October 9th, 2014
09:45 PM ET

Let’s be honest, Islam has a problem right now

By Fareed Zakaria

There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today. A small minority of Muslims celebrates violence and intolerance and harbors deeply reactionary attitudes toward women and minorities. While some confront these extremists, not enough do so, and the protests are not loud enough. How many mass rallies have been held against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in the Arab world today?

The caveat, “Islam today,” is important. The central problem with Maher’s and Harris’s analyses are that they take a reality — extremism in Islam — and describe it in ways that suggest it is inherent in Islam. Bill Maher says Islam is “the only religion that acts like the Mafia, that will [expletive] kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.” He’s right about the viciousness but wrong to link it to “Islam” — instead of “some Muslims.”

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (256 Responses)
  1. Travesty

    We have invested a lot of resources in India over the past two decades and given a lot of aid to prop it up. There has been no investment on this return. Instead India has squandered all the resources in building nuclear weapons while poverty remains rampant in the country.

    Terrorism is rampant in the region in part financed by Indians. We need to revisit our relationship with India. American taxpayers will not tolerate this anymore. We need to take care of our own populace going forward. We cannot be exporting jobs to India or giving it financial or technical handouts.

    India has become too big to govern or create any value for western countries or even for its own population. India needs to be carved up into smaller independent states to be a viable economically and geo politically.

    October 10, 2014 at 3:53 am | Reply
  2. Travesty

    Beginning of Gandhi's letter to Hitler.

    "Namaste, My Fuhrer. I implore you to propagate the Aryan race and remove all semitic impediments in this endeavor. We look forward towards your wisdom and guidance with respect to dealing with British and exterminating Jews. I continue to expound on my hobby of banging my goat and niece Manu. Of course not to mention other tender aged boys and girls and my cow ... Lakshmi. Your Obedient Servant , Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi."

    October 10, 2014 at 3:54 am | Reply
  3. Travesty


    Perhaps the most fervent Nazi adherent to Indian Hinduism was Heinrich Himmler, one of the most brutal members of the senior Gestapo command.

    Himmler, directly responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews and others as the architect of the Holocaust, was a complex and fascinating man. He was also obsessed with India and Hinduism and got his inspiration from it.

    Himmler was also drawn to The Pilgrim Kamanita by the Danish author Karl Gjellerup, which was a contemporary best-seller. In his diary, Himmler commented: A precious narration. The content is the teaching of salvation.

    Gjellerup's book quoted several verses from the Hindu Vedas, including: The one who kills believes that he is killing. The one who has been killed believes that he dies. Both of them are wrong, for one doesn't die and the other doesn't kill.

    Later, Himmler delivered some of these same philosophies in his speeches to his SS officers. Thus hinduism formed the essence of his holocaust philosophy exterminating Jews.

    October 10, 2014 at 3:56 am | Reply
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    1. World War II ended in Germany in 1945 with the reliably reported demise or incarceration of Hitler and most of his cohorts. That entire military conflict was ended dramatically and quickly with President Truman's dropping two fine bombs later that same year (1945).
    It is now 2014.
    How long, oh Lord, must we hear about Hitler?
    2. Mr. Zakaria is correct in stating that Islam has a problem: the most noble and kind Muslims that I know will not speak very much against the violence committed in the name of Islam. When the question concerns humanity, these moderate Muslims address Allah's teachings of behavior and propriety. They consider punishment a useful tool in teaching the way to Peace, and they remind me that "God don't like ugly."

    October 10, 2014 at 7:28 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      Gandhi, despite his attaining the status of a myth, was nevertheless human.
      Gandhi is also currently dead.
      They made lots of money with a film about Gandhi a few years back. I hated the film, because I didn't like its political message. I didn't like what Gandhi did with his life.
      I'm in the minority about that. We're supposed to emulate Gandhi, I think.

      October 10, 2014 at 7:40 am | Reply
  5. Travesty

    It is not anyone's fault that hinduism was an inspiration for Nazi's to undertake the holocaust against Jews. It is not anyone's fault that Gandhi wrote friendly letters to Hitler encouraging extermination of jews. It is not anyone's fault that Subhash Chandra Bose was wined and dined by Nazis and supported holocaust of jews as well. There are numerous books written on this subject for crying out loud.

