Published on: September 14, 2010
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  • Josh

    Sorry, but this one lost me in the first paragraph. Who are the preachers and politicians engaging in “widespread hysteria” over the Ground Zero mosque? If you can’t differ with someone fairly and honestly, just don’t bother writing the post.

  • Odins Acolyte

    Phobia means fear. Wrong word and wrong term. Much of American is itching not ot run fromthem but to confrom=nt them inour nation and inthe world. It shall make the Crusades pale by comparison if that feeling ever boils over. We need no government sanction for our actions. We are free to act on our own.

  • WigWag

    The internet is a wonderful thing. This is a fascinating essay that I would gladly have paid to read in a magazine or a journal in the pre-online days; now it’s free to all comers. What a world!

    I do have a slight issue with one comment made by Professor Berger. He says,

    “In the United States the plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero under the auspices of what is the most tolerant and peaceful version of Islam, has been escalated into widespread anti-Muslim hysteria by a few politicians and preachers.”

    Presumably the version of Islam that Professor Berger is calling the most “tolerant and peaceful” is Sufism because that’s the form of Islam practiced by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

    It is true that Sufism is the most mystical form of Islam and it is also true that most Muslim Sufis, like the rest of their co-religionists, are peaceful. But suggesting that Sufism is the most peaceful version of the religion is little more than a cliché not supported by the facts.

    Surely there are numerous strains within the Sufi world; but Sufis are no more and no less peaceful than the rest of the Muslim world. While Sufi Islam may not be the most aggressively violent version of Islam, there’s no evidence to suggest it’s the most peaceful.

    The vast majority of African Muslims are Sufis; this is especially true in North Africa. Throughout the African continent Sufi Muslims are waging war against their Christian neighbors. It’s true in Somalia, the Sudan and even Nigeria. It’s not just the Whabis perpetrating terrible violence against those they consider to be infidels, the Sufis are too.

    Anyone who wants to read a fascinating new book on the subject should get “The Tenth Parallel” by Eliza Griswold. She’s the brilliant journalist daughter of a senior American Episcopal Prelate, The book tells the story of her travels along the tenth parallel which just happens to be a major fault line between the Christian (mostly Roman Catholic, Anglican and Evangelical Protestant) world and the Islamic world.

    The book makes clear that when it comes to violence, Sufis are as inclined to barbarity as the rest of the Muslim world and as their Christian neighbors. The book, which is available for the Kindle, really is a “must-read.” Here’s the review from the New York Times,

    On the larger point of the religious wars occurring both in the modern world and the global south, the reality is unfortunate. Christianity, Islam and Enlightenment Secularism are all proselytizing religions. Conflict between them is both age-old and inevitable.

  • A brilliant commentary as usual; only one note.

    It is true that anti-Islamic sentiment is rising in Europe, and it is true that anti-Semitism in the drag of anti-Zionism is also rising there. But in some cases, the fear (if not hatred) of Muslims translates, according to the law that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, into heightened positive sentiment toward Jews and toward Israel. It is a form of the negative follower effect, to wit: “I don’t like Muslims, so if Muslims do not like Jews, then I will.” It may not be completely rational, but it’s real, and some polls have already detected it.

  • youness

    honestly, I was much more fascinated by the the fair and neutral above written essay than by some comments which implied a plain call for hatred against Islam as one of the world’s most increasing religions. Having described, ( alleged) that ALL muslims are inclined to BARBARITY is a felony based on prejudiced view about people who constitute a considerable proportion of the world’s population.First, this complex ignorance of truths accounts for the stereotype derived from” false representatives” of Islam, like AL’QAIDA which is, in fact, as irrational as the way the “former false representatives “of Islam get civilians and solidiers, partisan and enemy muddled up in Afghanistan and Iraq, sadly they are both wrong. Second amid this sharp propaganda against Islam, no one can provide a convincing analysis for the current increasing wave of people converting to Islam, either from ordinary people or the elite including thinkers and scientists. Those people are not less aware of Islam and other religions than those who attack it.
    In europe, rightist parties have made good use of the issue of immigrants as a so called responsible side in the economic crisis with all the intimidation it accompanied, they have succeeded reaching the government and in worrying numbers.
    What we are in need for, is a deep and fair understanding for Islam an Islamic culture as Michael H. Morgan said in his book LOST HISTORY.

  • Whose interests do you serve? Having Europe follow the same path as once Buddhist Malaysia does not serve America’s Interest. Calling us Islamophobes by quoting a leftist French intellectual does not make it so. Look at the facts and put down the wine and cheese from Zabars.

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