It may seem like a detour from the usual topics of this blog, but it really isn’t. By and by, I will tie my thoughts regarding Islam into the overarching topic of uncivilization. But first, I need to share with you my journey, and what I have found.
I used to think that Islam was just another religion. Bzzt! Then, when I discovered it wasn’t, I thought that my exploration would lead to me separating the religion and its strictly religious concerns from the rest of Islam, and talk about the rest. But that too proved impossible. Islam is a political ideology firmly wedded to its religious aspect. But let’s begin at the beginning.
First, I discovered that Europe, and western Europe in particular, is in the throes of massive in-migration by people from Middle Eastern and African nations who are largely Muslim. And that there seems to be a major incompatibility between Muslims and the largely secular, post-Judeo-Christian Europe. This in-migration is a recent add-on to something that began in the 70s. Immigration policies were changed from protecting the locals and accepting people who were more or less compatible with local values, to aggressive multiculturalism that promoted people from far-flung parts of the world, and loudly deplored the locals as boring, not rainbowy enough, and racist. There were already Muslims in Europe at that time, in France from Algiers, in Germany from Turkey, and so forth. And in the Balkans, Muslim areas have existed since the Ottoman conquests. But from about the 70s on, progressive policies were implemented that over time made it possible for greater and greater numbers to come in, while enabling many of these incomers to live on welfare and to separate themselves into ethnic enclaves. The goal of integration was replaced by “sensitivity to other cultures,” and the rest is history.
Now, Europe has millions upon millions of Muslims who live in separate neighborhoods more or less according to their own rules. Perhaps most troubling, these areas are noted for their lack of women in the cafes, for plenty of burkas, rapidly rising street hooliganism and crime, and for sheltering those peculiar aspects of Islamic culture having to do with keeping women forcibly sequestered in the home, never learning the language of the host country, and never having a chance to participate in the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all women by that country’s laws.
Since I last spoke about Sweden, things have gotten both worse, and a little better. The wave of crime, said to be fueled notably by Somali and Afghani migrants, has gotten worse. The reports of rapes and vicious murders continue unabated, despite the efforts of the Swedish political elites to hush them up. But people’s voices are getting through. Just last week, a policeman published the details of the cases he’s been working on recently. The vast vast majority of those crimes were committed by migrants. He’s received massive support from Swedes on social media; nevertheless, the authorities are cracking down on him for racism.
In Germany, the critics of Merkel’s open door immigration policies have become more outspoken as well, defying intensive efforts of authorities to spy on them and to prosecute them for even slightly injudicious words. And the British have taken in many young men pretending to be children. When folks seeing who was coming in complained, barriers were erected to keep them from the public eye, and pleas for medical vetting were for naught. This after similar practices had been disclosed in the Scandinavian countries along with the abuse of the generous benefits that ought to be reserved for, you guessed it, children, and most grievously, after a “15 year old” 6 ft man in his early twenties had stabbed a Swedish child-shelter worker – herself a refugee from Lebanon — to death. Politically, anti-open-door parties are set to win in Holland and France, while even the teflon Ms. Merkel may be poised for a brisk slide toward defeat by a fellow Europhile.
In my bewilderment at the seeming madness of what I was witnessing, I began to study the Koran, and frequenting sites that were more “right wing” than any I had frequented in the past, mainly because they were dedicated to spreading information that was leaking one way or another from these various countries through social media, activists, and artists. And thus began my real education about Islam. I had trusted well-known religion expert Karen Armstrong, a former nun whom I admired for her honest portrayal of her early and miserable days in the cloister, to provide me with similarly honest information regarding Islam. But she let me down.
In reading the Koran myself, I suffered a shock. I discovered first hand all the hatred dished out in the Koran toward the likes of me, a kafir. Its incitement to violence. Its misogyny. Its vilification of Jews and Christians. And Mohammed’s unabashed and transparent use of the religious vehicle for self-aggrandizement, self-enrichment, bullying, lechery, lies and vengeful viciousness. Trying to recapture my shock now, so many months later, I realize I cannot do it justice. Islam needs to be experienced as I did, directly at the source. Do yourself and humanity a favor; please give it a few hours of your time.
A side note: when the Koran was compiled many centuries ago, it was organized from the longest passages to the shortest. This makes it confusing and virtually unreadable. That’s why getting a chronological Koran is essential. There are others besides the ones I point to below. Chronological Korans organize the contents by beginning with the early verses communicated when Mohammed was still living in Mecca, following up with the later Medinan verses. The verses are interspersed with the unfolding story of Mohammed to make more sense of the narrative. An Abridged Koran and A Simple Koran are the ones I have used, sometimes comparing the translation with others on the web.