    Trying to pretend it did not happen doesn't cut it. It is what it is and live with it. You cannot stop people from debating. This is not India where threats are made and your family is rayped to shut you up. Not going to happen. Hindus need to fess up and seek atonement.

    October 10, 2014 at 7:37 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      I know that word's meaning, but it is irrelevant to my life.
      The present is more important to me than World War II. Call me an existentialist, I don't care.
      Please don't carry on about refusing to learn from history.

      October 10, 2014 at 7:47 am | Reply
  6. Annabelle Rose

    PARDON ME:::: FAREED !!!!

    BUT------>>>>> could you please define tolerance and violence. Surely, they taught you that at Harvard. I also went to Harvard and this what they taught me.

    There are 4 million muslims being subjected to genocide in Indian Occupied Kashmir by Hindus. Hundreds of thousands have been killed.

    Over 20,000 muslims have been killed by hindus in Gujarat

    About 6 million Palestinian muslims have been made homeless and their lands taken away by jews in collaboration with Americans/British et al. One million have been killed.

    175 million muslims in India are living in oppression, subjugated by hindus and therefore seeking independence.

    300,000 muslims have been killed in Iraq by western forces

    250,000 muslims have been killed in Afghanistan by NATO.

    And I am just warming up.

    October 10, 2014 at 7:45 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      @ Annabelle Rose,
      I would be more concerned for Muslims' well being if they had not destroyed the World Trade Center and so colorfully beheaded Western journalists.
      You got started. Carry on.

      October 10, 2014 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • It's

      It's a good start then.

      October 10, 2014 at 9:31 am | Reply
  7. Annabelle Rose

    Mother's milk is to muslims what raypes and terrorism is to hinddoous in Mother India. Two mothers one good the other very bad

    You get the picture, folks !

    October 10, 2014 at 7:54 am | Reply
    • Chappel H

      Yes Maa'm. I got this. And agree.

      October 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  8. Annabelle Rose

    INDIA: On a Goat and a Stick:

    The problem with India is that it is built on a system of cultural and societal values based on Hinduism which is a cult. Nations built on a cult seldom survive in the long run. You can only take it so far based on symbolisms of a goat and a stick with a skinny little man aka gandhi banging boys at night and spinning wheels during daytime.

    October 10, 2014 at 7:56 am | Reply
  9. Annabelle Rose

    Mahatma Gandhi and Jerry Sandusky: Strange Bedfellows
    What do these two have in common???? Terrorizing boys !!!! Shame. Let us bring their memories down and their legacies trashed. Let us knock their statues down and their thoughts erased.

    Indian Government a few days ago closed down an auction that was to have put evidence of Gandhi's crimes up for sale. They bought the entire presentation for a few million dollars to keep the proof of crimes out of public scrutiny. Interpol and CIA please take note.

    October 10, 2014 at 7:57 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      And yet. @ Annabelle Rose, in 2008, Hansons auctioned Queen Victoria's stockings without incident.
      We are so fortunate that the British know how to behave.

      October 10, 2014 at 8:10 am | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

        Attending a church service in the Anglican Communion is a truly, truly peaceful experience.

        October 10, 2014 at 8:24 am |
  10. Blue Saffron

    Fareed Zakaria: We know that you and your family are under pressure from Indian Government to write anti moslem trash. But please don't sell your soul. Don't sacrifice your journalistic principles. We can help you.

    Tell me why would a moslem girl be awarded the Noble Prize for Peace when your thesis is otherwise??? It seems that your thoughts and those of the mainstream educated world intelligentsia are dialetically opposed. Need I say more?

    October 10, 2014 at 8:06 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      I believe he is referring to ISIS. Who are decidedly not peaceful.

      October 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  11. Blue Saffron

    Mr. Zakaria, a moslem girl has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. She is from Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I think you, Sir, have a problem not the moslems. Are you from India?

    Need I say more? Eat your heart out.

    October 10, 2014 at 8:20 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      She shares that with India's Kailash Satyarthi.
      Both are worthy.

