Is Islam evil?
In the entry, “The WSJ calls on the Netherlands to stop the trial of Geert Wilders—but guess why?” the question arose whether Islam should be understood as evil. Thucydides wrote:
Islam is not a “religion of peace,” but one which calls on its followers to do evil, i.e., to do morally unjustified harm unto others.To which I replied:
I’ve never seen this point stated as succinctly and persuasively. And I say that as someone who has refrained from calling Islam “evil,” because I don’t feel comfortable characterizing the religion of a billion people as evil; I describe it as tyrannical and as mortally dangerous to non-Muslims .Thinking further about that exchange, I agree that there is a sense in which it is correct to say that Islam calls on its followers to do evil, and therefore Islam itself is evil. Many people describe Islam or Islamic extremism or Islamic jihadism as “evil” or equivalent words. At the same time, however, we must remember that what we think of as the evil of Islamic jihadism is only evil from a point of view external to Islam. From the point of view of Islam itself, Islamic jihadism is not evil but good, or, rather, it is Islamically correct, in conformity with the will of Allah. If our main way of understanding Islamic extremism is that it represents a moral flaw, we will fail to understand how Muslims see themselves, and we will arrive at tragically misguided solutions to the Islam problem.
Exemplifying this wrong way of understanding the Islam danger is Melanie Phillips. As I wrote in 2007, Phillips thinks that the problem with Islamic extremists is that they are behaving in violation of common Western moral norms. Therefore, she argues, if Britain stopped yielding to the Muslims and instead told them in no uncertain terms that they must conform themselves to Western moral and political norms, they would do so, and the Islam threat would go away. The problem, of course, is that from the Muslims’ own point of view, when they push sharia, demonize Western society, and express their fond desire to topple the West, they are not violating any norms, they are following the norms of Islam. For them to follow Western norms would require them to cease being Muslims.
Therefore, while it is true that from the point of view of objective morality Islam is immoral or evil (e.g., because it teaches that non-Muslims do not have human dignity and can be killed, as Andrew Bieszad has pointed out), it is more important for us to understand Islam from the Islamic point of view. Once we see that Muslims seek to destroy our way of life and our notions of human dignity, not because they are following an immoral impulse, but because their god and religion tell them to do it, then we will understand that Islam cannot be reformed; and once we understand that it cannot be reformed, we will be able to take practical steps to weaken its power and secure ourselves from its depredations. But if we believe that Muslims can be morally reformed, we will try to make them follow our moral precepts; but since they cannot follow our moral precepts and remain Muslims, the reform effort must fail. In the end, instead of having taken the efficacious steps that we could have taken to protect our society from Islam, we will have unsuccessfully tried to make the Muslims be like us. And they will still be in our midst, unreformed as ever, more powerful and more confident than ever, and aggressively seeking to Islamize our society and enslave us.
For a full discussion of the fallacy of seeing Islamic extremism as immoral, read the 2007 blog article I linked above, “The unreformable Islamitude of Muslims, and why Melanie Phillips doesn’t get it.”
Richard W. writes:
Yes, Islam is evil. That is an important insight that far too few people have.Peter G. writes:
What kind of relationship would we want to have with a cancer? Islam, like all living systems, assumes a moral imperative to exist by virtue its existence. Our political and intellectual classes have a tremendous stake in covering up what they’ve done, exposing those they’ve been sworn to protect to a lethal ideology vectored by committed fanatics. What Muslims perceive about themselves is irrelevant, all that matters is that exposure for us is ultimately fatal. Ask any Iraqi Christian exposed to the now unattenuated Islam.LA replies:
There are two possible ways of understanding the statement, “Islam is evil.”James N. writes:
Interesting discussion. I’m a bit under the weather and am having a hard time collecting my thoughts.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 31, 2010 07:42 PM | Send