October 11th, 2014
10:46 PM ET

Let's be honest: Islam has a problem today

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

When television host Bill Maher declares on his weekly show that "the Muslim world...has too much in common with ISIS," and the author, Sam Harris (a guest on his show) concurs, arguing that "Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas," I understand why people get upset. Maher and Harris made crude simplifications and exaggerations.

And yet, they were also talking about something real. I know all the arguments against speaking of Islam as violent and reactionary. It is a vast world of 1.6 billion people. Places such as Indonesia and India have hundreds of millions of Muslims who don't fit these caricatures. That's why Maher and Harris are guilty of simplification and exaggeration.

But let's be honest: Islam has a problem today...There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today. A small minority of Muslims celebrate violence and intolerance, and harbor deeply reactionary attitudes towards women and minorities. And while some moderates confront these extremists, not enough do so and the protests are not loud enough. How many mass rallies have been held against ISIS in the Arab world today?

But now the caveat, Islam today, is important.

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column.

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Topics: Fareed's Take • GPS Show

soundoff (1,656 Responses)
  1. allan tanny

    Farid's example of Indonesia not having extremism trouble is wrong. Even ignoring Bali there have been many cases of churches being firebombed and other atrocities aimed at Christians.

    October 12, 2014 at 12:41 am | Reply
    • semiahmoowr

      Thank you, exactly.

      October 12, 2014 at 12:59 am | Reply
    • Ahmad

      You are quiet right . He is also wrongly Quoted India. Every year there is a violence in India because of Muslims. They Jrefuse to sing Indian national song and pledge their allegiance to Pakistan . just few year before innocent people were killed in Bombay in on 7 11 by Muslims in the name of Allah .
      50 year before all the Muslims wanted their separate land when India gained its freedom from British and Pakistan was created and have been sore point in this world by breeding terrorists like bin laden . Islam is a religion of Evil , We must identify the problem to have world peace.

      October 12, 2014 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • Lal

      Not any more so than the mosques or sikh temples that have been attacked in America. The problem is that we try to compare religious extremism in unstable, war torn, third world countries to that in the stable, prosperous western countries. If we were to limit the discussion to unstable countries, then Christian extremists (rebels in congo led by Laurent Nkunda, Lord's Resistance Army, anti-Balaka in CAR, stoning to death of gays in uganda or similar extremism in kenya) are no less an issue. In fact, 4 million have died in congo alone, astronomically greater than those killed by ISIS and likes. And then there are many non-religious groups in unstable countries that have blood on their hands (e.g. kymer rouge). It is really absurd to try to pin extremism on religion instead of the root cause which is the underlying situation in unstable, war torn, third world countries.

      October 12, 2014 at 2:35 am | Reply
  2. Reticuli

    Find me one devout Muslim who doesn't believe in Sharia law or have a problem with a separation of church & state. Islam has a problem. End of discussion.

    October 12, 2014 at 12:41 am | Reply
    • M P

      Sharia Law = Law of God . Forget muslims, do you not believe in law of God?

      October 12, 2014 at 12:57 am | Reply
      • dike

        Law of muslim god is beheading and killing everyone who does not agree with you.

        October 12, 2014 at 1:08 am |
      • Greg

        I don't even believe in god, let alone these imaginary laws.

        October 12, 2014 at 1:19 am |
      • Indy

        That's how they brainwash you for 72Virgins and make you Jehadists by circular reasoning like this !

        October 12, 2014 at 1:19 am |
      • Prove it

        Prove it that Sharia Law is word of God. If you can't that stop preaching it!!!

        October 12, 2014 at 1:37 am |
      • Tom Shafer

        Sharia is a law promulgated by a bogus scripture written by a false prophet, an illiterate camel driver. Even a minimally critical reading of Koran reveals numerous errors and contradictions with its own verses or extant historical records.

