Published on Jul 1, 2014 by Bill Warner
We are often told of the greatness of the Islamic Golden Age. But how much actual gold was there? And why does Islam do so poorly in intellectual work today?
Published on Jul 1, 2014 by Bill Warner
We are often told of the greatness of the Islamic Golden Age. But how much actual gold was there? And why does Islam do so poorly in intellectual work today?
by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
December 11, 2013
This article examines the rise of the al-Qa’ida-aligned group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) since its announcement in April 2013 until September 2013. It focuses in particular on its military operations and its relations with other rebel groups. The article concludes by examining what the future holds for ISIS on the whole.
The group under consideration in this paper–like al-Qa’ida central under Usama bin Ladin and subsequently Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Tehrik-e-Taliban of Waziristan, and others–is part of what one might term the “global jihad” movement. This movement is not a coherent whole organized by a strict central hierarchy, but rather one defined by a shared ideology. This ideology aims firstly to reestablish a system of governance known as the Caliphate–an Islamic form of government that first came into being after Muhammad’s death under Abu Bakr and saw its last manifestation in the Ottoman Empire–across the entire Muslim world. From there, the intention is to spread the Caliphate across the entire world.
This worldview is one of many answers formulated to answer a question posed in the wider Muslim world: Namely, what has been the cause of decline of the Muslim world–and the Arab world in particular–in contrast to the apparent success of the West since the nineteenth century? The answer formulated by ideologues of the global jihad movement is that the cause of this decline is rooted in the Muslim world’s deviation from the path of Islam by not applying Islamic law to governance in its totality. This is to be contrasted with the “Islamic Golden Age” in Islam’s first five centuries or so–idealized in different ways by others not of this orientation–when the Muslim world was supposedly uncontaminated by foreign influences. Of course, given that era’s exploitation of the classical Greek heritage through the translation movement under the Abbasids- the global jihad movement’s portrayal of this era is blatantly unhistorical. Nonetheless, the perception is what matters.
In light of the ISIS’ ambitious goals, it is imperative to consider the group’s fortunes in Syria, which in turn will allow policymakers to assess what threat, if any, the group poses to the wider international order in the long-term.
By Nikolaas de Jong, July 10, 2013:
In a past article, I already discussed some issues of Islamic civilization which we are apt to neglect in our analysis of the current situation in the Middle East. Obviously, the potential force of democracy to conquer once primitive countries has been greatly overestimated; nobody will disagree anymore on that count. However, the explanations for this failure of democracy vary a lot, and quite independent of the political alignment of the commentators: it appears that all shades of opinion are quite confused by what is happening in countries recently “liberated” by the Arab Spring. The main reason for this confusion, as I stated before, is that most people in the west do not understand the wider civilizational questions involved: first, can we equate any popular uprising with an ideologically inspired revolution, but second, and most importantly, can revolutions in the Islamic world ever resemble those in the West and why are we so sure that the Islamic pattern of history must correspond to the earlier Western? The first point has been conceded by many observers, albeit implicitly and not in wider historical context, since today the dominant opinion is that these countries were not “ripe” for democracy and that popular rule does not necessarily imply democracy as we understand it in the west. The second point requires more insight, and is not even addressed by most commentators or journalists, although in fact to pose the question of essential differences in culture is not at all new; indeed, it only implies further investigation of the popular thesis Samuel Huntington developed about the “clash of civilizations”. But since western nations have lived in peace for over sixty years now, and we tend to believe that the whole world potentially is a prosperous and peaceful place like the western nation states, the concept of wholly different civilizations has become quite incomprehensible to most opinion makers. Nevertheless, we shall see it is essential to understand the ordeal the Muslim world is currently going through.
