Burn a Quran and Die: Is Islam Evil?

A key theme in Die By Wire is the assertion of many that Islam is evil.

Or does the evil done in the name of God/Allah simply arise from those who distort religion and abuse spirituality to justify their own political, cultural and dictatorial agendas?

Christianity, Islam and Judaism have all been distorted by the power-hungry who wish to use religion to justify evil In all my other thrillers, my characters grapple with issues that run deeper than the plot and the action.  Die By Wire  continues that tradition. In deed (not a typo), Holy scriptures are, often, thrillers in their own right. Every time I read the Bible or the Qu’ran, I am amazed at the plots, the action, the cliffhangers and, of course the tragedy, triumph,  bloodshed and high body count.

Few subjects in public affairs and politics today arouse more controversy and dissension than the nature of Islam as practiced in today’s global theater.


Many hold the extreme opinion that terrorism, global jihad and violence are inherent in the religion. We’ll call this group the “See All Evil” contingent. They reason that Islam is an inherently evil religion and see only institutionalized violence, the oppression of women, gays, minorities.

They submit that Islam not only justifies– but compels a religious duty — the brutality and murder of all who believe differently. They point to blood-thirsty passages in the Qu’ran demanding the death of infidels and the degradation of women, gays, and non-Muslims. As a result, this fraction rejects all Muslims as evil and demands zero tolerance and zero immigration.


On the other extreme are the proponents who reject any open discussion of violence done in the name of Islam and consider the open discussion of violent acts a form of cultural repression. They point to passages in the Qu’ran that emphasize charity, mercy, the duty to care for the less-fortunate.

Many “See No Evil” adherents believe that Muslim immigrant communities should be allowed to establish a system of religious laws — shariah — that should take precedence over the civil, secular courts that govern their adopted countries. They counsel tolerance of practices that would be intolerable in their own societies: the subjugation of women, “honor” killings, violence against gays, “improperly dressed” women, and in some Muslim immigrant communities, the sale, human trafficking and subsequent rape of child brides.

A recent Pew Survey found that — depending upon the nationality — up to 80 percent of Muslims believe in stoning adulterous women to death.

Both generalizations — like most polemics that tar a heterogeneous population with the same brush — are wrong. Both sides fail to see that cultural practices, not religion, account for the reprehensible practices.


The d[evil] is in the details and those have mostly ignored by both extremes.

At a much deeper level the debate within the world’s liberal democracies over whether to accept — or outlaw — burqas, shariah courts, child marriages and the marginalization of women and other minorities are peripheral arguments that miss the entire argument.

The real argument rests on the concept of the separation of church and state because democracies, freedom of expression, individual fulfillment and the tolerance of differing ideas and peoples have never existed in a theocracy or any other form of government where religion has ultimate authority over all matters of law and behavior.

This is because true belief is absolute, allows no argument, prohibits doubts and questions about doctrine, defends dogma to the death and tolerates no dissent. And while Islam, Christianity and Judaism have made claims regarding mercy, their histories show an absolute absence of human kindness — as evidenced by blood-soaked, scorched earth legacies.


The problem lies in the interpretation of scriptures and religious tradition. And while religion may be the province of God, its application on Earth lies in the hand of humans: fallible, often venal, power-hungry, greedy, delusional and sometimes downright evil. When their interpretation of the divine is allowed to become government, the result has always been bloody and evil: genocide by early Israelites, Christian Crusades, current-day violent jihad.

With the exception of small pockets of mentally unstable extremists who are punished when apprehended, Judaism and Christianity have moved past their blood-soaked legacy and have accepted that God’s other people also have a right to live and prosper. It is no accident of history that this tolerance developed along with the fall of monarchs — secular and religious — and the rise of modern liberal democracies.


Regrettably, today’s liberal democracies have failed to see the evil which can arise from their tolerance of intolerance. They have failed to see that sanctioning evil in the name of tolerance does not actually equal tolerance. Sanctioning the violation of human rights in the name of religious tolerance is an abdication of responsibility. The liberal democracy becomes a tool of oppression.

The fundamental problem is that liberal democracies have allowed the extreme, totalitarian elements to define the debate. Failing to separate the religious aspects of Islam from its cultural expression results — among many other evils — in violence and genocide toward unbelievers, the second class treatment of women, prohibitions against homosexuals and marriages of young girls.

Equally important is liberal democracy’s failure to recognize that today’s Islam resembles almost perfectly Eleventh- or Twelfth-Century Christianity and Judaism in the first millennium B.C. and has not had the time to come to grips with its own history and legacy.


Islam is no more inherently evil or violent than Judaism and Christianity before them. Indeed, the most egregious atrocities in all three Abrahamic religions have resulted more from cultural expressions and the political abuses of holy scripture rather than any fundamental religious evil.

Many of the most brutal and onerous practices of Islam imitate the adolescent era of Judaism and Christianity which sanctioned genocide, oppression and colonialism as the will of God. Indeed, today’s angry Islamic jihadists walk the well-trod path of the other Abrahamic religions in the degradation of women, their genocidal, sectarian hatred of other cultures and a totalitarian ban on questioning the divine character of every word in the officially sanctioned versions of holy scriptures.


Whether Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Iranian mullahs or other despots, Islamic despots find the Qu’ran a convenient took to justify purely personal power trips, mass murder, oppression and empire building. Today’s global Islamic jihad is identical with the Old-Testament Israelite’s slaughter of Canaanites and the Christian Crusades.

Just as with early Christianity and Judaism, today’s global Islamic jihadist finds a way to interpret his holy scripture to continue brutal and oppressive cultural practices that have no spiritual basis.

The only difference is that Christianity and Judaism have matured and developed a self-confidence in the strength of their faith that allows them to see other religions as different manifestations of God rather than as threats to survival. Inherent in this tolerance is the recognition that true faith comes not from intimidation, violence, death and oppression, but from within.


A religious faith that can only spread and maintained at the muzzle of a gun or flying body parts of a suicide bomber is no faith at all. Obviously, ignorant, venal, evil and power-hungry people still exist outside of the Jewish and Christian mainstream. But those extremists are condemned rather than being encouraged and applauded.

For all these reasons, Die By Wire grapples with the issues of culture versus religion in the context of a thriller which aims first to entertain and secondarily to inform.

Both the thriller and the informative context focus on the growing problem of the accepted practice of trafficking, sale, rape and virtual slavery of child brides. The Netherlands has been chosen as the setting because it has led the way in its tolerance of intolerance and has begun to reap tragic dividends from its short-sighted actions.

Lew's Books