Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Articles, Comments

Islam on the Couch

Terrorism and Islam from the Perspective of an Evolutionary Political Theory

The definition of Terrorism

Based on 'Knowledge processing, Creativity and Politics' and 'How to respond to Islamic Terrorism', terrorism can be defined as one among other modes of responses, including wars, genocides and totalitarianism, which might be applied jointly or alternately in order to uphold ideological integrity and dominance and thus the political power of a particular ideological group. The importance of this definition is that it locates the root cause of terrorism in the drive to suppress ideational challenges. This definition differs markedly from the currently dominant definition, which highlights terrorism as involving unlawful use or threat of violence to intimidate or coerce into accepting some political change. [1]

The Shortcomings of the Common Definition

Adopting the latter definition will give the terrorists and their apologists equal footing to accuse governments like that of the UK or USA of terrorism. Indeed, anyone can note that the epithet 'illegal' is subjective. They can retort there is a war waged against Islam. Noting the imbalance of military might, they glorify suicide bombing as the deeds of the brave, disadvantaged yet motivated against the powerful and aggressive. Terrorist apologists can even dismiss the unfairness of the claim that terrorists do not discriminate between civilian and military targets by noting something to the effect: "what about the thousands of civilians, women, children and old men who are killed in war?"

The prevalent definition also fails to distinguish between a freedom fighter and a terrorist. It does not accord a special status to an armed group willing to submit to the rules of liberal democracy fighting an undemocratic and atrocious regime. It is because of such a definition that the superficial adage 'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter', sounds so apt.

Some Terroristic Entities According to EPT

The definition I suggest focuses on the use of violence to deter ideational challenges. In this light, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, China, Cuba and Zimbabwe, and others, insofar as they oppress intellectual dissent as a means to maintain their ideological dominance, will be seen as possessing, partially or completely, the inclination that sanctions or condones terroristic actions, along with other forms of oppressive actions. This definition will not implicate governments, organisations or individuals who are prepared to renounce violence and resolve differences peacefully - it needs be remembered that liberal democracy will be needed if simple dialogue could not bring about consensus, as argued in 'Knowledge Processing, Creativity and Politics'.

The Scope of Islamic Terrorism

Regarding Islam, we should expect to find the greatest concentration of oppressive actions - whether they are manifested in the form of terrorism or other kinds of acts which share the same aim - to occur where authorities or organisations claim legitimacy on the basis of Islam. However, considering that terrorism, like other modes of ideological interactions is a means to an end, we might assume that cost-and-benefit analysis would precede commissioning and performing the acts of terrorism, unless, of course, we make an unwarranted assumption that these ideological leaderships are feeble-minded and cannot ponder upon the consequences of their actions. Accordingly, we will need to consider that the concentration of the ideological actions, including terrorism, should be within communities that are perceived as constituting viable bases for building political power.

In fact, the degree of oppression that takes place in Iran and Saudi Arabia is staggering. Oppression, particularly in Saudi Arabia, involves even more than stoning, beheading, and enforcing flagrant discrimination against women and Shiites, (here there is not even a need to mention the term "religious minorities", as Muslims did not let any indigenous religious minority group survive in the country). As importantly, it is the systematic coercion of young people to prayer and religious schools, and the widespread practice of shepherding adults who happen to be on the streets into Mosques. These practices leave no opportunity for autonomy or free thinking. So the wonder is that some liberals exist at all, rather than the fact that they are weak and few. Perhaps, this leaves no surprises as to why the land of the Saudis is so prolific in producing and exporting terrorists. In effect, Saudi Arabia is an incubator of terrorism. If a greater proportion of the public is not involved in international terrorism, it is only because the utility calculation they perform does not encourage it. As for the government, it is more likely to be due to an awareness of its vulnerability. Throughout its history, and to this day, the Saudi dynasty faced discourses that have been disputing their legitimacy and even rejecting the assignation of the name 'Saudi' to the land. No doubt, the West has been an important source of stability for the regime, though more so in the past during the cold war than now, but the regime is still weak and cannot afford to challenge the West overtly. Though, through the campaign of building Madrases (Islamic religious schools), and Mosques, which entrench the fundamentalist teachings of Islam, the regime can rightfully claim that it has been fulfilling its religious duties the best it can.

However, about the interplay of the Saudi regime with the West: their attitude has a spill-over effect. An ideological leadership that is perceived as submissive or even cooperative with forces deemed as potential enemies of the ideology - in effect, all non-adherents of the ideology - would be vulnerable to accusation that it is weak or even unfaithful to the ideology. This is the reason why Bin Laden could acquire so great a following in Saudi Arabia. However, the point to be made here is that the ideological groundwork is not Bin Laden's, it was already there ready to be used. [2]

The Intellectual Impasse

This brings us to another point. By failing to identify the root causes of terrorism, the traditional definition of terrorism obstructs liberal democracies from winning the moral argument. In the allegation and the counter-allegation, the most crucial and central element, that Islam prescribes oppressive methods to enforce itself, is lost. The Western governments themselves, before anyone else, are quick to grant that only some fringe Islamic organisations are terroristic, while the rest are made up of peace loving individuals whose culture is just as good as any other culture.

