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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Why the London bombings?

John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, has recently been reported as saying, while talking to an Australian London bomb casualty in hospital:
"Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. This is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion which, at its roots, preaches peace and co-operation," he said.

My question is, is Islam still a "great world religion"? My very intelligent but foolish son, who has converted to Islam, sent me a copy of the Koran, and by reading even a small part of it I have come to understand more about Islamic terrorism than John Howard. How about this quote from the Ayn Rand Institute, which incidentally just about about sums up my view on Islam (Warning - this piece is very politically incorrect!):

The Terrorists' Motivation: Islam

Their attempt to practice religion consistently explains the terrorists' actions.

By Edwin A. Locke

The continued attacks by Islamic terrorists against the West--most recently, the horrific suicide bombings in London--have led many to ask, what is the motivation of the terrorists? Commentators are eager to offer a bevy of pseudo-explanations--poverty, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc.--while ignoring the motivation the terrorists themselves openly proclaim: Islam.

The near silence about the true role of Islam in motivating Islamic terrorists has two main causes: multiculturalism and religion. Multiculturalism asserts that all cultures are equal and therefore none may criticize another; intellectuals and politicians are therefore reluctant to declare the obvious superiority of Western culture to Islamic culture. And the strong commitment to religion of many Americans, especially conservatives, makes them reluctant to indict a religion as the cause of a massive evil. But if we are to identify the fundamental cause of the terrorists' actions, we must understand at least two fundamental premises of the religion they kill for.

First, Islam, like all religions, rejects reason as a means of gaining knowledge and guiding action; it holds that all important truths are grasped by faith in supernatural beings and sacred texts. The Koran explicitly states that knowledge comes from revelation, not thinking. (Christianity in pure form entails a similar rejection of reason, but it has been heavily diluted and secularized since the Renaissance.) Islam advocates the subordination of every sphere of life to religious dogma, including the legal system, politics, economics, and family life; the word "Islam" means literally: submission. The individual is not supposed to think independently but to selflessly subordinate himself to the dictates of his religion and its theocratic representatives. We have seen this before in the West--it was called the Dark Ages.

Second, as with any religion that seeks converts, a derivative tenet of Islam is that it should be imposed by force (you cannot persuade someone of the non-rational). The Koran is replete with calls to take up arms in its name: "fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them . . . those who reject our signs we shall soon cast into the fire . . . those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads . . . as to the deviators, they are the fuel of hell."

These ideas easily lead to fanaticism and terrorism. In fact, what is often referred to as the "fanaticism" of many Muslims is explicitly endorsed by their religion. Consider the following characteristics of religious fanatics. The fanatic demands unquestioning obedience to religious dogma--so does Islam. The fanatic cannot be reasoned with, because he rejects reason--so does Islam. The fanatic eagerly embraces any call to impose his dogma by force on those who will not adopt it voluntarily--so does Islam.

The terrorists are not "un-Islamic" bandits who have "hijacked a great religion"; they are consistent and serious followers of their religion.

It is true that many Muslims who live in the West (like most Christians) reject religious fanaticism and are law-abiding and even loyal citizens, but this is because they have accepted some Western values, including respect for reason, a belief in individual rights, and the need for a separation between church and state. It is only to the extent that they depart from their religion--and from a society that imposes it--that they achieve prosperity, freedom, and peace.

In the last year, there has been more and more of a call for a "War of Ideas"--an intellectual campaign to win the "hearts and minds" of the Arab world that will discourage and discredit Islamic terrorism. Unfortunately, the centerpiece of this campaign so far has been to appeal to Muslims with claims that Islam is perfectly consistent with Western ideals, and inconsistent with terrorism. America has groveled to so-called "moderate" Muslim leaders to strongly repudiate terrorism, with little success. (Those leaders have focused little energy on damning Islamic fanaticism, and much on the alleged sins of the US government.) Such a campaign cannot work, since insofar as these "moderates" accept Islam, they cannot convincingly oppose violence in its name. A true "War of Ideas" would be one in which we proclaim loudly and with moral certainty the secular values we stand for: reason, rights, freedom, material prosperity, and personal happiness on this earth.

Edwin A. Locke, a Professor Emeritus of management at the University of Maryland at College Park, is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Ayn Rand Institute promotes the ideas of Ayn Rand--best-selling author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and originator of the philosophy of Objectivism.

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  1. alcolm said...

    Sue emailed me with a comment because it seemed this post was not accepting comments. Well, it's accepting them now, so I am putting up her comment, even though I have not sought her permission, as I don't think there's anything sensitive about it. sue writes:

    I have wanted to write to you about your post about your son, Nick and Islam, but it seems that particular post will not accept comments for some reason.

    I just wanted to tell you how interesting I found the article. I believe that probably all organized religion is likely liable to the same charge -- beyond reason, but yes, it is true (I think) that Islam is prone to interpretation that leads to violence. Too, I think that the clerical leadership is disinclined to speak forcefully against this behavior. But then, come to think of it, I find very few so called "Christian" clerics using their pulpits to speak forcefully against western agression against Islamic folks in their own homelands either, so... What is our world coming to? Sigh.

    Anyway, I can sympathize with the frustration of having a child who opts for a direction that a parent simply cannot comprehend. Do you have any sense at all of what attracts your son to Islam? Do you and he talk or communicate about this much? I find my own two children so remarkably interesting although there are things that they do and think that I simply cannot fathom. I know that I brought them up to think for themselves, but honestly, I don't think I ever intended them to take me quite so literally!!!! Sheesh!

    Anyway... I do appreciate you sharing what you find. Thanks for sorting and sifting and bringing the treasure that you find back here.

    Hugs, sue"

    26/7/05 09:55

  2. sue, Thanks for that comment. Nick first became interested iin Islam when he was taking a course in Psychosynthesis. He met there a beautiful and lovely English woman who had converted to Islam and was following a certain shaykh. I am not sure of the workings of Nick's mind, but in order to marry this woman (Aisha she had called herself, though that was not her original name) he felt he had to become a Muslim, too. So he began to follow this shaykh. The shaykh is a clever, intelligent but dogmatic and arrogant man, in my view - Nick sent me a couple of his books, and in fact has now taken charge of publishing all his books and other Muslim writings as well. He has now settled in Cape Town and is producing children.

    I have tried to have email discussions with Nick, but if I send him somthing critical of Islam, he cannot tolerate that, and accuses me of sending him "anti-Islamic propaganda", saying that he doesn't want to receive it, when I just thought it was a straightforward piece of reporting. I am sure he would think the same about the article posted here, I certainly wouldn't send it to him. He told me to ask him if I wanted to know anything about Islam - rather cheeky since he had only been a Muslim for a year or two! I did in fact ask him several questions about Islam but he never replied to them, so I drew the obvious conclusion that he didn't like the questions and didn't know how to answer them in Islam's favour.

    Incidentally, with regard to the article posted here, I disagree that you cannot persuade someone of the non-rational. It's being done all the time! Having read "Atlas Shrugged" a couple of years ago, I'm not sure that Ayn Rand herself would agree with this idea that's being put forward in her name.

    26/7/05 10:28


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