We really have no idea what we are up against unless we take a careful look at what is held theologically and what has happened historically in the Muslim world and its understanding of the world outside itself, which it calls the sphere of war. The voluntarism of Islamic thought enables it, apparently, to justify means of advancement that are by any reasonable or democratic standard immoral. Indeed, as Benedict noted in his “Regensburg Lecture,” this voluntarism and its invalidity stands at the intellectual root of Islam’s self-understanding.
Many western writers on Islam today, especially in explaining its violence, want to interpret this violence as somehow an aspect of western ideology, as if there were no roots of it in the sources of Islamic revelation itself. It is true that a number of modern Muslim thinkers were influenced by Lenin, Marx, or other revolutionary thinkers. There is a modern component. But there was violence in Islam’s expansion from its beginning.
Islam aggressively conquered large areas of the world, often ones ruled by unprepared Christians. Its methods of rule by tribute, second-class citizenship to the conquered, and isolation of subject groups are grim to contemplate. Much revolutionary Muslim theory and practice would want to rid Muslim lands of all foreigners who do not accept the Qur’an and its law. To a large extent, this exodus of non-Muslims from Muslim-controlled lands is happening. The Holy See has often sought to stem this tide, but one can hardly blame Christians and others from leaving such hostile environments while there is still time and still someplace to escape to.
The solution to the “problem” of Islamic violence, according to these same contemporary thinkers, is to “westernize” or “modernize” it. That is, make it something other than it conceives itself to be. While there may be some of this secularizing that is feasible—to “democratize” Islam—the drift is now decidedly in the other direction after the independence of Muslim states after both wars. Muslim states are under pressure of their own religious enthusiasm to reject overtures to modernity as contrary to Islam..MORE>>
Monday, November 9, 2009
Schall - Ambiguity of Islam
Essential reading from Father James Schall, S. J. -