Islamophilia Epidemica

Recently Douglas Murray, a British writer and commentator, published Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady. In this book he describes how political leaders, celebrities, academics and others, are literally stumbling over each other, vying to heap the most praise on Islam as a religion.

We’re talking about a religion that, as I indicated in a previous article, is arguably at the furthest possible antipode from Christianity doctrinally and morally.

Doctrinally, Islam teaches that Jesus was the son of Mary, the daughter of Imran, the father of Moses and Aaron, and thus the sister of Aaron.  Jesus, contrary to Christian belief, was not crucified, and did not rise from the dead, but rather preached the coming of the prophet Muhammad, and at the end of the world will come again to break all crosses, destroy Christianity, and bring about the Islamization of the world. (Most of this is unknown because Christians are using a “corrupted” version of the New Testament.)

Morally, Islam allows for polygamy, child marriage, sexual slavery, wife beating, devaluation of women in legal standing and in ordinary life, female genital mutilation, the execution of Muslims who convert to Christianity, and the killing of Christians who refuse to pay special taxes or show deference to Islam in a majority Islamic country.

But such things present no obstacles to the resounding chorus of praise, almost adulation, coming to our ears often from Christians, or denizens of Christian culture.

Many of Murray’s examples are of British personages. Heir-apparent to the throne, Prince Charles, has only admiration for Islam. For example, in awarding a Royal Charter to the Oxford Institute of Islamic Studies, he extolled “those timeless, universal principles of harmony enshrined within Islam that the world needs so urgently to re-discover in the battle to preserve the future for our descendants.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, showed that the outreach of the Anglican church knows no limits, by supporting the implementation of Islamic Sharia law in England. Richard Dawkins, that fearless champion of atheism famous for excoriating the God of the Bible, when asked in an interview by the Islamic-oriented news channel, Al Jazeera, whether he had the same criticisms for the God of the Koran, modestly replied that he was not familiar enough with the Koran to answer that question.

In 2006, the BBC televised a series on The Miracles of Jesus, and chose as the commentator the Muslim Rageh Omar, who was, as one might expect, critical throughout concerning the historical facts.  But for its series on the life of Mohammed no such criticism was brooked; Rageh Omar was once again the commentator, presenting a very positive word-portrayal (no images, since these are prohibited by Islam) of the prophet. Similarly, in 2008 the London Times, for its review of a book on Jesus’ resurrection by a biblical scholar, could find no more appropriate scholarly authority than the Muslim Ziauddin Sardar, author of Why do People Hate America? and memorable for comparing Rushdie’s “blasphemous” novel, The Satanic Verses, to being personally raped.

American examples of Islamophilia also abound.  At the forefront has been President George Bush, who, a few days after 9/11, speaking of the Koran to the Islamic Center in Washington, declared that Islam is all about peace, and kept repeating that “definition” of Islam for the next eight years. Not to be outdone by a “born-again” Christian Republican, President Obama in his 2009 speech at Cairo University manifested his own “profile in courage” by officially supporting the right of women to wear the hijab. In 2012, the most senior commander of the ISAF in Afghanistan, General John Allen, reacting to a report that disrespect had been shown to the Koran at an American base, went on Afghan TV with solemn apologies and assurance that he had immediately intervened, and that he was conducting a thorough investigation to make sure that the Islamic holy text is never desecrated. The Director of the CIA, John Brennan, has also made it clear that here at home, as well as overseas, admiration for Islam is the official policy.  At the Islamic Center of New York University in 2013 he castigated the misunderstanding of Islam by many who do not know that it is “a faith of peace and tolerance and great diversity.”

Hollywood has followed suit.  In the movie version of Tom Clancy’s novel, The Sum of All Fears, Ben Afleck’s opponents turn out to be, not Islamists (as in the novel), but (you guessed it!) German neo-Nazis.  In the movie, Kingdom of Heaven, which has to do with the Crusades, director Ridley Scott prefaces the film with: “It is almost 100 years since Christian armies from Europe seized Jerusalem. Europe suffers in the grip of repression and poverty. Peasant and lord alike flee to the Holy Land in search of fortune or salvation.”—As if the Christians weren’t trying to regain control of Jerusalem from the Muslims who had invaded the Holy Land! As the movie continues, Christians, on the way to the Holy Land, hear a preacher exhorting them: “To kill an infidel is not murder. It is the path to heaven.” Now, where have we heard that phrase before?

Exaggerated Claims of Islamic Achievement
But if a medal were awarded for “Islamophilia beyond the call of duty,” the accolades should go to an international science exposition, “The 1001 Islamic Inventions Exhibition,” which has been touring the world since 2010 at prestigious locations, including the London Science Museum, National Geographic Museum, New York Hall of Science, and the California Science Center. The exhibition is introduced by a film starring actor Ben Kingsley, who explains how enlightenment from Islam has been providing the world with inventions and discoveries since the Middle Ages, in contrast with the darkness pervading Christendom.

