As the renowned and
pioneering historian Bernard Lewis noted over 20 years ago in The
Roots of Muslim Rage, “the classical Islamic view, to which many Muslims
are beginning to return, [is that] the world and all mankind are divided into
two: the House of Islam, where the Muslim law and faith prevail, and the rest,
known as the House of Unbelief or the House of War, which it is the duty of
Muslims ultimately to bring to Islam.”
After the events of 9/11,
Professor Lewis, in The Crisis of Islam:
Holy War and Unholy Terror, also noted that much of the animosity directed
toward the West, particularly the United States, is due to
old-fashioned envy—stemming from Western progress and Islamic decline. As one
reviewer put it, the crux of Lewis's argument is “the sources of rage among
Muslims stem from the deep frustration over the loss of a cultural primacy that
was once theirs and has now been lost to the forces of modernity, especially as
represented by the United
As Muslim savages rage
against the U.S. abroad, it is rather telling to examine “the loss of cultural
primacy” within Islam, along with the overall effect Islam is having on nations
and individuals the world over. Of the 57 members of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC), as rated by the Economists Intelligence
Unit’s Index of Democracy, none are full democracies, while 36 are
authoritarian regimes (dictatorships). Of the Index’s 10 most authoritarian
regimes, 6 of them are members of the OIC.
Muslims are over 23
percent of the world population and produce barely eight percent of global GDP.
The average GDP rank for the members of the OIC is 102 (out of 211 nations).
The total GDP of the 57 member OIC is approximately $4.9 trillion. That is
about one-third of the GDP of the U.S. alone ($14.4 trillion).
According to the United
Nations’ 2009 Arab Human Development Report, “For nearly two and half
decades after 1980, the [Arab] region witnessed hardly any economic growth.
World Bank data show that real GDP per capita in the Arab countries grew by a
mere 6.4 per cent over the entire 24 year period from 1980 to 2004 (i.e. by
less than 0.5 per cent annually).” One in five Arabs lives on
less than $2 per day.
plagues the Arab world. About a third of those living in Arab countries
cannot read. This includes about half of all women. There are fewer than 18
computers per 1,000 persons in the Arab world, compared to the global average
of 78.3; and only 1.6 percent of Arabs use the Internet.
In the 57 nations in the
OIC there are a total of about 500 universities. There are over 5,700 in the U.S. In just
over 100 years, the Muslim world has produced nine Nobel Laureates while a mere
14 million Jews have produced 166. There are about 400 scientists and engineers
per 1 million people in research and development in Arab countries, compared to
about 4,000 per million people in North America.
and most telling, as one examines Islam, is the role of women in Islamic
society. Islamic law (Shariۥa) prohibits
women from looking men in the eye, forbids them from wearing shoes that make
noise, and forbids them from becoming educated. As Ergun and Emir Caner note in
Unveiling Islam, “women are
considered possessions in any orthodox Islamic regime…The wife is considered
the husband’s sex object.” Also, one of the most alarming admonitions in the
Koran allows the husband to punish his wife physically.
Of the 8 nations that the U.S.
has placed on its State Sponsors of Terrorism list, 6 of them are Islamic
regimes. Of the 16 nations the United
States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has under its
Country of Particular Concern designation, 11 are Islamic regimes (all of the
others are differing authoritarian regimes, including North Korea, China,
Nice company, huh?
Religious freedom in
Islamic states such as Saudi
Arabia is virtually non-existent. Like many
other Muslim countries, Saudi law states that Islamic apostasy—denying the
faith or converting to another religion—is a crime punishable by death. In
2006, Afghan citizen Abdul Rahman was arrested (after
it was discovered that he possessed a Bible) and faced the death penalty for
converting to Christianity. Intervention by Afghan president HamidKarzai resulted in the
charges against Rahman being dismissed.
Leading Afghan clerics
were highly critical of Karzai, noting that “The
Qur'an is very clear and the words of our prophet are very clear. There can
only be one outcome: death.” This attitude is very prevalent across the Arab
world, validating Professor Lewis’s notion that “many Muslims are beginning to
return” to the “classical [violent and repressive] Islamic view.”
In Turkey in 2007, two Turkish
converts to Christianity were killed in the Malatya Bible Publishing Firm
murders. Also in 2007, Mohammed Hegazy became the
first Egyptian Muslim officially to seek to convert to Christianity. An
Egyptian judge ruled that, “He can believe whatever he wants in his heart, but
on paper he can't convert.” Muslim clerics issued fatwas
calling for his death. His wife’s family has sworn to kill her because she
married a non-Muslim. They are both currently in hiding.
All of this pales to the
slaughter in Sudan.
The Institute on Religion and Democracy reports that “since 1983 Sudan has been devastated by a jihad or holy war
led by the militant National Islamic Front, the ruling regime in Khartoum, against all in Southern Sudan and the NubaMountains who opposed the
imposition of Shariۥa, or Islamic law.
The government-sponsored terror has resulted in the deaths of at least two
million moderate Muslims, animists, and Christians.”
Of course, as the Caners
point out, “Any major religion must first be seen through the eyes of its
founder…Muhammad commanded in the Qurۥan, ‘Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you
find them’ (surah 9:5)…in a world searching for
peace, following the life of this warrior brings about bloodshed.” Moments
before Abu Mus'ad Al Zarqawi cut off the head of
American Nicholas Berg, he said these words in Arabic:
“The Prophet, the master of the merciful has ordered to cut off the heads of
some of the prisoners of Badr in patience. He is our
example and a good role model.”
Zarqawi knew that Muhammad had
often used beheading as the means of executing his enemies. Thus, Zarqawi was
unmistakably choosing to emulate his “good role model” and spiritual leader.
Clearly, by and large,
Islam is an enforced religion with a violent founder, a violent founding, and a
very violent past and present. Islam is generally repressive to women and to
those of other faiths. Islam is typically financially devastating and
technologically backward. Any politician—republican, democrat, and the like—who
attempts to paint Islam or Islamic nations in a positive light is at the least
not giving the whole picture, and is at the worst, a political coward.
Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of
Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason