IT IS A SANE, rational, sensible goal to know more about Islam. Why? Why bother to learn about it when you have no intention of becoming a Muslim? Here are twelve good reasons:
1. Your education will be more well-rounded. Most of us have some knowledge about Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. We've heard quotes by their founders, we know some of what they teach, we know a little of their history, etc. But almost every Westerner is unfamiliar with the most basic teachings of Islam.
2. It is interesting. Do you know, for example, why Osama bin Laden chose September 11th as the day to attack America? Because the last high-water mark of Islam occurred in 1683 on September 11th.
Islam had expanded and conquered for centuries, and was finally stopped at the gates of Vienna when 40,000 soldiers arrived just in time to stop the Muslim siege of the city.
Islam's spread has been repressed by superior military force ever since then. Their dominance has been receding since that day, and almost all Muslims know this, and many resent it. But the new resurgence has set out to finish the goal (worldwide Sharia law), so they chose September 11th to kick off the new era.
Before I started learning about Islam, I didn't know about the gates of Vienna. I didn't know why the Crusades happened. I didn't know why Middle Eastern countries have seemed so dead-set on destroying Israel. I didn't know what the hijacking of planes and the holding of hostages was all about when I was a kid. I have learned so much, and a lot of it has been very interesting.
3. Knowledge can immunize us. Have you ever gotten what looks like an official email from Amazon or PayPal or Gmail, asking you for account information? For those who don't know this kind of thing can happen, they are vulnerable to giving away their personal account information to a criminal.
The email usually says something like, "There has been a problem with your account and we need you to update your account information." And they provide a link. When you follow the link, it looks every bit like the official web site. If you give your information, you just gave it to a scam artist.
If you've heard of the scam, you are immune to it. If you want to check it out just in case, you will not use their link. You will type in "amazon.com" or "paypal.com" into your browser and go check your account to see if anything is really wrong.
With that little bit of knowledge, you avoided a potential catastrophe. Knowledge makes the difference.
It is exactly the same with knowing about Islam. Once you have a pretty good grasp of what's going on, you are less afraid, less paranoid, and less vulnerable to what is called "religious deception" (taqiyya ).
If you don't know about Islam, you will not be able to tell the difference between orthodox and heterodox Muslims, so you will have to either distrust them all (which isn't cool) or trust them all (which would be stupid). Educate yourself and you won't have this dilemma.
4. You'll be ahead of your time. In the future, everyone will know about Islam. It is a quickly-growing faith with more and more influence on world affairs. By learning about it now, you will be among the vanguard of a new era.
5. You can help your fellow non-Muslims understand. This is a nice benefit of learning about Islam. Your understanding can help you shed some light and help eliminate the confusion you see in the people you know. It is a valuable service you can provide your fellow citizens.
6. Confusing current events will become understandable. Once you learn what's really going on, the scary terrorist events that make you think, "Why are they doing this?!" are suddenly illuminated, and you know exactly why they're doing it.
Learning about Islam makes world events less upsetting. You will no longer feel as exasperated or wonder what is happening to this crazy world. You will finally understand.
Of all the benefits of learning about Islam, this had the most impact on me. Political events that have been happening since I can remember — the hostage situations and hijacked planes and bombings — all seemed so unnecessary and confusing. And you can watch the news all day long and get no clarity whatsoever about why these things are happening and what they all have to do with each other. It's a relief to finally comprehend the bigger picture.
7. Orthodox Muslims are immigrating to Western democracies. From within those democracies, including the one we are living in, some of these super-devout Muslims are setting up terrorist cells right now. Their spokesmen are delivering fiery tirades at mosques in our own country, calling the faithful Muslims to rise up against the infidels (you and me), telling the Muslims in their congregation (called an ummah) it is their holy duty to sabotage the government and establish Sharia law. They are recruiting native-born Westerners into groups working toward these goals, as I'm sure you've seen on the news. And it is becoming more common.
Not all Muslims follow these Islamic teachings (find out what the basic teachings are by clicking here). But some do, and they are in free countries now, preaching hatred. And most Western democracies allow more in all the time. Why? Because most Westerners don't know much about Islam.
