Islam’s incompatibility with democracy and equality

September 29, 2007 at 10:58 pm (Books, Christianity, Idiots, Islam, Islamism, Personal, Religion, Religions, The West, Theology)

Point the First:

The central problem of the democracy in Iraq is Islam. Islam has always had a political and social character, including a full program for government. In fact, the first year of the Islamic calendar does not mark the birth of dead of Muhammad, of the beginning of his prophetic ministry. It marks Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina, where he became a political and military leader and Islam became a state.

(Robert Spencer. Religion of Peace? Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007, p. 165.)

This is most forcefully demonstrated by the fact that after Muhammad’s flight, Muhammad revelations take on a vastly more political tone (almost to the point of legal minutiae) and a much more intolerant tone (as, being the indisputed leader, he no longer had to tolerate or appease anyone).

Point the Second:

And of course there is no shortage of people who insist that Islam not only does not forbid, but in fact also actively fosters democracy. Abdulwahab Alkebsi of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, for instance, has declared that the essentials of democracy are “consistent with Islam’s clarion call for justice, equality, and human dignity. . . . According to the Qur’an, one of the explicit purposes of God’s messengers is to offer mankind liberty, justice, and equality.” Islam, he said, “lays the ground for the values of freedom, justice, and equality that are essential to democracy, more so than any other religion or dogma.” [Reference omitted.]

Not only as much as any other religion or dogma, but more so. Can this really be true? Iranian journalist Amir Taheri thinks not. Arguing in favor of the proposition that Islam is incompatible with democracy during a debate in 2004, he directly contradicted the assertions D’Souza would make three years later: “There are fifty-seven nations in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Not one is yet a democracy. The more Islamic the regime in place the less democratic it is.” He concluded, “Islam is incompatible with democracy.” [Reference omitted]

(Robert Spencer. Religion of Peace? Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007, p. 166.)

Subpoint the First, explaining Spencer’s reference to D’Souza:

So can Islamic countries be democratic? Some commentators think so. Dinesh D’Souza scolded conservatives in 2007 for “holding silly seminars on whether Islam is compatible with democracy. In reality, a majority of the world’s Muslims today live under democratic governments–in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Turkey, not to mention Muslims living in Western countries. There is nothing in the Koran or the Islamic tradition that forbids democracy.” [Reference omitted.]

(Robert Spencer. Religion of Peace? Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007, p. 166.)

I am glad Spencer called D’Souza out. I am still absolutely confused why D’Souza would turn on us and support our enemies.

Point the Third:

The fundamental problem, according to Taheri, is Islam’s rejection of the idea that all people have equal dignity, a Christian idea that was central to abolishing slavery. But in Islam, it’s a very different story. The very idea of equality, Taheri declared, “is unacceptable to Islam.”

(Robert Spencer. Religion of Peace? Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007, p. 166.)

Allow me to share an anecdote. One evening, I was with my father with other men, his friends, as there was a dinner among mutual family friends. They were discussing issues related to Islam and especially Islam vis-à-vis The West (which, I would dourly notice, they would do all. the. frickin’. time). The women were not involved as, as is normal, they were separate from us and discussing goodness knows what. It is quite natural for men and women to remain separate, not out of any religious fastidiousness but simply because we men and they women have nothing in common to discuss.

For once — very rare for me — I decided to jump in. The issue being discussed was an incident in New York where a Muslim woman dared to lead a congregational prayer. (In normative Islam, not only should women not lead prayers, they must pray physically apart from men, behind them: there is to be no mingling of the sexes, and unlike Jews or Eastern Orthodox Christians, the women are not to sit or stand to one side of the men’s area but are to be completely separate, behind the men at least, where the men cannot see them at all, even if they turn their head.) The men, for the most part, agreed that what she did was very wrong (and inspired, undoubtedly, by the ignorance of the Christians and Jews, who grant such equality to women; maybe Christians and/Jews paid her to do this, to create a rift among Muslims). I used this as an argument that women, in fact, are not equal in Islam.

One refuted me by saying that women are equal. (The meme that Islam teaches that women are equal is very strong among Muslims in the West, even though there is no evidence for this claim and, in fact, there is ample evidence against such a claim.) He said that women are allowed to lead prayers when the congregation is made up of women.