For those who may have missed the exhibition, a book was published in 2012, 1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization, along with a special illustrated version published by National Geographic Kids.  In the first chapter, we are told how we Westerners are indebted to Islamic civilization for many things we take for granted in everyday life—including, for example, the camera, clocks, cleanliness, music, three-course meals, fashion, and even “Rubik’s cube.” As we proceed further, we find that

It is only thanks to the Islamic world that we have universities, libraries and bookshops. All disciplines, including mathematics, chemistry, geometry, art, writing and agriculture come from Islam. So do dams, windmills, the concept of trade, textiles, paper, pottery, glass, jewels and currency. All medical knowledge also comes from Islam, including, strangely, inoculation and not forgetting the toothbrush. In its attempt to show that there is nothing that Islam has not given us, the exhibition claims that Islam invented not just the countryside but the town as well, including everything about the buildings in towns, including vaults, spires, towers, domes and arches.

One of the most astounding feats memorialized in this compendium is that, prior to Orville and Wilbur Wright, “the first Muslim, and perhaps person, to make a real attempt to construct a flying machine and fly was Cordoban Abbas ibn Firnas in the ninth century.”

Such encomia surpass even the propagandistic reinterpretations of world history by the Soviets in the days of the Cold War.

According to a 2002 U.N. publication of a report on Arab Human Development, the entire Arab world “translates about 330 books annually, one-fifth of the number that Greece translates. The accumulative total of translated books since the Caliph Maa’moun’s time [9th century] is about 100,000, almost the average that Spain translates in one year.” So the external signs of intellectual ferment are obscure.

A reality-check is in order. According to Bernard Lewis, the Muslim Empire inherited “the manufacture of paper from China and decimal positional numbering from India [now called ‘Arabic’ numbers]”; but since that time external sources of scientific enlightenment have been cut off by ideological caveats. In Saudi Arabia, for example, according to a 2001 report by the U.S. Department of State,

The government censors all forms of public artistic expression and prohibits cinemas and public musical or theatrical performances, except those that are considered folkloric. The authorities prohibit the study of evolution, Freud, Marx, Western music, and Western philosophy. Informers monitor lectures and report to government and religious authorities.

It is in that sort of context that we can understand the 1993 edict of the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, Abdel-Aziz Ibn Baaz, declaring that the world is flat.

Possible Reasons for Islamophilia
Douglas Murray’s book is basically a variation on the “Emperor’s New Clothes” tale. When we hear that tale, we wonder why no one in the crowd points out the fact that the Emperor isn’t wearing anything. If now we wonder why there is so much competition in expressing “wildly over-the-top praise or love of Islam,” Murray suggests in his Introduction that some do it because it makes them “liberal-minded, fair or otherwise decent”; others want to bolster the self-confidence of Muslim believers; but

quite a large proportion express an adoration of Islam that jars and comes across strangely because they don’t express it for any political or spiritual reason. Many … are Islamophiles because they don’t want to be thought to be Islamophobes. Or because of another reason: they are very, very scared and decide that the best way to avoid something scary is to praise it and hope it will feel satiated.

A major problem is that even the most educated among us—including professors, pundits, politicians and popes—know little or nothing about the history of Islam or the prophet Mohammed.  For those with the time and the motivation to probe a strange religion that is making all manner of claims, a study of the Koran, those inspired pronouncements from the Messenger of Allah, would be in order; or the classic biography of Mohammed, revered by most Muslims, The Life of Muhammad by Ibn Ishak. For a more accessible, up-to-date and objective biography, one might read Twenty Three Years: a Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, by Ali Dashti. I would also recommend Ibn Warraq’s recently published Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate’s Defense of Liberal Democracy, which offers a critical appraisal of Islam’s claim to be the major civilizing catalyst in history.

In the best of all possible worlds, one of the ideal ways of bolstering an understanding of Islam for the general populace would be to have a full-featured movie concerning Mohammed and the beginning of Islam.  An initial attempt to do this was the 1977 hagiographic film, The Message, starring Anthony Quinn as the uncle of Mohammed (Mohammed himself, in line with Islamic prohibitions, is not physically depicted in the film).  But recently I contacted the Iranian American, Ali Sina, concerning his article, “The Golden Rule and Islam,” and incidentally discovered that he is not only working on a biography of Mohammed, but has also completed a non-hagiographical, historically accurate script for an epic movie on Mohammed and the rise of Islam (see  I expressed an interest in this undertaking, and he sent me a copy of the script, which I have read with interest. At this point he has collected a substantial portion of the ten million dollars estimated, required for production, and is sifting through possibilities for a director and actors. To avoid the inevitable Islamic protests that would hinder the production of a movie about Mohammed shown in theaters, he envisages a digital production, e.g. through downloadable streaming video or DVDs.

