The consistency of nihilistic violence, genocide, and overall war on civilizations that have far eclipsed Islam…it all raises the urgent question of what the hell is wrong with Islam? At what point does Islamic civilization ask itself whether its religious precepts hamper its civilization’s improvement? Here’s the reason: no Renaissance, no Reformation, no Enlightenment.
The Charlie Hebdo terror attack started with the 12 murdered: journalists and cartoonists Stéphane Charbonnier (editor), Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut, Elsa Cayat (a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst), Philippe Honoré, and Bernard Verlhac; Mustapha Ourrad, a self-taught copy editor; economist Bernard Maris; Michel Renaud, a visitor to Charlie Hebdo’s office that awful morning; unarmed police officers Franck Brinsolaro (who was assigned to protect Stephane Charbonnier) and Ahmed Merabet (who was a French Muslim); and maintenance man Frédéric Boisseau. R.I.P.
But according to Liberals, Muslims at large were also victims. Liberals and apologists repeat refrains:
‘What happened in Paris is a French attack on France,’ Lebanese columnist Amar Mohsen tried to explain the murder cause. The murderers are French citizens who grew up in a culture that couldn’t contain them and excluded them….
[Islamic terror] attacks in European states were carried out by their own citizens…. But unlike the European states’ indifference to the attacks and killing of Muslim civilians in Muslim states, every attack on a European civilian, abroad or at home, immediately produces a Pavlovian response against ‘Islam.’ Muslims killing Muslims is normal. Muslims killing Europeans is ‘a clash of civilizations.’…
‘This murder is the most precious gift that terror has given racism in France,’ Moroccan columnist Hamid Zid wrote Thursday [January 8, just days after the attack]. ‘Those murders killed not only the journalists, but the millions of Muslims who live in France, and have also justified Islam’s murderous image. They have plunged a knife into the heart of Islam and Muslims worldwide.’
Liberal, secular and religious Muslims again find themselves on the defense, as though they were responsible for creating an environment inducive to terror. Their voices usually go unheard. They do not appear on talk shows, and television series on Islam are not interested in them. They represent that which is self-evident and allow their homelands, in Europe or the Middle East, to boast of multiculturalism.
“Here in the West, academics and liberal media-types often bend over backwards in an effort to convince the public that the threat from radical Islam is no more or less serious than the threat from radical Christianity, Judaism or [insert any religion here],” citing Ben Afflek and his Liberal ilk (http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/01/nine-things-youll-learn-from-pews-poll-of-the-worlds-muslims/). But with more Islamic terror attacks in the Western world, Liberals lose ground.
‘This secular atheism is an act of war in this context,’ said Andrew Hussey, a Paris-based professor of postcolonial studies…. ‘Politically, the official left in France has been in denial of the conflict between France and the Arab world,’ Professor Hussey said. ‘But the French in general sense it.’
Here’s another: “[t]he vast majority of Muslims of course have nothing to do with the insanity of such attacks — except that they are disproportionately the victims of terrorism.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/opinion/nicholas-kristof-lessons-from-the-charlie-hebdo-shooting-in-paris.html). Sadly, these Liberal apologists do a disservice to Muslim reforms from within:
Noble liberals like yourself always stand up for the misrepresented Muslims and stand against the Islamophobes, which is great but who stands in my corner and for the others who feel oppressed by the religion? Every time we raise our voices, one of us is killed or threatened…. If Muslims do not critique their own atrocities, then people on the outside will and their message will not be listened to simply because of who they are….What you did by screaming ‘racist!’ was shut down a conversation that many of us have been waiting to have…. In the interest of being politically correct and ‘liberal’, we silence the voices of millions.
Indeed, some advise to curtail our exercise of speech freedoms – i.e., practice self censorship – lest we offend those prepared to kill for an offense (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/185984/fareed-zakaria-yale-press-and-censorship/michael-rubin). So, seemingly Liberals are more eager to protect Muslims than those who uphold the Enlightenment values of Western civilization. Dear Liberals, you are *way* off base, here. You’re rooting for the wrong team.
It’s disturbing to Ben Affleck and his Liberal peers that critique of Islam makes Muslims look poorly. Well, the facts don’t look good…indeed, the facts are quite alarming.
[Muslims rightly fear Muslims] Muslims are more concerned about Muslim extremism than Christian extremism…in almost every country Pew surveyed, Muslims themselves indicated the threat from Muslim extremism is more serious than the threat from Christian extremism — that is, if they didn’t indicate they feared both equally or neither.
A majority of Muslims in several countries think adulterers and apostates should be put to death.
Muslims in many countries don’t have a problem with honor killings.
A high percentage of Palestinians and Afghanis say suicide-bombing civilians is justified.
Muslims say no to drinking, but yes to polygamy (in some countries).
(Quotes are out of sequence from: http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/01/nine-things-youll-learn-from-pews-poll-of-the-worlds-muslims/).
