Marlowe's Shade

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Is Secularism the Solution to a Religion of Terror?

I've come across two pieces that have stirred up a line of thought concerning what a global and personal exit strategy out of Islam might be.

Sam Harris wrote a particularly clear-eyed op-ed in the Washington Times called Mired in a Religious War I don't agree with the pessimistic tone, which I suspect is due to a very secular view of events. But he makes many excellent points about the nature of the enemy.

It is time we admitted that we are not at war with "terrorism." We are at war with Islam. This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims, but we are absolutely at war with the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. The only reason Muslim fundamentalism is a threat to us is because the fundamentals of Islam are a threat to us. Every American should read the Koran and discover the relentlessness with which non-Muslims are vilified in its pages. The idea that Islam is a "peaceful religion hijacked by extremists" is a dangerous fantasy — and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge.

MEMRI has published 2 excerpts from some recent articles by the Kuwaiti progressive scholar Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, a political science lecturer at Kuwait University.

There is no Islamic country in which a Christian or a Jew could reveal a cross or a skullcap, and get away with it peacefully. In addition, members of [other] human religions, like Buddhism and Hinduism, are prohibited from conducting their ceremonies in public, even with governmental approval, without people harming them, as happened at the Hindu place of worship in Kuwait. In contrast to this religious persecution [in Islamic countries,] of which the [Islamic] religious stream boasts, there is no secular country that prohibits the construction of mosques, even in the event that the government does not finance them. Moreover, there is no secular country that prevents the Muslim from praying in public…

"There is no church in the secular Christian world in which a priest stands and curses anyone who disagrees with his religion or prays for trouble and disaster to befall them, as do the preachers in our Friday sermons. [Moreover,] our religious thought has no parallel to the message recently pronounced by the present Pope regarding the importance of peace for all. Contrary to the ease with which a mosque is built in secular Europe and America, the construction of a church [in a Moslem country] is carried out only with the approval of the country's president, [and even then] it is rare.

The issue I have with Al-Baghdadi is that he projects his issues with Islam on other religions:

...Secularism as a [world] view and as a way of life was not formed in a vacuum, but is the outcome of the painful life experience of human beings which has continued for close to a millennium and in the course of which the religious thought of the Church, devised by the religious clergy, was abolished… During this experience, Western man lived in intellectual darkness and [endured] devastating wars in a period called 'the Dark Middle Ages.'

For the person educated in sciences, industry, finances, politics, and culture there was only one solution, which constitutes a refuge for the poor societies. That [solution] is: distancing the man of the cloth from life… From that moment on, the Western world became the only world to develop, progress, and flourish in all spheres of life.

I would point out to Mr Al-Baghdadi that Europe is not exactly flourishing under secularism. But I do wonder if secularism is a necessary ideological decompression from Islam for apostates.

Any comments or viewpoints on this are very welcome.
papijoe 10:33 AM