Friday, 7 August 2009

Islam, the Golden Rule and the Curate’s Egg

The Curates egg

By Tim Heydon

''Question:- Here are two views of Islam:
  • 'Islam is a vicious. wicked Faith,’ - Nick Griffin
  • 'Islam is a Religion of Peace' - Tony Blair
- Discuss'' ‘

Is Islam a religion which those who have been brought up in an essentially Christian culture and whose moral values are those of Christianity clarified by reason can admire, respect and welcome? Or must they condemn and reject it as wicked, anti- Christian and alien to our values and way of life?

Since this is an article supporting the BNP, you are right to suspect what the answer is likely to be. But it is not sheer bias that must bring us to the conclusion that Nick Griffin is right and Tony Blair is wrong, but the facts.

There are certainly influential forces which support the idea that Islam is admirable, at least in part. From the earliest days of the Church, Christianity has acknowledged that non -Christians who seek after truth and lead decent, worthy lives (such as the ancient Greek philosophers) were Christian in effect if not in faith.

So Pope John Paul 11 when he visited the Grand Mosque in Damascus whilst on a visit retracing the steps of St Paul, could kiss the Koran, at least as a mark of respect for those Moslems who have led lives of integrity and worth which Christians could admire.

An Islamic official, Farouq Akbik, said it was a ground-breaking moment in Christian-Muslim relations, removing the barriers of mistrust Islam was being presented as something very negative but, ‘‘It is high time (non-Moslems) knew the real value of Islam, its beautiful teaching and this big, open heart for others."

It would be foolish to deny that Islam undoubtedly provides a door to a spiritual life for its many millions of adherent. They live within the kind of religious framework which gives everyday living a meaning and worth which is disappearing from the West as the grip of Christianity declines. This decline is the result of a long – term, inevitable trend towards an extreme of materialism (which however when it reaches finality will equally inevitably be reversed).

Multiculturalism and the secularising agenda of our political class is a symptom of this trend. Although Westerners in this now secular, atomised, self-centred and selfish society may find it hard to understand, the burqua- clad Islamic womenfolk they pity, while they are by our standards undoubtedly wickedly oppressed socially, politically, culturally, sexually and in other ways, may actually be happier and feel more fulfilled and contented than ‘liberated’ Western females.

If they accept their lot as dictated by their religion and traditions they may find a spirituality and a meaning, a sense of place, peace and belonging within the cohesive social structures of their ethnic faith communities which is unobtainable by Westerners whose empty lives are dominated by the need to shop and to indulge. And the inner cohesion and contentment of Islamic societies may complemented by ‘sulha,’ ie peace between islamic societies: a situation of good relations and mutual goodwill.

But while Islam may provide all these things for its adherents, there is precious little evidence for the ‘big open heart for others’ historically and as a result there has been little peace for non-moslems who do not submit to Islam.

The history of Islamic conquests and contempt for and exploitation of its subject peoples (called ‘tolerance’ by Western liberals) is well known.

It is significant for example that the Grand Umayyad Mosque in Damascus visited by the Pope was built in the early 8th Century on the site of a Christian church dedicated to St John the Baptist. This was ‘purchased’ at the time from the Christians by the Moslem conquerors of the Christian lands of the Middle East and North Africa, to whose oppressions the later Crusades were a belated repost. It continues to contain a shrine to the Baptist at which the Pope prayed.

And this displacement of Christians by their moslem overlords, tempered for many generations up to the present by the latter’s policy of using their non-Moslem, ‘dhimmi’ populations as milch cows for the ‘Jizya’ tax authorised by their religion, continues to this day.

Robert Fisk reported in the Independent (24th September 1997) that ‘the Christians of the Middle East are making an unprecedented exodus from the lands in which their ancestors have lived since Christ taught here. At least two million are estimated to have left in the past five years alone, leaving only 12 million Christians in and around the lands of the Bible’.

