Tuesday, 25 September 2007

25/09: Can there be a discussion on Islam that’s not STUPID???

Category: General
Posted by: Raja Petra

Farish A. Noor

It is interesting to reflect on the asinine times we live in, particularly if like me, you are involved in that nebulous thing called ‘Inter-cultural dialogue’. Over the past four weeks I have been engaged in numerous rounds of dialogues between Western Europeans and Muslim migrant communities in Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin, and in every single one of these encounters I came across stereotypes of Muslims and Islam that were so shallow and puerile that I am almost embarrassed to recount them here. Worst still these pedestrian musings on Islam and Muslims were not the offerings of everyday punters, but those who claimed to be well-known and admired scholars and historians.

In one of these exchanges I was told the following: that ‘Islam is a fascist, woman-hating, Christian-killing, gay-bashing macho male ideology of hatred that was built on fourteen centuries of conquest and bloodshed, murder and rape. That is why there cannot be integration of Muslims into Europe, because the Muslims that we have here are the savages of the Arab world who are barbaric, violent and brutal. They do not believe in reason and the Enlightenment and Islamic civilisation has not produced anything scientific, rational or humane.’ Try substituting the word ‘Muslim’ for ‘blacks’ and one would see how far-fetched and racist such claims really are.

Now why is it that whenever we speak of Islam and Muslims today some of us think they have the licence to drop their IQ level by a hundred points or so? Is talk on Islam a licence to say anything dumb, offensive, and provocative, just for the sake of riling up the masses and grabbing a few headlines? A politician in Holland has even stated that there should be a ban on any reading of the Qur’an, on the grounds that it can be compared to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Others claim that all Muslims are determined primarily by their religion which happens to be irrational, unscientific and anti-Enlightenment.

I was struck by the wilful blindness of these so-called ‘liberal’ and ‘rational’ Europeans themselves, and their inability to put things in relative perspective and to interrogate their own presuppositions about themselves. In my own work as an academic-activist I have tried to deconstruct the grand narratives of official history, be it on the level of the state or religion. I am also aware of the fact that the writing of history is a contested process and that more often than not the writing of history is done by the victors and not the defeated marginalised voices of any community. Is it a surprise then that the history of the West has been only a history of white, male, middle-classed voices? Where is the history of women and women’s participation in politics, economics and nation-building? Only recently with the advances made by Feminist historiography and deconstructive history by the likes of Simon Schama have we seen the writing of history that is inclusive, plural and popular.

Now the conscious historian will inform you that there were (and remain) counter-currents to such dominant grand narratives all along, both in the West and in the Muslim world -- as there are liberal progressive counter-currents against orthodox conservative Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism. Furthermore, all civilisations and cultures exist in relational terms and develop in relation with and to others: It would be farcical to claim that the European Enlightenment was merely an auto-generated case of isolated genius, for we all know that European civilisation developed by interaction with Muslim civilisation; as did Muslim civilisation develop in relation with and to Chinese, Indian and Persian civilisation.

Of course today Muslims the world over are hostage to a history that is determined either by ruling elites or their conservative lackeys such as the Wahabbis of Saudi Arabia. From the pens of these conservative sectarians, we get only a static account of Muslim history that is told from the point of view of Kings, Sultans and dictators -- such as the history of Iraq that was written during the time of Saddam Hussein, or the skewered history of Arabia written by the pro-establishment Wahabbis. But here again the question needs to be raised: How was this historical erasure made possible, and who were the agents behind such erasure? Well, unfortunately the finger of blame also points to the ‘enlightened’ West, who regarded dictators like Saddam Hussein and the Saudi royal family as their strategic allies.

The rise of conservative, fundamentalist, sectarian and violent Islam was aided and abetted by Western states during the Cold War, leading to the rise of men like Saddam Hussein, the anti-Soviet Mujahideen and later the Taliban who have done so much to destroy the plural legacy of the Muslim world. Yet today Western liberals accuse Muslims of having no history and that their own history is one of violence. Where is the enlightened spirit of auto-critique and self-awareness here? Surely liberals in the West should not be surprised to see the rise of fundamentalist Muslim regimes the world over when it has been their own Western governments that have supported those very same anti-Christian, anti-women, anti-gay regimes in the first place, ostensibly for the sake of strategic alliances but fundamentally to safeguard the West’s much-needed supply of oil?

I am by no means excusing fundamentalist conservative Muslims here, for there are indeed right-wing Muslims who can only be described as fascist in the real sense of the word. But in the same way that Muslims today need to get out of their shell and stare reality in the face, so do Europeans who claim to be ever-so enlightened and liberal. Europe’s Enlightenment project created not only its own discontents but also anomalies.

To suggest that every single European today is the product of this historical process would be so simplistic as to beggar belief, and borders on the ridiculous. For should that be the case, then perhaps we can ask how enlightened were the Europeans when they colonised Asia and Africa? Look at the world map and see how so many patches of the earth today -- ranging from North America to Australia -- are reminders of a colonial expansion that was motivated by irrational greed, irrational racism, irrational hatred for the other, and not the values of reason or universal humanism. Tell me, was it Kant or Descartes who told the colonisers to invade and occupy Australia, and exterminate the aborigines of Tasmania and then hang their heads as trophies? Or skin the bodies of North American Indians to make boots and tobacco pouches? Where was the European Enlightenment then? Asleep?

cruzeiro wrote:

I sense a frustrated Farish ... going on bashing history of the white domination.

