For nearly four months now, leaders of the Muslim community in the United States, and even President Bush, have routinely asserted that Islam is a religion of peace that was hijacked by fanatics on Sept. 11.
These two assertions are simply untrue.
First, Islam — like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or any other religion — is not about peace. Nor is it about war. Every religion is about absolute belief in its own superiority and the divine right to impose its version of truth upon others. In medieval times, both the Crusades and the Jihads were soaked in blood. Today, there are Christian fundamentalists who attack abortion clinics in the United States and kill doctors; Muslim fundamentalists who wage their sectarian wars against each other; Jewish settlers who, holding the Old Testament in one hand and Uzis in the other, burn olive orchards and drive Palestinians off their ancestral land; and Hindus in India who demolish ancient mosques and burn down churches.
Now, religion itself can be a worthy thing, and gives comfort and support to billions of people. The trouble comes in when religion demands to be seen as the one true way to look at the world. Tolerance is golden.