Islam needs a Reformation.

A speech by the new President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is a huge break with the usual rhetoric coming from public figures in Islam.

The full speech is here, but the key phrases are:

Among other things, Sisi said that the “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years” are “antagonizing the entire world”; that it is not “possible that 1.6 billion people [reference to the world’s Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live”; and that Egypt (or the Islamic world in its entirety) “is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

This is pretty strong stuff and might get him the fate of Anwar Sadat, at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. Making peace with Israel was a bridge too far for the Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for … ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state.” The movement officially renounced political violence in 1949, after a period of considerable political tension which ended in the assassination of Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud an-Nukrashi Pasha by a young veterinary student who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The renunciation obviously did not apply to Sadat who was assassinated in 1981.

Al-Sisi is not a favorite of Barack Obama, whose administration has close ties to many members of the Brotherhood.

The Obama administration backed the Egyptian president al Morsi, a Brotherhood member and supporter.

While Sisi is undeniably authoritarian, he has not openly allied himself with jihadi terrorists as Morsi has. In his inaugural address, Morsi announced his intention to agitate for the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman from U.S. custody. Rahman, known in the U.S. as the “blind sheikh,” is implicated in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, and numerous other terrorist plots.

Morsi was the favorite of the Obama people and Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State at the time.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provided Morsi with verbal support in the critical days leading up to the June 24, 2012, presidential election. In a discussion hosted at the State Department three days before the election, Clinton said it was “imperative that the military fulfill its promise to the Egyptian people to turn power over to the legitimate winner.” She also warned about the danger of “backtracking,” to a military regime. The “legitimate winner” was Morsi and his opponent, a general.

Ahmed Shafiq, was a military man denounced by critics as a throwback to the Mubarak regime. Clinton’s uttering of these words in the eleventh hour of the campaign — without any warning about the dangers of Islamist government — could only have undermined him.

Clinton, of course, has a close “advisor” a woman named Huna Abedin, who has links to the Brotherhood. Wikipedia is unimpressed.

On June 13, 2012, Republican members of Congress, led by Michele Bachmann, alleged that Abedin “has three family members–her late father, her mother and her brother – connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations”[16][17] These claims have been widely rejected and condemned by a variety of sources, and are generally regarded as a conspiracy theory.

Robert Spencer is not so sure.

And in Abedin’s case, there are ample reasons for raising these questions. Her father, Syed Z. Abedin, was a professor in Saudi Arabia who founded the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, an organization supported by the Muslim World League, a Brotherhood organization. Her mother, Saleha Mahmoud Abedin, is a member of the Muslim Sisterhood, the Brotherhood’s adjunct organization for women. The Brotherhood itself is in its own words, according to a captured internal document, dedicated to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house.”

Now, back to al Sisi’s speech.

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

This is pretty strong stuff. I tend to follow what Robert Spencer writes, as he is a student of Islam albeit a controversial one.

Islam is not a monolith, and never have I said or written anything that characterizes all Muslims as terrorist or given to violence. To call attention to the roots and goals of jihad violence within Islamic texts and teachings, and to show how jihadists use those texts and teachings, says nothing at all about what any given Muslim believes or how he acts. Any Muslim who renounces violent jihad and dhimmitude is welcome to join in our anti-jihadist efforts. Any hate in my books comes from Muslim sources quoted, not from me. Cries of “hatred” and “bigotry” are effectively used by American Muslim advocacy groups to try to stifle the debate about the terrorist threat. But there is no substance to them.

It is not an act of hatred against Muslims to point out the depredations of jihad ideology.

If the Egyptian president agrees, maybe something will come of this. There are far too many people who close their eyes to the violent jihadist side of Islam. A few years ago, I read a very interesting book called The Persian Night, by an exiled former editor of a Persian newspaper. I wrote a review after reading it.

Among other things, Taheri explains the real difference between Shiism and Sunni Islam. They are quite major differences and I can see why the split has never been resolved. It is at least as big a difference as that between the Catholic Church and the various Protestant churches. For example, in Shiism the role of mullahs and the ayatollahs has been expanded and that of the Quran and even Mohammed are diminished. An analogy might be the role of saints in the Catholic Church vs the spare emphasis on Bible study among Protestant sects. The Sunnis would play the role of the Protestants.

