Islam In Summary
Here, I explain in detail how Islam is an ideology. Here, I explain the sociological fact that there are moderate Muslims, even if Islam itself isn’t moderate. I warn that we have to avoid an equivocation between the demographic group and the ideology, as some try to turn our criticism of ideas into a crude vilification of a nominal demographic group. Attempts to equate criticism of Islam with bigotry, racism, or prejudice are cheap tactics of intimidation. Indeed, in our culture there is a positive prejudice, i.e. a positive predisposition, to pretend that Islam is just another religion.
The ideology of Islam is understood by the texts (the Koran, Hadith, and Sira), which are either by Mohammad or about him. Mohammad exemplifies the religion. Islam is not difficult to understand. In the early part of his religious career, Mohammad preached tolerance as he sought acceptance in Mecca but became a vicious tyrant as he rose to power in Medina. He culminated his career as a warrior: he plundered, slaughtered, terrorized, and conquered until he extended his power through out the Arabian Peninsula. This included the ethnically-cleansing of Jews from Medina. This, then, is Islam in practice. To say that this example is different than that of Jesus is an absurd understatement.
Some imagine that there are significantly different versions of Islam. We are told that the problem is Salafi Islam; but this is just the original Islam of Mohammad and the first four “rightly guided Caliphs.” What other Islam is there? The mythical Moderate Islam is nowhere to be found. Which books or theologian created such a version? After each terror attack, moderate Islam seems more of a dream while the reality of Jihad expands around the globe.
What, then, can we expect from Islam? While Muslims have been moderate under European colonial rule, the Islamic Revival has brought a return of the original Islam. Given its origin, Islam has severe problems that preclude it from being a suitable candidate for modernization and as a basis for a sustained liberal order. Consequently, Islam will continue to be a threat to civilization as long as it exists.
The key to understanding Islam is to realize that it is a supremacist ideology. This explains why, for jihadist Muslims, the atrocity of 9/11, was a religious experience that reaffirmed Allah’s will that Islam is destined to rule this world, vanquish and humiliate the enemy. Such acts have vast support in the Islamic world, as many have noticed. The root cause of Islamic violence is hard to deny. They mean what they say and we have seen the consequence.
The Islam Revival is underwritten by Saudi Arabia and Iran. We continue to support our enemy. Contrary to popular belief, it is feasible to end this relationship now. But our government refuses to acknowledge the role of the House of Saud in the Islamic Revival and Jihadist terror.
Current attempts to change Islamic societies are honorable but fail to take into account the nature of the problem, the difficulty of transforming a culture, and the current stage of the revival of the original practice of Islam. It is hoped that structural changes, such as the adoption of an electoral parliamentary procedure, will inextricably change the hearts and minds of Muslims. Democracy isn’t enough nor can a liberal society be sustained on an Islamic foundation. Human nature may require rights for life to fully flourish, but for rights to flourish there must be an appropriate cultural context.
What should one read to understand Islam? I maintain a webpage with suggestions. Each suggestion is best suited to a different audience. Someone who is not religious may find Ibn Warraq book enlightening or consider Ayaan Hirsi Ali. For those with a Christian background, Robert Spencer’s books, in particular Islam Unveiled describes Islam using the Christian religion as a point of reference. Sadja Trifkovic sucintly describes Islam and its bloody history for those not faint at heart. Bat Ye’or, Daniel Pipes, Bernard Lewis, and others cover various aspects of Islam or write from a limited point of view. As this should not be a partisan issue, let me mention that Benjamin and Simon, two former Clinton advisors, have an excellent understanding of the Islamic Revival, as does the socialist Paul Berman and radical journalist Oriana Fallaci.
My introductory article to the whole subject of Islam summarizes some of the distinctive elements of the religion; but its main purpose is to suggest that we should overcome the positive pre-disposition that exempts Islam from critical analysis. In part II, I’ll summarize our denial and inability to deal with this fatally flawed ideology.