Hopefully, endeavors like this will eventually make possible a true, factual understanding of what Islam is all about, and cure the epidemic of uncritical adulation.

Howard Kainz


Howard Kainz is professor emeritus at Marquette University. He is the author of several books, including Natural Law: an Introduction and Reexamination (2004), The Philosophy of Human Nature (2008), and The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct (2010).

  • Such encomia surpass even the propagandistic reinterpretations of world history by the Soviets in the days of the Cold War.

    And like the days of Soviet ascendancy, the West is loaded with “useful idiots”.

  • FernieV

    I do not think that you will find female genital mutilation in the Quran, although the practice is widespread not only in Muslim countries but also many African countries among non-Muslims as well. The logic is to preform the mutilation in order to reduce the libido of women and thus help them be pure.
    Having said that, I find the article excellent and timely: it is amazing how the fear of terrorist attacks from Islamists has managed to change the mind of the typically anti-religion liberal into a praise-singer. A really remarkable change!
    Thank you for this article!

  • Ralphster

    Prof. Kainz’s simplistic enumeration of problematic aspects of Islam does not do justice to the intricacies of the issues, however valid the concerns may be for the uncritical adulation Islam sometimes receives. Furthest possible anitpode from Christianity, Prof. Kainz? That’s purely laughable, as most other religions and worldviews are further from Christianity than Islam is, for all of Islam’s ills. Including enlightenment liberalism, which is light years away from Catholicism.

    Let’s try Judaism, Prof. Kainz. Unlike Islam, which accords meaningful regard and respect to Jesus and Mary, however flawed, Judaism classically has no regard whatsoever for them and tradtionally encoded terms like ‘bastard’ and ‘whore’ in its Talmudic reference to them. And Islam will allow for a basic observance of Christianity in Christian parishes and congregations in Islamic lands outside of Arabia, however restrictive, limited and unjust it would be. Whereas in traditional Judaism, any finding of avodah zorah in accordance with Maimonides’ view of the Trinity would lead to the complete eradication of Christianity in the Holy Land under a Judaic theocracy.

    Discussion of Islam should be done in a more thoughtful manner, Prof. Kainz.

    • Rachel

      Ludicrous position. Laughably so. I have yet to hear of a traditional Jew doing ONE of the listed offenses that we are too familiar with in Islam; wife beating, genital mutilation, execution of Jews who converted to Christianity, etc.

      • Ralphster

        My position is quite sound, Rachel, as you seem to have conflated empirical events during the past 2,000 years with a religion’s normative content.
        The fact that there hasn’t been a Judaic theocracy in the past 1,900 years doesn’t mean official traditional Judaism has changed its authoritative teachings one iota. Jews who convert out of Judaism are subject to punishment and possible execution. Please read what happened to St. Stephen as recorded in the Book of Acts. It wasn’t the Romans who executed him. Try reading the story of Uriel da Costa as well.
        What you call wife beating is a very debatable label and description of the Islamic theology behind such matters, according to any number of religious authorities. To say that Islam sets out to engage in wholesale genital mutilation sounds rather specious as well.
        Time to put away the comic book theology, Rachel.

        • Justin Jurek

          Don’t make it like the Mohammedans are somehow less of an enemy to Christianity than anyone else. Only one religion has declared all out war against us and vows our destruction. Islam is the biggest threat the Christian world has ever seen; it’s violent, barbaric and turns men into bloodthirsty maniacs. Problematic as Judaism is, I have yet to see a rabbi declare that all Christians must either convert or be slaughtered wholesale. Get some moral clarity.

          • Ralphster

            I have very good moral clarity, J.J. Part of that is evaulating others in a thoughtful and professional manner. How many Islamic jurists have said that we must all be physically destroyed? If that were a standard norm of Islamic jurisprudence, the Christians of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran would have all been completely wiped out centuries ago.
            The fact remains that for all of its erroneous and problematic features, and even unique challenges and potential threats it can pose, Islam bears greater resemblances to Christianity than most any other religion or worldview. True Christianity that is, not the cotton candy versions we’ve been served up since Second Vatican.
            What do you think about the state licitly being able to whip somebody or mete out amputation as punishment? Think that’s only found in Islam and unacceptable? You should check out authentic Catholic tradition and think again.

