September 13, 2006

MAYBE AL QEDA CAN WIN (via Jorge Curioso):

Ayatollah al-Sistani and the end of Islam (Spengler, 9/08/06, Asia Times)

It is important to be clear that there is nothing at all religious about the present civil violence in Iraq. It is not 1572 in France or 1618 in Germany, in which both sides accuse the other of heresy and preach crusade to purify the true faith. The issues under contention have to do with caste and tribal privileges.

The Sunni insurgents stem largely from the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, who have no particular religious objection to the Iraqi Shi'ites. They simply wish to rule the country as they have since the British invented Iraq. As Professor Angelo Codevilla wrote in 2003, "Iraq was not a good idea in the first place. American and British Wilsonians decided to re-create something like the Babylon empire: Sunni Mesopotamian Arabs from the Baghdad area would rule over vastly more numerous southern Shi'ite Arabs, and Arabophobe Kurds. Why the ruled should accept such an arrangement was never made clear."

Despite the secular character of the old Ba'athist regime in Iraq, traditional Muslim life flourished there even as it languished in Iran. A crisis of faith in the Islamic world underlies the desperation of the Iranian regime, I have argued in a series of essays during the past year. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the collapse of Iran's fertility rate. As projected by the United Nations, Iran's fertility rate already has fallen below the replacement level of 2.1 births per female. Iraq's fertility rate now stands at just below 4, compared with 1.79 for Iran. This has potentially catastrophic consequences, as I reported in an earlier study (Demographics and Iran's imperial design, September 13, 2005). At present, six Iranian workers support every retiree. By mid-century the number will fall to 1.5 workers per retiree.

Sistani represented Islam, the real religion that permeates the lives of believers. "The ayatollah's concerns hardly overlap with those of the American occupation officials whom he refuses to address directly. On the contrary, what preoccupies him are the minutest issues of daily existence, most of all the question of ritual purity within traditional society," I wrote of him two years ago (Why Islam baffles America, April 16, 2004). His website, as I reported at the time, contains detailed instructions for regaining ritual purity after sodomy with an animal, for washing the anus after defecation, as well as for the precise posture and deportment during prayer. [1] Sistani, I wrote in the cited article, "addresses the inhabitants of traditional society for whom spiritual experience means submission, that is, submission to communal norms, whence the individual derives a lasting sense of identity. In the most intimate details of daily life, culture and religion become inseparable. For traditional society it is the durability of communal norms that lends a sense of immortality to the individual, a life beyond mere physical existence."

Adherence to traditional society was the source of Sistani's influence among Iraqi Shi'ites, because it is the wellspring of Islam itself. A birth rate comparable to that of secular Europe demonstrates that the Islamic Revolution in Iran has been a failure, for it failed to restore the norms of the traditional world. On the contrary, the fertility rate fell from 6.5 children per female in 1980, just after ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's revolution, to only 1.79 today.


Just as the Islamicism of Khomeini and OBL is a secular/rational Western import it could prove as destructive to Mulsims as did to the Europeans unless we can effect the Reformation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 13, 2006 7:58 AM
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