You have missed the whole point Farish dear - while you rave and rant against history of the wrongs committed by them, you immerse yourself in the civilisation and philosophy they have brought. So, don't bother lashing out - your frustration should be directed at those for whom you choose to be an apologist.

Whatever said and done I sense that you cannot write in defense of the attitude of "Islamist Hegemonists" worldwide.

Just stop being an apologist for "Islamism" that has deviant and sick ideologies, Farish - and everything will be fine!

25/09 14:40:11

temenggong wrote:

That is because the islam that all of us have seen so far, and heard so far, is horrible. There is not one good thing we have seen, not one good person all of us in the world can proudly extol. NOT ONE.

But we have seen and heard the contrary. And a lot of worldwide whining that muslims and islam are misunderstood and misrepresented. I don't think so.

25/09 14:41:44

Bunda wrote:

History is history. What is important is the now. Perceptions that Islam is a backward religion should be countered by reason and rationale.

Use Turkey as an example. The President of Turkey has already reiterated that Turkey would not go the way of Malaysia, and abandon its secular traditions.

Turkey is the model Islamic country, where religion and government policy do not mix. Where religion is considered a personal matter between God and the individual.

Turkey is as modern as you would find an Islamic country. Go visit it and you would be amazed at the difference. The people are not any less religious, but it is tempered by secularism.

Turkey is the guiding light for Islamic countries, not Malaysia. Heck, in Turkey you can find synagogues and Jews walking the streets.


25/09 15:02:49

batsman wrote:

Cruzeiro - BTW I think this passage written by Ali shariati applies to you exactly. It is as if it were custom made for you....

Assimilation: This is at the root of all the troubles and constraints facing the non-Western and Muslim countries. Applies to the conduct of an individual who, intentionally or unintentionally, starts imitating the mannerisms of someone else. A person exhibiting this weakness forgets his own background, national character and culture or, if he remembers them at all, recalls them with contempt. Obsessively, and with no reservation, he denies himself in order to transform his identity. Hoping to attain the distinctions, and the grandeur, which he sees in another, the assimilator attempts to rid himself of perceived shameful associations with his original society and culture.

Alienation: The process of forgetting or becoming unfamiliar with or indifferent to one's self. That is, one loses the self and directs perceptions from within another person or thing. This grave social and spiritual illness manifests itself in many different shapes and forms and depends on many factors. One factor alienating a human being is the tools with which he works. Sociology and psychology report that a man, during his lifetime gradually tends to forget his real, independant identity as he increases his contact with a certain tool or profession more and more every day. He begins perceiving his tools in place of his selfhood.

25/09 15:14:19

cruzeiro wrote:

batsman wrote:
Cruzeiro - BTW I think this passage written by Ali shariati applies to you exactly. It is as if it were custom made for you....

What a narrow, biased and negative definition and perception of the two words!

I could easily take him on that, should the occasion arise - but of course these guys will be evasive, and run for cover to scriptures in a debate ...

He's definitely not a linguistic or a sociology "expert" in my book!

It appears that he is in "defense" of the "isolationism" practised my many a muslim worldwide!

25/09 15:27:57

batsman wrote:

Cruzeiro - I really look forward to your counter arguments. In the meantime you are just dumping on Shariati\'s ideas without refuting them intelligently. Is that an admission of defeat?

25/09 15:53:43

cruzeiro wrote:

Dear batsman,
The question of defeat doesn't arise here!

All I say is, the definition is flawed and caters to an isolationist mindset, with sectarian interests.

He speaks of assimilation as something that is a weakness, that looks upon your personal heritage with contempt - in my book, it could be considered a strength, where I would look upon my heritage with pride.

As for alienation, he only speaks of "alienation from self" in order to reinforce "isolationism to preserve self" - not isolationism from prevalent culture or norms in a new land.

What the two definitions don't acknowledge is the fact that one can assimilate himself to a certain society, without losing one's heritage and identity, as the millions of Indian hindus from India have assimilated into American and European society. Moreover, they have done it without causing any social upheaval or strife – and they are very much appreciated by the others. Believe me when I tell you that they are just as Hindu and Indian as ever, despite the fact that they speak, act and think like the people of their country of domicile. The same however, cannot be said of many a Muslim. Why is that so?

Why then do Muslims have this “delusion of persecution” amidst their isolationism and hegemony? Why are they so quick to point the finger at the new societies that have welcomed them in the first place, and demand what no other race or religion have in the past?

I could go on and on, but it would be pointless, should you be blinded by “cultural norms” and refuse do understand.

The above, is why I would regard his definition as “hogwash”!

25/09 18:55:01

cruzeiro wrote:

In fact, I would argue the West is crying out for more Islam, the Islam of reason, the Islam of diversity, the Islam of inclusiveness; the revival of its intellectual and plural past.

proarte 1,

Many Muslims wouldn't see it that way, as they have already subscribed to the idea that the "west" is out to destroy their brand of "Islam", and they seek confrontation.

