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 (1,666 Responses)
  1. ritz

    When the sheit hits the fan either the peaceful muslims help stomp out terrorism or get out of the way.

    October 12, 2014 at 6:54 am | Reply
  2. Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

    Religion poisons everything.




    October 12, 2014 at 7:03 am | Reply
    • mannycl

      So do you with your hatred and bitterness towards religion. Pitiful soul.

      October 12, 2014 at 8:02 am | Reply
      • whippstippler7

        And how exactly does the original poster poison everything?

        October 12, 2014 at 8:27 am |
      • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

        "So do you with your hatred and bitterness towards religion. Pitiful soul."

        Pitiful soul, huh? No, you're not hateful or bitter at all...

        October 12, 2014 at 8:34 am |
      • Joe

        You gotta love how people like to drag all religions in to this. They seem to forget that communism was responsible for more deaths in the past 2 centuries than any religion. And communism forbids all religion. They know nothing about Christianity. Nowhere in the new testament does it say that Jesus talked of killing people unlike the Quran which is filled with words of Muhammad talking of killing people who do not believe. Many people like to hide this fact, but it's true the Quran is the terrorist training guide!

        October 12, 2014 at 8:37 am |
      • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

        @Joe: By parroting the tired old non sequitur that Communism "was responsible for more deaths in the past 2 centuries than any religion" you only saying that organized religion is no better or worse than Communism. Besides, Communism is a politico-economic system not a religion, so you're really just mixing issues to falsely support your already shaky argument (such as it is).

        For all have sinned, and come short of anything remotely resembling glory. But at least some of us try. We're not fallen angels, we're risen apes.

        October 12, 2014 at 8:51 am |
      • narik

        No, the statement below is false.
        "Places such as Indonesia and India have hundreds of millions of Muslims who don't fit these caricatures."
        Muslims, living in India are predominantly militant at heart, and they support islamic terrorism sponsord by Pakistan..
        Look back the history 300 years ago, when muslim invadors attacked Indian subcontinent, their strategy was to decimate the Hindu cultural icons such as temples/scriptures systematically, and forced hindus covert to islam, else massacred them.
        And Today ISIS is doing the same in Iraqi christians and other people from different cultures.
        what this tells is, Islam is a twisted religion, and preaches to kill anybody who does'nt accept Islam, and wants to forcibly enforce islam on every body.
        world should observe this fact.

        October 12, 2014 at 9:45 am |
    • hkirwin

      You need some help dude. Ignorance, envy, and greed is what posions the world we live in. How much money or help have you given to someone in need lately? Now who is posioning everything?

      October 12, 2014 at 8:31 am | Reply
      • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

        "You need some help dude. Ignorance, envy, and greed is what posions [sic] the world we live in. How much money or help have you given to someone in need lately? Now who is posioning [sic] everything?"

        You and others like you, with your self-righteous indignation.

        October 12, 2014 at 8:54 am |
    • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

      See what happens when I quote Christopher Hitchens' famous maxim? The "faithful" come out of the woodwork with their self-righteous contempt and accuse the irreligious of being the ones filled with hatred and ignorance, all the while ignoring their own vengefulness. They're all too willing to point out some imagined mote in the eye of a non-believer yet are either completely oblivious or willfully ignorant of the 2×4 sticking out of their own eye.

      Matthew 7:5 – "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

      October 12, 2014 at 8:43 am | Reply
    • A traveler

      Fairy tales are fine for tiny children. Very sad when you see so many "adults" that never outgrew them.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:05 am | Reply
    • bevshe

      Religion does inhibit ones ability to comprehend the reason we are here on this Earth.
      Maher & Harris are very correct and definitely have not expressed exaggerations. If about 74% of muslims believe in honor killings and death if you leave the religion let alone the promotion of extremism and jihadism then there is something seriously wrong with their religion.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:36 am | Reply
  3. Optimist5

    There's a poison strain of Islam called Wahhabi. It runs on hatred of the West. Let's be honest and identify this sect and work against it. It originated in Saudi Arabia and still has many adherents there and in Pakistan.

    October 12, 2014 at 7:13 am | Reply
    • Tad

      And I think that same group has people right here in the US.

      October 12, 2014 at 8:19 am | Reply
      • Big Bob

        They do! The Saudis have been sending huge amounts of money to universities all over the country for years. What do you think they've been selling to our naive students? Islam!