Many Western left or liberal leaning intellectuals volunteer themselves on behalf of Muslims to argue that the verses that advocate violence in Koran are just few and far between. In any case, they usually add, all religious creeds contain similar statements. Yet, not all religions are terroristic. Accordingly, they conclude, we cannot impute terrorism to Islam on basis of these verses. This is of course a generalised argument. The Hindu or the Sikhs have also proved to be capable of establishing violent terroristic movements when they rely on their religious teachings. So did the Christians, not only in the past but also in the form of modern day sects, such as David Koresh's sect. Moreover, there is no example of a peaceful religious party or movement vying for power that is not terroristic unless it has committed itself to liberal democracy - or in the case of Turkey, cowed and circumscribed by an army that has a record of immense capacity for manipulation and brutality.

The problem is not just with the few Koranic verses, it is the worldview and tradition. In the heartland of Islam, most ordinary Muslim individuals or organisations denounce and declare any person who is refusing Islam's or Mohammed's claim of moral superiority as outlaws. In most Islamic countries such a person will not survive and the elimination of such people usually goes unnoticed. Nowadays, such individuals are outlawed and hunted even in the West. Acts of violence can be committed by individuals who may never have had slightest link with terrorist organisations.

Disappointingly, many of the critical voices in the West who escape murder hide away and keep silent. No more than speculation regarding the reasons for the critics' silence can be offered. Do the Western governments advise such critics to keep silent, perhaps motivated by economic interests or intimidated by the Islamic masses? In any case, not to protect and support the critics, similar to what anti-communists critics were enjoying, is a very short-sighted and wasteful policy.

Currently, the terrorists, in general, do not give the slightest regard to what the non-Muslim world thinks of Islam. They are content, obviously, in the knowledge that the Muslim population is over one billion and there is no intellectual challenge to Islamic beliefs. Indeed, Islamic beliefs sound absolutely triumphant despite the flimsy bases it has. This condition needs be changed. It needs open and candid argumentation. Winning over a substantial proportion of Muslims is not unfeasible considering the shaky epistemology that Islam is based on and the many reprehensible aspects and episodes of the Islamic practices and history. Only a serious image-problem and the risk of loosing their social bases will force the Islamic priesthood and so-called moderate Muslims to try harder to curb the militants among them. No doubt, in the short term, some terrorists will make a greater effort to eliminate their critics, but they, I suspect, would lose their hold if greater numbers of people joined in the intellectual engagement.

What is suggested here will work because it reduces the need for using violence in response to terrorists, and also weakens the motivation for joining terrorist groups. In the long run, this would bring about real and permanent peace, at least, as far as Islamic terrorism is concerned. In the meantime, such a policy would also offer a way out for many Muslims who lack an intellectual lead, to escape the confines of a religion that does not preach peace, and which puts them at odds with the rest of the world, who are nonetheless unhappy over what they perceive as the use of violence by the West against Islamic countries.

Nowadays, most of the critics from the Islamic world and even a great number of Westerners are either intimidated into silence or in hiding and on the run. What is needed is support for such people to establish alternative communities so the apostates will join in.

What underpins the un-peaceful tradition of Islam are not merely a few scripture verses here and there. In 'Knowledge Processing, Creativity and Politics', I suggested that religions, as primeval ideologies, evolved because of the failure of humanity to evolve in liberal democracy - perhaps, for understandable reasons, considering human origin - and that ideologies carry out the role of preserving a unified set of moral rules that are necessary to maintain political power. However, unlike liberal democracy, they disallow ideational dissent and dialogue, and this approach impacts profoundly on the structure, culture and history of the ideological systems.

However, this is not how the ideologues and their followers perceive themselves. Early Muslims had the very comfortable thought that they were commanded by Allah to spread the word of Islam, which is the only true religion, all over the world. Those who resisted the call to join Islam and denied seeing the obvious truth that "Mohammed is the messenger of Allah" were condemned as the enemies of Allah and enemies of Muslims, for whom dreadful punishment was apportioned. [3] It is not certain what proportion of Muslims are still committed to this mission. However, it is more likely that the majority of Muslims realise that implementing the mission is hardly feasible considering the imbalance of power vis--vis non-Islamic countries - although, as mentioned above, many an Islamic government, organisation or even an individual does not hesitate in meeting out severe punishment to challengers of the dogmas of Islam, when the actions are convenient.

However, it seems the limited capacity to have power only in certain countries and not being able to spread Islam worldwide is giving Muslims the feeling of helplessness and impotence, or a sense of dereliction of duty, which explains in great part the frustration that is characteristic of Muslims worldwide.

Obviously, in believing that there is an Allah who is the omnipotent creator of everything, and that He is the author of Islam, then Islam cannot be wrong. Thus the blame for whatever goes wrong in the lives of Muslims should be imputed to some other agent or circumstances. Israel comes in handy. According to most Muslims it should never have existed. The fact that it does, reflects a very terrible and profoundly insidious process. Otherwise how could such a small entity challenge the power of so many hundreds of millions of Muslims? Now if Israel's own power cannot explain that, then the accomplices would be the USA and the UK, and all the "lands of corruption and decadence", of the West which can be so easily manipulated by the Jews.

