Americans do not understand Islam. You can tell that by watching the news, or paying attention to what people are saying online. The reason Americans don’t understand Islam starts at the core of what The United States of America is.
The European colonization of mainland North America began with Spain’s settlement at St Augustine Florida in 1565. That is less then 50 years after Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation in 1517.
The Puritan movement began 20 years later in 1585, and the first Puritans to start a settlement in North America did so in 1620. By 1630 many more Puritans began settling in the new colonies in New England.
Anglicans also set up Colonies in the new world, and the Catholic Spanish and French (Acadians) surrounded them to the North and South. However, as time went on French Huguenots, Catholics, Jews, Dutch Calvinists, German Reformed pietists, Scottish Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, and other denominations began settling the New World and a certain amount of religious tolerance became a necessity.
This wasn’t that hard to do. After all, they were still all Christian. (except for the Jews… but because of the importance of the Torah as the Old Testament, and Jesus being the Messiah prophesized of in the Torah, the Christians and the Jews can get along quite well.) Most colonies, however, were strictly Christian (of one form or the other). They had rules enforcing Christian values. By 1768, you could be thrown in stokes for missing church on Sunday in Boston and many other communities. And although these communities followed different variants of Christianity, they were still Christian. You see, different denominations of Christians argue over trivial things about Christianity (like did Jesus’s mom remain a virgin after she had him, or should you have to be a church member to receive communion). But the main points about Christianity, Christians mostly agree on. Most Christians agree on what Jesus said, and agree that silly things in the Old Testament that talk about stoning people and cutting of hands is just as irrelevant as the stuff about not eating bacon. After all, Christians all read from the same Bible.
But Americans don’t understand Islam. It is a different book. When you mention Islam, most Americans thing of three types of Muslim. 1: The bowtie wearing, black hippie type Muslim (like Muhammad Ali), 2: The funny Sheik Muslim, (like the character Jamie Farr always used to play), and 3: the psychopathic terrorist Muslim (like the ones that keep attacking us).
We therefore assume, the 2/3 of all Muslims must be funny sheiks, or hippies, and only that small 1/3 commit vile atrocities.
Most Americans think Islam is like Christianity. In America, almost anyone can go online and get ordained as a minister, rent a store front, and start their own church. Unlike clergy in more established Denominations where the pastors are trained and educated in Christianity, some of these “online ministers” have a distorted view of the bible. This leads to weird little churches like the Westboro Baptists. As a result, Americans tend to think that atrocities committed in the name of Islam must also be from strange little ministries that don’t understand the religion.
Unfortunately, it seems the opposite is true. Strange little offshoots of Islam that don’t preach the established form are the ones that are nice, while the mainstream version of Islam is all to happy to commit atrocities.
Islam, unlike Christianity, has a legal system as well as a moral system. The legal system is called Sharia law. Under Sharia law, a person may be executed for offenses such as Adultery (and under Sharia, Adultery is any sex outside of marriage… even rape), Apostasy, or leaving the religion of Islam (whether it be converting to another religion or just becoming atheist), being a homosexual, or even Insulting Islam. Corporal punishment is often handed out under Sharia law in the form of 100 lashings for offenses such as alcohol consumption.
These are atrocities being committed and approved of by the majority of Muslims. How much of a majority? Full Sharia law is the law of the land in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Sharia States of Nigeria, Aceh Province (in Indonesia), Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, Maldives, Iraq, Iran, Brunei, and Afghanistan.
In many other Muslim nations Sharia law, although not used for criminal proceedings, is still used for “personal status” issues (such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and child custody). These courts tend to favor a mans testimony over a woman’s condemning many Muslim women to “marital Captivity”, while failing to protect them from domestic violence. This is also an atrocity committed and approved of by an even larger majority of Muslims. The countries that practice this form of Sharia law are: Algeria, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Gaza Strip, Palestine, Sahrawi, Thailand, England, and others. (some countries like Thailand, England, and Israel allow Sharia Law only for Muslim disputes).
Sharia law promotes atrocities that a majority of Muslims support. According to the Pew Research Center, “most Muslims believe sharia is the revealed word of God”
The Pew Research goes on to state: “In South Asia, high percentages in all the countries surveyed support making sharia the official law, including nearly universal support among Muslims in Afghanistan (99%). More than eight-in-ten Muslims in Pakistan (84%) and Bangladesh (82%) also hold this view. The percentage of Muslims who say they favor making Islamic law the official law in their country is nearly as high across the Southeast Asian countries surveyed (86% in Malaysia, 77% in Thailand and 72% in Indonesia).”
That means that a large percentage of Muslims support killing gay people, adulterers, and people who insult Islam.
“In 10 of 20 countries where there are adequate samples for analysis, at least half of Muslims who favor making sharia the law of the land also favor stoning unfaithful spouses.”
So rest assured, that although the percentage of Muslims that want to strap a bomb to their chests and run into your local diner shouting “allahu akbar” may be small, the percentage that think I should be killed for writing this article is much larger, and so is the percentage that wants to kill you for banging your significant other before marriage. It is also a significant percent of Muslims that thinks gays should die, and women who are beaten by their husbands deserve it. And that is far more then just a small percentage of Muslims that commit atrocities in the name of Islam.