I’ve been accused on several occasions that I do not denounce Islam. That I lack the courage of my convictions, and fear the reaction of Islamic people, so I attack the “safe” religion that is Christianity.
To clarify, here are my thoughts on this matter.
First, I believe that people are deserving of a certain amount of respect. I start with a courteous amount of respect that I automatically extend, until I can learn more about the individual in question. At that point I’ll adjust the respect that I extend. I try to use the “Tit for Two Tats” strategy in deciding how I give respect for others.
Next, I believe that ideas, philosophies, and hypothesis do NOT automatically deserve respect. If I think you have a crazy idea, I will probably mention that your idea seems insane. Please note, it is possible for you to say something so crazy that I’ll just blink, nod my head, and say something meaningless and reassuring as I back away conversationally (or maybe even physically!)
When a group of people use a crazy philosophy to create laws and influence culture, while trying to convert others into believing their insanity, then I will do my best to counter this. It doesn’t matter to me if you believe that women should be covered in cloth from head to toe, or if you believe that we need to give even MORE praise to a Christian deity during State processes.
Lastly, I don’t hate Christians in general, nor do I hate people of the Islamic faith. I do hate what some Christians, and some Islamic people have done in the name of their faiths. I will point out that after having read the Bible and the Quran, both texts can be used quite successfully to promote extremism.
I place Allah on the same shelf as Yahweh. They are in good company on this shelf with Zeus, Shiva, Xenu, and a pantheon of other deities created by humans in their attempt to explain the mysterious.
On a lower shelf, I place their prophets. Moses, Joseph Smith, Muhammad, L. Ron Hubbard, Plato, Jesus. They are an interesting bunch, all are said to have claimed to be “right”, to hold a truth that contradicts other so-called truths. I doubt them all equally, and I’m sure that some were con men, and that most found that religion made for a useful power structure. Some I doubt the existence of entirely.
I think that a man named “Jesus” might have existed, but that he was just a man. We are much more sure that Muhammad existed, but again I think he was just a man. He found power in his religion, and in his sword.
As for the philosophies of Christianity and Islam, I find them worse than useless. Too often the followers use the tenets of these religions to suppress speech, stifle exploration, and ridicule scientific ideas and methods.
If you happen to be a follower of Muhammad, a believer in Islam, I will extend to you the respect that I try to extend to every human. But I do not respect your philosophy – and I believe it to be wrong and hurtful toward humanity. I also feel no need to respect a dead man who conned his way into power by getting people to believe the incredible.