I suppose the news has spread far enough now that a long-winded introduction to the situation isn’t necessary, but on Friday night, a group of supposedly coordinated attacks (I say supposedly, because while much of it was coordinated, the bombing of the stadium where the football match between the French and the Germans was taking place didn’t see as much–or really, and carnage.) on the French capital by terrorists claiming links to the Islamic State.
Note the refreshing lack of AMERIKA FUK YA LETS GO BOMB ALL MUSLIMS in my tone–aside from that very obvious satire, that is. This is because while there is no doubt that the attacks were carried out by Islamic terrorists, many on the right seem to forget that most Muslims are people just like us. While the IS does have a sizable contingent of supporters in the more radically-conservative, religiously-literal Middle Eastern states, and ostensibly some in the West, there is also an equally-, if not considerably more sizable number of Muslims that oppose them. However, Islamic scripture, much like all religious doctrines, relies heavily on interpretation to achieve value and support, and this is part-and-parcel of not only the sheer diversity present in the three major Abrahamic religions, among others such as Hinduism and Sikhism, but also the main issue with religious literalism.
Now I suppose you find yourself asking what exactly this has to do with the Paris attacks, so give me a paragraph or two and I’ll explain;
The Quran, as with the Bible’s Old Testament (and the New to some degree, as I have read both cover-to-cover as an exercise in understanding them from an atheist point of view) and the Torah / Talmud, all push religious conquest to varying degrees and through different means. While the Bible’s New Testament takes a decidedly more humane and pacifistic approach, favoring proselytisation and evangelism over violence, the Old is a different story, as it is from the Old Testament where Christian literalists gather much of their false justification for condemning homosexuals (and in the case of the KKK, inciting violence against minorities). Likewise, there is a significant base of verses in the Quran that support violence against nonbelievers, much to the same degree as there are verses that support peaceful conversion.
I hope the Muslims and Christians reading this post don’t take this as unfounded bigotry on my part, as this certainly was not my intention. I live in a part of Toronto where there is no shortage of Muslims, and they are no threat to me so I do not consider them such. I don’t hate Muslims. I don’t hate Christians. I don’t hate Jews. I don’t hate anyone of faith. What I, as well as many others including people like Ali Amjad Rizvi are saying is that Muslims should try and see their scripture and beliefs from the point of view of an outsider before spewing vitriol at us.
As for what all this has to do with the subject of religious literalism, it’s really quite simple: IS and other terror groups take advantage of the notion that the loudest get the most attention. In the case of Islamic terror like that of IS, this usually means taking a book at face value and using it as justification to kill innocents instead of really taking the time to go into depth about why and how the Quran says what it does about violence, and what it all actually means. The Abrahamic religions may claim to promote peace, but as history up until this point has proven, they never really seem to follow their own words. This does not mean that the billions of people who follow these religions are inherently violent-natured. In fact, it means quite the opposite. A book promoting violence in any way does not mean one has to listen to it, and many Muslims do not.
In short, Muslims are not responsible for the attacks in Paris. This is misdirection of blame. The people really responsible are psychopathic religious literalists–those who don’t question why scripture says something, and whether it would be wise to follow it exactly, and instead follow it blindly as if it were law. Do not blame the faith, blame the way its governing scripture was written.