So from this point of view one should expect that had Israel and the USA never existed Muslims would have blamed some other source, and, being disadvantaged they may have resorted to terrorism nevertheless. This also implies that had they not been the weaker party they would have overrun the rest of the world - this is still the mission in the Koran. [4]

The other usual suspect is lack of piety on the part of individuals in general, and particularly the leaders. This mentality may explain why there is a tendency to support those leaders, who the non-Muslims would think of as more militant and uncompromising, but, of course, who would be perceived as pious and true to Islam. The ascendance of the Taliban, Bin laden and also Ahmedinejad can all be seen as cases in point.

The logic of Islamic thinking cannot be simpler: if Islam cannot, by definition, be fallible, since it is from Allah, and if even the pious leaders are not able to bring the changes needed in the Islamic world, then you should search for an external agent as a culprit.

No doubt, with such a worldview no one should have an illusion of having an easy coexistence with an Islamic community leading to a harmonious integration. Integration would be hard to come by unless the Islamic communities accept secularism and liberal democracy.

The Blind Spots

The dominant definition is ignorant of the role of many institutions. Worship places, religious literature and paid or unpaid preachers are all important elements in the mobilisation. But they seem to fall in the blind spot of the conventional definition. To curb terrorism needs, therefore, paying great attention to these institutions. It is true that these institutions have recently come into the focus of attention of many Western governments and media. But the curbing needs greater depth of intervention. The attention misses the most important target: namely, rejecting and refuting the claim of moral superiority which is at the core of Islam and indeed any other ideology. Lacking this focus explains why there is no effort to persuade away Muslims from Islam. The definition based on EPT would recommend setting up counteracting institutions that support alternative views. Setting up, what is hoped to be, European or Western oriented Mosques and religious schools, would appeal only to opportunity seekers and infiltrators with links to militants. EPT suggests that Mosques should be seen as sites of ideological mobilisation and should be treated the same way as had they been pro-Soviet communists' and Fascist groups'. However, considering that a great many Muslims would not contemplate, at least in the current situation, any acts of terrorism, Mosques can be redefined to be just a place of rituals on condition that the preachers should submit to liberal democracy and give up their claim of superiority on the basis of Islam alone.

Here it might be said that worshiping is something that is categorically different to politicking. There are sermons and rituals that are unique to religions, e.g., prayers, fasting, pilgrimage etc. Elsewhere (in a book length manuscript), I suggested that the reasons and functions of rituals and sermons have to do, firstly, with providing vicarious activities as a compensation for the loss of real participation in political decision. No doubt, it would feel very satisfying to think that one is communicating with the "divine" and participating in a cosmic mission. Secondly, perhaps, it proved effective as a means for congregating the followers for information and instruction. Thirdly, this congregation also provides for another psychological function: namely, that is the sense of security in the company of others who share the same goals and thus care for each other. These activities and their role must have been compensating for the denial, characteristic of religions and other ideologies, of active participation in making moral decisions. [5]

Fourthly, probably anyone can tell that rituals are a good way of brain-washing and keeping the members of the community under close observation. As such, rituals must always have been a very useful tool in the hand of rulers.

The definition, based on EPT, also draws the attention to probably the gravest aspects of terrorism. Terrorism, in this perspective, is to suppress ideational challenges, and when this task is accomplished we should expect to see that the ideological group will be formidable and unstoppable. Yet, even serious Western intellectuals seem to be completely disengaged. This attitude of the Western intellectual can be attributed to the nave presupposition that religions are not concerned with political power. Terrorism, within this "politically correct" view, becomes an aberration and attributable either to dismal economic conditions or some historical injustices. In the case of Islam, the background of terrorism is the events and history of Palestine, and the Western colonialism and recent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and also economy.

No doubt, I should exclude the tabloid writers from the above generalisation. Their papers inform the public and uncover information. But they address mainly the Western readership and mainly to effect change of attitude towards asylum or the Islamic communities in general and says very little in the way of inviting intellectual discussion or offering a way out of the religion into alternative communities. This attitude of tabloid newspapers may only increase the sense of siege and alienation on both sides. Consequently, we could say that the silence of serious Western intellectuals make the lives of terrorists much easier.

What Morality?

It is usually said that there was a design to revive Islam in order to halt the unravelling of the moral fabric of Islamic families and communities in the West. It is also said that even the government officials in many Western countries approved of the move as a means to tackle drugs and crimes among the Islamic youths. It is difficult to say how much truth there is in these propositions. However, it is obvious that alcohol and drug misuse, and a host of other related antisocial behaviours are less prevalent among Muslims than among the Western communities.

No doubt, the hostile attitude toward drug abuse is limited to non-Muslims. Drugs are produced openly in many Islamic countries; some of them have been or are under Islamic governments or organisations. One should expect that Muslims are bound to justify such inconsiderate activities for themselves in a way that preserves one's self-respect. How do Muslims justify that for themselves? One possible line of justification might be to say that drug exportation is a means to undermine the West, the enemy. However, if we were to ignore this lack of consideration towards non-Muslims, then of course the drive against crimes and drug abuse could be seen as a positive achievement. On this basis some commentators would advice caution in criticising Islam.

