Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Crisis of Values in Islam

Since its inception nearly 1,400 years ago, Islam has viewed itself as a perfect and true religion and the only legitimate one. The Koran says of the Muslims: "You are the finest nation issued from mankind." Muslims sprung up around the world in order to spread their message, subduing the declining Persian and Byzantine Empires and reaching Spain to the West, Indonesia to the East, Vienna to the North and Africa to the South. They Islamicized the pagans, allowing Jews and Christians to live under their rule under restrictive conditions. They translated foreign literature on various subjects, including medicine, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and botany, and they produced many world-famous scholars. But the Muslim golden age dimmed over time and for nearly 800 years they have been in a period they call "the era of standstill and inferiority," which is characterized by tyrannical rule, political division, foreign conquests, religious paralysis and a freeze on scientific creativity.

The civic ideas that constitute the foundations of European political thought are diametrically opposed to Islam, because the separation of church and state effectively uproots Islam's power to dictate codes of conduct to the individual and to the general public. The division of authority into three independent powers is opposed to the spirit of Islam because the Creator is a legislator and a judge and He directs the path of men and therefore He should be the executive force, yet Western nations divide the legislative, the judicial and executive processes between independent branches that do not derive their power from the Creator or from a single religious personage who represents His writ on earth? This is the profound underlying cultural reason that explains why to this very day there is no genuine democracy in countries with an Islamic majority.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which began in Egypt 75 years ago, strove to restore the principles of Islam and its laws to the public domain, working to ensure the law in any state that formed after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire would be Islamic law, which would control all political, social and private processes, yet the movement was a colossal failure.

The Taliban rule in Afghanistan prohibited introducing television, radio and newspapers into the country to prevent the population from being exposed to Western culture, and many media outlets in the West emphasized this point because it was intended to leave these means of information outside the public domain and more importantly, the private domain. After this regime was liquidated in such brutal fashion by the United States there is almost no regime in Islamic countries that prohibits or enforces a prohibition on introducing a satellite dish; even in Iran they are in wide use. This phenomenon greatly troubles many Islamic zealots, who are seeking a solution to save Islam from destructive Western influences. Some turn to education, which is seeking modern methods for instilling youth with values, and some are attempting to take power in order to impose upon the population laws that would allow them to act against Western influence. Some seek to strike directly at what they consider to be the source of the evil, under various names such as Al Qaeda ("The Foundation") or the International Jihad Organization. The motivation to strike America first and foremost is not because it conquered Palestine but because it penetrated the Islamic home, won the hearts of many Muslims, and even worse, captured the hearts of Muslim women, in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and throughout the Islamic world.

Therefore Israel, according to Iranian rhetoric, is the "Little Satan" because it poses a threat to its immediate environs, whereas the US is the "Great Satan" due to the threat to the entire Islamic world, its customs, communities, sons and primarily its daughters. This is a source of the vast adulation of Bin Laden in many Islamic societies, where many feel he found the correct path and efficient methods to fight against the destructive influence Western culture has on the world of Islamic values. Hence the difficulty in fighting this organization, whose members find refuge and support in various Islamic societies in Arab, African, and East Asian countries, and even in Europe among Muslim immigrants.

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