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i think the main question regarding islam and whether it's a religion of peace o r violence is this: if it is a religion of peace,

why do so many people and cou ntries around the world use it in the name of violence, and why is sharia law th e dominant form of gov't we see in muslim countries, which represses women and n on-muslim people? Moderate muslims would say that that's not truly islam, but a misinterpretation of the quran, but then the question becomes, if that's the c ase, what's in the quran that causes so many muslims to interpret it that way? There's probably just as much variation in the interpretation of the bible by th e many christian denominations, but none of those interpretations involve repres sion of women and non-christians. So it seems to me there's 2 possible explan ations here: 1)the quran in its original form really did advise muslims to prac tice islam the way the supporters of sharia law live and that's the most accurat e interpretation of it or 2)it was written with such lack of clarity that nobody can really know what the original intent and meaning was, and if that's the cas e, what does that say about mohammed? There might be a third option, which is t hat moderate muslims can simply ignore the verses of the quran that are violent or wrong and follow the ones that are good because maybe the bad ones were meant just for the muslims of that time and need to be put in context. But the probl em with that is that's assuming the imams and muslim scholars and teachers aroun d the world will all adopt that approach to reading the quran, and so far that h asn't been the case at all. So that goes back to the problem i described above, which is if there are so many problematic verses in the quran, how can islam be a religion of peace when so many of its followers are learning about it in a wa y that is anything but peaceful to women and non-muslims? To answer that ques tion you have to answer this one: what is islam? Is it just the words of the q uran? Is it the cultural practices and traditions that have been handed down an d followed by muslims for centuries? Is it the beliefs and practices of the mod erate muslims, which make up the majority of its believers? My answer is that it can be either one depending on how its believers interpret the quran, and th at's the key. If more moderate muslims stand up and spread the message that sha ria law is not the proper way to practice islam and that muslims must respect an d tolerate women and christians just as much as muslim men, then islam can becom e a religion of peace. But so far those voices are silent, or at least not gett ing the attention they deserve, if they exist at all or in any significant numbe r. However, if those voices don't gain influence and there aren't enough modera te muslims to have the courage to speak out against the radical scholars and jih adists who want to be the face of Islam, then it will remain a religion of viole nce, as it is today. Islam does need a reformation to bring it into the modern world, as Catholicism did with the 2nd vatican council. There needs to be a gat hering of its leaders and scholars to come up with some reforms and to seriously study the quran and how its teachings can fit into the modern day world. Islam is the only major religion that hasn't adapted to modernity, and that's the cau se of the tension and violence between muslims and non-muslims around the world. As long as Islam is stuck in the past, it will fight the cultures and religion s that live in teh present. Islam has to choose whether or not it wants to be l eft behind by the rest of the world, because it can't co-exist with the rest of the world peacefully as long as it professes beliefs which are antithetical to m odern day civilized society. If it chooses not to adapt, it will always be at w ar with the rest of the world. Moderate muslims already live peacefully with no n-muslims, but until Islam has an intellectual rebirth, they won't be able to ch ange the culture of Islam and persuade the next generation of muslims living in islamist-ruled countries to practice their version of Islam and not the fundamen talist sharia law version.