          • Dave Flitton

            Justin you are right…take a look at the reports of Christians being killed in Muslim countries…shariah law is barbaric and it must be stopped…and the “Christians of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iran” are being wiped out! How can anyone make such a misinformed statement after hearing the reports out of Syria ….I teach students that have come from these countries and the Christian persecutions are horrible. There is no defense that is acceptable for this…we need to put our foot down and put an end to this.

            • Ralphster

              Where exactly in shariah law, Dave, does it say that Christians are to be murdered, all of them without exception, simply because they are Christians? In conjunction with any such claim there, can you show me a wholesale cross-section of contemporary jurists in the Middle East who hold to such a position?
              Yes, shariah should be stopped – because it’s untrue. That doesn’t mean one gets to make any claim about shariah one wants to based upon dubious empirically derived paroxysm. Putting an end to persecutions is not necessarily the same thing.
              Christians hold parliamentary seats in Lebanon, Egypt, and even Iran. Those allowances are not the actions of governments that have set out to murder every Christian.

              • Howard Kainz

                Dave didn’t say sharia law dictates murder of all Christians. The situation is more nuanced: if Christians are unwilling to convert, they must pay a tax and live submissively under Muslim control; if not, their life is not protected by Muslim authorities. One example from the Koran:
                Sura 9:5: “When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and pay the alms-tax, let them go their way. Allah is forgiving and merciful.” The Koran and the Hadith are full of such statements. But again, that is not the subject of this article, but whether the massive public praises I mentioned are warranted by those who don’t seem to have any special knowledge of Islam.

        • Justin Jurek

          And you also shouldn’t use Uriel da Costa as an example, as he was also a blasphemer against Christianity (denied the immortality of the soul, deistic view of God, etc.)

          • Ralphster

            Uriel da Costa was mentioned by way of exhibiting how problematic Judaism can be, not by way of being some noble quintessential paragon of truth and virtue to be emulated. For those purposes, mentioning him is perfectly appropriate. How about trying to respond and refute something substantive that I’ve said?

        • cestusdei

          St. Stephen lived 2000 years ago. Many Jews have converted and not suffered death for it. Beating women is Islamic and they even have books on how to do it right.

    • FernieV

      Unfortunately, the relationship between Judaism and Christianity has not been a love affair. The Jews could cite many instances of injustices perpetrated by Christians. But the Church is trying very hard to start a new page; your comment doesn’t help much in this direction.

      • Ralphster

        Not a love affair? Why should it be a love affair? Since when are we supposed to love falsehood, FernieV?
        If the truth doesn’t help a particular direction, then it is this supposed new direction, not the truth, that should come under critical scrutiny.

        • FernieV

          Well, Christians are supposed to love others, as we see them as children of God, made in His image and likeness. This applies to your enemies. So, yes, there should be a love affair with the Jews, keeping in mind that our greatest loves (Jesus and Mary) are Jews. Loving others (Jews included) does not mean loving falsehood, as a Christian knows how to distinguish between sin and sinner, hating the first, loving the second.

          • Ralphster

            Loving others, yes, but not their errors and evils. Your original reference was to Judaism, not to Jews as people.
            It should also mean calling them to conversion, instead of having prelate after prelate lecture us that we have some kind of new teaching that must be accepted as a de factor dual-track convenantal theory. It also means we shouldn’t hang our heads in shame over the rightful confronting of Judaic wrongs from the past.

    • Adam Baum

      “Islam will allow for a basic observance of Christianity in Christian parishes and congregations in Islamic lands outside of Arabia”

      As long as that “basic observance” doesn’t include evangelization. But hey, how generous of them.

      “which accords meaningful regard and respect to Jesus and Mary”

      Apparently, you’ve never heard of the phrase “damning with faint praise”.
      Denying Christ’s Divinity, is denying Christ.

      • Ralphster

        Let’s try to unpack the facts here carefully, Adam. Of course, I didn’t say that Christians would be able to evangelize. Yes, that is a problem. What makes you think our belief system is any more generous toward them? In fact, our traditional doctrine would not necessarily accord Muslims any standard right to have a mosque in a Catholic land, whereas their standard belief system does give basic rights of houses of worship to Judaism and Christianity. Why woud you thoughtlessly want to highlight this issue through the prism of being ‘generous’ when their theology is technically more generous on this point than ours and only serves serves to exhibit the confusion of your position?
        And I said nothing about them accepting Christ, which they don’t. I referred to the purely human personages of Jesus and Mary. And they do have higher regard for them than most any other non-Christian religion. My point was their refusal to accept Christ isn’t accompanied by calumny as we see in the Talmud.

        • Adam Baum

          “In fact, our traditional doctrine would not necessarily accord Muslims any standard right to have a mosque in a Catholic land”

          What “our traditional doctrine” are you referencing?

