Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Auster shuns the idea of Islam as a cult

Lawrence Auster is making a lot of noise over at his site. He decided to change the discourse and make this whole thing personal. This is not good for the discussion. As the first rule of war propaganda is: if you want to motivate an attack on someone, you need to depict it as if the other party had attacked you first. So Auster creates an army of strawmen, portray himself as a victim, and then uses this as a pretext for changing from intellectual discourse to an emotional quarrel. However, I'm not interested in playing these games. Instead, the intellectual exploration must go on.

The second post by Auster adds to the discussion, so I will focus on that. All while ignoring the initial, ridiculous, claim that I'm being openly hostile to him. Auster just needs to calm down and stay within the frames of intellectual discourse.

Another minor comment before going to the main issue: Auster persists in saying that I describe Islam as some sort of sexual system; this time just with a new term: "a self-complete sexual organization of life". While the post he refers to puts the focus on the sexual side of Islam, it does in no way reduce Islam to merely a sexual system of any kind. I have repeatedly made that clear, but so far Auster has chosen to ignore it.

In his post, Auster writes two things that are enlightening:

  1. [CS's] portrait was in such lurid colors that Islam ceased to be a religion at all and became nothing but a horrible sex and power cult.
  2. My position is that Islam is indeed a religion devoted to a transcendent God...
- - - - - - - - - -
As Popper stated, people do not just observe the facts of the world as they are. We see all things through a theory, which organizes the impressions in our mind. The theory provides assumptions and a perspective, that decides which facts that are of importance, and which are not; and it also serves as a filter. This is how the human mind is organized, and these theories are tenacious and do not change easily.

Auster's assumption about Islam is that it is a religion, as opposed to a horrible cult. The idea is internalized in Auster in such a way, that Islam must not be a horrible cult. Facts and descriptions suggesting that Islam is indeed a horrible cult do not fit his theory, and are discarded merely on this basis.

The second statement of Auster explains what he means by a religion here: that its adherents are "devoted to a transcendent God". For me--knowing all that I know, after years of study--it is easy to see that Islam is nothing but a horrible cult. It is clear to me that it is all made up by Muhammad. But Auster's idea that Muslims are "devoted to a transcendent God" suggests that to him there is more to Islam, than a cult made up by Muhammad.

Auster sees the existence of a transcendent God as an objective truth. In this world view it is of course possible for anyone, one way or the other, to come in contact with this transcendent God. It's also a world in which people will sense the presence of the transcendent God and be in search of him; even if they do not find him, or the true path to him. Auster's proposition "that Islam is indeed a religion devoted to a transcendent God" thus seems to suggest that Muslims, in spite of all their miscomprehensions, are in one way or the other in contact with this transcendent God or at least genuinely in search for him. Something that should render Islam some amount of elementary respect, according to Auster. This perspective does not allow for seeing Islam as the cult it is, instead Islam is provided with a respectable position as one of the world religions.

We see again the problem of believing in Christianity, in how it calls for elementary respect for other religions as religions, and especially monotheistic Abrahmic religions (read: Islam). It is not clear, at this point, if Auster likewise consider polytheistic Hindus being "devoted to a transcendent God"; or Buddhists or Confucisianists? And what about the Children of God?

Anyway, unlike the majority of Christians, Auster handles the big picture eminently. He very clearly sees Islam as the threat to the West that it truly is. And for any practical purpose, in a foreseeable future, Auster has the right program for defending the West against Islam, when he calls for Separationism. But nevertheless it is always important to see things as they really are. Auster fears that if Islam is seen as he cult that it truly is, that, as a consequence, it must lead to a position urging the physical destruction of Islam (a thought that makes him bring up associations to neocon web commenters calling for killing all Muslims). Therefore he holds on to the position that there must be some basic value in Islam, and that it should be shown some basic respect. My position here, is that we should first look with clear eyes at what Islam really is, without mixing it up with the issue of how it should then be dealt with--which at this stage will obviously only hamper the view.

I think that our different characterizations of Islam here, that have crystallized by now, explains for some of the differences in perspective me and Auster have had on different issues before. I will have reason to come back to this.

I'm impressed by the ideas of Auster, and the work he has achieved is of utmost importance, and has been an important inspiration to me. But there is still the need to go deeper into the issues than Auster chooses to do, both regarding the defects of Islam and the flaws of the West.

27 comments:

Phil said...

Go to Auster's fight with SANE's David Yerushalmi and you will find exactly the same MO. First, Auster claims the other side gets personal but what that really means is that you simply reject what he says and present strong argument. Then he whips out his MMPI manual and labels you with some psychiatric disease. In your case and in Yerushalmi's, it is Oedipal. Amazing how many have this disease. In your case, Auster suggests it is because you're younger. Yerushalmi, whom I know personally, is at least Auster's age if not older. (See here for more.)

Jason_Pappas said...

There is no doubt that Auster's work has furthered our understanding of the enemy's nature and our weak-kneed response. He has often been alone in making important points and he deserves our utmost respect. He may not go far enough at some point but that should not undercut our debt and gratitude. Interestingly enough, I took Auster's side in his debate against Daniel Pipes but I praise Pipes for warning us about the Islamic threat for decades even though he undercuts it with the modifier "militant." Sometimes people can't go to the next level.

Auster's position is "Islam is indeed a religion devoted to a transcendent God, but that this religion is so aggressive and so dangerous to us that we must treat it as a dangerous predator and keep it locked up." But is it false? And why? Surely we, too, are a danger to Islam if we seek to "keep it locked up." Either there is a standard beyond religion that resolves the issue of justice and supports our righteousness (a position that the faithful may find problematic) or we show respect for all devotions to transcendental pursuits (like D'Souza and Kalb). Without an objective standard, the conflict between Islam and Christianity becomes an amoral power struggle. With an objective standard, religion becomes superfluous or severely reduced in stature.

Post-war conservatism, created in response to the communist threat, may be unable to retool itself for the Islamic threat. Individual conservatives can, of course, because most are reality oriented. This includes Auster. When I went after William Buckley for being blind to the Islamic threat, Auster was right on top of the issue. And Auster knows the West isn't exhaustively defined by Christianity as some conservatives believe. Christianity can and will remain an important factor in individual lives as a source of inspiration, comfort, and salvation (for those who hold such a notion). We must respect that fact. But in this battle we need to re-emphasize our Greco-Roman heritage and that which is built upon such foundations.

geza1 said...

This Abrahamic thing really ties the traditionalists up in knots when it comes to describing Islam accurately. I somewhat doubt that Kalb or Auster would have any qualms about describing the Aztec culture, African animism, or even Baal worship as nothing more than dangerous cults. They left behind a civilization of their own but it's very clear that their religions incorporated many features that are typical of cults. Islam is very much the same, only it is more successful and the magic number of one billion adherents upgrades it to the "world religion" category.

How can Auster shun the idea of Islam as a cult when he has described Muhammad as a successful Hitler in the past? How is it possible for a religion that worships a transcendant God, whom we are to assume is a good God, to be founded by a perverted warlord who commands his followers to slaughter the Other until they submit?

