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Internal Conflict in Islam?

Reader comment on item: Once considered anti-Islam, senior scholar says he's now in the middle
in response to reader comment: Religion and the Mind

Submitted by Edward Cline (United States), Aug 26, 2010 at 21:37

Robert emphasizes what I have contended for a long time, that if Islam is to be "reformed" so that it can "survive" in a secular, individual rights-based society and culture, what he calls the "brutal" elements of it must be surgically removed, so that it is muzzled and pacified. Could it still be called "Islam"? I doubt it.

Another important component in Islam is the character of Mohammad. Any reformation of Islam must dispense with him or reinterpret him beyond recognition and certainly beyond credibility. As a "prophet" he is the source of Islam's alleged wisdom. Muslim theologians may tinker with what he said was the Islamic "moral" life to make Islam's imperatives palatable not only to Muslims but to non-believers. But to discard Mohammad is to discard the whole system, so it's a no-win conundrum for the reformers. And to discard Mohammad, or subject him to a more civil make-over, is also to subject Allah to the same grooming. It would be tantamount to transforming Alaric into a fashion plate for Gentleman's Quarterly, and Jehovah into Clarence the angel from "It's a Wonderful Life."

Robert also points up another aspect of Islam that I have dwelt on, which is its altruist nature. Individuals would subscribe to it for a number of itinerant reasons, none of them rational, and risk surrendering their identities and volition to a system that demands unquestioning acceptance of all that emanates from the Koran and Hadith. As Robert notes, Islam, like Christianity, demands that men give up their minds and their thinking faculties and substitute the fiat authority of a supernatural being as a moral guide. Islam, as he also points out, has never undergone any conflict with a secular state, as Christianity has. Nor has it ever really experienced the kinds of internal strife that Christianity has.

There are the major Sunni and Shi'ite factions within Islam, but the differences between them, at least to an "outsider," are inconsequential in light of the overall fearsome character of Islam. They are both anti-individual, anti-freedom, misogynic variations on the same theme and willing to use force to compel conformity and submission. Christianity, once dispossessed from the political sphere, allowed and still allows Christians (and Jews) mental "breathing room" to live outside the altruism (what I call compartmentalization). Islam does not allow such breathing room. It is all or nothing, even for those who manage to enter professions such as medicine or journalism or engineering. I do not see such internal strife within Islam. The best minds have abandoned it altogether (Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others), leaving behind Muslims who are prisoners of their own dogma, and who are not likely to instigate a "revolution."

Robert is also right, that the left doesn't get it. It doesn't get it because the left is as ambitiously totalitarian as is Islam. The kettle is not likely to call the pot black.


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