Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Islam & Defunding the UN

Reposted From March 31, 2007

The reason we face the problem of radical Islam today is that, in its entire history, Islam has seen no Renaissance, no Reformation, no Period of Enlightenment. These titanic events in Western history led to the development of secular values that came out of, but were separate from, the Judeo-Christian religion that birthed them. And these events gradually took religion from the sphere of a government imposition and moved it into the realm of the individual and local community.

The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment were each developed through the process of critical thought - the questioning and challenging of religious ideals and dogma. It was this critical thought that allowed the West to seperate the wheat -- the belief in God and universal concepts of moral behavior -- from the chaff of religion – dogma that restricted development in all aspects of society: political, artistic, scientific, philosophical. Thus, today do our universities turn out the finest scientists, the finest writers, the finest mathematicians and astronomers, while the universities in Saudi Arabia primarily turn out Wahhabi clerics. And it is why the West leads the world in science and the arts while the morals police in Saudi Arabia hunt down sorcerers and the Saudi courts apply Wahhabi Sharia law to order the flogging of victims of gang rape.

There are seeds from which a Muslim Enlightenment could yet occur. They would require criticism and debate to take root. Yet these seeds are under mortal threat today from the growth of Wahhabi / Salafi Islam.

The seeds which would allow for an Enlightenment lie in Islam's earliest history. Year 1 to Muslims begins with Hijra, Mohammed’s emigration to Medina in 622 A.D. When Mohammed died, Islam was still largely confined to Arabia. It is important to note that, before Mohammed died, he left his followers with a concept most clearly stated in a hadith - an authenticated saying of Mohammed. That hadith provides that the ummah – the community of Muslims – can “never agree on an error.” Complimenting this in the Koran, it says “People, you order what is right, forbid what is wrong, and you believe in God.” (3:110)

These concepts, taken together, allow for the evolution of Islam. And in another critical development following Mohammed’s death, as Islam progressed, there came the concept of ijtihad (see here and here). Ijtihad is the practice of reasoning from the texts, the hadiths, the sunna and the works of scholars to determine what Islam should mean, what it should approve and disapprove. If there will ever be a moderation of Islam, it will come from those concepts of the hadith and the Koran mentioned above, and from the practice of ijtihad.

The remainder of Islam's history tells us why these seeds of an Enlightenment never took root. Following Mohammed’s death, Islam spread at a pace never before or since duplicated. Its rapid expansion – by the sword – continued almost unchecked for the next several hundred years. Actually, in this regard, for any Muslim to criticize the West as imperialistic is irony of the highest order. The West are pikers compared to the Islamic caliphates. Within 130 years following the Hijra, Arabic Muslims had conquered the Middle East, Turkey, all of North Africa, and the better part of Spain, and they were fighting battles inside France.

Through about 1100 A.D., Islamic society, led by the Arabs, far outshone the West in learning and technology. It was a far more enlightened society than what was to be found in Europe at the time. Indeed, at the turn of the first millenium, the premier city in the world was not London, Paris or Rome, but Baghdad. But, along with this vast expansion powered by the belief in Islamic destiny came the desire to control the precise nature of Islam by the Caliphs. At the end of the tenth century, the “gates of ijtihad” were ordered closed by the Caliphs and the Muslim philosophers cooperated. The concept of free reasoning fell from grace in Islam. This closing of the gates of ijtihad is credited by many scholars as the cause of the stagnation of Islam in succeeding centuries.

But there was much worse on the horizon. In the late 12th century came invasion by the Turks, followed closely by Ghengis Khan and the Mongol horde in the thirteenth century. For the Arabs, this was a catastrophe of titanic proportions. They were overrun, and it was the Turks, practitioners of Sufi Islam, not the Arabs, who emerged as the leadership of Islam. And into this time of turmoil was born Ibn Taymiya, the man whose philosophy and writings would be the foundation for Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Islam.

Taymiya started from the proposition that Islam was from God, and it was God’s intent that Islam should spread to the four corners of the earth. In this light, Taymiya saw the success of the Turk and Mongol conquers as a punishment from God because Arab Muslims had allowed Islam to be corrupted. His answer was to return to what he believed animated Islam at the time of Mohammed. He was puritanical and a literalist. The Islam he envisioned was one of absolute tenets – dogmatic and beyond questioning.

Fast forward to eighteenth century Arabia, where Ibn Wahhab was born. Wahhab embraced the teachings of Taymiya and built upon them, arguing that any deviation therefrom was heretical and that the offender should be put to death. Wahhab promoted a triumphalist and imperialistic religion that saw anyone not in its membership as an enemy to be converted, conquered or killed. There has been little if any deviation from Wahhab's original dogma through to the modern day. Indeed, for example, one aspect of Wahhabi doctrine, taught in Saudi schools at least as recently as 2003, is that it is permissible to enslave “polytheists.” That comes from a Saudi textbook. If you are a Christian, by the way, you are a polytheist. Wahhabism is the soul of radical Islam. To go against any tenet of Wahhabi Islam is to conduct impermissible innovation and thus, to be labeled takfir, an unbeliever, – and subject to losing your head.

