August 28, 2010

INFECTED WITH THE FRENCH DISEASE:

Islamism Is Not Islam (MAAJID NAWAZ, 8/28/10, WSJ)

[M]uslims throughout history rarely codified any version of the Islamic religious code, or Shariah, as state law. The result was a Muslim history full of religious societies with very temporal and often debauched ruling dynasties. Indeed, these dynasties launched religiously justified wars, against themselves and others. But was that not the practice of all medieval kings seeking material glory while promising spiritual salvation to their men? The simple fact is that, as with all medieval states, religion was but a political convenience.

Breaking with this tradition, Islamism emerged as an entirely modern social-engineering project, designed initially to resist colonialism. Islamists' focus on controlling the "state," adopting an "Islamic constitution," and codifying and implementing "Islamic law" were all borne of ideas that grew out of the European nation-state. The terms state, constitution and law are not referred to at all in the Quran. It mattered little to Islamists, bent on rejecting all that was Western, that their entire debate took place within an exclusively European political paradigm.

In Muslim-majority societies that hold elections today, parties wanting to "rule in God's name" have been roundly defeated time and again by their fellow Muslims. Take two of the world's most populous Muslim-majority countries, Indonesia and Bangladesh. In recent years, the electorates of both these countries have decisively rejected Islamism in favor of secular, democratic values. In the Arab-speaking world, the situation is similar. For the last 20 years, whether seeking power through the gun or the ballot-box, Islamists have failed. Fortunately, Islamists do not speak on behalf of Islam.

Unfortunately, this message has not been heard enough in the West, leading many Americans to believe that all Muslims are closet Islamists, hell-bent on global domination. For this reason, the Islamic center in New York has been transformed in the minds of many into a symbol of Islam's conquest of America. So far the furor over the inaccurately dubbed "Ground Zero Mosque" has achieved nothing but reinforce al Qaeda propaganda that the West is at war with Islam.


In fairness, it would be as odd for Islamic societies not to have government that flows from Islam as it would be for the Anglosphere not to have the sort of Christianity based culture reflected in a variety of Founding texts. The question uis whether Sunni Islam, in particular, is intrinsically totalitarian. History and the fact that over half of all Muslims today live in liberal democracies suggest that it is not, or need not be.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 28, 2010 1:15 PM
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