A few days ago Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, wrote an article, “Can Islam be reformed?”. As a good neoconservative, Pipes believes that Islamic culture will ultimately be able to adapt to western standards and that a reformed, reinterpreted version of Islam will emerge from the contacts with western democratic influences. In his article, he expressly shows Islamic civilization in a very un-civilizational light: the issues in Islamic history are made to appear a variation on what happened in the history of other cultures, namely an endless sequence of wars and political upheavals, according to the classical pattern of rise and fall: the extremism that plagues the Islamic world is in fact a reaction to the decline of Islam since its golden age, and will wither away once a democratic, economically successful alternative has been offered; in this sense, the Islamist movement is not unlike communism and fascism, both ideologies cashing in on political and economic hardship. Moreover, Islam is not all that different from Judaism and Christianity: both religions have in the past embraced views we would now find unacceptable: Islam can adapt to modernity like other religions have. Pipes concedes that Islam today poses many problems and not all of its tenets are very humane, but he believes that Islam could be, as it were, absorbed by the west. In his most recent commentary on the military coup in Egypt, he reiterated his view that Islamism is just an extremist political fraction vying for influence among the electorate, and that the majority of the population are moderate Muslims desperately in search of answers to the crisis of modernity.
It is surprising that a man who is so knowledgeable on Islamic and Arab history, really thinks the Islamic world could be reformed. This is especially surprising, since in fact democracy and rule of law have hardly taken root in the rest of the non-western countries, and it remains to be seen whether the experiment will be viable in the long run, especially as western values are receding in the West itself at least since the first world war. Western self-confidence is at an historical low, so the first question is: why is there anything necessary about Muslims taking over western values and political institutions? I argued earlier that Islamic culture itself is not heading for a particularly happy future, but neither is the west, and if Islam does not take over Europe, it will still probably remain the same ossified theocratic system it has always been in the Muslim world itself. Besides, Pipes’ constant reference to the Islamic golden age, as if it were some shining example of human achievement and a tolerant, open-minded era, is disturbing to say the least: by now we should know that the power of Islam in this period was only brought about by brute military conquest, that its famous cultural achievements were largely the work of Christian and Jewish dhimmis, and that the Islamic world controlled so many material and cultural resources simply because it had invaded the lands of other cultures and withheld the benefits of trade from the Christian world. And of course, Pipes does not mention that this was not a “golden age” at all for many people, such as religious minorities, Hindus, and women. The reason it was called a “golden age” by Muslims is because it was a golden age for the Islamic conception of life, but not for humanity. So, on closer scrutiny, it becomes clear that Islam was always rigorous and it has not known any more humane periods or ups and downs like other civilizations, except in the military sense. The proper question that would invalidate Pipes’ designation of Islamism as a totalitarian doctrine on the pattern of fascism and communism, is: would the average Muslim throughout history have considered the deeds and beliefs of today’s Islamists and Islamic terrorists unjustified? Does the average Muslim today even see anything inherently inhumane or un-Islamic in the deeds of terrorists? I think Pipes knows the answer to these questions as well as most of us do.
Pipes warns us for adopting an excessively “essentialist” view of Islam, which means relying solely on Islamic scripture and doctrine in explaining Islamic history and the actions of Muslims; however, it seems Pipes should watch out not to adopt the absurdly empiricist view that is also held by many political correct pundits, and which implies that the deeds of Muslims only have general “human” motives, and religion is simply a justification of these universal motives. It is all very well that Pipes himself can provide his own moderate interpretation of Islam and sees history in the light of this interpretation, but in the end it is the Muslims who decide how to interpret their religion, not western academics. As Bill Warner put it, we can only understand the actions of Muslims and Islamic history by first understanding Islam and what it actually is, not the other way around. Otherwise we would just be fooling ourselves and evading the main question.
Read more at The Brussels Journal (H/T Andrew Bostom)
Nikolaas de Jong is a Flemish history student with a critical view on current affairs, history and culture. He is inspired by Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, Raymond Aron and Jean-François Revel. He is specifically interested in islam and Russian history. He is a member of the political party Liberty GB. This article appeared July 10, 2013 in the Brussels Journal. The Brussels Journal is published by the Society for the Advancement of Freedom in Europe (SAFE), a Swiss non-profit organisation. http://www.think-israel.org/dejong.islamreformable.html
By Alon Ben-Meir:
The question raised by the ouster of Egypt’s President Morsi is whether Islam is compatible with democracy or any form of government that empowers the people and limits the power of leaders to hold merely representative offices with limited terms of public service.