That was just one item in an education about the Persians who have largely turned against the regime. Spengler has pointed out how Iranian women have stopped having children.

Muslim leaders show more panic about their own demographic decline than the most despondent Western pessimist. The presidents of Iran and Turkey, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Tayyip Erdogan, both warn of that their nations may be extinguished in a single generation. For the most part, the English-language media has ignored their warnings, but they pervade the Turkish- and Persian-language press and blogs. The sense of impending doom that pervades much of the Muslim world makes these countries dangerous and unstable. The risk to world security is not the gradual triumph of Islam by demographic accretion, but an era of instability, social breakdown, and aggression impelled by despair.

The Iranian birthrate is as low as Europe’s. Islam badly needs a Reformation. At last, a Muslim leader said so.

56 thoughts on “Islam needs a Reformation.”

  1. Islam has already had its Reformation. As was the case with the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century in Europe, it is a fundamentalist one, has been ongoing for a century, and the Wahhabi, Deobandi, Salafists, and various takfiri (like Al Qaeda and Daesh) are its representatives.

    What Islam needs is an Enlightenment. The sources of the Enlightenment in Europe were quite different from those of the Reformation but they tend to be glossed over for political reasons or religious bigotry.

  2. “Islam badly needs a Reformation.”

    No. This is repeated all the time and it is wrong. Islam was “born Reformed” or “born Protestant.” It is sola scripture and sola fide in its belief system. Just like Protestantism, it lacks a central clearinghouse for interpretation of its sacred book, and as a result, charismatic preachers come along and have outsized and often pernicious impact.

    What Islam needs is to be more like the Catholic Church. It needs a Magisterium to definitively state what the rules are and what believers should believe.

    The Caliphate to some extent served this role. The Ottoman Sultan was also the Caliph, and as such had religious authority over Sunni Muslims. As a result there was a source of generally recognized religious authority to resolve important questions. The Caliphate was abolished in 1924 by Kemal Ataturk. This is an event which is not adequately appreciated in its import. There has been intellectual anarchy ever since within Sunni Islam. Catastrophically, the Saudi regime, enriched with oil revenue, has filled the void by promoting its bleak, retrograde and militant brand of Wahhabism for many decades now.

    I wish Sisi well in his effort. But there the odds are stacked against any spontaneous appearance of a more humane and neighborly school of Sunni Islam, just because a general who seized power asks for it to happen.

    I have long wondered if a restored Caliphate which served as a theological university and court of religious appeals, with some relatively benign scholar appointed as its head, could work. But historically there is no distinction between religious and political power in Islam. You cannot have a Muslim equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury, let alone a nonpolitical Muslim papacy.

    Nonetheless, something along those lines is what Islam needs. It is more centralization, more authority and control over rogue preachers, something more like the Catholic Counter-Reformation.

    A lengthy response, but the calls for an Islamic Reformation irritate me, since it is implies that violent Islamic extremism is somehow analogous to the Roman Catholic Church. It is not a good analogical fit.

  3. The danger to al-Sisi comes not only from the Muslim Brotherhood. The current American regime has consistently sided with the Jihadi’s at every juncture in the Middle East. Assassination is a tool of American foreign policy in the area since the 1950’s, and targeted drone assassinations are the mainstay of US policy over the last 6 years. I would not be surprised if the Abedin faction in the White House is not putting together [if not pulling out a pre-prepared file] options for termination with extreme prejudice as we read. If the Brotherhood, or ISIS takes power in Egypt, it also puts mortal pressure on Israel; which is a mainstay of US policy for the last 6 years. The US would not object at all to a coup that returns al-Morsi to power under the Islamist constitution he instituted that gave him dictatorial power.

    All the adherents of the Muslim fundamentalist cause are not in the formal Ummah.

  4. Sometimes the old ways are not the best ways. Sometimes prophets are misunderstood. As an avid viewer of “Vikings” I have learned that it is always hard to know and obey the Will of the Gods.

  5. My comparison of Shia and the Catholic Church was not to imply any association between jihadis and Catholics. It is just an interesting way to understand the difference between Shia and Sunni and was new to me. The Wahabbi role in Sunni Islam is an argument, I submit, against centralization of theology. It wasn’t just Protestant churches affected by the Reformation. Pope Alexander VI was very much into centralization.

    Yes, I was raised and educated for 12 years in Catholic Schools. I can still remember nuns extolling the virtues of Mary Tudor and condemning Elizabeth.

  6. I suppose that you could say that the Shia flounced out from the rest of Islam in much the way that the Roman Catholic church flounced out from the bulk of Christianity in 1054. Are there any other resemblances?

  7. “In 1053, the first step was taken in the process which led to formal schism. Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius ordered the closure of all Latin churches in Constantinople.[9][10][11] According to the historian John Bagnell Bury, Cerularius’ purpose in closing the Latin churches was “to cut short any attempt at conciliation””

    The Catholic Church flounced out ?

  8. Sisi may well be toast.

    In those first few hours and days after 9/11, calls from what were then considered the worst of America (now mainstream leadership), were that it was “an inside job” “blowback” etc. Body parts were still hanging off buildings as Amiri Baraka ranted. In the nearly fifteen years since, I’ve had a conversion…or two, occupied bar stools, read and watched, fumed and worried, lost sleep and thought long and hard. Perhaps indeed it was an inside job, but not one that involved the then despised Vice President and his cohorts?

    Not sure what’s next, but read elsewhere today, that 2014 is the year of a Christian genocide not seen since the Roman Empire, and that what’s transpired so far to date constitutes crimes against humanity.

  9. If you want to trade quotations from Wikipedia, there is this: “It may have started as early as the[21] Quartodeciman controversy at the time of Victor of Rome (c. 180). Orthodox apologists point to this incident as an example of claims by Rome to papal primacy and rejection by Eastern Churches.”

  10. Hello Michael, David, Lex, all:

    Thanks for pointing us to Sisi’s speech, Michael, which is, as you say, quite remarkable. A few points, if I may.

    First, I’d note that neither Sisi himself nor Ibrahim uses the word “Reformation” – he makes it clear that it’s a revolution in thinking he’s after, and I have to agree with Dave Schuler that it’s something closer to our own Enlightenment than our Reformation that’s required — although that’s still very broad strokes indeed, and neither term really suffices without further detailed commentary.

    Sisi, of course, is no theologian, but it would be instructive to know just which texts he was thinkng of when he spoke of the “corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years” – I don’t imagine he’s talking about the Qur’an, he might be calling for a re-evaluation of the corpus of ahadith, but it may well be the accumulated body of legal precedents based on them (fiqh) that he’s really talking about, and Ibrahim and the translator he uses don’t tell us…

    And that brings me to another point – that we don’t have the complete speech, just what Ibrahim calls the “relevant excerpt”.

    You mention following Robert Spencer: he’s a polemicist, and cherry picks texts out of context to suit his purposes. Jonathan AC Brown is an American, a Muslim, and a professor at Georgetown. For a scholarly look at the breadth of interpretive possibilities within Islam, his (horribly titled by his publisher to catch eyes & sell copies) _Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy_ is a useful corrective to people like Spencer. Broad strokes again, Islam is a far more diverse stream than our news media might lead us to believe, just as Christianity is far more diverse than the American “End Times” beliefs endlessly parroted on TV might make one think.

    Lex’s point is interesting, suggesting that Islam was “born Protestant” – but the Sunni-Shia distinction goes deeper than just the difference between the Lutheran slogan “every man his own priest” and clerical hierarchy. I don’t know how Taheri discusses it, but Shia Islam, like Catholicism, is grounded in the sense of a salvific passion – that of Husayn at Karbala playing a corresponding role in Shiite devotion to that of Christ at Golgotha in the Catholic.

    Lastly, I suspect that some strands or variants of Sufism may yet have a major role to play in the “enlightenment” of Islam.