Christian West said...

geza1,
It is not easy to define religion, but I think “the voluntary subjection of oneself to god”, offered by Lactantius in his "Divine Institutes" is wide enough to be used on that thread.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia Lactanctius “derives religion from religare (to bind): We are tied to God and bound to Him [religati] by the bond of piety, and it is from this, … that religion has received its name."

If we, as both St. Augustinus and Aquinas do, accept Lactantius, then Islam, which means submission (to god), is a religion regardless the moral character of its founder.

Although Moslems honor Mohammed they don’t worship him. Had that been the case then indeed Islam would be just another cult. The fact is that Moslems worship Allah only who, they believe, is almighty, omniscient and omnipresent creator of reality - yet infinitely transcending his creation. That, to my mind, is religion.

Admittedly, Allah, according to the Koran, hates the infidel, but that is a completely different matter. You may argue that Allah does not exist, but that will not make Islam a cult.

Conservative Swede said...

Phil,

Because David Yerushalmi used words as "failure" and "irrational" about certain aspects of Auster's position, Auster takes it as an "aggressive and personal attack". This is not the way to conduct a debate. Just to exemplify what Auster's standards means. He recently described my theory of the origin of religion as "terribly defective". With Auster's own view, I should see this as an openly hostile attack on me. That's ridiculous.

This whole affair has been a one man show by Auster. I have not done much more than passively watching the different stages of his act of breaking up with me. Part of his act is to claim that it was me who made the decision to "break decisively" with him. This never happened. I've been sitting in the audience, all while Auster has been on the stage, throwing himself on the floor, rolling around as if in pain, then standing up launching an attack, and finally breaking up with me. All of it quite unexpected to me. The words he use to describe the situation is all part of this exaggerated theater. Quite as we've seen his usage of "aggressive and personal attack" and "openly hostile" above, his descriptions about "insulting language" in e-mails, me characterizing Kalb as a pro-Islam "fifth columnist", me denouncing him as a groupie of a “fifth columnist”, me by implication declaring all of his work as mistaken, etc., are all equally false.

Regarding his accusation that I posted private e-mail exchanges "obviously not intended for public posting", this comes up as part of this whole act. There have been hundreds of e-mails between me and Auster during the last one and a half years, large parts of which is unsuited for posting, e.g. comments from Auster about other people from A-Z. So I know well the difference between what is fit for public posting and what is not. Even during this affair there were such comments by Auster, which I filtered out. I only kept his comments that specifically related to the articles I had written. Inclusion of such comments has been fine before. And Auster never had a Blogger account until the day before yesterday, so this has been the only way to include him in a debate. Anyway, when Auster complained about the e-mail excerpts that I had posted, I replied and said it his reaction was unreasonable. But since I wouldn't want to post e-mail excerpts against people's will, I asked him to exemplify what parts he found objectionable. He never answered. Later I found that Auster had already posted this "net crime"accusation against me, even before I had the chance to reply. He was never interested in letting me comply with his will on this point, his interested was in using this for defaming me.

The way I picked comments from our e-mail exchange was no different from how Auster himself picked up and posted my comparison between him and Churchill, which came from the same series of e-mail exchange. And this in the very same post where he describes such an act as morally wrong. And of course, I'm hindered from explaining the context in which I wrote this comment, since it involves comparisons with other people from a negative aspect. A private exchange unsuited for posting.

Conservative Swede said...

Christian West,

I think Hobbes has a better definition of religion:
Fear of invisible power, if publicly allowed, is religion; if not allowed, superstition. Thus the decison as to what is religion and what superstition rests with the legislator.

Thus multiculturalism and global warming activism are religions, and it's advocates are instituting a theocracy upon us.

People think we live in an age of enlightenment, but to the contrary, people today are far more superstitious than ever before in Western history.

Conservative Swede said...

Jason Pappas,

I agree with everything you write about Auster here. And as long as him and me had conversations on friendly terms I found him very open-minded in the sense that he was willing to discuss almost any kinds of ideas, and that he had intelligent and interesting comments about it. Also his ability to look at his own position from the outside is far better than most people. And example of this is how he often refers to Nietzsche favourably, and includes him in his thinking. Something that I appreciate.

But any human leaves intellectual discourse, starts acting irrationally, and make it personal, when their core values are questioned; which they feel as an attack on their self-identity. With average modern liberals, it is enough to call for reduction of immigration to trigger this. With Catholics, it is triggered by denunciation of Vatican II. In the case of Lawrence Auster, I questioned traditionalist conservatism at the core. I have not thrown it away. At this point I'm just putting a big question mark around it. But that was enough.

And yes, we need to re-emphasize our Greco-Roman heritage.

Christian West said...

Well, Hobbes doesn’t attempt here to define religion as such. Rather he present his view on the relation, or tension between religion and legislation in a particular time and place. It may also help to see the inconsequence (to our discussion) of that "definition" if we remember that Hobbes never denied being a Christian himself.
BTW, if one is curious one may want to read the sharp and elegant rebuttal of that “definition” written by Alexander Ross. But that is another story.

Otherwise I fail to see in what way your Hobbes quote strengthen your claim that Islam is not a religion, or disagrees with my argument presented earlier on that thread that it is (a religion).

And if you have no problem seeing global warming and multiculturalism as religions then what makes you denying that Islam, too, is a religion? Have I misunderstood something here?

People think we live in an age of enlightenment, but to the contrary, people today are far more superstitious than ever before in Western history.

Could be, but with all respect, what that has to do with the subject at hand?

Conservative Swede said...

You are right, Christian. Hobbes' demarcation between religion/superstition does not belong in this discussion. I just couldn't help myself here since I was inspired by a discussion I had with Fjordman yesterday. He writes about it today here A New Balance Between Rome and Jerusalem

So let's start over again. The question is how to distinguish between a religion and a cult. For something to qualify as a religion there has to be a spiritual content. But there is no spiritual content in Islam. Secondly, for something to qualify as a religion it has to embody ages of cultural tradition, such as for example Hinduism and Confucianism do. It cannot just be the whim of some religious Hitler, no matter how successful he is. And Muhammad was to smart to make himself into a god, but most other cult leaders don't do that either. But nevertheless, everything in Islam for orthodox Muslims comes down to emulating Muhammad in every single aspect of life: from having a full beard, ruthlessness to infidels, how to treat women, down to how to wipe your ass with an odd number of stones, since the prophet did so.

Islam also falls on the very definition you put forward, by Lactantius: "the voluntary subjection of oneself to god". There is nothing voluntary in Islam. You have to submit, period. There is a death penalty for apostasy. This is also why there need not be, and cannot be, any spiritual content in Islam. Defect, and you get killed, and sent to eternal brutal torture in hell. Comply, and you can have forever a hard one in and orgy with 72 virgins, being constantly drunk on wine. Except for the women of course, who doesn't get any Chippendales to play with, but an eternity with the man that her parents forced her to marry with. A man who will be busy with his 72 virgins.

Conservative Swede said...