          In what “Catholic” land are mosques proscribed? Where are they burned?

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            The following extract from the Syllabus of Errors condemns the following propositions

            77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship. — Allocution “Nemo vestrum,” July 26, 1855.

            78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship. — Allocution “Acerbissimum,” Sept. 27, 1852.

            This was the law of France under the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685) until it was swept away by the constituent Assembly in 1791. I am sure other examples could be found.

            Protestant churches (other than embassy chapels) were not permitted in Rome until the unification of Italy in 1870

            • Ralphster

              Very well put, Michael. In fact, our classical teaching and standard ethics and norms reach back all the way to the Church-approved book burnings in the aftermath of the First Council of Nicaea in the 300s. These doctrines and values were clearly held and fundamentally applied from about 330 all the way to the 1950s.
              One thing I have noticed about numerous Catholics who enjoy going on an undisciplined tear against Islam is that all too often they have little to no regard for the Social Reign of Christ or the fullness of traditional doctrine, but tend to act as almost proxy agents for modern liberal secular pluralism.
              It would be nice to see Prof. Kainz respond to my points and demostrate if he does indeed fully affirm the Social Reign of Christ, the obligation of the state to recognize Catholicism, and the rights and duties of the state to suppress the public expression of doctrinal falsehood.

              • Howard Kainz

                I am not aware of mosques being prohibited or burned down in any Catholic countries (what would qualify as a Catholic country?). And I haven’t heard any politicians or celebrities competing with each other, extolling the beauty and sublimity of Catholicism or Judaism. That’s what the article is about.

                • Ralphster

                  Prof. Kainz, you have not demostrated, if this is implied in your last post, how burning down churches in Islamic lands is in accordance with authoritative and normative shariah law mediated through the contemporary jurisprudence of that religion’s judges and jurists. We could also cite counter-examples, such as the group of Sudanese Muslim youths who offered to volunteer to help rebuild a Catholic church in South Sudan, an offer that the Church declined. When was the last time you offered to help build or rebuild a mosque?

                  As for extoling religions like Catholicism and Judaism how about this one:

                  “We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind and soul Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.

                  If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one Mr. Pearl.”
                  While I’m no particular fan of theological syncretism, those statements came from the ‘Ground Zero’ imam, when invited to speak at a NYC memorial for the murdered journalist, Daniel Pearl. One can also find plenty of other philo-Semitic comments, including recent ones by the vice president of the United States.
                  If your point was solely that there is questionable praise for Islam, then there was no need for additional absurd comments such as Islamic doctrine and values being diametrically opposite from Catholic ones.
                  Traditional Catholic doctrine certainly permits, and even encourages, the prohibition of mosques and any other non-Catholic house of worship. Technically, Muslims can rightfully argue that their standard, authoritative, classical tradition gives more allowance to Christian houses of worship than ours does to Islamic ones.
                  Spencer and Gellar agitprop nonsense is a poor substitute for intricate learning, study, and examination, professor.

                  • Howard Kainz

                    One example would be the declaration in March 2012, the current Grand Mufti, of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who said it is “necessary to destroy all the churches” in the Arabian Peninsula. (Saudi Arabia doesn’t have this problem since they don’t allow any churches.) But we’re getting off the subject, which has to do with massive exaggerated praise for Islam by many who seem to have no knowledge of Islam’s history or scriptures or authentic and non-hagiographic biographies of Mohammed.

                  • Adam Baum

                    When was the last time you offered to help build or rebuild a mosque?

                    I’m too busy lamenting the loss of Churches.

                  • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                    Excellent stuff here.

          • Ralphster

            Adam Baum, you should read about the traditional doctrine of the Social Reign of Christ, and the obligations of the state to the one true faith. It does not accord any standard right for Muslims or any non-Catholic to have a house of worship.
            Like some others, you seem to be confusing the empirical with authoritative teaching. There are very few Catholic states today. The fact that mosques are presumably not prohibited in them today in no way changes what our traditional teaching is in this area, nor does any discretionary allowance of tolerance establish a foundation natural right of any kind for Muslims are any other non-Catholics.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        In that they are no worse than say, the Obama administration, which would like to see all religion locked up behind closed doors.

    • cestusdei

      Islam has no respect for Christianity. If I go to Egypt and pass out tracts I would be arrested and perhaps killed.