Many a "bridge-builder" however chicken out from expressly condemning this primitive ideology and isolationist behaviour, by actually being evasive about it!

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that many intelligent sociologists (not all) become "instantaneously, ridiculously stupid" when they start being apologists for the "anti-social elements" of their "perceived brothers".

25/09 19:02:09

Shahidan wrote:

The first member of the moronic brigade to respond to Farish's article says' "Whatever said and done I sense that you cannot write in defense of the attitude of "Islamist Hegemonists" worldwide.”

There are some 700 military bases worldwide established by US imperialism, mostly in the South and many in oil producing Muslim nations. Hegemony is not an empty concept without a real material basis. When Cruziero can provide evidence that there is indeed a real material basis for ‘Islamist Hegemonists’, and that Islamist Hegemonists have attacked the West and established military bases there, he would have made a case.

Meanwhile, the evidence is overwhelmingly against such a notion, other than proving that this is yet another baseless figment of imagination of members of the moronic brigade.

How low can bigotry go when you have another member of the moronic brigade, tememggong, write such mindless nonsense, “That is because the islam that all of us have seen so far, and heard so far, is horrible. There is not one good thing we have seen, not one good person all of us in the world can proudly extol. NOT ONE.“

To start with, temonggong, you are insulting all Muslims with your hate message, including the host of the site on which you spew your crap. Not only do you exhibit your ignorance, but you also are an ingrate for insulting your Muslim host who expects some intelligent and rational postings from discussants on MT. But then, you can’t help it as you are a member of the moronic brigade. You are a megaphone of the warmongers of empire and remain their ever loyal coloured scum.

25/09 20:20:47

cruzeiro wrote:

Oooh! Shahidan, I'm "impressed" with your ignorance and foul language ..... keep it up!

You'll successfully prove the "purity" of the Islamist sectarianism and isolationism in Europe (ones who cannot assimilate), while you bedevil the worldwide military and economic domination of the "west".

Coming from you, such abusive language could be considered flattery!

Never mind what I say, man- just keep calling me names, or you could launch a"jihad" while you bay for blood like your counterparts worldwide (and you want proof? You must be very "intelligent"!).

Keep it up, Shahidan!

25/09 20:40:50

temenggong wrote:

Shahidan does have a reading problem after all, as he missed this:

"the islam that all of us have seen so far"

Very well if you insist on defaming islam, show us your fines examples. We are looking for Mandelas, Martin Luther KIng, Gandhi, Einstein, Salk, Picasso, Mozart, Borobudur, etc - something that ENRICHED the world, outstanding (meaning stands out), something all of us in the world, whatever the race or religion, proudly imbibe and extol!.

Go ahead, take you time.

25/09 20:54:39

batsman wrote:

Cruzeiro - You claim Dr Shariati is not a linguistic or sociology "expert", yet he writes for a world wide intellectual audience and is not apt to make mistakes with his definition of "assimilation" and "alienation". You on the other hand applies not only a layman's definition to the 2 words, but actually your own. Please look up a simple concise dictionary if your want to continue this debate otherwise you are wasting my time. BTW while you are looking up the dictionary, try searching for the word "philistine". It describes you very well.

25/09 22:00:14

batsman wrote:

temenggong - nobody is saying that Muslims are innocent and pure. Just because they are not conducting their own defense in an intelligent way, does not mean they are not victims of western aggression. Muslims are not doing very well in winning friends and allies. Instead they seem to intent in turning people against them. Muslims are also introverted and apt to fight amongst themselves and practice some hair raising traditions. In the same vein, blacks, red indians and aborigines as well as incas and aztecs also screwed up their own defence by not being able to appeal to the white man's value system. This does not mean they are not victims of western aggression. The jews seem to be the only ones successful in defence, and they have managed to paint themselves as lily white innocent victims. Remember even Shakespeare never thought highly of them in his time, but then jews during Shakespeare's time never really got the hang of their own self-defence yet.

25/09 22:10:59

cruzeiro wrote:

Dear batsman,

You may call me what you like.

You may disagree with me just as I disagree with Shariati's definition - that's your right.

However, please take note that I have illustrated the fallacy in Shariati's definition using reality (i.e. the Indian diaspora), even if he speaks to God himself. He too can make mistakes!

And you can go on calling me names just as your "brethren" love to do, as a "self-defense mechanism", instead of indulging in a discussion.


26/09 13:21:08

cruzeiro wrote:

Oh BTW, I never did define the two words - I merely pointed out the error in his "constipated" definition!

26/09 13:25:42

cruzeiro wrote:

shardik wrote:
I merely point out that this `fastest growing` stuff is open to debate.
If you take base figures the bahais and sikhs could well claim to be fastest growing.

"Difficult" isn't it?

Is it any wonder why the title of the article is as it is?

26/09 13:42:45

temenggong wrote:


What you say is quite true but as each day passes the muslims make it worse for themselves. Witness Iraq, Pakistan and even Malaysia. The rest of the world has quite come to accept and appreciate the freedoms and stability of world values and made it their own, but not quite the muslims.