Geza1,

How can Auster shun the idea of Islam as a cult when he has described Muhammad as a successful Hitler in the past?

Yes, there is a latent contradiction here. I was genuinely surprised by Auster's reaction to the first part of my characterization of Islam as "awfully extreme" and "cartoonish". I have always seen him as someone with a firm grip of the nature of Islam. But I realize now that he has never been challenged before from this direction. He has only written before about what he finds to be the negative sides of Islam. Now he was forced to define in what aspects his view of Islam intersected with someone as Jim Kalb.

How is it possible for a religion that worships a transcendent God, whom we are to assume is a good God, to be founded by a perverted warlord who commands his followers to slaughter the Other until they submit?

Beats me. Maybe Christian West or Steven can explain for us? Furthermore, I do not think that a transcendent God must be good. But then again, he surely couldn't be an evil pervert, such as Allah.

I somewhat doubt that Kalb or Auster would have any qualms about describing the Aztec culture, African animism, or even Baal worship as nothing more than dangerous cults. They left behind a civilization of their own but it's very clear that their religions incorporated many features that are typical of cults.

This is a very good question. Auster cut the communication with me, but maybe there's a chance Kalb can give us an answer. And of course Steven and Christian West (is that a name or a manifesto?) are welcome to share their view with us.

Geza1, I very much appreciate all your sharp comments in my blog. It's a fresh air, and I hope you stay around. It is amazing how you appeared from nowhere. I would appreciate if you sent me an e-mail to conswede@mailbolt.com, so we have that means of contact too. The only difference between us, is that I would not put so much emphasis on "whiteness" as you do. But yes, the main issue of this century will be about our collective survival, so there is an "us" that needs to be defined. However, I would use a wider definition, still with focus on European ethnicity, but more inclusive. It's European culture that I'm in love with. For me the issue of ethnicity comes as a consequence, since the culture will be lost if the ethnicity is watered-down.

Christian West said...

hey CS,

For something to qualify as a religion there has to be a spiritual content. But there is no spiritual content in Islam.

I don’t understand why do you keep on repeating that phrase. Why, instead, don’t you specify what would make a content spiritually acceptable for you?

Moslem worship the supreme spirit or Allah who, they believe, is the creator and master of the universe. It is the faith in that spirit that makes Islam spiritual despite that Allah and his messenger don’t meet your nice-guy criteria.

Is Satanism spiritual? Why of course. It is because the Satanists worship the Devil who is a spirit, admittedly of a nastiest possible kind, but spirit nevertheless. Whether you don’t believe in devil or dislike him passionately does not make Satanism any less spiritual.

I think that in matters spiritual Aquinas, for example, was a much greater authority than you and I. Yet he had no trouble recognizing spirituality in Islam as testified by his profound interest and critique of Averrhoes. The fact that on many matters spiritual and philosophical Thomas disagrees with Averrhoes doesn’t change the fact that the contest between the two (albeit posthumous for Averrhoes) took place on spiritual turf.

Secondly, for something to qualify as a religion it has to embody ages of cultural tradition, such as for example Hinduism and Confucianism do.

That is quite a novel requirement - please refer me to the source of that criterion. Really, who else, besides you, demands that a creed goes through a minimum gestation period if it wants to be accepted in the religion category?

And I think you got it exactly the wrong way about. Religion is the core of civilization not the other way around. The civilizations of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Confucianism and Christianity traverse history using the spiritual fuel of their respective religions. When the fuel is spent the civilization crumbles. Islam seems to have, in addition to oil, huge quantities of spiritual fuel, while we are running dry. And that bodes ill for the future of the West.

Islam also falls on the very definition you put forward, by Lactantius: "the voluntary subjection of oneself to god". There is nothing voluntary in Islam. You have to submit, period. There is a death penalty for apostasy. This is also why there need not be, and cannot be, any spiritual content in Islam.

Voluntary subjection to god – not Islam. Two entirely different things.
You may convert to Islam out of fear. But to subject to god, Allah or some other one, it is necessary to believe in him and in all his godly attributes. And such belief is spiritual.
A Moslem, just like Jew and Christian has now an option to either subject to god and spend eternity in paradise, or reject god and face damnation.
It is true that Islam, like sometimes Christianity, forcibly converted people. But the countless millions already born into Islam embrace it in a most natural manner and love and identify with it at least as much as Jews and Christians identify with their religions. They may fear Allah more than we fear God, but that is a different thing altogether.

geza1 said...

"Is Satanism spiritual? Why of course. It is because the Satanists worship the Devil who is a spirit, admittedly of a nastiest possible kind, but spirit nevertheless. Whether you don’t believe in devil or dislike him passionately does not make Satanism any less spiritual."

Yes, but is it a religion? And if not, why not?

If it is a religion then your definition is too inclusive and the only way we would be able to identify a cult would be if there was no transcendant god.

If it is not a religion, then you would need to explain why it isn't. That could be problematic as far as Islam is concerned due to its heretical origins and nature of its god.

I find your definition of religion to be too simple. You only have two requirements: existence of a god, and supplication to that god.

"And I think you got it exactly the wrong way about. Religion is the core of civilization not the other way around."

No. Religion BECOMES the core of civilization once it is ESTABLISHED. Hinduism and Shintoism were disorganized for most of their history and they largely arose from rural practices. Neither religion had a founder and they did not appear in a vaccuum. Even Muhammad didn't event everything about Islam. It arose in a Bedouin context, he just organized it in such a way (and changed a few things) so that instead of having competing gods and competing tribes, he would have one god and one tribe under his rule. He later added Jewish and Christian stories to make it seem more authentic and older than it actually was. His goal was to unite Arabia and then the world under his authority. Your problem is that you are thinking of Muhammad as more of Jesus or Buddha figure who emphasized spirituality. He did not, he was organizing a state.

"But the countless millions already born into Islam embrace it in a most natural manner and love and identify with it at least as much as Jews and Christians identify with their religions."

Yes, and you know how exactly? Because you are a Christian and you imagine that Muslims embrace their religion much like you do? They do it for different reasons.

Firstly, it's not natural. It takes years of rote memorization of Quranic passages and rituals. Since the majority of Muslims do not speak Arabic, they do not know much more than the translation of the shahada. The rest they learn through word of mouth either from family members or imams.

They do not love and identify with Islam because of its teachings or even Allah. They love and identify with it because there is enormous social pressure to do so. Not only is the charge of apostasy hanging over their head, but they know that if they voluntary leave their religion, they will not see their family and lose their property and inheritance. Even Muslims who have never been to a mosque strongly identify with Islam because it's the thing to do. If the apostate manages to live through his apostasy, he will lose social status and become a dhimmi. Actually, that is why dhimmis convert to Islam because the jizya tax and harrassment become unbearable after a certain point. Islam is not about Allah but about tribalism.

You also need to take into consideration that Muslims are not as conceptual as European Christians are when it comes to religion. Muslims do not read Averroes, Avicenna, or Rumi. If they can read, they read the Quran and various commentaries on the Quran. They do not think about things like "why do bad things happen to good people" but rather "is this hairstyle haraam?". They do not think about these spiritual things because of the fatalism Islam instills in them.