8. Some of the orthodox Muslims will relentlessly try to change our laws, from within and from without. They have already done so throughout Europe and parts of the United States. Islam is partly a political ideology. It is the duty of orthodox Muslims to work toward making every government on earth follow Allah's law (Shari'a law).
If Westerners knew what was going on, we would surely find a peaceful way to prevent it. But our ignorance makes their job easy for now, and violence more likely in the future.
9. They are having more children than most of us. There are many ways to wage jihad and establish Sharia law. One is through violence. Another is through sheer reproductive superiority.
Orthodox, extremely devout Muslims are immigrating in large numbers into Western democracies, having as many children as they can, and teaching them to be devout Muslims.
If they are strictly following Islam, Muslims will try to turn any country they live in into an Islamic state, no matter how long it takes. They have to. It is their religious duty to do so, whether they want to or not. The main method many are using in the West is to gain small concessions to Sharia law.
10. The teenage children of heterodox Muslims are vulnerable to being persuaded by terrorist recruiters. Even though many (probably most) of the Muslims who immigrate into Western democracies are heterodox (ignore many Islamic teachings), their children will be vulnerable as the recruiters help these young, idealistic Muslims see through the hypocrisy of their parents' incomplete worship.
The children of Muslims have heard all their lives from everyone in authority that the Quran is a direct message from the Almighty Himself. As teens, if they hear a recruiter tell them what's actually in the Quran, they might be surprised. Being young and idealistic, they may become dedicated to the foundational principles of Islam. The Quran contains clear instructions to work toward the goal of creating a world that follows Sharia law. It is the primary goal of Islam. And it is the primary religious duty — the primary religious practice — of a devout Muslim to strive toward this goal with his money and his life.
The teens will look at their parents and feel disgusted. Their parents — the ones who have told them repeatedly that the Quran is the perfect word of Allah — ignore much of the book.
Plus, we cannot ignore the added benefit of dying while slaying infidels: You go straight to Paradise, and have 72 beautiful wives ready to do your bidding. Critics of Islam did not make that up. What 15 year-old boy wouldn't find a harem of beauties an attractive proposition?
If he reads the Quran, we'll discover the recruiters are right: It says quite clearly he is supposed to fight non-Muslims. He will discover that mainstream Islamic scholars agree that if he dies while killing infidels he will go straight to Paradise without having to be judged, and because he's done such a fine thing, he will be empowered to bring many of his family members to Paradise too.
11. Your vote on this issue is important. If you vote, you are helping to elect representatives and leaders who make legal and political decisions (like what kind of immigration policies we should employ, or whether an imam who encourages his followers to overthrow the government should be charged with sedition). When you understand more about Islam, you will be able to know which leaders have a grasp on this subject and which do not, and vote accordingly.
12. Our survival as a free society is at stake. I know that sounds very dramatic and rabble-rousing, but it is quite literally true. All the different orthodox Islamic groups have a single goal in mind: The establishment of Sharia law in every country. They didn't make this up. They didn't "interpret" their holy book that way. They didn't have to guess. That is what it says, directly and clearly.
These people are not joking. This is not a casual hobby for them. They have dedicated their lives to it. And oil-rich Islamic governments are pouring money into the project.
This struggle has gone on for 1400 years, and as far as the devout ones are concerned, it will go on for another 1400 years, or as long as it takes to win. They are acquiring the advantages of new technologies. And they are well-funded.
I don't know how the West will ultimately deal with it, but I know this: Until enough of us face and understand what we're up against, we don't have a chance. Cheerful obliviousness will always be easily defeated by grim determination.
THOSE ARE THE TWELVE most important reasons you should want to know about Islam. Most Westerners make the assumption that all religions are basically alike. And we have a deep-seated respect for other cultures and the right of everyone to believe what they want. We have a profound distrust of any hint of arrogance or any feelings of superiority of our own culture. It is almost at the level of a taboo.
This distrust is almost entirely a good thing. It's one of the reasons we are able to have such a rich, diverse society with people of all kinds getting along with each other.
But Islam is unique, doesn't reciprocate tolerance, and its influence is spreading. We should learn more about it. A good place to start is to stop relying on second-hand sources, and read the Koran yourself.
If you'd like to do something more, start here: What Can You Do About It?