Saturday, June 10, 2006

Arab Imperialism, part 2

Since I wrote the last post, I've thought a bit more about the remarkable fact that Islam was born in conquest. Why is this outstanding characteristic of Islam so little remarked upon? Name one other religion, any at all, that was founded, developed and spread widely in the context of imperial conquest. I can't think of any. Other religions had their imperial ambitions and imperial periods, but they always had to wait many centuries before those impulses could be realized in full. No other political philosophy really had its imperial period right from the very beginning. Almost every ideology I can think of had to wait, bide its time, go through a long period of development before it struck for military power...

With the single exception of fascism. Like Islam, fascism only had to wait a decade or two to reach actual political power, absolute power within its own state, followed swiftly by astonishing military conquest. Like Islam, fascism is a powerfully emotional, irrational, mystical, all-encompassing theory of Everything, a dogma that controls minds and states absolutely. The essential political nature of Islam is so widely overlooked. It is not merely just another religion. When anyone criticizes Islam, that person receives an avalanche of crap on his head because to criticize religion is out of bounds. I don't really care about Islam as a religion. If you want to believe that some seventh-century warlord had a chat with an angel in a cave, that's your business. I don't care. It's the political, social and legal theories of Islam that I oppose completely. Islam is not just a religion, it is a theory of government, of society, of law, of everything. That's why it is appropriate to speak of Islamic fascists, or Islamo-fascism.

Islam was created and developed during the foundation and expansion of the Arab Empire. Empire and Islam go together like bread and butter. It is nearly impossible to separate the one from the other. The Koran, the Sunna, the Hadith, these things were all developed and written and explicated during the times of the empire's establishment and expansion. Of course much of what is in them justifies and encourages imperialism, both in temporal power and culture. That period of cultural and political imperialism, because it was so successful, fostered a gigantic, unwieldy superiority complex. Islam must be supreme, it cannot abide competitors. All others must submit, must accept a secondary position. No permanent co-existence on equal terms is possible.

Of course, the central tenet of multiculturalism is that separate communities will maintain their unique cultures, while accepting the idea of permanent, peaceful, co-existence. This is why the growth of Islamic communities in the West is so dangerous. Islam cannot and will never accomodate the one overriding ideal of multiculturalism. Islam will allow other cultures and other religions, but only under the shadow of Islamic law and power, that is, as dhimmis. Islam will never accept the existence of other theories of government, especially not the theory of secular democracy, with the separation of religion and state. No man-made law can be tolerated; it must be replaced with the legislation of God himself, the shariah.

Of course many Muslims do not wish to live under an Islamic imperial government. Many want Islam to remain a religion of private life, and stay out of government. It is a natural human desire to be free of compulsion, to make decisions and live life freely. The trouble is that their numbers are, I think, smaller than those who want Islam to have, at the very least, a large role in public life and law. I don't see how Islam can ever be content to let go of its stranglehold on temporal power, or how it can ever be convinced to give up dreams of conquest, as it was a religion of wordly power, a religion of the conquistador, right from the very start.