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"uniquely incompatible" - Indeed!

Reader comment on item: Islam and Democracy - Much Hard Work Needed

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Feb 8, 2011 at 14:38

It is easy to agree with most of Daniel Pipes' posts, but this one, part of a growing and curiously unworldly trend of sanguine expectations by Dr Pipes, seems a most remarkable example of what it is hard to avoid calling pure wishful thinking.

The odds of Islam becoming anywhere compatible with Democracy are about as likely as the return of the 12th imam in the lifetime of the grandchildren of the youngest person participating in this blog.

I'm not suggesting that the people of any country drenched, like Egypt, in Islamic "culture" (i.e. hating democracy, women's rights, tolerance of any kind, etc, etc) might not sincerely reach for some of the elements of democracy, but if they do so reach and should succeed in any way, it will only be on the basis of being Anti-Islamic. (i.e. precsiely what they criticize anyone in the West of being if they say anything whatsoever critical of Islam).

It is a commonplace to point out how many centuries it took for the West to overcome the stranglehold its own religion placed on its citizens' growth, prosperity, and enjoyment of life. But it should also be noted and emphasized that as the West did this, probably chiefly on the basis of the anti-religious Enlightenment which followed the most supreme triumphs of the human mind in several fields of Science yet seen in the history of the world, it was painfully creating something that never before existed, except for a brilliant but short period in ancient Greece.

The result? More two centuries later we in the West are, on the whole, a truly remarkable EXAMPLE of what Democracy, Individualism, Free Speech, Science-included Education, and a not too out-of-control Capitalism can produce in the way of Freedom and Prosperity. And what is the Islamic world's response? Instead of trying to learn from this multi-faceted example and perhaps even desiring to surpass it, as do some of the more successful emerging countries, we get an explosion of hatred, violence, and redoubled intolerance - in short a ferocious rejection of that example.

Also, just as, it remains strangely unnoted and unemphasized in the West, the Islamic world of the Middle East could have taken the remarkable accomplishments of physically little but culturally giant Israel over the past 64 years as an example to be learned from, in order to deal honestly and self-critically with their own backwardness and systemic failures. But NO - the accomplishments of Israel were and have continued to be met with the same explosion of hatred, fantastical conspiracy theories, and denial.

If they can't learn, certainly it would seem that we should - Islam is not remorely compatible with Democracy.

Here's one suggested example (in two parts) of a place to start:

MOHAMMED – A Diabolical Genius?

I'm always surprised that thinkers discussing the "three great" monotheistic religions

omit and totally ignore the giant fact that Judaism and Christianity are richly and broadly multi-authorial

while Islam is overwhelmingly the product of a single man's thoughts, feelings, personality,

and character.

There is nothing in the Koran remotely like the range of human emotion,

thought, and intellectual and literary ability one finds in the Old and New Testament.

I remain perennially startled that the meaning of this threshold reality

about the 'sacred scriptures' of the three religions remains unexamined, at least as far as any

studies I know.

I do not think it would be possible to overlook this enormous difference

between Islam and the two senior monotheisms if the former were a minor religion

in terms of numbers instead of claiming over a billion adherents. It is as if the

number alone has hypnotized the mind, and frozen the critical faculties, of all students of the religion.

Looking at Islam through the prism of the single personality of Mohammed, I

am struck by his 'diabolical cleverness' in psychological terms. This cleverness, or 'genius',

involves, in my view, three tactics he employed and deployed. Indeed, these tactics seem a good

deal more important than the early centuries of military success, for they have enabled the

religion to survive many centuries of military failure, and even to be ominously resurgent

despite the fact that Islam is not bringing peace, prosperity, or any sort of 'good life' to its

masses of believers, especially in the lands where Mohammed founded his religion, and

where its grip is strongest.

First, and possibly most masterful, was his claim that he was

'the seal of the prophets'. How very clever to have boldly and successfully

preempted, in the minds of his followers, the possibility that anybody could come

along after him and add to or subtract from, his 'final revelation'.

Moses did not claim this. Nor did any of the Old testament prophets. The

Jesus figure did not claim this. Nor did Paul.

