Monday, August 29, 2005

Resolved: Islam Is Racism

Critics of Islam continually face charges of racism. Islam, for those still ignorant, is a religion, not a race. However, it’s not ignorance—the race card is used deliberately to shut down the debate on the nature of this religious ideology. If yelling racism doesn’t work, expect the usual charges of bigotry, prejudice, and most recently, Islamophobia. Why doesn’t such a barrage of verbal intimidation accompany a doctrinal analysis of other philosophies - such as the ideas of Existentialism or Buddhism?

The charges themselves are absurd; let’s dismiss them one by one. Criticism of Islam cannot be racist because, once again, Islam is a religion. Charges of bigotry are not applicable to a critical assessment of an ideology; bigotry is an unwarranted negative assessment of a demographic group. Prejudice is a pre-judgment and doesn’t apply to statements derived from an examination of the evidence. Islamophobia is a silly psycho-babble term invented to fan the flames of anti-American hate.

Clearly, this name-calling is a tactic of intimidation to shut down the debate. Instead of being intimidated, let’s debate. But let’s consider the charge in reverse:

Resolved: Islam is racism.

Aff: Islam is a supremacist ideology holding that non-Muslims, Dar al-Harb, must be conquered and subjugated. Christians and Jews can continue to exist – as second class citizens with limited privileges. They are treated as less than human by constant vilification, exploitation, and humiliation. Atheists and polytheists must be killed. If it is not racism to treat Christians and Jews as second class citizens under Islam’s version of Jim Crow, then it wasn’t racism when American Blacks lived in the Jim Crow South.

Neg: It is unfair to compare the Islamic concept of Dhimmis to Jim Crow. Dhimmis is a form of tolerance, a contract of protection, extended to Christian and Jews in Islamic society. Thus, they are allowed to live, practice their religion and remain exempt from enslavement. For all this you only pay the jizya – poll tax that applies to non-Muslims.

Aff: Tolerance, in this case, means the grudging acceptance of an inferior being – not the mutual respect for inalienable universal human rights. Islamic apologetics imply that sparing a non-Muslim life is a favor: “just be glad we don’t kill you like atheists and polytheists.” The purpose of dhimmis is two fold: wealth for the Islamic state from the jizya and the reaffirmation of the supremacist ideology by ritualistic humiliation. Non-Muslims had to keep to back streets, walk with head lowered, quietly accept insults, and wear special clothing to signify their status. They had no right to self-defense; their word counted less than a Muslim’s or not at all; their punishment was greater. Physical blows were administered when the jizya was collected. Yes, Christian and Jews fared better than other non-Muslims – whose death was mandatory. Both show Islam’s barbaric supremacist mindset.

Neg: But Jews were often persecuted and killed in Christian countries during the Dark Ages. There was no compact that protected their lives in Christendom. Islamic law may not have respected the rights of non-Muslims but it allowed them to live.

Aff: If you have to go back to the Dark Ages, the most brutal period in the history of Western Civilization, to get a favorable comparison, doesn’t that say something? Must one hold the bar so low for Islam? It is true that Muslims were not the only brutal people in history that subjugate and killed others. What is at issue is whether the doctrine of Islam is inherently a supremacist ideology and incompatible with the equal rights of each and every individual human being.

Neg: But today we see Muslims being subject to discrimination. Look at the Zionists! Zionism is racism.

Aff: Israel’s Arabs, 20% of the population, fully participate in Israel’s democracy, attend some of the best universities, and have a standard of living better than Arabs in any other country without the windfall of oil. In contrast, Arab countries have ethnically cleansed their lands of Jews (most of whom found refuge in Israel). We find the same pattern elsewhere. In India, 13% are Muslims while less than 1% of Pakistanis are Hindu. We find Muslims in the Balkans (a former part of the Turkish Empire) but less than 0.2% of Turkey is Greek Orthodox today even though it was part of Greece for 2000 years. And Turkey is presented as the poster child of moderate Islam.