Islam is the most recent of the Abrahamic religions to emerge on the world stage. Monotheism in general, and specifically as it developed in the Dark and Middle Ages, in principle reflects extremely authoritarian regimes.
Theologically, it posits a cosmic or heavenly hierarchy with absolute authority in God, angels in go-between positions, and a fallen humanity in need of salvation at the base of the pyramidal power structure.
It is no surprise then that in the centuries wherein the Catholic Church was at its zenith of influence in the West, political power was held by kings, popes, emperors, and powerful nepotistic and despotic elite with huge economic chasms between the people and their rulers.
Obviously, these structures were not compatible with democracy.
Christianity and Judaism, being monotheistic, are no less inheritors of this stratified and centralized power paradigm, but unlike Islam these religions were effectively secularized and toned down during the century of the European Enlightenment.
Thinkers like Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Kant, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, and Hegel paved the way for Marx, Schopenhauer, Buber, and Sartre to challenge conventional approaches to religious ideologies and political formations.
Traditional monotheism, with its highly categorized view of man and God, may not in itself be wholly compatible with democracy, but modern Western monotheism gradually molded itself to new ways of thinking during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and was certainly forced to do so amid rapid scientific and technological advances.
The Islamic world enjoyed its own renaissance during the Islamic Golden Age (mid-8th to mid-13th century) with advances in the sciences, mathematics, and literature, yet the period declined and has never been restored to its former glory.
Where are Islam’s corresponding great modern philosophers and scientists who can pave the way for a similar transformation of both radical and even secular Islam in the Arab world?
In the Arab world today, the majority of its intellectuals are clerics, imams, and thinkers emerging from the core of Islamic values. Radical Islam simply does not routinely nurture free thinkers willing to brave the fires of what might otherwise become an Islamic Inquisition.
Is it even possible to transition from hierarchical religious authoritarianism to a modernized and even secularized form of Islamic democracy — one that accepts the separation of church and state?
While the possibility and harsh eventuality remains, this is a tall order since Islam, perhaps more than other monotheistic religions, invites itself into every aspect of social life. More specifically, Islam is inherently and by definition inconsistent with the separation of church and state.
It is instructive that the seeming separation between the two occurred under ruthless secular dictators such Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Hafez Assad’s family in Syria, and Qaddafi’s Libya. In all these instances, the authoritarianism seen in the rule of the Islamist Morsi was still there.
The Middle East is not the only place where religious ideology might compel people to vote against their own social, economic, and political interests. But history teaches that if there is any prospect in wedding Islam to democratic ideals, efforts to do so must concurrently work on religious, economic, and political levels.
Religiously, the concept of the separation of church and state has practically no hold in Islamic thinking. The idea is entirely foreign to most Islamic orthodoxy, and even if a political party were secular in name, they dare not forsake the basic tenets of Islam.
Read more at American Thinker
by Cheradenine Zakalwe h/t BNI
This is a very interesting essay that was posted in French on the website kabyles.net. It is written by a Kabyle, one of the indigenous peoples of Algeria who were subjugated by Muslims. In the essay, the author reflects on the similarities of his own people’s historical experience of being islamised and what is happening to contemporary Europe, especially France. I’ve translated most of it but not all of it. If you can read French, I suggest you read all of it at the link provided.
When I was a teenager I thought that my ancestors were idiots, useless imbeciles for having accepted this miserable religion 15 centuries ago. I was ashamed of my people of origin. I forgot that they had simply been beaten in war and submitted to their conquerors who hurried to rewrite their history.
That twisted history that I learned myself at school and had to unlearn on my own, through effort and perseverance. Looking at France, Belgium, Germany, England, Spain and lots of other countries too, I realise that even people who have been warned can be islamised by stealth, by small innocent touches. In truth, it’s their political, cultural and economic environment that is being islamised under the attacks of new unassimilable North African populations.