        October 12, 2014 at 9:16 am |
  4. Ian Brookes


    Your comments regarding radical Islam developing over the last 70 years avoids the core reason. Radicalisation has essentially occurred in the Middle East where Western countries 'subjugate' local interests for their own and support the Israeli occupation. Western countries support unrepresentative dictators to support the Western perspective. The only avenue open for nationalists to engage is via Radicalisation of their religion. This perspective is supported by the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission which recognised US foreign policy as being partly responsible for 9/11. Not easy to discuss on the West because of Israeli influence in government and the media. Radical Islam will be defeated when the West recognises the right to self determination in the Middle East and stops supporting dictatorships.

    October 12, 2014 at 7:19 am | Reply
    • jdk47

      Hogwash. Blame the victim. Islam is a cancer throughout the world, Africa, Bali, Australia, Chechnya, etc..Open your eyes and look at reality.

      October 12, 2014 at 7:31 am | Reply
      • Ian Brookes

        I open my eyes and my mind and look at the facts Islam phobic bigotry has been ramped up by Israel to support its racist colonial cause. The biggest advocates of Islamophobia are Zionists.

        October 12, 2014 at 7:40 am |
      • Stuart Weinstein

        Really Ian? Have any facts to back that up? Didn't think so.

        October 14, 2014 at 4:00 am |
    • Mark

      I an, I do agree with you that US foreign policy plays a role. But now we see ISIS dominating and killing other Miuslims – this is bigger than US foreign policy

      October 12, 2014 at 7:49 am | Reply
      • Deseret

        But you don't see India's hindoos carrying out genocide in Indian Occupied Kashmir? In Gujarat also.

        October 12, 2014 at 7:57 am |
    • A traveler

      Baloney. Islam "promised" that their fairy-tale man in the sky would "provide" for the faithful. Look at their squaller amongst the secular (and prosperous) countries that are around them. Their fairy tale has lied to them and they are embarrassed.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:10 am | Reply
    • Setnau

      You completely ignore Islamic history prior to the resurgence of the west. What about before the occupation of Islamic states by Europe? Are you not aware that Syria, Egypt, Turkey and other states were Christian and conquered by militant Islam first? Perhaps you didn't know that Islam wanted to conquer the Church at Constantinople.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:26 am | Reply
      • Big Bob

        And they were successful! The Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque, then a museum and now Endrogen is turning it back into a mosque. Now that's progress! NOT!

        October 12, 2014 at 9:42 am |
    • Big Bob

      One of the major reasons Colombus ran into America was to find an alternate route to China for the silk trade. Why didn't they just go the land route? Cuz muzlum warriors would demand tribute and, once received, rob them anyway.
      Ever here of "The shores of Tripoli"?. Do you know Islam was spread by the sword? Take a look at the Saudi Flag sometime. If you think this problem started with the west, your parents wasted their money.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:30 am | Reply
  5. Blue Saffron

    There is a hurricane headed to India, 130 mph. God help the good people of India.

    October 12, 2014 at 7:24 am | Reply
    • Deseret

      Yup ISIS is on the way.

      October 12, 2014 at 7:51 am | Reply
    • whippstippler7

      God HELP the people of India? Isn't God the one who is sending the hurricane? Or is God not in control? Or does God not care?

      Or perhaps God doesn't exist.

      October 12, 2014 at 8:29 am | Reply
      • hkirwin

        nature is the cause Cletus. Government is your God and how has that worked for you?

        October 12, 2014 at 8:34 am |
  6. Hannah

    Yes I have heard the weather reports. Let's hope nobody gets hurt. Good luck to those weather unfortunate wonderful people of India.
    God bless them.

    October 12, 2014 at 7:27 am | Reply
    • Deseret

      I heard the political reports. ISIS has opened up an office over there. They will help you. Open up soup kitchens.

      October 12, 2014 at 7:53 am | Reply
  7. Deseret

    Hiya doin Fareed? Looking for a rating boost? I have been told your program ratings are one of the lowest.

    October 12, 2014 at 7:50 am | Reply
  8. Jeanne Schweder

    I suspect that it is Arab culture, rather than just Islam, that is behind all the trouble in the Middle East. This underlying culture, much older than Islam, is based on tribalism and the confinement/ownership of women. Even though Arabs are no longer riding around the deserts on camels and horses, they still identify themselves by tribe (whether based on family or religious sect). Until that changes, and until women are seen as humans rather than male property, this madness will continue.Of course, US efforts to control things through support of dictators or invasions (Iraq) have only made things worse.