  11. It is not mere members of the Administration. It is Hussein himself. He has acted as if the Iranian Revolutionaries and Muslim Brotherhood are in accord with what he believes is the flow of history. He has acted to strengthen them when ever he could.

    Abedin is not a factor in the Obama administration. She is part of Camp Clinton, and Hussein and the Clintons are not on speaking terms anymore.

  12. I don’t disagree on “Enlightenment” vs “Reformation” although the first seems to me to be less about religion and more about knowledge and science. More like The Lunar Society than a theological debate.

    Spencer has been widely defamed by those who don’t want to hear anything negative. The first book on Islam I picked up was written by a Catholic nun and did not have negative word to say. I know of no group more rigidly left wing than present day nuns.

    The comparison of Husayn and Christ is interesting. Bahai is also interesting. Iran may go secular if the Mullahs can be overthrown. Mosque attendance is around 2% I’ve read. The Mullahs have overindulged in corruption and alienated the people. It is now pretty much a fascist police state.

    Dearieme, we can debate the history of Christianity but I was just interested what was so important about 1054. There is a school of thought that Constintine founded his own version of the Christian religion in 312.

    He certainly did make huge changes

  13. The reverse reformation analogy seems applicable, Charles point notwithstanding,

    Around the beginning of the 900s, most Sunni jurists argued that all major matters of religious law had been settled, allowing for taqlid, “the established legal precedents and traditions,” to take priority over ijtihad. However, the Shi’i Muslims recognized “human reasoning and intellect as a legal source that supplements the Quran and other revealed texts,” thus continuing to acknowledge the importance of ijtihad. Due to the Sunni movement towards taqlid during this era, some Western scholars today argue that this period led to the notion of the “closure of the doors of ijtihad” in Islam. Joseph Schacht, a well-known Western scholar argued, “closure of the door of ijtihad” had occurred by the beginning of the 10th century CE: “hence a consensus gradually established itself to the effect that from that time onwards no one could be deemed to have the necessary qualifications for independent reasoning in religious law, and that all future activity would have to be confined to the explanation, application, and, at the most, interpretation of the doctrine as it had been laid down once and for all.” (Other scholars believe that debates about the “closing of the gate of ijtihad” “were not apparent in legal literature until the end of the eleventh century, and even then only as a theoretical issue”.) This move away from the practice of ijtihad was made by the Hanafi and Maliki law schools, and the majority of Shafiis, but not by Hanbalis or a number of prominent Shafis jurists who believed that “true consensus (ijma), apart from that of Muhammad’s Companions, did not exist” and that “the constant continuous existence of mujtahids was a theological requirement.”

  14. It is said that Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam are all religions based on The Book. However, a lot is lost in translation. For example Catholics (Douay version) do not have the same 10 Commandments as the Protestants (King James version) and both are different from the Koran version. Since the death of King James there have been many more translations of the bible and when placed side by side it is hard to believe that all these new Bibles are translations of the same document – and rightly so because there is major argument about just which sources from ancient times are “Bible” and which are merely very old manuscripts or old clay tablets or old drawings on very old walls that are not-Bible.

    The Reformation proved it is madness to base a legal system on these old writing. Now the rise of Islam has reawakened the old wars.

  15. Mike:

    I don’t disagree on “Enlightenment” vs “Reformation” although the first seems to me to be less about religion and more about knowledge and science.

    I see it as a matter of authority, not of science vs religion. from my POV, the Reormation marks a change in the authority of priests, but not of texts. It’s the Enlightenment which loosens the authority of texts.

  16. It’s not really culture or religion so much that divides Westerners and the populations of the Middle East. Religion and culture are epiphenomena. The fundamental difference is genetic.

  17. Jonathan, I don’t think “jim” is a serious commenter.

    There is considerable genetic variation among humans, much of which is not discussed because of racial issues but the middle east is not a genetically distinct area. There is a significant difference in behavior that is discussed in “The Closed Circle,” by David Pryce-Jones. The Arabs, and they are the real problem, are a “Shame-Honor” socially. Pryce-Jones is not the only one to recognize this.