As usual, the jihadists islamise the “continent” and the leaders first, then the “human content” adapts bit by bit after one or two generations. It’s a quiet colonisation of spirits and space. Of course the leaders of France deny it. It’s as if you’re looking at the big hand on a watch: fix your eyes on it and you would swear that it doesn’t move, but after a while it’s in a different place all the same. They fell for it!
French men, French women, don’t be surprised if one day the islamists force you to rewrite your own history. I say to you: don’t be surprised if you happen to notice it. They already forbid you, just by being there, from mentioning the battle of Poitiers and Charles Martel. In expecting you to teach in your schools that Charles Martel did not fight Islam, but only some undisciplined Muslim soldiers who took to pillaging.
They are already obliging you to revise your national identity by making you say publicly that Islam is one of the roots of France, waiting till it becomes the only root.
They already claim Victor Hugo was a Muslim, Commander Cousteau was a religious fanatic 5 times a day and that Bonaparte admired the genius of Islamic civilisation.
You liste soberly to Malek Chebel telling you about the Golden Age of Islam and to a “really nice” reading of the Koran without anyone laughing at it openly.
You already let Bouteldja insulte you with impunity on all the television panels and MRAP drags you in front of the courts with the first breath that isn’t halal.
You already hear Tariq Ramadan keep trotting out to you that jihad is a defensive combat, without anyone asking what the Muslims were defending themselves from in North Africa, Spain, the Balkans, India, Vienna and Poitiers.
You are already eating halal without knowing it and if this goes on, soon you will close your butcher’s shops and your bar terraces, without knowing it either. They have already put you on your knees byu forcing you to acknowledge the greatest lie in history, namely that the West discovered philosophy, mathematics, science, astronomy and technology thanksw to Islam which generously passed them on to you (all the same forgetting to pass them on to Muslims).
Soon, you will be ashamed in bulk of Pierre and Marie Curie, Voltaire, Pasteur, Flaubert, Claude Levis Strauss, Molière, Louis IV and Jean Moulin. These renegades betrayed the Islamic roots of France!
Islam doesn’t give a damn about the truth, history and the identity of peoples. The only thing that counts for it is that these people submit to its law. It demands therefore as a sign of submission that these peoples themselves revise their own history, making a travesty of the truth, deny their collective identity, change their cultural references, profane their ancient religious places and discredit their own symbols. This is what all the people conquered by Arabo-Islamism have done. This is what the majority of elite intellectuals, almost all elected representatives, the majority of artists and almost all the French media. Only the ordinary people remain, silently enraged. And even the ordinary people are infested with the suicidally naive.
I say to the French people who are collaborating and the French people who are sleeping: France, and beyond that all of Europe, is at an advanced stage of its islamisation from on high. You have already accepted Islam from the moment where the you complain about radical Islamand Salafists. That implies that you don’t have a problem with living under the yoke of an Islam that is temporarily more soft. ¬Don’t delude yourself: even the softest Islam will never renounce Sharia. Even if the islamist leaders in France promulgated a 100 year moratorium on everything that bothers the French, Sharia will remain a sword of Damocles that will fall fatally on your heads one day, unless you oppose Islam firmly and at the official level, without appeal.
You have already made Islam a religion of state when your leaders deal with the UOIF and CFCM, and trasnfer part of the authority of the state to them in a sign of allegiance. Islam is a religion of state in France from the moment where your leaders celebrate it, cajole it, subsidise it, protect it, it and it alone. In a good Islamic state, France manages the questions of hijab, burka, street prayers, halal, lamb sacrifice, breaking the fast during Ramadan and “Islamic events” with supposedly moderate Muslim dignitaries. These dignitaries treat the elected representatives of the people like veritable tribal chiefs from whom they need allegiance and loyalty. And they get it!