        Tom

        October 12, 2014 at 2:05 am |
      • jj

        Law of God is Jesus Christ not the church, Compare Christ only to Mohammad. The quran only mentions Mohammad four or five times. Christ is mentioned more than twenty times. A whole chapter in the quran is dedicated to mother Mary no other woman is mentioned. Mohammad was born an infidel who created Islam by the sword. The quran is a mixture of the tura and a little bit of the bible. Christ gave life, mohammad took life. Christ made the blind see, mohammad made the seeing blind, Christ made the cripple to walk, mohammad made the walking humans crippled.Christ forgave, mohammad took revenge. Christ fed the hungry, mohammad stole from the weak. Christ walked with his disciples, mohammad had a caravan. Christ gave his blood, mohammad took blood. Christ was risen, mohaamad was buried for the worms to eat his corps. Christ never married, mohammad married a nine year old girl and many more. The muslims believe the Christians and jews are infidel, but they celebrate the sacrifice ceremony of Abrahim who was a jew. I can go on and on, a religion of hypocrites.

        October 12, 2014 at 2:10 am |
      • Hans Stuk

        Why would I believe in God when there's no proof that these texts were used for nothing other than for controlling the masses. There's so many different versions of what is God that one of them has to be right. One has to be proven real. But none have been.

        That indicates that these people are doing the horrible acts in the name of themselves. They are crazy. No different than a cult in the US or any other country who does horrible things. The only difference is in the US we actually police and arrest people that kill others. In the middle east they go free.

        October 12, 2014 at 2:26 am |
      • Another Muslim

        Quran has not changed since it was revealed approx.. 1500 years ago, not a single word changed. Bible and Tora has and has many versions. Why? Because God has taken the responsibility to preserve it.

        Islam is the fastest growing religion in USA and around the word. Why? Because TRUTH speaks for itself.

        Muslims are not perfect but Islam is.

        October 12, 2014 at 7:45 am |
      • allen

        Are you suggesting you know what God wants?

        October 13, 2014 at 8:54 pm |
      • jj

        Islam is not the fastest growing religion. Islam is the fastest growing religion in terms of having kids (population growth) Where as converting is concerned Christianity is the fastest growing religion. Source Wikipedia.

        October 14, 2014 at 12:51 am |
      • HardFacts

        @Another Muslim – that is because other religions have evolved ..they care about humans..you are un-educated for last 1500 years..no religion is above humanity..you are brainwashed..so I won't say anything more..as you won't understand..may be your next life..good luck

        October 14, 2014 at 1:25 am |
    • heimy

      i'm muslim and i dont want sheria law in the goverment ... infact i dont take all sheria serious ... so whats your argument you biggot?

      October 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Reply
      • jj

        Say this to a muslim in Pakistan or in an Islamic country and then see the problem biggot.

        October 12, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
  3. Ahmad

    Mr. Farid,

    The reason behind that, is the depression occurred against Muslims all over many areas of the world, such as central Afria, Bourma, Egypt, Syria,... This caused many Muslims to be sad, and want to revenge.

    There is one more thing, before US was the most power and democratic country in the world, it has a civil war, and many states fighting each other, before France became a developed country, it had massacres for years, ....

    Kings and presidents of Islamic countries, don't work for their people, but they work for their own, so depression is sadly doubled

    October 12, 2014 at 12:44 am | Reply
    • Salim Sardar

      What you are saying has happened everywhere in the world with all the religions..... But today only Muslim's has problem.
      Bcoz the religion they are following is the problem.

      October 12, 2014 at 1:05 am | Reply
    • Greg

      I think you're mistaken, there's no civil war here. States aren't attacking each other. No one dies over ideology. It's called democracy, and it works if most people have more than a 3rd grade education.

      October 12, 2014 at 1:21 am | Reply
      • Peek A Boo

        Ummmm we did have a civil war here (it was actually called the Civil War). Remember when the south wanted to cede from the union and one of the bloodiest wars in US history took place? We don't currently have a civil war, but I'm pretty sure the post said BEFORE the US was one of the most powerful countries etc...