Neg: Islam’s basis of discrimination is religion, not race. Conversion gives one full rights. Submission spares one’s life. Obedience to Allah’s messenger and their rightful heirs is all that is required.

Aff: It is political obedience that Islam requires. It is not the beliefs of Christian, Jews, atheists, or Hindus that are forbidden. The religious designation of non-Muslims is merely a demographic signifier to designate a group refused equal rights under Islamic rule. It’s merely the demographic group that merits second class citizenship.

Neg: It still isn’t based on race.

Final Resolution: Islam isn’t literally racism, but as a supremacist ideology that’s akin to racism, it requires actions to subjugate those who aren’t Muslim. Islam holds that Allah has given Muslims a mandate for worldwide imperialist domination.

If racism is used in a wider sense than racial supremacy, Islam is first-in-line for re-classification. However, the politicization of language is deplorable. Islam isn’t strictly speaking racism but it is a supremacist ideology that can be equally as vicious.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Islam Is a Supremacist Ideology

Islam is a supremacist ideology that aims to conquer and subjugate. Let’s examine the origins of this practice.

Is Islam a religion or political ideology? The early Islamic rulers, i.e. caliphs, were not missionaries seeking to convert but warriors seeking to conquer and subjugate. Muhammad was succeeded by the four “rightly guided caliphs” (632-661 A.D.). During this time Muslims conquered Persia and a major part of the Eastern Roman Empire: Syria, Palestine and Egypt. These military victories had profound religious significance: it validated Islam as the true religion. Following Muhammad’s example, Muslims derived their livelihood from conquest and exploitation – not production and trade.

Muslim apologists scoff at the notion that Islam was spread by the sword since Islam holds that before waging war, non-Muslims must be given the chance to submit. In essence, Muslim warriors were saying “we’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.” Massacres were common in Syria (634), Mesopotamia (635-642), and soon after in Egypt, Cyprus, Armenia, Tripoli, Carthage, etc. However, in many instances populations choose to accept the change from Byzantine rule to Islamic rule with initially minor change in daily routine.

Islam was initially a racial supremacist ideology that became a religious supremacist ideology. In the first hundred years non-Arab Muslims were excluded from power. Muslims believed Allah spoke Arabic and favored the Arabs. Only Arabs were exempt from slavery, for example. In Islam’s second century, after 750 AD, under the Abbasid caliphs, who ruled from Baghdad, Persians were included in the governing ranks. “To compensate for this, and to replace the wakening bond of Arab ethnic cohesion, the caliphs laid increasing stress on Islamic identity and conformity trying to impose on their vast and diverse empire the unity of a common faith and culture.” [Lewis p78]

Non-Muslims in conquered territories were treated as less-than-human, having no rights and few privileges. Oppression was more than economic exploitation. It had another dimension – a ritualistic religious dimension – that reaffirms the supremacist mindset. The non-Muslim, called a dhimmis, was constantly subjected to humiliation. For example, a dhimmis cannot, upon penalty of death, possess a weapon, raise a hand to a Muslim in defense, criticize Islam, convert to any religion but Islam, marry a Muslim woman, display religious objects, or employ a Muslim. Dhimmis must live in ghettos, privately practice their religion, wear distinctive clothing, walk on the back streets or to the far left side, walk humbly, accept insults, etc. [Ye’or p118]

Bat Ye’or points out the purpose was to “reduced them to the outward appearance of complete contemptibility. They were deprived of all means of defense, either physical or legal, thus rendering them cowardly in comparison with the courage of their superiors; they were obliged to grovel in a servile manner such that the victor would appear more generous; they were forced to live in fear of the next day so that each day they were delivered from death would fill them with gratitude …” [p124-5]

A 15th century Islamic theologian calls for the following method of tax collection. “The tax collectors were to stand above the Jews in a threatening position so that it should appear to everyone that the latter were to be humiliated and despoiled of their belongings. ‘They will then realize what favor we bestow upon them in accepting the jizya [tax] and letting them off so easily. Then they should be dragged away, one by one … While paying, the dhimmi should be slapped in the face and pushed away so that he will consider that through this form of ransom he has escaped the sword.’” [p125] “[T]he plundering of these subhuman beings, both their person and their possessions, was interpreted as a sign of the Devine Will rewarding the just cause of the victor.”

