I agree with you, contra Kirk, that Jihad means more than just personal struggle. It can also mean defensive social and policitcal struggle, including war. I also believe, that just as Christianity used it's ideology to justify social and political expansion, Jihad has been used in a similar manner in the history of Islam, particularly in its early period of expansion.
I think it's very cool that we now have a Saudi resident participating in the discussion.
The movie 'Downfall' is a recent German production that opened in the US (with subtitles) about 3 weeks ago. It's about the last 10 or 12 days of Hitler's life in the bunker in Berlin.
Thank you Kerry and everyone else.
Perhaps I should tell you more about myself. I'm not a Saudi myself. I only live and work here (and, happy to say, about to marry a Saudi woman whom I love very much.) I come from Jordan, and I'm half-Syrian, half-Palestinian. And, as you might've guessed already, I'm a Muslim (but couldn't be further from being an extremist or a militant [:D].)
What you said above about Islam and Christianity is correct. But allow me to say two things.
First, any historical errors that were made by the people advocating a religion - any religion - by no means indicate a flaw with the religion itself. So I think we all should be wise enough not to condemn a religion, doctrine or idea based on the practices of its advocates.
Second, at the risk of sounding too defensive, I believe that the Islamic conquests happened in different circumstances and for different reasons than those under which Christian conquests took place. However inappropriate it may be, let me draw a comparison between the conquest of Jerusalem and the downfall of Islamic enclaves in 15th-century Spain. In the former, Omar, the third Caliph, made it specifically clear that no blood will be shed, that all Christians and Jews will be totally safe and retain their full rights, and no harm whatsoever will come to them, their property, their churches and synagogues. And so it was. This is akin to the protection the Arabian Jews enjoyed in the days of Mohammed, who even used to do business with them on a daily basis, with no grudge whatsoever involoved.
In Spain, however, countless Muslims were either killed or forced to renounce their religion under the threat of death.
As a mirror image, we all know that there are Christians, today and in the past, who left their own homes and traveled to the corners of the earth to help the poor, the injured and the plighted. And there were Muslims, like the Otomans, for instance, who persecuted non-turks in the Middle East, North Africa and virtually every other place they had under their control, all in the name of Islam.
What I want to say is that with every religion or doctrine, there are two faces of a coin, and either face is represented by the people who either respect or abuse that religion or doctrine. The Talibans and their allies Al-Qaeda abused religion to the extreme, and lives were lost because of their fanaticism. And we had to suffer because of that just like every single innocent American who died on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The majority of the people who were killed in an attack on a residential compound in Riyadh in November 2003 were Muslims who came from other Arab as well as my own to make a living for their families, and they were involved in no war with anyone. The militant terrorists had become so laughably mediocre that they sent a message to the Saudi government saying that only those who have residence permits will be safe. This is how stupid some people are, but their particular stupidity has nothing to do with any of our great faiths, be it Islam, Christianity or Judaism.