Islam is not the same thing as Muslims, obviously.
Islam, in my view, has little to recommend it. I agree with the assessment of emperor Manuel II Palaiologos in the 14th century:
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.Islam of course has many good attributes: a call to holiness, to charity, to temperance, etc. But all of those moral imperatives are found in Christianity (and Judaism and many other faiths). What is unique to Islam is violence and a grossly mistaken view of God. Islam is an enormous threat to man, and needs to be strongly resisted and challenged.
But what of individual Muslims? The vast majority of Muslims are decent kind people, trying to live their lives just as I am trying to live mine. They love and care for their families, do good deeds, worship, and try to get through life with as much decency and integrity as they can. Just like the rest of us.
Muslims deserve precisely the same respect and friendship that each of us does. I have many Muslim colleagues and patients, and I must say that they are among the people I most respect. There's a certain courtesy and gratitude from my Muslim patients that I don't often see from others.
On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, I was in the OR locker room preparing for a case, and one of my Muslim friends (his wife was my scrub nurse) was crying quietly. I asked him I could help. He told me that he came to the U.S. about 5 years before, and that he was really trying to build a good life for his family. He was afraid that after these horrible attacks that he would lose all of the goodwill he had built, and that he would have to leave America. I told him that I didn't think that individual Muslims would suffer or be targeted. He moved away from Long Island shortly thereafter, and we recently got a holiday card from him and his family. They have settled in the midwest and are doing very well.
Beliefs should be scrutinized with vigor,and all beliefs-- Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Atheism, etc-- are fair game. I detest political correctness and I'm no multiculturalist. I think Christian culture is better than other cultures. I don't equivocate.
Yet people who hold beliefs with which we disagree should always be treated with decency, no matter how strongly we may object to the beliefs they hold. Every human being bears God's image.
We are within our rights and even our responsibilities to judge ideas and acts, but we must not judge people.
I hope my strong views on Islam (and atheism for that matter) are understood in that light.