View Full Version : Fighting for the Soul of Islam

04-09-2007, 06:29 AM
8 April US News and World Report - Fighting for the Soul of Islam (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070408/16muslims.htm) by Jay Tolson.

Americans have heard it repeatedly since September 11: The acts of terrorism inflicted on our shore were the murderous consequences of an ongoing struggle within Islam. At its most dramatic extremes, that conflict pits radical jihadists against moderate Muslims. But a quieter front in the struggle is probably of greater import. It involves the millions of Muslims who are being wooed by the proselytizers of a puritanical, and often highly politicized, strain of the faith. This volatile blend of Saudi Wahhabi Islam and political Islam-dubbed Islamism by one of its early-20th-century founders-is the assembly line of future jihadists, some experts hold, and its agents are busy indoctrinating young Muslims from Lahore to Los Angeles.

The outcome of this clash will bear directly on the course of the war on terrorism by answering the most fundamental question: Is mainstream Islam compatible with democracy and basic rights and freedoms established by international law?

While the stakes of this struggle are enormously high, American and European efforts to make sense of it have so far proved to be inadequate. A new Rand report, only the most recent such critique, charges that the U.S. government-almost six years after 9/11-still lacks a "consistent view on who the moderates are, where the opportunities for building networks among them lie, and how best to build the networks."...

Rand Report - Building Moderate Muslim Networks (http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG574/) by Angel Rabasa, Cheryl Benard, Lowell H. Schwartz and Peter Sickle.

Radical and dogmatic interpretations of Islam have gained ground in recent years in many Muslim societies via extensive Islamist networks spanning the Muslim world and the Muslim diaspora communities of North America and Europe. Although a majority throughout the Muslim world, moderates have not developed similar networks to amplify their message and to provide protection from violence and intimidation. With considerable experience fostering networks of people committed to free and democratic ideas during the Cold War, the United States has a critical role to play in leveling the playing field for Muslim moderates. The authors derive lessons from the U.S. and allied Cold War network-building experience, determine their applicability to the current situation in the Muslim world, assess the effectiveness of U.S. government programs of engagement with the Muslim world, and develop a “road map” to foster the construction of moderate Muslim networks...

04-10-2007, 02:07 PM
" The outcome of this clash will bear directly on the course of the war on terrorism by answering the most fundamental question: Is mainstream Islam compatible with democracy and basic rights and freedoms established by international law? "

I wonder what the numbers would show with regards to say voting for Muslims living in the US? Do the percentages generally parallel the non-Muslim population? What about female Muslim voter numbers? Are as many female Muslims registered proportioniately to non-Muslim women and do they vote in equal proportion? Is there an equal percentage per capita of Muslims running for State and Local offices? My hunch is No to the above questions.

Then there is the matter of cultural participation and there are many unanswered questions in this area as well. First off, can simple market participation visa-via employment, taxes and the purchase of necessities sustain a democracy? I would argue not in lieu of what the culture of sports and entertainment contributes financially to sustain the whole ball of wax. The NFL, NBA, NHL, Baseball, NASCAR, NCAA Sports, The Masters tournament, Tennis and Track events at the national level are massive in their economic contributions. Throw into the mix all the State and local similiar activites and it grows. Then toss in all the bars, dining out, movies, fashion and it grows more. Add in Santa Claus, the Thanksgiving turkey and the Easter Bunny. What's the participatory rate here for Muslims?

What about suplus capital? How much of it do Muslims invest, how much of it goes elsewhere, often to poor relatives in the home country and IMO, "home" is the operative word here. Perhaps before addressing if Democracy can be established in places like Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. we need to know if Democracy is even compatible and accessed here at home.

Dr Jack
04-10-2007, 03:21 PM
An interesting book along this same subject was written by Natan Sharansky entitled "The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror."

In an interview with FrontPageMagazine.com (http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16319), Sharansky states:

I have no doubt that given a real choice, the vast majority of Muslims and Arabs, like everyone else will choose a free society over a fear society. Believe me, the drug of freedom is universally potent. Once the life of doublethink and self-censorship is shed, once the brainwashing stops, once freedom is tasted, no people will ever choose to live in fear again.

