“Of all the cures commonly proposed for the many ailments afflicting the Middle East, there is one tonic nearly everyone seems to agree on: boosting moderate Islam.” — from this Foreign Policy article by Steven Cook
“Everyone seems to agree” that the “tonic” is “boosting moderate Islam”?
Again and again it has been suggested here, by me, that the most effective strategy consists of several steps.
The first is pedagogic. A large number of Infidels — that “critical mass” — needs to learn a sufficient amount about the texts and tenets of Islam, and the attitudes and atmospherics to which those texts and tenets naturally give rise. They must do this so that they can no longer be fooled, and can help unfool other Infidels — or immunize them against potential foolishness.
These, the well-informed and the well-prepared, should make sure that that knowledge does not remain hidden, but conveyed. It should be conveyed not only to other Infidels but also to Muslims who will then no longer be able, without arousing suspicion, to spread the kind of taqiyya-and-tu-quoque that they get away with spreading almost everywhere today.
The next step is for Infidels to understand why it is that the many failures of Muslim states and societies stem from Islam itself. This includes political failures: that tendency to despotism, that inability, save in kemalist-exceptional Turkey and one or two other places, to accept democracy, and even then what is in place is not democracy in the advanced Western sense of that word. It also includes economic failures: despite ten trillion dollars in unmerited oil revenues since 1973 alone, the Muslim states have failed to create modern economies, and are still helplessly dependent on Western and other foreign workers. And save in kemalist-exceptional Turkey and bourguiba-exceptionalist Tunisia, they either have that oil money, or where the manna of oil wealth is unavailable, they rely in large part on the disguised Jizyah of foreign aid from Infidels. Or the local Muslims rely on exactions of wealth from their more industrious non-Muslim fellows, as in Malaysia with its Bumiputra system. The social failures — the grotesque mistreatment of women and of non-Muslim minorities — are again less evident in that handful of Muslim countries, such as Kemalist Turkey, where Islam has been systematically constrained, or in one or two of the stans where the anti-religious campaigns of the Soviets, and the very large non-Muslim populations, have helped to reduce the power of Islam. An example of that is Kazakhatan.
The intellectual failures of Islam are a result of two things: the severe discouragement of free and skeptical inquiry, which is in the first place prompted by the desire to prevent Islam itself from being questioned, and which in turn leads to a climate in which no questioning can take place. In a world where those who dare to openly question the faith can be attacked and killed — by mobs if not by the forces of the government — it is unsurprising that intellectual development, including but hardly limited to the kind of thing measured in very rough fashion by Nobel Prizes, is limited. There has been hardly any development of science under Islam in the past thousand years. Arab literature, according to the poet Adonis, is in a permanent state of crisis; it “does not exist.” Indeed, the greatest achievements in literature have been those by Persian poets, such as Firdowsi, Sa’adi, Hafiz, and Omar Khayyam, who stand much higher in the Western consciousness, standing virtually alone, than in the Iranian mental pantheon. And all of them sang of matters — wine, women, song, and so on, and in Firdowsi’s important case of the Shahnameh, of pre-Islamic Iranian history — that can be said to violate both the spirit and the letter of Islam.
As for art, when all sculpture, and almost all painting, and almost all music, is banned, and the only outlets left are Arabic calligraphy and mosque architecture, that does not leave much room for the creativity that, over 1350 years, must have been stifled in so many. Many of those, had they not had the misfortune to be born into Islam, or to be conquered by the forces of Islam, might have enriched the world’s museums, and the common heritage, in the way that, for example, the artists of the West and the Far East have done.
Then there are the moral failures. There is the failure that comes of being raised up in a system that divides the world between Believers and Infidels, and posits a state of permanent war (though not always open warfare) between the two — and that, furthermore, manages to justify many sorts of aggression and cruelty. It also elevates deception (“war is deception”), as long as that aggression and cruelty, that deception, that violence, furthers the cause of Islam.
The best way to deal with Islam is for Infidels to make that connection, and then to make public their understanding of that connection, and to be sure to convey that understanding to Muslims themselves. That is, force the issue rather than avoid it: force Muslims themselves to begin to see how, in what ways, the failures of their societies are the result of Islam itself, and not of what any Infidels have done. And they should not stop there. They should appeal to the 80% of the world’s Muslims who are not Arab to see how, in what ways, Islam has always been a vehicle for Arab supremacism — that is, for cultural and linguistic imperialism (as with the Berbers still), and for economic and political imperialism. Indeed, Arab imperialism, using Islam as that vehicle, has been the most successful imperialism in human history, causing many peoples to ignore their own pre-Islamic pasts or to encourage contempt for any non-Islamic elements in their own societies that may continue, despite the pressure of Islam, to exist (for example, the celebration of Nahruz in Iran).
This is the way to proceed.
“Nearly everyone” agrees?
What am I? A potted plant?