Again, in an irony that only Mario Puzo could match, oppression of non-Muslims was deemed a code of tolerance. However, tolerance, in Islamic doctrine, means grudgingly enduring inferior beings.

What’s important is the need to humiliate the dhimmi. This has a dual dimension: physical harm and spiritual humiliation. The later almost always involves blaming the victim for deserving the physical harm. Thus, after Islamic attacks – like 9/11, Madrid, London, Beslan, etc. – invariably some statement is made that amounts to “you brought it on yourself.” Those in the West, quick to assent to the blame, become accessories to the crimes after the fact. They help complete the attack as the humiliation is a vital part of the attack.

The dynamics of a supremacist ideology is similar to an abusive relationship with its victim psychology. By accepting the blame the victim gains the illusion of control: “we can stop this by changing.” Dr. Kenneth Levin calls this “The Oslo Syndrome” when applied to Israel. However, it is common among the appeasement faction through out the West.

Understanding the inherent nature of the Islamic supremacist ideology makes it clear: Islam sees the West (and all non-Muslims for that matter) as an inferior realm to be brought under Islamic rule and subjugated. Islam originated as a supremacist ideology that believes it deserves to rule over others. We’ve had experience with this kind of ideology before.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

If Marx knew about Allah

Always on Watch” is living up to her name by vigilantly blogging about the firing of Michael Graham for daring to express criticism of Islam. It seems that a political philosophy is exempt for criticism if it tosses-in the word God with regularity. Marx and Lenin just didn’t get it. Il Duce was more flexible; he and Der Fuhrer knew to occasionally throw in a few gratuitous references to the Deity.

This reminds me of the time when I saw Elderidge Cleaver give a campaign speech. Did I tell you about that? Let me back up and explain.

I grew up in Queens, New York City. But this wasn’t the Queens of Norman Lear’s All in the Family – that was the Irish Queens of Woodside. This is the Queens of David Horowitz’ Radical Son – he grew up in Sunnyside. (Can you keep this straight?) David and I went to the same high school – a decade apart. However, in the 1960s Red Diaper Babies (see Radical Son) were more open and accepted. Some of my best friends were leftists. In any case, in 1968, some friends were attending a speech of Cleaver’s and I decided to tag along.

Here was an obvious thug. He and his gang were posturing on the stage like the criminals they were. Among the obscenities and treasonous venom, he stuck in the obligatory homage: “And we should dust off that old book, Das Kapital, …” At this point the white radicals erupted in wild applause – they were in love. That’s all it took. Instead of Jesus or Allah, just mention Das Kapital and leftists can overlook everything else.

Afterwards, it was apparent to my friends that I wasn’t moved as they were. I remember Rita “the Red” (no, she was brunette) trying to explain that one has to understand what these thugs … I mean poor souls … have gone through in life.

That’s the New York I remember in the sixties. How was it that I didn’t go down the path on the left, even as I continued my education at CCNY (the Harvard of the proletariat?) That’s another story, which I’ll leave for another post.

New On the Blog Roll

I’ve been enjoying the blog of Kira Zalan … over here. There aren’t that many blogs where I find new ideas, reasonable analysis, and thoughtful commentary. She encourages reflection and discussion. And, judging from the comments, there is indeed a lively discussion. Kira’s blog is off to a good start.

Benjamin Orion has many interesting thoughts for you to consider.

Gates of Vienna presents hard hitting commentary and recommendations to other blogs. Check them out!

Of the other new blogs that I’ve added to the blog rolls, take a look at The Truth Project as it continues to develop. I’ll talk about it more in the future. Of the group blogs, The Sixth Column has more than enough to keep you armed and ready.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Learning From 9/11

The National Geographic Channel had a five hour documentary on the Islamic attack of 9/11. It covered the growth of the Islamist movement, prior attacks, and extensive coverage of the 9/11 attack itself – including new interviews and footage withheld from broadcasts at the time. There will be a repeat broadcast.

