Ancient Road Publications


Why Do Muslims Hate Americans?

By Kyle Pope

When I first began looking into this topic, after Mike asked me to write the article, I found it relatively easy to find any number of sources that provided political, economic and historical answers to the above question.  What was striking by its absence was the lack of sources which addressed the moral, religious and cultural answers.  This seemed to me to be a vital “piece of the puzzle” which was missing and a subject which Christians need to consider.

      Let’s begin by considering some of the standard answers to this question:     

1.  America’s Support of Israel.  To the West the establishment of the nation of Israel is  a grand attempt to provide a safe-haven for the millions of Jews dispersed throughout the world.  These Jews, who have faced persecution and attempts (such as the Holocaust) to annihilate them, to the Western mind deserve their own homeland. This comes on the one-hand from a sense of shame on the part of the civilized nations of the world which allowed the gas chambers and concentration camps to treat the Jews in this way.  On the other-hand, this comes from the strong connection between Israel and America.  Many Israeli citizens share dual-citizenship and moved from America to Israel when the nation was established.  This created a relationship not unlike that which exists between England and America, her former colony.  In addition, the fact that Israel is the only representative democracy in the Middle East, further cements this bond.

     To many Muslims the existence of Israel is not viewed the same way.  In spite of the fact that Palestine, prior to Israeli independence, was not under the organized control of the Palestinians--and the fact that many Palestinian Muslims are citizens of Israel, some view the very existence of Israel as something which has displaced Palestinians from their homeland leaving them “robbed of life, property and dignity” (Batarfi). 

      Although Israel has made concession after concession to provide for an independent Palestinian state, some segments of the Muslim community throughout the world continue to affirm the goal of destroying the nation of Israel.  This was true of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist party, who repeatedly expressed its desire to “push Israel into the sea” (Shuster).  It is true of the current President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  In an October 5, 2005 conference in Tehran, entitled The World Without Zionism, he quoted Iran’s noted Imam, Ayat Allah Khomeini declaring, “Israel must be wiped off the map” (“Ahmadinejad”).  It continues to be true of the elected Hamas party leadership in Palestine.  With the United States as the largest political, economic and military ally of Israel there is no way to avoid incurring the hatred of those within the Islamic world who foster such contempt and anti-Semitism.   

2.  US Military Presence in Saudi Arabia.  To Muslims, the Saudi Arabian peninsula is “holy” ground.  It houses two cities sacred to Islamic tradition: Mecca & Medina.  When the United States first stood in alliance with other countries to oppose Saddam Hussein’s seizure of Kuwait in the first Gulf War, the government of Saudi Arabia allowed the United States to set up military bases on this “sacred ground” because it feared that Saddam would move from Kuwait into Saudi Arabia.  These bases are still in Saudi Arabia, and are one of the main reasons that Osama Bin Laden opposes the United States (Beeman). 

3.  Western “Imperialism” of the Past.  William Beeman, of Brown University, in a paper entitled, “Why Middle Eastern Terrorists Hate the United States” takes the problem back even further in history.  Beeman argues that the imperialism of Britain, and France led to the rise in the 1800s of a leader named Jalal al-Din al-Afghani.  He claims “Al-Afghani sought to mobilize Muslim nations  to fight against Western imperialism and gain military power through modern technology.” Beeman claims that, “the current revolutionaries, including bin-Laden, have political pedigrees leading directly back to the original reformer, al-Afghani.”  He pessimistically argues that the European division of the Middle East after World Wars I & II, coupled with the support (then opposition) of Saddam in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan has left little hope for the US to be seen as anything other than an aggressor interested only in our own welfare (Beeman). 

     The imperialism of Britain and France and the European establishment of many of the modern Middle Eastern states is a fact of history (Stewart, p. 49).  Whether, this historical framework is a clear motivation to modern Muslim extremists is uncertain.   

4.  The Response to 9/11.  The great debate in the political world continues to revolve around the connection between the attacks of September 11th and the wars now raging in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The right side of the political aisle sees both conflicts as a proportionate response to the attacks.  The left argues that Afghanistan and bin Laden are appropriate targets but not Iraq. 

     The Muslim world, again, sees both questions much differently.  Many of us remember seeing on the news, Iraqi and Palestinian citizens dancing for joy when news of the death and destruction of 9/11 broke.  This contempt for Americans only grew when American forces struck back.  In an April 2004 report in Arab News, Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi reported that in the year 2000 75% of Muslims in Indonesia had a favorable view of the US.  After what Batarfi calls the “insane response to Sept. 11” only 15% still hold such a view (Batarfi). 

     Washington debates whether America is safer now than before 9/11.  Whether we are more or less secure, the fact is that some Muslims hated America before the wars and some hate us now that didn’t before 9/11.  I believe it is also clear that some would have hated America even if we had folded our hands and done nothing at all in response to the attacks.