I countered by saying that this is precisely what I meant: although women can lead congregations made up of women, they cannot do the same when the congregation is of women and men, and as such are not equal with men in Islam.

Even though we went back back forth, wherein Islam’s policies favorable to women were brought forth, I reminded them that “favorable policies” does not equal to “equality”: despite Islam’s inheritance and divorce laws being more women-friendly than those of other religions, said policies still treated women on an inequal (and, at that, an inferior) basis than it did men. Thus, women were not equal in Islam.

Even defending Islam’s policies did not mitigate the fact that women were and are unequal in Islam.

We did not broach the point Taheri would explain (and which Spencer deals with), which is equality with non-Muslims. Equality between Muslims and non-Muslims is anathema in Islam.

Now, equality between believers of a religion (be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism) and non-believers is anathema in every religion. There is no religion that says that the followers of another religion are equal to its own faithful. The others are wrong and, as such, are obviously inferior. But this is all on a spiritual level, an issue of spiritual inferiority or superiority. This is an element that cannot be denied.

(Indeed, we see that religions that claim to affirm the equality of all religions — such as the Bahá’í Faith — are not so affirming in reality. With regard to the Bahá’í Faith, for example, only the Bahá’í Faith is true while all other religions are false as they are today; similarly, people assume that Hinduism and Buddhism teach that other religions or the people thereof are true or equivalent, which is a very false assumption: both teach that its own paradigm is true, and that all other paradigms are false. Indeed, some interpretations or sects take matters of religion or spirituality and elevate them to concrete, physical, material, and scientific truth.)

Almost every religion is ready to set aside this inequality when it comes to the composition and application of political law: a person’s spiritual status ought to bear no relevance to what rights he or she ought to enjoy under the laws of a state. If a Christian or Jew or Muslim or Buddhist commits a crime, he or she ought to face the same punishment as if a member of another religion committed the same crime. This is what is meant by equality under the law.

Some religious systems, such as Judaism, have laws which deal with laws of the state, and include stipulations concerning what punishments or rights are applicable to a believer and which to a non-believer. There is an inequality in such laws, with laws obviously favoring believers. But Judaism has not been in a position to formulate, let alone enforce, such laws. Even in the State of Israel, such biblical or Talmudic laws have not been enacted. The State of Israel is not a Jewish state, for a paramount element of a Jewish state would be a Jewish law, but is a secular (or lay) state established as a safe haven where Jews may live and practice their religion without hindrance or persecution, which situation is unlike what exists in practically every other state of the world.

And, true, for centuries Christian states had enacted laws that discriminated on the basis of religion (among other bases) and even denomination. Recall that until relatively recently Catholism was severely restricted in The United Kingdom, where the state religion was and is The Church of England or (for those areas outside England) the relevant entity in the Anglican Communion. But in today’s age of equality under the law, such laws are seen as disagreeable by even Anglicans. And in any case, such laws today serve only to say that a Catholic (or, actually, a non-Anglican) may not be Prime Minister or Sovereign. Which is discriminatory and runs counter to democracy: but this may be an exception that proves the rule. For example, most other European states with state religions have since disestablished state churches.

Then, in the history of the world, came laïcité, which stipulated absolute equality under the law regardless of religion. This was a fulfillment of a radical belief in Christianity: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). In the unity in the Faith, all distinctions are to be blurred. Laïcité took this and changed “unity in the Faith” to “unity in the Nation” or (in the case of America, which is not a nation-state but simply a state) “unity in the State/Republic”.

The seed sown by the Apostle Paul laid the foundation for a revolutionary concept: equality under the law, freedom for all, and equal participation in republican government. This is a concept that is acceptable to all religions because the discriminatory aspect of all religions is confined to religious and spiritual matters.

But not Islam. Inequality is an essential element in Islam and in the inevitable and undeniable political aspect of Islam.

By the way, slavery is permitted in Islam; and, according to prevailing interpretations of Islam (since the beginning of Islam), it is anti-Islamic to abolish slavery by Muslims.

As another ending morsel: you know the slaves the Europeans bought from Africa and dispersed throughout the world? They were bought by the Europeans and their status as slaves were perpetuated by the Europeans, of this there is no doubt. But do you know who initially enslaved them? You got it: Muslims. It was normative for Muslims to enslave conquered non-Muslim Africans.

So much for equality in Islam.

