Cat Stevens on Islam

Interesting opinion piece by Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, in the Independent. He makes some curiously roundabout statements—for example, he points out that the penalty given in the Koran for unrepentant blasphemy is death, but goes on to say that he didn't support the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie. I think that the point he's making is that the death penalties prescribed in the Koran insist on a legal process being followed, rather than people taking the law into their own hands. He doesn't touch on what seems to me to be the central issue about the Koran for the current situation, the notion that different people interpret it differently. He does, though, provide an interesting quotation: "Repel evil with what is better and he, between whom and you was hatred, will become as a warm bosom-friend." Interesting connections to MLK's "Darkness cannot drive out darkness;. only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

The response I've been seeing lately to that sort of comment is "damn peaceniks, think all you have to do is think good thoughts and the world will be a better place. If you want to stop the war, come up with a better alternative!"

I'm still gonna put off trying to articulate a fuller response to that; for now, I'm just going to reiterate that I don't see how this war can be successful in its stated goals. If one finds oneself taking actions that (a) aren't going to achieve one's goals; (b) are hurting people; and (c) are likely to result in making things worse for yourself (as in the point that bombing people seems likely to result in more anti-American sentiment among those who survive), it may be time to re-evaluate your actions even if you don't have a better alternative prepared.

In other words, is it better to do nothing or to commit active harm?

I don't advocate doing absolutely nothing, anyway; I think there are plenty of better things we could be doing. But if, as many people seem to think, those were the two choices, then yes, I feel that doing nothing is a better choice than doing active harm with little or no chance of achieving anything positive.

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