    October 12, 2014 at 7:53 am | Reply
    • Deseret

      Allow me to clear up the confusion.

      India is tribal country like Africa. There are 800 tribes in India with a population of about 670 million. Some of these are Gonds, Aghoris and Pahari Gawars. In terms of geographical distribution about 55% of tribals lived in central India, 28% in West, 12% in North-East India, 4% in South India and 1% elsewhere.

      52% of Tribal population is Below Poverty Line and 54% tribals have no access to economic assets such as communication technology and transport.

      October 12, 2014 at 7:56 am | Reply
    • Deseret

      India has tribal laws. The rayped woman has to appear before a judge who does a two finger test to determine the plausibility of a raype. What in fact happens is that the woman is rayped again by the judiciary. So first, the woman is gang rayped by hinddoou bad guys. Then by police when she files a complaint. Lastly, she is rayped by judges in the courts. Namaste.

      October 12, 2014 at 7:59 am | Reply
      • Segun

        Your points are so simple and resolve no problem, as you continue to point fingers at somewhere else, instead of addressing the main issue of violence in Islam!

        October 12, 2014 at 8:43 am |
      • Blue Saffron

        The solution is to hold plebiscite in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Give land back to Palestinians. Get it?

        October 12, 2014 at 8:48 am |
  9. Shalom

    Quit kissing jewish a zz, Fareed Z.
    Quit licking American balls.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:01 am | Reply
  10. Manny

    Belief is something unique to mankind and something that is never going away. Islam is just an invention of man used for some people to dominate others. Like most religions it's a version of belief based derived from the bible that doesn't actually adhere to the bible. It's even more corrupting given the fact that Islams founder actually wrote his own book to push his own agenda and push the bible out of the way. The reality is that Islam is a mess and it's followers are violent extremists. The reason there are many peaceful and decent Muslims in the world for no other reason then that they aren't following the Quran as seriously as others. With Christianity you have the opposite problem. Christians who claim to follow the New Testimate but then don't (like Catholicism) are the ones who are violent and cause the world pain.

    People like Bill Maher and Sam Harris also have faith based belief's which most likely are ALSO based on the bible in one way or another. After a lifetime of seeing the hypocrisy of christianity they have gravitated towards a proactive atheism that probably carries a respect for virtually any belief imaginable including the notion of intelligent life in the universe but scornfully mocks anything derived from a biblical narrative. This too has been to root of evil in the past.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:02 am | Reply
    • Keeyoni

      except That Sam and Bill are atheist...

      October 12, 2014 at 9:29 am | Reply
  11. Freedom Storm

    The race baiters, including Holder and Obama,
    willfully set the Ferguson fire and then slithered away
    to let the useful idiots burn the place down.
    The race baiters, including Holder and Obama,
    should be charged with inciting a riot
    and complicity in every crime committed
    against any police officer and against any peaceful citizen.
    Help set this fire, America.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:07 am | Reply
  12. Shalom


    A recent report by United Press trust of India (UPI) stated that during the past three years more than 2,500 young boys and girls were sacrificed to goddess Kali in India.

    Another of AFP's recent reports say: hundreds of young boys and virgin girls are sacrificed every month for the deity Kali. In one case Rama Sewak hacked his eight year old son to death in broad daylight in Delhi because goddess Kali had told him he would come back to life and bring him good fortune.

    Bloodthirsty Kali is worshipped openly the length and breadth of India. Kali's statue stands naked astride the inanimate body of the Hindu deity Shiva, tongue stuck out with blood dripping from fang-like teeth. She holds a noose, a skull-topped staff, a blood-encrusted sword and a severed head. She is also known as Durga, Devi, Shaktima, Uma and Parvathi in other manifestations.

    The priest of Delhi, Kali Bari, says that a child sacrificed to Kali ensures a man the birth of a son. Human sacrifices are also made to these gods or goddesses, either to appease them or to ask favours of them

    October 12, 2014 at 8:08 am | Reply
  13. Edward

    In sum, Christianity has moved forward and Islam has moved backward.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:09 am | Reply
    • Shalom

      Moved forward to f ukking boys in churches. LOL. Doesn't Modi have a boyfriend in Myanmar.

