Thankfully, they don’t represent the real Islam!


Be-headings in Syria. Female genital mutilation in Sudan. Rape and sexual assault of girls in Rotterham. Thankfully, the experts tell us, this isn’t the real Islam!

I’ve been challenged lately on my own attitudes on this seemingly mysterious and often maligned religion. I was talking to a co-worker recently, discussing the atrocities happening in Syria by what many describe as ‘extremists’ or ‘not representative’ of true Islam. His argument was that if you take religion out of the equation, these people would still be killing each other. His hypothesis was that these people were poorly educated, have age-old grudges and are a product of years of colonial oppression. My question to him was how do we account for the many British, American and now Australians that are volunteering to fight for the IS. These men (and women) have often come from middle-class backgrounds, have been educated in Western institutions and generally have not been subject to colonial oppression (to the contrary, they have benefited from ‘colonialism’!). My well-read friend could not supply me with an answer for this.

Without a doubt, Islam gets a bad wrap. I’l profess my own ignorance  – I’ve never read the Koran. I’ve never visited a mosque. I’ve only had surface interactions with Muslims – many of which have been good neighbors, hard working family people. Without a doubt, you could probably write an article about the ills of Christianity, Hinduism or even Buddhism. The only thing is these religions aren’t on a crazy murderin’ land-grab exercize at the moment.

In my last post, I copped a bit of flack for linking Islam with terrorism and neglecting more hidden crimes that have dramatic impacts on people. This post isn’t about linking terrorism with Islam (and even though there’s thousands of Muslims gung-ho on the terrorism thing at the moment, they thankfully don’t represent the real Islam!). What I want to explore is what is the real Islam. It’s a question that no one has yet been able to explain to me.

If I look at ‘grown up’ or ‘civilised’ Islamic countries, the outlook isn’t pretty.

Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive.

Iran has state approved Islamic beards and haircuts.

Indonesia condones kicking Christians out of churches.

Sudan’s interpretation of Sharia demands female genital mutilation.

The brand of non-representative Islam marching through the Middle East takes a fairly liberal approach to killing Christians and ethnic minorities.

Hamas in Gaza (another non-representative Islamic group) is keen on using their own as human shields whilst lobbing missiles over into Israel.

In Christianity, there’s a stack of groups who’s sole focus is helping the sick, feeding the poor and standing up for the marginalised. Christianity has many figures who passionately fought for human rights and dignity for the poor. Indeed, you don’t need to look far to see the crimes that have been undertaken in the name of the church.

Why don’t we hear of Muslim counterparts? Where are the Martin Luther Kings of Islam? Where’s the Muslim Mother Theresa? I can think of a couple of outstanding representatives of Islam here in Australia – men and women that seem to see-saw the difficult balance between honoring the obligations to their faith and their country. Where are the champions that are passionately fighting for inclusion, rather than those passionately fighting for segregation and Sharia?

What I want to know is what is the real Islam. If it’s not IS beheadings, what is it? If it’s not women having the vote, what is it? If it’s not being gaoled for sodomy, what is it? If it’s not stoning for leaving the house without a male relative chaperon, what is it? If it’s not female genital mutilation, what is it? If it’s not multiple wives (and women left destitute in divorce), what is it? If it’s not a tax on ‘infidels’, what is it?

No one yet  has been able to explain to me what benefit it is for Australia embrace or welcome this ideology. How this religion, which we are so often told is the religion of peace, seems to swathe a path of destruction?

Would someone please tell me what the real Islam is, and if what they say is the real Islam, would they be able to argue it to a jihadi warrior? Would it be in conflict, or harmony with their end goals?

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  1. Lilka Raphael

    Very thought provoking. I agree the fanatics are not a true representation of this religion/culture yet it would be nice to see Muslims opposing the “stereotypical terrorist” perception and offer some balance to Western perception. I wonder if those advocated for peace remain silent due to fear. However, the failure to speak up has continually led to atrocities when we reflect back on history and the World Wars. Great article!

  2. Primula Pretty

    Well Peter, your well written series of questions deserves a sensible response.
    The answer is the same for many things in life.
    What you see is what you get.
    The question for me is this … where are the voices of dissent to the barbarism we see from WITHIN this “religion of peace”?,

  3. betherinahq

    I’m sorry but Christianity is not all lovey dovey, feeding the sick and helping the poor. I have no problem with your opinions on trying to get your head around what’s going on at the moment but don’t try painting your own religion as some perfect, meek group of people.

    Hitler. Westborough Baptist church. Tony Blair. George Bush. The crusaders. All Christians all completely off message.