        October 12, 2014 at 1:49 am |
  4. Ziba

    Where do they get the funding.....ask yourself that question.

    October 12, 2014 at 12:44 am | Reply
  5. Spiritual - Not Religious

    Islam is but a facet of the larger problem of collective endorsement of religion. Until belief in an invisible sky wizard ruling over all people whether they believe in 'him' or not is rightly categorized as mental illness, the suffering will go on.

    October 12, 2014 at 12:47 am | Reply
    • Reason

      Both Religion or Atheism could be categorized as mental illness depending on your point of view.

      October 12, 2014 at 1:04 am | Reply
    • shwnc

      I'm a little confused about your moniker "Spiritual – Not Religious". While you are definitely not religious, you are also not spiritual. Maybe Not Spiritual – Not Religious is a better fit. I hate to tell you this, but a belief in some form of God has very little to do with the hate and discontent in the world. If you want to follow a one line byline the more appropriate one would be "Greed is the root to all evil".

      October 12, 2014 at 1:25 am | Reply
      • Justin

        Where is the evidence this individual is not spiritual? It sounds like you need a "Jump to Conclusions" mat.

        October 12, 2014 at 1:35 am |
      • Spiritual - Not Religious

        Reading comprehension is important.

        Belief in an invisible sky wizard, while possibly delusional, isn't certifiable. It only is if one's mental illness puts them at a danger to themselves or others. Please note my initial post included the caveat about the belief this invisible sky wizard rules over others, whether they believe in 'him' or not. This is the certifiable part. When someone believes their invisible sky wizard gets to decide the fate of others, it's straitjacket time.

        As for your jab about me not being spiritual, well how would you know? I keep it to myself mostly, but it doesn't make it any less valid for me personally.

        October 13, 2014 at 3:39 am |
    • Justin

      Thank you for the comment. This is how I feel. Belief in a "father" in the sky should be categorized as a mental illness. And when others choose to lambast me for believing in science please focus on the issue, do not make assumptions or commit logical fallacies. It seems the only anti-agnostic posts I read are logical fallacies

      October 12, 2014 at 1:33 am | Reply
  6. M P

    Islam, really?
    Do your own research:
    ISIS = DAESH = CIA Trained forces
    Al-Qaeda = Afghan Mujahideen = CIA Trained forces

    October 12, 2014 at 12:51 am | Reply
    • dike

      Did you research that in your madrasa?

      October 12, 2014 at 1:10 am | Reply
      • Max Trek

        Good one- lol!

        October 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
    • no more genocides

      MP = ISIS

      October 12, 2014 at 1:10 am | Reply
    • Indy

      Do you mean people pouring from around the world to make 10,000 ISIS are trained by CIA ?
      What about you ... trained by CIA or brainwashed by Madarsa ?

      October 12, 2014 at 1:23 am | Reply
  7. Abdul Y.

    Islam is the problem.

    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

    October 12, 2014 at 12:53 am | Reply
    • HardFacts

      may be rename it as "religion-against-peace"

      October 14, 2014 at 1:27 am | Reply
  8. csy

    "A small minority of Muslims celebrate violence and intolerance...."

    Small minority or not, moderate Islam's problem right now is that it's providing no solution to ISIS. The uncomfortable question moderate Muslims should be asking themselves is - how should moderate *sharia* be punishing ISIS, if ISIS is indeed violating Islamic principles as moderates claim? And no, blaming the same West for Islam's problems, calling on the West to fix things, or parroting "ISIS doesn't represent Islam" ad nauseum does not sound like good sharia best practices. The sobering fact is, moderate sharia is losing out to extremist sharia right now. And it's a helluva mess that moderate sharia can't seem to get a handle on. Quite shameful for a self-proclaimed "perfect, true" religion.

