Islam

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Islam is a monotheistic Judeo-Christian sect (broken into one of two denominations; Sunni (85–90%) or Shia (10–15%)), which teaches the following:
  1. "There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God" (as was Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus). That quote is called the creed (Shahada) and takes on spiritual meaning as one of the 5 pillars of Islam
  2. The Five Pillars of Islam, which are obligatory acts of worship (1) the creed (Shahada), (2) daily prayers (Salah), (3) almsgiving (Zakat), (4) fasting during Ramadan (Sawm) and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) at least once in a lifetime)... and following Islamic law (sharia), which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from banking and welfare to women and the environment.
  3. The religion was created in the 7th century in Mecca, by Mohamed sharing his visions in the form of the Quran, which is the primary scriptures of Islam and the verbatim word of God (but there are many ancillary teachings that impact the belief as well). The cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are home to the three holiest sites in Islam.
  4. God is merciful, all-powerful, and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs, as well as intervention in all outcomes. While Islam teaches that the righteous are rewarded with paradise and unrighteous punished in hell, it also believes that God (Allah) guides everything, and thus almost everything around us is the will of Allah, and you're either working towards his will, or away from it. Allah is more involved in the day-to-day than Jehovah or God is to Jews/Christians.
  5. Islam believes in social justice (as they see it), and a hierarchy where other Muslims are to be treated differently (better) than the other Abrahamic religions, which are much better than pagans or atheists. Islam replaced tribalism with Religionism, and "the Nation" is far less important than in other western cultures: think "God, Family, Country", as "Godliness, Family, Other Muslims, Country, Infidels" -- with infidels not covered by the rules governing how you treat other humans (even to the point of starvation cannibalism isn't a crime). That's not completely how it is practiced by all Muslims, but that is how it is sort of coded in the religion.
  6. Because Sharia is a legal system, and Allah impacts rules about all aspects of life, including governing interaction with others -- Islam is not only a religious system, but a political and legal belief system as well -- much more than something like the 10 commandments or even Leviticus.
  7. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries -- and in most of them, there is little or no freedom of Religion. Again, Religion and Politics intertwine and the purpose of government is to further the will of Allah.
  8. While Islam is big and widespread, and is the fastest-growing major religion in the world, it was once world (region) dominant during the Caliphates (8th - 16th century). They had the most military power, science, knowledge, and were the center of the world trade. But while they are the second most popular religion, they have contributed less (in modern times) and have less political influence, economic and military power than Christians, Communists or Jews, and are one of the least influential based on the influence of the 50 countries that they control. They have the resentful fallen empire chip-on-their-shoulder that goes with that.

Islam has fallen far behind economically, culturally, scientifically, and so on, since the middle ages. Since everything is the will of Allah, this sets up quite a religious conundrum (similar to the Jews questioning why God would allow the Holocaust to happen to his chosen people). If God is good, and demands equality -- then why is there imperialism, inequality, and most importantly, why didn't Islam win?

Many Muslims see it as Allah let it happen not because Muslims followed the rules of Islam (which resist order, authority, and meritocracy), but because they were not pious or dutiful enough to the word. This, economic/cultural disadvantage, western oppression, the conspiratorial nature of the Middle East, all contribute to why it might be easy(er) to radicalize some Muslims than other religions, though radicals come in all flavors.

The truth is their system of beliefs put them in conflicts that thwart their own progress -- and they see progress itself as varying from traditions. The West's capitalism and progress oriented liberalism (progressivism) enabled them to outperform Islam's more socialism-like regressivism. But many in Islam prefer the comforting lie, that it was not enough Islam, to the uncomfortable truth, that it was too much. (This is similar to why Japan could make leaps ahead of the west, before boomeranging back to simpler and more traditional times. Or why China often resisted progress for tradition, for thousands of years).

Almost everything Muslims did to establish authority or bureaucracy created a hierarchy that was seen as thwarting the Social Justice demanded by Mohamed -- and generally the countries that thrived best under their control (like Iran), where the ones that were run by locals, a little less devout and extreme than the purest Islamic Arabs.

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Immigration -
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Because I have a reasoned view of immigration, some have called me a xenophobic racist, showing they don't know what either word means, and aren't listening to what I actually think (or are missing the nuances of life).

I love immigrants. I am one. Well, 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation immigrant. (Iranian Dad on one side, Italian Grandma and German Great Grandparents on the other), raised mostly by a British Step-Dad. Many of my friends (now and growing up) and coworkers today (and historically) have been immigrants as well. I've dated immigrants, I taught immigrants, and I hang with immigrants. I love variants in culture, language, food, and people. So if you think I'm against immigrants, you're a moron.That being said, if you think all immigrants are equal, and we should have open borders, your reading comprehension needs work. (I say that because lots of people will read the following, and then claim I'm anti-immigrant.
Iraq is because of Israel-Palestine -
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First you need to understand the History of Israel and Palestine. Once you do that, you can loop back around and understand why Iraq had nothing to do with either. Yes, Arabs think it's a great injustice that they can't murder all the Jews and drive them into the sea. But they're a feudal tribalistic culture, so the problem isn't with Israel wanting to exist, it's with those that want to kill them and refuse to see anything they do as wrong.
Islam: A Short History -
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Islam: A Short History is a 2000 book by the British writer Karen Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun and author of popular books about the history of religion. Her book tries to offer context and corrections about the negative stereotypes: extreme faith that promotes authoritarian government, female oppression, civil war, and terrorism. While some of that reputation is earned, it's not always for the reasons people think.
Islamic Phrases -
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I'm not a cunning linguist, nor a middle eastern expert -- but my Dad is Iranian and Muslim, as is 1/2 my family, and being "not from here" means I've been more observant of different cultures than most. Just like when you say "Fuck you", it rarely means want to copulate with them, when middle easterners say some phrases like "Death to America", or "God is good" (Allahu Ahbar), it probably shouldn't be literally translated either.
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Islamic Terrorism - While the names of individuals change, the ideology is shared. This is not to imply that all Muslims are a problem: quite the opposite. There are many good mulsims. But when the left lies that there's a problem or threat (even just in degrees), it pisses off the other side that knows the facts are not on the left's side. It polarizes us. These are some examples of the problem -- not to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few, but to refute the denialisms that refuse to even utter the name of Islamic Terrorism.
Memes:Religion -
Muslim tribalism means they'll never do democracy -
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"Muslims aren't capable of a successful democracy". People said the same thing about democracy in America or Europe before is succeeded there too.

I think the elections proved the myopia of those saying that you can't do Democracy in the Middle East. The truth is Turkey, many Asian muslim nations, and now Afghanistan and Iraq are now democracies, with some thanks belonging to the U.S. and our policies. People that said it would never succeed said the same things about Russians, Asians, Africans and others.


Terrorism: Islam vs Christianity - As an overgeneralization: the middle east (and Islam) as a culture are more tribalistic than Western (or Eastern) religions, this is magnified in expats where they're a minority in a country. They have less interest in integrating than many other groups, as they see their separation as respectful of God -- and they see that those in their religion should be treated different than those outside it. Their religion blurs secular interests with political agendas: muslims are SJW's that would love to for Sharia law on everyone else.