Monday, 21 January 2008

The Myth of Secularism

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The Myth of Secularism:
Religion and Politics are Mutually Constitutive

M. A. Muqtedar Khan

Had Allah willed He could have made you all one community? But He made you as you are (diverse) as a test. So vie one with another in good works. Unto Allah you will all return, and He will then inform you of the meaning of differences within you.
[Quran 5:48].

Identity and Politics are Inseparable

As a Muslim intellectual living in the West, researching and teaching political theory and political philosophy, I have always marveled at the durability of the idea of secularism. For a civilization that boasts considerable sophistication in most areas, to assume that politics and religion constitute two separate realms or that the two can be separated is uncharacteristically naïve. This belief, not in separation of church and state, but in the separability of church and State, in my opinion is one of the enduring myths of modernity. This myth rests on the false assumptions of pure politics and pure religion. Secularism is a device that seeks to protect religion from the corruption of politics and politics from becoming usurped by religion.

All core issues are not only normative in nature but also impinge on individual and collective identities. Neither the conception of the individual self nor the construction of the collective self is free from political or religious considerations. Even in societies that were anti-religious such as the former Soviet Union and present day China, or more secular than the US, such as France and Turkey, religion remained an important political issue and politics shaped the way religion was practiced. Christianity played a significant role in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and Islamists found a way to come to power in secular fundamentalist Turkey. The place of religious symbols in public sphere, whether it is Hijaab (Muslim headscarf) in French public schools or the Ten Commandments in American courts, remains contested primarily because there is no consensus on the exclusion of religion from public sphere anywhere.

Not only does religion play a role in politics, but politicization of religion is also a common occurrence. Notice how some Republicans are relishing the idea of taking Howard Dean to cleaners, if he were to become the democratic nominee in the coming Presidential elections, by painting him as an advocate of gay marriages. This would be a clear case of exploiting religious sentiments (that marriage is a divine institution) for political gains. I have noticed that often, American politicians try to couch their religious motivations in secular terms while advocating specific policies. A very good example is the unyielding support for Israel and Israel’s occupation of West Bank and Gaza among certain Republican politicians with evangelical connections. While they support it for Biblical reasons they justify it by arguing that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East.” I often wonder if their support for Israel will stop if Israel became less democratic, or it can be shown that some people within its borders do not enjoy basic democratic rights?

In the Muslim world on the contrary, legitimacy comes from Islam and therefore many politicians justify material motivations using Islamic cover. While religious politicians in the West often use secular discourse for legitimacy, Muslim politicians deliberately Islamize mundane issues for the same reason. Notice the Islamization of Saddam Hussein’s rhetoric in the first Gulf War. Religion in the West lacks legitimacy in the public sphere and must therefore be concealed, in the Muslim World all legitimacy derives from Islam hence Islam is used as a justification for politics.

There are two reasons why religion and politics are intertwined. The first is the increasing use of complex discourses for the purpose of legitimization. Today all politicians seem to follow the Machiavellian dictum – it is not important to be just, it is important to be seen to be just – and therefore politicians and political parties and regimes produce discourses to legitimize their goals and strategies. It is in the production of these discourses that religion either underpins political logic are camouflages politic motivations, depending upon the cultural context.

The second reason and perhaps the most important reason why religion will always play a role in crucial issues is the important role that religion plays in identity formation. All political issues that are important eventually affect individual and collective identity and in the process trigger religious sentiments. As long as religion plays a role in the identities of people, it will play a role in politics.

Self-Restraint or Constitutional Limits

Both Governor Mario Cuomo and Congressman Mark Souder link religion with private and public morality. They both agree that it is difficult for a believer to divest herself of her religious values while also serving in a public capacity. However, it is interesting to see how each of them uses separate mechanisms to limit the impact of religion in public policy. Governor Cuomo argues that politicians must exercise self-restraint and only allow those religious values that are universal in nature to influence their politics and abstain from allowing particularist values to shape their agenda. Congressman Souder rejects the notion of a natural God and common religious values by suggesting that the uncommon is more important than common ground between religions. This is an interesting contrast between identity and difference. Cuomo seeks to overcomes differences by seeking the identity of all faiths while Souder celebrates difference in search of identity.

