Wednesday, March 11, 2009
“Islam is not a religion”: one of the mantras of the anti-Islam movement
I continue to be puzzled by an assertion that has become common among many in the still inchoate anti-Islam movement—namely, that “Islam is not a religion”.
There are a few problems with this:
1) Factual: Islam has all the trappings of a religion: it has the symbology (God, demons, angels, etc.); it has eschatology (drawing mostly on the Judaeo-Christian eschatology of a Last Days, Last Judgement, then an afterword divided into Paradise and Hell); and it has the rituals (prayers, pilgrimage, etc.).
2) Traditional: Islam has been regarded as a religion by the majority of Westerners throughout Western history—even when Westerners were not politically correct they regarded Islam as a religion. (I was able to find, within a few minutes of Googling, three examples of scholars who wrote about Islam in 1896, 1907 and 1913—all three of whom matter-of-factly referred to Islam as a religion.)
a) The implication of this assertion (that “Islam is not a religion”) is that a religion cannot be evil, unjust and dangerous (qualities that characterize Islam), because it is assumed that any and all “religions” must ipso facto be good. Hence, since Islam is not good, it must be automatically disqualified as a “religion”. On what basis exactly does this implication rest? So far, I have not seen an argument offered to justify this implication.
b) In addition, there is a corollary logical problem based on the fallacy of exclusion: the assertion that if A is X, it cannot also be Y, even when the incompatibility of X and Y has not been shown. Example: if Islam is proven to be a geopolitical ideology, then it cannot also be a religion. To which the reasonable person asks: Why can’t it be both?
Any argument defending this mantra of the anti-Islam movement must at least incorporate the analysis articulated above. Absent any argument, one is tempted to conclude that what motivates these particular members of the anti-Islam movement (and they seem to be a majority) is:
1) a sophomoric attitude based on
a) a recognition that among the principles of PC MC which together form the paradigm that persists in irrationally defending Islam is Islam’s status as a religion: this sophomoric attitude basically responds by simplistically asserting that Islam is not a religion, without, however, really addressing the problems of that assertion; and
b) an emotional reflex that wants to deny to Islam anything they perceive as good (cf. #3 above).
2) Influence from PC MC: certain members of the still inchoate anti-Islam movement seem to have hangovers from PC MC affecting their mentation. I have written before about such hangovers affecting asymptotic analysis. Here, the hangover would be in the PC MC notion of all religions and all cultures being good. What the anti-Islam person has done here is retain that notion, then on the basis of that axiom (that any “religion” must ipso facto be good), denies the status of “religion” to Islam.
3) Influence from Christianity—probably most especially evangelical Protestantism (which includes non-denominational Christians who claim they are “not Protestants, just Christians”). In this type of Christianity there is a tendency rather contrary to #2 above: to actually deny the status of “religion” to all non-Christian religions anyway (except Judaism insofar as Judaism is considered to be embryonic Christianity).
Discursus on the Christianity dimension:
The strident position that “Islam is not a religion” is apparently a minority view in Christianity, not only because Christianity has become corrupted by PC MC in the past century or so (increasing with each passing decade into our own), but also because the mainstream Christianities tended to have developed an idea, beginning with the early Patristic theologians, that sees in any expression of religion (or spiritualism relating to divinity) a legitimate inchoate theology at the very least sincerely, if confusedly, groping after the fullest expression of theological truth, Christianity. Thus we see officially expressed in the Catholic catechism, a respect for Islam as a religion cultivating a worship of the same God as the one that Christians worship:
. . .together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.
The viable alternatives for Christians with regard to Islam are either to understand it as an official heresy (Luther argued in an unofficial capacity that Islam is in effect a subtype of the heresy of Arianism), or as a version of Satanism. Apparently, neither alternative has been sufficiently explored such as to have much of an impact on mainstream Christian theology, catechisms and general lay opinion. Absent any such official stand on Islam, then, the situation did little to prepare Christians when PC MC began corrupting them, since for the most part they had no pre-existing official stand with regard to Islam by which to resist the PC MC mythologization of Islam. From a casual Googling, I found this particular Lutheran synod’s position on Islam, from which one can see a healthy distancing from Islam with respect to the truth of Christianity based upon the Islamic rejection of Christology. However, this position seems oddly lacking in a clear determination of whether Islam is a bonafide religion or not. The reader must conclude that for this Lutheran synod, Islam is a religion, but is blind to the salvation offered through a divine Jesus Christ. Apparently, for mainstream Christianity, a belief system is not disqualified from the status of “religion” and does not then acquire the status of “heresy” just because that belief system rejects Christology. What these Christians currently and throughout the centuries curiously fail to note, however, is that Islam offers ample evidence of being a heresy—if not even of being an instance of Satanism. This is another complex kettle of fish to explore at a later date.
Regardless of our discursus above, the modern West has no need for an official Christian pronouncement on the status of Islam, insofar as it is rational to assume that a belief system can be considered a “religion” and at the same time still be considered dangerous, evil and unjust from a sociopolitical perspective. I.e., whether or not Islam is considered a “religion” is irrelevant to our determination of its danger to our societies when that danger reaches the level of seditious terrorism and stealth agendas to further that sedition.
At any rate, if any proponents of the assertion that “Islam is not a religion” would care to offer an actual argument defending that assertion—an argument that incorporates my analysis here, I’m all ears. Caveat lector: if you are simply going to reiterate the assertion without offering an argument, or offer a half-assed argument that does not factor in my analysis and forces me to repeat myself, I will not be interested.