When Dalil Boubekeur [head of Islamic association] speaks, he presents himself as as a second head of state, head high, wth a facile tongue and an assurance ready for any test. Islam is now at home in France, A mini-Islamic republic in the Republic. The cuckoo has laid its egg. Just a few more recalcitrant “tribal chiefs” to be reduced and the country will be declared “Dar al Islam”. Then they’ll just have to learn the technical modalities for practising Islam through the assimilation method. Morocco and Algeria will supply (are already supplying) teachers paid for with the taxes – I mean the zakat – of the French taxpayer.
Ordinary French people aren’t blind. They see the pressures their politicians are subjected to from the communitarian Muslim population organised in strata:
The mass of practising Muslims brandished as a threat to public order, Moderately radical Muslims whom their leaders think of as reservists, The militants Islamists who deal with propaganda, lobbying and legal jihad, the Salafists who create a diversion and the terrorists who terrorise.
They form an ensemble of players who work in concert with only one objective: forcing the Republic to bend to their will by forcing the politicians and institutions to bend to their will. All are hammering on the same nail : sharia, the ultimate goal of Islamic doctrine. Do you think all the North Africans were islamised one by one the day after the landing at Oqba? No. It was necessary to islamise the chiefs of the tribes first of all, then mark the physical, political, cultural environment with Islamic markers. Once this environment has become familiar to the natives, the leaders have no trouble islamising their small tribes “en masse”. Sharia follows later to ensure that the process remains irreversible. That’s what the conquering Muslims in France are trying to do. Tariq Ramadan is the first to swear that there is no question of sharia in France. But inside he adds: “for now”. What Muslim, however moderate, would be ready to definitively and publicly renounce sharia? At best, they will defer it till later. The more cheeky claim that it is these others who are deficient in intellect and don’t properly understand sharia.
Not have weapons to match the West, the islamist conquerors don’t lower their arms for all that. They fight, conduct their jihad openly, mobilise more and more troops, form alliances with NGOs, infiltrate the political world, literally buy the conscience of elected officials and use the slightest flaw in the law to turn it to their advantage. As the icing on the cake, they authorise here and there some attacks and murders, to show the capacity of this foul ideology to do harm and thus paralyse any vague desire to resist. Ils montent haut la barre pour amener les Français à accepter un SMIG islamique dans un premier temps. The French leftists don’t understand that what they call Salafists are to the moderates (Moussaoui, Boubekeur, Ramadan and other preachers) what air power is to infantry. Air power smashes all serious defences, which allows the infantry to advance by stealth until it has encircled the enemy HQ and forced the generals to surrender. The French “generals” here are the elected representatives of the people and the government. They are surrendering one by one.
In the end, in France, the Islamist conquerors are doing their job of conquerors, but those who are supposed to defend the homeland – that is to say the politicians, the ministers, civil society, the intellectuals…- are not doing the job of patriots. That’s why Islam is penetrating into France like butter. Without the slightest resistance. Those who try to resist are just ordinary citizens who end up neutralised by the law, discredited by the politically correct or intimidated by the readymade thoughts beaten in day and night by the media. At the slightest misdemeanour, they are hauled in front of the tribunals under the ironic eye of the burka and kamis wearers, more arrogant than ever. This isn’t meant to discourage you, but I doubt very much that those who are Islam-aware in the virtual world are going to succeed in dissolving the UOIF, or the CFCM, or in getting an event of the pyromaniac Tariq Ramadan banned, or even closing the site oumma.com, this giant mosque filled with islamist propagande, brainwashing material and smears of French patriots. It’s no longer that the worm is inside the fruit, but the fruit is enmeshed in a tangle of slimy worms. In France, those who present themselves as saviours of Marianne [symbol of France] engage in navel-gazing, cry cock-a-doodle-doo, make fun of the islamists instead of combating them on the ground, get caught up in moaning and remain on the defensive against MRAP, LICRA, SOS Racisme [all “anti-racist” multicult associations] and other French “intellectuals”, notorious and well-established collaborators. These terrific online resistance fighters end up disappearing, like Bivouac ID and Liberty vox [French anti-Islam websites] or reduced to defending their skin like Riposte laïque.