    • Pete Vidins Blog

      I concur. As I mentioned, I could write an article (volumes even!) on the ills of Christianity. I’d be the first to admit terrible things have done it’s name.
      This article however was exploring what modern Islam seems to look like and ask the question why so many ‘civilised’ Islamic countries have laws, rules and customs that seem so contrary to ‘Western’ ones.
      Please, if you can enlighten me on how many people (in fact whole countries) can support stoning women for having sex outside marriage, gaol homosexuals and permit sex & marriage with minors,

    • Pete Vidins Blog

      Sorry, I accidentally hit ‘reply’! – as I was saying, I invite you to participate in this discussion if you can enlighten me on how a religion that dubs itself as peaceful can endorse such things.

      Thanks for your reply and your comment.

      Warmest regards!


      • betherinahq

        I don’t know why I’m feeling uneasy about your writing. Perhaps it’s because it seems easy to write a very “us and them” article asking strangers to enlighten you when you could go and ask a Muslim in your community yourself. Asking a load of Christians that read your blog probably won’t give you the answers you’re looking for.

        I live and work in a high population of Muslims and I do feel like I should make more of an effort to ask questions about their religion to help me understand better. There’s no point reading a western newspaper when they don’t understand either.

        I do think that we are given half stories and propaganda about the middle east and while horrible things are happening allegedly in the name of Islam I can’t help but feel that the western press is stirring stuff.

        In a way I wonder if western Muslims joining ISIS is partly down to a self fulfilling prophecy where some people feel “well if you’re going to call me a terrorist I might as well be one” (I’m aware I’m simplifying this a lot). They could be feeling under represented by their government and feel disaffected. Just a thought. And I’m not excusing them I just refuse to believe that Islam is a bad religion when I have seen so much kindness and goodness from the community I live in.

  4. lynwilderdean

    I very much concur with betherina’s point that just because the people who read and respond to this blog don’t know any more about the “real Islam” than you do, doesn’t mean very much as to whether the Western media stereotypes hold water in the big scheme of things. I’m going to give you two starting points: a book called “Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy” by Peter Gottschalk, and WIKIPEDIA. If the wikipedia article on Islam can’t give you information on Islam’s equivalent of Mother Teresa, I’m sure somewhere in the links at the bottom will be a reference to another article that does. Good research involves following the rabbit all the way down to the end of its hole, not sticking your head between the doors of a subway car, yelling a question to the random passengers within and hoping someone will yell back before the doors close. The thought I’d like to leave you with, however, goes a little something like this: All the stuff you’ve heard about Mother Teresa. Do you think she put it out there herself? Do you think she hired a manager and a public relations executive and put out broadsheets and press releases? Mother Teresa was probably too busy doing her thing. But other people saw what she was doing and said “Hey this lady is awesome”, and since she was too busy doing her thing to do the work of being ultra-humble and dissuading people from talking about her, word spread. Maybe the reason you haven’t heard about the Mother Teresas of Islam is that their culture takes a different atttitude to the spreading of words. Maybe in the Islamic tradition, the Mother Teresas do their thing, and some people take note, but they don’t say “Hey this lady is awesome” for some reason. They just let them do their thing. I’m not saying this is the way it actually is; I haven’t done the research, and it’s not an important enough question to me in my world right now to do the research to find out. The point I am trying to make is that there is a difference between smoke and fire. You are assume that because you haven’t seen the smoke, there can’t be a fire. But you don’t really know what fuel there is to burn. Maybe Islam produces ashes but very little smoke. Do your homework and don’t assume.

    • Pete Vidins Blog

      Thank you for your response.

      I’m not really looking at assumptions. I’m looking at state-sponsored Islam, where women are not allowed to drive, men can have multiple wives, women and homosexuals can be stoned to death, men are permitted to marry and consummate a marriage with a minor, where womens clothing is strictly regulated, where mens haircuts and beards are state approved and where an Ayotolla has more power then a countries democratically elected.

      If we take out terror, ISIS, the Taliban, al-queda and all of the absolutely non-representative Islamic terror groups, splinters, cells and ‘lone wolves’, what do the ‘mature’ Islamic regimes do?

      That’s why I want to know what the real Islam is. I get that terrorists may not represent Islam. What I’m asking is when I look at established, civilised Islamic countries and governments, I don’t like what I see.

      If what I see fro a naïve outsiders view is represented, then it’s something I truly truly truly hope never gets introduced into Australia.

      • lynwilderdean

        I am not questioning your motives. I am questioning your methods. You are posing your question to the wrong audience, and you’re doing it over the Internet, which is, for the first time in all of human history, the perfect method for gaining access to almost any audience you can think of. Don’t ask us; ask Muslims, and ask lots of them, and if you can’t find lots of them to talk to face to face, you surely can find lots of them over the Internet. I sincerely recommend Wikipedia as your starting point in this journey, not this blog.

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