Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Back to the Future

Islamic Imperialism and Its Failures

Islam is a uniformitarian religion.  It recognises no distinctions of race, colour, ethnicity, or geography--theoretically.  In his final visit to Mecca, Muhammad uttered his "closing" address:
O people, your Lord is one and your ancestor is [also] one.  You are descended from Adam and Adam was [born] of the earth.  The noblest of you  all in the sight of Allah is the most devout.  Allah is all knowing and all wise. [Koran, Sura 49, 13]
Theoretically this made all human beings equal; it also made the community of Islam--the umma--borderless and universal.  The promise of Islam to remake the world via the universal umma could be expressed as follows:
At a stroke the past was wiped clean.  One's ethnic origin and traditional ties and relationships counted for nothing, only one's faith and piety.  The umma was not merely a novel form of socio-political communal organisation.  It was a divinely ordained brotherhood, bound together by something far stronger than blood and far wider than the Arabian Peninsula: the great equalizer between Arabs and non-Arabs, free men and freed men. [Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007),  p.19.]
This was a radical notion.  It was Muhammad's version of the Lord's Great Commission.  But, it had a critical difference: in the mind of Muhammad there was no distinction between temporal and religious authority or rule.  They were one and the same.
 Within years of Muhammad's death the concept of the Caliph emerged: the One who would rule over a universal empire of Islam throughout the earth.  This rule would be by force and subjugation; conquest and imperial authority.  Islam has never regarded this as an aberration of Muhammad's teaching and practice.  Rather, the emergence of the Caliph and the Caliphate was seen as continuing faithfully after Muhammad's teaching and praxis.
. . . if Allah is one and his Messenger is one and the two are fundamentally indivisible, then all humanity should believe in the one and only true religion--Islam--and be organized in one universal community living by its laws.  [Ibid.]
This necessarily meant (and so proved to be in practice] that there have always been strong imperialist elements within Islam, Islamic nations, and the umma itself.  Thus, when observant Islamic migrants flood into Europe or the UK they cannot and will not assimilate.  Such assimilation is foreign to Islams fundamental doctrines and values.

The kind of assimilation the West dreams of with respect to Islamic migrants denies some of the central concepts and doctrines of the Prophet.  The West, understandably, thinks that the Islamic believer will believe in elements of the Christian tradition.  He will understand the separation of church and state.  He will believe in free will and liberty of conscience.  He will follow the praxis of persuasion, not conquest.

But Islam has no concept whatsoever of the separation of church and state.  Islam has no church.  Islam is monergistic in the sense that it has only one chain of authority: Allah, his Prophet, the Caliph, the umma.  Therefore, when Islamic communities gather in Western countries they orientate into self-governing communities--as the ideal of the umma requires.  They demand the right to live by sharia law.  They begin to exclude infidels from their streets, since they are now walking on holy ground.  They bow down to Mecca five times a day.  They see themselves as the universal brotherhood of Islam, with ties that bind far above any loyalty to local nations, states, or cities.

Of course not all Islamic migrants are zealous for the teachings of their religion.  Many Islamic migrants are nominal believers only.  Islam, for them, is a cultural tradition, not their deepest life commitment.  Such folk will likely separate their faith from the wider social community in which they live, and integrate successfully as nominal Muslims--Muslim on the inside, pagan on the outside.

The West expects all Islamic believers or followers to be nominal.  With soaring hubris, Western Chattering Classes assume that when poor Islamic refugees hit Western shores they will be so thankful and so impressed with the cultural superiority of the welcoming West they will immediately convert to secularism and maintain their Islamic tradition in a nominal manner only.

Right from the very beginnings of Islam, as Muhammad gained control of Medina, he organised his followers along classical imperial lines, with
Medina acting as the metropolis of Muhammad's rapidly expanding Islamic order and its other constituents serving as the periphery or even colonies.  The city was the seat of government, where the Prophet resided and made his decisions and where taxes and other revenues were received and distributed.  [Ibid., p. 20]
This arrangement and organisation was shortly after Muhammad's death taken up in the office of supreme ruler (the Caliph) and his realm (the Caliphate).  Rapidly the concept developed, flowing upon "natural" ideological and theological lines, to reach the point where the Caliph was seen as the logical replacement of the emperors of Rome and Byzantium, and the Caliphate being the inevitable replacement for the Persian, Byzantine, and Roman empires.

This eschatological vision remains: it has never been rejected or modified or resiled from.

The only fundamental (and insurmountable) issue is, Who is the real caliph?  This question exposes the fundamental lie at the heart of Islamic ideology.  The history of Islam is such that it has never, ever been able to reify its umma into one community, nor see one Caliph and one Caliphate hold sway.  Rather, it has been successively riven with internal dissent, ambitions, rivalries, ethnic hatreds, and cultural divisions.  Islamic sects (predominantly Sunni and Shi'a) cannot live in peace.  Each regards the others as apostate--and, therefore, under sentence of death.

Islam and Islamic powers may well serve as Divine, Christ ordained judgements upon the apostate West, even as Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, the Medes, and the Romans served as judgements upon Israel and Judah for their apostasy.  But its centre cannot hold.  It will always end up breaking apart into rival groups and factions.  A house divided against itself cannot stand.

From the Christian's perspective, there is a silver lining in all of this.  For centuries, Christian missionaries have been shut out of countries like Saudi Arabia, and persecuted violently in many other Islamic nations.  The migrating "barbarian" hordes of Islamic peoples into the West will bring them into contact with Christian preachers, missionaries, and the true Umma for the first time in their lives.

Who knows what glories will result from such an opportunity.  After all, that's precisely how many barbarian tribes became Christianised throughout Western Europe.  

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