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response to Dr. Pipes response

Reader comment on item: The Clash to End All Clashes?

Submitted by festine (United States), Feb 8, 2006 at 09:20

The multitude of commentaries on the cartoon controversy set out a variety of opinions as to the causes and repercussions. However the phrase "modernization" was first seen by me in Dr. Pipes brief response to the "clash of civilizations" argument. I submit that the whole controversy underscores just that- the failure of the muslim world to modernize at the same pace as the west.

If one examines the history of European Christendom, it becomes apparent that the Muslim world is about 600-700 years behind the west in a variety of areas.

Some points:

Congruence of religion and civil authority once existed in the Roman Church. Popes and Holy Roman Emperors were not just spiritual leaders, but wielded significant political and military power.

Religious dissent was not tolerated. Blasphemy in middle age Christianity was punishible by death. The atrocities of the Inquisition are well known.

Women were subjugated and otherwise treated as chattel. A married woman could not own real property or otherwise engage in any business transaction apart from her husband. Marriages were commonly arranged.

At one point in history, the Roman Catholic Church taught it to be sinful to charge interest on a loan of money. This was because most loans were for necessaries, and it was deemed wrong to profit on another's misfortune. However as the world became more industrialized and loans were used for business and other productive purposes, it came to be accepted as fair that the lender of money should be compensated for its forebearance. Muslim doctrine still teaches that collecting interest is wrong, although there are a variety of financial tricks employed to circumvent this when necessary.

Thus many of the practices we now see in the Muslim world that seem so backward, and at times abhorrent to the average westerner once similiarly existed in the realm of European Christendom. But the Muslim world has never had the equivalant of a reformation. It has never produced the equivalent of a Voltaire, or other philosophers who propounded the value of individual dignity over public and religious institutions. There was no age of enlightenment. No movement to separate religious from civil authority. In short, it hasn't modernized and this is the root of all the current problems.

I believe Dr. Pipes is absolutely correct when he states that that there are moderate muslims very taken back by current events, and otherwise powerless in their own circles. The challenge to the west is how can the modernization process be accellerated, while we simultaneous fight a war against the scattered forces of Islamic facism.

The first step is to accept the fact that we are at war- something that a significant portion of both America and Europe stubbornly refuses to do. This war will be lengthy, painful, frustrating, and otherwise require great patience and sacrifice. Therefore if the cartoon controversy serves to convince some that there really is a world war going on, then that is a good thing. There will never be peace until there is first victory.

And when you see (as has occurred within the last couple of days) moderate clerics denouncing this depravity and asserting that Islam does not countenence murder over offensive cartoons, that is an even better thing.


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