Definition of “fanatic”:
noun: fanatic; plural noun: fanatics
1. a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause.
“his fanatic energy”____________________________________________________When folks in the advanced western industrialized world look at these definitions, it’s easy to understand how Islam can be blanket-characterized as a hostile and violent religion. This belief is reinforced by the fact that in Islam’s holy book known as the Quran, there are references on almost every page that refer to violence against “infidels”, or “non-believers”.Consider the attacks since 1993 against western world assets such as the attack on the New York World Trade Center in 1993, and again on 9-11, and the attacks on the USS Cole and American embassies in Africa, plus attacks in Madrid, Spain and London, UK. based upon those attacks, it’s easy to understand how most people will make a blanket judgement that all Muslims are violent fanatical extremists and potential suicide bombers.However, how accurate is this? Is 21st century Islam being painted with too broad a brush?There is always a danger in lumping a large group of people under one header as though they were all the exact same. Consider that Christianity and Judaism each are made up of multiple sects: Christians divide into Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Protestant which further subdivides into hundreds of denominations, and so forth. Judaism divides into Reform, Conservative and Orthodox, which further divides into multiple sub-divisions.Thus, lumping all of Islam into one group is as unfair, unrealistic and inaccurate as lumping all of the above-mentioned Christian religions into one group.Furthermore, until the 1940’s/early 1950’s, Islam was perhaps more tolerant and less fanatical a religion as a whole than other western religions.In fact, during the dark and middle ages Christianity certainly demonstrated endless intolerance for anyone who did not devoutly believe what the church wanted them to believe. The crusades of the middle ages are known to have been brutal land grab attempts replete with massacres on the part of the Holy Roman Catholic Church (center of the Holy Roman Empire).Some historians claim that the crusades were simply an attempt to free lands taken by Muslim conquest in the Holy Land (Palestine or modern Israel), but even if this was true, it would indicate a fanatical effort in the name of one religion against another religion.Based upon the above, the idea that Islam can be defined by a single all-encompassing definition actually flies in the face of history and reality. Islam is practiced much as all other religions are practiced, particularly in the modern western industrialized world. Muslims, like most Christians and Jews and folks of every other religion in an enlightened society, do not believe that every word of their “holy book” literally. For the most part, western Muslims do not believe in stoning to death or “honor” killings, any more than anyone else does.On the other hand, in the middle east many Muslims seem to be gravitating towards the idea of a Muslin caliphate, or an Islamic state with strict adherence to Sharia law and total intolerance of anyone who disagrees or is not a believer. In fact, a 2013 survey of 38,000 individuals by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that a majority of Muslims in the middle east favor sharia as the law of the land, as listed below:Afghanistan (99%),Iraq (91%),Pakistan (84%),Egypt (74%),Jordan (71%).This is also true of many majority-Muslim countries in Africa.While there certainly are Muslims in the West who also believe in sharia law, they do not represent a majority of their faith, any more than western fundamentalist Christians do.What all this points to is that in places with strong, long-lived educational systems and advanced social systems, fanaticism gives way to reason. As a result, it is grossly inaccurate to define a blanket classification for entire groups of people, based solely upon the religion they were born into. The important parameters and characteristics of their lives such as their up-bringing, education, environment, geography and many other factors influence how people live and what they believe.The Islamic state, which is attempting to establish its own caliphate in Syria and Iraq, is an example of the most fanatical extremist violent aspects of Islam. On the other hand, the Muslim family living next door who are good friends and neighbors with everyone around them represent the other end of the Islamic culture.With all due deference to Bill Maher and Ben Affleck, of course(click to watch)