    A lot os this is a result of the Ottoman’s misrule for centuries. The Serbs have a variant of this behavior that is well described in Rebecca West’s great book, “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon” written before World War II but still true.

    From one review of Closed Circle: “I have lived in the MIddle East, done business with high level Arabs. My personal library of books on Arab Culture and the Middle East is at least 40 vols. This book is the number one book for anyone to read to try and understand the complex culture of the Middle East. I have read it twice and given copies out to many people. Our problems in Iraq etc. all stem from our misunderstanding of the Arab Culture how sad it is to know our leaders have no knowledge of this very complex culture. Read it and then standby for the next chapter in Iraq when and if we withdraw our forces.”

    I am a firm believer in Steven Pinker’s theory of the genetic basis of behavior but the middle east is not an example.

  18. “The Closed Circle,” by David Pryce-Jones:

    the tribal world has no institutions that have evolved by common consent for the general good. Those who seek power achieve it by plotting secretly and ruthlessly eliminating their rivals. In the Arab world, violence is systemic.

    There was another example of that ruthlessness just today.

    Whether it’s reformation or enlightenment that Islam needs, it’s going to take a lot of violence to get there. I lean more towards Lex’s view that what they need is to look back even further for a central figurehead who has enough reform-mindedness to extinguish evil treachery but with enough enlightenment to leave everyone alone the rest of the time.

  19. The Ottomans not only allowed religious freedom (sort of) but they didn’t even do much governing. Local governors has free rein and some of that is what led to the shame-honor culture and the Serb culture of clans since there was no law that could be appealed to. Of course, the Ottoman Empire was all Sunni and the Shia were localized in a couple of provinces to the extreme south east.

  20. We can’t social engineer Middle Eastern coutries to be like Iowa anymore than we can social engineer Detroit to be like Iowa. These are different peoples. Forget about trying to make them “like us” in either sense of the term “like us”.

  21. Sorry, Charles, if I have to pick you or Spencer I’ll go with Spencer.

    I guess his very explicit statement that he’s not talking about All Islam or Every Muslim but only the jihadists isn’t good enough for you?

  22. We intervened in places like Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan presumably in the hope of making them moore like us, Western style liberal democratic nation-states. The results in Iraq and Libya are that they are now even less like us than before we intervened. In Afghanistan there is little sign of any “progress” toward becoming a Western style state. This is all futile.

  23. “Forget about trying to make them “like us” in either sense of the term “like us”.

    An arsonist in a field of straw men.

    “We intervened in places like Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan presumably in the hope of making them moore like us,”

    No, Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia which was, in 1991, crucial to world oil supply.

    Libya was a European venture that Obama seemed to choose to involve us in.

    Afghanistan was the base from which we were attacked and 3,000 Americans killed.

    Nation building in Iraq was a reasonable experiment that failed, partly because we did not understand tribal culture and partly because, after we learned something of it, Obama cut and ran. Libya was never any attempt at nation building. Afghanistan was misguided once the Big Army came in and told the Special Forces to “get in uniform and shave.” Read Jawbreaker unless you are just attacking another straw man.

  24. “The Ottomans not only allowed religious freedom (sort of) but they didn’t even do much governing”

    This was the Millet system. The other “People of the Book” were tolerated but segregated and controlled by incorporating their religious hierarchies into the Ottoman ruling class. Of course, there was a lot not to like about it such as the blood tax.

    The later innovations and protections that came for Christian Millets in the 19th century came about largely as a result of European pressure to end the periodic massacres of indigenous Christians, which has some parallels to our modern day predicament.

  25. No, Iraq invaded Kuwait ?

    Ok, your hired military forces done the job with tyrant’s shameful defeats from Kuwait
    With your Western style liberal democratic nation-states was well represented in the highway of death then after letting the tyrant retrieved killing more Iraqis, so your goal not after tyranny who did invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia which was, in 1991, crucial to world oil supply. Which iraq & iraqi were hold hostages to to the tyranny regime

  26. And the tendency towards cousin-marriage for generation without count tends to produce an astoundingly high rate of birth defects, does it not? Which is especially marked in countries such as Saudi Arabia …

    I know this is not Dr. K’s special area of expertise, but any comments of his which have a bearing on this aspect of Middle Eastern societal malfunction would be welcome.