Dear LChuah,

Thank you. I was trying to make a point, and I think..

..I think you got it.

The image the muslim world has given to the world is that of authoritation and dictatorship regimes, arab and muslim belligerance, intolerance, virulent racism, bigotry, anti jew, anti christian, iconoclasm without knowing a thing about iconography, inability to assimilate into foreign cultures, dominance when in majority, believers of conspiracies, etc. On top of that today they give the added impression of terrorists, making it worse.

In the past it was one of war, conquests, rape and plunder, iconoclasm, ethnic cleaning of minorities, appropriation of others advancements as their own, etc.

This is the impression THEY gave in the name of religion.That is what all the world has seen so far, and heard so far, which is horrible. Nothing for the rest of the world to imbibe or extol, rather to be ashamed and condemn.

Today this image is still being reinforced daily in Iraq, Sudan and of course Malaysia, supposedly the model of muslim nation, where hypocrisy rules. So the rest of the world is revolting.

The world needs to see a genuine new image of islam, where eg. saudi royalty funds the construction of temples and churches in Mecca, donate to poor in south america, Malaysia recognising Israel, Pakistan reestablishes democracy, total religious and political freedoms in muslim majority nations, etc.

We are not seeing that. We are continuing to see whining, long, long whines, blaming the world for not seeing the beauty of islam. Well, where is it?

26/09 16:30:18

Shahidan wrote:

Typical dimwitted responses from both cruzeiro and temenggong for being criticized for posting bigoted anti-Islamic diatribe. Now let me dissect their comments to further prove that my description of their contribution to MT as bigoted and mindless is fully justified.

Cruzeiro said in a pathetic effort at sarcasm, “I'm "impressed" with your ignorance and foul language ..... keep it up!”

I have re-read my posting and can’t imagine what he refers to as my foul language. He accused Farish Noor of ‘… being an apologist for "Islamism" that deviant and sick ideologies’ , despite the unequivocal statement by farish, “I am by no means excusing fundamentalist conservative Muslims here, for there are indeed right-wing Muslims who can only be described as fascist in the real sense of the word. But in the same way that Muslims today need to get out of their shell and stare reality in the face, so do Europeans who claim to be ever-so enlightened and liberal.”

Cruzeiro proving here that he is so blinded by bigotry that he cannot recognise Farish’s statement disassociating himself from the fundamentalist right-wing Muslims. This is partly due to a refusal to acknowledge that on the fringes of every religious group you will find extremists and that these extremists are not representative of the broad majority. Or is cruzeiro offended out by Farish’s ‘…bashing history of the white domination.’ The house slave mindset so eloquently described by Malcom X comes to mind when you hear blind defence of ‘white domination’ from an Asian colonial apoligist. Ah, yes, he does suffer from a colonial mentality for he chastises farish for his ‘…rave and rant against history of the wrongs committed by them (meaning white domination or imperiailism), you immerse yourself in the civilisation and philosophy they have brought.’ Classic. So, according to cruzeiro, we would have remained savages, assuming we were savages before we were colonised, which he is obviously doing,1 had it not been for the ‘civilisation and philosophy’ brought to us Asians, Africans and Latin Americans by imperialism.

What deep insights the following statement from cruzeiro contains will take some deciphering, particularly as I have never associated myself with Islamist sectarianism and have declared I write from a secularist internationalist perspective, he writes, “You'll successfully prove the "purity" of the Islamist sectarianism and isolationism in Europe (ones who cannot assimilate), while you bedevil the worldwide military and economic domination of the "west".” What the hell do you mean?

26/09 17:30:07

Shahidan wrote:

And to cap it all, here is another gem from cruzeiro, totally ignoring my challenge to provide proof of any Muslim nation attacking the West and establishing military bases there. Instead of a rational response, he launches into a mindless diatribe, as he writes, “Never mind what I say, man- just keep calling me names, or you could launch a"jihad" while you bay for blood like your counterparts worldwide (and you want proof? You must be very "intelligent"!).” Cruzeiro keeps on harping about all Muslims ‘baying for blood’ worldwide and yet is unable to give proof of any miliary attacks against the West, terrorist groups notwithstanding. At least two million non-combatant Iraqis have been killed by the civilised US and its allies since the first Gulf War. It is the West that has launched wars against nations with majority Muslim populations, yet, the likes of Cruzeiro think it is Muslims who are the aggressors. Such is the power of propaganda.

26/09 17:31:10

cruzeiro wrote:

Yes, Shahidan, Yes.
Whatever lah - have it your way .....
and yes, you can go on calling names.

26/09 17:55:10

cruzeiro wrote:

Jovan - what was that about rats again?

26/09 18:00:14

Shahidan wrote:

Cruzeiro wrote, "Yes, Shahidan, Yes.
Whatever lah - have it your way .....
and yes, you can go on calling names."

You condemn hundreds of millions of Muslims and have the gall to complain about being called names?

26/09 18:10:25

cruzeiro wrote:

Who's complaining?
Who condemned anybody?
You having a fever or something?
Okaylah - have it your way .....

