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Are Muslims and Westerners really different from each other?

Reader comment on item: Are Muslims Fatalists?

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Sep 17, 2015 at 16:31

Hello, Daniel

You said many things here, all of them not necessarily pointing, at least in the mind of the reader, in the same direction. Yes, the Muslims display a palpable degree of fatalism in their lives. Yes, they believe in predestination. Yes, they tend to use "kismet" as a crutch to explain their own lack of effort. Yes, to these things and others... but the way you have strung them all together, one might well assume that they are all connected to one another in some sort of cause-effect relationship.

I will zero in on one example:

Western popular culture occasionally references Muslim fatalism. Famed mystery writer Agatha Christie lived for years in Iraq with her archeologist husband and, in a 1951 novel, described the Iraqi disposition: "Not to worry over the chances of success or failure ... throw responsibility on the All Merciful, the All Wise." She also noted "the calmness and the fatalism" that results.

This is an observation by Agatha Christie. I believe it is her honest assessment of the things she experienced in the Islamic world. Nevertheless, some of the things she advances as the underlying reasons for the failure of Muslims were taught by Solomon in the Jewish Bible, and by Jesus in the New Testament: First, the words of Solomon:

Qoh. (Ecclesiastes)1:
[1] The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
[2] Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
[3] What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
[4] One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
[5] The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
[6] The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
[7] All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
[8] All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
[9] The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
[10] Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
[11] There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

Now, the words of Jesus:

Matthew 6:
[25] Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
[26] Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
[27] Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
[28] And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
[29] And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
[30] Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
[31] Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
[32] (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
[33] But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
[34] Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

The Muslim's acquiescence to what is perceived as the sovereign will of God is not something alien to Jewish and Christian culture, teaching and tradition. It is only alien to modern Atheist thought. Notice that I did not quote John Calivin, as the chief exponent of belief in predestination, nor Paul the Apostle, nor any other lesser personality in Judaism and Christianity: I cited Solomon and Jesus, revered in these religions as archetypes of wisdom.

Although the matter has been hotly debated over the centuries, there is really no contradiction between the notion of "free choice", that of predestination, that of God's sovereign, final authority, and that of God being intimately involved with every detail of our lives.

Concerning Free Choice, it's obvious that we all have free choice: every moment of every day, we make decisions, each of which will irreversibly change the course of future events of us and of the entire world. In the Bible narrative, God's people were always making choices, often with disastrous consequences, that were not God's declared preference of behavior.

Concerning Predestination, consider the following:

Daniel 7:
[24] And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
[25] And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
[26] But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
[27] And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
[28] Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.

These are not the words of someone who believes our future is anything but pre-ordained by God, regardless of human action. He speaks of things that are fixed and irrevokable. Concerning a similar prophecy in the form of Pharaoh's dream, Joseph said,

Genesis 41:
[32] And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

Concerning the Muslim's apparent lack of effort to improve his lot, this is the way Muslims appear to Westerners, who have been strongly tainted by an Atheist world-view. Muslims are very much concerned with improving their lot; as witnessed by the Arab Spring, which arose proximately by an increase in the price of bread. The government controlled the price of bread, and the people very logically rose up against the government to change that price. Neither are Muslims averse to putting forth much effort in order to attain their self-betterment. They simply don't believe this will come about, by their becoming wage-slaves of capitalist manipulators. They see the need to replace the capitalists, and the worldview that has engendered that system, with a system of their own construction (Islam and Sharia), which, they suppose, will give advantage to them rather than to the capitalists. Yes, the Muslims, on the whole, do not seek their own betterment in the way that we perceive they are likely to attain it; but no, this is not connected with any tenets of their religion nor traditions of their society: it is purely the result of facts on the ground: The West controls capitalism, the West sets the rules, and the West, through self-interest, is unlikely to bend the rules in favor of the Muslims. In order to attain self-betterment, then, Muslims are seeking an alternative path.

Concerning using kismet as a crutch for their own indolence, this is not particularly Muslim behavior: Kismet, in its narrowest sense, is an Islamic product, so it is convenient for Muslims to use it. Christians have their own crutches, which they use in the same way Muslims use theirs, i.e. to escape responsibility. The most obvious of these, ought to be our concept of "patriotism". Leaning on this crutch, the German people justified their devoted following of Adolf Hitler through a disastrous war; and Nazi war criminals used it to justify their inhuman actions. Americans by the millions have also used this crutch, to justify their doing inhuman things to others in wars they had no business fighting. And if the argument against this is that those soldiers "had no choice, because it was their duty to obey", enter the Nazi war criminals, who said just that.