When you focus soley on the bare bones structure of Islam you miss a lot of the important features that make Islam unique when it is compared to other belief systems.

geza1 said...

"The only difference between us, is that I would not put so much emphasis on "whiteness" as you do. But yes, the main issue of this century will be about our collective survival, so there is an "us" that needs to be defined. However, I would use a wider definition, still with focus on European ethnicity, but more inclusive. It's European culture that I'm in love with. For me the issue of ethnicity comes as a consequence, since the culture will be lost if the ethnicity is watered-down."

About whiteness. I try not to put as much emphasis on it as some but I do think it's very important for Europe to remain as white (European) as possible if we are to see its culture flourish. We will probably need a better definition in the future. Whiteness can be too inclusive. I don't want Nuristanis or Georgians moving into Europe anytime soon. I even have some qualms with the word "European" since some people could use it to isolate Hungarians, Finns, and Ashkenazi Jews. They are not racially European, but they definitely are culturally European. We need to be inclusive. Nordicism, Pan-Slavism, and even Jewish contrarianism would only weaken us. I don't think immigrant classes could become European whereas individuals immigrants can but even with that they may like the bad parts of European identity like the Enlightenment and Liberalism and not care much for frescoes, Goethe, or Aristotle. GNXP is a case in point. It's not their fault really. You can't force a Chinese or Indian to love the Sistine Chapel with the same intensity of a Swiss, Italian, or Romanian. It may impress them, but they cannot love it because it is utterly alien to them.

Christian West said...

Yes, but is it a religion? And if not, why not?
So you do admit Satanism is spiritual. Good. As I can not imagine that anyone who insists on spirituality of Satanism could deny spirituality of Islam you are in effect saying that Islam DOES meet the first requirement for a religion set up by Cons.Swede, which is: “For something to qualify as a religion there has to be a spiritual content.”
So it is good we have that settled.

Now you are asking “but is it religion”?
The short answer is NO. A bit more involved is “Who cares”?
That is not what we are discussing here. I brought the example of Satanism to stress my point, not to prove it. For some reason you went after it producing irrelevant to the discussion questions; but is it a religion? And if not, why not?

I believe that you want to stay focussed, so I hope you will understand if I won’t engage you on your Satanism-related beliefs.

That could be problematic as far as Islam is concerned due to its heretical origins and nature of its god.

And why should heretical origin disqualify a religion? After all, Christianity was started by some Jewish heretics and Protestantism by Christian ones. Not speaking of later days’ heresies like Mormonism. Now are you saying these are not religions? I hope not.

The nature of its god?

Well, nobody here likes that Allah character, but as I said in my last entry, religion doesn’t stand or fall on affability of its god. Do you have a list of requirements a god must meet before you will be willing to grant him a god-license? Let’s hear it!
God, at least in Abrahamic religions, is the ultimate authority on what is good or evil. And although man’s understanding of good and evil derives from God’s it is imperfect and incomplete. If you are believer - whether Jew, Christian or Moslem you understand that, just like Job, you have no way to judge god. But if you are an atheist and at the same time try your luck at theodicy, or justification of God, you are bound to get matters very much confused.

I find your definition of religion to be too simple. You only have two requirements: existence of a god, and supplication to that god.

Well, it is not mine really, but Lactantius’. I’m too self-critical and practical to try to add to body of definitions put forward by theologians ages ago. But if you feel you have a better definition than Lactantius, then, again, by all means, let us hear it.

No. Religion BECOMES the core of civilization once it is ESTABLISHED.

Are you saying that there was a Christian civilization predating Christianity?
Or Islamic civilization predating Islam?
Or perhaps that Moses and his band of rather uncivilized escaped Hebrew slaves were pagans (or atheist), rather than followers of their God?
Well, that is not a conventional view of mainstream historians. Excuse me if I prefer their version.

Hinduism and Shintoism were disorganized for most of their history and they largely arose from rural practices. Neither religion had a founder and they did not appear in a vaccuum.

I am not sure what you want to say here, but I am sure it has little to do with Islam being or not being a religion.

Even Muhammad didn't event everything about Islam. It arose in a Bedouin context, he just organized it in such a way (and changed a few things) so that instead of having competing gods and competing tribes, he would have one god and one tribe under his rule. He later added Jewish and Christian stories to make it seem more authentic and older than it actually was. His goal was to unite Arabia and then the world under his authority.

And therefore…what…?

Your problem is that you are thinking of Muhammad as more of Jesus or Buddha figure who emphasized spirituality. He did not, he was organizing a state.

I have a few problems, but that is not one of them. But I can see that your problem is that you can not conceive that someone especially a schizophrenic psychopath, a monumental megalomaniac, who beside hearing voices and seeing angels ALSO is a brilliant politician and general, may pursue BOTH empire building AND spreading “truth of Allah”. A truth so absolute that it sanctifies any means however monstrous to promote it.
These two goals by being so perfectly complementary become practically one and constitute the essence of the doctrine of the Jihad.

"But the countless millions already born into Islam embrace it in a most natural manner and love and identify with it at least as much as Jews and Christians identify with their religions." (CW)

Yes, and you know how exactly? Because you are a Christian and you imagine that Muslims embrace their religion much like you do? They do it for different reasons.

You do presume things rather hastily, I must say.

Firstly, it's not natural. It takes years of rote memorization of Quranic passages and rituals. Since the majority of Muslims do not speak Arabic, they do not know much more than the translation of the shahada. The rest they learn through word of mouth either from family members or imams.

If by natural you mean instinctive, like breathing, then it is not.
For a Moslem child expression of religious piety is one of the most dominant features of everyday life from his first day on earth. Very much as it is for a child of Hindu, orthodox Jew, or devoted Christian.
It is conveyed to him in millions ways by which he interact with his environment; language, sounds, rituals, rewards, punishments, do and do not etc. Moslems, very much like any other group of people who take their religious and cultural identity seriously, impart that identity to their children from infancy.
Also, it is instinctive for a human child, in fact any social animal, to reinforce its bond with the “pack”, so it mimics, follows and increasingly participates in social rituals and submits to traditions, customs and routines. It derives its initial basic feeling of fulfilment through knowing he is accepted. His “islamization” is not more external than his toilet training, but a process he is exposed to from the beginning and has no way (or reason) to question and reject. You don’t question your mother’s milk.
It is in that sense that I use the word “natural”.

They do not love and identify with Islam because of its teachings or even Allah. They love and identify with it because there is enormous social pressure to do so.

More than that! They love Islam before they “know” its teachings! Islam is a dominant ingredient of their identity long before they acquire the capacity, or curiosity, to grasp it intellectually.

Not only is the charge of apostasy hanging over their head, but they know that if they voluntary leave their religion, they will not see their family and lose their property and inheritance. Even Muslims who have never been to a mosque strongly identify with Islam because it's the thing to do. If the apostate manages to live through his apostasy, he will lose social status and become a dhimmi. Actually, that is why dhimmis convert to Islam because the jizya tax and harrassment become unbearable after a certain point.

