I do not think Islam is evil or incompatible with liberal democracy or necessarily committed to violent jihad or to imposing sharia law on others or to the dhimmization of Christians and Jews. I am more than half-convinced that Mohammed was a genuine prophet. If so, Islam, I take it, is likely an imperfect vessel of his revelation. Islam is mistaken in much, especially in its ignorance of Jesus the Son of God. But it has much that is praiseworthy and of good report, and many practitioners and practices that are virtuous. When Dan Peterson praises Islam and treats Muslims as potentially valued members of the American Protestant-Catholic-Jew-Mormon synthesis, he has my sympathy.
But not altogether.
My failure to be altogether in sympathy is not because of my beliefs that in its modern expressions in the Middle East Islam has gone wickedly into obscurantism and violence; nor because as a patriot of Christendom I love the stories of Vienna and Lepanto and Malta and will make qualified apologies for the Crusades; nor because of my recognition that Western civilization has surpassed Islamic civilization. In my view, none of these need prevent good Muslims from being good Americans, or for an American Islam from finding its place.
I am not altogether sympathetic for another reason.
Religions and calendars go hand in hand together. Mormons and American Protestants don’t always know it, because we are the least liturgical of peoples. But even with us, ritual is calendarized. We worship weekly, on Sundays. Monday night, FHE. Wednesday, youth activities. Fast Sunday on the first of the month. General Conference in April. General Conference in October. Pioneer Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. Christianity is a calendared religion from the opening chapter of Genesis.
America is not a formally religious polity. But it is a Christian nation. Jews were and have been able to join as part of the organic American community because they share some religious heritage in the Old Testament. More importantly, they have been able to join because many Jews have started to worship on Sundays and because other Jews worship on Saturdays, which is part of the weekend.
Muslims have the shared religious heritage. What they don’t have is week-end worship. Until they do–I’m serious about this–they must remain an alien element in American life and their religious expression should neither be encouraged nor celebrated by American patriots.
The alternative to Muslims worshipping on Sundays in western countries is having a three-day weekend beginning on Friday. Which alternative I and the First Amendment would prefer I leave as an exercise for the reader to decide.