Monday, November 28, 2005

Islam: Political Ideology or Religion?

According to the mythology, Mohammad founded Islam in Mecca, moved to Medina, and culminated his career as a military and political leader who plundered and conquered all of Arabia. (Tellingly, the Muslim calendar starts from the move to Medina!) According to history, Islamic scholars started to document and solidify the religion 150-200 years after Mohammad, when a pure Arab hegemony gave way to an Arab/Persian fusion cemented by the myths of Mohammad. In either case, Islam is a state religion created to justify power and the oppression of non-Muslims.

What do we find when we examine the doctrines and practice of Islam? Mark Alexander has written an excellent review comparing Islam with other political ideologies. You decide! (Hat tip: AOW.)


Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Well, let’s see Ducky. I’m not a Biblical expert but what were Jesus’ political objectives? I don’t see a worked out political ideology or an attempt to establish a government. The brief “Render unto Caesar …” basically brushes off the question. His followers, after his death, thought the end was imminent. Thus, the question of how to rule seems to be quite distant from the original Christian faith.

Not so with Islam.

Now, Ducky, I know what you’re going to say. Yes, centuries of atrocities and oppression at the hands of Christian rulers are a fact. As to whether they were good Christian or not, I’ll leave to others to consider. However, if you want to say Christians acquired a violent disposition, that’s obvious. Islam, however, was created as a violent oppressive political ideology.

With Christianity, it was acquired; with Islam, it was congenital. The former has shown it can accept and sustain a liberal order; the latter has failed to create such a sustainable and just society with respect for individual rights. Simplistic? Or just the plain truth?

I’m not religious, but I can still see great differences in the examples of the central figures of these two religions. Can’t you?

11/29/05, 4:00 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Good response, especially from one who is not a believer (And even though I am, you know I don't hold your disbelief against you. We are allies!).

Jesus' intentions were never political ("My kingdom is not of this world"). In fact, his lack of political stance led to his crucifixion.

As a Christian, I'll add a bit here about the perversion and tyrannical abuse of Christianity. When Christianity merged with geopolity, atrocities occurred. I'm sure that my Lord was deeply saddened by that turn of events, and eternal judgment will one day be exacted. On the other hand, Allah commands Holy War--something Jesus never called for. In fact, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus commanded Peter to put away the sword and healed Caiaphas, whose ear had been cut off. (I hope I have that name right!). I don't see Allah healing any infidels.

We Christians are human beings and commit sin. And none of us practice the faith perfectly. Furthermore, our salvation doesn't depend on killing other human beings.

-----end of sermon for today-------

11/29/05, 9:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Ducky, we gave you examples. Isn’t it obvious, that for its first 300 years Christianity was illegal and consequently not in a position of political power. Islam was political from the time of Mohammad – it is congenital, not acquired.

If you need references on Islam, here they are.

Honest, people, Ducky isn't a plant. I know it looks like he is here just so we can answer easy questions but Ducky isn’t a plant or troll. He (assuming he’s a he) comes here of his own accord.

11/30/05, 12:28 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

The ideology of Islam stands and falls on the example of Mohammad. That example is singularly illiberal, violent, and racist (or supremacist would be a better word.) That’s the ideology.

I’ve argued often that when we switch from philosophy (or ideology) to sociology we see a broad diverse group that spans the whole spectrum from devout to secular. Thus, as a people (a demographic group) I have no trouble accepting that Muslims vary as much as possible. That’s where the important distinctions should be made.

Pipes describes that distinction as different kinds of Islam because he basically takes the sociological/historical approach. We point basically to the same facts but classify them differently. I reserve the word “Islam” as an ideology for the full practice or a practice that includes the key factors of Mohammad’s mature period in Medina. Pipes, in his argument with Auster (who takes an ideological view similar to mine), stressed that in terms of identifying dangers and proposing action, they both agree.

If you find Pipes respectable, your objection to my way of speaking may be more rhetorical than substantial.

11/30/05, 2:19 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I don’t have a battle plan in mind and occasionally I mention that my emphasis would be different than the current administration. But before we can do anything intelligent we have to understand the problem. I even suggested, on Monday, that an intellectual war (or propaganda war, if you prefer) would have a significant impact.

My main point about Islam is that it has unique hurdles – and many more than Christianity – in its ability to welcome and sustain a liberal order. You seem to object to saying that Islam is more problematic or unique in its problems. Why?

11/30/05, 3:27 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

C’mon, Ducky, why do Islam and Christianity have to be equally bad? What law in the universe says that all religions have to be as good or as dangerous?

Fundamentalism is a literal reading of a religion but do all religions read equally? Some types of Christianity have serious problems but I have to at least given Christianity credit for the fact that many have been able to come to terms with rational secular societies while retaining a devout practice on a personal level.

It’s the promise for change and acceptance of universal liberty that’s important now. The failures of the past scare most sane people. I just don’t see how Islam can remain a vigorous religion by following the example of a vicious political leader and yet accept the universal respect for the liberty of every individual. That is just an extra hurdle. And, as you point out, Christianity had a hard and long struggle to get where it is today, what hope is there for Islam given the vast difference between the examples of Mohammad as compared to Jesus?

So, I can urge our Christian friends to practice their religion privately and respect my right to go another path – most do (will have to argue with the rest.) However, with Islam, the sound path is secularization in the long run. In the meantime, they will be a threat. Different religions require different paths to modernity.

11/30/05, 4:36 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

As to the rioters in France, I believe the general hostility that Islam has for French culture and the West creates an atmosphere where such violence is seen as “understandable.” I don’t claim these were actual members of a covert group, or even members of Wahhabi mosques. However, they are influenced by those movements. You don’t see the Vietnamese immigrants rioting! Nor do young non-Muslim French (where I understand the unemployment rate is similar but the absolute numbers are less do to dissimilar birth rate.) Thus, it may be only an indirect influence of the religion … or it may not.

11/30/05, 4:40 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

So, I can urge our Christian friends to practice their religion privately and respect my right to go another path – most do...
You know that I agree! Your soul is your business, and my soul is my business.

11/30/05, 11:47 PM  

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