This is so crude and muddled that I don’t now where to start.
Let me try. So Moslems stay Moslems either out of fear for their life and loss of property, or because “it’s the thing to do”. Right? OK.
Now, I assume that it is not the Mormons they fear, but other Moslems, who will either kill them, take their property, disinherit them, in short administer a punishment that fits their crime. OK.
And what makes these other Moslems grab rocks to stone, knives to behead, disinherit and harass? The fear that if they don’t mete out the Islamic justice there will themselves lose their lives, their family, lose property and inheritance, or end up as dhimmis?
It is logical to assume that they too fear some other Moslems to do it to them.
You of course, know what my next question is and where it will lead.
Where does it lead us, but to conclusion that if not for the fear of Moslems, the Moslems would have left their religion and Islam would disappear overnight for the lack of followers? Or that the dynamics of cohesion of Islam is Moslems’ fear of Moslems, who fear Moslems, who fear Moslems…who fear Moslems…?
In other words it is only a problem of communication and if only Moslems could trust that other Moslems will not slit their throats there will be a stampede of Moslems rushing to embrace Christianity, Hinduism, Moonism or Atheism. They just have to agree.
Oh boy. If only these Moslems knew how simple it all is…

You also need to take into consideration that Muslims are not as conceptual as European Christians are when it comes to religion. Muslims do not read Averroes, Avicenna, or Rumi. If they can read, they read the Quran and various commentaries on the Quran. They do not think about things like "why do bad things happen to good people" but rather "is this hairstyle haraam?". They do not think about these spiritual things because of the fatalism Islam instils in them.

I am leaving aside the intelligibility of “Muslims are not as conceptual as European Christians…”
But I think that if an Average Moslems reads less of his Runi or Averrhoes than an average Christian reads his St. Augustine, or Pascal it in no way effect adversely the strength and genuineness of their identification with Islam.
On the contrary. The attraction of Islam lies mostly in its adaptability to the intellectual and spiritual level of a person - whether philosophically inclined and learned, or simpleton and illiterate. That explains well the, not insignificant, number of “conceptual” Europeans converting to Islam. Islam is simple, clear, easy to follow and deadly serious. No wishy-washy “tolerance” and cheap forgiveness here.
Islam takes you seriously, in fact, it will kill you if you don’t keep your pledge. The belief that one is taken seriously by a power infinitely greater than oneself is the most fundamental element of human dignity. An element that the ultra liberal, morally relative, post-Christian creed is unable to provide.
That dignity and ensuing from it pride binds a Moslem to Islam much more powerfully than fear of other Moslems.
Really, do you think that a suicide bomber fanatic kill themselves out of fear of losing their life, or their inheritance?
Sorry, but you really don’t know what are you talking about.
There is a lot negative, indeed terrible, from the Western point of view, one can find in Islam, but to dismiss it as nothing but a cult holding together over a billion people by nothing but fear is absurd. It also is dangerous in time when our civilization is under Islam’s attack. Dangerous, because if we want to win this war we must know its true nature and we can’t do it if we don’t know the nature of our enemy.

Conservative Swede said...

Christian West, you add nothing to the discussion here. The post is about Lawrence Auster, and his limits in absorbing the totality of what Islam is. Auster is not the one that thinks that something is art just because you splash colours on a canvas. Neither does he take religion as lightly as you do. For Auster the question of whether Islam is a cult is an open question, but one he shuns away from. For you the question of spirituality is a mere formality. If a cult claims to worship a "supreme spirit" it is spiritual, period. Completely regardless of whether there is any spiritual content, of which there is nothing in Islam, except for questions such as "is this hairstyle haraam?"

With our tautological way of reasoning, Satanism is a religion. It fulfills your criteria: i) the worship of a "supreme spirit", Satan, and ii) "voluntary subjection". But since you do not take your own criteria seriously, after all, you immediately back of from this, and say that Satanism is not a religion. This is not the way to wage a serious discussion.

While I'm not claiming that Satanism is a religion, it clearly fulfills your own criteria better than Islam, since Islam fails on the point of "voluntary subjection". Islam is a system of forced conversion--"Convert or die!--and once inside, with death penalty for apostasy. It doesn't help how much you write your fantasies about how the Muslims are free to leave their religion, etc., in a way comparable to Christianity. It's not so.

This is not the site for getting a 101 course in Islam. There are already many good sites on the web for that. I suggest that you start with the following ones:
jihadwatch.org
gatesofvienna.blogspot.com
faithfreedom.org

The phenomenon you are exposing when writing your rosy fantasies about Islam, is interesting though. It's what I call moral correctness, which is a generalization of political correctness. Moral correctness is much more ubiquitous, and goes deep, and far back, in Christian culture. It's the principle that if you are ignorant about some alien phenomenon or group, as long as, when you talk about them, you only say positive things, then you are correct--morally correct. According to Christian ethics, to be a good person, you must think well of other people and other groups. This is why in a context of Christian culture, the ignorant one objecting to the informed one, is always morally correct as long as long as he takes the position of having a positive attitude about the strange group or phenomenon. He who is the better Christian (and this applies to secular liberals too) "wins" the discussion. Facts are of secondary importance. Facts that rationally lead to a "too" negative assessment of other people, has to be pushed away. In this game, logic is always sacrificed.

geza1 said...

I don't agree with CS's chosen definition of religion either actually. If spirituality was the only requirement then I would have to recognize Theosophy as a religion when it is clearly a cult. Same thing with Satanism both the LaVey kind and the more "traditional" kind. When it comes to defining a cult, you have to go beyond looking at its skeletal structure and focus on its features. You present no definition for a cult, other than alluding that Islam would be a cult if Muslims worshipped Muhammad so I have no idea how you would identify a cult. By judging by your criteria, you don't seem to be very picky.

Heretical origins may disqualify a religion. Some religions began as heresies but then again there are many cults with us today that continue to exist as heresies. The only thing that separates them in my view is the number of adherents. You seem to be impressed with the number of Islam's adherents and combined with the belief of monotheism you assume that it cannot be a cult. Islam's founding is very similar to Mormonism, yet I find it odd how I see more and more Christians who see Islam as being more legitimate than Mormonism. It must be that magic number of 1 billion that makes them do it.

"Are you saying that there was a Christian civilization predating Christianity?
Or Islamic civilization predating Islam?
Or perhaps that Moses and his band of rather uncivilized escaped Hebrew slaves were pagans (or atheist), rather than followers of their God?
Well, that is not a conventional view of mainstream historians. Excuse me if I prefer their version."

Christianity did not make "Christian civilization" on its own. Without Hellenism, Roman Law, and German paganism, the Christian Europe we read in history books would have not been possible. Of course you already know this but you want Christianity to take all of the credit for the cultural development of Europe.

There was no Islamic civilization before Islam but like I pointed out before, Islam is a hodgepodge of Arab custom and lore organized in such a way to promote tribal cohesion with some added Jewish and Christian lore to give it more credibility.