      October 12, 2014 at 8:17 am | Reply
      • Big Bob

        And when that happens, Xtians are rightfully outraged. When the Iman does it, nobody looks twice, cuz that's business as usual in the desert.

        October 12, 2014 at 9:18 am |
  14. Lila

    The over reaction by the Left over Maher(who is also on the Left) proves Maher's points. Maher harshly criticizes every religion. When he says Catholic priests are pedophiles type jokes,where is the outrage? Or are people smart enough to know he didn't say all priests are pedophiles? Islam deserves to be discussed and criticized. How many times have we watched protesters burn and step on the American flag? How many times have we seen them step and burn up an ISIS flag? Never. The religion itself is not the problem, the followers themselves have a lot problems.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:14 am | Reply
    • Big Bob

      That's progressive hypocrisy! Bill better watch his P's and Q's lest he's kicked off the liberal plantation.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:20 am | Reply
  15. Shalom

    ISIS has finally figured it out. India is the epicenter of all evil. Therefore in a cabinet meeting ISIS decided it will now commence operations in India. Welcome ! Just stay away from Israel. In we will help ya. Shalom. Hava Nagilla

    October 12, 2014 at 8:15 am | Reply
    • Pig

      go touch a pig

      October 12, 2014 at 8:31 am | Reply
    • dike

      LOL Paaaaki pigs....

      October 13, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  16. maxwellsq


    October 12, 2014 at 8:16 am | Reply
  17. maxwellsq

    ISIS, hamas, hezbollah, el nusra, and other terrorist organizations have nothing to do with Islam. These terrorists just use religion as an excuse for their actions. Unfortunately, the moderate muslims do not protest enough. Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc help these terrorists with billions of dollars...I'm not sure to what end. How could any civilized human being condone the actions of these monsters? We need more Zakarias...more vocal Zakarias.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:19 am | Reply
  18. Mike

    Fareed, thank you for these insightful words. Will it be you or someone else that carries a large audience that will talk about all that Islam and Christianity have in common? Yes there are important differences but perhaps the general populace would find interesting, perhaps even helpful, to start with what the two largest religions in the world have in common. Who will search out (it is quite easy) what the Qur'an says about Jesus,which is very positive? News reporting tends to focus on all what is bad. You often do better.

    To 'Soundoff' may I simply say Religion does not poison everything. The misapplication and misinterpretation of Scriptures of any of the largest faiths by fallible and often hateful humans poisons. The teachings of Jesus bring only good when followed.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:20 am | Reply
  19. A Proud Muslim

    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.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:22 am | Reply
    • Mark Wolfson

      Enlightened?! What a load of bull. It's a mysoginistic 7th century mess. But no better nor worse than any other belief system that advocates supplication to an invisible sky god.

      October 12, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  20. A Proud Muslim

    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.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:23 am | Reply
    • Mark Wolfson

      Yeah and keep your women in bee keeper suits in the oppressive Middle East heat because the sight of a woman's uncovered leg is a moral affront. That's hardly a modern outlook. More like 7th century dogma.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:08 am | Reply
  21. A Proud Muslim

    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 12, 2014 at 8:24 am | Reply
    • Lila

      And this is why so many Muslims are perceived as mentally unstable.

      October 12, 2014 at 8:31 am | Reply
    • Mark Wolfson

      Sounds like a threat to me. So very typical.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:04 am | Reply
      • Blue Saffron

        Just the way it is going to be. You heard the man.

        October 12, 2014 at 9:08 am |
      • dike

        No wonder it is so easy to brainwash these people. There is no hope for this rotten religion as long as these people keep multiplying with many wives, as their retarded imam advised.

        October 13, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
  22. John

    Islam has a problem? Wow! What a newsflash. What's next? Will CNN report the sun rises in the East?

    October 12, 2014 at 8:28 am | Reply
    • Journalist Ethics

      There is a raype in India every 2 seconds. A catholic nun is metal rodded in India every 10 seconds and paraded naked. The sun never rises in India.

      October 12, 2014 at 8:31 am | Reply
  23. A Proud Muslim

    Come with me and I will lead you to your zenith.
    Follow me and I will show you the light.





    October 12, 2014 at 8:32 am | Reply
    • Mark Wolfson

      But what if there really is no "God?" Do you have empirical proof that the God of Abraham actually exists?