Moral & Religious Factors.  While there may be merit to all of these ideas, it is a mistake to imagine that the hatred felt by some Muslims towards America is purely political or economic.  There are religious and moral factors which fuel these attitudes as well.

1.  “Crusader” Rhetoric.  What America sees as a National Security issue, many Muslims see as a disproportionate excuse to wage a “crusade” against Muslims.  This attitude is fueled by the rhetoric of Muslim leaders.  Osama Bin Laden, in a taped speech broadcast over Al-Jazeera on February 12, 2003   claimed to watch “with great interest and concern the crusaders’ preparations for war” (“Bin Laden tape: Text”).  This was a deliberate attempt to paint Western military efforts as synonymous with the aggression of the past religious crusades fought between Catholic and Muslim forces over the “Holy Land.”  In the face of such rhetoric, it is very difficult for Western leaders to convince the Muslim populace that their motive is not imperialistic.  Claims made by American opponents of the war that it is “blood for oil” do little to discourage this attitude.

2.  “Jihad” Mentality.  After the attacks of September 11th, President Bush, in an attempt to avoid alienating moderate Muslims described Islam as a religion of peace (Bush).  While it is true that not all Muslims hate America or advocate violence against the United States, there is no question that Islam has a bloody history.  The very notion of Jihad (i.e. “holy war”) testifies to this fact.  While many Muslims understand this term in a spiritual sense, similar to the Christian concept of spiritual warfare (cf. Ephesians 6:12), others take it quite literally. 

     The Qur’an itself is contradictory on this matter.  At some points it will teach, “let there be no compulsion in religion” (Sura 2:256) and at others it will command, “fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)” (Sura 9.5).  This contradictory mindset, which reflects the man-made nature of this false religion leads some Muslims to hate anyone that they see as a threat to their faith.          

3.  Greed and Covetousness.  America is the most prosperous nation in human history.  Even the poor among us live “like kings” compared to many in the world.  Many in “Third World” countries look to American prosperity with both resentment and a measure of covetousness.  Lois Ramando, in his article in the June 2002 National Geographic, entitled “The Long Road Home,” interviewed a Pashtun member of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.  Ramando related the man’s view of US culture as given over to “rampant materialism” (Ramando, p. 95). 

     Most Christians would agree.  However, a sad, yet unseen consequence of materialism, is the covetousness and jealousy it engenders in those who want what someone else has.  While statistics indicate that America is also a generous nation, those who feel that they should have what America possesses either work to take away this wealth or rejoice when it is diminished.

4.  American Arrogance.  I am proud that in the providence of God I was was born in America.  I am proud that I live in a country with a heritage of reverence for God and enjoy the freedom to worship Him in truth.  I am proud that in the providence of God this nation has been preserved in the face of threats from Fascism, Communism and Terrorism.  Yet, the Scripture teaches, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). 

     What Americans see as simply Nationalistic Patriotism, may be seen by others as arrogance.  Beyond simply nationalistic pride, even Christians in America sometimes act as if our culture and traditions are the best and only true way to live.  As Christians we must not have such a narrow view.  In some cases, Middle Eastern culture may reflect a greater sense of respect for one’s elders, obedience to parents and even (as apostate as it may be) daily acknowledgement of duty to God.  When Muslims observe a secularized American culture coupled with an arrogance that holds other cultures in ignorance or contempt, it motivates hatred.  

5.  America’s Promotion of Immorality.

Osama Bin Laden, in the speech cited above, referred to the conflict with the West as “the war of infidels and debauchees led by America” (“Bin Laden tape: Text”).  Such statements show there is (by their way of thinking) a moral battle going on in which they see the West promoting immorality and wickedness.  Some of this comes from a disproportionate understanding of American behavior and values as a whole.  An Islamic  book published in Kuwait in 1982 entitled Modesty and Chastity in Islam, cites false (or distorted) statistics about the United States, claiming that sixty percent of US young people have gonorrhea (Nadvi, p. 42).  The book also cites the now infamous Kinsey Report, claiming that one-third of American men have had homosexual relations (ibid., p.44).  (Kinsey, as it is now known, utilized prisoners for much of his research, which can hardly be viewed as representative cross-section of the population). Even so, these distorted claims were written well before the rise of the internet, which has blasted pornographic material to the furthest corners of the globe.  Even, mainstream American radio, television, books and magazines have grown more and more explicit and tolerant of immoral behavior.  To the Muslim world this is seen as a moral threat which must be averted at any cost.

     While many Christians would share this contempt for immorality in America, we appreciate the freedom of speech which allows us to communicate the truth and worship God according to the dictates of our conscience.  In many Muslim countries their external adherence to moral principles is coupled with harsh restrictions on freedom of religious speech.  Curtis Pope, in his 2002 lecture at Florida College, entitled Reaching Muslims With the Gospel,observed that while Western culture expects the individual to exercise moral self-control from within, Muslim culture often imposes control from without.  Bro. Pope related his own conversation with a Muslim in America concerned that his growing boys might not be able to control themselves around the scantily clad women in American schools, shops and public forums. 