What if they do agree upon some basic issues, what if the Christian Coalition does manage to construct a broad coalition to deprive Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism the same legal protections as Christianity (for example in England blasphemy laws protect Jesus but not Muhammad)? When Muslims repeatedly requested President Bush to condemn anti-Islam (Islamophoebia)[i] bigotry from prominent Christian figures such as Rev. Pat Robertson, Rev. Franklin Graham, and Rev. Jerry Falwell, the President hedged for weeks, because these individuals have a large following that translates directly into political power at the ballot and in campaign fund raising.

In an era when religious minorities in America are becoming extremely nervous about the relations between Christian Right and the Republican establishment which controls both the White House and the Congress, a plain, unequivocal statement -- “we will not impose Christian beliefs on non-Christians,” – would have gone a long way. Congressman Souder makes the point that as a Christian politician he is conscientious enough to fulfill his constitutional obligations. He will abide by the constitution since he has sworn to protect and abide by it. After listening to Governor Cuomo’s eloquent argument for self-restrain, I wish someone had asked Congressman Souder would he self-consciously abstain from advocating the amendment of the constitution to make his religious beliefs the law of the land. In a democracy what stands between minority rights and majority domination are constitutional guarantees, which are themselves at the mercy of good intentions of the majority.

The Muslim World today is experiencing deeply divisive and traumatic religious resurgence. This is not a venue to discuss them, but I think it is important to draw an interesting parallel that is prompted by Congressman Souder’s claim that his faith is a worldview. The Islamists too make this claim. They argue that Islam is not a religion, it is a worldview and they even compared it to other ideologies and worldviews such as capitalism and communism. Islamists’ have penned tons of books comparing Islam with communism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism and democracy to prove that Islam not only has something to say about every aspect of life, but also whatever it may have to say on any subject is necessarily superior to what other ideologies have to say on the same subject. This for them is an article of faith. Claims about religious creeds as an all-encompassing worldview have the potential to blossom into totalitarian ideologies.

The two politicians demonstrate contrasting models. Governor Cuomo is a model of statesmanship as he chooses wisdom over parochialism and seeks to exercise self-restraint on personal beliefs in search of common public values. In doing so he chose to become a generic religious politician and not just a Catholic politician. Congressman Souder on the other hand is a model of citizenship where his commitment to the US constitution proscribes the role of his religion in politics. But his view that his faith is a worldview and a true worldview, including those elements that question the authenticity of other faiths, places the constitution in jeopardy. I fear that his citizenship will prompt him to uphold the constitution, but his Christianity will compel him to change the constitution whenever possible to accommodate his beliefs. The statesman will always be the ally of religious minorities in pluralist democracies, but the Christian citizen is an imminent threat to constitutional guarantees of freedom from religions.

Islam and the Political Sphere

O humanity! We have indeed created you from one man and one woman, and have made you into various nations and tribes so that you may know one another
[Quran 49:13].

And let there be amongst you a group of people who invite to goodness, encouraging that which is right and forbidding that which is wrong; it is they who are the successful
[Quran 3:104].

The two verses from the Quran cited above and the one with which I began this chapter make two important points: 1). Diversity is a consequence of divine designs and 2). Muslims have an ethical role to play in the public sphere. The verses 3:104 in the opinion of some Muslims scholars is a Quranic call for political parties to emerge and play a normative role in the public sphere. I have argued that the mission of Islam/Muslims in the West can be to become the moral conscience of free societies. The objective of Muslim participation in Western, particularly American politics should be to encourage what is right and forbid what is wrong rather than seeking to advance the geopolitical agendas of the Muslim World.[ii]

Islamic sources recognize racial and ethnic and even religious differences and advocate a culture of inclusion and equality. However, there are also sources that lend themselves to exclusivist politics. Consider the following verses:

Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and do good deeds, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve (Quran 2:62 and 5:69).

And if one seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from him; and he is among the losers in the Hereafter (Quran 3:85).

Today liberal and radical Muslims are divided over which of the above two verses should determine Muslim relations with other faith communities. The first verse is inclusive and clearly indicates that those who are good people have nothing to worry. And if one treats the word “and” as separating sets of people, Muslims and Christians… and those who do good deeds, one could even argue that atheists who do good deeds, such as stand up for justice, help the poor etc, may have nothing to fear. This status of fundamental moral equality of all people can become the basis for political equality in a multicultural, multi-religious society.

