Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Enlightened Islam

One supposes that it is never Islam per se that is enlightened, but many Muslims who cleave to Islam who permit themselves to become enlightened, eschewing the more basic elements of Islamic thought where the infidel presence is considered unworthy, corrupting, debased, along with his religion, institutes and politics. And where values of Sharia law are tempered by a moderate world view. Those of the greater Islam-worshipping population not wed to the efficacy and value of jihad.

While other world religions have somehow over the millennia managed to carefully and selectively modernize their essence to retain the vital aspects of their theology, yet embracing a more enlightened reaction to a slowly emerging modernity, inclusive of new technologies, scientific discoveries and relaxed social mores, Islam has remained static, unswervingly rigid in its stolid self-determination and righteousness.

Islam, as it is practised in some countries, most notably the Arab countries from which it sprang, is not transportable to a heterogeneous, emancipated urban society such as is found in the West. In its purest form it is a religion tailor-made to assemble a tribal culture, a nomadic society, under a single tent of spiritual belief, incorporating elements of the culture and traditions and setting them to a narrative text reflecting the society itself.

Where tribal nomads resorted to inter-tribal war to protect their survival opportunities in a geographically hostile environment, Islam was readily acceptable, assimilable to the needs of such people. Where the ancient practise of settling grievances with spilled blood as a lodestone of honour was a portion of the culture, Islam reflected this. The enemy is conquered by force of arms, not dialogue. The core narrative of Islam is that of holy jihad.

The Arab mind demonstrates a convulsive antipathy toward concessions. To concede anything in the interest of harmony is considered defeat. The greater good is defence of honour, subservient to all other personal, emotional and communal needs. In a heightened atmosphere of grievance, any overtures owing their utility to reason are construed as offensive, insulting, patronizing; an affront to honour.

Fanatical Islam is a poor fir with democracy, as fascism is with liberty.

In France where the revolution claimed its purpose to be Equality, Fraternity, Liberty, the country is convulsed time and again by the violent reactive mob rule of a jihad-infused mindset of young Muslims. Themselves affronted and aggrieved by the perceived and the real condition of social vulnerability in a country willing enough to grant them entrance, but yet incapable of pulling them into its inner core.

Once again France faces the nightmare of rioting in the streets. It has never quite faced up to the tragedy and the horror of entire city blocks in the suburbs of Paris where French police venture into the squalid ghettos of immigrant communities at their peril. The incendiary tinderbox of resentment and grievance against traditional French society is lit time and again through perceived slights offered to the Muslim community.

And then all hell breaks loose, with riot police attempting to quell the ungovernable wrath of young men who while yet born in the country of immigrant parents know from their experience that they are not quite French, but something that exists in a vacuum of acknowledgement. So businesses are looted and torched, vehicles are overturned and set afire, buildings and neighbourhoods trashed. Symbols of oppression.

And bone fide Frenchmen quiver and quake in their safe neighbourhoods and comfortable homes. It is not violence they see paraded before their horrified eyes, according to one of the rebellious youth. Rather it is an expression of rage. Hard to tell the difference.

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