Skip to comments.Why Islam Hates Democracy
Posted on 06/07/2002 8:31:08 AM PDT by mhking
Why Islam Hates Democracy
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 6, 2002
IN 1989, Irans Islamic tyrant Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa a compulsory religious decree in Islam that condemned Salman Rushdie to death. Rushdie had committed the crime of writing his book The Satanic Verses, which was, in Khomeinis mind, slanderous to the Prophet Muhammad. In Islam, those who insult Allah or the Prophet are subject to the death penalty.
In 1992, Farag Foda, an Egyptian writer known for his secularist views, was shot dead outside his office in the heart of Cairo. This intellectual consistently called out for open dialogue with Islamic fundamentalists. The militant Islamic group al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya gleefully claimed not only responsibility, but justification. One of the gunmen, Abdul-Shafi Ahmad Ramadan, who was apprehended after the attack, boasted to police: "We had to kill him, because he attacked our beliefs."
Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazali, a prominent and distinguished Egyptian cleric, testified at the Foda murder trial in defense of the accused. He stated that Ramadan had done his Islamic duty because Foda had revealed his apostasy in opposing the establishment of an Islamic state, in rejecting Sharia Law (the law of Islam), and in questioning the unity of the state and religion.
The circumstances surrounding the death bounty on Rushdies head and the execution of Foda illuminate to us one serious and critical phenomenon: Islams inability to join the modern world.
Question: what happens in a society where "slandering" Muhammad, which is punishable by death, can entail the smallest disagreement with an Islamic law or even the hint of the support of a Western idea? How can a culture grow when a voiced social criticism of any kind or a reinterpretation of the Koran can be easily construed as slandering Muhammad and, therefore, be punished by death?
Answer: it cant.
The tremendous success that has driven Western civilization is secularism. Islamic civilization sees secularism as anathema. In order to catch up with the West, Islam must embrace secularism, but embracing secularism would force Islam to sacrifice its Islamic character. This is why a reformed Islam is an oxymoron, because Islam cannot reform and still remain Islam.
The very meaning of Islam is the unquestioning submission to Allah and to Islamic law. The Koran is a body of doctrine that Muslims are expected to accept unquestioningly - without scrutinizing it for any flaws. Any notion that exists outside of the literal understanding of the Koran is regarded as being associated with sin at best and heresy at worst.
Islam is seen as perfect by Muslims. It is a total way of life. It doesnt need any new ideas or any legal revisions to complement any new learning or new needs of society. In fact, Islam regards even the suggestion of new ideas or legal revisions as being un-Islamic. And if something is un-Islamic, it could be construed as being slanderous to Muhammad. And guess what happens next?
The use of the human faculty of reason itself, upon which the Western Enlightenment was based, is considered to be a form of heresy in Islam. This is why literacy, science and mathematics have often been regarded by the ulama (the scholars in Islam) as a threat to Islam.
It doesnt really take a rocket scientist, therefore, to figure out why, throughout its long history of being repeatedly overwhelmed by foreign invaders, foreign rule, and foreign influences, the Arab world has absorbed absolutely nothing from the outside world. Self-insulated, Islam is intrinsically resistant to change.
In the Islamic Arab world, any foreign idea is heavily suspect. Any Western notion is automatically associated with evil. Thus, if the infidels say that an object will fall because of the laws of gravity, Muslims will suspect this to be a demonic lie. But if the same laws of gravity are sanctioned by a voice that is seen as representing authentic Islam, then such laws are automatically believed.
Individualism, creativity and originality are non-existent in the Arab world. And it is no mystery why the worlds of competition and commerce have spawned economic success stories in places like Japan and other Pacific societies in the post-WWII era, while the Arab world has been ridden with falling incomes, economic lethargy and social stagnation.
The bottom line is that the very notion of any new invention or innovation (Bida) is seen in Islam as being an offense to Allah. This is why, whenever anything even remotely close to a debate occurs in the Islamic Middle East, the accusation of Bida, which remains the most popular and effective accusation in the Arab world, immediately terminates the debate. The individual accused of Bida knows where the accusation can lead.
This reality might help explain why a functional democracy is nowhere to be found in the entire Arab world.