But radical Muslims who believe that only Islam has the Truth and only good Muslims are good people, rely on 3:85 exclusively arguing that it is not only the ultimate source for defining Muslim-non-Muslim relations but also abrogates both 2:62 and 5:69. Some Muslim leaders in Dallas, Texas now object to my speaking there because I once rejected this idea of abrogation of Quranic sources that radicals do not like by arguing that, the only reason why God repeated 2:62 in 5:69 was to ensure that bigots did not use 3:85 to annul 2:62. How can one verse abrogate two verses from the same sources was my point. Muslims must realize that not only does Islam influence politics, but politics too shapes what Islam is.

Today Islam has once again become the ethical language of the Muslim World. Islam will not only guide Muslim public discourse but also Muslim conception of what is ethical politics. The Iraqis today have managed to make President Bush an advocate of Islamic democracy. European Muslims are making sure that Europe’s foreign policy balances US’ pro-Israeli stance in the Middle East. As Muslims become a political force in America, they will most certainly seek to redefine the role of religion in American politics. I only hope that an inclusivist rather than an exclusivist understanding of Islam shapes American Muslim politics. I hope 2:62 prevails over 3:85 and that Muslims seek to emulate Governor Cuomo and not Congressman Souder.

Final Thoughts

The reason why the myth of secularism is so precious to modernity is not its potential to separate religion and politics but its potential to advance a framework for dealing with religious diversity under conditions of unequal power. In perfectly homogenous societies, it does not matter if the state is influenced by religion or not. It is only when there are other faith communities, or other interpretations of the same faith that the state can become an instrument of religious oppression in the hands of the majority. But religion disguised as national interest or secular reason can play havoc with minority rights.

As religion becomes more assertive, and religious zealots become more adept at “playing the system” then constitutional guarantees become meaningless if even the constitution of the Supreme Court can be rigged. In the modern West, the best examples of freedom and protection of religious minorities has come under the reign of secular democracies, in the Muslim experience the same has happened under the reign of Islam. Today as all religions experience revivals we must find a ways to guarantee religious freedom without proscribing the scope of religion. Ultimately the plight of the minorities is at the mercy of those who are enlightened among the majority and are willing to break ranks with their kind to stand up for equality and justice for all. Systems are safe only as long as we strive everyday to keep them safe.

M. A. Muqtedar Khan is a Visiting Fellow at Brookings Institution and Director of International Studies at Adrian College. He is also a fellow at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding. He is the author of American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom (2002) and Jihad for Jerusalem: Identity and Strategy in International Politics (2004). He writes and maintains

Posted January 01, 2004


[i] Muslims hope that one day this word will become as powerful as the term anti-Semitism in calling attention to prejudice.

[ii] See M. A. Muqtedar Khan, American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom (Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications, 2002).


  1. Islam does not tolerate diversity which is essential for progress. In fact amongst its own followers it has successfully EXCLUDED Muslims such as women,the Ahmediyas, etc. It has also alienated others on the fringes like the Christians, Bahais, Jews - often ot its own detriment. Unless Islam is willing to live and let live, it and its followers will remain mired in their miserable condition. And it will servie Islam and Muslims right.

  2. Not quite sure what you mean by being a self-confessed 'muslim intellectual'. Surely these terms are mutually exclusive, indeed wholly incompatible?

    Perhaps you mean you are an intellectual who writes about Islam? How is it possible to be an 'intellectual,' a condition that one presumes is dependent upon the intellect - intelligence, reason, empiricism - whereas being a Muslim (please substitute for any religion from a belief in Taoism to a belief in the Tooth Fairy) is dependent upon the wilful suppression of the intellect.

    The world would be a much better place if we could divorce knowledge from belief. I really don't care what people 'believe' (providingt they keep it to themselves) but it is a real insult to human intelligence to take seriously any/all belief systems for which there isn't a single, substantive piece of evidence!

    Sorry, but my tolerance for 'religious' folk has decreased markedly as I've grown older and seen the damage done to young minds and to society as a whole by the ignorant ravings of the self-righteous.

  3. The true image and practice of Islam is not what the few Muslim intelligensia say or portray. It is what the masses of muslims say and do.

    Many of the muslim intelligensia are moderate because of the influence of western ideas and education.

    The true face of Islam is seen in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia.

    Especailly Saudi Arabia, it shows the true picture of Islam, intolerance of others.

