Speaking at a coordinating ministerial session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov expressed concerns about growing Islamophobia and intolerance in various parts of the world, the Ministry told Interfax on Saturday.
“Uzbekistan has been one of the centers of enlightened Islam for centuries. This is why certain negative interpretations of Islam’s historical role and deliberately malicious distortions of historical facts cause our serious concerns,” Norov said.
Uzbekistan is categorically against seeing the war on terror transforming into Islamophobia and taking the shape of latent or open confrontation with the Islamic world, he said. — from this article
When a Muslim ruler, of a Muslim-populated land, with its peculiar twentieth-century history tells other Muslim leaders at a conference of Muslim states that the campaign against terrorism should not be an excuse for “Islamophobia,” one has to take apart what is going on here.
First, no Muslim ruler of any Muslim state is going to admit, publicly or privately, that there is something deeply threatening to Infidels in the ideology of Islam. No Muslim ruler is going to publicly honor those previous Muslim rulers who, in the past, precisely because they were not following the rules of Islam, allowed a certain syncretistic tolerance to affect how they discharged the responsibilities of rule, and did — here and there, and again precisely because they were not strict Muslims — behave more decently toward the non-Muslim subjects they ruled over.
For example, Akbar removed the forced payment of the Jizyah from Hindus and other non-Muslims. He is as a consequence revered by Hindus, but is traditionally reviled by Muslims. Muslims favor the regime of his successor, the famously cruel Aurangzeb. Of course, that hasn’t stopped a Muslim apologist or two, quite recently, from claiming Akbar as a representative Muslim ruler when he was so unusual, and is honored by Hindus for being unusual.
The fact that any Muslim ruler, especially if faced with a domestic terror threat, will continue to deny the essence of the ideology of Islam should not surprise us. Such a ruler will enroll himself in the effort to deny Infidels the right of independent inquiry and judgment on the nature of Islam through incessant use of that bullying word “Islamophobia.” And now Muslims are even attempting to legislate for the entire world, so that all criticism and attacks on the ideology of Islam made by non-Muslims are outlawed — no matter how well-informed those critics may be, and how well-reasoned are their criticisms and cries of alarm.
And in the case of Central Asia, the rulers and peoples of those lands may have misinterpreted their own situation. If they were more “tolerant” in much of the last century toward non-Muslims, it is because the Soviet Union had, as part of its general anti-religion campaign, smashed the power of Muslim clergy. The Soviets closed down all but a symbolic handful of mosques. Most importantly, in the schools they conducted a campaign of anti-religion that weakened the hold of Islam, which was identified with a retrograde, pre-modern world. And when some Muslims fought the Soviet authorities — the basmatchi — they were crushed.
In Central Asia, furthermore, many of the groups, or ordy, had a long, pre-Islamic history and historic glory to look back to, out of which to construct a suitable past. And that alternative history is available today. Just as the pre-Islamic past of Persia (Xerxes, Darius, Cyrus) offers an alternative past to Iranians seeking to escape the grip of Islam, the pre-Islamic past of much of Central Asia offers a way out. Furthermore, the Soviet ideological campaign against religion had its effect. Many now call themselves “cultural Muslims” as they laughingly observe their own occasional use of “inshallah.”
Furthermore, there are many non-Muslims who live in several of the five stans –especially in the largest, richest, and most advanced of them, Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan this includes, among its “nationalities,” Russians, Jews, Koreans, and Germans. And they have equal citizenship.
Those in Central Asia who do not believe in the ideology of Islam, but continue to think that they must self-identify as “cultural Muslims,” might instead look ahead to a future in which identifying with Islam may mean not becoming more like anomalous Dubai (a stop for Central Asians on many air routes), a city that is merely Las Vegas on stilts, but more like Saudi Arabia or Iran, or any of the other states where Islam rules.
In order to keep people in Central Asia from “reverting” to full-blown Islam, it would be good to constantly point out the ways in which the failures of Islamic societies (political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral) are the result of Islam itself. This does not mean that the experience of other kinds of failure, such as that represented by Soviet Communism, are to be overlooked or forgotten. But the case needs to be spelled out: what is it about Islam that almost always guarantees despotism, and that means economic underdevelopment relative to the non-Muslim world (with or without the oil manna from Heaven). Also, the case should be made about what in Islam makes women and non-Muslims endure a status that they should not have to endure, and that discourages both artistic freedom and the free and skeptical inquiry necessary for science. All of this, if grasped by Infidels who can confidently explain this and be unafraid to do so, could help prevent any “reversion” to Islam in those parts of Central Asia where fanatical Muslims have so far been kept at bay.
But if you are a “cultural Muslim” living in Samarkand or Bukhara or Tashkent or Astana or Almaty or Atyrau, you should welcome steady criticism of Islam. It may be the only thing that prevents your own country, or region, from being much more thoroughly, and for you dangerously, re-islamized. The Infidels outside are, with their informed criticism of Islam that is mislabeled as “Islamophobia,” forcing intelligent Muslims themselves to start looking at Islam, and either to answer the criticisms, or to admit their justice.