But yet, it appears that “most Muslims say they prefer democracy,” one of the sentinel accomplishments of Western civilization. How very nice: enjoying the benefits of Western civilization, while seeking to destroy it.
In an op-ed piece published in USA Today just two days after the Charlie Hebdo terror attack, Anjem Choudary posits that:
Contrary to popular misconception, Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone. Therefore, Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression, as their speech and actions are determined by divine revelation and not based on people’s desires.
Although Muslims may not agree about the idea of freedom of expression, even non-Muslims who espouse it say it comes with responsibilities. In an increasingly unstable and insecure world, the potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, “Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.”
However, because the honor of the Prophet is something which all Muslims want to defend, many will take the law into their own hands, as we often see.
Within liberal democracies, freedom of expression has curtailments, such as laws against incitement and hatred.
And yet moderate Muslims don’t help improve the harsh situation! “The word ‘moderate’ has lost its credibility.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ali-a-rizvi/an-open-letter-to-moderat_b_5930764.html). Moderate Muslims defend the *very same words and book* that the Islamic terrorists effortlessly quote as justification for killing many, many Muslims and non-Muslims – as perfect and infallible?! Albeit quick to condemn the terror and genocide done in the name of Islam, moderates nevertheless quail when they’re confronted with Koranic texts detailing how savagely to mete-out terror and genocide.
Abou El Fadl’s once-vaunted reputation as a moderate Muslim, he wants Muslims to live by Islamic law (the Shari’a), the law that among other things endorses slavery, execution for apostasy, and the repression of women, and which treats non-Muslims as second-class citizens. ‘Shariah and Islam are inseparable,” he has written, “and one cannot be without the other.” In a revealing passage, he confesses that his “primary loyalty, after God, is to the Shariah.’ This public airing of his true ambitions undercut his pretense of moderation.
(http://www.theminorityreportblog.com/2015/01/12/heres-what-a-moderate-muslim-sounds-like/). Ultimately moderates resort to double-talking faculties to defend the Koran, which is denial. Or disingenuousness. It hardly matters which.
Indeed, the facts about Muslims are so alarming, they raise the fundamental question of whether Islam itself is congruent to liberal political philosophy (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1993/02/islam-and-liberal-democracy/308509/).
Here’s a nice summation of why is Arab civilization collapsing:
A[n]…accurate understanding of events leads to the conclusion that Arab, not Muslim, civilization is in a state of collapse, and it just happens that most Arabs are Muslims….
[O]n the Arab League’s website there is a paper that details all of the contributions made by Arab civilization. It is a long and impressive list, which unfortunately marks 1406 as the last year a significant contribution was made. That makes next year  the 600th anniversary of the beginning of a prolonged stagnation, which began a dive into the abyss with the end of the Ottoman Empire. Final collapse has been staved off only by the cash coming in from a sea of oil and because of a few bright spots of modernity that have resisted the general failure.
Statistics tell an ugly story about the state of Arab civilization. According to the U.N.’s Arab Human Development Report:
There are 18 computers per 1000 citizens compared to a global average of 78.3.
Only 1.6% of the population has Internet access.
Less than one book a year is translated into Arabic per million people, compared to over 1000 per million for developed countries.
Arabs publish only 1.1% of books globally, despite making up over 5% of global population, with religious books dominating the market.
Average R&D expenditures on a per capita basis is one-sixth of Cuba’s and less than one-fifteenth of Japan’s.
The Arab world is embarking upon the new century burdened by 60 million illiterate adults (the majority are women) and a declining education system, which is failing to properly prepare regional youth for the challenges of a globalized economy. Educational quality is also being eroded by the growing pervasiveness of religion at all levels of the system. In Saudi Arabia over a quarter of all university degrees are in Islamic studies. In many other nations primary education is accomplished through Saudi-financed madrassas, which have filled the void left by government’s abdication of its duty to educate the young.
In economic terms we have already commented that the combined weight of the Arab states is less than that of Spain. Strip oil out of Mideast exports and the entire region exports less than Finland. According to the transnational Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), regional economic growth is burdened by declining rates of investment in fixed capital structure, an inability to attract substantial foreign direct investment, and declining productivity — the economic trinity of disaster.
Economic stagnation coupled with rapid population growth is reducing living standards throughout the region, both comparatively and in real terms. In the heady days of the late 1970s oil boom, annual per-capita GDP growth of over 5% fueled high levels of expectations. GDP per-capita grew from $1,845 to $2,300. Today, after adjusting for inflation, it stands at $1,500, reflecting an overall decline in living standards over 30 years. Only sub-Saharan Africa has done worse. If oil wealth is subtracted from the calculations the economic picture for the mass of Arab citizens becomes dire.
Things are indeed bad in the Arab world and will get much worse….
