September 11, 2006

Five Years On

(Posted last night at one small voice.)

Five years ago this evening we Americans, and more broadly we Westerners, went to sleep comfortable and complacent. Five years ago tomorrow morning we were rudely awoken; we found our land attacked and our people violated; and we came face to face with the manifest existence of evildoers who wished to destroy us.

Then arose the refrain: "Why do they hate us?" "Is not Islam a religion of peace?" "We must have done something horrible to bring this on." "It must be our foreign policy, or our spiritual decadence, or our cultural imperialism, or even our very success in commerce, production, science, and technology."

I, too, wondered. I began a program of reading and research to understand the nature of the West and the nature of Islam. I still have much to learn. But I know now much more than I knew on September 11, 2001.

I know that the jihad of Islam against the West is not solely a battle of Muslims against Christians (or, in the case of most Europeans, the heirs to Christendom). I know that Islam has waged its so-called holy war against Zoroastrians in Persia, against animists in Africa, against Hindus and Buddhists in India and Southeast Asia, against Taoists and Confucianists in China, against Berbers in the Maghreb, against Jews in Palestine -- as much if not more than against Christians in ancient Syria, Asia Minor, the Balkans, Hungary, Iberia, Armenia, Sicily, Crete, Lebanon, and beyond.

I know that Islam is not a religion of peace. I know that Islam means submission -- submission to the arbitrary will of Allah in heaven, submission to the arbitrary edicts of authoritarian strongmen on earth. I know that the Koran enjoins Muslims to not make friends with those who do not believe in Allah, and even says to "seize them and kill them wherever you find them" (sura 4.89).

I know that Islam is opposed to science, technology, and progress. As one of the hadiths says, "Verily the most truthful communication is the Book of Allah, the best guidance is from Muhammad, and the worst of all things are innovations; every innovation is heresy, every heresy is error, and every error leads to hell."

I know that Islam is endorses slavery, oppresses non-Muslims, and is opposed to human dignity, especially the dignity of women. For example, under the sharia (the Islamic law), the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man. A woman is not to seek her own fulfillment, but exists only to please a man.

I know that the West's struggle against communism in the twentieth century was merely a blip on the historical radar, whereas the struggle of Islam against all other cultures has been a constant of human history for almost 1400 years.

I know that many Muslims believe it is inevitable that all of humanity must eventually believe in Allah, his Prophet Mohammed, his holy book the Koran as the only source of human wisdom, his law the sharia as the only law; and that all other cultures must submit to the will of Allah, whether willingly or by the sword.

I know that many Muslims are not violent; but at the same time I know that the term "Islamic fundamentalism" is redundant, because to be a Muslim is to believe that the Koran holds all truth, that nothing new can be discovered because it was all discovered by Mohammed, that anyone but a Muslim is in error and shall roast in Hell for all eternity.

I know that it is claimed that many Muslims are moderates, not radicals; but at the same time I see no evidence of this so-called moderate Muslim majority rising up in protest against their extremist, terrorist, jihadist brethren, because in their hearts they know that the Koran condones and excuses and encourages all believers to slay the unbelievers wherever they may be found.

I know that we -- the peoples of the West, the peoples of Europe and America, indeed also the peoples of India and Russia and China and Africa -- live in what Muslims consider the lands of war (Dar al-Harb). I know that we are being warred upon and that we have been warred upon on and off for almost 1400 years. I know that this war will not end as long as there are people who believe in the Koran as the literal word of God, whose minds will never be open to innovation or science, who consider a woman to be half of a man, who consider the life of one who does not believe in Allah to be worth less than nothing.

I know that we must stop trading with those who want to kill us (or those who, directly or indirectly, fund those who want to kill us), that we must not tolerate them, not support them, not grant them recognition, not collaborate or negotiate with them in any way, shape, or form.

I know that there are many enemies of freedom and enlightenment, and that even the West contains such enemies. But I know that there is no greater enemy of freedom and enlightenment than Islam.

I know that there will be no peace until freedom and enlightenment reach the lands of submission (the Dar al-Islam). Yet I know that speading freedom and enlightenment is perhaps the hardest and subtlest struggle of any civilization, especially when the soil in which the seeds must be sowed is so virulently opposed to precisely freedom and enlightenment.

I know that it will be supremely difficult for the peoples of the West to maintain and expand their traditions of freedom and enlightenment while resisting those who would have us submit to Allah, Mohammed, sharia, fatalism, and authoritarianism. I know that it will be even harder for the peoples of India, Russia, China, and Africa, who lack the strong and deep traditions of freedom and enlightenment we take for granted in the West.

I know that the peoples of the Anglosphere -- the Americans, the Canadians, the Australians, the New Zealanders, the British, etc. -- are the greatest targets for the forces of submission, because our traditions of freedom and enlightenment are more deeply engrained and more fully developed than those of any other peoples on earth.