Another line of approach taken by some Western critics of Islam is to say: "Why shouldn't Western culture be good enough for an immigrant to the country?" Indeed, the Western governments should feel entitled to demand that immigrants to their countries respect their culture. However, this is not necessarily based upon the notion held by some multiculturalists that any and every culture entitled to equal respect.

The rationale of the entitlement of liberal democracy should be based on the fact that liberal democratic culture is what allowed the development and the wealth the West enjoys, which is also the reason that immigrants were attracted. Moreover, because it is liberal democracy through its belief in human rights that allows the immigrant to come in. (Perhaps, the reason that the West does not make such a demand is that the development and the wealth are attributed to capitalism. Thus Muslims do not waste the opportunity to boast that there is what they call an "Islamic political-economy," which is even fairer than capitalism, on the account that it takes greater care of the poor but is less amenable to the promiscuity which is associated with communism.)Though, in this context, no mention is made of the fact that slavery within Islam existed for centuries, and might still exist today in some Islamic countries, e.g. Sudan, some Gulf states and Mauritania, and that although writers of the Koran did not consider it important to forbid slavery outright, but eating pork was significant enough for Allah to forbid it clearly and unequivocally.

Definitely, a culture that sanctions forbidding apostasy, outlawing infidels, atheists and flagrant discrimination against women and religious minorities should not be entitled to equal respect at all. Otherwise, why should we have opposed fascism and racism or murderous communists like Stalinism and the Khmer Rouge?

Despite these it cannot be denied that the current liberal democratic philosophy is leaving a moral vacuum with its vision of social life as no more than an aggregation of individuals aiming at their interests, without providing a framework for a sense of belonging or sense of the human collective mission.

Religions, on the contrary, do offer such a framework, which is also the reason that they can curb antisocial behaviour. Religions offer meaning to individual commitment, suffering and sacrifice. That is why Christianity is still making an important contribution to the moral ground of Western societies. This is despite the admission that it is purely a faith, which implies that it cannot withstand rational scrutiny. Of course, Islam could also play a similar role, but not before it submits to liberal democracy and declares the religion is a faith as rather than the literal truth.

The inference of many politicians is that, in the current condition, some kind of religions or belief system is needed. Religions, however, have damaging effects. All religions impair the intellectual capacity of individuals by captivating them within mistaken and primitive worldviews, depriving humanity from great intellectual resources which could serve science, the environment and technology. With Islam, in its present form, the price cannot be graver. It is even threatening the survival of humanity and the earth as we know it. (No doubt, those carried out 9/11 would not have hesitated to inflict bigger carnage if they had had the means.)

Although even if we grant that religions like Christianity and Buddhism do not lend themselves to terrorism, which is not necessarily completely true, all religious thinking undermines efforts to finding proper solutions for political problems.

Had the West been completely free from Christianity, the Western intellectuals and governments might have dissolved Islam by their criticism or perhaps ridicules. No doubt, the failure to identify the elements of a belief system that are responsible for the terroristic nature explains why there is this unconditional concept that belief in religion is one of the basic human rights. Consequently, with this right in place many governments and intellectuals just hold back from participating in any campaign to undermine Islamic beliefs.

Islamic morality is extremely costly for the little benefit it shows. It cares very little about the environment or the explosion of population. Indeed, Islamic clerics encourage rapid Islamic procreation. Mohammed told his followers to reproduce so Allah might boast about them over the nations. It might also be motivated by a will to out-reproduce non-Muslims and establish majorities. Islamic religious authorities remain silent in regard to honour killing and also female genital mutilation whilst these practices are still carried out in Islamic countries. One can hold Islamic authorities responsible for this. Had they been as active in issuing fatwa to combat these practices as they are in their eliminating dissidents, these practices would have become a thing of the past. Muslims have also little regard to the fate of minorities within their folds. Indeed, there is no concept of human rights in Islam even for Muslims. The most valued Muslim is the one who fights for Islam. That is why Islamic authorities and media are not concerned with victimisation of Muslims at the hand of other Muslims. Their outcry happens only when the victimisation is carried out by non-Muslims against Muslims, which is an indication of a cynical manipulation of the current concern with human right values, in the course of struggle for dominance. [7] In Kurdistan and Darfor the genocide and abuses that were committed by Muslims against other Muslims as well as non-Muslims did not arouse reactions of the Islamic masses and governments. On contrary, Arab and Islamic governments made a concerted effort in sending emissaries to Western capitals to contain the protesting voices here and there and to pre-empt any potential reactions by a Western government.