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18 Comments

  1. salahudin said,

    it depends which islam you follow.

    i could make the inaccurate assertion that christianity, judaism & confucianism don’t support liberal democracies, but that WOULD be wrong…

    in the case of christianity, i would be asserting catholicism as “normative” christianity… which would be dishonest on my part.

    political scientists have examined such claims and most have declared such to be ethnocentric, racist and fascistic.

    a brief study of academic political science journals, as written by credible people – not robert spencer type pro-christian fundamentalist fascists – will confirm what i’m saying… 🙂

    so it depends on what version of islam one follows.

  2. attendingtheworld said,

    It’s quite amazing that your hatred to Islam is disguised by the claim that you were born a Muslim. Your credibility and ignorance about Islam is very apparent but my favorite is the claim you make:

    By the way, slavery is permitted in Islam; and, according to prevailing interpretations of Islam (since the beginning of Islam), it is anti-Islamic to abolish slavery by Muslims.

    Nothing farther from the truth. You’re just like any other idiot who seeks fame and fortune by claiming s/he was a Muslim and converted.

    Refer to 2:177 in the Quran

    True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west – but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance – however much he himself may cherish – it – upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God.

    The Arabic word “Ar-raqabah” denotes, literally, “the neck”, and signifies also the whole of a human person. Metonymically, the expression fi ‘r-riqab denotes “in the cause of freeing human beings from bondage”, and applies to both the ransoming of captives and the freeing of slaves. By including this kind of expenditure within the essential acts of piety, the Qur’an implies that the freeing of people from bondage – and, thus, the abolition of slavery – is one of the social objectives of Islam. At the time of the revelation of the Qur’an, slavery was an established institution throughout the world, and its sudden abolition would have been economically impossible. In order to obviate this difficulty, and at the same time to bring about an eventual abolition of all slavery, the Qur’an ordains in 8:67 that henceforth only captives taken in a just war may be kept as slaves. But even with regard to persons enslaved in this or-before the revelation of 8 : 67-in any other way, the Qur’an stresses the great merit inherent in the freeing of slaves, and stipulates it as a means of atonement for various transgressions (see, e.g., 4:92, 5:89, 58:3). In addition, the Prophet emphatically stated on many occasions that, in the sight of God, the unconditional freeing of a human being from bondage is among the most praiseworthy acts which a Muslim could perform.

  3. Muslihoon said,

    Your interpretation of the Qur’an is interesting. Does it have the sanction of sunnah, ahadith, an authoritative tafsir, or shari’ah? Or is it simply your invention?

    I’m not doing to dignify the rest of your nonsense with a response, unless one of my readers asks. Perusing your blog, no response will affect you: you have your mind made up.

  4. Gabriel Somoza said,

    There is no religion that says that the followers of another religion are equal to its own faithful. The others are wrong and, as such, are obviously inferior (…) This is an element that cannot be denied.

    Just a quick question: have you studied all religions so that you can say that? I don’t think so. I can create my own religion if I gather 50 other people to follow it, and then put the following as the most important commandment: “Everybody is equal, regardless of their religion”, and you probably wouldn’t know about that religion. So I think that your statement is totally out of place, unless of course you were some kind of atheist or person without religion and then that would explain your generalization about something you don’t really know.

    As a matter of fact, the Bible says:

    Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

    And in other places it says that everybody has exactly the same value, that we should treat others as we would like to be treated, that we shouldn’t ever consider better than anyone, that in fact we should consider ourselves the worst of all mankind. That some christians in their practical lives don’t apply this truth to their everyday lives (and discriminate against non-christians) does not mean that christianity as a religion considers non-christians inferior!!!

    Please, consider what you said again. Good luck!

  5. attendingtheworld said,

    Interesting reply. Naturally, your remarks prove your ignorance. The explanation I provided is not that of my own. A little research on your part would prove such. Did you bother looking up the verse and its explanation? Obviously not.

    It seems that YOUR mind is made up.

  6. Muslihoon said,

    I feel no obligation to do any research of your quote: provide a citation. The burden of that evidence is on you.

    You have taken one element of my post, ignoring the rest. Please comment on Islam’s policies towards ahl al-dhimmi and towards women. This cherry-picking defends my point: you are grasping at straws to defend Islam and its image. And, your comments have not refuted in any way the *fact* that slavery is permitted in Islam and is a part of its laws (shari’ah).

