Introducing the Islamic Paradigm

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In my first post I talked about the origins of this project. I’d like to talk a bit more about that. Why am I talking of a “paradigm”?

It’s been said that the Qur’an can never be translated; only reinterpreted into another language. I submit that this “translation problem” is not limited to Islam’s scriptures but to most of its basic concepts. It’s not a matter of translating a language into another, but a worldview into another.

This is what prompted me to talk of a “paradigm”. I am attempting to portray the Islamic worldview regarding certain concepts and issues, by explaining how Muslims see (or should see) these things; that is, explaining Islam on Islam’s own terms.

Any compatibility I may uncover between Islam and Western thoughts or ideas should be seen as an interesting occasional point of agreement, rather than an attempt at outreach.

Is this an apologetic?

While I may be proceeding from certain Islamophobic arguments, my intention isn’t to counter or argue against them. What I’m doing is not apologetics; I am not attempting to “defend” or justify Islam’s positions, or show it to be “compatible” with any Western ideas or schools of thought.

You don’t have to agree with Islamic worldview and it is certainly not my intention to convince you of it. In fact, you’re free to hate Islam afterwards. At least, then, it would be an informed disagreement, rather than an irrational hatred based on myths, falsehoods, half-truths, ignorance, and pure stupidity.

I may quote others sporadically, without mention of name. I intend no disrespect to anyone I respond to – they may well be more intelligent, upright, and successful than me. I’m not writing to discredit them. I hope we can maintain this atmosphere of respect even if we hold diametrically opposite views.

How this started

Many Western educated Muslims can relate with being able to look at events from two different world views. We put on our “Western lenses” and see things as the West sees them; or our very own “Islamic lenses” and see things as Muslims see them.

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To me, it’s a tremendous advantage, akin to being able to talk two languages – or rather, to think in two different languages. An almost immediate effect is an ability to see commonalities and points of agreement; in a way, I can see the Islam in the West and the West in Islam.

Doubtless, with this advantage comes a responsibility to bridge two worlds, but this is not my intention in this work. This, I must stress, is not an outreach project; rather, it’s an attempt to document the “Islamic lenses” – being the lesser known of the two, even by Muslims. 

A Shout out to RonPaulForums.com

Even though I’ve been using the term “The Islamic Paradigm” for years, it only exploded into a hundred articles quite recently. I have to introduce my muse, the brain-prod that would inspire me to write: Liberty Forest (www.RonPaulForums.com, or RPF for short).

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I’ve been a fan of Ron Paul since the lead up to the Iraq War. After his courageous run for President in 2008, some of his supporters set up LibertyForest to discuss and promote his political positions. It soon grew to be among the most active libertarian-leaning forums on the ‘net.

I joined about a year ago, and started taking part in the discussions – often heated, always intellectual, never dull. But with each post, it became clear to me that there is a huge gap of understanding between the Islamic worldview and even the smartest, most open minded Westerners.

A hundred articles in two weeks

Thankfully, the wonderful folks at RPF met my occasional clarifications with a welcoming curiosity. What’s most important, they realized the importance of these clarifications; Ron Paul has emphasized time and again that a culture of hate is a prerequisite of perpetual war, itself a prerequisite of statism and authoritarianism.

I owe the recent explosion of “The Islamic Paradigm” to a little post by Matt Collins, in which he asked “Why are Social Conservatives so afraid of Muslims?” Matt was commenting on the fresh wave of Islamophobia that’s washing over America, and even finding its way into RPF.

I set out to write, and before I knew it I was into the twentieth page. Shortly afterwards, I took a two-week break coinciding with the last third of Ramadan and the Eid holidays; during this break, the “article” grew past its hundredth page, having exploded into over a hundred articles.

Structure & motivation of this project

islam libertyIn a way I always knew I had to write this some day. A devout “Islamist” Muslim who identifies as a libertarian cannot go too long without being asked to explain himself. How can I reconcile my “anti-liberal” religion and worldview with the ideals of liberty?

For the moment, it’s structured as 100-something articles, each starting with a “jumping off point”, typically an Islamophobic quote or argument. The articles are ultra-summarized; I guess it’s more apt to call them “abstracts”.

My intention is to allow these to grow through active discussion and debate. Everything you see here is simultaneously posted on my site, on RPF, and on a mirror Facebook page. In a way I’m dropping a super-dehydrated pill into a sea of smart people, who’ll allow it to expand to its final form.

The hundred (something)

Table of Topics
1. What socio-cons? There’s no such a thing as socio-cons
2. Why do socio-cons get to you so much? I say live and let live
3. Who are you? What the heck is an Islamic libertarian?
4. Why are socio-cons so afraid of Islam?
5. Islam wasn’t “hijacked” by terror groups; these groups are practicing “real” Islam
6. Sharia law is brutal; it prescribes beating, maiming, stoning, and death
7. “Fatwa” has become synonymous with irrational violence
8.

The doctrinal integrity of Islam is in fact a fatal disadvantage; it makes Islam rigid and makes it impossible for it to reform or to evolve with the times

9. Where do you get off calling Islam “the religion of peace”?
10.

Islam is a cult, incompatible with the Judeo-Christian conception of religion. It should not protected under our “freedom of religion” tradition

11.