      October 10, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Reply
    • Is

      Is she presently in Pakistan? I doubt it. Moose limbs would probably kill her.

      October 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Reply
      • banasy©

        She is currently in England.

        October 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • Chappel H

      Fareed does not strike me much of a bright guy. Beneficiary of affirmative action.

      October 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  12. Blue Saffron

    Ben Affleck said it best on The Maher Show. There is more terrorism emanating from the western world than from moslems. I agree with him. Fareed could learn a few things from Ben.

    Thanks for speaking up. You are everyone's hero. Thank you.

    October 10, 2014 at 8:25 am | Reply
    • Blue Saffron

      Bravo Ben Affleck !! Vive Le Ben Affleck !!

      October 10, 2014 at 8:26 am | Reply
    • Marine5484

      We're suppose to be discussing Islam here and you post your meaningless crap on this web page. This only goes to prove your obvious lack of intelligence!

      October 10, 2014 at 8:31 am | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

        This is not a discussion of Islam, but rather of the effects of Islam's involvement in world affairs, which affects that religion's image.

        October 10, 2014 at 8:50 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      What a wonderful career Ben Affleck has made!
      I should prefer to live in a world without terror. However, we are in the world as the world really is, and people are the way they are. Therefore, if someone must be in terror, it is a far, far better thing that it be someone in a country other than mine.

      October 10, 2014 at 8:38 am | Reply
    • Hannah

      I watched that show, Ben made a lot of sense and contradicted Fareed Zakaria's thesis. I agree with Ben.

      October 10, 2014 at 8:43 am | Reply
  13. Marine5484

    A lot of this has to do with the insanity brought about by the billions of dollars worth of bombings by both the U.S. and NATO. Had we not invaded Iraq in 2003, this problem would not have arisen.

    October 10, 2014 at 8:28 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      I fully support the bombing that the USA and NATO deem necessary, without regard to the expense.

      October 10, 2014 at 8:42 am | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Gee Joey, are you truly that full of hate as to want that kind of bloodshed? If so, you must be very jaded and I feel sorry for you.

        October 10, 2014 at 9:47 am |
    • Ferhat Balkan

      @Marine5484: We don't always agree, but in this case I agree with you fully. The Iraq invasion of 2003 is the very reason al-Qaeda and ISIS are there today. Unfortunately, Bush and his "cowboy diplomacy" destroyed Iraq and now that place is a vacuum for all sorts of terrorists and extremists.

      October 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  14. Hannah

    Malala is a symbol of freedom, bravery, outspokeness and beacon of light for all girls/women in this world. Singulalry, she stood up to terror and showed a reasoned mind seldom seen at her age. She is a product of a progressive society in Pakistan and reflective of the tolerant values that Islam stands for.

    Malala just won the Nobel Prize for Peace.
    Fareed, please speak LOUDLY we can't hear ya!!

    October 10, 2014 at 8:41 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      So did India's Kailash Satyarthi.
      Both deserve it.

      October 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  15. Hannah

    Fareed, if Islam is so violent why are your peers awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a moslem girl from Islamic Pakistan? Seems like you are out of touch with reality!

    Is it true you are from India?

    October 10, 2014 at 8:50 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      A Nobel Prize to a girl?
      One rose does not a summer make.
      Does every Moslem deserve a Nobel Prize for peace?
      I suggest a Nobel Prize for that stellar headsman.

      October 10, 2014 at 9:16 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      It think it is important to remember that those that shot her are also of the Muslim faith.
      Not that she doesn't deserve this prize any less.

      It is also important to remember that Fareed was born into the Muslim faith, although he isn't religious today.

      Further, she shares the prize with India's Kailash Satyarthi, making this truly historic.

      October 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Reply
    • Cristobal

      Fareed has become more of an enunciator of India's government propaganda. No one takes him seriously.

      October 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Reply
  16. Blue Saffron

    CNN I expect this blog to be withdrawn. CNN and Fareed Zakaria are so out of touch with mainstream America and the rest of the world that you have lost all credibility.

    In case I missed my point, a Moslem today has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace! Did you get that on the wire?