  7. attendingtheworld said,

    No cherry picking… but the fact remains that you post garbage without any legitimate sources (Spencer’s book is the equivalent of stating that Daniel Pipes is a source). Unlike your hate speech, I did provide a source that you chose to ignore because your ignorance was exposed. And you further proved your ignorance by rejecting to counter my point with a valid source. This goes to prove that you’re cherry picking. I do not need to dignify your presence or this blog by further answers. Luckily my readers do get sources – from the Economist or Israeli historians and writers to those so-called Christians.

    I’m finished here. Your stand is no better than that of Bin Laden against Christianity or the Western ideology. Enjoy!

  8. Muslihoon said,

    Either you misunderstood me or you are obfuscating. I asked you for a citation for your interpretation for 2:177. You state quite a bit but provide no source for your interpretation.

    You said you provided a citation, but I see none. And by “citation” I do not mean where from the Qur’an the verse is from but rather from what *authoritative* source for interpreting the Qur’an your *interpretation* comes from. Which hadith? Which sunnah? Or from which authoritative tafsir?

  9. salahudin said,

    I think you both are wrong.

    Muslihoon is wrong because he has a very linear point of view on what is Islam and hence his assertion makes no room for alternative interpretations and other sects within islam.

    “attendingtheworld” is wrong because… well, apart from being another angry & arrogant young muslim… she’s making the mistake of thinking islam FORBIDS slavery.

    au contrare, islam ENDORSES slavery… as does the bible…. 🙂

    though you’ll find many verses recommending the freeing of slaves in the quran, you won’t find ANY command making it FARD… on the other hand, you’ll find plenty of verses that tell muhammad and/or his followers on HOW to obtain slaves.

    anyways, the bottom line is that islam’s adherents insist there is only “one” islam (erroneously i must say), insisting the ENTIRE quran is “perfect” and hence both “scientifically accurate AND ethical” etc… which makes muslims fall on their faces when pointed out that man is NOT made from clay nor is slavery ethical. lol…

    the PROBLEM is that a lot of islam’s critics have bought in to the argument that islam is a homogeneous religion, ignoring the COUNTLESS different personal interpretations of archaic and mostly POETIC (this isn’t to say it’s all acceptable, even as poetry!) hence SUBJECTIVE sources like the quran.

    🙂

    the way to both reform islam and to get rid of its critics is for muslims to finally reconcile their rationality with their religion… (by definition that’s impossible, but they can make SOME headway at least) by not accepting the quran as the infallible word of god…. the way a lot of christians take the bible with “a pinch of salt” so to say… and yet they remain christian.

    i must remind muslims that all it take for them to BECOME muslim is to believe in the first kalmah… everything else is “added on”… the way all it takes for a christian to be one… is to take “christ as his or her personal savior”.

  10. blackflag said,

    the way to both reform islam and to get rid of its critics is for muslims to finally reconcile their rationality with their religion… (by definition that’s impossible, but they can make SOME headway at least) by not accepting the quran as the infallible word of god…. the way a lot of christians take the bible with “a pinch of salt” so to say… and yet they remain christian.

    And there you have it folks.

  11. blackflag said,

    “And there you have it folks”

    Should be outside the blockquotes.

  12. Muslihoon said,

    Fixed it for you, BF. I’m thrilled you stopped by!

  13. echnaton said,

    Great Muslihoon!
    you show consistency and a clear mind, while around (ATW) shows with what kind of people we have to deal with (ignorat, arrogant, ideologically flawed and morally invertebrate)
    In any case, it helps “the cause”
    echnaton

  14. salahudin said,

    echnaton: i don’t see what “cause” you’re talking about here. if you are anti-islam, then sure, her attitude shows helps your “cause”..

    although nothing either party said here even ATTEMPTS to make a constructive dialog with the aim of getting along and making the world a better place.

  15. echnaton said,

    Salahudin,
    I let you guess!

  16. nicedeb said,

    Robert Spencer is pro-Christian? Wow. I guess that makes him a fascist.

  17. nicedeb said,

  18. Rev. Scott said,

    Robert Spencer is pro-Christian? Wow. I guess that makes him a fascist.

    Umm, how does being pro-Christian make you a fascist?

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