    October 12, 2014 at 12:55 am | Reply
  9. Bart Fargo

    How many mass rallies have been held against ISIS in the Western world today? Remember that it is those in Arab countries such as Syria and Iraq that are doing the actual ground fighting against ISIS, while Americans just drop bombs from thousands of feet in the air.

    October 12, 2014 at 12:58 am | Reply
  10. Mike

    Gaddafi, Sadaam, Assad are leaders that maybe need to exist in the Middle East because they were/are the ones that kept order in their countries and now we are seeing why dictatorship works there. We should not have gone into Iraq to begin with and yes we now are dealing with much worse than Al-Qaeda. This is not a group based on the true fundatmentals of religion, but just a blood thirsty gang that will use their version of religion to control and push their political agendas. We have very little credibility in the world and our media is one sided and unless you travel and live in other parts of the world you won't be aware of this. When you have money and guns there is very little the average joe will be able to do and ISIS will only expand where it is fighting cause people are going to want to stay alive. These people have had plenty of time to think this through and as you can see our air strikes are doing very little to stop them. Maybe Iran will nuke them. As far as Muslims/Islam goes we need to learn from history and every group/religion has been tested and to label a whole group well we all know that is just out right wrong. Again, every religion/group of people are tested and this is a test for Islam.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:03 am | Reply
  11. CRG

    Islam does not have a problem, Islam is the problem.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:05 am | Reply
  12. Indy

    Islam has a problem ? No Sir Islam is the Problem ... of the whole world ... because Islam means KILL !

    October 12, 2014 at 1:16 am | Reply
    • Kevin

      Nice one Indy toss bag Indian,go fix the problem then if you hate all Muslims ,you S#$ of a W^%%E

      October 13, 2014 at 3:42 am | Reply
  13. Muhammad Ali Samo

    Great analysis , I think , Fareed has responded well to Bill Maher and others , Its a true and genuine representation of Islamic teachings , Islam teaches us tolerance . Some minorities like Taliban and Al-Qaeda can not hijack Islam , instead of calling these organization as terrorists ,BIll Maher abusing Islam . It is the need of the hour to understand Islam in its true sense and spirit. I hope after watching this show , they will change their minds.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:16 am | Reply
    • Indy

      Don't try to preach others ... action speaks louder than words !

      http://www.faithfreedom.org

      October 12, 2014 at 1:25 am | Reply
  14. joe

    Religion or any other (or all) ideologies will cater to...well whatever you want it to cater to. Hitler, Stalin, crusaders, our military in Iraq and Afghanistan carried out mass killings in the name of their beliefs, visions. ISIS is no different, they have a belief system and want everyone to abide by their rules. No religion condones killing innocent children, innocent people. These are only for psychos and these same people would kill in the name of something else if there was no Islam and/or they were not muslims. I know there is light at the end of the tunnel somewhere but it is just grueling to watch this go down.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:22 am | Reply
    • Probis

      Joe, pardon my ignorance. I do not know any other religion that prescribes killing 'kafer' as duty assigned by god.. Islam does. So, there no parallel of Islam with any other religion. Whether its al-queda or ISIS, the sole point of their recruitment is based on reminding ordinary muslims about their 'duty' to kill 'kafers'.

      October 12, 2014 at 1:34 am | Reply
      • joe

        & I can post a lot more of the same crap if you want to really waste your time and read -whichever- version of your twisted bible that were re-written by your child raping priests.

        October 12, 2014 at 5:05 am |
  15. Greg

    Does anyone else see what's going on here? The world is allowing ISIS to grow out of control so that it's an easier enemy to spot and firebomb back to the stone age. Well, farther back, they're already there. No more searching for the enemy, just crowds of people in the desert to wipe out with a swift blast or two. Works for me. I say, good strategy.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:25 am | Reply
  16. Probis

    Come on; say spade is spade. Islam has problem as it prescribes that killing 'kafer' is duty of muslims.. Let the mollahs fix it or lets ban it..