And of course, there is the implicit claim by Mohammed that since

his revelation is the 'last word', it must also be the best. It was then an easy

leap to believe that the people to whom it was 'given' must also be the best,

even if not explicitly claiming to be the 'Chosen People' (who are therefore by

inference superseded - or eclipsed!).

Second – keep it simple. The 'five pillars'.

Proclaim a simple belief in the one God, cleverly stated as

'No god but God'. No belief system or ethical creed to be learned – just a simple

proclamation of belief.

Then, pray 5 times a day, thereby engaging in almost constant

reinforcement (and of course more pious than the 'mere' 3 times a day of the Jews).

But, with regard to these prayers and the other 3 pillars, again,

nothing ethically complicated like the 10 commandments, or even the Golden Rule – which

is probably the most drastic and fatal omission from the creed and cult of Mohammed.

But there may be more reason for this absence, or avoidance, of any

ethical rules in the 'five pillars'. For Mohammed may have realized, or intuited,

that ethical rules would have interfered with his last and most visible (and intimidating) stroke of

strategic and tactical genius.

For the third stroke, easily accepted in the Age and place he lived,

was simply a long list of offenses which 'deserve death', even if he didn't usually

give that command quite so baldly:

Anyone blasphemes The Prophet or his religion: KILL them.

Anyone who commits heresy (wide open to generous interpretation) KILL them

Any woman who rebels against the 'modesty' decreed 'for her own good', or

who otherwise threatens male domination of women in any way: KILL them.

Anyone tries to leave Islam: KILL them.

Anyone tries to convert a Moslem: KILL them.

And last, and by comparison, almost generous with its 'waiting period': anyone on the planet

(i.e. all Infidels) who either do not soon convert to Islam or who resist the gracious allowance

of life under Dhimini status: KILL them.

Is this not a remarkable and comprehensive system produced by a single

human being who deserves, however reluctant we may be to concede it, to be regarded

as a remarkable Genius in the realm of psychological and political leadership?

But what does it say about us that we still refuse to even consider taking on such

a system directly, rather than endlessly excusing it by saying that the suicide

killers of Sunni Islam, and the nuclear armed wannabes of Shia Islam are perverters of the

"real" Islam, rather than utterly logical and true lineal descendants of … the 'Prophet'?

And further, doesn't 1400 years of history prove that Mohammed has succcessfully

forestalled and precluded any would-be 'reformers' from tampering with his work by claiming that

he is the "Seal of the Prophets"? Isn't it clear that, with this claim, he successfully messed with the mind

of those who would alter his edifice of implacable belief and brutal action even before it

occurred to them, however many centuries later, to try and do so?!

***********************

I'm looking at this morning's paper[written a few days ago]. Does any rational person think

anything good can come of the riots in the Middle East if the outcome is a string of Islamic republics?

The rioters are sadly doomed in their hopes for a better life if they succeed in throwing out their

amoral kleptocracy, and then turn to Islam, or, as is more likely, their revolution is hijacked by

the 'Brotherhood'.

Sadly, we only stand by mute, or uttering pallid bromides about "democracy" and "change".

But what might be our position now if, within a year or so of 9/11, some group of highly visible

public intellectuals, or a handful of Western leaders had raised the issue whether the root of

the problems in Moslem societies, especially those of the Middle East and south Asia, is ….

ISLAM – not "radical" or "militant" Islam, but the religion itself as created and sprung from the

human-authored (regardless of where he thought they came from) thoughts, emotions, and

character of one bold, audacious, and very cruel personality?

Instead of cowering behind the massive Taboo of criticizing one of the "three great" religions,

what would be our moral position if we could now say to the peoples of Middle East, "we have

long suggested that you need a new system and source of morality, not based on the ruthless

suppression of half your population, and not based on murderous intolerance toward all who

disagree with any of the tenets of your religion."

Would we be way ahead of the game, or would we just be blamed for what's now happening

for (which the clerics will undoubtedly try to blame us – or "Zionists" - anyway?).

I suggest we may have no ultimate hope of fully containing or ultimately defeating this

malignant ideology without challenging and confronting it directly, rather than making excuses

for it, or joining the Moslems in their psychological sleight of hand when they say,

"Oh, none (of the innumerable individual cruelties) is the real Islam."

Submitting....

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