04-10-2007, 04:34 PM
I wish I could be more optimistic. It is easier to juxtapose social inequality and privlige through sheer economic power on a people accustomed to the mandates of divine will and no taste and history of real freedom and governmental participation. That's the real pull of AQ that feeds off this dichotomy and why employment has to be a critical component of any COIN strategy in any 3rd world flare-up.

04-10-2007, 07:38 PM
One can only hope that democratic West will stop supporting all those dictators, kings and princes that are ruling today with they support and against will of local people… And maybe reverse they policy of applying democratic values only when is ok with they own (Western) interests and start accepting results (whatever they may be!) since that is core of democratic values… Will of the people, right?

Ah, yes, I forgot… Insha' Allah.

04-12-2007, 12:07 PM
I wish it was that simple, Sarejevo

04-12-2007, 01:34 PM
I wish it was that simple, Sarejevo

But, why not!? Imagine you give people chance to express they feelings and opinions, that they dress how they want (in Turkey), they read and vote for whom they want (in Egypt), to vote for whom they want-with consequences that they will suffer but also they can change them (in Palestine, SA, Morocco)…

Do you really believe that majority of Muslim populous will choose Taliban/AQ style regimes!? Do you have problem with Malaysia style Islamic governance or policy toward West? They are way to progressive and open minded, technology advanced and economical stabile to be rogue or not to work with West.

US (wrong) policy of support WRONG governments, leaders and, yes, countries in the Middle East (including racist and apartheid Israel) creating way to much instability and enemies of West then what you will have with reverse politics. You take away major grievances in today Islamic word (they are not to many) and you will more then half battle with Islamic extremisms and you win over AQ.

My firm beliefs is that majority of Muslim are NOT pro Taliban style regimes and AQ (sharia based law don’t need to be that harsh or bad) but they are anti- US imperialism, war against Islam and support of evil and regimes cause of oil and weapons market dominance (from South America, thru Africa and ME all the way to Asia).

I just finished reading “The Redirection” by Seymour M. Hersh (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fa_fact_hersh ) and ”The Bush Administration’s New Strategy of Setting the Middle East Aflame” by Peter Symonds (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/02/363798.html ) and if you didn’t read them yet, I recommended… If all said is true, we are in way of much worst times and troubles then majority of us was thinking.

If you get around to read that, please tell me what you think.

04-12-2007, 03:06 PM
I think Islam and Democracy are not compatible for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the Divine cannot be sorted and kept secondary to the mundane management of human affairs in Islam and we are inhabiting a planet fully diversified in its ontological perceptions and interpretations. Islam cannot accord full equal status to non-Muslims, particularily the polytheists, agnostics and atheists. Islam can peacfully cohabit the planet with said folks, until Islam perceives said folks and their religious views are influencing resource allocation. The same can be said of Christianity but internally we do keep the Religious pretty much out of politics. I would reference in particular the Judge in Alabama , I think that was the state, who was kicked off the bench for putting the 10 Commandments in a court house as but one recent example of this.

Secondly, Islam has yet to accord equal status to half its population, the females. That does not bode well for reconciliation and compatibility on a global scale where Western democracies are major players. We quit burning witches 400 years ago. Honor killings and clitorectomy are serious, unresolved issues that intelligent men in the Islamic world have not been able to resolve. Beyond that, there issues of voting, equal civic participation, driving cars, resource management that are not resolved.

Thirdly, for every imperialist move the US makes, the Islamic world makes its own moves to sustain its status quo. The flare-ups we are seeing in N. Africa are a result of the pending withdrawl from Iraq, not the invasion. You may as well be talking to a dead squirrel as to convince me to the contrary. I've got a crisp C note that says an ideological/IO assault is about to commence on Jordan, followed by some direct action. It's what I would do if I were in their camp.

