Islam And The West – Irreconcilable Differences?
“If you compare Jesus Christ who had so much influence on the Western world, and Muhammad who has had so much influence on the Islamic world, and look at their teachings and their lives and lifestyles and so on, it’s game, set and match to Jesus.”
The audience at the celebrated Conway Hall, the high temple of humanism and self-styled ‘landmark of London’s independent intellectual, political and cultural life’, erupted with clapping and cheers.
I was participating in a recent public debate entitled ‘This House believes Islam and the West have irreconcilable differences’ and, given the irreligious nature of the audience, the warm response to my comment about Christ was unexpected.
Alongside me as the proposer of the motion was Anne Marie Waters, founder of ShariaWatch UK, former Council member of the National Secular Society, and lately a high-profile controversial candidate for the leadership of UKIP.
On the opposing side were Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al Husseini, Senior Fellow in Islamic Studies at the Westminster Institute; and Dr Michael Arnheim, practising Barrister, author of books on religion, law and government, and former Professor of Classics and Sometime Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge.
So the academic qualifications were clearly on the side of the opposition, but the audience and the weight of the argument were on ours. The full debate can be viewed here.
I have real differences with Anne Marie over how to respond to the rise of aggressive Islam but on the night she and I made a good team. She tackled Islam as a social and political force and critiqued it from a human rights, women’s rights and freedom of speech point of view, whereas I tackled it head-on as a religion.
I did so by comparing Islam with Christianity as the origin and cradle of our western civilisation.
I was free to undertake this exercise because, while the second half of the 20th century saw an increasingly aggressive secularisation of society and a growing hostility to Christianity, 9/11 changed the world. Since then we have found ourselves reaching for our religious identity as both an acknowledgement of our roots and as our distinctive against rising Islam.
Professional unbeliever Richard Dawkins today happily calls himself a Christian atheist or cultural Christian. Similarly, political commentator and fellow atheist Douglas Murray told a Canadian interviewer recently that we are all Christians whether we like it or not, that rational secular atheists all “dream Christian dreams and have Christian thoughts” and that our universal human rights are derived directly from Christianity.
My argument in the debate was straightforward: Islam and the West have irreconcilable differences because Islam and Christianity have irreconcilable differences.
Theologically, Islam flatly refutes the historical crucifixion of Christ which is at the heart of the Christian faith. And if, as Islam says, Christ was not crucified, then there is no true Christianity – which of course is Islam’s contention. The cross on our war memorials and in our graveyards, on our village church steeples and atop the Queen’s coronation crown – these all represent a fake event according to Islam, and consequently are a huge deception at the core of the UK’s heritage and culture.
From a political and social perspective too, the contrasting lives and teachings of the founders of the two religions are profound and irreconcilable.
Muhammad – the perfect role model for all mankind according to Islamic orthodoxy – was a religious leader, governor, lawmaker and military chief who slaughtered enemies of Islam as well as personal opponents, and who installed a state theocracy at Medina as a prototype for his followers. Even today Muhammad’s swords are proudly on display in the Topkapi Museum, Istanbul.
Jesus, on the other hand, was interested in hearts and minds, not the physical territory, and in the power of persuasion not political power and military might.
From a rule-bound legalistic Judaism he inaugurated a new grace-fuelled spiritual religion (“the Kingdom of God is within you”), separated church and state (“render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”), taught that love is a prime ethic (“love your enemies”), and refused to allow his followers to use force to defend him or promote his new faith (“put away your sword for those who live by the sword will die by the sword”). The only violence during his ministry was that done to him, not by him.
Consequently, I argued, Muhammad and his teachings in the Quran are irreconcilable with Jesus and his teachings in the New Testament. And the values and cultures of Islamic societies based on the former are incompatible with western societies based on the latter.
Anne Marie is not religious so she, of course, took a different approach in the debate. For her, the West is characterised by freedom: freedom of speech, expression and religion; equal rights before the law; and science and reason. The blasphemy laws with death penalties in Islam and the subjugation of women into second-class status are, for her, ample illustrations of why the West and Islam are incompatible.
She is a persuasive speaker and she argued her case powerfully. I admired her cool too, as she knew that, late on the same evening after the debate finished, ITV were to broadcast a biased and brutal character assassination job on her led by the lefty hatchet men from Hope not Hate, Nick Lowles and Matthew Collins.
It was entitled Undercover: Inside Britain’s New Far Right, and Lowles and Collins were paraded across the programme as neutral “experts” and in the credits at the end as “consultants”.
The analysis was incoherent and low-level which may explain why ITV scheduled it for a late time-slot. And, despite an undercover reporter following Anne Marie for months, there were no condemning new revelations.
In the end, the programme could only resort to smearing her, and did so by including her in the same broadcast as their investigation into real militant extremists, the banned anti-Semitic Hitler-praising occasionally violent Nazi group, National Action.
It was damnation by slur, defamation by association.
Hope not Hate – funded by billionaire global financial market-manipulator George Soros – tries to silence anyone who refuses to dance to its regressive lefty political agenda. For years it has directed its bile against patriotic, anti-establishment, anti-EU, anti-globalist, pro-localism UKIP – including during this year’s general election.
Lowles and Collins have regularly pilloried Nigel Farage too. Based on his track record with them, Farage reckons Hope not Hate “are among the most hateful people in modern Britain”.
Now vilified by them too, Anne Marie is in good company.