The documentary clearly showed the religious dimension of the hijackers although any wider discussion of Islam was beyond the scope of the documentary. A summary of each episode starts here.

The show ended on an ominous note. The experts believe we aren’t taking the continued threat seriously. They expressed the view that it will take another 9/11 to wake America up. Those of us who are frustrated at the lack of mobilization – from securing our borders and ending support for Islamist states, from revamping the FBI to fighting unapologetically wherever the enemy needs to be fought – wonder if a worse attack is likely. Yes, much has been done and we should give credit where credit is due. Follow-up attacks were prevented and terror cells uncovered. But the opposition stands ready to hinder any initiative. And that has taken its toll.

There is still time to wake-up the country and take the Islamic threat seriously. There are two reasons to education our fellow citizens. First, we might succeed and change this culture and our government’s policy. Second, in the process we will help to create the leadership – intellectually and politically – that will be ready if a more horrendous attack takes place. This time we won’t wonder what it is all about – we’ll be ready to explain and articulate sane policy.

It’s all about being forward looking.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Lying About Islam

Often, I’m asked how we should fight the Islamic threat that currently takes the form of jihadist violence and terrorism. But the fact of the matter is that I don’t have anything significant to contribute that’s not already said elsewhere and with greater knowledge. Playing armchair general isn’t particularly productive; and I know my limits.

However, there are two important matters missing from our current policies that I stress. The first: understand the enemy. Face the fact of Islam’s role in the motivation and justification of the enemy’s goals and methods. The second: understand our moral superiority and greatness. Our morale is undermined by 5th columnists are on a crusade to damn our values, policies and actions as inherently evil.

What we currently lack is a propaganda war – one that properly vilifies the enemy and extols our superiority.

What we see is the opposite. Instead of facing the nature of the enemy, our side is praising the enemy’s ideology, Islam. We all remember how our President called Islam a religion of peace that is hijacked by a few extremists. This, of course, is a lie. However, both parties are involved in this lie. Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, President Clinton’s advisors, in their book, The Age of Sacred Terror, praise Bush’s diplomacy as follows (page 40):
There is no gainsaying President Bush on this account. He said what needed to be said, held tight the ties that bind America to important allies, and reaffirmed tolerance at home. And, in fact, after the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, the authors of this book helped draft similar language that President Clinton used to describe the perpetrators of that atrocity. “I want the world to understand that our actions today were not aimed against Islam, the faith of hundreds of millions of good peace-loving people all around the world, including the United States, ...”
Benjamin and Simon, however, understand. They continue:
But neither President’s necessary and useful political speech should obscure the realities of September 11: the motivation for the attack was neither political calculation, strategic advantage, nor wanton bloodlust. It was to humiliate and slaughter those who defied the hegemony of God; it was to please Him by reasserting His primacy. It was an act of cosmic war. … Only by understanding the religious nature of the attacks of September 11 can we make any sense of their unprecedented scale and their intended effects.
The authors continue and succeed in explaining the religious roots of the contemporary Islamist movement.

However, a lie has its cost, and continuing this lie on a sustained basis is undermining our resolve, blinding us to the greater threat, creating intellectual confusion, and dissipating any moral clarity.

I’ve written about the Saudi threat and discussed ominous developments in Pakistan. We are all aware of the Iranian threat and the Islamists attacking Israel. We might also remember that fundamentalists would have come to power in an election in Algeria if it weren’t for the military. This movement isn’t a few Muslims confused about their religion. It is a broad worldwide Islamist movement driven by internal developments in the Islamic world. Thus, our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, while praiseworthy and noble, do not diminish this movement.

The lie will backfire. As people become aware of this movement, the 5th column will argue that it was only a few hijackers but now we’ve inflamed the whole Islamic world. Let’s get this straight: Islam is inflaming the whole Islamic world. Neither Bush nor Clinton created Islam. Nor did they create the Islamic Revival, which is an indigenous movement in several countries that is now fueled by Saudi oil money.

