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Islam is an Absolutism

Reader comment on item: The Evil Isn't Islam

Submitted by James Sofko (United States), Jul 30, 2002 at 21:03

I have difficulty with the word "evil" when it is used to describe a Islam. The word I prefer is absolutist. Islam is the essence of the irrefutable prescription for human life. It is, as they say not "created" by man but "recited" from Allah and what has been revealed is immutable and absolute. And confusing. The Qur'an is incoherent, poetic, rhapsodic and internally inconsistent. Which, of course means it can be made to say whatever a recognized authority or powerful person says it says. Khomeini had his version al Ghazali had his. As do Mullah Omar and Usama bin Ladin.

No religion is so arguable and manipulatable. For believers it is the essence of simplicity, for rulers and demagogues it is the theological justification for whatever rule or reform they wish to advance.

Of course there have been instances over its long history during which Islam has been benign and tolerant, although those seem to conicide with those times when it has overwhelmed opposition. There are even wide differences in practice within the present day Muslim world, across its vast range and among it various ethnicities. But historically Islam is characterized by cycles of repression and periods of practical relaxation.

Present day Islam is in a irredentist mood, highly resentful of its second class status in a world that has made it irrelevant. Many true believers are determined to exact revenge and greater glory. Islam the community is not in a moderate or practical mode. Although there are must be many moderate Muslims, they are muted and seemingly in the thrall of the Islamist totalitarians..

I was appalled when President Kharzai declared that liberated Afghanistan would operate under Muslim Law, the Shari'a. I suppose he had no choice, but because of the weight of religious opinion he had to publicly declare that there would be no separation of "church and state."

In my opinion the West is insulated from its absolutist fundmentalists because, by historical good fortune Christ declared "Render onto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar." That statement, the personal soteriology of Christianity itself, and the carnage of the Protestant revolt gave us the doctrine of separation of church and state. Islam has no such idea and no such experience. Without it the only way for reform is to reject the religion altogether, and that can never happen so long as its adherents feel assailed by modernity.
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