  • NewEngland Christian

    Professor Kainz provides a much needed touch of reality consenting the ‘religion of Peace’. What is strikingly lacking is the uninterrupted history of ignoring Islamist atrocities against Christians and Catholics in the Middle East that traces back for over a century and continues today. Yes, there have been (very) infrequent references to these attacks but the normal pattern has been to ignore them or (as our Jesuit pastor) regularly opines in his Sunday homily – ‘do not fear those that are different’ – ‘do not over react to religions/people whose practices set them apart from you by the way they dress, behave, believe, treat others’, etc. It’s hard to take the ‘brotherhood of man’ and ‘the majority love their children just like you’ in the face of actions and preaching directed against
    ‘Christians, Catholics, Jews, etc.’.

  • slainte

    I wonder whether the global power structure might indeed find it advantageous to pit religions against each other for the purpose of mutual anihilation, thus making the task of the secular humanist less onerous.
    For this reason, I decline to participate in tearing down Islam or any other faith. Let the secularists do the work themselves.

    • Ralphster

      You make an interesting observation, slainte. We should also consider how secular constitutional so-called freedom of religion can be a manipulation in this direction as well.

      • slainte

        Divide and conquer has been a successful strategy for a very long time, all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

    • hombre111

      Well done.

    • Adam Baum

      “Tear Down” has the connotation of gratuitous and unmerited criticism. It’s unfortunate that you can’t be guaranteed to face one heresy at a time, but such is this world, but to refuse to engage falsehood on the basis of some false sense of fraternity is foolhardy.

      • Exactly. It’s irrelevant whether Christian vs. Islam is some secularist plot
        because the Truth is the Truth. Proclaiming the Truth is
        always going to be perceived by others as hateful or
        “tearing down”. As Our Lord said, “What is that to Thee? Follow Thou

        • slainte

          To proclaim the Good News does not require one to attack Islam or any other faith. One achieves more with honey, than vinegar. Moreover, one who elects to sew division merely advances the agenda of those who despise all religions.

          • Desert Sun Art

            Proclaiming the Good News/Truth may at times involve criticism of false religions that must be made. That some may consider than an attack is regrettable, but not reason enough to sugar coat the Truth.

            • slainte

              Our Lord commands us to evangelize…to go forth and spread the Good News, and so we must, joyfully, and with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Truth must be made known to the world.

              Good faith criticism which seeks to explain differences between competing faiths is appropriate, as is identifying abuses by any faith that causes harm to the human person.

              However, when criticisms of other faiths advance to vitriol, and when the vitriol is initiated or spurred on by secular forces whose sole purpose is to pit two or more faiths against each other for the purpose of causing a conflagration, I must ask…what political agenda is at work?

              We must be aware that there are secular, political forces that derive utility from organizing and stoking provocation between competing faiths.

              Look no further than the 500 year legacy of division and conquest in the north of Ireland….What political purpose was served, and who benefitted from, bringing two diametrically opposed faith groups (Irish Roman Catholics and Scots Presbyterians) into constant and unrelenting contact?

              Let us learn the lessons of history and not repeat the legacy of Ireland, globally, in a new and unrelenting war between Christendom and Islam. Neither faith should consent to being manipulated to achieve secular, POLITICAL GOALS by engaging in acts of mutual self destruction.

              “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16.

              • Desert Sun Art

                Since when is criticism vitriol? Are you claiming we should not criticize because it could advance to vitriol? Rubbish!

                • slainte

                  Criticism is appropriate when its purpose is to inform or to correct.
                  It becomes vitriol when its purpose is to willfully cause division or incite violence against another person or faith.
                  Our Lord Jesus Christ is Unity, not division; Love not vitriol; Peace not war; A servant of his Father, not of Mammon.

                  • Desert Sun Art

                    Nevermind. Looks like you just want to be disagreeable. How else would your comment make sense in regard to what I said? Nowhere did I advocate for what you are claiming. Apparently you find offense at the mere mention of criticism. But remember, Jesus was highly critical of the pharisees, and evil and error do not deserve our respect or love.

          • Adam Baum

            Today’s word is “syncretism”

            • Slainte

              I acknowledged that one can criticize another religion if the criticism is warranted and made in good faith. There is a distinction though between this and an unjust demonization of another faith that serves no productive purpose.

              A stick in one hand and a bible in the other does not make for persuasive evangelizing.

              I think you get the thrust of my original message…..the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Syncretism accomplished?

              The Disagreeable One

        • Jerome

          It is true that the Truth is truth, but it does not follow that every proclamation of it is true in important secondary matters or prudent. In the current day and age, and especially for a publication that has intellectual aims, like this one, we must be very careful to be well informed and generously magnanimous in our statements on these matters. If not, we give aid and comfort to “religion’s cultured despisers.”

          • slainte

            Jerome, What a coincidence!

            I have just begun to read Frederick Schleiermacher’s “On Religion, Speeches to Its Cultured Despirers” having been inspired by Fr. Robert Barron’s excellent presentation at the “The 2012 Napa Institute Day on Reason & Faith”.
            You may wish to listen to Father Barron’s presentation at …
            At 31 minutes into the presentation, Father Barron addresses Schleiermacher and religion’s cultured despisers.
            Good luck.

