Monday, April 28, 2008

Political Islam as the Spanish Inquisitor

Barry Rubin's article, "The Region: Stuck in the Middle Ages, Islam targets moderation" is an excellent analysis of the multifacets of Islam.

There are clerics radical in their oppression and adherence to fundamental Islam... or at least the Koran as interpreted by them. Many of these clerics advocate that Islam be the law of the land (Pakistan's Maulana Fazlur Rahman,of JUI-F in Pakistan's Parliament, just to name one), but do so via attempted legislation.

This has not fared well with the population, as they reject such strict governance and do embrace some western ideals. Such was the result of Pakistan's last election, and previous elections. There are areas (NWTA, i.e.) that do enforce it in their villages and regions. But Islam was not to be the law of Pakistan.

Hamas won elections in Palestine. However the party did not gain favor with Palestinians for totaltarian rule, or even their devotion to the elimination of Israel. Instead Hamas got the vote because of their nanny welfare programs to impoverished and war ransacked Palestinians. In essence, Palestinians are leaning Marxist/socialist in their governing views.

Then we have the militant clerics... those that demand Islamic law, and seek to implement it via violence and fear. This is "the enemy", as cleverly UN'defined by the current administration and talking heads. Their desires are clear, and most lately evoked in
Zawahiri's Open Forum Part One Q&A session. They seek to not only turn all (what they consider) Arab lands into a Muslim Caliphate, but to eliminate all influences of the west. This could include everything from Embassies to corner Starbuck coffee stores.

And now we come to Rubin's analysis... likening the global jihad movement to an oppressive Spanish Inquisition. Clerics fear that with democracy and elections come an increasing irrelevance of themselves and the Islam they teach.

Those who think the problem stems from a need to make Western policy more palatable, showing enough empathy or appeasement, have no idea of the historical processes in play. Consider an interview by Munajid on Al-Majd television on March 30.

Focusing on the threat within Islam, Munajid warns (translation by MEMRI) that advocates of change are heretics engaged in "a very dangerous conspiracy." Why? Because rather than depending on clerics, they claim the right to interpret Islam, are reopening the gates of ijtihad - closed among Muslims for almost 1,000 years - and applying reason to religious doctrine. "This is the prerogative of religious scholars, not of ignorant people... fools or heretics."

Of course, Islamists as well as liberal reformers threaten the mainstream (conservative) clerics' monopoly over Islam. Many Islamists are not qualified theologians.

But moderates are more dangerous, in the mainstream view, since they may loosen religion's hold altogether. Thus, mainstream clerics are more sympathetic to radical Islamists - a key factor in the reformers' weakness and the Islamists' strength. To paraphrase an old Cold War slogan, they say: "Better green than dead."

To allow an Islamic state under jihad is to allow the enemy to completely suppress all forms of modernization and technology. For these allow an open window into the western temptation.

...Munajid and others know something past Europeans didn't: how far secularism can go. As a result, Muslims are extraordinarily insecure. Munajid warns that reformers "want to open up everything for debate," so that "anyone is entitled to believe in whatever he wants... If you want to become an apostate - go ahead. You like Buddhism? Leave Islam, and join Buddhism. No problem...."

Today, new interpretations; tomorrow, rampant alcoholism, short skirts, empty houses of worship, and punk rock. It begins with freedom of thought, it continues with freedom of speech, and it ends up with freedom of belief.

An excellent example of this thought in action comes from an article just today from AP's writer, Ali Akbar Dareini - "Iranian official warns against importing Barbie dolls".

Now how much harm can come from a little Iranian girl, clutching a Barbie doll, you say? To Muslim clerics, irreparable harm.

"The irregular importation of such toys, which unfortunately arrive through unofficial sources and smuggling, is destructive culturally and a social danger," Najafabadi said in his letter, a copy of which was made available to The Associated Press.


While importing the toys is not necessarily illegal, it is discouraged by a government that made its name on preserving Iran from Western cultural influences.

In Monday's letter, Najafabadi said the increasing visibility of Western dolls was raising the alarm among authorities who were considering intervening.

"The displays of personalities such as Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter ... as well as the irregular importation of unsanctioned computer games and movies are all warning bells to the officials in the cultural arena," the letter said.


"Undoubtedly, the personality and identity of the new generation and our children, as a result of unrestricted importation of toys, has been put at risk and caused irreparable damages," he said.