The bottom line is that we will all do what is convenient for ourselves, whether we are Christians or Muslims; and we will both use cultural and religious excuse to justify ourselves. Jews are not exempt from these things: I notice that when it comes to matters of dress and diet, things that do not physically distress a person, Hasidic Jews are very particular; but when it comes to harder matters, such as defending God's people from attack by the Arabs, they are more lax -- and they use religious excuses. It is because of excuses such as these, by both the Hassids and the Seculars, that Beit HaMikdash is still trodden down by the Muslims.

Muslims and Westerners, therefore, are not like completely different foods, one poison and the other nutritious: They are like the difference between red potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes -- a different flavor, and slightly different nutritional values, but otherwise not much different. I buy whichever one is cheaper; and Muslims and Westerners do the same thing: To a Muslim, it is cheaper to fall in line with the world they live in, a world dominated by hatred and violence against Westerners and other bogeymen; to Westerners, it is being the way we are.

Muslims bring down curses upon their supposed enemies, blaming them for all their ills; Jews kvetch about everything. Both are seeking a common end: to get the blissfull feeling in their psyches that comes from "being right". Then, when they have to, both put aside their complaining and get on with doing what needs to be done, as they perceiv it: The Westerner gets in his car and drives to work, and the Jihadist picks up his weapon. At nighttime, both come home and go to bed -- the Jihadi with his sex slave, and the Westerner with his homosexual partner. Then they both fall asleep, and dream.

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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Reader comments (33) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1Daniel Pipes is too optimistic about the possibility that a moderate Islam can evolve [755 words]traehOct 10, 2015 04:46225548
Israel should send troops to arrest Abbas for inciting violence. He is not above the law [396 words]YJ DraimanOct 9, 2015 02:42225525
Theological or sociological? [101 words]Jason POct 3, 2015 08:04225431
Muslims are fatalist [76 words]imdad AliOct 2, 2015 05:17225419
What about Islamic terrorists? [60 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
AnonSep 27, 2015 17:53225380
Allah,s wish [44 words]ashokSep 26, 2015 03:35225370
1Islam and Israel [17 words]PezDispenserSep 24, 2015 12:59225350
Islamic activism [77 words]VijaySep 22, 2015 10:07225324
A recommended article in the Times of India [139 words]PrashantSep 20, 2015 15:22225291
Saying 'It was willed by God' does not make you a fatalist [62 words]PrashantSep 19, 2015 00:38225112
Predestination is an idea. . . [22 words]Elisha benAbuyaSep 18, 2015 21:33225111
Fatalism and God's Will [34 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Michael E KatzSep 18, 2015 13:22225104
1الرافعات سقطت or The cranes crashed (fell) and 9/11 [87 words]dhimmi no moreSep 18, 2015 12:40225101
al-Qada' wa al-Qadr is not everybodys' business [84 words]Ibnu AbeehiOct 5, 2015 10:25225101
1Guiding the perplexed [243 words]dhimmi no moreOct 6, 2015 07:57225101
The Inescapable [197 words]Pied PiperSep 18, 2015 02:42225086
Predestination in Christianity vs. Islam [594 words]Michael SSep 19, 2015 00:42225086
2al-Qada' wa al-Qadr [102 words]dhimmi no moreSep 22, 2015 09:10225086
3SUBMIT, inshallah akhbar! [75 words]Uncle VladdiSep 18, 2015 01:26225085
2Islam is only the fatalistic idolatrous excuse of predetermined might-makes-right [1194 words]Uncle VladdiSep 18, 2015 01:13225084
Misinterpreted verse [44 words]DajjalSep 18, 2015 19:57225084
"Muslim fatalism" in Auschwitz [81 words]Peter SuedfeldSep 17, 2015 20:21225083
possible explanation [115 words]VijaySep 20, 2015 13:03225083
Are Muslims and Westerners really different from each other? [1850 words]Michael SSep 17, 2015 16:31225082
2Judeo-Christianity teaches self-reliant free-will and personal guilt, while islam only teaches alibi-excuses. [432 words]Uncle VladdiSep 18, 2015 17:43225082
different bible [245 words]Michael SSep 22, 2015 17:37225082
Can't say [59 words]MIchael SSep 24, 2015 05:17225082
Educational Update [110 words]Uncle VladdiSep 25, 2015 19:14225082
King Judah and Muslim v Westerner fatalistic attitudes [215 words]JoeRuOct 1, 2015 18:09225082
Fascinating Info, but Message not entirely clear [177 words]Ron ThompsonSep 17, 2015 15:57225081
A very different example [108 words]VijaySep 17, 2015 14:07225079
They Are Not The First [171 words]Barry BlackSep 17, 2015 14:05225078
Man is a devil. [30 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
steven LSep 17, 2015 13:50225077

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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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