Understanding the Muslim Worldview
All possible evidence seem to point to the fact that Arab nations are indeed monolithic in pretty much everything, and have been that way for 1000 years. There is a glimpse of change among some of those countries’ cultural elite, as somewhat seen in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. But in general all Moslem countries follow a pattern of dictatorial government, reaffirmed by religion.
There seems to be something of a religious war brewing, although ultimately this “religious war” is no more religious than any other “religious war” in history. Religion has always been just the excuse. None of this has anything to do with the values of each religion, or even the value of the religions themselves, and not even with whether Religion has any value at all.
Jihad, or Holy War, has always been in integral component of the history of Islam. The reason why Islam propagated so quickly, and so vastly, is because the Muslims were very good with the scimitar and they were fighting a holy war, that is, one in which the objective was not political but rather religious, the outcome was always conditioned to god’s will, and death was welcome. This is not a subversion of a beautiful religion, any more than the oppression of non-Muslims in Muslim societies, the abominable treatment of women and the rejection of any authority that is non-Muslim in Muslims societies—to name a few—are examples of the teachings of a beautiful religion. These, and many examples like these, are not perversions of Islam by right-wing fanatics, but rather are and have always been an integral part of Islam.
“There are entire populations in the Muslim world that have been brought up thinking similarly to absolutist 12th century Christendom, and are stuck in that mind frame.”
Not understanding this is likely evidence of a projection of our own desires, and not a reflection of reality. It is probably natural of us as children of the Enlightenment to try to see goodness even when there is none. We look at Islam and we think we see a peaceful religion. We look at the Koran, their holy book, and we see a wondrous literary masterpiece that exalts love and understanding. However, if we look at all of that with cold, analytical eyes we will actually see 1600 years of bloody holy wars and intolerance (with a short glorious hiatus) and a holy book that teaches that:
Koran 47:4-6: “When ye encounter the infidels, strike off their heads till ye have made a great slaughter among them . . . And who so fight for the cause of God, their works he will not suffer to miscarry; He will vouchsafe them guidance, and dispose their hearts aright; And he will bring them into the Paradise, of which he hath told them.”
Koran 2:216: “War is prescribed to you: but from this ye are averse. Yet haply ye are averse from a thing, though it be good for you.” (also 9:41)
Koran 3:157: “And if ye shall be slain or die on the path of God, then pardon from God and mercy is better than all your amassings; For if ye die or be slain, verily unto God shall ye be gathered.”
Koran 8:65: “O prophet! Stir up the faithful to the fight. Twenty of you who stand firm shall vanquish two hundred: and if there be a hundred of you they shall vanquish a thousand of the infidels, for they are a people devoid of understanding.”
Koran 61:4: “Verily God loveth those who, as though they were a solid wall, do battle for his cause in serried lines!”
Koran 4:74: “Let those then fight on the path of God, who barter this present life for that which is to come; for whoever fighteth on God’s path, whether he be slain or conquer, we will in the end give him a great reward.”
It’s true that the Jewish and Christian bibles have somewhat comparable verses. Maybe the world would be better off without any of it at all… With that being said, the Jewish people have not gone in genocidal rampages in the name of god or religion since biblical times and the Christian people haven’t done it in quite a long time either. The reason why the Muslim people are not only capable but also willing to do that today is because the immoral teachings of their holy book resonate loudly with them, because their culture makes them receptive to that.
There are entire populations in the Muslim world that have been brought up thinking similarly to absolutist 12th century Christendom, and are stuck in that mind frame. There are entire peoples that relish their cult of death and simmer in a miasma of hatred. When we look at Muslim societies we see deep-seated tribal, barbarous attitudes towards their own people and their women. We see internecine fighting for power. We see the cult of death and the pursuit of selfish objectives. What we definitely do not see, before or now, is love of life and peace.
The Western World has had, and still has, many examples of how low human beings can get: right-wing militias, the Nazis (even in the US), the religious fundamentalists (regardless of what religion they belong to), and others. But there are many significant differences: for one, none of these is condoned or promoted by the state, and some of them are actively fought against by the state. Not so in the Moslem world.
Let’s be clear here: Islam is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, if you accept that religions are a good thing. Islam has been used as an excuse to perpetrate atrocities, as Christianity has been used to perpetrate numerous atrocities and to a much lesser degree Judaism has been used in the same way. The difference is that the two latter have for the most part advanced past a literal interpretation of their respective holy books and have become less radical. With some minor fringe exceptions, you just don’t see entire populations this side of the Urals calling for the elimination of other people, like large portions of the Moslem world do. You do not see vile racial incitement in the mainstream media, let alone in state-sponsored media like you do in the Moslem world.
Not all Moslems are bad people, of course. Many, if not most of them are kind, family-oriented, peaceful people. But their voices are not heard. They let their radical brethren take over their governments, their societies, and more importantly, the minds of their children. The moderate in their midst usually prefer to keep quiet and support “the party line”, despite their possible conviction that it’s wrong. In essence, they have capitulated and let the bad guys win. They lack the will to fight the fundamentalists that tarnish their religion, their societies and their countries.
It takes more than just a few enlightened Muslims to get them out of that state: it takes a considerable amount of courage to break with the past and it takes an amount of energy and determination directly proportional to the backwardness of the societies in which these enlightened Muslims will operate. In practical terms, the societies in question also have to be receptive and willing to hear a different view and, more importantly, they need to acknowledge that their way of life is backwards and morally corrupt before any progress can be made
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