However, the most serious flaw in Islamic morality is the suppression of ideational challenge. Without this prohibition all other shortcomings might have been put right. What matters in political life is not what an ancient book or a modern political theory says. It is rather how the struggle for power among different individuals within the political system is resolved and how arbitration between different political ideas is carried out. Considering that such struggle is expressed usually through competition of different ideas, then the central issue which defines the political life of a system would be how arbitration among different ideas is conducted. Islam does not only respond with violence and threats of violence against its critics, it also disallows the moral decision making of its followers, as expected from the perspective of EPT. [8]

The alternative in my opinion is offered by the evolutionary political theory (suggested in 'Knowledge Processing, Creativity and Politics' and discussed in more details in my book length manuscript). In short: We all owe a great deal to our own and nature's creativity that is achieved by natural selection. Human creative capacity remits us from resorting to destructive and deceptive lifestyles. Perhaps, it could be said that the best among us are those who are creative or able to support creativity and suffer the consequences. We can be sure that happiness or pleasure is not what nature has intended for us. If there is a purpose, it is just the meaningless process of the propagation of the Selfish Gene, as Dawkins argues. Only we can give meaning to this process. Considering what has been said in this paragraph, what can have a claim on our gratitude or loyalty more than creativity? We can choose to make producing knowledge and beauty in our behaviour or in the environment our passion in life. At least by subscribing to the cause of creativity we can be sure we are promoting an aspect of our characteristic which brings happiness and prosperity to the greatest number of humans and preserves the environment. All humanity can unite on this goal and once we do we will have the same deep experience of oneness and security. I assume that anyone might know that exploring and reflecting is not devoid of pleasure. Human being have a built in capacity for wondering and being intrigued by beauty and discovering patterns in nature. Moreover, as anyone can tell, if we are able to love other humans it is because of the kindnesses, morality and creativity of some them.

This evolutionary political theory also assumes that liberal democracy is the best political arrangement for humans who would conduct political activity creatively and non-violently. Indeed, it is no surprise that liberal democracy could achieve so greatly. [9]

The Discrepancy

The definition suggests that terrorism is one of the methods aimed at establishing ideological dominance and that this dominance is needed to maintain consensus over a set of unified moral rules which is necessary to maintain political power. Looking through the perspective of many Muslims who see the West as a threat to its culture - hence the suppression of the signs of Western culture in most of the Islamic world and also as an obstacle that frustrates any aspiration for dominance of Islam over the world, as the Koran extols Muslims to do, and considering also that the West stands accused of the miseries that Muslims suffer- we may conjecture that a move to eliminate or, at least, subdue the whole of the West under Islam, would be desirable to Muslims. But what could be the point of small scale strikes (eg 9/11 as opposed to taking over a whole continent), that do not bring the ultimate victory any closer? Would it not have been more profitable for the Islamic cause to concentrate its efforts in small scale terrorism, i.e. targeting mainly formerly-Muslims-turned-critics and critical Western intellectuals, and pressing the Western governments gradually for laws to respect Islam?

Moreover, has not the "large scale terrorism", drawn greater critical and unwanted attention to Islam and precipitated in setting up countermeasures which disrupted crucial processes, like the steady influx of and increase in Islamic population, the steady increase in the number of religious schools and Mosques, the unhindered proselytising campaigns? If the answers are affirmative, then one should assume that "large scale terrorism" must have damaged the Islamic cause. Indeed, many Muslims have expressed such feeling and I believe that there is a genuine anger among some Muslims against the terrorists.

So if concern with the best interest of Islam does not explain the terrorist acts that take place in Western countries, then we will need to think up some other explanations. Perhaps, we should consider a proposition that the interests of the Bin Laden and Al-Qaida do not match the interests of Western based Muslims or Muslims in general. This is quite possible. It is doubtful that the Al-Qaida leadership would trust the Western based Islamic leadership and, no doubt, there is competition among them. So while the Western based Islamic leadership does not opine itself against the verses in Koran that encourage violence against infidels and unbelievers, and in the meantime does not express clear views that contradict the traditional Islamic worldview, outlined above, it favours and sometimes make, what seems to be genuine calls to Western governments to expel or curb the extremist preachers and individuals. This is not unexpected and in this regard they are like the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Their attitude here is like saying not to question the book but expel the ones who read certain verses. Understandably, they do not want to break up the pedestal of their power but they do not want to be toppled by outsiders either. However, for non-Muslims there are no guarantees that a time will not come when these docile leaderships will not read the foreboding verses.

Islamic terrorists may also be motivated by a desire to bring a greater mentality of siege to Western Muslims and thus facilitate recruiting them.

They could be spurred on by the hardship they are suffering currently, being chased and forced to go underground everywhere in the world. If so, these terroristic actions, then, are just expressions of pain or diversion to shift the focus of the USA and UK.

In any case, in the light of this definition of terrorism we will need to think of alternative explanations for Western targeted terroristic actions, in terms other than the greater interests of Islam.

The Psychological Barrier

According to the definition of terrorism, any ideological group failing to suppress ideational challenges to its ideology should face difficulties and ultimate disintegration, as criticism would both demoralise the leadership and followers. [10] This implication would raise a question: Is there such a large-scale oppressive campaign that can explain the resilience of Islam, in the West? Even if we granted that in the Middle East, regimes like Saudi Arabia's and Iran's have shielded their population from intellectual influence, such shielding is not available in the West, yet Islam as a practiced religion seems formidable.