Upheaval and revolution are the likely results of a massive number of youth confronted by stagnating or collapsing economies as they enter adulthood….
It is more accurate to say that fundamental failure of Arab culture is causing people to begin looking backwards at the golden age of their civilization. Two things ring out to them from those past centuries: Arabs were powerful when they were united and when their faith was new, vital, and fundamental.
And there’s more! A review of today’s news stories clearly show that Muslims fight each other and fight non-Muslims far more often than do peoples of other civilizations. “In the mid-1990s, roughly half the ethnic conflicts in the world involved Muslims fighting each other or non-Muslims. In one inventory by The Economist, Muslims were responsible for 11 and possibly 12 of 16 major acts of international terrorism between 1983 and 2000. Five of the seven states listed by the U.S. State Department as supporting terrorism are Muslim, as are a majority of foreign organizations listed as engaged in terrorism.” [Samuel Huntington, “The Age of Muslim Wars,” (2011)].
So, at what point does Islamic civilization ask itself whether its religious precepts hamper its civilization’s improvement?
The short answer: no Renaissance, no Reformation, no Enlightenment.
Without Reformation, Enlightenment and Renaissance, Islamic civilization will continue to fail dismally. There are some very brave souls who posit some version of this thesis in the Muslim world.
Muslims cannot make do with denouncing and repudiating terrorist barbarism, but must acknowledge that its roots lie within Muslim society, and especially within the Islam that is prevalent in the Arab world today. He points out that Islam, like all religions, has throughout its history been a source of much good, wisdom and enlightenment, but that today’s mainstream Islam rejects the freedom and flexibility that are advocated by the Koran and instead promotes rigidity and regression that ultimately give rise to terrorism. The Muslim world, he concludes, must therefore reform itself, and especially its education systems, based on principles of freedom of religion and thought, equality, and respect for the other (http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/8206.htm).
In a recent TV interview, former Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Al-Din called for the establishment of a civil state in Iraq based on man-made law and equality, rather than on Islamic jurisprudence, as the only way to combat ISIS. He further said that there were thousands of mosques in the U.S. and worldwide that incited and prepared people to join ISIS. “Islam has been politicized and is used as a sword,” he said in the Al-Iraqiya TV interview, which aired on October 17. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8coZIHX2mg0). Also: Ayad Jamal Al-Din in TV Debate About Separation of Religion and State (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbUUNonUgE8).
Muslims who claim the actions of the Taliban or ISIS are not Islamic must match this rhetoric by coming together and calling for a strict separation between Islam and politics. They must renounce armed jihad as unfit for our age (http://www.meforum.org/4931/muslims-must-save-islam-from-islamists).
Egyptian President Al-Sisi at Al-Azhar: We Must Revolutionize Our Religion, Channel 1 (Egypt) – December 28, 2014 (http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/4704.htm).
Indeed, arguing that not all civilizations develop along parallel trajectories, Islam may not be built to permit a separation of mosque and state, much less permit it (http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/02/islam-will-not-have-its-own-reformation/?utm_content=bufferf0595&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer). However, to
argue there is no single path toward religious modernism does not negate the call for or hope for some form of a Muslim Reformation. Ultimately the traditionalist practices in Arab Islam (which weaves tribalism into religion) are fundamentally incompatible with modernity, and something has to give. Perhaps the current Sunni/Shi’a strife is akin to the Thirty Years War or not, but if not, it is only overwhelming bloodshed and destruction cause in the name of religion that induces societies to turn toward more moderate interpretations of their religions.
Here’s a scary possibility: some posit that the “Islamic State is the true embodiment of the Islamic Reformation” (http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Sam-Harris-is-wrong-about-Islam-379138).
That’s where the world is: Stuff from science fiction coming out of Stuttgart and California, stuff from the Middle Ages coming out of Mecca, Riyadh, Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus, Karachi, Kabul, Cairo, Istanbul, Nairobi, Mogadishu, Lahore, Khartoum, Ankara, Algiers, Jakarta, Dhaka . . . ” “In the past 60 years, the Western world has made remarkable advances. Evils such as plague and famine — which until the day before yesterday we assumed would always be with us — have been leashed, not only in Europe and the Anglosphere but consequently to a remarkable extent in places such as India and China, which were until quite recently the subject of clichés about starving children. Our cultural vector points at peace, prosperity, and purpose, and the people in the rest of the world who want to come along are more than welcome. ”
As a religion that expressly forbids many of the Enlightenment freedoms that we take for granted in the Western world – including the freedom of speech under lethal attack at Charlie Hebdo – Islam *is* a religion of intolerance. Sharia is fascism. And the goal of many Islamists is to spread such fascism to the West.
The international jihadist movement has declared war. They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they’d think and act. We may not like this and wish it would go away, but it’s not going to go away, and the reality is we are going to have to confront it.
– Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
It is for us, Western civilization, to – again! – repel Islamic invasions. We’re at war.