This is not the end of act one, this is not even the beginning of act one, this is only the prologue. We need to understand this movement if we are to deal with it effectively. Knowledge is the first step.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Pakistan's Problem Worsens

In the previous post I discussed Islamist movements indigenous to Pakistan and the India sub-continent – in particular Mawdudi and Deobandi – all strong fundamentalist movements that predate Saudi Arabia’s influence. However, the spread of fundamentalism, today, is facilitated by the Saudi funding of the madrassas through out Pakistan. As I noted, Islamism has gotten worse under Musharaf – but I didn’t realize how worse.

In today’s Wall Street Journal (August 19, 2005, page A11), in an article titled Pakistan’s Broad Educational Ills – Public Schools May stir Up More Extremism Than Madrassas, one finds that the Islamist influence has permeated all levels of the government including governmental educational institutions. The "public schools’ failure to offer a rigorous, secular alternative to religious extremism, as well as their own biased and inflammatory teachings, make the population fertile ground for Islamist recruiters," according to the Journal.

Anti-Ideology Ideology ... again

Tibor Machan, of the Hoover Institute, exposes the nonsense that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with ideology:
Instead, it is vital that we know which religions and ideologies encourage (and indeed, even insist upon) conformity with a program of indiscriminate global violence. That shouldn’t be a novel project since, throughout human history, several different religions and ideologies—the Holy Inquisition, Fascism, Nazism, and Communism come to mind—have spawned exactly that kind of program. It’s shameful to deny this just as the same kind of thing is engulfing us today.
He links to and recommends an excellent article, London Lessons Lost, by Alex Alexiev of the Center for Security Policy (see Links at the right).

Alexiev discusses England’s failure to face the Islamic threat in its mist. Blaming the attacks of 7/7 and 7/21 on a “few misguided individuals,” the official governmental and media spokesmen see only the tip of the iceberg. “Islamic extremism has a large and growing following in Great Britain and Europe beyond. Indeed, Islamism, the fascist-like ideology that motivates it, is rapidly becoming the dominant idiom in Muslim communities throughout Western Europe.” But such a consideration is suppressed “by stifling political correctness and multicultural nostrums.”

Al Qaeda is only one small operator in a vast ideological movement. Alexiev reviews the Deobandi movement in Pakistan and their role behind the Taliban, Jihadi madrassas, etc. “In the United Kingdom, the Deobandis have pretty much taken over the South Asian Muslim establishment.” “A Deobandi-influenced movement, the Tablighis, who number in the millions, have become a premier recruiting agency for jihad worldwide while pretending to be pietistic and apolitical.” Another Islamist movement active in England is Ahle Hadith, followers of Mawdudi, a Pakistani movement funded by Saudi Arabia.

Alexiev continues, “however successful we are in destroying specific terrorist groups and individuals, the job will never be finished as long as the infrastructures of Islamism continue to churn out fanatics much faster than they could be neutralized.” He says, “It is the simple fact that today’s radical Islam is not about religion but about political sedition, subversion and incitement to violence and terror.” Actually, he doesn’t understand that Islam was founded as a political ideology as well as a religion. Part of this reflects his Western view of religion. Still, he understands that we face a political movement. And he’s right that, “Islamism is essentially a totalitarian political ideology much like its 20th century predecessors Nazism and communism. 'Infidels' thus become just another category of subhumans to be exterminated, just like Jews and Slavic untermenshen were for the Nazis and the 'class enemy' was for the communists.

We fail to face the extent of the problem. “Pakistan has been transformed into an international haven of extremism and terrorism with thousands of jihadist madrassas, dozens of terrorist training camps and assorted centers of Islamist indoctrination.” It has gotten worse under Musharaf and “the worldwide growth of violent Islamism would simply not have occurred without the extraordinary involvement of Saudi Arabia in cultivating it at each and every stage. … This rather than Al Qaeda represents an existential threat to our civilization. … Worse still, the West still operates under the delusion that the likes of Saud’s kingdom and Musharaf’s duplicitous regime are somehow our strategic allies.