  27. “We Read Cheney’s Jaw-Dropping Editorial on Obama”

    About right but left wing trolls who think they are clever try to ridicule a man with more experience than you have likely been alive,.

  28. Inbreeding is a problem with small breeding populations. Mongrels on average are healthier than purebred dogs or horses or people. The Jews have similar problems with several hereditary diseases, like Tay-Sachs Disease.

    It’s not just Jews but small breeding populations are the issue.

    French Canadians of southeastern Quebec have a carrier frequency similar to that seen in Ashkenazi Jews, but carry a different mutation. Cajuns of southern Louisiana carry the same mutation that is seen most commonly in Ashkenazi Jews.

    Some powerful evolutionary forces can make those effects in large populations. An example is malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. The first mutation was the Duffy antigen which is necessary for Plasmodium Vivax to enter the red blood cell. Absence of the antigen confers resistance to malaria.

    Malaria mutated to the falciparum form which does not need the Duffy antigen. It is also more severe than P. Vivax. Duffy negative blacks are sicker with P falciparum also.

    The next evolution was Sickle cell hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. I was a medical student when Pauling discovered why S hemoglobin causes sickling. Sickle cell cell “trait” is relatively benign and does help resistance to malaria. If the patient is homozygous, having both genes for S hemoglobin, they have the disease which is serious and often shortens life.

    There are other genetic changes due to malaria found in other populations such as Mediterranean populations with Thalassemia and there is also G 6 PD deficiency which is common in blacks but also seen in other populations. Sickle cell is almost exclusively in blacks.

    Those mutations are helpful although they do not leave the carriers normal. The others, like Tay Sachs are probably just the result of inbreeding. Cousin marriage is also a social problem in Britain as Pakistani villages are reconstituting themselves via cousin marriage that brings in Pakistani girls and isolates the community from any assimilation. I certainly hope we avoid that with all the Muslim immigrants coming now under Obama.

  29. Mike,left wing trolls?

    Oh yah the convenient way to put, the trolls themselves they think they are right all other all wrong!

    Welcome a trolls who believes in their fake genus P. Bremer II painter with disaster recovery profile less

    Bringing banch of thugs and thieves to Execute reasonable Nation building in Iraq. With a group Iranian midwives one of them named by. President Bush saying, “That Maliki is a son of a bitch, but we …

  30. Jhoover, maybe you should write in your native language and we’ll use google to translate. It would probably be easier to read that way.

  31. Mike, I have your book and your section on Islamic medicine is interesting, although it’s telling that all the physicians you mention are either Persian or Moorish or Egyptian. The peninsular Arabians who started Islam were always the most backward, with little to contribute to the world besides rigid fundamentalism.

  32. Mike K – Back before the invasion of Iraq the Neocons blathered on about how advanced and nearly Western Iraq was and if only we got rid of that terrible Hussein guy the place wuold become a model leading the Middle East toward Western modernity. I think they even believed their own nonsense.

  33. Western modernity is not a universal template for humanity or an end-goal for human evolution. It os a particular suite of traits that evolved in a certain time and place and is closely linked to the genetic characteristics of Western European populations. The peoples of the Middle East are not going to become Westerners.

  34. It os a particular suite of traits that evolved in a certain time and place and is closely linked to the genetic characteristics of Western European populations.

    You keep saying this in various ways, yet you don’t provide evidence. Why should anyone accept your assertions?

  35. Nation building in Iraq was a reasonable experiment that failed, partly because we did not understand tribal culture

    Plenty of us understood it, especially those with actual experience in that part of the world. However, we were shouted down by neocon ideologues and parochial conservatives who believed everything Bush said. We were also subjected to leftist-style shaming language. Egghead know-nothing Condoleezza Rice said we were guilty of the “soft bigotry of low expectations”. The GOPers refused to listen and over ten years later, like typical liberals, will still not admit to being wrong, never mind learn from their mistakes. The late Lawrence Auster posted this cartoon with the following comment: the real-life neocons blunder through the world, understanding nothing, telling everyone what to do, causing one disaster after another, and never, ever learn from their mistakes.