    October 12, 2014 at 1:28 am | Reply
  17. KEVIN

    Social functioning is not codependent on religious ideology.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:36 am | Reply
  18. Indy

    Someone had rightly mentioned "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached"

    Today the followers are ISIS, AlQuada, Taliban, Lasker-E-Taiba, Jaish-A-Mohammed, BoKo Haram, Hammas , SIMI, Indian Mujaheddin, and 100s of such Islamic organizations !

    October 12, 2014 at 1:42 am | Reply
  19. I slam ISLAM

    The ISIS are the good muslims because they did exactly what Muhammad wants them to do and they are considered good followers of islam. While the peaceful muslims, they're the bad ones because they don't want to kill the infidels

    October 12, 2014 at 1:45 am | Reply
  20. Peter Brower

    The nazi party was ruled by a fanatical minority. The richest and most powerful are less than 1% of the population. the most powerful, the richest, the most evil and violent are always the minority!!! But in Islam there is only a fine line distinguishing the extremist from the moderate or even the non-practicing "jack" muslims in the west. The fine line is interpretationof the same texts.

    We all can read them. The translation matters not, and the Hadith and Tafsir are all man made abominations of "law". The Hadith are purely illogical linguistic masterpieces of fallacy. The whole concept of "scholar" in Islam is to be so good at lies, erasing truth, rewriting history, and silencing or killing off any contradictory proof that Mohammads actions are not 100% perfect and the epitome of goodness (piety). In fact, (and anyone can check up on my research) Mohammad was an illiterate pagan con artist until he married a rich widowed sugar mama. He then had some psychosis after he blathered a cave alone for days and thought Jinn (demons) were talking to him. Khadija convinced him it was Gabriel and so he continued to invent a religion that might compete with Judaism and Christianity. Of course his goal was to override them and he thinks he did by using lies and violence to prove "might is right".

    In Mecca his religion was 90% peaceful and was originally spiritual and kept internally. But after he was made a laughing stock and he had to leave or else be killed of by a rival Meccan merchant mafia family, he fled to Medina and he then never looked back from revenge, hate, violence, and war. With a sprinkling of his past spiritual ideas as thebasis for all this pirating, slavery, bloodshed and death.

    Muslims do not care about the Meccan spiritually based religion. No, Islam starts their "Year 1" he day Mohammad left for Medina in 622. This is the first Hijra, and symbolically defines the start of the TRUE Islam and the most important ideological development of his mafio-religious totalitarian dictatorship, that hijacked the Torah and Bible and put himself at the right hand of God and declared himself the FINAL prophet of hundreds of historical prophets.

    Islam has nothing to do with Judaism or Christianity. Mo spoke only to himself in that cave and devised the greatest most destructive con of all time.

    "Mohammad's Male Mafia of Misogyny, Mayhem and Murder." Islam.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:45 am | Reply
    • JoeB

      Couldn't have written this any better.

      October 12, 2014 at 2:15 am | Reply
    • Joe

      You cite all the history as if you were there but how do you explain the fact that he was able to hand us a beautifuly written Quran if he was so illetirate. Reading his hadets, reading the Quran (if you did while you were "researching") could you possibly come away with the notion that this was written by someone who was a con-artist? It's really not about who is right and who is wrong in the sense of how history was written, but more about what is righteous....and that escapes your attention.

      October 12, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  21. ekid

    Islam doesnt have a problem
    Islam IS THE PROBLEM

    October 12, 2014 at 1:46 am | Reply
  22. Jeevan

    Instead of depending heavily on Alla depending on oneself Secondly, stop thinking of going to assumed heaven after death and thirdly, behaving like a normal human being will solve problem.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:49 am | Reply
  23. Ferhat Balkan

    Let's be honest Fareed. Islamophobia is the problem today.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:58 am | Reply
    • Mark Wolfson

      Islamophobia implies there is an irrational fear of Islam. That's not the case. The fear is of those who follow Islam and it is definitely not irrational. Muslims kill each other daily over who should lead their followers. Of course, that's not much different than Protestants killing Catholics in Northern Ireland, which is why I think ALL organized religions are a scourge on mankind.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:24 am | Reply
  24. Ace

    Islam is now a world problem.