To continue with the chronology, Wahhab found his way to Najd, a backwater of Arabia controlled by tribe of the Sauds. Wahhab partnered with the Sauds and what followed, over the next two centuries, was an incredibly savage conquest of the Arabian peninsula by the House of Saud. And in each place they conquered, they imposed Wahhabi Islam.

Fast forward now to the 20th century. Two events of note occur. Turkey, home of Sufi Islam and the caliphate presiding over the majority of the Islamic world, came into World War I on the side of Germany and was ultimately defeated. Its Middle Eastern empire was divided up among the European counties. Attaturk took power in Turkey and divested Islam from politics, secularizing the country. This was, in essence, the first step towards a revolution in the Islamic world – the divorcing of religion from the nation state and limiting it to the private lives of Turkish citizens. Unfortunately, as time has gone on, Wahhabism has infected Turkey, and today we see the creep of Islamism into the state apparatus. Turkey has withdrawn from the precipice of a revolution to moderate and modernize Islam that its combination of secular government and classical Sufi Islam may have led.

The second event of note was the triumph of Wahhabi Islam with the conquest of Arabia by the House of Saud. Indeed, even before the final conquest, Wahhabi Islam had already influenced – or infected, if you like – many of the other schools of Islam. Two prime examples are the Pakistani Deobandi school that today is the basis for the Taliban, as well Islam in Egypt, from whence arose the first truly modern radical Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.

But Wahhabi Islam only truly became an engine of conquest with the growth of the oil industry and the influx of billions of petrodollars into Saudi Arabia. Today, Saudi Arabia is spending these billions to spread its brand of Islam to the four corners of the world and to supplant the other schools of Islam. Other than oil, Saudi Arabia’s main exports are Wahhabi clerics, Wahhabi mosques, and Wahhabi schools to every corner of the world. Further, the petrodollars are used to fund the Middle East studies program at most major colleges in the Western World – whose teaching invariably cover, cover for, and cover up Wahhabi Islam – and to fund Wahhabi organizations such as CAIR that perform much the same function in Western society at large.

I do not know that Wahhabi Islam also influenced and radicalized Ayatollah Khoemeni. But, given that he took Iranian Shia Islam out of its historically nonpolitical role in Iran and thrust Shiaism, for the first time in history, into the political realm with the creation of Iran’s theocracy, I would suspect that it did. I would be absolutely amazed if some scholar did not eventually catalogue such an influence. (Update: See this from Francis Fukuyama in the WSJ making this connection)

To sum up, the whole of the Islamic world is endangered by the growth of Wahhabi Islam. And Wahhabi Islam holds it dogma to be beyond question – upon pain of censure or even death. If there is to be a moderation and modernization of Islam – a Reformation and Period of Enlightenment if you will – it will not will arise out of Wahhabi Islam without tremendous bloodshed.

Ultimately, in the world of ideas, it is only through questioning and critical reasoning that advancements occur. To put an Islamic face on that, it is only through the embrace of ijtihad and the concepts of Islam discussed earlier that there is any chance that Islam will finally see a great historical change to moderate and modernize from Wahhab’s vision of 7th century Islam into a form of Islam that can coexist with the rest of the world in the 21st century. And Western society has an obligation not to be coerced into silence, but to openly criticize what we find dangerous and wrong in Islam. If our voice is cowed, how can we expect the voice of would be moderates in the world of Islam to stand up - and withstand the inevitable Wahhabi onslaught to their existence. The cost to humanity and the world if Islam does not have its Reformation and Enlightenment will almost assuredly be apocalyptic.

Which brings us to today, and the United Nations Human Rights Organization. I have already posted that I believe the UN exists in an alternate Islamic universe. It finds fault with illegal acts or human rights violations only in Israel. See here and here. But we have now reached the final Islamic straw.

Friday, March 30, 2007, Islamic countries pushed through a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council demanding a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion. Lest there be any doubt about which religion they are concerned with, the only religion mentioned in the resolution is Islam. As stated in the minutes from the UN Human Rights Council meeting:

The Council expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations; notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions, and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities, in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001; urges States to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination including through political institutions and organizations of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence; also urges States to provide adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions, to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and their value systems and to complement legal systems with intellectual and moral strategies to combat religious hatred and intolerance; . . .

The UN is only doing the work of radical Wahhabi Islamists at this point. If there is ever to be a peaceful coexistence with Muslims, the West cannot gag itself as CAIR and the Islamists at UN would have us do. We can coexist with Muslims as long as they are not trying to kill us and impose their religion by coercion or by working fundamental changes to our Western secular values with ridiculous charges of Islamaphobia. Unfortunately, that is not the reality. Thus, it is their religion that needs to change. It needs to go through its Reformation, and there needs to be a period of Enlightenment. The clearest way to stop this transformation from ever occurring is to outlaw criticism of Islam. This would be putting a nail into the coffin of Western civilization, in addition to insuring the ultimate domination of the Wahhabi philosophy in Islam.

If this is what we can expect from UN as reformed, it needs to be defunded by the U.S. In the Senate hearings for his confirmation as the new U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad has argued against defunding the UN but has also stated that the UN faces a “mortal threat" if it fails to reform. There are no reforms on the horizon. It is time to allow the UN to subsist on Rials until it does.

Update: This post cross linked at the American Thinker Blog

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