26/09 18:25:51

cruzeiro wrote:

Dr. Sa’d Bin Tefia, a journalist and the former Minister of Information in Kuwait, recently wrote an excellent article in which he posed the question: “Where are the Fatwas Against bin Laden?” In his article he compared the lack of a fatwa against bin Laden to the fatwa that called for the killing of Salman Rushdie. He concluded his article by saying:

But let us put aside the [subject of the] fatwa. Have any protests been held condemning bin Laden’s actions in any of the Islamic capital cities? Perhaps there were some that demonstrated in his favor. The [Muslim] satellite stations competed amongst themselves in broadcasting his sermons and fatwas, instead of preventing their dissemination as they did in the case of Rushdie’s book. Have we earmarked a reward for anyone who kills bin Laden as we did for anyone who kills Rushdie on account of his book? With our equivocal stance on bin Laden we from the very start left the world with the impression that we are all bin Laden.

Only when such self-critical voices are heard more often in the Arab world will the problem of radical Islamism and terrorism be seriously confronted. Until then, the insurgency in Iraq will continue to serve the Islamists, who unfortunately benefit from increasing support from Arab Muslim youngsters who are attracted to the apocalyptic nature of the radical Islamist discourse that preaches Global Jihad.

26/09 18:27:00

Shahidan wrote:

Cruzeiro, there are more than 700 US military bases around the globe, many of which are in oil producing Muslim majority countries. Why do you insist Muslims are the aggressors? If you believe they are indeed the aggressors, why do you not give proof as to which Muslim country has attacked the US or its Western allies and established military bases there, say, in the last 100 years?

During the last 100 years, almost all the Muslim countries have been attacked and subjugated by the West. Millions of people have been killed through these imperialist adventures. Yet, you and your fellow bigots keep insisting that the Muslims are the aggressors. You keep spewing the hate site materials on MT. Why don't you do yourself a favour and widen your reading, don't restrict your reading to the hate sites. Ask suv, he will be able to help you widen your sources of reading.

I have not read anything posted by you in which you condemn your colonial master's aggression around the globe, I stand to be corrected in case I have missed such a posting by you. On the contrary, you seem to believe that they brought civilisation to these countries, which were in fact already civilised.

26/09 19:02:34

cruzeiro wrote:

Dear Shahidan,
I'm making a last ditch attempt at trying to "communicate" with you.

What you have repeatedly brought up is the issue of conventional war, which is quite different from the issue at hand.

The problem with the inability of the Muslim communities to assimilate to Western or any other foreign society, is the "ideological war" that they have chosen to wage against the prevailing societies. Not the conventional war that is taking place elsewhere.

This is further worsened by the "theological glamour" that is associated with isolationism and hostility that is practised in many Muslim immigrant communities.

This has led to the stagnation and regression in the evolution of the "Islamist" mindset.

There have been many communities worldwide that have suffered the same fate as Muslim countries in the past - but they have progressed and moved on without playing the victim and taking it to their new homelands.

As I have illustrated in the case of Hindu vs Muslim members of the Indian diaspora, peaceful integration and assimilation into western societies can be as easy or difficult as one would want it to be.

The conflict arises when smaller communities try to assert their influence in a prevailing societies in an "unwelcome manner" without really understanding, but demanding that they be understood.

I shall cut and paste an excerpt from the book "Current Trends in Islamist Ideology" Vol.II. You may draw your own conclusions

If you still do not see the point the westerner (and many others) is concerned about, I rest my case and would just let it be.

26/09 21:36:48

cruzeiro wrote:

IT IS COMMONLY SAID THAT THE WEST HAS EMERGED as a key battleground in the war of ideas with radical Islam. Some even say, perhaps with a little exaggeration, that the West is today the primary theater of ideological conflict. This analysis expresses both a fear and a hope.

The obvious fear is that various ideological forces—emanating from abroad, but also from within the West itself—will conspire to radicalize portions of the Western Muslim population, resulting in a range of possible threats to the future of European and American democracy, from political challenges like the growth of “parallel societies” to the related security threat of “homegrown jihad.” Such threats are clear and present, as the September 11 attacks, which were piloted by Muslims radicalized in Europe, and most recently, the bombings in the UK, carried out by British-born jihadis who received their ideological indoctrination in the mosques and prayer circles of “Londonistan,” have each demonstrated. They are also threats that are here to stay for as long as radical ideology continues to hold even the slightest sway over the minds of Western Muslims.

The hope is that Western Muslims will develop an Islamic solution to radicalism, one that combines religious fidelity with an allegiance to the principles, institutions, and sovereignty of liberal democratic government. This solution—a “European Islam” or “American Islam,” as many have called it—would serve as an ideological bulwark against both internal and external sources of extremist ideology. Some speculate it might even provide a moderate and democratic alternative to extremism that could, in time, be “exported” to the strongholds of radical Islam in the wider world.

With so much at stake, the future of Western Islam has been the subject of much discussion in recent years. Surely, many Western Muslims have come forward against radicalism to defend their countries and their faith. It is also clear that the majority of European and American Muslims simply seek to live and worship freely, and to participate, in their own unique way, as equal citizens in the life of Western democracies. And yet, progress toward the development of a politically moderate and well-organized Western Islam has met with stiff resistance from Islamists abroad as well as from within the West itself.