Moses did not invent Judaism. Judaism as we know it was "invented" after the Babylonian exile when most of the Tanakh was written. The Hebrews followed their own tribal customs and their own God before that. But it wasn't that simple. Archaeology tells us that there were problems with Hebrew paganism. There were inscriptions uncovered where the God of Israel is depicted with his "wife", the pagan Asheroth.

The cultural context shapes the religion in its formative years and society refashions the religion to suit its needs after the state/empire establishes it. Religion comes from somewhere, it is not invented, and on its own it cannot engender culture.

"I am not sure what you want to say here(re: Hinduism and Shintoism), but I am sure it has little to do with Islam being or not being a religion."

You included a list of Eastern religions in your previous post about religions that traverse history. "Hinduism" was not an entity for most of its history, it only became organized after Buddhism. Buddhism on the other hand was not the ruling religion in East Asia, it was Confucianism which was established by the state. My point was that the world does not follow the Christian formula of being built around a religion. Religious development in Asia followed a different path, it was disorganized, sectarian, and more concerned with superstition than any "higher truths" for a majority of its history.

"But I can see that your problem is that you can not conceive that someone especially a schizophrenic psychopath, a monumental megalomaniac, who beside hearing voices and seeing angels ALSO is a brilliant politician and general, may pursue BOTH empire building AND spreading “truth of Allah”. A truth so absolute that it sanctifies any means however monstrous to promote it.
These two goals by being so perfectly complementary become practically one and constitute the essence of the doctrine of the Jihad."

He was a politican before he was a "prophet". This becomes evident if you look at the aHadith and you notice he is more concerned with his own image than with "Allah's". He did not create himself a god because he knew he wouldn't be able to enjoy the spoils of war and booty (both kinds). He wasn't even the best speaker/poet in Arabia and he wouldn't have been able to convince the Arabs that he was more than man unless he performed some miracles, and by most accounts, he didn't. I do see Islam as a justification for his nation building, but it was not on an equal plane. If it was, he would have focused more on proselytization than war. I have no idea if he believed in his own madness but it is clear that during his prophetic career he was more concerned with power than with his own god. He went even as far as withdrawing some of Allah's commands to avoid personal embarassment. Do I think he was brilliant? Not really. The Koran is a mess of literature and Islam is mostly borrowed. Did he understand the human animal? Yes. But you don't need to be a genius to do that.

We seem to be in agreement on whether Islam is natural for Muslims.

"More than that! They love Islam before they “know” its teachings! Islam is a dominant ingredient of their identity long before they acquire the capacity, or curiosity, to grasp it intellectually."

Agreed.

"So Moslems stay Moslems either out of fear for their life and loss of property, or because “it’s the thing to do”. Right? OK."

Not exactly. Those are some of the things, albeit more extreme cases, that can happen. I am saying that there is enormous social pressure to remain Muslim in a Muslim society and there are very few options if you want out. Social stigma is more effective in getting Muslims to be good Muslims than death ever was.


"Now, I assume that it is not the Mormons they fear, but other Moslems, who will either kill them, take their property, disinherit them, in short administer a punishment that fits their crime. OK."

Sometimes. LOL, why would they fear Mormons?

"And what makes these other Moslems grab rocks to stone, knives to behead, disinherit and harass? The fear that if they don’t mete out the Islamic justice there will themselves lose their lives, their family, lose property and inheritance, or end up as dhimmis?"

No. They won't get killed if they refuse to go on hajj, jihad, or harass dhimmis or slacker Muslims. Individual Muslims don't disinherit, that is done by the Islamic Courts. Once Muslims learn more about their religion, they learn that they should become as Islamic as possible. That is what makes them into hajjis, jihadis, and dhimmi crushers. What is the motivation? Could be many things: societal pressure, status, a sense of adventure, angst, a one-way ticket to paradise, etc. Fear of hell could be another reason, but even if you are a pious Muslim who didn't die at the hajj or during a jihad you can STILL go to hell if Allah wills it.

As for your "fear of Muslims, fear of Muslims" rant. It contributes to the social cohesion of Islam but that is not what holds the ummah together. There is no simple answer for this. If the penalty for apostasy disppeared tomorrow, Muslims would not convert en mass to other religions. The majority of Muslims are illiterate and ignorant and are only starting to learn about the world outside their village. For the most part, they see Christian civilization (even medieval) as decadent. They only attribute material success to whiteness, not Christianity or liberalism. That is why they are hungry for white converts.

"But I think that if an Average Moslems reads less of his Runi or Averrhoes than an average Christian reads his St. Augustine, or Pascal it in no way effect adversely the strength and genuineness of their identification with Islam."

THEY DON'T READ IT AT ALL. That is the point. Ibn Khaldun is even banned in certain madrassas. These texts are not taught because they are not thought to be important and they are even sometimes thought as being dangerous. The Reliance of the Traveller is 100 times more important than the Incoherence of Incoherence. My point that Muslims are not interested in the "big questions" still stands. Almost all of their reading material consists of Quranic commentary and books about Jews and Freemasons.

"The attraction of Islam lies mostly in its adaptability to the intellectual and spiritual level of a person - whether philosophically inclined and learned, or simpleton and illiterate. That explains well the, not insignificant, number of “conceptual” Europeans converting to Islam."

Bullshit. The philosophically inclined tend to be jaded Westerners who either hate the West or are disappointed with the promises of liberal society and try to find the same promises in an "authentic" Third World religion. There are more simpleton whites who convert to Islam than you think. Islam also gets many of its converts through the prison system among blacks. Did you know that Ice Cube is a Muslim? How will the West ever recover after that loss? And you also have to consider the fact that with mixed Muslim-white marriages on the rise, you will also see more whites converting, especially women. Blame that on feminism for feminizing European man. That is why these white women need to find a brown brute who still acts manly.

"Really, do you think that a suicide bomber fanatic kill themselves out of fear of losing their life, or their inheritance?"

This statement makes no sense whatsoever. When you use universal language to describe Islam, you demand simple answers such as definitions for its system and "reasons" why Muslims do X. Islam is like no other religion on earth and you continue to ignore its many features that set it apart from the rest out of some strange Abrahamic filial piety. In our discussions I have given you numerous examples of what Muslims do and some theories as to why they do it. I have mentioned their history, theology, and habits. You are still getting bogged down in Islam's monotheistic structure. Unless you can talk about Islam as Islam instead of Islam as an Abrahamic faith, then it is you who will not be able to understand our enemy because you refuse to delve deeper into how he thinks.

"Sorry, but you really don’t know what are you talking about."

Yes, I know nothing about Islam. You found me out.

Conservative Swede said...

Geza1,

I didn't suggest spirituality as the only requirement. Go back to my original comment. I suggested it as a minimal criterion, among with other things. There are of course more aspects then those I mentioned. But Islam fails the test on many points. So even if the issue of how to define a religion as opposed to a cult is a complex one, and a discussion that can go on virtually forever, there are so many cases where Islam fails minimal requirements of what should be considered as a religion, so that we can be able to establish that it is to be considered as a cult, nevertheless.