Some aspects of the strength of Islam in the West can be explained as following. The presence of thousands of Mosques, many of them funded by Arabic and Islamic states, and absurdly some by Western government perhaps. The existence of the moral vacuum that is left in the wake of traditional liberalism, which seems to have been allowing any and all religious configurations, no matter how absurd and grotesque they may be. Moreover, we should take into account that Western criticism of Islam, is mainly left for those who reject the people through the rejection of the religion. The leftists and liberals (those who subscribe to the way of thinking characteristic of the Liberal Democratic party of Britain) find it still politically incorrect to criticise Islam. In general, and unfortunately for the world, there is a dearth of intellectual debate dealing with the fundamental outlook of religions.

However, I think that Islam has two other mechanisms that lock individual Muslims within its confines and undermine socialising with non-Muslims. One of them is discouraging friendship with non-Muslims. Even though Muslims and Koran agree that Christianity and Judaism are divine religions there is a clear injunction forbids socialising. [11] In general Muslims regard the non-Muslim as unclean. [12]

Women in Islam

Another barrier is the attitude towards women in Islam. This intensely emotive issue may, more than any other barrier, be undermining any real chance for integration. The good women in Islamic communities are the ones who avoid mixing with men, devote themselves to family and worshiping and conform to values that also accord men higher status than women. It may be true that some women would enthusiastically conform. [13] It might also be true that some people may genuinely believe that these characteristics are estimable and thus women should aspire to acquire them anyway. But then some women are compelled. Many women in Iraq - not an exceptional case by any means - are harassed and sometimes have acid thrown in their faces and at their legs, or are made to suffer even worse. In general, in most Islamic homes the pressure on women is a matter of daily routine and some of them are inculcated from very young ages so that by the time they are young adults they lack the capacity to see themselves in any different way. This is no wonder considering what the Koran enjoins. [14]

It might be thought that this "shortcoming" is of limited importance, since the potential victims are only a few Islamic women here and there. But there are wider ramifications. Men marry within this tradition, and belief in its morality would be likely to reinforce it and thus perpetuate it. They might enlist other young Muslim men to enforce the tradition. This practice would engender a feeling that womenfolk are in the custody of men and those men who fail it fail as men. Within the multicultural area, we can even expect that pressure be put in order to deter young men from other cultures from contacting Muslim females.

The culture of how to treat women has acquired a life of its own. Muslim men, whether pious or not, usually restrict the freedom of their womenfolk. Even the men who would allow themselves out of marriage sexual relations women, Muslims or non-Muslims, would not allow the same freedom to their female relatives. Men are made to feel a great stigma for having strange men "accessing their womenfolk". This social stigma leads to two outcomes. The first outcome is that the intensity of the social stigma leads many men and even their womenfolk to participate in killing their "renegade" female relatives.

However, I should also mention that this EPT does not assume that the so-called honour killing stems only from the dynamics of preserving male-female relationships within Islamic culture. The culture of violence arises from another source as well. This point is outlined more elaborately in my manuscript; here I will give only a short account. In ideological regimes the violence would be conducted not only against ideological opponents. There are a number of dynamics that give rise to violence within the ideological groups. Violence may be used by the ruler against his rivals for power. Violence may be used against groups and individuals who oppose the concentration of power, which is necessary for the survival of ideological regimes. Violence is also used against the moral dissenters within the ideological group who may oppose the corruption, which is made possible and easy for the ruler and his henchmen because of the enormous concentration of power. Violence may also be used against the different subgroups within the ideology who may feel left out by the rules. Discrimination against subgroups within the ideological groups happens because the concentration of power and the immoral acts that are involved in the process leads to a situation that leaders bring in their relatives and depend on the kin-loyalty or personal relations as a substitute for loyalty based purely on the ideology. This would result eventually in favouring one ethnicity against others, one tribe within other tribes of the favoured ethnicity and one clan within the favoured tribe.

The corruption and violence and the perception of the injustice would leave disillusionment in their wake. One perception would be that might is right: force and terror are what decide everything. This is the intellectual gate for leading double lives. You try to say what is acceptable or pay lip service to the ideology but you should also know that reality is different- as people say, you should not take everything at face value. Behind the scenes of "ideological political correctness" the degradation of women and minorities, and sexual abuses of children goes on - also the less ominous activities, like romances, adultery and homosexuality, which are officially non-extant.

This is a culture which gives a great respect to fearsomeness. And being feared would ease a person's life enormously. To prove oneself to be someone, a man should have proved that, at least, he is feared by his women relatives and the sign of this is shying away from allowing "other men access to themselves". In this sense, honour killing becomes a sign of manhood.

The second outcome is this: because illegal sex within this culture with someone's female relative becomes a source of dishonour; it can be used just to effect that very end. This is the background mentality of the Pakistani village elders who sanctioned rape against the sister of man accused of relations with women of a higher cast. Similarly, Saddam's regime used it extensively to subdue men or terrorise others away from contemplating dissension. It is also the reason why, in most Islamic countries, males, in the course of trading insults, refer to sex with the enemies' women relatives.

So within this perspective we will not need to assume that all men who oppress women within the Islamic culture are strictly Islamists in the type of Bin Laden or Abo Bakri.

