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Islamist's psychology

Reader comment on item: The Western Mind of Radical Islam

Submitted by Prashant (United States), Mar 31, 2021 at 02:15

Dear Dr Pipes, In your essay "Western Mind of Radical Islam" you have correctly pointed out that a lot of Islamists exhibit many western tendencies. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, was a UK-educated, whisky-drinking, cigar-smoking, designer-suit wearing Muslim. And, like all modern-educated Muslims, he never married a Muslim woman by choice (though, I must admit, his first wife, the result of a child-marriage, was a born Muslim). So, even the founder of the only country in the world created for Muslims exemplifies what you stated.

I am not surprised that so many Islamists were educated in the West. Throughout the last 200 years, the western countries were the only places to get educated for Muslims or non-Muslims. Even Nehru, Gandhi and scores of other Hindu leaders of India were educated in the West. Same is true of the leaders of many other countries in Asia, Africa, and, even, Latin America.

What is different between Muslims and non-Muslim western-educated people is that though non-Muslims return to their homelands with a healthy, natural, and expected change in their attitudes, same kind of change is not exhibited by their Muslim counterparts. Even if they adopt some western concepts (like democracy, capitalism, socialism, communism, Shakespeare etc), they make all these things subservient to Islam. I have often wondered that psychologists must deeply study the Islamic mindset to explain the behavior of Muslims. Short of that, I have my own theories which might explain. Here are some of my theories:

1. Muslims are ingrained with a deep desire to make the entire world Islamic. These ideas are implanted in their minds from early childhood and much more so than in the minds of the adherents of other religions. With this kind of indoctrination, it becomes much less likely that a Muslim will ever question the Islamic expansionist attitudes or minimize his Islamic identity in any meaningful way.

2. Muslims are afraid of criticizing Islam or leaving it. Once again, due to the laws against apostacy, to childhood indoctrination, and to genuine fear of the Allah's punishment, Muslims can never abandon Islam in any meaningful way.

3. Muslims have a genuine inferiority complex about their religion. Islam portrays itself as a modern, truer, and better version of the two other Biblical religions. But when Muslims see West's supremacy in sports, science, music, economics and almost all other fields, their reaction is that of inferiority and hate. How can their "better religion" perform so poorly? So, their admiration of the West, menifests itself in hateful ways. And, their inferiority complex forces them not to accept any good non-Islamic values (Western or Eastern) in meaningful and permanent ways.

4. Exaggeration and willful lying is always an option. Consider feminism as an example. No woman will fancy herself to be a second, third, or fourth wife. Don't we know how jealous all humans are of competion in love! But Muslims will like us to believe that Muslims invented feminism. And, not to mention smaller share of inherited property that women get! Similarly, Muslims will like us to believe that Khadijah was a business woman in the image of a modern fortune-500 CEO. Even if we grant that Khadizah was a self-made billionaire, what the Muslims will conveniently ignore is that when Khadijah ran her business, neither she nor Muhammad was a Muslim. Fanciful thinking of this kind, allows Muslims to refrain from accepting the truth and live with the contradictions that you have pointed out.

5. Somewhat contradictory to the third point, Muslims truly believe that their religion is the best and the only truth. When all is said and done, Islam must win because God destined it to win. So, even if they benefit from the West, and admire it, and learn from it, in the end Islam must be the winner and cannot be challenged.

6. Quran --that can never be wrong-- tells them to fight against the infidel forever. Infallibility of the Quran makes peace very difficult.

So what is the solution? What is one thing that I will like to tell the Muslims? Perhaps, I will say that even if Quran is the word of God, it may not be the last word. And, certainly, it may not be taken literally. It needs to be interpreted and reinpreted until it reconciles. And, until then, the golden rule is the best rule. And, this is not to say that Muslims should not repect the Quran.

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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