Monday, August 15, 2005

What Arabs Need to Hear:

Seldom does one hear an honest condemnation of the Islamist inspired violence from Muslim leaders without caveats that reduce the condemnation to a meaningless triviality. Seldom do Arab intellectuals criticize the deficiencies of their own culture.

What would such a critic sound like? Here’s a brave Iraqi who says what needs to be said. Tell me if he doesn’t sound like an Arab Zell Miller! (Hat-tip HurryUpHarry - who also has a partial transcript of the video).

Monday, August 08, 2005

Moderate Islam is Not the Solution

Is Moderate Islam viable? Or should Muslims seek a secular alternative? Today we are urging Muslims to seek the guidance of their religion in a manner that befits a just and ethical member of the world community. But what if Islam is incurably militant and intolerant? What if Islam can’t change? In that case, a viable long-term solution is secularization and reason in human affairs – which becomes less likely as we push Muslims in the opposite direction.

Let’s make this distinction clear. Moderation can be achieved in two ways: lessen the practice of a religion or create a moderate version of the religion. The first is always possible for any religion – adherents can become lax or mere nominal members of the faith. The second is more problematic. Not every doctrine can admit of a moderate version. To remain honestly devout and embrace modernity, the original doctrines must be devoid of major obstacles and elements antithetical to individual liberty, universal ethical principles, and reason in human affairs.

What are the prospects for a reformed Islam? It is assumed, a priori, that Islam is just like Christianity in its ability to modernize. After all, aren’t all religions the same? Of course, the category religion implies something in common. Religious philosophies metaphysically embrace the supernatural and epistemologically uphold faith as grounds for the acceptance of belief. However, beyond the defining element of methodology, religions may differ in content as much as secular ideologies when addressing the issues of what to believe, what is moral, what kind of society is just, etc.

Religions can also differ on the domain of faith and the domain of reason. Faith may apply to the question of God’s existence, the afterlife, and cosmological questions of the origin of the universe. Or faith and dogma (ideas accepted on faith unquestionably) may determine every aspect of living this life in minute details. Does faith contradict reason – and how often? A natural theology may uphold faith in God but believe by using our reason we discover His laws – in both science and human affairs – by studying nature. On the other extreme, religion can declare reason impotent and blind faith supreme; and demand submission to dogma as revealed by authorities.

Islam has significant obstacles – in both ethical content and the scope of faith – that creates a significantly greater challenge to the creation of a new robust religion that can sustain a liberal order without being undermined by glaring contradictions. Let’s examine the reasons.

The differing examples of Jesus and Muhammad.

Muhammad preached tolerance as he struggled for acceptance in Mecca. His subsequent rule in Medina, however, is marred with violence. He funded his nascent religion by raiding caravans on route to Mecca even during periods held sacred by regional custom. He encouraged the assassination of his critics, establishing a reign of terror that culminated in the ethnic cleansing of the Jews from Medina. In general, he conquered and subjugated most of Arabia. In doing so he created a supremacist warrior religion that is imperialist in nature.

Did Jesus create this kind of example? Of course, in the history of Christianity we find figures whose martial exploits were horrific. But Christianity started as a persecuted minority religion until it was legalized by the Emperor Constantine in 312 AD. An old cliché describes Muhammad as Jesus and Constantine combined, reflecting the dichotomous nature of Muhammad’s tolerant Meccan period and his role as a political/military leader in Medina. Of course that’s just a way of saying that oppressive warrior-like violence is congenital to Islam.

The order of the Holy books and their emphasis.

Muhammad’s change from Mecca to Medina creates a religion that culminates with a harsh intolerant spirit similar to parts of the Old Testament. This supersedes the early Meccan writings by their temporal sequence and by a formal process of abrogation according to orthodox Islam.

Jesus’ teachings tend to have a peaceful aura with an emphasis on the spirit rather than the letter of the law. St. Paul furthered this transformation by exempting Christian converts from specifics of Jewish law. Thus, the Old Testament can, if one wishes, be seen as a historical document of Jesus’ people, the Jews. Its harsh passages are superseded by the spirit of the New Testament.