And in Lebanon, half the entire million-strong Christian population of the Arab world’s most moderate state have departed in just 20 years. The main article in the June 2009 edition of National Geographic Magazine was devoted to the story that ‘Followers of Jesus for nearly 2,000 years, native Christians today are disappearing from the land where their faith was born.

This contrast between the attitudes of Moslems to each other and their attitudes to non-moslems lies at the heart of our question: Is Islam a religion of peace or is it a wicked, vicious faith?

The contrast derives from the very soul of Islamic teaching. When Barak Obama went on his middle eastern tour, he made speech in Cairo in which in line with the universalising agenda of left -liberalism he claimed that Islam taught the ‘Golden Rule’ 'like other major religions'.

But Islam does not preach the ‘Golden Rule’ as taught by Jesus: ‘And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise’. (Nor, contrary to what some ‘we are all the same’ liberals like to think does any other religion or system: ‘Jesus’ formulation of the Golden Rule has no precedents in the thought world of his time. It is unique.’ – John TopelThe Tarnished Golden Rule’ (Luke 6:31) The Inescapable Radicalness of Christian Ethics; Journal: Theological Studies; Vol 59, Issue 3 1998 P475).

The Islamic version of the Golden Rule: ‘’ None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."Number 13 of Imam "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths." lacks the active nature of Jesus’ injunction: ‘do unto others…’ It lacks the context of love for the other of Jesus, who requires us to act in love when no reciprocation is expected. And importantly for us, it lacks the all-embracing nature of Jesus’ injunction. It is restricted to other Moslems. (One’s ‘brother.’)

Non –Moslems are specifically excluded and if they do not submit, the Koran is full of injunctions for Moslems to treat them in ways which by Christian standards are appallingly evil and violent These injunctions have been confirmed as valid by all the major schools of modern Islamic thought.

This ethical split between attitudes towards fellow moslems and actions towards non-moslems has had tremendous effects on the nature of the societies produced by Christianity and Islam and on the attitudes of these civilisations to others.

For while Christianity undoubtedly has had its darker times when it forgot the spirit of Jesus’ message, it never ultimately lost sight of the fact that everyone, Christian or non-Christian, was a child of God and equally loved by him.

This lies behind the tremendous social progress evident in Western societies, including the status of women, over the centuries). Moslems on the other hand are required by their religion, which does not view everyone as equally loved by Allah, or indeed loved at all (hence in part the lack of social progress in Islamic societies) to treat non-believers as the scum of the earth. Throughout the bloody, oppressive and exploitative history of Islam’s relations with other cultures, the West’s included, they have done precisely that.

Islam works and is a religion of peace, within the limits of its teaching, but only so long as Moslems are not in contact with non-moslems. If they are, problems almost inevitably arise.

If the non -moslems exist within a Moslem society, peace of a sort may still reign provided that the non-moslems behave in the submissive, respectful manner demanded of them in those circumstances by Islam. (This is called ‘Islamic tolerance’ by Western Liberals).

It is when the non -moslems themselves belong a successful and therefore pressuring civilisation, even or especially a materialist, secular one like that of the West, that peace is most at risk at the hands of Islam.

The God-given role of moslems (as they are taught) to dominate others by whatever means is frustrated and their resentments, especially when compounded by racial feeling, naturally encourages them to retreat even more strongly into their Islamic ethnic identity where they find justifications a-plenty for their hatreds and are abundantly encouraged to violence by their holy book and the sayings and example of Mohammed. All this is totally at variance with Western liberal expectations that Moslems living in the West will adopt Western secularist materialist values.

In the famous 19th Century Punch Cartoon, a Curate is sitting at the Bishop’s breakfast table.

Eager not to offend, he is remarking about his breakfast egg that ‘it is good in parts.’ Islam is also an egg which is ‘good in parts.’ But the joke, of course, is that an egg which is only good in parts is wholly rotten. Jesus himself would, without question have angrily rejected Islam as the wicked work of a false prophet. And that is why although Tony Blair was partially right when he said that Islam is a religion of peace, Nick Griffin was wholly right when he said that Islam is a ‘wicked, vicious faith’.