Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Conflict between the West and the Middle East: The Validity of the Muslim Theocracy

First post in the 10 Greatest Dangers to the Western World series
Part 2

In George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech this year, he talked about the spread of freedom, positioning the righteousness of this cause as a given. And make no mistake, I believe that the spread of freedom, of democracy, of our system of values and government is a good thing. But it’s not a given; there are other schools of thought out there. Take a look at the characterization Bush gives to both sides of this conflict:

No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam -- the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder -- and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder.

The West, especially during this administration, assumes that everyone is happier in a democratic society. But Muslim theocracy is a time-tested, viable alternative to democracy. And while I may not see some of their practices and beliefs as moral, my view is tainted by my own beliefs. Furthermore, there are aspects of the Judeo-Christian ethic I don’t necessarily consider moral, but it does not change the validity of a wide variety of societies based on the Judeo-Christian ethic.

All that makes Muslim societies less valid is that we do not agree with some of their values. But do these differences of opinion make Muslim societies worse than democratic society, better….or just different from the democratic societies we’ve come to respect. Read these paragraphs from the blog of Spinoff two-tribes.html comparing the strengths and weaknesses of Islamic and democratic societies, and you’ll see that , from the Islamic perspective, they have a very viable option for a society that, while not appealing to me, and probably not appealing to many Westerners, is still 100% valid.

So we are left with two belief systems: that built upon a protestant Christian framework with its belief in success through hard work, an individual relationship with God, and a communitarian focus on a welfare society; and Islam. Islam’s enormous strength comes through many things. The Qur’an is the directly revealed word of God, and therefore provides real certainty as well as being a manual for how to live one’s life. Importantly, it is the revealed word of God in the language of God (the Qur’an is only ‘real’ in Arabic) providing a commonality of language and understanding lost in the west since the King James Bible and Vatican II.

The Islam of the Qur’an provides all those things the West provides, and many it does not. Protection of widows and orphans is expressly mandated. The role of women is clearly defined (the prophet was married, remember, and his wife Hadija’s legacy provides an important role for women). The ‘Umma, the unitary nature of Muslims around the world, is explicit. Islam works: as a belief system, as a social and political polity, as a consistent and powerful model not only of how one should live one’s own life but how the world should live its.

And this is where the clash is inevitable, quite simply because western liberalism promises the same. The ideology of the west is a peculiar blend of Christianity, small-c communism, welfare statism, synthesising a broad range of political thought and belief but ultimately promising a way of living that is supportive in difficulty and rewarding in success. It also happens to provide a consumerist society where goodies are abundant – the most superficial, but attractive factor that attracts the majority of people to the western lifestyle.

So, you think this is a minor point, that whether the Muslim Theocracy is a valid form of society is beside the point? Actually, it’s at the heart of everything going on here. As George Bush’s United States and the rest of the Western countries further “the advance of freedom” described in the State of the Union, the Muslim theocracies are being destroyed one by one.

And while we can play the proverbial game of “Which Came First: The Suicide Bomber or Western Imperialism” till we’re blue in the face, the fact remains that today Muslim theocracies consider this a fight for survival. Bush stated “we seek the end of tyranny in our world,” while forgetting that what is tyranny for us is a wonderful life for others. That is why this issue is so vital.

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10 Greatest Dangers to the Western World Series
Part 1: Overview
Part 2: The Validity of the Muslim Theocracy
Part 3a: Two Distinct Conflicts – Conflict between Diaspora Muslims and Host Country
Part 3b: Two Distinct Conflicts – Conflict between various Muslim Leaders and Western Imperialism
Part 4: Muslim Compatibility with Western Society
Part 5: Conclusion

Posted by Scottage at 1:19 AM / | |