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Islamic Exclusivism

Reader comment on item: [Pakistani Christians and] A War Against What?

Submitted by Marc Johan (Malaysia), Dec 10, 2002 at 02:09

Religion plays a major role in any human conflict.

It is an undeniable fact that religious reforms have never been accomplished successfully in Islam and therefore it remains as a medieval religion. Unlike other religions, which have ‘theological beliefs' and ‘sociological beliefs' as separate entities, Islam has never learned to look at it differently. Thus, Islam remains a fundamentalist religion, which denies integration with people of other faiths. Through the ages, those who tried to reform or call for change to orthodox Islam have been killed as heretics or infidels. Thus it is felt that the sociological dictates of orthodox Islam, in many ways, are still mired in medieval thinking and dogmatic backwardness and are comparable to the days of pre-Reformation Christianity. Those were the days of the Dark Ages.

It logically follows that it is the business of the modern world at large to interpret, question, and challenge those fossilised aspects of a religion that take a position concerning outsiders. If I am the subject of some other religion's doctrine, and such a doctrine states how I am to be treated as a kafir (unbeliever), what is to be done to me, what I may or may not do freely, then, even though I am not a member of that religion, it does matter to me and becomes my business to probe these doctrines and even to demand a change as an outsider if abuse and violence on my person and well-being is the outcome. On the other hand, if a religion minds its own business, and has little to say pertaining to me as an outsider, then I should respect its right to be left alone. In other words, Islam's right to be left alone by outsiders or unbelievers should be reciprocal and contingent upon its social and moral responsibility to leave outsiders alone.

Thus, this special demand of ‘Islamic exclusivism' and imposition of harsh Islamic laws and beliefs upon the public sphere is the root cause of terrorism in our post-Sept 11 world. We are not interested to fight their jihad wars but if they transgress beyond the limits of human restraint, it is our duty to subdue them and change their religion for them. It becomes our business to open their eyes and minds pointing out for them the myths and lies of their religious dogmas. It is not uncommon to note that wherever Muslims live, they start demanding special status, privileges and treatment and a separate identity for Muslims once their population in a given region crosses a threshold in numbers or on achieving critical mass. It is this ‘external' sociological issue of exclusivism that led the ‘threshold' numbers to make assertive demands for self-determination and political secession.

If left unchecked, it would not be surprising if one day the United States of America will have a similar experience and face similar separatist demands from American Muslims in the next few decades. Thus, the Kashmir problem is not merely a real-estate issue belonging to India and Pakistan alone to solve, but a ‘religious' one belonging to the entire world. It is a front-line ideological battle between modern-day pluralism vs. Islamic medievalist exclusivism. In every country of the world where Muslims form a sizeable proportion of their minority population, religion is the root cause of their secessionist conflict - in China, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Chechnya, to name just a few.
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