      October 12, 2014 at 9:05 am | Reply
  24. A Proud Muslim


    October 12, 2014 at 8:35 am | Reply
    • Big Bob

      No. Of course we don't want to take over the world. We're no threat to the western world. Islam means peace you greasy islamaphopes. If you don't believe us, we'll kill you! Psycho!

      October 12, 2014 at 9:06 am | Reply
    • Mark Wolfson

      A perfect example of religious chauvinism – my club is better than your club. Until somebody can actually prove the existence of Allah, it's all just a manmade fairy tale.

      October 12, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  25. Blue Saffron

    Islamic Sharia law is very much in practice throughout the world today including the western nations. Take as an example Islamic Finance. It is a US $ 3.3 trillion business. Most of the largest global law firms have now embraced Islamic Finance.

    Following the failure of western principles of global finance in 2008, Islamic Finance (based on Sharia Law) has now emerged as a much more ethical alternative.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:38 am | Reply
  26. popseal

    Islam is the problem, it does not "have" a problem. Started by a known killer who executed hundreds of unarmed prisoners, murdered opposition, sold women, and stole for immediate support I'd say Islam is the problem. Jesus forgave His enemies when brought to the Cross and washed His disciples' feet the night before. Any one who tries to make a case for moral equivalency is either willfully ignorant or a liar. That would be people like CNN's Amanpour, etc.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:50 am | Reply
    • Blue Saffron

      You are awfully naive and confused. Let me ckear your head up.

      Modern day genocide was invented by Hindoos and implemented by Indian in Indian Held Kashmir and in Gujarat. Their leader Modi is complicit. To date hundreds of thousands of folks have been murdered. Slaughtered in cold blood. Moslem holocaust.
      The world watches. UN plays the fiddle. Hindoos celebrate. THERE WILL BE PAYBACK. WATCH !!! HISTORY IS A GREAT TEACHER !!!

      October 12, 2014 at 9:07 am | Reply
  27. TheNextLastProphet

    You've got a holy book that is wholly chronologically and contextually confusing and confused. Things are easily taken out of context, not to mention abrogated which adds to even more confusion. Islam needs another Last Prophet to sort out this mess.

    October 12, 2014 at 8:57 am | Reply
    • TheNextLastProphet

      More Qur'an confusion:
      The Qur'an uses a backwater language so its intended reach is only for backwater people.
      Caliph Uthman started the Burn a Qur'an day when he burnt all variations of the Qur'ans.
      There is no original Qur'an, Uthman's Qur'an burning decree saw to that.
      The Qur'an has human origins, unless you call Uthman a god.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:19 am | Reply
  28. Blue Saffron

    Modern day genocide was invented by Jews and implemented by Israel in Palestine. Last week 2,000 innocent moslem women and children were killed in Gaza. To date hundreds of thousands of folks have been murdered. Slaughtered in cold blood. Moslem holocaust.
    The world watches. UN plays the fiddle. Hindoos celebrate. THERE WILL BE PAYBACK. WATCH !!! HISTORY IS A GREAT TEACHER !!!

    October 12, 2014 at 9:02 am | Reply
    • Big Bob

      I read a lovely article recently about Israeli vets who create prosthetics for animals who have limbs blown off by IED's planted by the hamas sweethearts. Around the same time, I saw a clip on the news that had palistinians on a beach.
      They captured a rare seaturtle, so they cut off it's head (where have we heard THAT before?) and drank it's blood for male fertility.

      October 12, 2014 at 9:11 am | Reply
      • Blue Saffron

        Seems like your wife did not let you in bed last night. What a joke. Laughable!

        October 12, 2014 at 9:20 am |
  29. Blue Saffron

    Modern day genocide was invented by Hindoos and implemented by Indian in Indian Held Kashmir and in Gujarat. Their leader Modi is complicit. To date hundreds of thousands of folks have been murdered. Slaughtered in cold blood. Moslem holocaust.
    The world watches. UN plays the fiddle. Hindoos celebrate. THERE WILL BE PAYBACK. WATCH !!! HISTORY IS A GREAT TEACHER !!!

    October 12, 2014 at 9:11 am | Reply
    • Big Bob

      What are you talking about? She's right here next to me. All you do is repeat yourself, like a broken record.
      Remember records? Another thing you folks DIDN't invent. Laughable!

      October 12, 2014 at 9:24 am | Reply
      • Cristobal

        She is with the milkman. LOL

        October 12, 2014 at 9:28 am |
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