9/19/2008 12:02 AM
By ROB NOVIT
Islam has more than one billion followers, and less than half are Arabic.
America needs to know more about and understand the tenets of Islam, said Greg Rogers, pastor of St. Catherine Orthodox Church and Aiken Technical College's dean of general education.
"Islam began in the seventh century through the revelations of the prophet Muhammad," Rogers told Sunrise Rotary members Thursday. "It has been embodied in the Koran and the five pillars upon which a Muslim builds his life."
The pillars include a profession of faith in one God, ritual prayer, giving to the poor, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, and if financially possible, a pilgrimage to Mecca. Some Muslims believe that jihad is the sixth pillar, but that term is often misunderstood, said Rogers. The word itself means "struggle" or "resistance," and a lesser jihad is a military campaign to establish military and political control of a particular area for Allah.
In other instances, jihad is permissible for self-defense or driving out those from places where they drove out Muslims, as in righting a wrong. Osama bin Laden has made his position clear that Israel falls into this category, that Palestinians were forced out and never compensated when the Israeli state was created. From Rogers' perspective, a two-state solution is essential, but there's another situation that's much more problematic.
"Bin Laden wants a uniform Islamic world ... where Allah reigns supreme, but not that every one becomes Islamic," Rogers said. "There is no separation of church and state in Islam. Only in Turkey do they try."
A friend of Rogers' has visited Iraq and while talking to an Islamic leader (imam), the man made it clear: There are no good Muslims in the United States if they are not trying to overthrow the U.S. government.
"Most Muslims don't have this radical perspective," said Rogers. "But some envision Islamic control as an achievement they will (pursue) until defeated. How do you stop an ideology like that? There's a lot of tension in the Islamic world. We have our work cut out for us to carve out a good relationship with the moderates and blunt the violent actions of the extremists."
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