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"the family"

Reader comment on item: A Democratic Islam?

Submitted by German Observer (Germany), Apr 17, 2008 at 08:52

If the assumption that "the family" is the basis of the archaic systems of the islamic world holds to be true (and I believe it does) then the next question must be what the characteristics of "the family" within the islamic world is in order to analyze its characteristics as distinguished from "the family" in the western democracies which undeniably also form most of the basic material of what constitutes the sovereign body of a democracy: the demos, i.e. the people.

Two key factors come into play, both of a demographic nature: total fertility rates as a cause for demographic chance, and youth bulges as an effect of the former and often a cause for political change. Youth bulges, as defined by Gary Fuller in his 1995 report "The Demographic Backdrop to Ethnic Conflict: A Geographic Overview", consist of societies with a disproportionally large percentage of young people (at least 20 % of the total population being 15-24 year olds, or at least 30 % of the total population being 0-15 year olds).

These overly young, youth-bulged societies prevalent in the islamic world with their high fertility rates (although supposedly dropping we will not likely see the effect of this demographic change, i.e. a disappearance of the youth bulges, in our lifetime) lend to a number of problems, almost all of them stemming from the simple fact that it is virtually impossible to supply these youths with what all of them naturally want and are expected to acquire: acceptable social positions, i.e. good careers, high-ranking offices, etc.

This dilemma of reasonable demands from the individual perspective together with the impossibility to meet them from a social perspective all-too often leads to high likelihood of violent social destabilisation of entire countries or regions, giving rise to social rackets like islamic tribes providing a social security net in replacement of the often deteriorating and corrupt states for the rising number of these societies' losers, demanding tribute to "honour codes" as payment instead of merely monetary taxes.

Ideology follows social reality as a rule of thumb, not the other way around. If families continue to produce youth bulges then the youths of these societies will embrace islamic ideology if it a) legitimatices those who suceed (and those who will will often do so through violence) and b) protects those who fail by giving them a social shelter (even though this might mean demanding actions that must be regarded as criminal from a western perspective). Thus, the idelogy of Islam as a religion will only be changed in a truly radical sense if and when its caretakes and interpretators have a reasonable perspective that other legal systems, like democracy, might suit their societies better than sharia.

There is a number of things that can be done about this, yet I am certain that change will take generations to become apparent. Education of women (especially in the field of sexual, political, technological sciences as well as philosophy) seems of utmost importance for instance, as their choice to either become reproductive machines for most of their lifes or use what little ressources they have for the improvement of their own lifes will ultimately effect the demographic chance, if there is to be one. Only if the youth bulges disappear from this earth will the demos of societies not certainly lead to a destruction of its own sovereignity, i.e. democratic rule.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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