Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Islam: The Other White Meat...
The more I delve into the tortured history and ideology of Islam, the more I'm convinced that there is a serious mental disconnect embedded in it's very foundations. The Prophet Muhammad, at various times and sometimes all at once, seems to be:

a) Political revolutionary
b) menatlly-deranged, self-professed messiah
c) A communist before his time
d) One of those bar-room loudmouths that finally got off his ass and did something
e) Used car salesman

Islam, for those of you who aren't up on it, litterally means "submission". In this case, submission to the Word of God, as revealed by Muhammad. All religions to a certain extent act this way, but many do not impose a rigorous social system that is intended to both prop up the religion and to prevent any challenge to it's authority. Those that have in the past (Christianity comes to mind) have found themselves confronted by that most pernicious virus of human nature. Hence, Christianity and Judaism have had things like Reformations, Enlightenments, and reality intrude and have had to adapt or wither. Islam firstly denies human nature (much like Communism), and has had nothing approaching the moderating effects of a schism between political and religious power such as that brought about by Martin Luther or the Diaspora.

Islam remains firmly rooted in it's past and has resisted change since it's inception. Change is anethema to Islam in the same way as it is to democrats, in that both will continue to advance ridiculous, utopian agendas in the face of reality.

So, just what is it about Islam that makes it such a nasty little bug? I have several theories:

1. The Me-too religion: Islam claims descent from Abraham, the very first Jew, and respects the tenets laid out by Jesus in his ministry, although it denies Christ's divinity and refers to him as only a prophet. I will not debate these issues, since I'm not a theologian. However, in it's very formation there is a hint that Islam was more than willing to absorb or co-opt that which it admired, that which it needed from these other religions, and then discard the rest. Jews are a people apart, the distinction of being the chosen people of God naturally leading to a feeling of superiority and seperateness from others. Islam grafted itself onto the Jewish tradition by claiming descent from a bastard son of Abraham (Ishmael). Muslims now too, could be the chosen people without having to actually be born Jewish (denoted through female lineage). That sense of superiority enjoyed by the hated, but tolerated Jews, could now belong to any desert-dwelling piece of shit that was willing to mouth the proper prayers, without having to keep some of the more esoteric Jewish laws.

Jewish law was also quite attractive to Islam both because it delineated not only just who was a believer but also provided a common set of rules by all to abide by without creating undue friction between two sets of peoples living side-by-side. It also made Islam an attractive choice for disaffected Jews to rally to the cause of Muhammed; they could have their cake and eat it too.

2. The Glory of the Caliphate: Islam repeatedly turns it's eyes back to it's heyday in the 7th-10th century when it was busy overrunning Europe, Anatolia, Persia, Africa, India and parts of China, as the the epitome of it's "civilization". Certainly, if you consider the vast size of the territory conquered and subjected, the riches that were extracted from them and the sheer number of people living within Islamic borders of the time, then yes, it was a heyday.

However, many would have you believe that Islam brought with it some sort of civilizing influence that ordinarily wqould not have been present in those places prior to it's arrival. We've heard time and time again about how Muslims were performing C-sections, drinking coffee, etc, etc hundreds of years before the now-more-civilized West, and somehow we're supposed to believe that Islam created this dynamic culture spread across the globe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Islam merely overran or converted regions in which thriving civilizations already existed: Persia, the Hellenistic Greek world in the Levant and Anatolia, Constantinople, Aryan India. It inherited administrations and social orders that had been spiced and strengthed by Greco-Roman traditions, the Indian Caste system and the Confucian thought of China. It co-opted those institutions and customs that it could not eradicate and then we pretend as if Islam invented it all. As with it';s grafting itself to the Jewish tradition, Islam grafted itself into the existing cultures of whatever was there before. No mean feat, and certainly no argument for some kind of "Islamic Cultural Renaissance".

The fact that within a few hundred years of it's apex, Islam was sliding backwards into anarchy and disorganization is conveniently forgotten, unlike the examples usually given for failing Western systems, like Rome.
The difference is that the Western Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian systems survived because of their dynamism and cohesion, the Chinese and Indian systems survived due to their vast size and numbers of people involved. Islam petered out because it refused to face reality: there was only a limited number of Arabian elite to go around and when they had exhausted their numbers trying to administrate something so vast and unwieldy they left themselves open to other, more numerous, peoples to take over, hence the Ottomans and the Moghuls, the Mamelukes and the Berbers. Yet, the Arabian nature of Islam still remains as much as the Roman law still remains today. The difference is that Islam continues to fight that which it cannot control instead of bending with the wind --- a by-product of submission to the will of God. Roman law has stayed with us because it was practical, egalitarian and easily understood by everyone who could read. Islamic law stays because it is the last redoubt of power left to those who would force the submission of others.

Islam boils down to this:

1. We hate the Jews, but we're perfectly happy to insist that we have Jewish roots.
2. We hate Christians, but only because they believe their prophet is better than ours.
3. Western civilization is evil, unless it's existing structures and abilities to produce all sorts of really neat things can be co-opted. Anything that resists co-option must be destroyed.
4. Western civilization is neat when it comes to doing things like producing abundant food, providing adequate health care and education, producing and distributing wealth, but it is just too indiviualistic for Islam, so, they'll take the good and chuck what they consider the bad, without realizzing it's the bad that makes the rest of it good.
5. Any return to the "good old days" of Islamic Spain and India is a good idea, and all Muslims are honor bound to enure it happens. If there happens to be people already enjoying their lives under a rival system, no problem, they can either be converted or killed. Preferably killed.
6. We can continue to pass a second-hand ideology and religious system off as something unique for as long as stupid people continue to procreate. Anyone who isn't stupid, must be elimninated.

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