What Muslims believe, from Lion of the Blogoshpere

What Muslims believe, by Lion of the Blogoshpere.

Islam is a fundamentalist religion. All Muslims believe that the Koran is the true and literal word of God (Allah) and that Mohammed was the most perfect man and people should follow the examples he set. And the Hadiths and other sources about Mohammed’s life, although not the true and literal word of God, are nevertheless believe to tell the true story of Allah.

Nearly all Muslims really really believe this and it’s what they are taught at Mosques and religions schools. There is no major branch of Islam that believes that the Koran should not be taken 100% literally.

This is something that liberals (who don’t personally believe that there is any religious text that’s the true literal word of any divine beings) simply cannot understand.

ISIS illustrates the tension between modernization and the original in Islamic societies:

However, Islam, like all other religions, historically existed — or was appropriated for the function — of serving the elites. Law and order benefits the elites, but people deciding on their own to commit jihad, that doesn’t benefit the elites, so that stuff was not taught to people. Most Muslims, like most Christians, non-Orthodox Jews, etc., are too lazy to read the Holy texts themselves and they let religions leaders tell them what they are supposed to do in order to be good Muslims.

However, since all Muslims have been primed to believe that the Koran is the true and literal word of God, and that Mohammed was the most perfect human and men should live by his example, they are extremely susceptible to groups like ISIS who teach what the Koran really says about jihad, and how Mohammed really lives. And based on the texts of the Koran and the Hadiths, ISIS is correct, or at least a very legitimately correct interpretration.

As has happened many times in Islamic societies, fundamentalists are dragging the society back to its seventh century Arab roots using the Islamic holy texts for authority and inspiration. ISIS are following the religion more purely than the more modern Islamic societies around them.

Islam is not just a religion, like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Confucianism. Islam is also a totalitarian political ideology. It seeks to totally control the lives of its subjects.

Islam is the culture from seventh century Arabia. It is brutal and nasty. Islam cannot change, because it gets dragged back to the holy books by the fundamentalists — who feel authorized by Islam to  kill their opponents. The Qur’an is the unchallengeable word of God, dictated to Mohammed by the archangel Gabriel and not open to later re-interpretation. There is only one interpretation of Islam — Mohammed’s.

Commenter Mike CA:

Muhammad was essentially a war lord who used his religion to motivate his armies. Don’t forget that the Pope also controlled the Holy Roman Empire which waged violent wars for control of territory too. By modern times Christianity had mostly mellowed out and become a religion of peace. Islam also mellowed out over the centuries.

In my view, the person most responsible for the modern violent strains of Islam is Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab. He was an 18th century Islamic preacher and scholar in what is today Saudi Arabia. He preached a very strict and intolerant version of Islam. He called the Ottoman rulers un-Islamic. The Ottoman rulers were the official heads of Islam, like the Pope. This got him kicked out of Mecca, and he was forced to wander between the Bedouin tribes in the desert. It was there that he met Muhammad bin Saud who was the head of one of the Bedouin tribes.

The two together crafted Wahhabism and optimized it as the religion of marauding tribes of bandits. If Muhammad bin Saud wanted to raid a neighboring village, he could declare them to be infidels, even though they were Muslims. Anyone not practicing Wahhabism was an infidel. Once declared infidels, it was then the religious duty of all Wahhabist men to join the jihad against the village. Wahhabism allowed then to loot the village, take all the women and children as slaves, and force the men to either convert to Wahhabism or be killed.

Using this religious motivation Muhammad bin Saud created the first Saudi Kingdom, which covered most of Saudi Arabia and the Sunni portions of Syria and Iraq. When Muhammad bin Saud took control of Mecca, the Wahhabist destroyed all the shrines and art created over the centuries by the Ottomans. Shortly after this the Ottomans dispatched the Egyptian army to deal with the first Saudi Kingdom. Over about 10 years the Egyptian army retook control of the Saudi Kingdom and the Wahhabist were driven back into the desert.

Fast forward to WW I. Lawrence of Arabia recruited the descendants of Muhammad bin Saud to form a guerrilla army to fight the Ottomans. Some of the forces in the guerrilla group were actually Wahhabi militias that reported to Wahhabist religious leaders. After WW I they had been promised control of Saudi Arabia, but the Wahhabist wanted to re-create the Saudi Kingdom. Some Wahhabist militias stayed loyal to the Saudi King and some started raiding into Iraq. The British were very unhappy about this and sold the Saudi King arms, including jeeps equipped with machine guns. There was a large battle with the Wahhabists on camels with rifles and the Saudi army using jeeps with machine guns. The Wahhabists were just mowed down.

Some of the Wahhabists had remained loyal to the king, but the king recognized they were sympathetic with those that had not. The King struck a deal with them. He would give the Wahhabists control of religious life in Saudi Arabia, control of Mecca and a share of the oil wealth, provided they remained loyal to the King and kept Mecca open to all Muslims, not just Wahhabists. Keeping Mecca open to all Muslims was a huge issue in the Muslim world at the time.

The result of this deal is that the Wahhabists have been rolling in money from the Saudi oil wealth, which has allowed them to build schools all over the Islamic world that teach their intolerant, violent strain of Islam. The modern official Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia is not as violent as the original, but the original is still there out of site of the Saudi government officials. ISIS borrows much of its religion from Wahhabism.

Did Islam really mellow out? Yes for a few centuries:

The sultans of the Ottoman Empire claimed to be the Caliphs of Islam from 1517 until 1924. By the 18th century the Ottoman empire had become soft and tolerant. They allowed Muhammad bin Saud to crave his own kingdom out of the Ottoman empire until he let the Wahhabists destroy all the shrines the Ottomans had built in Mecca. … The Ottomans decriminalized homosexuality in 1858. It really is the Wahhabists and their oil money fired spread of schools into poor Muslim countries that have created the modern violent, intolerant strains of Islam.

Commenter gda:

How bemusing/infuriating is it that liberals (who don’t personally believe in any religion) are able to excuse the “moderate” Muslims their misogyny and other medieval beliefs (inextricably entwined within the entire worldview of ALL Muslims, incidentally). I wonder, how does anyone manage to maintain such cognitive dissonance?

In essence, Obama (and liberals/progressives in general) are simpatico with the “progressive” Muslims in CAIR and the Moslem Brotherhood. They identify more with what they think are “peaceful” progressive folk like them, fighting the oppressors, rather than with (mainly white) American conservatives, and so can conveniently “not see” that the Emperor wears no clothes. Perhaps their dissonance is reflected in their vituperative hatred of anyone who suggests that “look, the Emperor actually isn’t wearing any clothes”.

Commenter Mark Kaplan:

Hitler adored Islam, and with good reason. He saw it as a great tragedy that Germany adopted Christianity: “Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?” Hitler jealously eyed Islam, a faith that “glorifies heroism and which opens up the Seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone.” The Muslim countries mostly sided with the Nazis in World War II because they shared numerous goals and ideals.