Then, looking to communicate with Muslims directly, I joined one of the online forums dedicated to countering anti-islamic propaganda. It was a creepy experience. I ended up walking on eggshells for two months lest I say something I’d be castigated for, was castigated anyway, and had to leave the site because the stress of being in such a hostile environment was wearing me down. What I found was that honest and well-meaning if rather blunt questions were met not with a moderately-worded discussion suited for a forum ostensibly helping people see Islam and Muslims in a good light, but with vituperation. I was memorably told that we Americans are degenerates, our society a cesspool of immorality, and our values nonexistent. My every word was scrutinized and found wanting, and my free ranging inquiry resented as hateful American arrogance. Yikes! Later I found these folks are known for cyber stalking and doxing bloggers critical of Islam. I did meet one interesting Muslim there who maintained a civil discourse throughout, and introduced me to the fact that some contemporary Muslims cleave to the Koran only and are critical of the reliability of supporting information from the early hadith and the sira (collected sayings and biographies of Mohammed).
After that, my education came from several “counter-jihad” sites that I still follow regularly (here is one sample), and from reading a number of books, notably Irshad Majid’s The Trouble with Islam Today, Wafa Sultan’s A God Who Hates, and an obscure free online book that was once banned in the Netherlands, and speaks of the experience of a Muslim from Pakistan who once began a long trek west, looking for a culture more user-friendly than his own. He fell in love with the Netherlands, and makes no bones about his incredulity how willing the Dutch are to ruin the good thing they have. Wafa Sultan, a Syrian doctor who emigrated to the States, is an amazing woman. She became famous in the Arab-speaking world when she was interviewed side by side with a cleric who was all set to outshout her. Not a chance. She told him to pipe down, it was her turn! She is a sight to behold. These books not only opened up to me many of the issues contemporary religious and cultural Muslims struggle with, but they also shine a light on the mentality of people in heavily Muslim countries. I recommend them all, and commend these courageous souls for speaking so generously and freely of their experiences.
More recently, I have tussled with Muslims and their progressive allies online. I discovered first-hand the dishonesty that is described by counter-jihad folk as “taqiyya artistry.” Taqiyya as I understand it is a shia term for the permissibility of lying in the propagation of Islam and also to shield oneself from enemy backlash (the Shia’s main oppressor being the Sunni Muslims originally; Muslims all too routinely accuse each other of apostasy when opinions vary and feelings run high). I have come across people who will say anything, no matter how outrageous, in their effort at misdirection, at infusing Islam with a benevolent glow, or at casting aspersions at anything western. Since I follow Czech media, I ran into Muslims there who, relying on general ignorance, hit people over the head with a barrage of colonial guilt – this against a people who never had any colonies, were typically the butt of wider European power clashes, and suffered under the onslaught of Turk invaders who mercilessly pillaged southern Moravia and colonized neighboring Hungary for 150 years.
It’s not that Muslims don’t mean well. Often they believe alternative facts because western historians are not to be trusted, in their view. Or they are happy enough just to repeat islamic propaganda. Overall, though, it’s that their religion tells them all sorts of heinous acts – including crass deception — are piety itself, and lushly rewarded in heaven, if done “in the path of Allah.” Ah, there’s the rub of intensely self-righteous ideologies.
The left allies of Islam, on the other hand, deflect criticisms of Islam by venting scorn on Christianity, their usual whipping boy. They have a point; there are of course some equivalencies. But the intolerant Christianity of religious wars, burnings at the stake, and inquisition against heretics is largely and long since a thing of the past. In fact, Christians are now being shockingly brutalized, suffering frequent pogroms in many Islamic countries. Christianity no longer lives in the 16th century. As far as I can tell, Islam never left the 7th.
Looking back, it’s been for me a year and a half of shocks relating to Islam. Yet another such “rude surprise” concerns its history. But I will leave that for another time. You may ask – have I discovered any positives along the way? I am told that the language of the Koran is quite lovely in a whimsical sort of way, in Arabic, using puns and word play to get its message across. And my interaction with a small range of ardent Muslims gives me the impression that they are fellow utopians at heart, dreaming like us radical greens of a better social order, of that shining city on a hill that might usher us forth from this miserable time of Satanic mills gone doubling down. They certainly show a passion and a dedication to their task of spreading what they love we might do well to emulate. And clearly, their faith is a strength unto them.
There is something about human beings, when it comes to the unknown. We don’t seem to be able to just wonder about something and speculate creatively, maybe have a bit of fun with it. No, not us! Instead we like to decide beyond all possible doubt without a single shred of evidence.
We prefer to nail our colours to the mast before we even know if there is a ship attached to it, and often we’ll defend that position to the death.
— Pat Condell
German résistance (song, English subtitles):