What Islam Isn’t – Democratic/Peaceful/Modern
Comment at end
22nd April, 2008
I publish this kind of article with some reluctance. We in the west are invariably accused of scare-mongering when we publish or distribute this sort of “blanket” information. It is condemned on all sides, as ill-advised at best, stirring up malcontents and civil hysteria at worst.
But we should not be intimidated from speaking out on this as it may affect our futures much more than does fundamental Islamicist terrorism itself.
I try to balance this kind of article it by providing information and links to other pro-Islam, scholarly pieces, when I can find them. But I still have to say that it is not easy, in fact it is VERY difficult to find many followers of Islam willing to do this online:
Publically call for a re-visiting of their Good Books with the intention of explaining to their followers that the violent calls are historical references only and gave no place in today’s world. OR, and preferably, pushing Muslim scholars to expunge the references to worldwide caliphate and victory over all non-believers in whichever way necessary (in Allah’s name).
That’s the issue today. And it really MUST be addressed.
What Islam Isn’t
The following is adapted from Dr. Peter Hammond’s book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat:
Islam is not a religion nor is it a cult. It is a complete system.
Islam has religious, legal, political, economic and military components. The religious component is a beard for all the other components.
Islamization occurs when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their so-called ‘religious rights.’
When politically correct and culturally diverse societies agree to ‘the reasonable’ Muslim demands for their ‘religious rights,’ they also get the other components under the table. Here’s how it works (percentages source CIA: The World Fact Book (2007)).
As long as the Muslim population remains around 1% of any given country they will be regarded as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to anyone. In fact, they may be featured in articles and films, stereotyped for their colorful uniqueness:
United States — Muslim 1.0%
Australia — Muslim 1.5%
Canada — Muslim 1.9%
China — Muslim 1%-2%
Italy — Muslim 1.5%
Norway — Muslim 1.8%
At 2% and 3% they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs:
Denmark — Muslim 2%
Germany — Muslim 3.7%
United Kingdom — Muslim 2.7%
Spain — Muslim 4%
Thailand — Muslim 4.6%
From 5% on they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population.
They will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature it on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply. ( United States ).
France — Muslim 8%
Philippines — Muslim 5%
Sweden — Muslim 5%
Switzerland — Muslim 4.3%
The Netherlands — Muslim 5.5%
Trinidad &Tobago — Muslim 5.8%
At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islam is not to convert the world but to establish Sharia law over the entire world.
When Muslims reach 10% of the population, they will increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions ( Paris –car-burnings). Any non-Muslim action that offends Islam will result in uprisings and threats ( Amsterdam – Mohammed cartoons).
Guyana — Muslim 10%
India — Muslim 13.4%
Israel — Muslim 16%
Kenya — Muslim 10%
Russia — Muslim 10-15%
After reaching 20% expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings and church and synagogue burning:
Ethiopia — Muslim 32.8%
At 40% you will find widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks and ongoing militia warfare:
Bosnia — Muslim 40%
Chad — Muslim 53.1%
Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%
From 60% you may expect unfettered persecution of non-believers and other religions, sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels:
Albania — Muslim 70%
Malaysia — Muslim 60.4%
Qatar — Muslim 77.5%
Sudan — Muslim 70%
After 80% expect State run ethnic cleansing and genocide:
Bangladesh — Muslim 83%
Egypt — Muslim 90%
Gaza — Muslim 98.7%
Indonesia — Muslim 86.1%
Iran — Muslim 98%
Iraq — Muslim 97%
Jordan — Muslim 92%
Morocco — Muslim 98.7%
Pakistan — Muslim 97%
Palestine — Muslim 99%
Syria — Muslim 90%
Tajikistan — Muslim 90%
Turkey — Muslim 99.8%
United Arab Emirates — Muslim 96%
100% will usher in the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ — the Islamic House of Peace — there’s supposed to be peace because everybody is a Muslim:
Afghanistan — Muslim 100%
Saudi Arabia — Muslim 100%
Somalia — Muslim 100%
Yemen — Muslim 99.9%
Of course, that’s not the case. To satisfy their blood lust, Muslims then start killing each other for a variety of reasons.
‘Before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; and the tribe against the world and all of us against the infidel. – Leon Uris, ‘The Haj’
It is good to remember that in many, many countries, such as France, the Muslim populations are centered around ghettos based on their ethnicity. Muslims do not integrate into the community at large. Therefore, they exercise more power than their national average would indicate.