Within the West, resistance has largely come from two separate and often deeply conflicting strains of ideological Islam—that of the Salafists, and that of the mainstream or “Wassatiyya” Islamism of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. The differences between these two Islamisms are several, but perhaps foremost are the disparate ways in which they interpret the Sharia and how this, in turn, structures their respective attitudes toward assimilation and citizenship in the West.

26/09 21:37:39

cruzeiro wrote:

The Salafists adhere to a “literalist” interpretation of Islamic scripture and to a political theology that views Muslims in the West as travelers in enemy territory, a realm they variously speak of as a “Land of Kufr” or as a “Land of War.” Some Western-based Salafist groups openly espouse jihad, whereas others, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, concentrate on ideological activities, believing that fulfillment of the religious duty of jihad should be postponed until the day when their numbers are sufficient enough for a full offensive. They reject all participation in the life of Western societies; for them, the unity of the Muslim Nation is paramount, and any Muslim who endeavors to divide it—religiously or politically—is guilty of apostasy, that unforgivable Islamic sin.

In contrast to the Salafists, mainstream Islamists have followed a more conciliatory course in their dealings with the West. Nowadays, this stream is commonly associated with its most prominent spokesperson, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Qatar-based Egyptian Sunni cleric, popular Al Jazeera preacher, and reputed spiritual steward of the International Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi describes his faith doctrine, “Wassatiyya,” a broad intellectual movement that emerged with Egypt’s “New Islamists” in the 1990s, as a “middle way” between rejection of Islam and extremism.

Ideologically speaking, the Wassatiyya movement is rooted deeply in the Salafist thought of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and his teachings on the “wholesomeness of Islam,” which holds that Sharia must dominate every realm of human activity and thought, from culture to politics. Unlike the Salafists, however, the Wassatiyya scholars emphasize the use of ijtihad, or discernment in Sharia matters independent of what is literally prescribed in Islamic scripture. As a result, Wassatiyya jurisprudence reflects a certain modernist orientation, one that has allowed its adherents to adopt a much more pragmatic approach to the task of assimilating to the realities of life in Western democracies. It has also allowed a certain intellectual creativity to develop within Wassatiyya circles, which has included, among other things, a revaluation of the traditional Islamic concept of the West as a Land of War. Instead, based on the idea that Islam is a universal message, available and open to all, the Wassatiyya Islamists speak of the West as a realm for Islamic proselytizing, or as a land of the religious call, a “Land of Dawa.”

26/09 21:37:52

cruzeiro wrote:

If it interests you, for further reading, you may visit

26/09 21:39:55

cruzeiro wrote:

It is very difficult, when one is unable to differentiate between theology, religion, culture and politics.

The problem here is that of culture and politics - not theology or religion.

The whole issue is often sidetracked into religion, and becomes "explosive" and "sensitive" to the defensive party.

Due to "social norms" those who often take the route of religion as a defensive mechanism often end up instantaneously irrational and amazingly stupid however educated they are - no matter which religion it may be.

This has been a problem for a very long time with various schools of thought.

Good night.

26/09 21:56:43

FFT wrote:

Ah...and what I said previously in another Farish Noor column is reinforced.

We are all blessed with a bountiful supply of Farish's who seek to lecture the West on interacting with Islam and Muslims in a "civilized" manner.....a wise choice, for if Farish and his ilk were to actually lecture the Muslims on behaving in a less erratic manner, there may be an all-around losing of heads on both sides. One figuratively, the other literally.

Therein lies the real problem with Islam and Muslims.

26/09 22:09:36

batsman wrote:

Dear Cruzeiro - Regarding the "Indian diaspora" let me quote another example. Some time ago a Malaysian Indian living in Britain condemned the Muslims immmigrants for not assimilating into Britain and becoming more British. This is the same hypocrite who complained loudly of being made 2nd class citizens in Malaysia and the inability of the constitution to protect Indian rights. Can you see the stinking rank hypocrisy here? Refusing to assimilate into Malaysian society and then condemning others for not wanting to assimilate into British society? Such a person is just a stinking piece of white man's turd. I hope you are not the same type.

26/09 23:29:52

shardik wrote:

Cruzeiro wrote, "Yes, Shahidan, Yes.
Whatever lah - have it your way .....
and yes, you can go on calling names."
DPM Najib in a previous furore with regards to Malaysia-Today has been quoted by MggPillai as having said:

`Dato' Seri Najib kicked the ball first to insist to insist none should openly debate if Muslims could slander the followers of other religions`

27/09 10:02:38

cruzeiro wrote:

Refusing to assimilate into Malaysian society and then condemning others for not wanting to assimilate into British society?

Dear batsman,
White man's turd or not, you've made a grave error in your comparison.

My comparison was between the hindus and muslims of the Indian diaspora, and the different levels of integration of the same ethnic group into a society.

The comparison with Malaysia is grossly inadequate and improper.

In Malaysia, we have the white man's turd (as you call it) practicing a "divide and rule" policy, with a Never Ending Policy with an "Islamisation" policy for the benefit of the elite - all while hoodwinking their own people.