The Different Focus of Jesus and Muhammad.

Jesus, in his brief four years of itinerant preaching, had a spiritual focus concerning redemption and salvation of the individual soul. There is no worked-out political philosophy. The apostolic Christians expected Jesus’ imminent return, making worldly planning virtually irrelevant. In the course of history devout Christians embraced different political doctrines: from those of Rome, the Divine Right of Kings, the liberalism of John Locke, or variants of socialism.

Muhammad, on the other hand, was a political figure that gave a very concrete example of how to live this life and subjugate others. Muhammad embodied a political philosophy leaving little room for variations.

Content vs. methodology.

In terms of content, there is far more play in Christianity with regards to the temporal order without extensive logical contortions to the core of the religion’s beliefs. Thus, compared to Islam, we see greater variation among Christian sects today and great differences between contemporary Christianity and past variants.

In terms of methodology, Christians have embraced reason in human affairs starting from the time of Aquinas. Christianity has progressed from the Dark Ages with respect of individual liberty and conscience; can Islamic societies do the same?

Islam’s achievements are limited.

The 1400 years of Islamic history were punctuated by periods of tolerance in which Muslim scholars, with the aid of Christian and Jewish scholars, managed to salvage some of the ancient Roman and Greek wisdom. Under Islamic rule, mathematicians adopted Hindu numerals and advanced algebra. However, the greatest minds of the Islamic world, Avicenna and Averroes, were persecuted.

Averroes (ibn Rushd), one of history's preeminent Aristotelian scholars, was banished by the Caliph; his books burned. Aquinas did for Christianity what Averroes couldn't do for Islam: he reconciled Aristotle with Christianity - thus setting the foundation for the secular, rational, scientific (and Hellenic) worldview, with its emphasis on living well in this world, that, with the Renaissance, became the dominant worldview in Europe; and via the Enlightenment, America. Along with the growth of secularism, religion also transformed. The work of Aquinas reformed Catholicism and ultimately set in motion the questioning spirit that led to Protestantism.

Reason and Science in Islam.

As historians point out, Islam had a golden age where scientific work was respected. The problem isn’t science – even today’s terrorists have scientific degrees in civil engineering and medicine. The problem is applying reason to human affairs: ethics and politics. Do we take heart that Pakistan can develop a nuclear bomb and its lead scientist gives advice to al-Qaeda?

The integration of reason in human affairs and the respect for the reasoning individual to cultivate his ability to act morally in thought and action cannot occur in the straight-jacket of Islam. The logical contortions required to integrate Mohammad’s example to the liberal respect for universal rights requires extensive cognitive damage - if one is to remain devout. One can, however, become lax or lapsed to develop a civilized disposition. Many Muslims take this route.

An Example of the Transformation of Islam.

The construction of a new Islam that is vigorously religious requires coming to grips with the Koran and Hadith. In Christianity there were several transformations solidified by major theologians – Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, etc. In Islam the greatest theologian after Muhammad, al-Ghazali, is credited with the establishment of Sufism as a respected option in Islam. Sufism is a mystical practice with an eclectic mixture of Islam and other religions. Some, like Stephen Schwartz, see Sufism as the spiritual alternative: Islam with a heart. But this heart transplant comes at a stiff price. Al-Ghazali had to attack Hellenic rationalism and natural causality to advance his cause and in the process dealt the decisive blow to Islam’s openness to reason. You might say that to gain a heart and soul, Islam had to lose its mind.

The question remains: can Islam still be Islam and introduce reason into human affairs?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Recommended Read

Back on June 17th I applauded Victor Davis Hanson’s hard-hitting critique of the Middle East but suggested he didn’t go far enough exposing Islam’s centrality to the threat we face today. Recently, Hanson posted Bruce Thornton’s review of The Myth of Islamic Tolerance edited by Robert Spencer. (I very briefly mentioned this book in March.)