    Western modernity is not a universal template for humanity or an end-goal for human evolution. It os a particular suite of traits that evolved in a certain time and place and is closely linked to the genetic characteristics of Western European populations.

    This is so obvious yet the left’s takeover of Western civilisation is so complete any person who utters the obvious can be fired, made unemployable (even Nobel Laureate James Watson) and even arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned. Dark days.

  36. Kirk:

    Sorry, Charles, if I have to pick you or Spencer I’ll go with Spencer.

    Then your mileage will vary : )

    I don’t think the choice should be between me and Spencer, actually, I think it should be between Spencer and Aaron Zelin of Jihadology, or Will McCants of Brookings perhaps — real scholars who are only too well aware of the dangers posed by Islamist extremism and also have a detailed, scholarly and nuanced view of the intellectual and emotional currents involved.

    My only comment about Spencer was that he’s a polemicist and a cherry-picker. I stand by that.

  37. East Anglian Says: partly because we did not understand tribal culture
    East Anglian,
    There are many studies about faults with nation building in Iraq, just remind you that the resistants to the occupation ignited almost one year later in 2004.

    Iraq was circular country most in the region, tribal matter initiated by both those crocks US believed them like Galabi, kanaan Makiya, all other who left Iraq in 1950s, and for self-serving of others like Dawaa folks and sader & alhakeem, for Sistani and his ilk they use the Shiat sectarian songs and drams to serve them.

    The above not can be uplifted if Bremer the fat child dismantled Iraqi army ( the army different for regime forces) also the police that make million jobless without any income also disBaathasation which took of senior officials from their roles whom the baath party just part of keeping their jobs

  38. ” The peninsular Arabians who started Islam were always the most backward”

    Yes, the same thing was said about the Soviets. The Roman empire had a strong attraction of the inhabitants to move to Rome. The Soviets were the opposite. The Arabs solved some of this problem by cutting off heads. The Turks, by kidnapping boys from the Serbs.

    I chose to avoid the polemicists who swing by here from time to time.

  39. To the avoidable troll….
    List of Arab scientists and scholars

  40. Westerners are profoundly different from the peoples of the Middle East. No amount of physical force will make them either be like us or like us. Allowing the immigration of millions of people into the West from a civilization which has been in conflict with the West for over a thousand years is insane. We need to maintain separation from the Islamic World or the two will become two scorpions in a bottle.

  41. Here’s a good example from the Ikhwan al-Safa or Brethren of Purity:

    They define a perfect man in their Rasa’il as “of East Persian derivation, of Arabic faith, of Iraqi, that is Babylonian, in education, Hebrew in astuteness, a disciple of Christ in conduct, as pious as a Syrian monk, a Greek in natural sciences, an Indian in the interpretation of mysteries and, above all a Sufi or a mystic in his whole spiritual outlook”. There are debates on using this description and other materials of Rasa’il that could help with determination of the identity, affiliation (with Ismaili, Sufism, …), and other characteristics of Ikhwan al-Safa.

    The debate apparently is that the perfect man, like the members of this group, are all those other identities and not Arab.

  42. “most appear to be from the 7th to 12th centuries”

    I just noticed Muqaddasi from the 10th century on the list. He really was an Arab, but they have him from Jerusalem, Palastine which tells you where this list is coming from.

    I was actually just reading about him. Apparently, when he did his survey of Jerusalem he noticed a peculiar phenomenon :

    “The mosque is empty of worshippers. The Jews constitute the majority of Jerusalem.”

    The Arabs overran the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East with their armies and their language but little else besides that.

  43. Well, thank you Charles, I never would have known what the Ikhwan meant by “pious as a Syrian monk” if I hadn’t read about Joseph Famulus and the Father Confessor.

    By referring to themselves as “sleepers in the cave”, they’re probably stating their feelings of affinity with the Desert Fathers.

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