Anyway, more important than the semantical content, is the illocutionary act of Auster's utterance. The speech act of his utterance that Islam is a religion rather than a cult urges us to act in a certain way with regards to Islam. And the way I interpret it, he backs off specifically because of the pragmatic consequences of uttering that Islam is a cult (mixed up with the Abrahamic faith thing).

In speech act theory of linguistic philosophy (Austin), the illocutionary aspect of an utterance are things as: stating, asking, commanding, prescribing, promising, ordering. The utterances "X is a cult" or "X is a religion" do not only differ in semantical content, but more importantly in the sort of speech act that is performed. Auster himself states that if Islam must be seen as a cult, we would be forced to call for the physical destruction of Islam. The interesting thing here is that it is clearly not Auster's idea that all cults must be physically destroyed. It is only about Islam that he infers that it needs to be physical destroyed if it must be seen as a cult. This, clearly, because of everything else he knows about Islam. He must cling to the idea of Islam as a religion to suppress these things. It's only about Islam it becomes eminently important in this way to cling to the idea that it is a religion, so that the floodgates won't burst. For people who intuitively know the true nature of Islam, this becomes the way to hold back the totality of what they know about it.

Christian West said...

Yes, I know nothing about Islam. You found me out.

You know some facts, and a lot of half facts, some related to the issue but most are irrelevant.

Otherwise as long as you keep on repeating over and over again that it is not religion, or "real religion” because it was established by a not-so-nice person and around not-so-nice god and practiced by a lot of not-so-nice and terribly unsophisticated people I will maintain that you don’t know what Islam is and probably have no chance of knowing.
Also, I suspect that, very much like CS, neither do you know what Christianity is.

Christian West said...

If a cult claims to worship a "supreme spirit" it is spiritual, period. Completely regardless of whether there is any spiritual content, of which there is nothing in Islam, except for questions such as "is this hairstyle haraam?"

As hard bone atheist how can you judge what is and what is not spiritual content?

there is nothing in Islam, except for questions such as "is this hairstyle haraam?"

I think a proper reaction to such an eruption from a fairly well educated person is WOW!!!.

With our tautological way of reasoning, Satanism is a religion. It fulfills your criteria: i) the worship of a "supreme spirit", Satan, and ii) "voluntary subjection".

First of all Satan although a powerful spirit is not Supreme Spirit. I never said so. He is infinitely far from that. Please don’t put words in my mouth even if it makes your argumentation easier.
And where did you spot tautology in my reasoning?

I used the illustration of Satanism, I just as well could have used shamanism. What I wanted to say that if Satanism is spiritual then so is Islam. Now Church’s position is that since the Devil is a real spirit then Satanism is spiritual. I hope you will understand if on spirituality matters I will take Church’s position more seriously than someone’s who denies the spiritual dimension of reality.
As it happens, Church recognizes Islam as a religion from its position of some 2000 years of authority while you, who deny the existence of the Supreme Being and consider religion a delusion can not set out deciding what constitutes a real delusion and what is a delusory delusion without undermining the consistency of your atheistic faith.
So perhaps I should have said that from the very start and, possibly, avoided all that discussion.

While I'm not claiming that Satanism is a religion, it clearly fulfills your own criteria better than Islam, since Islam fails on the point of "voluntary subjection". Islam is a system of forced conversion--"Convert or die!--and once inside, with death penalty for apostasy. It doesn't help how much you write your fantasies about how the Muslims are free to leave their religion, etc., in a way comparable to Christianity.

You brought up this point before and I responded. You could have countered my response, but instead you raise the same point again. What a waste of time…
But anyway here it is again so you don’t have to look for it:

“Voluntary subjection to god – not Islam. Two entirely different things.
You may convert to Islam out of fear. But to subject to god, Allah or some other one, it is necessary to believe in him and in all his godly attributes. And such belief is spiritual.
A Moslem, just like Jew and Christian has now an option to either subject to god and spend eternity in paradise, or reject god and face damnation. “

It doesn't help how much you write your fantasies about how the Muslims are free to leave their religion, etc., in a way comparable to Christianity.

Please refer me to ONE instance where I said so. Why do you have to invent things?

This is not the site for getting a 101 course in Islam. There are already many good sites on the web for that. I suggest that you start with the following ones:
jihadwatch.org
gatesofvienna.blogspot.com
faithfreedom.org

Thank you. I know them well. Almost everybody does. They are good, but I much more value L. Auster’s site as it offers original, extremely intelligent and revealing examination of the West-Islam clash. I have known Moslems and ex-Moslems for many years, so the sites you recommend are not terribly edifying for me.

The phenomenon you are exposing when writing your rosy fantasies about Islam, is interesting though. It's what I call moral correctness, which is a generalization of political correctness. Moral correctness is much …. In this game, logic is always sacrificed.

Please supply one evidence of my “writing rosy fantasies about Islam” before I address the strange ideas with which you are stuffing the remaining part of the paragraph.

geza1 said...

Christian West,

Get back to me once you actually start talking about specific aspects of Islam and not generalities. I really don't care what some Christian theologian might think of Islam based on a universalist defintion he concoted and never having studied the subject himself. You easily accept any belief system as a religion based on monotheism, supplication, and membership. I don't. I look at the features of the religion whereas you look at the general structure. There is much more to Islam that makes it a cult than it being founded by a perverted warlord and its submission to an evil god. You need to study this yourself. Read the aHadith, read some tafsir, read the Sira, and then read the Quran. Then read what some European Orientalists wrote about Muslim society. You are living in an ideological box because you easily accept that Islam has roots with Abraham when Muhammad clearly co-opted him and interpretted him in a radical and nonsensical way.

As for Christianity, I have a moderate position towards it. Unlike the majority of the New Right, I don't think it's possible to get rid of all of the "Levantine influence" in Europe nor do I think it's desirable. I do however, think that Christianity has too much political power and it isn't willing to share its power with other European traditions. More Athens, less Jerusalem please.

Christian West said...

Get back to me once you actually start talking about specific aspects of Islam and not generalities. I really don't care what some Christian theologian might think of Islam based on a universalist defintion he concoted and never having studied the subject himself.

The only aspect of Islam relevant here is whether it is a religion or not. I claim it is and I back it up with a few very simple arguments all based firmly on the middle-of-the-road 1400 years old approach to and understanding of Islam.

And it is not “some Christian theologian”, that you sneeringly dismiss, but virtually all Christian theologians and popes who dealt with and fought against Islam plus the main body of the Western historians.

Really, if you were not so hopelessly stuck-up you would admit the possibility that over the ages they had at least as much chance to read Koran, Hadiths and Sira as you. Also, the fact that both Church and the Academia arrived at different than yours conclusion should have a humbling effect on a dabbling amateur like yourself, whose only credentials are blog soap-boxing. But, as said, you are too self-important to see it and must go on writing your comical dissertations.

So really, why in the world would I want to “get back to you”? To hear again that you “don’t care what some Christian…might think” and that Mohammed and Allah are nasty while Mohammedans are dumb and that the spiritual content of Islam is dealing with questions like whether this, or that hair style is haram?

