Posted: Apr 03, 2015 7:19 pm
by metacristi
Certainly the article brings us at least one step ahead, good to be made clear that ISIS is Islamic. Very Islamic. 3 big problems with it, in my view, though:

1. it is extremely doubtful that the quran is so elastic in interpretation as the author claim (via Rationality, once a basic core of islam is accepted). I would definitely go with ibn Warraq here, the quran for example is amenable to some interpretation but it is not infinitely elastic (some parts have a very clear meaning, they are hopeless). Actually we can determine objectively that the interpretations of jihad, martyrdom, sharia imposed all over the globe etc hold by the 'radicals' today are more plausible in the light of what the quran and the hadith actually say. I'm afraid one cannot have both high compatibility with Modernity and still hold to the doctrines of 'perfection' of the quran and Muhammad. Postmodernist delusions cannot save the situation.

2. It is true that some Islamic sects are more peaceful than others. Yet we do not have to go too far in the past to see that even these more peaceful sects held physical jihad, martyrdom or imposition of Islamic law on non-muslims in high respect (sufis, from al Ghazali to Naqshbandiya, and even Ahmadis are not exempt from that). The reality is unfortunately that the Islamism of classical islam (before roughly the middle of 19th century) and that of the modern 'radicals' are strongly related.

3. The fundamentalist 'quietists' of today are definitely a continuous source of new radicals on short term, I don't think is wise to just turn a blind eye to this on ground that they are peaceful today. Neither is wise to think that the problem will disappear by itself due to the 'mainstream moderates', providing more time.

This is roughly the counterpart of what the German socialists thought about Hitler's ascension to power, 'let time prove he is incapable and then it is our turn', that he would change the laws themselves never occurred to them. I'm afraid the existing situation proves clearly that if the Islamic world ever becomes stronger again we cannot hope to more than the mixture of Islamic and western law which characterizes the Islamic world today all over the globe, with its inherent severe curbing of basic secular rights.

To not see that the islamic world has failed so far to create societies with a healthy level of secularism in spite of a long exposure to Modernity is a huge blunder in my view. If islam is not reformed in non trivial ways (going well beyond the proposals of those who try to save the 'perfection' myth) and the islamic world becomes strong again I'm afraid the impersonal dynamics of sharia will push things toward what someone on the net (in have the quote copied, I don't remember where I saw it) put so plastically:

1.5 billion Muslims the overwhelming majority live in peace. Most of them are law obeying citizens. Well that’s true. But so were the Nazis in Germany in the forties. Most of them were good fathers and mothers who only wanted what was best for their children. Only a small percentage worked in concentration camps or committed war crimes. When Muslims get to rule I expect more or less the same. A small group fanatics takes control and the rest are law obeying citizens who will turn their head away when a holocaust occurs. They'll probably even say that it’s against Islam.


In my culture there is a saying 'strike while the iron is hot'. NOW is the time to do something in this problem not when the windows of opportunity may pass. I'm afraid just waiting for better times is not really the best interpretation of the existing realities, waiting for the necessary change entirely from inside can very well prove to be a chimera.

Now I understand very well the huge problems facing the honest reformers of islam and why they choose the paths they choose (I am actually sympathetic with them, to some extent) but unfortunately strong edifices can be built only on strong ground, I don't think myths at the basis can withstand the huge pressure coming from above, the proverbial ''compartmentalization' of the mind can vanish very easily in the future (the intellectual/political/economical Western ascendance vanished), yet the basics of a non reformed islam will still be there in full force.

My view of course but I don't think we can afford to overlook it easily. It is often said that history does not repeat itself, which is true, but at least parts of it can easily go mainly in the same direction. That islam, as it is practiced today even in its 'mainstream' variety, has the potential to return us all in important ways toward Middle Ages is no myth I'm afraid. Our passivity now may prove very costly tomorrow. Let's create a better future with place for all but let's begin from reality not myth.