But, no, we probably can’t all just get along.
In light of recent events in Paris, and Paris times many thousands all over the Middle East, and considering the increasing migration of Moslems to currently non-Islamic parts of the world, and the trouble that nearly universally flows from that, I think it’s probably about time that I formally explained why Islam is different.
Before I do though, consider a couple of Amendments to the Bill of Rights, the First and Second, and how they applied once upon a time compared to how they apply today.
There was a time when the Second Amendment basically permitted – rather, denied the government the power to infringe – everything, armaments-wise, to the private citizen that any government might have. “Ah,” says the gun control advocate, “but surely not guns that would fire more than X shots from a single load.” No? How about cannon that would fire hundreds of shots from a single load, instantly? These were perfectly permissible.1 Or how about the Girondoni Air Rifle2, which was not unknown here,3 and was capable of firing twenty aimed shots in a minute from its easily and rapidly reloadable twenty-round magazine?
But then we get to modern times and nukes, bugs and gas? Shall they not be forbidden to private citizens? I should hope not and I’d gladly join forces with any gun grabber out there to prevent it. Why? Because in this particular case times have changed, the weapons do not serve the (revolutionary) purpose of the Second Amendment, they are different in kind from anything remotely within the contemplation of the Founding Fathers4, and their possession in private hands, frankly, would imperil the entire Constitution, as well as the Second Amendment thereto.
Conversely, though, the First Amendment protects free speech and the freedom of the press. Does that mean it doesn’t protect radio and television? Telephones? The internet? Of course it does. Even if those things were not in contemplation or foreseen when the Constitution was drafted, they do not endanger it more than simple free speech and free press do, and freedom of expression in them serves essentially the same purpose as freedom of speech and of the press.
On the other hand, and sticking with the First Amendment, what about freedom of religion? I have, in this regard, two observations. One is that freedom of religion is not absolute. One hates to seem judgmental, of course,5 but even so we are most unlikely to tolerate Neo-Aztecs cutting out still-beating hearts atop pyramids. No, not even if they make a credible claim that it’s a core part of their faith and, moreover, if they don’t do this in massive numbers every fifty-two years the world will end. “Sorry, Moctezuma the Latest, but that’s a little more freedom, and a lot more murder, than we’re prepared to tolerate.” My other observation is that it’s not especially well-crafted for dealing with religions that are a lot more than religions, which is to say complete guides, on law and life, crime and contract, marriage and massacre, delivered from the very mouth of God, Almighty, to his Messenger on Earth.
In a way, that may seem strange since they knew what theocracy was and since Massachusetts, at least, had been effectively something of a theocracy from the beginning – Yes, yes, I know there was a theoretical split between the clergy and the government, but the spirit of the thing was theocratic, as were the practices.6
The difference, though, was in the founding documents, Bible or Quran, and what they meant, in practice, here on Earth. I’m not going to talk much about the Bible; most here will be at least slightly familiar with it. I am going to talk about the Quran, however, not least because it is so poorly understood by us as a general rule.
First, though, a brief aside: Have you never noticed that the same people who can find doubleplusungood “cultural appropriation” in eating a taco7 seem to have no qualms or hesitations whatsoever in applying their values and outlooks to foreign cultures, in filtering foreign cultures through their (highly limited) understanding, and imposing upon those foreign cultures values completely alien to them? Disgusting, is it not, the way these people try to inflict their own parochial Western views of good and evil on cultures where, in goodly part, the views are close to the opposite of ours in many particulars?
Now that we’ve dispensed with that arrogant, Western, liberal, cultural neo-imperialism, we can proceed to what’s actually in the Quran and what makes that different.
In the first place, Mohammad is not, for the most part, the speaker in the Quran. Rather, the Speaker is, overwhelmingly (perhaps entirely but there are some questions about that) God, Almighty, Himself. You can, conversely, find places in the Old Testament where the speaker is God, but for the most part He is silent. The rules laid down by God, himself, are highly limited.
Secondly, but no less importantly, the Quran lays down rather precise rules of conduct, to include dress,8 criminal and civil law, to include punishments, ceremony, hygiene and diet…suffice to say, it is complete enough. The New Testament, though replete with the words of Jesus Christ, is not remotely so prescriptive.
Thirdly, because of those two, the completeness of the rules and the identity of the legislator, mere mortal man has no authority whatsoever to override the Divinely given rules. Got that? No, you can’t legitimately change the rules God laid down. You wish to make women equal, as in Western civilization? Forget it, God has already said, in effect, that she is not, cannot be, never will be equal. He has already laid upon woman various debilities by the highest authority there is, His own, even as He has elevated men above women. Morally important? Absolutely. Equal? Never. You wish to permit Gay rights? Get that right out of your mind; homosexuality is considered the worst possible sin.9 Forbid slavery? Are you already out of your infidel mind? A better Islamic scholar, by far, than I has said: “Slavery is a part of Islam … Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.”10
The fourth factor you will have to either take my word for or see for yourself. The Quran cannot be grasped in a single reading. (I’d never even try it in Arabic at the shoddy best I was ever able to speak or read any of it. There are some English translations that are fairly well thought of.11) The writing is odd to our eyes. We miss the soaring imagery and the sheer magnificent poetry of the thing on a single reading because of that strangeness. Read it once, to get over that. Then read it again and feel it, as they feel it. Feel the power. Experience, too, the sardonic sense of humor of a God who speaks to me.12 And if you feel nothing? Then disqualify yourself from comment upon it.
Fifthly, the sheer magnificence of the Quran will call back to the path Muslims who, under the temptation of the West, have strayed. If it doesn’t get them, it will get their children or grandchildren. A secular humanist of a lefty Westerner may not understand that, but if he rejects the truth of it the intellectual weakness is in him (or her). Said Westerner can try to attribute that to X discrimination or Y dirty banlieu, but that’s still his ignorance showing.
Next week: How that plays out with Muslims within Western society and why Osama bin Laden was not a bad Muslim.
1 How do you imagine private persons issued Letters of Marque or Reprisal, pursuant to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution were supposed to take their prizes and make their reprisals? Ramming? Voodoo? H/T Tam Keel
3 At least shortly after, in any case: http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/the-girandoni-air-rifle/
4 Just FYI, I thoroughly loathe the politically correct, gender neutral, hence fraudulent term, “Framers.”
5You know I’m not serious about that, right?
8 Which, by the way, does not go nearly as far as has become culturally customary since then.
9 Surah 7: 80-81.
10 Shaykh Saleh al-Fawzan. http://www.almuslih.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=237:textual-islam-and-the-slavery-dilemma&catid=37:salafist-discourse&Itemid=206 The Quran itself does not forbid slavery. Of the four major schools of Islamic law, none, as far as I can tell, actually forbid slavery.
11 Nose around here: http://www.meforum.org/717/assessing-english-translations-of-the-quran
12 My personal favorite example of this is in Surah 81: 8-9: “When the infant girl, buried alive, is asked for what crime she was slain,” which means, “Oh, is the man who murdered the blameless baby girl going to suffer. Forever.” One would think this line would give certain Islamic terrorists pause. I think they rationalize it with something like, “Infidel girls don’t count.” Buried alive? It was a pre-Islamic form of female infanticide, quite popular on the Arabian Peninsula.
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Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.
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