October 2016: Islam: War or Peace?

October 2016 Inter-Belief Conversation Café

Islam: War or Peace?

Monday, October 17, 2016
7 – 9 p.m.
Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul
1671 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (View Map)

Islam is seen by many as a religion of peace. The Qur’anic verse, “And fight in God’s cause those who fight you, but do not commit aggression…” seems to say war can only be in self-defense. How is this reconciled with individuals calling themselves Muslim stabbing people in a shopping mall, planting bombs, attacking night clubs, and flying airplanes into buildings? What is the true face of Islam? Can the same religion have messages of kindness and tolerance and exclusivism and violence? Is this a problem with all religions and belief systems?

Some Islamic commentators speak of Dar al-Islam vs. Dar al-Harb or the house of peace vs. the house of contention or war. Is Islam really a world unto itself? How does it interact with a world of Coca Cola capitalism, hedonism expressed with scantily clad women selling products in advertisements, and a materialist mindset? Don’t some Muslims from the strictest countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates seem to embrace this “culture”? Is Jihad an internal struggle for self-mastery or a call for the destruction of the West?

In America some call for no more Muslim immigration and see Somalis, Syrians, and others to be part of a dangerous “other” that threatens the values and safety of everyone else. Lecturers present programs on the Islamic menace with false quotes from the Qur’an and distortions of Muslim religious and social beliefs. This Islamophobia can find fertile ground especially those who have never met a Muslim. But how is it answered and can it be refuted without addressing the actions of ISIL, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban? When community members in St. Cloud join hands with Muslims in solidarity, is there hope for the world?

Can we understand the conflicts of the world, Israeli and Palestinian, Muslim refugees and ultra nationalist political parties, a seeming never ending war in the Middle East, without discussing religion? If Muslims can claim discrimination, what about Christians, Jews, Yazidis, homosexuals, atheists, and Baha’is in some Muslim nations? How can this be reconciled with the Qur’an’s command, “There shall be no compulsion in religion”? Does Islam protect and recognize women or relegate them to a second class status? With a religion of over a billion adherents stretching from Indonesia to West Africa and from Sudan to Kazakhstan is there one answer to this question? Is there one Islam or as many Islams as Christianities?

On Monday, October 17 from 7-9 PM at Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul, 1671 Summit Avenue, St. Paul (corner of Summit & Pierce), Inter-belief Conversation Café will discuss Islamophobia, terrorism, and related topics. Agreements of open-mindedness, acceptance, discovery, curiosity, sincerity, brevity, and confidentiality will hopefully keep us in peaceful territory. All are welcome; treats for everyone!