    All the sweet talk by the so called Muslim Intelligensia of the goodness of Islam and its moderate stand is just excuses and whitewash , cook up to fool the non muslims

  4. From the Land Of Islam Hadhari:

    A PROJECT to build South-east Asia’s longest bridge in Penang has stumbled over disputes between its Malaysian and Chinese contractors and a legal suit that could embarrass Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s government.


    In case anyone noticed, right after the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister said last week’s rally was indicative of investors’ confidence in our economy, it’s been a bloodbath at the KLSE.

    Some joker even said our economy won’t be affected by the downturn in the US.

    “We’re in panic territory,” said Patrick Chang, who helps manage $4.5 billion at CIMB-Principal Asset Management Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur. (Quoted in Bloomberg News

  5. The PM of Malaysia who introduced Islam Hadhari is reported deeply influenced by Imam Al Ghazali.

    The eminent Islamic scholar W.M. Watt stresses Al-Ghazali’s Muslim orthodoxy. He says that Al-Ghazali was “acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after Muhammad, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity…He brought orthodoxy and mysticism into closer contact…the theologians became more ready to accept the mystics as respectable, while the mystics were more careful to remain within the bounds of orthodoxy.”

    Here is Al-Ghazali, evidently with no intention of departing either from Sufism or Muslim orthodoxy, writing about jihad war and the treatment of the vanquished non-Muslim dhimmi peoples:

    [O]ne must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them...If a person of the Ahl al-Kitab [People of The Book – primarily Jews and Christians] is enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked…One may cut down their trees...One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide...they may steal as much food as they need...

    [T]he dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle…Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]…on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]… They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells…their houses may not be higher than the Muslim’s, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle[-work] is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths…[dhimmis] must hold their tongue….

    (From the Wagjiz, written in 1101 A.D.)

  6. Islam is the only fideism that cannot face modern times because modern times demand an acceptance of change, not a reversion into superstitions and rigidly destructive dogmas presumed to be perfect and unchangeable.

    Everywhere else in the Universe and beyond has no such permanency possible. Hopes lay in change and not in the absence of it. Life and betterment of living conditions is only possible because of change.

  7. There is one hadith about the presumed "Lesser Jihad" and the "Greater Jihad."

    The trivial significance of this particular hadith has been carefully explained by Islamic theologians, including Al-Ghazali, who makes clear that the real Jihad is of course violent Jihad, to be directed against Infidels, not that "wrestling with one's conscience."

    Not a single Qur'anic commentator, not a single figure of significance in the whole 1350-year-history of Islam, has ever regarded Jihad as anything but the effort, using violence and other means, to spread Islam until it covers the globe.

  8. Al-Ghazali was also virulently misogynist, as in his Revival Of The Religious Sciences and the Book of the Counsel for Kings, which defines womens' "role," describes their guile, mischief, meanness, and immorality---and attributes their suffering to the treachery of Eve. Besides having to stay home "spinning," women could not stay informed, visit or talk to neighbors, and must satisfy their husbands "in everything," wear old clothes say prayers and fast.

    ...God on high has punished women...: "When Eve ate fruit which He had forbidden to her from the tree in Paradise, the Lord, be He praised, punished women with eighteen things: (1) menstruation; (2) childbirth; (3) separation from mother and father and marriage...; (4) pregnancy; (5) not having control over her[self]; (6) a lesser ...inheritance; (7) ...liability to be divorced and inability to divorce; (8) [allowing] men to have four wives, but for [women] to have only one husband; (9) ...stay[ing] secluded in the house; (10) ...keep[ing] her head covered inside...; (11) [requiring] two women's testimony ... [versus] testimony of one man; (12) ...not go[ing] out of the house unless accompanied by a near relative; (13) [letting] men take part in Friday and feast prayers and funerals, while women do not; (14) disqualification for rulership and judgeship; (15) [decreeing that merit ha[ve] one thousand components, only one ..attributable to women, while 999 are attributable to men...."

    In short, Al-Ghazali, like his contemporaries, deserves no reverence whatever. He was neither a "moderate," nor a saint.
    But Badawi is influenced by him. So it is also no wonder why Hishamuddin needs to wave the keris.

    Nor is it any wonder why UMNO are proud of the word `amok`.

