Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Given the strain of Islam dominant in that country for the past 1400 years, was that victory always inevitable?
The strain of Islam represented by the Taliban is original Islam. The Taliban do not misunderstand Islam. They understand it very well. The word “Taliban” means “students.” They are students of the Koran, the Hadith, sharia law, and the life of Muhammad. As is the case with many other terrorist groups, the Taliban have a better knowledge of what Islam teaches than the average Muslim. One of the main goals of Islam is the triumph of Islam over the whole world. And every Muslim has a religious obligation to aid in that mission. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, said that jihad is much more pleasing to God than praying in a mosque or giving alms to the poor. I don’t know if the Taliban victory was inevitable, but it was highly likely given their high degree of religious commitment combined with their belief that the reward for a jihad warrior is a heavenly harem.
History instructs us that the most successful resistance to the advance of Islam comes from soldiers with an even greater religious commitment — such as the Christian warriors who defeated the Muslims at Tours, Lepanto, and the gates of Vienna.
Can We Bomb Fillintheblankistan Till it Turns Into New Hampshire?
How realistic is it to expect democratic, tolerant governments in Muslim countries, whatever the U.S. tries to do using trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of soldiers?
Once again, what we see is a failure to understand Islam. For a committed Muslim, serving Allah is much more important than democracy or economic prosperity. What’s more, you will find nothing democratic or tolerant about Allah as he is depicted in the Koran. And this may be the reason that the religion founded in his name has always been more conducive to tyranny in comparison to governments founded on Judeo-Christian principles.
There are exceptions to this rule. During much of the 20th century, numerous Islamic countries formed governments that were based on the secular Western model. These nations were ruled either by secular strongmen such as Kemal Ataturk in Turkey and Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, or by enlightened monarchs such as the Shah of Iran. The point to keep in mind is that these more tolerant and Westernized governments did not develop out of Islam, but as a result of a departure from Islam. It was a widespread loss of faith in Islam that made this moderation possible.
By contrast, Khomeini’s Iranian Revolution was a successful attempt to restore Islam to its original status as the supreme law of governance. Moreover, Khomeini’s goal was to export this religious revolution — a restoration, really — to the whole world. Following the revolution in Iran, many parts of the Muslim world did revert to original Islam.
Are We Flying in the Future Boston Marathon Bombers?
How prudent is it for the US to accept thousands of Afghan refugees, on the claim that they supported American efforts and values? Weren’t the Boston Marathon bombers the children of Muslim asylum seekers?
That’s a tough question. On the one hand, we owe a lot to Afghans who aided the American effort. If they are unable to leave Afghanistan, many of them will likely be killed. On the other hand, it will be exceedingly difficult to vet all the refugees. Almost certainly, a number of those who come to America will be hostile to America. Our government has not proven very successful at separating the wheat from the chaff.
In America and also in Europe most acts of Islamic terror are committed by Muslim migrants and refugees or the children of Muslim migrants and refugees. A recent example in this country is Ahmad Al-Issa — the man who massacred 10 people at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado last March. As a child, Al-Issa emigrated with his family to the U.S. from Syria. Of course, most immigrants from Muslim countries don’t turn to terror, but statistics suggest that they require more vetting than an immigrant from, say, Denmark.
One of the main reasons we went to war in Afghanistan was to prevent another 9/11 attack. Ironically, by allowing thousands of unvetted or poorly vetted Muslims from Afghanistan into the U.S., we increase the chances that there will be another 9/11.
Thanks, America. Here’s a Jihad Attack …
Why do we see second-generation Muslims, children of immigrants, becoming more militant and anti-Western than their parents?
The probable answer is that, as a result of attending American schools, they absorb a great deal of anti-American and anti-Western sentiment. America is presented to them as an imperialist and racist power with a history of oppressing other nations and ethnicities.
Al-Issa, the Boulder jihadist, is an example of the process. After the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooting (in which 50 Muslims were killed by a white nationalist), he seems to have picked-up the media spin on the story — namely, that the killings were the result of white supremacy and Islamophobia. In 2019 Al-Issa wrote that the dead were victims of the “Islamophobia industry”. Like American schools, the American media seems obsessed with the narrative that most of the world’s troubles are caused by white supremacists and Islamophobes. Ironically, when a young migrant comes to America, he or she will be exposed to cultural institutions that have turned against America and the West.
Woke Tranny Sharia and Other American Innovations
How does the Woke left manage to cooperate and make common cause with pre-medieval, misogynistic, virulently anti-gay Sunni radicals?
The radical left-radical Islamist alliance (the “Red-Green Alliance”) is based on a shared hostility to Western and Christian culture. Muslims are forgiven their misogyny and anti-Semitism because they are considered to be victims of Western imperialism and racial bias. Radical Muslims, by contrast, look upon the left as useful idiots who can be counted on to undermine Western society from within. But the common bond is opposition to the West and to Western values.