    If they don't get on the news they would go away.

    Don't give them air time.

    They are the crying child that isn't being harmed.

    October 12, 2014 at 1:59 am | Reply
  25. JoeB

    We're not saying all Muslims are terrorists, just all terrorists seem to be Muslims.

    October 12, 2014 at 2:11 am | Reply
    • Rece

      Actually some of them are white, but white people don't want to talk about that or paint a picture of white ppl being profiled as terriorists.

      October 13, 2014 at 2:39 am | Reply
      • allen

        And you came to this brilliant conclusion, how? I didn't see an single mention of race?

        October 13, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
  26. AmericanVoice

    Today everyone is blaming muslims but nobody is actually telling the truth. Why today most of the arab countries are going through massacre becoz history is repeating itself. we saw same thing in Europe when people were uprising against their kings and millions of people died in world war 1 and 2 but nobody blamed the Christianity that time then why some people r blaming islam today. Besides, west had supported all this Arab dictators for their own benefits, so isnt that expected that one day people will rise up against those kings? In addition, Isis is the creation of one evil by another evil like Basar al asad where he killed almot 200, 000 people and as result evil group like ISIS was born but if we can completely destroy ISIS then still it will not solve the problem but another evil group like ISIS will be emerged. In addition, West and US must focus on real issue like stop supporting those Arab dictators. Lets Muslims, Christians , and Jewish live in peach with respect and harmony.

    October 12, 2014 at 2:16 am | Reply
  27. Rambúl

    Hahahaha. Fareed now talks like the obscurantist Reza Azlan (blocking the sun with one finger) !! So in other words, if the message says repeatedly and unequivocally "kill all infidels", and not everybody ACTS ON THAT IDIOTIC COMMAND, then everything else is OK???!!! Stop the world, I want to get off !!

    October 12, 2014 at 2:16 am | Reply
    • Derrick Reaves

      the script doesn't say kill all infidels. it indicates that there is no blame for killing anyone who is 'actively' trying to kill you. if infidels aren't bothering you then you shouldn't bother infidels. how hard is that to understand?

      October 12, 2014 at 2:21 am | Reply
  28. Mohamed

    There is no problem with Islam, problems arise from people who misuse it. Let us talk about how the West interferes with internal affairs of muslim countries, forces their ' democracy' on muslim nations, creates civil unrest and power vacuums and in the process groups like ISIS come out.

    October 12, 2014 at 2:19 am | Reply
  29. Ariely Shein

    Jingle bell converted to Jihad bells
    One of Islam tradition is to impose Islamic meaning to other religion holy sites.
    The modern Islamists adapted the Christian chrisms traditional song Jingle bell to their anthem.
    Moderate Muslims (where are you hiding?) are invited to propose a different anthem.
    Dashing through the sand
    In a one- camel
    O'ér the deserts we go
    Praying all the way
    Bells on camels ring
    Making spirits bright
    What a fun is to ride and pray
    A convert all pray tonight!

    Jihad bells, Jihad bells
    Jihad everywhere

    Oh what fun is forever to fight than all
    Jihad bells, Jihad bells
    Jihad all the way
    Oh! what fun it is to slaughter
    In a one shot video clip

    Jihad bells, Jihad bells
    Terror every where
    We lie to all and made them blinds
    From Kenya ,London, Madrid, Moscow, Beijing to L.A.

    Jihad bells, Jihad bells
    Jihad every were
    All the Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Hindu
    Your time will come, you should know.
    Jihad bells, Jihad bells
    Jihad every were
    But- if you resist
    The terror for ever will persist,
    Your life will be in risk
    Unless you submit to the religion of peace
    Jihad Bells!
    Terror every were

    October 12, 2014 at 2:36 am | Reply
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