  9. In short, Al-Ghazali sealed the fate of slam and set the stage for the clash of civilization.

  10. Guys,
    Let us not rush to whack Islam here, just becos the writer is writing from a Muslim's perspective.
    It isn't about Islam here! It's about the separation about church and state, which can never be complete.
    The issue is about "Secularism" and its true nature, as opposed to the myth (that many naive, "hardline", religious zealots oppose).
    What he's trying to say is the fact that Secularism is an administrative tool that can determine good governance, and it cannot neglect the religious beliefs (even if it is the tooth fairy religion) of the people.
    He also goes on to say that it is the one way that we can have a sustainable democracy, without the tyranny of the majority.
    While he applauds inclusiveness and deplores exclusivity, he underlines the need for religious philosophies to be taken into consideration in a secular constitution, so as to protect the minorities.
    It would really be unwise for one to get into an Islam-bashing frenzy with regard to this article, just becos it was given from a Muslim's perspective.
    It's about secularism - not Islam.

  11. Quoting Imam Al Ghazali is not Islam bashing. Wong Sulong has written in Islam Hadhari the way forward:

    Chapter Five sketches the socio-political and intellectual background leading to the emergence of al-Ghazzali al-Tusi (1058-1111), arguably the most influential scholar of Islam, and one who had a deep influence on Abdullah.

  12. Thanks for the info ....
    I'm pretty certain that I could quote quite a few influencial religious "philosophers" and bigots fromm all schools of thought as well.

    It is precisely what the writer speaks of, when he gives his reasons in support of secularism.

    Just becos he's a muslim, it doesn't render his very valid observation obsolete, does it?

  13. No it doesn`t. If anything it supports his assertion that:
    `As long as religion plays a role in the identities of people, it will play a role in politics.`

  14. "I'm pretty certain that I could quote quite a few influencial religious "philosophers" and bigots fromm all schools of thought as well."

    I`m sure we all could, and that is often used as a common line of defense.

    Yet, it is not bigotry when it is being practised is it. After all I have not read anywhere of the Jews practising death for apostasy, nor for that any other religion.
    In the Baba Nyonya Tahir case, the Syariah Court in S`ban was guide by Ibn Khaldun when it said that an apostate must be given 3 chances to recant failing which the apostate must be put to death.
    But since nyonya was dead, justice was served. Badawi called it a wise decision.
    Is that bigotry or what?

  15. I can still remember the headlines recently, when our PM states that Islam cannot be seperated from the governance of states and implored the west to understand Islam. What a biased statement. Islam Hadhari is just that- a lot of hot air and mumbo jumbo to make themselves feel good while they are secluded from the rapacious Western influence.

  16. A religion is at the root of the terrorism that we witness across the world today. All Religions originate from a psychiatric paranoia, based on a misunderstanding of the unknown universe as a god. This paranoia becomes a threat to civilization when a religion insists that everyone should accept that, the way in which this religion misunderstands the unknown universe as a god, is the ONLY right way (to misunderstand the universe!).

    Missionary religions are an infectious psychiatric paranoia and Violent Missionary religions are a criminally infectious psychiatric paranoia that threaten human civilization. While all religions are psychiatric paranoias, only Islam is a criminally infectious psychiatric paranoia.

  17. A story based on the Three Little Pigs has been turned down from a government agency’s annual awards because the subject matter could offend Muslims.

    The digital book, re-telling the classic fairy tale, was rejected by judges who warned that “the use of pigs raises cultural issues”.

    Becta, the government’s educational technology agency, is a leading partner in the annual schools award.

    The judges also attacked Three Little Cowboy Builders for offending builders.

  18. “All Religions originate from a psychiatric paranoia, based on a misunderstanding of the unknown universe as a god. This paranoia becomes a threat to civilization when a religion insists that everyone should accept that, the way in which this religion misunderstands the unknown universe as a god, is the ONLY right way (to misunderstand the universe!).

    Missionary religions are an infectious psychiatric paranoia and Violent Missionary religions are a criminally infectious psychiatric paranoia that threaten human civilization. While all religions are psychiatric paranoias, only Islam is a criminally infectious psychiatric paranoia.”

    That was very nice - and I really love it. The only problem is ..... people need this paranoia!

    I understand what you guys are saying, and I agree with most of it (not all) - but I believe that you've missed the point that I was trying to make.
    Will write more on this "dilemma next time.

  19. A story based on the Three Little Pigs has been turned down from a ......

    Really sad, isn't it - that they could find the creation of the very God they worship to be offensive ....