For instance, both leftists and Islamists oppose free speech and have sometimes worked together to restrict it. When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during the Obama administration, she worked closely with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to criminalize criticism of Islam. Liberal European governments have followed suit, and as a result, criticism of Islam is now, effectively, a crime in the European Union. As we are finding out, liberals often turn out to be least liberal people in our society.
Christians: The Real Terrorists?
Why does the Biden administration target evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics — but not sharia supporters — as potential “extremists” both in military and counter-terrorism reports?
The Biden administration is a collection of leftists. And, on the whole, leftists hate Christianity. That’s because leftism is itself a religion — a religion based mainly on the teachings of Karl Marx. Because Christian belief is opposed to Marxist belief, leftists look upon Christianity as a rival to their secular faith.
Thus, the Biden administration has branded Christians — particularly white Christians — as potential extremists and terrorists. When Biden speaks of “domestic terrorists” as the greatest threat, these are the people he has in mind. Most sane people feel that leftists themselves are a far greater threat to our liberty and security, but those on the left are blind to this possibility.
Moreover, perhaps because they believe their own propaganda about “the religion of peace,” leftists don’t see Islam as a threat. In fact, before his election, Biden promised to appoint Muslims to positions at every level of government. Moreover, he called for “more Islam in the schools.” The current debacle in Afghanistan is further proof that the administration does not understand Islam and the threat it poses to our security.
In addition to more Islam in the classroom, Biden also appears to want more Islam in the Pentagon. He recently appointed six radical Muslims to an eighteen-member Pentagon committee on countering extremism in the military. Who are the “extremists” that the radical Muslims are supposed to root out of the military? That’s right: conservative Christians and freedom-loving patriots will have to go. As for radical Islamists? Look for them to be elevated to ever higher government positions.
Muhammad: Prophet of What?
Does Islam preach the same God as other “Abrahamic” religions Christianity and Judaism?
Progressive Christians claim that Muslims worship the same God worshipped by Christians and Jews. But there’s little basis for the claim. In the first place there’s no historical evidence of any connection between Islam and Abraham. It’s just that Muhammad had a habit of claiming that all the Old Testament prophets and patriarchs were actually Muslim prophets and patriarchs. In the second place, Allah is not a God of reason, but a God who is guided solely by his will. In contrast to the God of the Bible, he is arbitrary and capricious — much like the gods worshipped by pagans.
Like the God worshipped by Christians and Jews, the God of Islam is considered to be the only God. There are no other gods beside him. But he lacks most of the attributes and qualities of the God of the Bible. Most importantly perhaps, he is not a God of love. Human beings are portrayed not as his children, but as his slaves.
The differences are even more stark when we compare Islam’s God to the God of Christians. Christians believe that God is a Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But Muhammad found the idea of a Trinity to be abhorrent. In the Koran, he insists over and over that God has no son, and that Christians are cursed for saying so.
Ironically, there is a Jesus in the Koran who is born of a Virgin named Mary, but other than that, he is nothing like Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, he is nothing like any real flesh and blood human being. He is more like a ghost who makes occasional appearances in the Koran, but then disappears again into the ether. You can find out more about this strange and insubstantial Jesus by reading my book.
Does it Take a Miracle to Convert a Muslim?
Why do you think Muslims have proven so much more resistant to Christian evangelization than members of other faiths? What do you make of the explosive growth of Christianity in Iran and Afghanistan?
I recently read of a Muslim in Uganda who was killed by his father for converting to Christianity. It’s a very common story. One of the basic reasons that Muslims are resistant to evangelization is that they can be lawfully killed for leaving Islam. In sharia law, the punishment for apostasy is death.
Despite that, many Muslims are being converted to Christianity. Iran, as you note has seen an explosive growth of Christianity. Part of the reason, I think, is that Iranians still have a memory of what life was like before the Iranian Revolution re-introduced fundamentalist Islam. Unlike some other Muslim peoples, Iranians had a taste of tolerance and religious freedom under the moderate reign of the two shahs. They know from past and present observation that the repressive religion of the mullahs suffers in comparison with the life-giving faith of Christians.
Another possibility is Divine intervention. Many Iranians credit their conversion to an encounter with Jesus (the real one) either in a dream or an apparition.
Unfortunately, Afghanistan may be a different story. The Taliban are reported to be going door to door in an effort to hunt down Christians. Although the faith often grows as a result of persecution and martyrdom, this is not usually the case in the Muslim World. Most of the Christian lands that Muslims conquered centuries ago still remain Muslim. In many Muslim areas, Christians (and Jews) have been nearly exterminated.
All things are possible with God, but we should not underestimate the difficulties that Christians now face vis-a-vis Islam.
William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including What Catholics Need to Know About Islam, Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Crisis, FrontPage Magazine, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”