However, although neither honour killing nor female genital mutilation are provided for theoretically in the Koran, Islamic religious authorities have not outlawed these practices through religious edicts or fatwas. This is consistent with the general moral attitude of the Koran towards women. This morality is not concerned with women equality. Nor it could be said that it is aimed at encouraging sexual abstinence. Sexual restrictions are not imposed on men who are able to afford to marry or afford to capture at war. [15] Indeed, the fact that polygamy and sex with prisoners of war are allowed can only give the impression that women are regarded as sex objects. [16] The restriction, it seems, is made to apply to women and those men who cannot afford marriage. Seen from the evolutionary perspective this morality, then, looks like the morality of a Homo Sapiens alpha male, or a warlord doing the bidding of his genes, unaware of the evolutionary theory, not minding using violence to gain dominance, who allies himself with other worriers and in return allows them access to female Homo sapiens captured in war. [17]
In the West, this morality fits perfectly, those men would not bother to learn the culture of their host countries, nor would their competition for sexual partners depend on distinguishing themselves through arts, literature or science, these men would tune themselves to accumulate wealth and thereby import for themselves wives from their countries of origin. It is also a morality that suits greatly anyone who would take advantage of the host country and culture. In the name of Islam they recruit other young men to police their streets and women for them and in the process sow a seed of future unrest and potential civil war.

What is needed, if integration was desirable, is to focus on preventing all forms of violence and threats of violence against women and also against men from other cultures who may enter into a relation with Muslim women. Preventing the imposition of dress codes. Restricting the right for religion schools or banning them altogether. Strictly prohibiting polygamy and female genital mutilation.

An Epilogue

It needs to be realised that all religions and other ideologies, like communism and fascism, are antithetical to liberal democracy. They cannot survive without rejecting it and undermining it. Communists and Christianity, which submitted to liberal democracy ,are undergoing disintegration and fragmentation. Ideologies, like Islam, which have not submitted to liberal democracy yet, are virulent and dangerous. Specifically, because liberal democracy, with the traditional but outdated and inaccurate self-image that it has, is exposed and vulnerable. Liberal democracy, should insist that morality is human artefact and it is needed to protect creative life styles. Having different groups adhering to conflicting sets of moral rules or having groups that deny human authorship of moral values can lead only to conflicts and potentially pending civil and international wars.

Moreover, traditional Liberal democracy is not equipped with the required moral outlook. Consequently, it leaves some ground onto which religions and other ideologies can move and take root without being able to fight them off effectively.

The multi-culturists' vision of a colourful society where different cultures are expected to enrich and inspire each other, has no theoretical room for a reality posed by Islam. Their vision of social harmony and universal love is just a misguided and inauspicious illusion. Their vision would have been realistic if the differences were just limited to arts, cuisines, dances and music and a few curiosities here and there. When different communities insist on enforcing their own moralities we can only expect tension and insecurity which might lead to open civil wars. Multiculturalism when based on ideologies can coexist insofar as each ideological entity is able to counterbalance the threat of its rivals or insofar as it can entrench itself behind natural or man-made barriers and indeed, without giving the slightest regard to human rights or freedom of thoughts or conscience, when these precepts allowed challenging the system. Even today the homogeneity and vigour of Islam is due to the rejection of human right. So within the current liberal democratic intellectual climate allowing an ideological group is like allowing an extension of a conflicting system into its domains. To have level field, liberal democracies should demand the same access into the conflicting systems.

A world that aspires to live together should have universal moral rules that should be chosen through the liberal democratic procedure because it is the only peaceful procedure.

To survive Islam and suppress terrorism, liberal democracy needs to take the lead and abandon this meek and the supplication to Islam. Islamic terrorists think they occupy the moral high ground and think of what they do as deserving punishing for moral transgression that others commit. This image has to change if we are to dry up the well of terrorism. They should be told the truth: that their morality is primitive and harmful and advised them to give it up. However, as a first step, every Muslim admitted to the West, at least, should acknowledge other peoples' rights to believe and express themselves regarding Islam or religions without fear.

Most importantly, Muslims should accept that if we are meant to live in one world peacefully we are then answerable to each other. That is why we should be able to express our opinion regarding their beliefs and moralities and they are duty bound to explain themselves and accommodate in accordance with liberal democratic rules. Having moral rules means having ideas and values about the way you treat and deal with other people. That is why morality is not a personal matter or a matter between you and your god. No one is living with a God or Allah in a country or a house. People live with other people and that is why their morality should be agreed upon collectively through liberal democracy.

Muslims should be encouraged to abandon Islam. All atrocities perpetrated in Iran, Iraq, Saudi and Sudan and in hundreds of other areas and countries are the responsibilities of the Islam. Atrocities are to be expected considering that Islam is an ideology and this is the way ideologies behave. Islam cannot be different to fascism, Baathism, communism or racism and it is no wonder that each has a record full of atrocities, although with Islam it is continuing and unfortunately hardly challenged.


1. (FBI) describes terrorism as 'the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives' (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

2. The possibility of the leadership challenges is inherent within any ideological systems. The systematic use of violence and other means of domination that prevent the emergence of rivalling leadership is what forestall the organisation of massive opposition. For Bin Laden therefore being in Afghanistan was crucial for the emergence of the Al-Qaida movement. In general, such leadership needed a power vacuum to emerge.