    October 10, 2014 at 9:27 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      I expect it will, also, since this seems to be the goal. To get this blog shut down as the other ones on CNN have been.

      In case you missed it, India's Kailash Satyarthi shares the prize. Both women are deserving.

      October 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Reply
      • Chappel H

        Totally irrelevant and nonsense.
        Besides one is a teenage girl. The other a man (who looks a werewolf). I think they gave it to him so as not to humiliate India.

        October 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
      • banasy©

        What is nonsensical about it?

        The Nobel isn't given on the basis of looks. It is totally relevant to note that two people won the Nobel.

        October 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
  17. My Picture Of Mohammad


    October 10, 2014 at 9:29 am | Reply
  18. Blue Saffron

    Fareed, please take a sabbatical and go back to India where you originate from. Your thinking is not in line with American Main Street.

    October 10, 2014 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      I wonder why you continue to watch/read him?

      October 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  19. Cristobal

    As an American, I am not interested in knowing about muslims and Islam through the eyes of a biased person from India who have a history of massacring muslims. Period.
    Furthermore, to show how out of touch you are with the world and mainstream, the Nobel Prize for Peace for 2014 was awarded to a muslim.

    Please don't humiliate yourself any further. Retract this article.

    October 10, 2014 at 9:59 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      In case you missed it, the Nobel is shared by India's Kailash Satyarthi.
      Both are totally deserving.

      October 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Reply
      • Chappel H

        Irrelevant post to the discussion at hand.

        October 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
      • banasy©

        The topic is the Nobel Peace Prize, won by two people. I gave the name of the other recipient.
        Who happened to be Indian, India also being mentioned in the OP.

        October 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
  20. mcccxhtml

    Dear Mr. Fareed Zakaria,
    Your artifact in in itself is taking the form a rally on Social Media.
    The post goes out at the same time when Malala is being awarded for her struggle for education. It is a great moment to observe the breaking of stereotype from two different angles.
    Hale CNN for taking the much needed stand in speaking the mind of 'moderate Muslims of the world'.

    October 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  21. Cristobal

    I really think that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala, a muslim girl from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a step in the right direction. We should now focus on holding the plebiscite in Indian Occupied Kashmir and resolve the Palestinian issue. See how peaceful the world will become.

    October 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      Perhaps the other Nobel recipient, India's Kailash Satyarthi, can suggest that.

      October 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  22. Crockett

    No, Mr. Zakaria...... YOU HAVE A PROBLEM !!!
    Quit being a stooge of the Indian government.

    October 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  23. Ferhat Balkan

    Courage and wisdom comes to mind when I think of Malala Yousafzai. She is an amazing girl that stood up in the face of oppression where many others failed. She possesses wisdom beyond her years and she fights for education with a passion the world has rarely seen. I feel so proud of her as any muslim should be. She is a beacon of hope to all of us. I hope all her dreams and aspirations come true.

    October 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  24. El Conquistador

    I will never forget this comment posted a while back by someone. I quote.

    "Since long in history never has a person, let alone a teenage girl, rallied so much emotion, support and good will as has Malala Yousufzai. Just listen to her CNN interview to appreciate her presence of mind, her brilliance, her tolerance and love for Islam. She embodies the very values that the civilized world craves for. I will never forget when her father said that when he looked in her eyes upon her birth he fell in love with her. There was something special in her. I can only imagine why. The world continues praying for you."

    October 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  25. Joseph McCarthy

    What Malala Yousafzai is endeavoring to do in Pakistan, the Communists tried to accomplish in Afghanistan in the 1980's. Too bad they failed due to the stupid interference by the outsiders!

    October 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      Dear Lord.

      October 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Just what does this have to do with religion, banasy? The Muslims believe in the same God as we Christians do.

        October 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
  26. El Conquistador

    It was very sobering to read about the love that Malala and her family have for their motherland...Pakistan.... and her religion Islam inspite of what they have gone through. Let that be a lesson for all Pakistanis and the world that love for one's country is what sets that country apart and gives it all the strength to face extreme odds.

    Yes Sir, that is exactly what Pakistan has achieved in its sixty years of history. Survival with dignity in a neighborhood/region bubbling with extreme medievalism, duplicity and cultism that transcends the norm as the civilized world is accustomed to.