            • Jerome

              Thanks, I shall look at the link! I am not in all respects a fan of Schleiermacher’s romanticism, but the phrase is great, truly immortal!

      • slainte

        I would urge you not to get so caught up in criticisms (which may be factually accurate and completely valid) that you lose sight of what is really happening.
        Islam has many beliefs and practices that are alien to us and may even offend our sensibilities…many are blatantly inconsistent with Catholic mores and beliefs.
        But Islam is not the true enemy of Catholicism, secularism and its global network of proponents are. A few days ago Pope Francis identified some of them as political and masonic lobbies.
        Let’s direct our energies to rooting out the bad guys…those who want to destroy our respective Faiths. We may discover that Moslems are our allies in this endeavor, not our enemies.

        • It’s both/and, not either/or.

  • ClementW

    The Islamophilia, fascination with esoteric Eastern religions and whatever which has taken over the self-confessed “Elite”, the “Educated”, “Experts” and “-logians’ of all kinds appears to be a reaction to the absence of intellectual discipline and the soul seeking a system of discipline from seeking and finding the very first ‘god’ they are looking for: a rigid structure of unthinking obedience and expected rewards of whatever not excluding the houris and virgins in the afterlife – instead of the REAL Freedom of faith in a God who loves them infinitely but they cannot see because they they found one who demands blood sacrifice for its defence.

  • Adam Baum

    Islamophilia is just one phenotype of the left’s xenophilia and what Roger Scruton refers to as “oikophobia”, both are the results of the relativism and radical egalitarianism that infect the secular left’s body politic.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    One thing puzzles me. Do you support the right of Catholic Nuns to wear a habit?

    Isn’t the hajib just an Islamic version of that, protecting a woman’s modesty?

    • cestusdei

      Many Islamic women are forced to wear a habit. If they don’t they might be flogged or stoned to death. Who will protect women from that?

      • TheodoreSeeber

        In Middle Eastern dictatorships, that is the correct answer. But this book is about in the “Secular West” where a woman is far more likely to be disciplined for wearing a hajib, a habit, or even a cross on a necklace.

        For a true believer in Islam, the hajib is a choice.

        In my own state, back in the 1920s, the KKK tried to shut down all the Catholic schools by making it illegal for a schoolteacher to wear a habit.

        Thus the question.

    • The habit is a symbol of a nun’s consecration to God. That it is modest is a secondary feature. Plus, becoming a nun and donning a habit is an entirely voluntary act on the part of a nun. The wearing of the hajib is often enforced by law or by societal coercion.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        In the Middle East yes. But have you talked with any *western* Muslim woman about it?

        I’m reminded of the cartoon of the American Woman in a bikini and the Afghani woman in her burka, both thinking “Poor woman, she’s so subjected to male sexual dominance”. And they’re both right.

        • In the Middle East yes. But have you talked with any *western* Muslim woman about it?

          I don’t see how that is relevant.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            It is relevant because the book that this blog article is reviewing is called Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady, not Islamophilia: a commentary on Sharia Law as practiced in rural Arabia. In other words- the Islamic dictatorships that would kill a woman for being seen by a man more than her eyes aren’t the type of Islam these people are talking about. They’re talking about the Islam that was exported to Western Europe in a massive amount of immigration over the last thirty years or so. Which is mainly made up of a group of Islamics who have a very different view of religious liberty- they’re an immigrant community who has moved into a largely hostile secular culture.

            Which is still troublesome (witness all the young men from that culture who are now on the Internet trying to buy explosives from the FBI and Interpol) but is a much different dynamic (their sisters want to wear the Hajib, and see bare-headed women as sluts trying to seduce men).

            And they’re living under governments that are *currently* prosecuting Christian women for wearing cross necklaces.

            When criticizing another religion, one *should* make at least some attempt to understand the adherents of that religion- and when trying to understand a book like this one, one needs to understand the government that it is coming from.

            BTW, they’re in the states as well. If I hadn’t have thought it would have been an embarrassment both to my wife and the young lady in question, I would have gone up to one I recently saw on a vacation- wearing a t-shirt and blue jeans and a hajib at Great Wolf Lodge waterpark in Grand Mound, Washington. Her modesty was a refreshing contrast to the rather extreme levels of undress in what was supposed to be a family friendly setting.

    • Howard Kainz

      My point was that in addressing Islamists, it might be more courageous to defend the right of women *not* to wear the hijab.

      • Fair enough. I wasn’t sure were you were going with that.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        That makes sense, but wasn’t the book about Islamic support in the west?