3. This formula allowed Muslims to kill what they call the infidels and enemies of Allah, and take their possessions and women. This explains why early Islamic armies had mercenaries from among other religious groups.

4. Marxists and most leftists view world problems usually as a manifestation of economic deprivation. One of their prefabricated explanations of Islamic terrorism is that terrorists come from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds, and if the economic situation is improved, terrorism will lose its force. As it could be predicted their inference is that the rich countries of the world should pour their resources onto the poor. The problem of these leftists and liberals is that they fail to recognise that the generation of wealth itself is an outcome of liberalism and not capitalism (for more on this see my book due to be published soon). Ideological systems around the world have proved that they ruin economy, culture and civilisation eventually. The conditions of Muslims are the consequence of Islam. However, if we wanted to speculate regarding what can happen if the balance of power shifts in favour of Muslims, we can take our lead from history. Muslims invaded the world when they had the manpower and organisation fuelled by the pillaging and prospect of pillaging. Nothing in the culture or mentality of Islam has changed to preclude this prospect. Muslims are capable of doing the pillaging, massacring and commit atrocities against each other, as they do in Iran and Sudan and have done in Iran. So these leftist and liberals who advice humility and self-blame on the part of the West are just trying to deceive themselves and the world to the detriment of the world.

5. 'It is not for true believers-men or women-to order their own affairs if God and His apostle decree otherwise. He that disobeys God and His apostle strays grievously into error' (The Koran, 33:36)

6. 'The Believers who stay at home - apart from those that suffer from a grave disability - are not the equals of those who fight for the cause of God with their goods and their persons. God has exalted the men who fight with their goods and their persons above those who stay at home. God has promised all a good reward; but far richer is the recompense of those who fight for Him: ranks of His own bestowal, forgiveness, and mercy. Surely God is forgiving and merciful' (The Koran, Dawood, 4:91, p. 93).

7. These verses give guidance as to what the relation between Muslims, Christians and Jews should be: 'Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given as belief in neither God nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His apostle have forbidden, and do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued' (ibid., 9:29, p. 190)

8. See the above quotation from the Koran, in which Muslims are forbidden from ordering 'their own affairs' (The Koran, Dawood, 33:36, p. 422).

9. No doubt, many a Muslim may reply that no matter how Islam is the commitment to it enjoined by God. Now even if we ignore the fact that there is no evidence that God exists, we will still have a difficult task to explain, should a merciful and compassionate God exist, why should He sanction a religion like Islam. Why of all of other methods of communication should he need to send Gabriel to Mohammed and enjoin wars and mayhem. Why should God give a brain and then disallow you to design your own morality. More absurdly, how is it God could not figure out that liberal democracy is the best way to resolve struggle over political power. This should have been important to Him since Mohammed's companion killed each other over power. And of course, Mohammed did not know of this and thus had to fight and pillage in order to fund and pour fuel to his warring machine.

10. It was such demoralisation that contributed to the demise of communism despite the fact that communism as a theory is still theoretically intractable for traditional liberalism

11. 'Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number God does not guide the wrongdoers' (Koran, Dawood, 5:51, p. 116).

12. 'O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year. If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise) Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise (The Koran, Pickthal, 9:028).

'It is not for any soul to believe save by the permission of Allah. He hath set uncleanness upon those who have no sense' (The Koran, Pickthal, 10:100).

However, friendship is not allowed even with one's own father and brothers if they are not believers in Islam.'O ye who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers' (The Koran, Pickthal, 9:25).

'Wed not idolatresses till they believe; for lo! a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress though she please you; and give not your daughters in marriage to idolaters till they believe, for lo! a believing slave is better than an idolater though he please you. These invite unto the Fire, and Allah inviteth unto the Garden, and unto forgiveness by His grace, and expoundeth His revelations to mankind that haply they may remember' (The Koran, Pickthal 2:221).

13. 'And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed'(The Koran, Pickthal, 24:31).

14. 'Men Have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme' (The Koran 4:34, p. 83).

15. Mohammed allowed himself even to marry prisoners of war. Likewise, he allowed other Muslim to do so. 'O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncle on the father's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the father's side, and the daughters of thine uncle on the mother's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the mother's side who emigrated with thee, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage - a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers - We are Aware of that which We enjoined upon them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess - that thou mayst be free from blame, for Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful' ((The Koran, Pickthal, 33:50).

Obviously it is not sex which is disapproved. Otherwise, sex would have been promised in heaven.

'Lo! for the duteous is achievement - Gardens enclosed and vineyards, And voluptuous women of equal age; And a full cup. There hear they never vain discourse, nor lying (The Koran, Pickthal, 78:31-34).

16. Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will, and send (good deeds) before you for your souls, and fear Allah, and know that ye will (one day) meet Him. Give glad tidings to believers, (O Muhammad)' (The Koran, Pickthal, 8:11).

17. Perhaps, we call them Homo sapiens ignoramus, be it a bit oxymoronic.

This article first appeared in

Showan Khurshid is the author of : "Knowledge Processing, Creativity and Politics: A Political Theory based on the Evolutionary Theory" which can be purchased here