The word Islam has a meaning somewhere between "peace" and "submission". You may find this strange to think about, but we're the good guys.

Islam teaches us to strive for peace and justice, and to use violence only in those situations where violence is used against us. Palestine is a classic example of this - a country filled with muslims which was forcibly taken and whose people have suffered torture, execution, organised theft and enforced misery for most of the last century. It is the sort of conflict that we would normally think was consigned to the history books long ago, and perhaps that is why we seem paralysed to do anything about it today.

Another example of paralysis in the face of recurring historical patterns surfaces in Bosnia, with the Serbian concentration camps for Muslims, the fall of Srebrenica, and other atrocities. If something like that happened to your city, wouldn't you take up arms to defend your individual rights to live? Never mind to protect your family?

We often don't think. The term "Islam" has been badly watered down by the West. It is now synonymous with "terrorist", not because this is what Muslims are, but because people who live in the West are afraid.

"They want us all to be Muslim!"

"Just look at the way they treat their women, barbaric!"

"September the 11th, we can't trust them after that!"

"Their justice system is cruel! They execute people without a fair trial!"

How many times has a Muslim ever come up to you in the street and tried to convert you? None. Really? Have you ever had a private conversation with Muslim woman? If so, did she seem trapped? What? No? Strange. Are you completely sure the people who perpretated 9/11 were Muslim? If so would you regard the KKK as representative of normal Christian mentality? Have you ever investigated the crime rates in predominantly Muslim countries? No? Well then. As for execution, how many people does the USA kill per year, what about Saudi Arabia? The US kills more, really? Do go on... Do all Muslim countries execute criminals? No? Well I never.

You see?

We're so caught up in learning the socially acceptable view of Islam, that we don't actually stop to see it. Most of the conflicts that you watch on tv have no bearing on Islam, or it's value system, they are rooted firmly in politics, which most people, including muslims such as myself regard as a dirty business.

Look, I work hard, try not to get into trouble with the authorities, worry about having enough money to pay my bills. I have friends, family, a life. I like to live in Northern Ireland, very much, and I pay my taxes, reluctantly, like anyone else. I agree with the nodetitle 1000%. Islam has not ever, nor will ever use violence to gain power. The only caveat is the one that you would reserve for yourself, and that is that violence is permitted only as a last resort to regain freedom that was taken from you using violence.

I think you would agree, only the good guys would say something like that.

I would like to thank Transitional_Man for his sincere attempt to understand Islam, and while there are shortcomings, it is good to see that he is genuinely trying to understand how Muslims think. The problem is, he's wrong.

We're not disguised Westerners who secretly want to be American, but can't so we throw tantrums in the form of Sept 11th. No, we are ordinary people who believe that the rest of the world is too materialistic, greedy, and corrupt and people should stop grubbing for money for two minutes and actually listen to their hearts and minds and care for each other. We are normal.

It's quite clear from the wu below that he hasn't read the Quran, and is speaking from hearsay and conjecture. I would invite him to pick up a decent english translation and find just one passage that advocates violence for any other reason than restrained self-defence. That invitation is open to anyone else who reads this wu.]

Look, let's cut to the chase. I don't like being threatened by anyone, or any country. My way of life is sacred, and as such I will defend it with my life. I am sure that most Americans like the way they live as well, so let's leave it at that. The reason for the animosity against the West is that America is seen as causing most of the suffering in the rest of the world today, and the Muslims who live there don't like it. You who enjoy personal freedom in your country so much, would you deny others the right to fight for theirs? Most of the Islamic warriors on this Earth are fighting to overthrow the dictatorships in their own countries and bring peace and democracy to their people. The reason that this is threatening to the West is that it was America and Britain who set up these dictatorships in the first place, armed them, and let them loose on the populations. Then 30 years later condemned them for violating human rights and denying their people democracy. Hypocrisy, anyone?

If it comes to a war between America and Islam, Islam will win. A single country can't destroy a world wide religion. It has no borders, it can't be invaded and for every Muslim you kill, you'll make another in your ranks, especially when they see for the first time for themselves how Muslims lead their lives. I personally know several British soldiers who came back from Bosnian conflict and converted to Islam because of the example Muslim fighters vastly outnumbered and outgunned against the Serbs. It's tempting to believe Islam is like Christianity, that there is a separation between the religion and the way of life of ordinary Muslims, when as a Muslim, I know this isn't so. It is a different animal, one that a world view based on greed and self-interest can't fathom.

I think you don't understand us Transitional_Man, and you aren't alone. I would recommend talking to Muslims, and not talking about religion when you meet us. Ask about family, ask about our jobs and what sports we play, understand us as people, and you'll understand why we chose Islam. If you speak to people from many different backgrounds, you'll begin to understand the essence of Islam, and why it has become the largest and fastest growing religion in the world.

2002.10.02 at 17:06 rk2001 says: It would really abate my exasperation if you could add another note to 'TransitionalMan' within this wu in order to inform him that the non-believers tax is far less than the zakat that he would have to pay if he was a muslim (in such a society).