No, thanks.

geza1 said...

Oh my.

Don't you think you are getting a little worked up CW?

If the Church had been studying Islam for 1400 years, it wasn't working with very good sources. The first scholarly European translation that we saw of the Quran was released in 1734 by George Sale. Although there is much useful material available before that time, that majority of it was either of the partisan or ecumenical school. We did not begin to see real scholarship until the rise of the French, German, and British Orientalists. And I find it impossible for the Church to have been reading the aHadith and Sira for that long, which are more important than the Quran, due to the fact that European translations of both have been fairly recent.

If the Church had been doing its homework like you say they have, then we wouldn't see that bit about Muslims worshipping the same God as Catholics in the Catechism, Pope John Paul II would have never kissed a Quran, and Pope Benedict XVI would have not backpeddled from his Regensburg speech. They have more resources available to them now than ever and yet they are more interested in dialogue than stating the obvious truth about Islam.

Christian West said...

I think it is incredible anyone would believe that Vatican, or Constantinople decided to wait until 1734 until a “scholarly translation” of the Koran will be available in order to form its understanding of Islam! But even if it did (it didn’t) it would still have more than 250 years advantage over you. Think about that!

After Islam’s vanquishing Maghreb, Middle East and Iberia and tightening its grip on Byzantium the Leaders of Christianity had very good reason to gather as much knowledge about the mortal enemy as possible. There were always some Arabic and Turkish speakers in the West and it is inevitable that in the span of many centuries some of them would eventually be employed in Vatican, or Byzantium to translate things related to Islamic doctrines. What makes you think that they were inferior to the works of Orientalists?

In the year 1143 Robertus Rotenesis and Hermannus Dalmata made the first translation of the Koran into Latin. While it is true that it was not published until 1543 it would be absurd to assume that somehow the work was unavailable to the Church before that date. It seems that Aquinas was quite well acquainted with it. So was the Manuel II Paleologus which is evident from his dialogue with his Persian counterpart in the year 1390.

If the Church had been doing its homework like you say they have, then we wouldn't see that bit about Muslims worshipping the same God as Catholics in the Catechism.

The Church stumbled many times, but it was the only power that could unify Europeans to defeat the Ottomans at Lepanto, reclaim Sicily and Iberia and break Turkish back at Vienna. In the retrospective it is easy to delight in the failures of Church but had Europe been lead by liberals at these perilous times (as we are today) we would be a part of the Khilafa long before the first “scholarly translation” of the Koran was available.

I was scanning Catechism for “the bit about Muslims worshipping the same God as Catholics”, but could not find it. Could you please guide me to the “bit”?.

Pope John Paul II would have never kissed a Quran, and Pope Benedict XVI would have not backpeddled from his Regensburg speech.

I admit I have problem with that Koran kissing incident. It turns my stomach looking at the photo, but it can not change my perception of what the Church is and what Europe owes it.
But Steven has written wonderfully about the Church in his exchange with CS. Here is the link:
http://conswede.blogspot.com/2007/06/catholicismanectdotal-conservatism.html

I can’t say it more truly, eloquently and convincingly, so there is no point for me to try.

geza1 said...

I did not say the Church was ignorant of Islam, but that its knowledge was incomplete. Studying Islam in 1600 would have been much like studying Darwinism in 1900. Lots of stuff to work with, but much of it is discredited or inacurrate compared to the resources we have today.

The Orientalists went beyond the call of scholarship. They studied the texts, the people, and the various cultures that accepted Islam with great accuracy. Chances are if you are serious student of Islam, the bulk of your reading material consists of translations and books written by the great European Orientalists and not that of the Church, which did contribute but on a much smaller scale.

The more important question is, what is the Church doing with knowledge that they have acquired? Is calling for dialogue really wise?

Here's that "bit" about the Catechism:

The Moslems, “professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who at the last day wiill judge mankind” (Lumen Gentium 16). Though the Islamic faith does not acknowledge Jesus as God, it does revere Him as prophet, and also honors His virgin mother. Moslems “prize the moral life, and give worship to God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting” (Nostra Aetate 3). Noting that there had been many quarrels and hostilies between Christians and Muslims, the Second Vatican Council urged that all “forget the past and strive sincerely for mutual understanding, and, on the behalf of all mankind, make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace, and freedom” (Nostra Aetate 3).

I'm not getting into an argument about this. Just reading it horrifies me enough as it is.

The Nationalist said...

1910 Catholic Encyclopedia is honest and accurate:

"In matters political Islam is a system of despotism at home and aggression abroad. The Prophet commanded absolute submission to the imâm. In no case was the sword to be raised against him. The rights of non-Moslem subjects are of the vaguest and most limited kind, and a religious war is a sacred duty whenever there is a chance of success against the "Infidel". Medieval and modern Mohammedan, especially Turkish, persecutions of both Jews and Christians are perhaps the best illustration of this fanatical religious and political spirit."

Conservative Swede said...

The same Catholic Encyclopedia also says about Muhammed:

»Luther looked upon him as "a devil and first-born child of Satan". Maracci held that Mohammed and Mohammedanism were not very dissimilar to Luther and Protestantism. Spanheim and D'Herbelot characterize him as a "wicked impostor", and a "dastardly liar", while Prideaux stamps him as a wilful deceiver. Such indiscriminate abuse is unsupported by facts.

Modern scholars, such as Sprenger, Noldeke, Weil, Muir, Koelle, Grimme, Margoliouth, give us a more correct and unbiased estimate of Mohammed's life and character, and substantially agree as to his motives, prophetic call, personal qualifications, and sincerity. The various estimates of several recent critics have been ably collected and summarized by Zwemer, in his "Islam, a Challenge to Faith" (New York, 1907). According to Sir William Muir, Marcus Dods, and some others, Mohammed was at first sincere, but later, carried away by success, he practised deception wherever it would gain his end. Koelle "finds the key to the first period of Mohammed's life in Khadija, his first wife", after whose death he became a prey to his evil passions. Sprenger attributes the alleged revelations to epileptic fits, or to "a paroxysm of cataleptic insanity".

Zwemer himself goes on to criticize the life of Mohammed by the standards, first, of the Old and New Testaments, both of which Mohammed acknowledged as Divine revelation; second, by the pagan morality of his Arabian compatriots; lastly, by the new law of which he pretended to be the "divinely appointed medium and custodian". According to this author, the prophet was false even to the ethical traditions of the idolatrous brigands among whom he lived, and grossly violated the easy sexual morality of his own system. After this, it is hardly necessary to say that, in Zwemer's opinion, Mohammed fell very far short of the most elementary requirements of Scriptural morality. Quoting Johnstone, Zwemer concludes by remarking that the judgment of these modern scholars, however harsh, rests on evidence which "comes all from the lips and the pens of his own devoted adherents... And the followers of the prophet can scarcely complain if, even on such evidence, the verdict of history goes against him".»

The Nationalist said...

I wish that Luther's view was still preached in Lutheran churches.