Do I think most Muslims want Sharia Law in their lives? No, of course I don't but with rigid paternalism, no income tax, rampant tribalism, inequality of the sexes and 1400 yr. old Divine Will at the helm and no historical backdrop, it's a long hump with a full pack to creating your own Ben Franklins, George Washingtons and Thomas Jeffersons. I want peace and I fear the hideous things we will have to do to win if it comes down to an ultimate clash of civilizations.

04-12-2007, 04:50 PM
Well, how much I agree with you in some stuff you said here that much (maybe even more) I couldn’t. There are plenty examples in history of Muslims living peacefully with non-Muslims, they rights was protected and accepted; women are not humiliated and put down how much West trying to portrait them, nor is true that they have no rights, in some cases even more then man; voting and democracy are not so alien to Islam and with some modification in system it could be easy implemented in they life style…

For all other things you mention here, goesh (honor killings, clitorectomy, voting, equal civic participation, driving cars, rigid paternalism, no income tax, rampant tribalism, inequality of the sexes) I can only repeat myself from before… These are different examples from different countries (not ALL is present in ALL Islamic countries proving my point that all of that is NOT common to Islam) and those examples are related to TRIBAL, primitive and old customs and NOT based on Islam or Quran.

I understand your bias (maybe even hate) but you are basing all that on WRONG perception of what Islam is, repeating all those wrong, non-Islamic things like excuse and shield in your crusade… You are free to prove me wrong if you can find examples/rulings/laws in Islam on all those backward, stupid, evil and bad things you mention. You will not. You will find examples of tribal, local customs creping in what they think is Islam. You know, Muslims themselves fighting those issues & problems.

You have totally different behaviors in different Muslims countries that prove that is not Islamic way. I could go in details, give you examples and try to find answers for you, but you all ready said: “You may as well be talking to a dead squirrel as to convince me to the contrary”, so there is no purpose. And since you think that this are ”serious, unresolved issues that intelligent men in the Islamic world have not been able to resolve” I am not sure what I am even trying to do here?!

So, let me stop here and go in my “corner” and silently disagree since I think I know you are wrong and you will never be able to find solutions, answers and peace with “other side” that way.

I wish you well,

04-12-2007, 06:32 PM
Our dialouge typifies the cultural incongruence that is manifesinting in spilled blood all over the planet. To quote from the Sufi Poet Rumi:

"Lord, said David, since you do not need us,
why did you create these two worlds?"

We both are probably not quite what and who we appear to be here and I think we can both agree that it is a good day to die, so there can then be peace too, somehow, but if I and my kind are bound only by honor and blood to the Laws of our nation and the men of AQ by honor and blood are bound only to Allah, who is to mediate and who can convince us of their worthiness to be heard and heeded? The merchants? The women? The children? The Poets? The Priests and Imams? The wretched politicians? ...?

04-12-2007, 07:30 PM
I get what you saying… I think the best example of that “difference” would be most recent developments in Iraq and fight between AQ and IAI where first not wish to negotiate peace and former is open to peace dialog... And then let other Muslims to take care of AQ.

Also, (interesting info) one of the plotters of the first WTC attack, when ask with what kind of US government he will be ok to talk/made peace, he said basically that if U.S.A. have religious rulers they will find way for peace and talks!? True? Who knows?

(I am paraphrasing here from memory, but if you are interested to know exact quote and title of book I can give you tonight when I get home.)

Rumi is cool but to much of lover and not enough of warrior. ;)

04-13-2007, 12:53 PM
This old hillbilly only knows that the giant that went back to sleep on 9/2/45 has been kicked awake again.

"The one You kill,
Does not smell of blood,
And the one You burn
Does not reek of smoke.

He You burn laughs as he burns
And the one You kill,
As You kill him,
Cries out in ecstasy."
(Sheikh Ansari)

That's a two-way street, hoss. The principle ideological failure of the jihadist is in fully comprhending our history, that death at the personal level often becomes secondary, even irrelevant, to completing the mission, where duty and honor supplant Divine Will.