Sixteen years ago, my wife and I spent ten days in Israel. It was a wonderful experience; to say that it was our best vacation ever doesn’t begin to describe it. It was peaceful when we were there, but the day after we returned home the first bus bombing that marked renewed Islamic terrorism took place.
We were part of a group of six or seven people and had a terrific guide who showed us around. At one point he took us to a monument to the “three great monotheistic religions,” Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The monument consisted of three soaring sculptures. I was disposed to be ecumenical, but even then, in the mid-1990s, I was doubtful. Does Islam really have much in common with other religions, not just Judaism and Christianity, but Hinduism, Buddhism and others? Liberals generally believe that all religions are more or less the same, but is that really true?
This is the kind of news story that makes one wonder. In Bangladesh, a fourteen year old girl was raped, then flogged by order of Islamic religious authorities, and died:
The High Court yesterday ordered district officials in Shariatpur to explain why they failed to protect 14-year-old rape victim Hena from being whipped to death as per a fatwa on Monday. …
The reports said Hena was raped by her 40-year-old relative Mahbub on Sunday. Next day, a fatwa was announced at a village arbitration that she must be given 100 lashes. She fell unconscious after nearly 80 lashes.
Fatally injured Hena was rushed to Naria health complex where she succumbed to her injuries.
In Islam, those who are the most devout are also, frequently, the most barbaric. It is inconceivable that leaders of any other religion would order a fourteen-year-old rape victim to be whipped to death. Whether Islam can be modernized and reformed is far from clear. Certainly, it can’t be reformed by non-Muslims. The central issue of our time is whether sane Muslims have the will and the ability to reform their religion and make it a force for good; and if not, what the rest of us should do about it.