  20. Call religion a psychosis if you must - in a sense, it really is.

    Whatever said and done, it has to be acknowledged that religion does provide us with a "point of reference", a "higher ideal" - which is used as a guide to "morality" and "good and bad".
    Such a thing does not exist in Atheistic philosophies or for that matter, "Secularism". As such, it becomes a necessity by default. (Hope you understand what I'm trying to illustrate here).

    Even if all religions are just bullshit, "the people" still need it to channel all their frustrations.

    And no matter how much we bash it, we cannot neglect the fact that religion has to be taken into account while practicing secularism.
    Religion manifests itself in the peoples' culture (even if they choose to deny it), and as such unavoidable.

    Even the French revolution and Marxism failed to kill its (you may call it "God") hold on the human psyche.

    As someone said (Voltaire, was it?), "Even if there were no God, we need to create it for man" - or something like that.

    The way I look at it, most secularists, agnostics, liberals and atheists, are quite frustrated with the increasing manifestation "narrow" interpretations of religion with the mood of "revivalism" and discontent worldwide - and Islam definitely does "take the cake", with the publicity and "appeal" among Muslims that it gets these days.
    This is made worse by politicians masquerading as "clerics" (or vice versa).

    It is true that many faithful are blinded by religious rhetoric and seek theocratic governments/ justice as a cure for their "emptiness" and "illnesses" - not based on facts, but infantile "faith" in clerics (not religion or God, mind you).

    This is the dilemma that the writer seeks to address - nothing more.

  21. An anthropologist, Salzman begins by sketching out the two patterns of rule that historically have dominated the Middle East: tribal autonomy and tyrannical centralism. The former pattern, he argues, is distinctive to the region and key to understanding it. Tribal self-rule is based on what Salzman calls balanced opposition, a mechanism whereby those Middle Easterners living in deserts, mountains, and steppes protect life and limb by relying on their extended families.

    This immensely intricate and subtle system boils down to (1) each person counting on paternal relatives (called agnates) for protection and (2) equal-sized units of agnates confronting each other. Thus, a nuclear family faces off against another nuclear family, a clan faces a clan, and so on, up to the meta-tribal level. As the well-known Middle Eastern adage sums up these confrontations, "I against my brother, I and my brothers against my cousins, I and my brothers and my cousins against the world."

  22. Link:

  23. "I against my brother, I and my brothers against my cousins, I and my brothers and my cousins against the world."

    Yes - that pretty much sums up "arabism" and tribalism - truth doesn't fit in the equation.

    Very often it also sums up the attitude of the "faithful" in many religions, where the clerics are almost god-like in stature, even when they are plain uneducated and dumb.

    Therein lies the argument for secularism!

  24. `where the clerics are almost god-like in stature, even when they are plain uneducated and dumb`.

    As Amil Imani put it:

    As a true parasite, a Mullah’s very survival depends on others. It is critical for a Mullah to procure and maintain docile obedient hosts. A flock of gullible ignorant fanatics make excellent hosts and the Mullahs’ main task is to keep the sheep in their pen by hook or crook. They scare the flock by horror stories of hell and entice them by the promise of unimaginable glorious paradise if and only if they behave and keep on supplying them with milk, wool and meat.

    So, the infighting is all about survival. One bunch is having it all while another is sidelined. We must understand that there has never been one united house of the Mullahs. Mullahs are like packs of wolves. Each pack hunts and eats its prey. Packs of wolves fight one another for valued prey, particularly in the face of scarcity.

    The coffer of the Islamic Republic of Iran is flush with the extortion-high oil revenues. A reasonable question is: why don’t the Mullahs simply share the wealth and attend to the business of fighting the external enemy? When it comes to money, enough is never enough. “There is enough to meet everyone’s need, but not enough to meet everyone’s greed,” observed Gandhi. And greed is in the very bones of the Mullahs, since it is the only way that parasites know how to live.

  25. "It is critical for a Mullah to procure and maintain docile obedient hosts. A flock of gullible ignorant fanatics make excellent hosts and the Mullahs’ main task is to keep the sheep in their pen by hook or crook. They scare the flock by horror stories of hell and entice them by the promise of ..."


    Sounds very much like the rulers/ politicians and people of a very familiar 3rd world nation to me .....


NOTE: We do not live in a Legal vacuum.
A pseudonym/ nickname with comments would be much appreciated.