In the eyes of Islam, the very notion of democracy is demonized. In Islam, after all, Allah is sovereign, which means that humans constructing their own laws is sinful. The Koran and Sharia Law give Muslims all the laws they need. This is why Islam sees faith and politics as a single domain and why Farag Foda had to be killed for questioning it.
In Islam, democracy, as well as the very notion of the freedom of human conscience, represents a dangerous deviation from the Koran and the Sharia. Elections are seen as a form of blasphemy. They are Satans vehicle to destroy the Koran.
The Taliban in Afghanistan perfectly represented the logical extension of this despotic, impoverished and impotent way of Islamic life. They implemented Islamic belief in the most literal manner possible: everything that was prohibited in the Koran, and everything that was not mentioned in the Koran, simply became illegal.
Thus, aside from engaging in the typical oppression of women that is found in every Islamic Arab society, the Taliban banned television, film, books, photography, music (even at weddings) and sports. They also illegalized laughing.
The Taliban werent too concerned about the utter emptiness and insipidity they had left in the environment of the people they ruled. After all, there were always the passages from the Koran to memorize. And, as Mullah Hassan, the former Taliban governor of Kandahar, patiently explained: "Of course, we realize that people need some entertainment. We tell them to go to the parks and see the flowers. From this, they will absorb the essence of Islam."
Flowers are indeed beautiful. But building a prosperous and dynamic society, nurturing democratic institutions, fostering economic growth, and safeguarding the sacredness and freedom of the human conscience demands much more than just the aesthetic appreciation of flowers.
It demands what the West has and the Islamic world miserably lacks.
But how does the Islamic world gain it if it cannot shed itself of how and why Salman Rushdie must live the rest of his life in hiding escaping the fate of Farag Foda?
Jamie Glazov holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Soviet Studies. He is the author of 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist and of Canadian Policy Toward Khruschevs Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002). Born in the U.S.S.R., Jamie is the son of prominent Soviet dissidents, and now resides in Vancouver, Canada. He writes the Dr. Progressive advice column for angst-ridden leftists at EnterStageRight.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ahem, not quite, Jaime.
"It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplication to that Almighty Being, who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States. . . . No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. . . . We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained." -- George Washington, in his first inaugural address (April 30, 1789), reprinted in The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1931-44),vol. 30, pp. 292-6.
"Religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, that all men should enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the magistrate, unless under color of religion any man disturb the peace, the happiness, or safety of society, and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other." -- James Madison, ca. 1789, cited in Gaillard Hunt, James Madison and Religious Liberty (Washington: American Historical Association, Government Printing Office, 1902), p. 166.
The Koran does not say that any idiot can spout a self-decreed "fatwah" compulsory to all Islams.
Thus, at least two "Islamic" countries disowned, debarred, and expelled Osama and his "fatwa".
But maybe they just hate Clinton's version of 'Democracy'. Seems like when Bush, the elder, left office he handed on an Islam coalition. Obviously Democracy was not hated then. Maybe what Clinton did in his eight years might have something to do with the way Islam feels.
I am more inclined to the opinion that this success is more a result of free-market capitalism than religious orientation; its counterpart in theology is a religious laissez faire that in the U.S. has come to be regarded as "separation of church and state."
In Islam no such distinction exists. Islamic law subsumes what in the west is both the laws of God and civil law as well. In its infancy Islam was not incompatible with democracy or any other form of government - there were no imams, no ayatollahs, and every man's interpretation of the Koran was as good as anyone else's. That changed, and what came to be Doctors of Islam were not only its "church fathers," but its civil judges and arbiters as well.
The upshot was theocracy, and it is theocracy per se that is incompatible with democracy, IMHO - St. Augustine certainly thought so, as did other early fathers of the Christian church. Where the law of God is specific in either the Bible or the Koran there is no difficulty in interpretation; where it is not somebody must interpret, and here the law of God ineluctably becomes the law of men. Therein lies the problem.
To Islamists: So you want a Jihad, do you? Wellllllllllllllllllllllll, we'll give you a Jihad.
You're absolutely correct! The U.S. is a Republic!
Actually, give it a couple of weeks, and Pakistan will be a parking lot made of glass...
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