My first topic will be Islam's relation to violence. That much is obvious; it's probably the most discussed thing about Islam today, the most controversial, the most vehemently argued. You hear contradictory things all the time about it - the media is either singing an "Islam is terrorism" mantra or "a religion of peace" mantra.
Obviously I disagree completely with the terrorism=Muslims thing because it is untrue and I can prove it. However, I'm not comfortable with the blindfolded "religion of peace" stuff either.
Now, that argument is perfect for TV spots with limited time, used by well-meaning people who don't have much in-depth knowledge or who don't have the time to elaborate, the ones who do know but are afraid it's too complicated to explain. This is the case most of the time.
Unfortunately, saying "Islam is a religion of peace," which is completely justifiable and totally correct - as I hope I can contribute to proving - leads you into a whole different kind of maze. It's become the kind of thing that 'So-called Experts On Islam' (hereby referred to as SEOI) just love to hear. Someone saying "Islam is the religion of peace" point-blank gives them the opportunity to brandish all the 'REAL TRUTH ABOUT ISLAM' stuff they have - verses, traditions, etc. - that appear to support their convoluted message: a message that says Islam = violence.
The SEOI's argument is, "Real Islam supports violence so real Muslims must also. If you do not support violence you must be one of those 'secular' Muslims, if you remain Muslim at all." Replace the word "violence" with any controversial Islamic topic and you will get what keeps me up gnashing my teeth at the laptop screen at night.
My argument will be that you can be a practicing Muslim who follows all mandates of the Qur'an and of the Prophet Muhammad, and not support unwarranted violence in anyone's name.
Coming up -
Islam and Violence: The Verses.
Are there any verses in the Qur'an that you, in fact, feel a tad uncomfortable reading? Please feel free to contribute. I'm going to try to go through them one by one.