If you want to see Islam in action, just look at Islamic countries. They are backward in every possible way

12.

Muslim countries are backward because its people are backward. The only hope for them is to liberalize and Westernize and abandon this horror called Islam.

13. The “Islamic Golden Age” is pure propaganda; Muslims were always backward
14. “Cordoba” to Muslims is a symbol of victory over Christianity
15.

Islamic history is surprisingly monolithic with very little changing from their start till now. They have never known a form of government other than an absolutist theocracy

16. All Muslim countries are theocracies at one level or another; that’s why they are backward
17. Even the “best” Muslim countries are a thin veneer of flash hiding deep barbarism; like lipstick on a pig
18.

Muslims are lazy and unproductive; in fact productivity rankings put them at the bottom of the world’s nations. That’s why they never had and probably never will have an industrial revolution or work ethic.

19.

The supposed “wealth” of some Muslim countries is based purely on oil dollars and not on anything they’re getting right. It’s an economy that rose from the desert sands and will go back into the desert sands the moment the oil runs out

20.

Muslims are smelly and dirty, and their countries are arid dustbowls; even their language is ugly and guttural. If it wasn’t for oil, these guys will be herding camels and living in tents. In fact just give it a few years for oil to run out

21.

Arabs are camel-herding nomads from their beginning; they continue to be primarily nomadic as seen today in Arabia, the Negev, the Sahara, or Darfur

22.

Islam’s god is a false god and its prophet is an insult to prophets. Their position on Jesus is an insult to Christianity; their values are in stark contrast to Judeo-Christian ethics

23. Islam is a lie form the pit of hell and its prophet was in league with the Devil
24.

While Christianity presents a beautiful purpose for human existence, Islam is purposeless and nihilistic. It knows the good and wishes to destroy it for the sake of its destruction

25.

The Islamic civilization is a relic of the past; the new millennium will only see the Western civilization, the Chinese civilization, and possibly the Indian

26. Muslims by nature are carnal and unspiritual; that’s why they don’t understand Redemption
27. Islam stole most of its scripture, theology, metaphysics, eschatology, and exegesis from Judaism and Christianity
28. It’s completely acceptable to burn the Qur’an. Muslims hate the Bible and if they had the chance would burn it too
29. What do Islamists want anyway? Even those who renounce violence remain fundamentalist, extremist, and radical
30. For the past 100 years, Islamic movements have brought nothing but death, destruction, intolerance, and instability
31.

Islamist movements are synonymous with terrorism; whether it’s Hamas, Alqaeda, Taliban, or Hezbollah, they are all the same in their goals and methods

32.

Jihad means terror and Islam teaches that terrorists who practice jihad are fulfilling their religious duty and will be greatly rewarded by their “god”.

33. The War on Terror is a totally unique situation with no precedent on which the United States and its allies can fall back
34.

The War on Terror is a no-holds-barred struggle for liberty, in which we must do anything to win. Stop complaining about torture and stuff. Besides, these people are scum and they deserve it.

35.

Islamist terrorists are cowardly, evidenced by their hiding out in caves and targeting civilians. Face to face, man to man, they are no match to a regular Western army.

36.

Islamist movements are largely responsible for the fall of the secular nationalistic Arab ideologies that could have modernized and liberalized the Arab world.

37. Muslims have an irrational hatred for the West
38. Why are Muslims making such a fuss all the time? Their reaction to the Danish cartoons shows them to be such a touchy lot
39. Muslim immigration is threatening the demographics of Europe. We must make sure this doesn’t happen to us.
40. Muslims want to impose Sharia law upon the United States
41. Muslims want to create a global Islamic state
42. Muslims want to conquer and take over the world
43. Islam spread through violent conquest while Christianity mostly spread peacefully
44. Islam has a brutal history. They don’t treat non-Muslims good.
45. Islam not only condones but promotes slavery, and the slave trade was purely a Muslim invention.
46. Islam teaches that women are subhuman and discriminates against them legally and socially
47.

Islam teaches that all non-Muslims are infidels, and hence sub-human; today’s terrorist groups

even extend the definition of “infidel” to Muslims who disagree with them

48.

The worst thing about Muslims is that they take their religion seriously, unlike Christians and Jews. That pretty much defines fanaticism in my book

49. Islamists (especially Alqaeda) are hell-bent on destroying America, and killing as many civilians as possible
50. Muslims have no qualms about killing civilians; they have never had a tradition of “just war”. All their wars have been “total wars”
51. The only way to defeat terrorist movement such as Alqaeda and Hamas is to be more effective at killing large numbers of them
52. How can I even trust you? I’ve seen that video that proves that you’re a liar.
53. Why are many Islamic centers and personalities implicated in supporting and funding terrorism? Just shows we can’t trust them
54.

Islam is very contradictory; one Muslim group quotes verses of peace and loving one’s neighbor while another quotes verses of death to all infidels. How can we trust them?

55.