I know that, despite its faults, Western civilization is the greatest, freest, most enlightened, most open, most advanced, most peaceful, most ethical civilization in the history of humanity. I know that the West is the last, best hope of earth. I know that freedom and enlightenment must be defended, articulated, and indeed actively and confidently spread to every far corner of the earth if humanity is to survive and advance, as individuals and as a species.

I wish that it were not so, but I know that we live in difficult, challenging times, and that in all likelihood the times will become harder before they become easier.

I know that one small voice cannot have much influence on the course of history, but I know that each of us must do what we can to defend, articulate, and spread freedom and enlightenment. And I know that I will strive to do so every day of my life, because to do anything less would be to submit to the forces of slavery and darkness.

Posted by Peter Saint-Andre at September 11, 2006 01:00 PM
Comments

You have described Islam very well. As soon as most westerners have an understanding of Islam that approaches the Islam you portray here, the future of western civilisation will rest on firmer ground.

Posted by: Al Fin at September 12, 2006 11:28 AM

I've put up a link to your posting, Peter, on the EUReferendum Forum.

Posted by: Helen at September 12, 2006 12:25 PM

A terrific post, Peter. Thanks a lot!

Posted by: Tom Burk at September 14, 2006 02:38 PM

Superb summary. Thanks.

Jamie Irons

Posted by: Jamie Irons at September 21, 2006 08:05 AM

Amen. If only the West will wake up to what we're really facing.

Posted by: Richard E at September 21, 2006 10:06 AM

Peter, you write:

I know that the term "Islamic fundamentalism" is redundant, because to be a Muslim is to believe that the Koran holds all truth, that nothing new can be discovered because it was all discovered by Mohammed, that anyone but a Muslim is in error and shall roast in Hell for all eternity.

How do you know this?

There are about 1.4 billion Muslims. Do all Muslims believe everything on this list? Why do you say that they do?

Perhaps one could say a certain type of Muslim believes these things, and label such a person an "Islamic fundamentalist". Then one could state, for example, that there are many, many more Islamic fundamentalists than there are Christian fundamentalists. But I don't think your blanket statement is justified.

If you do think your statement is justified, then I ask you again to explain how you know this.

Thanks,
Matthew

Posted by: Matthew Goggins at September 21, 2006 10:58 AM

An accurate description of the worst of Islam. At this time the worst of Islam is foremost in many ways. It must be recognized without illusions.

Something else too must be recognized without illusions: the great and wonderful achievments of Saracen Civilization.

Two things to be held in mind at the same time and grappled with together, however difficult.

The seeds of the defeat of the worst of Islam lie in the immune system to be reinvigorated by finding and reviving the best of Saracen Civilization.

A fine example: Irshad Manji's work on "ijtihad".

Ijtihad, independent thought -Irshad Manji
http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/286.html

History of Moslem tolerance -Edward Gibbon
http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/352.html

Islam: early Austrian economics? -Ahmad
http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/028.html

Islam and the Discovery of Freedom -Lane
http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/269.html

Islam, Tolerance, -Lamont, Pakistan 2004
http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/142.html

Posted by: Leif Smith at September 21, 2006 01:39 PM

Matthew Goggins - the whole point of Islam is that the Koran is the literal word of God: there is no way within Islam for saying that this or that commandment is wrong or outdated. This is different from Christianity, where the whole book is divinely inspired, but written by fallible mortals.

Also, as there is no overall hierarchy in Islam, even when one bunch of Islamists does manage to ignore some of the bloodier stuff in the Koran, all it takes is some outsider sufficiently charismatic, with glaring eyes and wagging beard, and you get a new generation of homicidal zealots.

Islam is scary.

Posted by: Steve Massey at September 21, 2006 05:58 PM

Steve,

Some Christians do believe that everything in the Bible is literally true and infallible. Even the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, and all the rest.

And apparently there are some Muslims who do not buy into every last word of the Koran. And I would guess that most Muslims, especially among the vast majority who don't even speak Arabic, don't even know what exactly is in the Koran, beyond what their imam tells them at Friday prayers.

But all this is somewhat off my main point, which was simply: Peter says he believes something to be universally true of Muslims, but how does he know that? Even if Peter may be correct, where does he get this information from?

Thanks for your comment,
Matthew

Posted by: Matthew Goggins at September 21, 2006 06:31 PM

People are being murdered in great numbers in the name of Mohammed.
I don't give a damn if SOME muslims don't agree with the exhortations to violence in the Koran--enough of them do that the ideology is a profound threat to the West.
Angels and the head of a pin can wait until the threat is dealt with.

Posted by: Keith at September 22, 2006 10:24 PM

The bigger problem, in my opinion, is not the Koran. It is Mohammed. The Bible has some violent stuff in it. Most Christians can ignore this because Christ was not violent and never sought to prey upon other people.

Mohammed was very un-Christ-like. Under his leadership, the very first Muslim community in the world emigrated to a new community and was encouraged to survive not by charity, but by raiding desert caravans -- by stealing. I have not completed my studies of the life of Mohammed, yet, but this is just one example out of many of his malfeasance.

With the founder of the faith engaging in violent acts of robbery against other people, it is impossible for good and lawful members of the faith to argue against such behavior by other members. Christians can always point to Christ and say that he would not have condoned murder or vigilante-style summary execution. Muslims cannot say the same of Mohammed.

Muslims like to scream and point fingers at the violent Christians whenever someone is critical of Islam. In addition to it being the "you too" fallacy, it is also a false analogy. Scholars can always draw examples from Mohammed's life to show that Islam began as a violent faith. They cannot draw such examples from the life of Christ. And therein lies the fundamental difference. When you look at the Spanish Inquisition, you can make a valid argument that they were not true Christians, because Christ never once engaged in or even remotely encouraged such activity. When you look at militant Islamists, one cannot say they are not true Muslims when a prudent scholar can point to such behavior in Mohammed and his original followers.

We often hear of the great Christian Reformation, during which the Church cast off its violent past (though really, it was more of a violent middle period. The violent past fallacy is, I believe, a political construct to put Christianity on a similar moral level with Islam, which it is not). The Reformation was possible (or at least made easier), in my opinion, because a violent, totalitarian imposition of the Christian faith was incompatible with the recorded words of Christ.

In order for Islam to go through such a Reformation, it would be necessary to repudiate the actions of the faith's founder, Mohammed. I don't think that's going to happen any time soon.

There is some hope in men like Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Sudeis, who says "that [Islamic] scholars must preach moderation to confront militants, who were using 'misguided and void' interpretations to justify violence." But his message will not be able to take hold at a fundamental level until Mohammed's own violent acts are addressed by the faith at large.

Posted by: Ętheling at September 24, 2006 12:20 PM

Aetheling,
That was a wonderful synopsis of the matter at hand.

A trend has developed in the modern Christian church in which young Christians no longer refer to themselves as Christians. Instead they refer to themselves as "followers of Christ." This is the orginal definition of the term Christian. Early Christians were referred to as "followers of the Way." The Christian faith is sufficiently based solely on Jesus Christ himself.

So-called "followers of Christ" make this distinction to separate themselves from those who claim Christ but do not evidence this claim through their actions.

Christ preached praying for one's enemy and turning the other cheek. He said not to return evil for evil but overcome evil with good. His message is that the only way to extinguish evil, is to overcome it with love. This is the founder of the Christian religion.

If one's actions fall outside these teachings they can be rightly corrected. That is to say there is a guide for correction, it is the impeccable standard set forth by Christ. This standard calls the Christian upward towards peace, reconciliation, and love.

I do not see how Mohammed's teachings could ever provide the same upward calling.

Even though all Moslems do not believe the same things, their fundamental belief in the righteous actions of Mohammed would justify a certain standard of behavior.

If the standard is one of violence, how can Islam be a religion of peace?

This is not merely a rhetorical question.

I believe there must be Moslem apologetics who have figured out how to reconcile this fundamental conflict. Who are they? What are their arguments? And why don't they speak up so the world can hear them?

Posted by: Gabriel at September 24, 2006 01:59 PM

Indeed, many Christians do believe in Noah's Flood and so forth. There is good evidence for such.

But, they are not going out to slaughter infidels.

Anyone who compares Christian fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists, except to showcase the differences is being a bit silly, or worse.

Yes, Rosie, I'm talking to you. You really should have known better. In fact, I have to think you do. I think most people who make these kind of arguements don't want to be accountable to the Most High, Jehovah. They want to be little gods themselves.

Problem with that is that they are building their house on sand. And when an Islamic sword-wielding convert or die fellow kicks their door down, most of them will fall to their knees, don the burqa, and become Islamic in about sixty seconds.

Posted by: Tennwriter at September 28, 2006 09:04 AM

Tennwriter,

Anyone who compares Christian fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists, except to showcase the differences is being a bit silly, or worse.

I didn't compare Christian fundamentalists to Islamic terrorists, I compared Christian fundamentalists to Muslims who believe the Koran is a transcription of Allah's thoughts and words.

I didn't even mention terrorists.

If you're upset about Islamists and terrorists, you should learn to think a little more carefully about them.

Know your enemy. We've been in open warfare with them for five years now, it's not like you haven't had enough time to get ready.

Posted by: Matthew Goggins at October 13, 2006 04:53 PM