And here, Daniel Pipes, writes in today’s National Post:
There’s an impression that Muslims suffer disproportionately from the rule of dictators, tyrants, unelected presidents, kings, emirs and various other strongmen – and it’s accurate. A careful analysis by Frederic L. Pryor of Swarthmore College in the Middle East Quarterly (Are Muslim Countries Less Democratic?) concludes, “In all but the poorest countries, Islam is associated with fewer political rights.”
The fact that majority-Muslim countries are less democratic makes it tempting to conclude that the religion of Islam, their common factor, is itself incompatible with democracy.
I disagree with that conclusion. Today’s Muslim predicament, rather, reflects historical circumstances more than innate features of Islam. Put differently, Islam, like all pre-modern religions is undemocratic in spirit. No less than the others, however, it has the potential to evolve in a democratic direction.
Such evolution is not easy for any religion. In the Christian case, the battle to limit the Catholic Church’s political role was painfully long. If the transition began when Marsiglio of Padua published Defensor pacis in the year 1324, it took another seven centuries for the Church fully to reconcile itself to democracy. Why should Islam’s transition be smoother or easier?
To render Islam consistent with democratic ways will require profound changes in its interpretation. For example, the anti-democratic law of Islam, the Shari’a, lies at the core of the problem. Developed over a millennium ago, it presumes autocratic rulers and submissive subjects, emphasizes God’s will over popular sovereignty and encourages violent jihad to expand Islam’s borders. Further, it anti-democratically privileges Muslims over non-Muslims, males over females and free persons over slaves.
For Muslims to build fully functioning democracies, they basically must reject the Shari’a’s public aspects. Turkey’s first president Mustafa Ataturk frontally did just that in his country, but others have offered more subtle approaches. Mahmud Muhammad Taha, a Sudanese thinker, dispatched the public Islamic laws by fundamentally reinterpreting the Koran.
Ataturk’s efforts and Taha’s ideas imply that Islam is ever-evolving, and that to see it as unchanging is a grave mistake. Or, in the lively metaphor of Hassan Hanafi, professor of philosophy at the University of Cairo, the Koran “is a supermarket, where one takes what one wants and leaves what one doesn’t want.”
Islam’s problem is less its being anti-modern than that its process of modernization has hardly begun. Muslims can modernize their religion, but that requires major changes: Out go waging jihad to impose Muslim rule, second-class citizenship for non-Muslims and death sentences for blasphemy or apostasy. In come individual freedoms, civil rights, political participation, popular sovereignty, equality before the law and representative elections.
Two obstacles stand in the way of these changes, however. In the Middle East especially, tribal affiliations remain of paramount importance. As explained by Philip Carl Salzman in his recent book, Culture and Conflict in the Middle East, these ties create a complex pattern of tribal autonomy and tyrannical centralism that obstructs the development of constitutionalism, the rule of law, citizenship, gender equality and the other prerequisites of a democratic state. Not until this archaic social system based on the family is dispatched can democracy make real headway in the Middle East.
Globally, the compelling and powerful Islamist movement obstructs democracy. It seeks the opposite of reform and modernization — namely, the reassertion of the Shari’a in its entirety. A jihadist like Osama bin Laden may spell out this goal more explicitly than an establishment politician like Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but both seek to create a thoroughly anti-democratic, if not totalitarian, order.
Islamists respond two ways to democracy. First, they denounce it as unIslamic. Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna considered democracy a betrayal of Islamic values. Brotherhood theoretician Sayyid Qutb rejected popular sovereignty, as did Abu al-A’la al-Mawdudi, founder of Pakistan’s Jamaate-Islami political party. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Al-Jazeera television’s imam, argues that elections are heretical.
Despite this scorn, Islamists are eager to use elections to attain power and have proven themselves to be agile vote-getters; even a terrorist organization (Hamas) has won an election. This record does not render the Islamists democratic but indicates their tactical flexibility and their determination to gain power. As Erdogan has revealingly explained, “Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.”
Hard work can one day make Islam democratic. In the meanwhile, Islamism represents the world’s leading anti-democratic force.
Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the Taube/Diller Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.
©All rights reserved by Daniel Pipes. http://www.danielpipes.org
I do hope Mr Pipes has no objection to my using his article here, as it deserves widespread readership.
To balance this, please read the American Muslim – “Muslims, we have to get it together”