People of other races are prevented from integration via "policies" designed for polarisation, so as to play one against the other.

Whatever said and done, these communities that you claim did not integrate into Malaysian society, have contributed immensely to the prosperity and well-being.

This can hardly be a claim made by the communities in Europe/ UK that you so "defend" for their inadequacies, despite the abundant opportunities to do so.

These opportunities might be sorely lacking (in comparison) in this great nation of ours, if you would care to take a closer look!

Now I hope you see where the turd that stinks is, my friend!

27/09 10:55:55

SKC wrote:

To All,
Hey don't any of you people get sick of all the above, we here in MT has gone countless round, on this issue, and everyone is more or less still saying the same thing, again and again, is all your faith so weak that u need to bash others just to justify your own. And please do not tell me you are defending yours from being bash, because I only see bashing all over the place, almost no constructive statement at all. Sad day, when most of us has degenerate to this stage.

27/09 10:59:56

cruzeiro wrote:

Dear SKC,
If "bashing" the attitudes of a certain group of people, who are hostile towards the established social-political systems and norms in their newly found land of freedom and opportunity, is an attack on the religion of Islam - I'm guilty as charged, and I apologize.

27/09 11:18:20

SKC wrote:

Dear cruzeiro,
It is not me u need to apologize to, if apology is needed at all.
I was just hopping more Malaysian will wake up and concentrate on the right issue.
feeling very depressed today, any way good day to you.

27/09 11:34:58

cruzeiro wrote:

Why depressed?
Life is good, and we can only try to make it better.
Would love to help you out (with prozac/ xanax if necessary!) - but online susahlah.

BTW, do I even need to apologize for commenting on attitudes? I seriously doubt it .... attitudes don't make the religion - the reverse is possible, though - and I never commented on that!

27/09 11:47:03

batsman wrote:

Dear Cruzeiro - You feel discriminated against and forced to give up what you hold near and dear in Malaysia, but you don't allow Muslims to feel the same way in Britain. Instead blaming them for not trying to assimilate. If you don't understand assimilation by now, it may just be you are just hypocritical by nature. Read about how Indians treat Muslims in India and try to absolve your conscience.

27/09 12:13:35

cruzeiro wrote:

Once again, batsman - you reasons are weak at best, and your reasons, flawed.

The circumstances are very different - the opportunities are sorely lacking in Malaysia, when compared to Britain.

As far as India is concerned, I know very well how things are, as I have lived among both communities there. What you read may not be entirely true - in fact I can vouch for the fact that the vast majority of Muslims in India are happy for not having "crossed-over" to Islamic Pakistan!

Hope you realize that major problem among the Muslims in India has been brought upon them by their very own "leaders" - hope you read this part of the article that you refer to -

Consequently, rabble rousers claiming to represent the community have thrust themselves to the fore.

To be true, mass migration during partition robbed the community of potential leaders - most Muslim civil servants, teachers, doctors and professionals crossed over.

But the failure to throw up credible leaders has meant low community participation in the political processes and government - of the 543 MPs in India's lower house of parliament, only 36 are Muslims.

Also, as Ramachandra Guha says, the "vicissitudes of India-Pakistan relations and Pakistan's treatment of its minorities" ensured that Muslims remained a "vulnerable" community.

Now tell me - who's hypocritical?

27/09 12:29:44

menteri wrote:

Maybe the religion, in its present form, is not compatible with principles of freedom and democracy. Twenty-first century believers have two options: we can continue the barbaric policies of the seventh century perpetuated by Hassan al-Banna, Abdullah Azzam, Yassir Arafat, Ruhollah Khomeini, Osama bin Laden, Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, Hizballah, Hamas, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, etc., leading to a global war between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, or we can reform the religion to keep our rich cultural heritage and to cleanse our religion from the reviled relics of the past.

Or maybe we should no longer allow extremists to use our religion as a weapon and carry out all the stupidities. We must protect our future generations from being brainwashed by the radicals. If we do not stop the spread of fundamentalism, our children will become homicidal zombies.

27/09 16:07:28

cruzeiro wrote:

The topic was about Islam and not Muslim.



I'm so glad that you said that - Herein lies the problem!

I believe you are mistaken - the topic was never about Islam, and it was only you and those who are "defensive" who think it is.

It is and always has been about MUSLIMS!

The whole discussion becomes "stupid" when you think it is about Islam.

Yes menteri,
Many Muslims must learn to live with the times and adapt to society, instead of crying foul when they are having a better deal as a minority in a foreign land when compared to their places of origin.

Likewise, we non-malays here, appreciate what we have even when we fight for the betterment of our beautiful nation when we peacefully express our discontent about wasteful and myopic economic policies of the Government.

Defending the State against the Government's impropriety should never be misconstrued as "unpatriotic".

In fact it is the highest form of patriotism.

27/09 16:43:14

batsman wrote:

Dear Cruzeiro - Wow! Making your own pronouncements and taking them as factual truth - undeniable immense ego. Comparing Britain and Malaysia merely by number of opportunities - sucking up to wealth. Ignoring Paki-bashing, Jack Straw's position on the hijab, Tony Blair's position on "English" values, isolation of Muslims into slums through policy of multi-culturalism, etc - prejudice and tendency to shut both eyes to the truth. Excusing discrimination of Muslims in India with invented stories - speaking with forked tongue. You really have some serious character problems, don't you???