Iran has gone so far as to create competition for Barbie... twins Dara and Sara, with modest clothing and more befitting the Muslim cultural rules of no make up, head scarves, etc. Needless to say, they have been a flop. And go no... Iran is the 3rd largest importer of toys. Clerics are obviously desperate to shelter their Muslim youth from western culture, and this becomes more and more difficult in this Info Age world with satellite TV, cell phones and the Internet.

But it's not only western toys or clothing under assault. The League of Arab States recently voted in
satellite broadcast restrictions to the Cairo Charter. This charter, agreed upon by 22 of the members (including Iraq and Pakistan), allows host countries to annul or suspend the licence of any broadcaster found in violation of the rules. i.e. broadcasting anything considered "un Islamic". It is the US "Fairness Doctrine", Arab style.

What may be the most ironic is that the jihad movement themselves are masters and ardent users of the very technology they seek to ban for the rest of their fellow Muslims. But then, that is what oppressors do.... deprive others while they live in relative comfort.

Rubin's article is a fabulous read, and right on point about the desperation of Muslim clerics - likening it to a desperate Catholic Church during the Spanish Inquisition. However Christianity has grown, and been forced to reconcile man's progress as part of it's religious teachings. Islam, however, can not.

Though Rubin's presentation is thorough of the past, it does not go far enough, IMHO. Just what does the future with a massive Muslim Caliphate mean to the world?

Part of the difficulty of this war is the western ignorance of the enemy and their goals. Too many live in a bubble and believe that what happens in the ME and Europe has nothing to do with the US. Perhaps in Colonial days, that was true. But in this world of global trade and relationships, isolation of their desired Caliphate - from the Andulusians (Spain) to China - under political and oppressive Islamic law would have catastrophic effects on our shores as well.

A jihad victory and Caliphate affects the world economy. Trade and products from west to Arab lands would no longer be possible. And that would include from Arab lands to the west. Can any of you say "beg for oil"? How about the beautiful artifacts and rugs? Other cultural beauties would become taboo.

Banking institutions would probably separate as well. In short, the entire flow of currency, products and international trade would be slashed severely... affecting jobs and prosperity not only here at home, but world wide.

You can expect third world conditions to increase in Arab lands as they shun technology. These conditions breed poverty, disease and food shortages - all the things the US battles even now by trying to help developing countries.

Like it or not, technology,communications and transportation has linked our world together. And what happens enmasse elsewhere can have great effect on America.


Mike's America said...

It's not surprising that Hamas would have a Marxist/Socialist orientation.

After all, the Palestinians were long led by a creation of the Soviet system:

MataHarley said...

Yep, Mike'sA. Another media driven misconception that Palestinians voted for jihad. Not at all the case. But it's a convenient political slam on Bush's spread of liberty theory in a contentious election period.

Ultimately the jihad will lose to the population. In this day and age, the youth will not be content to be isolated from man's scientific achievements in the name of any religion. However it can be a very messy road to that end.

Ken Hoop said...

So Rubin is yet another Zionist excusing the racist oppression of Arab Moslems and Christians by Israel. We should take him at his word? I'll take Jews who sever ties with Israel as a racist state at their words. Like Norm Finklestein.

And something else. Iraqi Shia give special credit to those who stayed in Iraq under Saddam. Meaning al Sadr is at least Sistani's equal--and meaning
he is America's superior by far to most, even on balance, Sunni Iraqis.

MataHarley said...

Actually Ken/Truth2/PreachPat, Rubin is saying that the actual oppressors of Muslims are the clerics themselves. They can not afford to have democracy and western influence coming anywhere near their Muslim youth. Thereby they shun technology and exposure to the west's "sinful" ways and products.

The oppression is obvious. Look at the youth of Iran. Note the 3rd world conditions of Afghanistan under Taliban's Islamic law prior to the coalition entry after 911. These are only two, but certainly not the only examples of political Islam as oppressive rule - done by Muslim clerics and not Israel.

This differs from Muslim countries, such as Pakistan, UAE, etc. A mixture of Muslim and some western influence in economics. Moderate Muslims will win out long term over the fundamentalists.

Now I know you're a pro-Palestine/anti-Israel kind of guy. So I never expect you and I to come to agreement with such a wide divide. There is no debating between you and I that will sway either of us.

And I also respect your desire for anonymity on other sites. But I did want to say that I appreciate your posting civility here.

I will disagree on your measure of equality between Sistani and Sadr. I base my assessement on religious authority and education. Sadr is low man on the totem pole there, but has the blood lines from his father. Thus his decision to return to studies in Iran... to increase his credibility amongst his peers.