Karen Armstrong tells us all, not for the first time, how swell Islam is.
First, she tells us the problem. It’s that “western people” think Islam is “a violent and intolerant faith” but this is all wrong. Couldn’t be more wrong. Very very wrong. It’s the hajj what does it, you see. Religion is like ice skating, you learn it by doing it, so the hajj teaches people to do all the good things.
The ancient rituals of the hajj, which Arabs performed for centuries before Islam, have helped pilgrims to form habits of heart and mind that – pace the western stereotype – are non-violent and inclusive.
Which is why everywhere we look, or nearly everywhere, that’s what Islam is like – non-violent and inclusive. That’s what it’s like in the very home of the hajj itself, Saudi Arabia. Women; servants from Indonesia; women; infidels; women – they’re all totally included and kindly handled. That’s what it’s like in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in Sudan, in Afghanistan.