27/09 16:53:08

menteri wrote:

Can there be no discussion on Islam
that’s STUPID???

27/09 17:00:30

batsman wrote:

BTW Cruzeiro - Can you answer this question on behalf of your English masters - why if they celebrate the Sikhs wearing their turbans can they not tolerate Muslim women wearing the hijab?

27/09 17:00:39

NCantona wrote:

Well..thanks for pin pointing my mistake Cruizeiro.....

So wat...y are we always blaming it onto a religion. I'm a non-muslim but I have no grudge against Islam or Muslims.

If you say Muslims are terorrist, even Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and all other people from other religioins also are terrorists.

As I said it, religion is never a problem. Is the people who is the problem? The problem with us is we see everything from the view point of religion or race. Just look at teh criminal as a normal being and find the problem. That is civil law.

Mother Theresa is a Christian but she isn't a terrorist. Bush is Christian too but i'm assured all of you would say he's a terrorist. So because of Bush is a terrorist you can't say all the Chrstians are bad.

Same goes to Islam or Muslim. As far as i know, we are still showing the same shallow mind set. The way they practice or the behaviour the practicioner shows has a very heavy implication on that religion. And when they do it, in the name of religion, it turns uglier.

27/09 17:04:38

batsman wrote:

menteri - very obviously great emotions are involved and great many things are at stake. If prejudice and denigration is a prelude to violent aggression or genocide in Europe, then great emotions are naturally involved.

In Malaysia, given the problems we have there cannot be a solution without all the races giving ground in some way. If power is to be shared which I think we all support, it must be made damned sure that power held by each racial group will not be used to break the country apart. We are just hammering and whacking away to ensure that all the rough edges are ironed out and each accept the other without disgust and prejudice. I love you brother Cruzeiro! hehehehe

27/09 17:12:18

cruzeiro wrote:

You're a cheeky one, aren't you? I'm beginning to like your style .... don't worry - I'm straight!

I have never denied the existence of "prejudice" - be very certain about that.

In India, Europe, US or even in Timbuktu.

If you want to compare, of course we can.

The fact however remains that these so called "prejudice" far greater in many an "Islamic" nation. In fact many immigrant Muslims (mostly first generation) who claim these "ill-treatment" (and rightfully so) do not enjoy the same level of liberty or quality of life as in their countries of origin.

Pardon me for quoting "my European Masters" (as you claim they are), but why don't these Muslim nations that support the "Islamic" rights, practice "reciprocity"? Why don't you fight for "reciprocity"? Only hypocrites don't - and most "Islamic Nations" don't! So what's stopping them? Islam?

No, my friend - it's Muslims, politics and their prejudice towards people that they have been indoctrinated to believe, to be less than human. Have you taken a look at the Saudi education curriculum? It's disgusting - children are taught that Jews are apes and Christians are swine! That too at a very tender age!

Don't for a minute doubt that these "stories" of persecution in Islamic countries are fabricated - exaggerated maybe. Why is it that many Muslims choose to live in denial of this fact? Are Muslims so blinded by the indoctrination that all Muslims cannot be anything, but righteous?

I wouldn't bother to even start speaking of the persecution that all religious minorities are subjected to in many "Islamic" nations.

These are not only other religious minorities only that we speak about - even their level of tolerance for different sects and "dissent" within Islam, leaves much to be desired. Go to Hudson.org (forget the "Islamophobe" websites), and see what I mean.

At the end of the day, it is a culture of intolerance that seeks refuge and justification in scripture, which is a problem. And the American hegemony has increased its popularity among the unthinking young - thus feeding the "Islamophobe" sentiments. Unwittingly, they have played into the hands of "the enemy" and facilitated the "enemy's" actions! And when you resort to defending the irrational actions of "extremists" in the name of "muslim brotherhood" , you too have unwittingly played the apologist for the extremists, and fallen victim to their "religious propaganda".

Remember batsman - it ISN'T about Islam - it IS about the culture of intolerance and reactionary violence among Muslims that is under attack.

You speak of turbans - well I'm sure they have no problems with that ......
The hijab, is entirely another matter - to allow for that, the Muslims in general, would have to first win the trust of the larger community. But no! They demand it while threatening violence! Is that reasonable?

I wonder if you just intend to quote the writer, or you're making a statement.
The problem is, most of these discussions aren't really about Islam - it's about emerging/ politicised "Muslim culture" which has difficulty in adjusting with the times.

It very often gets sidetracked by the defensive, angry and insecure Muslim, and becomes "stupid"!

There is nothing in Islam that prevents Muslims from being reasonable - it is only those with ulterior motives that seek to convince people otherwise.

With that, I rest my case.

Thank you guys - you've been great!

27/09 19:29:31

SKC wrote:

Ahhhhhhhhh at least this article has reach a bright note, I have enjoy all your discussion from 27th 1100hr's onwards. This has make me feel a lot better, there is hope for Malaysia yet.

28/09 09:47:33

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