    To such Pakistanis we say Salaam, Shalom, Hello, Ole'. Keep the spirit alive.

    October 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Reply
  27. El Conquistador

    There is no medal that can honor Malala and the likes of her. There is no recognition that can do her justice. There is no award that can make her whole.

    Malala is the essence of Pakistan and the soul of the country. She eptiomizes the very meaning of the Pakistani flag and what it stands for. A deeply ingrained personification of the love for people of all cultures, religion, and creed. Very few countries can claim this. But Pakistan walks the walk and talks the talk. An example for all neighbors and global powers alike.

    October 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Reply
    • El Conquistador

      We congratulate Malala for this achievement. God Bless and God Speed.

      October 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Reply
    • Chappel H

      Befitting tribute to Malala. Very moving. We love you Malala.

      October 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      She is a wonderful young woman and a testament to bravery and grace.

      October 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  28. j. von hettlingen

    What Sam Harris says about Islam as "the mother lode of bad ideas" is grotesque! He ought to know that Islam isn't much different from other religions. People are to blame, if they abuse a religion for something sinister and nefarious. So, it's not true that "Islam has a problem today". We have witnessed fantatics in other religions, which otherwise do not condone violence.
    This TV-debate reveals a multi-layer perception of Islam. Since the 9/11 attacks, the US sees this religion as an ideology of jihad, often ignoring the fact that "extremism in Islam" is not widely supported by Muslims. Many condemn violence and aren't happy to be thrown into the same pot. Before the Arab uprisings the Middle East had been ruled by secular autocrats. Their personal relationship was crucial to determine war or peace. Ethnic and religious minorities didn't mind to be ruled with an iron fist, as long as they felt secure. Yet with wide-spread poverty and social grievances left unaddressed, religious Sunni goups hijacked Islam for their political goals.
    In recent decades conservative clerics and leaders in the Muslim world all had a hard time to come to terms with the liberal practices in the West, which they saw as decadence. Oil wealth allows them to advance their goals – to create a new world order. So their interpretations of Islam tilt towards an austere version, including an implementation of Sharia law. The moderate Muslims, who are Western-oriented are at odds with this development. Yet they face difficulties in making themselves heard. They believe Islam and modernity can go hand-in-hand. Yet many of us in the West see Islam, being manifested by Islamic extremists, as an evil threat, without separating the wheat from the chaff.

    October 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Reply
    • Ferhat Balkan

      Thank you j. von hettlingen. Everything you said is true.

      October 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Reply
      • Haji Allah Baksh

        I for one am not an apologist for Islam. Islam has been around for thousands of years. Many books have been written and translated on Islam. It is one of the, if not the largest, religion in the world. It is the fastest growing. It is a way of life. Islam has a rich legacy that is out there for everyone to see.

        Islam this and Islam that. Shias this and sunnis that. Moderate muslims, liberal muslims. Muslim this and muslim that. Rubbish.

        Islam is the most comprehensive, enlightened, and modern religion and way of life. I love it. You don't? Too bad.

        Now, if you mess with muslims they will stand up for their rights in accordance with international law. Simple concept.

        Don't try to muscle muslims. They will push back.

        So now what don't you understand about Islam, folks? Let us now solve the Palestinian problem and hold plebiscite in Indian Occupied Kashmir. These are both mandated by International law and UN Resolutions. If you don't we will get it done even if it takes thousands of years. If I can't my son will and his son will. You won't let us live in peace we will make your life unbearable. That is our promise to you.

        This is not a threat. Just the way it is going to be.

        October 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
  29. Haji Allah Baksh

    Fareed, i don't know can how you bear to look yourself in the mirror. I don't know how you can sleep well at night. You are a lost soul. Your logic is shallow and flawed. Have you been educated in the ashrams of India where they preach hate? Certainly this is not what they teach you at Harvard/Yale/Penn et al.

    October 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  30. Arturo

    Usual troll comments are here.

    October 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Reply
    • Randy

      Sir, what would be unusual for you? Raypes in India?

      October 10, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Reply
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