A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney:
Several weeks ago in a good speech, President Bush referred to the Koran.
BUSH: Let me quote from the Koran itself. "In the long run evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil."
I don't know whether the president has read the Koran or not. I've been reading it for the past six weeks now and I'm so pleased with myself. I keep telling people that I've read it.
These are all versions of the Koran - all a little different...like the difference between these versions of the Bible.
Anyone who's worried about what's happening in the world ought to read some of the Koran because it dominates the lives of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, many of whom are unfriendly to us.
The Koran is divided into 114 chapters that get progressively shorter as they go along. The second is 27 pages long and the last one is only six lines.
I suppose I could get in trouble for saying so, but the Koran is probably more important to Muslims than the Bible is to Christians. I also think Islam has a stronger hold on Muslims than Christianity has on Christians.
I don't know a lot of Christians who'd strap a bomb to themselves to kill people they don't know but hate. Fanatic Muslims do it because they think they'll go to heaven. I don't know whether they will or not, of course, but I doubt it.
You don't have to read the whole Koran to get the idea what it's like.
Religion has a strong hold on Muslims, too, because they aren't allowed to think there might be some truth to any other religion.
Listen to this: "And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall burn in hell."
Of course, there's some of that in the Old Testament, too.
I was surprised to find out that Muslims believe Jesus Christ was a good guy - a prophet - they just don't believe that he was the son of God or that he rose from the dead.
Another reason Islam has a strong hold is, there's no such thing as separation of church and state in most Muslim countries.
Religious Americans, on the other hand, tolerate the First Amendment because it protects them. Even if their minister, priest or rabbi makes them think theirs is the only one true religion once a week, for the rest of the time, out in the real world, they have to act as though there could be some truth to the other religions.
This Constitutional necessity for being broad-minded gives religion less of a grip on Americans than Islam has on Muslims and thank God for that.
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