The issue of “abrogation” shows that Islam is full of contradictions and shows that Muslims are dishonest about showing the Islam’s true face

56. The Qur’an is a dangerous book calling for violence and barbarism
57.

A religious Muslim cannot be friends with a non-Muslim; Islam instructs him to hate all non-Muslims and to consider them as enemies

58.

Non-Muslims living in a Muslim country are called “dhimmis”, a demeaning and dehumanizing term; they are discriminated against in every possible way

59. Sharia is fundamentally anti-liberal
60. Sharia is authoritarian and big-government
61. Islam is collectivist
62. There is no place for personal liberty in Islam, since every small sin is met with a severe capital punishment
63. Islam is a fascist religion
64. Islam is a totalitarian religion
65. The Sharia form of government is an absolutist dictatorship
66. Muslims never had and probably never will have a written constitution or a limited government
67. Islam is fatalistic and claims a monopoly over “the truth”, making it diametrically opposed to progress and modernity
68. Islamic philosophy is an oxymoron; there can be no speculative thought in the presence of “doctrinally dictated truth”
69. Muslim countries ban missionary activity by Christians because they know that if they allow it, people will leave Islam en masse
70. The tribal nature of most Muslim societies makes them more compatible with medieval feudalism than with modern states
71. There is no hope for a libertarian or even a liberal-leaning movement to take hold in any Muslim country
72.

The greatest sign of retardation of the Muslim world is that there has been no rumblings of a popular revolution against the tyrannies that rule them; they uncritically accept their lot under these dictators

73.

So what if Muslims invented algebra? Good for them, we don’t owe them anything. The renaissance and enlightenment were purely European phenomena.

74. Islam is such a foreign culture to the West
75.

What use is all of this? As an America-firster I do not care about Islam and don’t think there’s anything to learn or gain here. This is a non-issue not worth thinking or talking about

76.

“Islamic multiculturalism” is a myth; Islam only recognizes Arab culture and attempts to impose it on all. There is no place for any other culture or race, and Arab Muslims look down on non-Arabs.

77. Islam’s anti-Semitism is at the very root of the Arab-Israeli problem
78. Screw all of this, let’s just bring our troops home and cut off foreign aid. The Middle East can burn in hell for all I care
79. Israel is culturally superior to its neighbors; it is an oasis of democracy in a desert of tyranny
80.

We have to interfere in the Middle East because we’re the only thing stopping those idiots from killing each other; the moment we pull out they’ll be at each other’s necks again

81. The only workable solution in the Middle East is a two-state solution
82.

American intervention in the Middle East is good because it forces these countries to “do the right thing”; if it wasn’t for the American stick over their heads, they would never reform

83.

Muslims have been hating us long before we were even aware of them; their values are diametrically opposed to the founding principles of America. We did not initiate ill-feeling or aggression towards them, we are merely reacting to them

84. Sunnis and Shias have been fighting each other for 2000 years; we better not step in or even try to understand what’s going on
85. Sunni or Shia, doesn’t matter one way or the other. It’s all irrational BS.
86.

For all their bravado, Muslims keep losing wars spectacularly; I can’t remember the last time they actually won something. Yet, pathetic as they are, they keep claiming victory!

87.

You will rarely find as much hubris and hypocrisy as in the Muslim world; where else do you see tyrannical demagogues like Gaddafi, Saddam, or Ahmedinajad go off about how  it’s Islam that is “truly civilized” and the West that is “barbaric”?

88. I don’t care one way or another. All religions are nonsense.
89. Pakistan is a glaring example of what Muslims are, and is proof that democracy cannot work in the Muslim world
90. Proof that Muslims are irrational: We attack some villages in Yemen, and a Nigerian Muslim comes at us!
91.

The post-911 “Islamist wave” that took the Middle East has largely died out; Muslim nations are more open to secularism and liberalism now than before

92.

“Islamic libertarianism” is an oxymoron; there can be no meeting point between a secular ideology and any religion. The parallels you’re trying to draw with Western thought are deeply inappropriate.

93.

Muslims in the West are not integrating, and instead are being radicalized; hence the fear of “home grown” terror and the need for close surveillance and monitoring

94.

Islam’s strict moral code is unrealistic and unnatural, and that’s why no one can keep it, even Muslims. Just see how Muslims indulge in alcohol, drugs, and sex the moment they’re away from home

95. What of the 72 virgins? Islam’s concept of paradise is childish and laughable
96. Muslim societies are socially reserved, or rather socially backward, especially on gender and sexual issues
97. Religion is strictly personal and should have no place in the public or even social sphere
98.

Islamic feminism is a welcome development in the Islamic world; if Western women can burn their bras, Muslim women should burn their burqas

99. “Islamic education” is synonymous with brainwashing, just as “madrassa” is synonymous with “terror school”
100.

Islam did not get rid of superstition, instead it strengthened such beliefs; Muhammad dabbled in magic and claimed supernatural powers

101. Muslims, just like Christian fundamentalists, are Creationists, and opposed to scientific progress
102. Muslim media are unprofessional and sensationalist. Some, like Aljazeera, are probably directly in league with the terrorists.