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The dogs bark, but the Islamists fail to move on

Reader comment on item: Islamism in Disarray

Submitted by Dave (United States), Jan 24, 2022 at 20:25

Islamic development took place in two phases: rapid expansion (the Big Bang), followed by consolidation.

Initially, Muhammad (assuming he did exist), formed a broad coalition of monotheists, called "Believers", that swept aside the unpopular Romans (Christian Byzantines). Islam had not yet been formalized; religious distinctions were subordinated to tactical unity. Despite the fact that their Roman opponents were Christian, Christians were respected members of the group. Jews probably joined up as the Roman rulers had excluded them from Jerusalem, and after victory in Jerusalem, Solomon's Temple was rebuilt (as the Dome of the Rock) for all Believers. Logically, no narrow-minded religious fanatic could have accomplished what Muhammad achieved through cooperation and inspiring leadership.

Eventually, Muhammad's generation passed away and a century or so later, the Abbasids were in charge. Now that the empire was in place, new requirements arose related to its consolidation, for power and control over the conquered peoples. Islam was then developed as an organized religion, uniting the empire, with a harsh set of laws; a Believer was revised as only a Muslim, with non-Muslims cast as inferiors, although Christians and Jews still retained some status as People of the Book. Imperial hubris thus led to religious intolerance, a tragic betrayal of Muhammad's legacy. It was a mistake that would eventually fracture Islamic society and lead to the slow disintegration of the empire, a process that continues today.

Bucking this trend are those states, such as the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, which have joined with Israel in the Abraham Accords. This is a return to the broad coalition building that had been such a winning strategy in Muhammad's day. Sometimes the way forward is to take a step back.

Unfortunately, we are still stuck with the diehards, with those stubborn, rigid adherents to a creed which may have been useful for consolidating a big empire in the ninth century, but which is divisive and corrosive to a modern nation state. These smaller states are often in chaos and at each other throats as a result. While many smarter people have awoken to the folly of Islamism in the modern world, many others are still stuck in an irrelevant past. Self-interest should lead to further enlightened change.

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Daniel Pipes replies:

Very interesting application of the revisionist view of early Islamic history.

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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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