I commend Hanson and Thornton for bringing this important book to the attention of a wider audience and thereby helping to clear the path of the myths, taboos, and PC dogma obstructing our understanding of Islam. Thornton’s review itself is a excellent exposition of the Islamic threat and our denial.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Left is Completely Wrong

The left and many on the paleo-right claim that Islam is hijacked – the real causes lie elsewhere. They are wrong. In a recent interview, a British born jihadi explicitly denies the “root causes” touted by the left, one by one. Neuro-Conservative helps you through the common misconceptions with this young man’s candid and revealing words.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Mohammed’s ethnic cleansing

Mohammed’s ethnic cleansing of Medina is rarely mentioned in current books on Islam. During Mohammed’s rule of Medina two Jewish tribes were banished and the remaining tribe slaughtered – a day long process in which all the men were systematically executed by the sword. There was a time that reputable authors felt duty bound to include at least a summary reference to these facts. Here is an excerpt from one book originally published in 1914:
“At Medina he expected the Jews to recognize the agreement between his teaching and theirs, and to own him as a prophet in the true succession, perhaps as the Messiah for whom they were waiting. The Moslems, when they prayed, turned their faces toward Jerusalem; the Day of Atonement was made a solemn fast for Moslems, the one great fast in the year. Mohammed did not see why if he acknowledged Moses and his Torah, the Jews should not acknowledge him and his Koran.

The Jews proved obdurate; their doctrine had no place in it for Arab prophets or messiahs. They took a malicious pleasure in exposing the ignorance of biblical history which Mohammed displayed in his stories about biblical persons, thus impugning his claim to have his stories by revelation. He retorted that his was the true and original version; if it was told otherwise in the books of the Jews it was because they had falsified their Scriptures. The attitude of the Jews was not only vexatious, but had in it a visible element of danger. In conjunction with the ‘hypocrites,’ as Mohammed calls the numerous class who outwardly professed Islam but had no real faith in it, they might at more than one crisis have made his position in Medina untenable. In the interludes in the conflict with the Meccans, Mohammed, on one pretext or another, fell upon the Jews, and did not stop till he had driven out all their tribes from Medina, and conquered their strongholds in the oasis of Khaibar.”
This is taken from the 1941 edition of George Foot Moore’s History Of Religions Volume II: Judaism, Christianity, Mohammedanism, Charles Scribner’s Sons, page 402. Moore was a professor of the history of religion at Harvard University. The phrase ethnic cleansing wasn’t in use in the years 1914-1941, but it clearly describes the result. Moore doesn’t dwell on the details. In fact, the above passage is presented without judgment or comment. A complete survey was expected to present the major aspects of history.

Moore has great respect for Islam and its founder. “It is unreasonable to censure Mohammed for not reconstructing the whole social system of the Arabs in anticipation of modern ideas … he accomplished notable reforms … the moral teaching of the Koran is high; it may fairly be compared with Deuteronomy … “ (p400-401). The standards of Moore’s day demanded a full account without omissions of key elements even when they clash with modern mores.

Today, it is rare to find such a presentation. Most people are shocked when I mention that Mohammad ethnically cleansed Medina of Jews. “Surely, I would have read of such a horrendous event in my history book,” I’m told by skeptical critics. After reading several books, each with a part of the picture, the whole becomes clear to any open-minded person. Those few who’ve followed my advice have been amazed. But who is going to do such extensive research?

Today’s authors lie by omission in order to present a narrative that isn’t embarrassing to Muslims in light of contemporary standards. The worse offender is John Esposito of Georgetown University. In a recent introductory book he describes Mohammad’s exemption from the 4-wife limit as a result of Mohammad’s kindness. Esposito explains that he married widows to provide them with protection and security. He conveniently leaves out that fact that many, if not most of these women became widows when Mohammad slaughtered the men of the tribe and took first pick of the wives for a trophy.

Did I mention that Esposito was a past president of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) – the leading academic society in this area? For more on Esposito read this. For good books on Islam see my reference page. It's time to face the painful truth about Islam.

For a follow-up study of Mohammad's war against the Jews see my essay here.