     A civilized culture should expect both internal control and appropriate external restrictions on dress and behavior.  As such restrictions have loosened in America in recent generations, this has created a dramatic difference between America and the Middle East.  These differences are incompatible with one another.  For example, in Saudi Arabia, there is a moral police force known as the Muttawwiun.  These officials use camel prods to rebuke women who violate public dress codes (Alireza, p. 433). The Taliban, in Afghanistan vigorously punished any woman who went out in public without the full-covering known as the burka.  Even now, out of fear or conviction many women in that country still wear the burka (Giradet, p. 98).  Such cultures cannot help but feel contempt for a country like America who plasters bikini-clad models on billboards, advertisements and t-shirts in the name of freedom of speech.   

     Now, just as there are hypocritical Christians in America, there are Muslims who do not adhere consistently to the morality which Islam teaches. Investigation into the activities of those who carried out the attacks of 9/11 has revealed that the night before their “martyrdom” for their faith, some of the hijackers visited strips clubs and gave themselves to the drunkenness and immorality they professed to oppose (Martin).  In addition to this, many Muslims have no reservation about having harems, concubines and multiple-wives, which Christians recognize (under the Gospel of Christ) to be systematic adultery (Matthew 19:1-9).  Yet, the fact that their faith officially opposes what modern American culture promotes leads to contempt and opposisiton. 

Concluding Observations -- An Odd Alliance.  As Christians in America who value our country’s freedoms and esteem the faith of many of the founding fathers we must recognize the odd position in which we are placed by the current conflicts.  While Islam is a deplorable false religion, its adherents are those who believe that there is a God who has revealed Himself to man, expects certain behavior from Him and will bring mankind into judgment for this behavior. Although steeped in false notions of morality, they are (by and large) a people to whom modesty, sobriety and self-control mean something.  And yet, as we stand against the assaults of Muslim terrorist extremists we stand allied with our fellow Americans who may be godless, immoral, drunkards in outright rebellion to any accountability to Divine judgment.  This was illustrated clearly in the death of the former NFL football player Pat Tillman.  Tillman was idealized by many in America for leaving a lucrative career to volunteer as an Army Ranger.  Yet, after his death in Afghanistan his family made it clear that this was a man who did not esteem or worship God (Knapp). 

     We must be very careful that we do not, in our devotion to freedom and love of country, forget that God’s word is our standard, guide and true allegiance.  We may appreciate fellow-citizens who stand up for freedom, but our alliance with them must  go only so far as the pages of God’s word would allow us.  We must always recognize that our true “citizenship” lies in heaven (Philippians 3:20). 

Issac & Ishmael.  The Qur’an makes the outlandish claim that Abraham and Ishmael laid the foundation for their holy shrine in Mecca, known as the Ka’ba (Sura 2.125-127).  Muslims also believe that Muhammad traced his ancestry back to Ishmael (Ali, p. 779).  The Bible said of Ishmael, “He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Genesis 16:12). 

      While this undoubtedly looked ahead to conflicts that would arise between the Jews & Arabs in history, we must not understand this to say that these people are just “destined” to fight forever.  Not all Muslims are of Arabic descent and not all of Arabic descent are Muslim.  There were Arab proselytes in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost who may have been among those who obeyed the gospel (Acts 2:11).  It is unclear whether modern Arabs have any genuine blood link back to Ishmael.  Yet, even if modern day Arab Muslims may have some lineage back to Ishmael, they can obey the gospel and serve God in peace in Christ Jesus just like any other people in the rest of the world.  At the same time, it is humbling that God in His foreknowledge foresaw the very kind of hatred and conflict that we see reflected today. 

The Sin of Hatred.  John taught, through the Holy Spirit,that “whoever hates his brother is a murderer” (I John 3:15).  The question that we ultimately must ask is why does any person ever allow themselves to hate another?  Sin!  When human beings forget that all men are creatures made in the image of God (James 3:9); when they allow the color of one’s skin, the culture that they adopt or the language that they speak to cause them to hate someone (James 2:1,2) they commit sin.  John further asks Christians the question, that all men who are brothers in the flesh should consider - “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (I John 4:20).  This is a powerful question to consider, whether one is a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian.


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Alireza, Marianne.  “Women of Saudi Arabia,”  National Geographic Magazine (172.4) October, 1987.

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Ramando, Lois.  “Long Road Home: A Story of War and Revolution in Afghanistan.” National Geographic Magazine. (201.6) June, 2002.

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Stewart, Desmond.  The Arab World.  (Time Life Books: New York) 1964.

Pope, Kyle. "Why Do Muslims Hate Americans?" Truth Magazine 50.18 (December 2006): 27-31  

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