We?re going to attempt what, until now, seems undoable for an infidel: write about Islamic behavior in a way that doesn?t upset Muslims or anybody else. Is that a challenge or isn?t it? Not really. All it takes, we think with persistent resistance to despair, is unwavering fairness, inarguable logic, and adherence to the truth as best as we can know and endorse it.
So here goes.
These days, we hear a great deal about what Islamic and un-Islamic behavior is. While it?s an understandable topic of discussion, the truth is, Islamic behavior pretty much comes down to how Islamic people behave ? just as any other group?s behavior pretty much comes down to how the members of the group behave.
Let?s look at two extreme examples.
First, an Islamic person says, ?Kill all the infidels and, while you?re at it, kill all the other Muslims who don?t agree with me 100 !? Then he or she goes out and sets off a bomb that kills an indiscriminate group of infidels and Muslims who aren?t behaving exactly according to his or her vision of Muslim behavior.Those tragically awful words and deeds become part of Islamic behavior.
On the other hand, if an Islamic person says, ?Hi, there, friend. I often think about how much all human beings have in common and how all of us who believe in one God know we?re each a precious living representative of the same God, so we wouldn?t want to hurt or kill each other. We might even want to help each other along.? Then, if he or she lives in mutually considerate harmony with all other human beings, infidel or not, his or her wonderfully commendable behavior becomes part of Islamic behavior.
There?s just no escape for Muslims or anybody else from the inflexible bar of natural justice. At this point, we?ll dare to mention one of the infidel Plato?s least bandied about but most consequential statements: ?We become what we do.? The entirely inescapable principle of natural justice has never been stated more exactly. And knowing it exists is a real consolation to people who sometimes wonder if there is any justice in the world.
Like all justice, it grinds very fine. For instance, if you decide to be a terrorist and murder somebody, you become a terrorist who murdered somebody. If you decide to be a mutually caring person who makes a considerate place for others
and even helps them when you think you should, you become a mutually caring and helpful person.
You can see evidence of how inescapable this principle is wherever you look. The 911 hijackers decided to become suicidal terrorists and they became dead terrorists. Osama Bin Laden decided to instigate deeds that would bring the wrath of the world down on him, and now he has the life of a man who has brought the wrath of the world down on him. Same goes for his second in mayhem and murder, Ayman al-Zawahiri, except he still gets to sneak in somewhere and make detestable amateur videos.
The principle of natural justice is also, for example, the reason Alexander the Great, who set out to be a world conqueror, met death in a remote desert as a would-be world conqueror. He would have been much better off to hang around his dad?s palace in Macedonia and take the reins of power in his time. It?s also why Hitler took what might have been a perfectly ordinary or enjoyable life and turned it into one where he ended up locked in a bunker with no choice but to shoot his girlfriend, Eva, and then to turn the gun on himself.
Now, since we inescapably define our behavior by how we behave, it becomes especially important for influential people in the Muslim world, as well as in the non-Muslim world, to decide how they want Islamic behavior to be defined ? and to know that the only way to influence how it is defined is to influence how Muslims, one and all, behave.
For instance, do Muslims want Islamic behavior to be defined by fellow Muslims becoming furious and murderous over comments about Islam or cartoons about Mohammed, at the same time Muslims kills non-Muslims and Muslims alike while an enormously troublesome silence prevails? Do Muslims want Islamic behavior to be defined by strict observance of how Muslims wear their beards but tolerance for vitriolic words and murderous behavior? Should it be defined by encouraging Muslim women to cover themselves up like medieval nuns, instead of to display proudly their physical beings, which represent, inarguably to a believer, the handiwork of Allah himself?
We would like to explore one more and especially touchy issue, since the article would be incomplete without doing so. Should Muslim behavior be defined by rigid adherence to every word in the Koran? Or should it to be defined by the recognition that the Koran, as well as the Bible or any other lasting document, is not only made up of its timeless content but of material that relates more or entirely to the time and place in which it was inspired.
Then what is the holiest Islamic behavior toward the Koran? To take the timeless inspirations and encumber them forever with the more earthly material that is an inevitable artifact of the time in which the verses were composed? Or to take the timeless inspirations and liberate them from the more earthbound contents ? and thereby make the inspirations forever timely?
We think the latter. It enables the timeless values to become, if you'll permit intensification of an absolute, more timeless. Then they can be as at home in the modern world as they were at the time of their creation, and its adherents can participate in the modern world as intelligently and comfortably as anybody else.
As a closing note about Islamic behavior, we also think it would be commendable if Muslims ceased referring to non-Muslims as infidels. We do, after all, have our own faiths, and fair reference does tend to encourage fair reference.
Have we offended anybody? We hope not. If by some chance we have, then please indulge us and go back and read what we said again.
We did our best to please everybody. And we can?t apologize, because it?s wrong to apologize for the truth, which invites us all to recognize it and know it is the surest foundation for our beliefs.