Why Muslims accept the violence inherent in their faith
I was reading reviews of Martin Ling’s Mohammad biography at Amazon and came across an illuminating reader review. The writer is a believing Muslim and his words help explain how Muslims accept the violence that is fundamental to their faith. And in the midst of that he says something that may also help explain the seemingly bizarre alliance of liberals and leftists with Islam. See the bolded passage below:
To understand the prophet we have to understand the environment he had to work with and the culture of chivalry that he was part of. He was not born in an age of social security, old age homes and political correctness. Muhammad’s mission emerged in a war zone, if you want a modern parallel think of the Krips and Bloods magnified by a thousand, Think ethnic cleansing in Bosnia/Serbia. For those with more historical erudition think of Japan in the Muromachi period. In the midst of such turmoil and suffering a noble warrior emerges, his basic message to the people is that we are all the same, no tribe or person is superior to another there is only one god, i.e. we are all part of the unity of things. This in a nutshell is the sahadah or testimony of the Islamic faith.
So there you have a fine example of how the most pitiless slaughters of innocents can be explained away. And not just explained away, but even made into something great and noble and kind and merciful and compassionate. (The human mind is truly a wondrous thing.) That bolded bit, when I read it, struck me as a perfect distillation of Liberalism’s equality and non-discrimination essence: we’re all the same, no one is superior, it’s all one unity. That’s Islam in a nutshell, and Liberalism in a nutshell. That’s two ism-nuts in one nutshell: Liberalislam. The mad mystery alliance is (partially) explained.
He preaches the message in peace at first and maintains this peaceful mission despite persecution of him and his followers. When the persecution becomes too great and the powers that be refuse to change their evil ways, God grants him the authority to fight. Muhammad takes up the mantle for war even though his army is still low in their numbers and their resources pitiful. Miraculously with the help of God, Muhammad an his followers are able to overcome their adversaries and are able to create a new civilisation.
This is how a Hollywood movie would portray the prophets life, it’s a lot more digestible now isn’t it? Muhammad sanctioned the death of a lot of people, but he spared the lives of a lot of people too even though he would be justified in taking their lives as an example to others or in self defense. Some people will avoid the truth and become enemies of it, or it is their dharma to protect the old order, rightly or wrongly (as is the case of his own uncle). This will lead to more bloodshed injustice and suffering than if they are allowed to live. God won’t just wave a wand and everyone will be cleansed and purified, this defeats the whole purpose of human existence, destiny and responsibility.
When we are able to extricate our limited grasp of the human experience from our cozy suburban cages we can see the true genius of the prophet. In a war situation, a person has to be a warrior. The prophet of Islam is the greatest warrior that ever lived, he did not shy away from the responsibilities and the horrors of war, for someone who was of such a sensitive and ascetic disposition it must have been unbearably painful. In Muhammad we see the personification of Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Muhammad waged war, selflessly and with absolute trust in Gods will (bhakti). He did not indulge in the power and privilege his victory’s brought him (he married mostly widows and died with hardly anything to his name.)
(end of reader review)
First, I would make two points:
- end of initial entry -
1. The various Arab tribes, each with its own gods, were perpetually in conflict—conflict driven by the Arab shame-honor syndrome, and Muhammad through his monotheistic teaching and leadership did bring that perpetual conflict to an end, making of the Arabs one people, one nation under one god. This was a great historical achievement.
2. At the same time, in the very act of making the Arabs into one tribe, so that they were no longer in perpetual conflict with each other, he commanded this new pan-Arab tribe to wage perpetual war against the rest of mankind. In effect, the Arabs had become one tribe, united by adherence to Islam, and all non-Moslems had become another tribe, a tribe that by its very existence as a non-Moslem tribe had insulted and dishonored the Moslem tribe and so deserved the harshest treatment. Muhammad thus redirected the Arabs’ warlike energies from fighting each other to fighting the rest of mankind.
So the commenter’s point is true up to a point. Muhammad was a great unifier. But he was only a unifier for those who accepted Islam. For those who didn’t accept Islam, Muhammad was a mass murderer, exploiter, thief, raider, and slave master, and his successors were conquerers of much of the earth. The commenter’s statement that Muhammad’s “basic message to the people is that we are all the same, no tribe or person is superior to another there is only one god, i.e. we are all part of the unity of things,” is only true for Arabs/Moslems. Moslems are absolutely superior to non-Moslems, who don’t even deserve to live. Also, historically, the Arabs dominated the non-Arab Moslems. The Arabs saw themselves as a superior race compared with other Moslems.
Is this like liberalism? Without the element of violence, yes. Liberals want to bring about a unity of all mankind, but this unity is only for liberals, even as liberals wage unceasing ideological and political war against non-liberals, whom they portray as not fully human and not deserving of decent treatment.
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Also, a smaller point. It is not true that Muhammad lived in a “war zone.” Yes, the Arab tribes were in constant conflict with each other, but this consisted of vengeance, murders, raids, etc.; it was their chronic, normal condition, it was not war as ordinarily understood. The commenter makes it seem as though there was this big war going on, and Muhammad ended that war. Not true. Muhammad launched war against the non-Moslem Arabs. Once he became the ruler of Medina, he led and sent out raiding parties against caravans of non-Moslems to increase the Moslems’ wealth. Then there was a war between the Moslems and the non-Moslem ruling tribe of Mecca, which Muhammad ultimately won when he conquered Mecca. The people he was fighting against were of his own ancestral tribe, which was the dominant tribe of Mecca. When he began preaching Islam he became a pariah among his own tribe. Ultimately he defeated his ancestral tribe and converted them to Islam. By the time of his death, two years after the conquest of Mecca, he had essentially united all of the tribes of Arabia under his power.
Debra C. writes:
I have a rather simplistic explanation for the methods Moslems adopt to achieve their ends and for the liberal attachment to Christophobia (my short-hand term for identifying their belief system and purposes).
They use mind-games, avoidance mechanisms, to justify their rejection of the One True God. We can attach—indeed they identify themselves to the world as such—different names to their belief systems: communist, liberal, fascist, atheist, Moslem. But they are all unbelievers and hide from God inside their false religions which serve as shields from the piercing truth of God’s Word, in their effort to justify themselves to themselves. None will honor God and bow before Him in complete humility, in recognition that we are but worms before Him, in acknowledgment that what God says about us is true: against God and God only do we sin (Ps. 51). And that God is right when He judges us.
The common enemy of the entire world of unbelievers—of all stripes—are Christians. They hate us because they hate Christ and God in Christ. The NT is replete with this message. Unbelievers are children of their father, the devil, the father of all lies and a murderer. That’s why Moslems, at least, are so swift to the sword. Ephesians 6:10 and following describes the landscape we inhabit far better than I can.
Your two-point response describing the nature of Islam is superb, and absolutely essential to the understanding of that faith and why it is not at all comparable to other religions. It is not human universalist, but rather a vastly expanded tribalism.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 14, 2010 02:30 PM | Send
Like Nazism, it is only universalist within the affiliated group (in the case of the Nazis, the Aryan racial group).
Are there similar tendencies in liberalism? Its “ruling class” mentality, its notions that subscription to a certain set of beliefs makes one a good person, and those who differ are morally or intellectually inferior, its gnosticism, or the notion that members of the affiliated group are not subject to general rules when they pursue their agenda, are things that raise uncomfortable questions about liberalism, and what it might become should it achieve sufficient power.