In France, it is now fascist to fight against fascism. We’re right in 1984! Madness! It seems that fascism shouldn’t be fought against when it is hungry, when it is unemployed and when it is brought by hundreds of millions of people without resources, without culture, without education and, above all, without shame.
The White House and media response to the events in the US embassies in Egypt and Libya can be characterized by the fact they speak like they have never seen Sharia mob justice before in their lives. Or, at least, you would think that from the knowledge and wisdom they display in their analysis.
For the last 11 years since 9/11, we have watched the same events unroll in the Islamic world and the same response come from our so-called leaders in the government, media, schools and the pulpits. The establishment view: Those Muslims are extremists, not real Muslims. We should be careful not to offend the religion of peace. When Muslims are offended by movies, Koran burnings and Mohammed cartoons, it is our fault.
The clue phone is ringing, pick it up. Here are the clues:
The murder of intellectuals and artists who criticize Mohammed is Sunna. Sunna is the perfect example of Mohammed’s life. When Mohammed captured Mecca, he first prayed, then he destroyed all religious art and then he issued death warrants for the artists and intellectuals who had opposed him. There are only two new facts in the Koran, a derivative work. The first new fact is that Mohammed is the prophet of Allah, and the second new truth is that if you don’t believe he is prophet of Allah, you can be killed.
Violence is what brings Islam success. In Mohammed’s life, he preached the religion of Islam for 13 years and garnered 150 new followers. When he went to Medina and became a politician and a warlord, when he died every Arab was a Muslim. Jihad violence was what made Islam successful. If Mohammed practice jihad, Muslims must use the technique of jihad.
Hello establishment experts, the black flag is not an Al Qaeda flag. The black flag with the Shahada, “There is no god, but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet” and the swords goes back to the Golden Age of Islam in Baghdad in the 9th century. (The establishment professors never tell you about this jihad aspect of the Islamic Golden Age.) This jihad flag is ancient.
Current news is that Ambassador Stevens was raped before he was killed. If so, then this is pure jihad doctrine. The rules for rape of captured Kafirs (unbelievers) are Sunna. At the conquest of the Jews in Khaybar, the Hadith are explicit that captured Kafirs can be raped.
The mob is a manifestation of the Sharia and the umma (the Islamic community). Notice that when a fatwa is issued, such as the famous fatwa by Khomeini against Salmon Rushdie for his artistic work The Satanic Verses, the fatwa is not to be fulfilled by the Islamic police. No, the murder is to be carried by any member of the umma. This is vigilante justice, Sharia justice, mob justice. Pay attention to how often Muslims riot to make political gain.
The shortest hadith is: war is deceit. So here come all of the “good” Muslims to explain how the murder and riots are not real Islam. And they are so upset about what Arabs are doing at the US embassies. But, they still can tell us that Islam is the religion of peace, without a single trace of irony.
The idea that we should not blaspheme Islam, Mohammed or Allah is pure Sharia and the position of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). It seems that none of the establishment experts have the foggiest idea of what Sharia blasphemy entails. Not believing that Mohammed is the prophet of Allah, that a woman is a second class citizen, that jihad is part of Islam is all blasphemy. Critical thought is blasphemy. The Golden Rule is blasphemy. Any well-founded religion can survive blasphemy, except Islam, and that is the reason it is forbidden. But the worst part of this travesty is the refrain from Obama and Hillary that we should subvert our freedom of speech to the demands of the Sharia. The Sharia is Allah’s law and our Constitution is a document of ignorance to be removed from the world. So say the imams and Obama and Hillary.
And now for the last tired response from the apologists: those violent people are an extremist fringe. NO! The mobs are main-line Islam.
You can awaken a man who is asleep, but you will never awaken a man who is pretending to be asleep. That is the reason that we find our experts in the government, media, education and the pulpits to be such dhimmis. They have refused to learn a single thing about Islamic doctrine and history since 9/11. But, cheer up! When the dhimmis write about the beauty of Islam and how the Kafirs are wrong, read the comments. You will find that the common man knows far, far more about Islam than the experts. The higher you go, the less they know.