    • Emerson_C

      In the case of catholic nuns, taking vows and wearing a habit is the voluntary vocation of a minority. In the case of Islamic societies it is a coercive imposition on a majority.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        Have you bothered to talk to a muslim woman about this, or are you only guessing?

  • Jerome

    I agree with those who think article far of the mark. We do not as American Catholics need to write vitriolic attacks on Islam. That, I fear, will just create ill-will toward our own Muslim population (of which there are quite a few in the town were I live, and mostly good citizens), while accomplishing not one iota of good for the Church or country. Obviously, our faith is very different from theirs in some ways, but very similar in others. Furthermore, as one who has done some serious academic study of Islam, there is plenty of good balanced scholarly work on the subject of Islamic religion and civilization, including that of Bernard Lewis (especially before the last decade when he perhaps got too involved with political controversies-never a good idea for a professor). If his own purpose is political, though, Prof. Kainz would do best to attack the post-Christian ideological distorters of the history of Christendom themselves, or praise those aspects of Islam that our closest to our faith, such as certain aspects of the medieval philosophical tradition, or certain aspects of the Sufi piety, the latter of which was the dominant element in Islamic religiosity a century ago, but has been heavily attacked by many Islamic revivalists, including the Islamists, in recent decades. That would likely encourage a greater openness in the Islamic world in time without necessarily strengthening secular internationalist liberals there. I’m not holding my breath, mind you, but just saying!

    • MLT

      Vitriolic attacks, Jerome? Where in the article is Prof. Kainz engaging in a “vitriolic attack”?

      • Jerome

        “furthest possible antipodes” from our faith “doctrinally and morally?” Scarcely high praise! Furthermore his account of Islamic law single-mindedly accentuates the negative, without looking at the positive aspects of Islamic family values. In that regard some of the things he mentions (like polygamy) are not contrary to natural law, at least broadly speaking, unless we wish to condemn Abraham, David, etc. Others, like severe punishments for apostasy, existed also in the pre-modern Christian tradition, and indeed, are recommended by the Old Testament (Deut. 13: 16ff.) He makes it sound as though medieval Islam really contributed nothing to the advance of philosophy and science, but merely retransmitted sources of inspiration from elsewhere, which is quite unfair (e.g. the medieval Muslim development of the Essence-Existence distinction in philosophy, so important to Aquinas). Abdel-Aziz Ibn Baaz did not declare the World is Flat, but upheld geocentrism. And he is no more typical of Muslims today in that regard than the handful of geo-centrist Catholic traditionalists are typical of Catholics–or sane Catholic traditionalism, for that matter.

        The point should really be is the broader Muslim tradition is multiple, and often inconsistent with itself.

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  • fondatorey

    “Possible Reasons for Islamophilia”

    I’d suggest that a fair amount of ‘islamophilia’ is the result of the submission of weaker wills toward stronger wills. Islamic believers demonstrate strength of will (everyone else is apologizing for everything nowadays except for Muslims who apologize for nothing in the past or present) and the weaker will serves the stronger.

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  • IftikharA

    We live in a shrunken world and millions of people are on
    the move; one of our biggest challenges is how we learn to live in proximity to
    difference – different skin colours, different beliefs and different way of
    life. According to a study by COMPAS, Muslims born and educated were given the
    impression of outsiders. The perception among Muslims is that they are unwelcome
    in Britain is undermining efforts to help them integrate into wider society.
    Most of them say that they have experienced race discrimination and religious
    prejudice. Muslims and Islam is promoted a fundamentalist and separatist by the
    western elite, which have negative impact on community and social cohesion. The
    number of racist incidents occurring in London Borough of Redbridge’s schools
    have reached their highest levels since record begin.

    It is often quoted by the Western media that Muslim
    schools ghettoizes the children, and even lead to their radicalisation if they
    are not integrated. There is no evidence that faith schools lead to a
    “ghettoized education system. In British schools, pupils are encouraged to focus
    too much on their similarities rather than their differences. The integrationist
    approach merely results in Muslims feeling that their faith, language and
    culture is not respected.

    A report by the Institute for Community Cohesion found
    that native parents were deserting some schools after finding their children out
    numbered by pupils from ethnic minorities. Schools in parts of England are
    becoming increasingly segregated. The study focused on 13 local authorities.
    Many of the schools and colleges are segregated and this was generally worsening
    over recent years. This is RACISM because British society is the home of
    institutional racism. My statement regarding Muslim schools where there is no
    place for non-Muslim child or a teacher is based on educational process and not
    on racism. Muslim children need Muslim teachers during their developmental
    periods. For higher studies and research, Muslim teacher is not a
    London School of Islamics Trust