Saturday, October 27, 2012

Voegelinians and Islam, Part 2

Over a year ago, in August of 2011, I posted here a rather sketchy essay -- Voegelinians and Islam -- about Voegelinians and how they seem to be rather generally tainted by PC MC with regard to the problem of Islam, even though on nearly every other sociopolitical issue, they more or less pat themselves on the back for being so conservative and politically incorrect.

(For readers unfamiliar with the term, "Voegelinians" are not some race of aliens allied with the Klingons from some Star Trek movie; but rather the term denotes those -- mostly academics -- who have become abiding fans of the remarkable 20th century philosopher, Eric Voegelin.)

In that previous essay, I made brief mention of a particularly prominent Voegelinian, Professor Fritz Wagner, quoting his decidedly D'Souzish explanation for what he conceded (only to taketh away with the small print) is "the Muslim visceral hatred for the West".  I also noted that he, as creator and manager of a solidly academic discussion forum dedicated to the writings and thought of Eric Voegelin, banned me because he thought I was trying to "bait" a Muslim member of the forum (the only Muslim -- at least at the time -- I believe).  If I was trying to do so, it was in the spirit of these various F.B.I. "entrapments" of Muslims who seem to be so easily seduced by the delicious prospect of mass-murdering the Other (i.e., us).  The reader should consult this description for more details in this regard.

At any rate, today I will analyze in more depth a multi-layered essay Wagner penned in the immediate aftermath of 911 -- practically while the smoke was still clearing.  Here are the titles of the various layers (each one only about a page in length):

The Other: Islam and September 11th
The Integrity of Islam
The Strands of Muslim Culture
Western Misapprehension of Muslim Thought
Three Historical Misunderstandings
Our Strange and Distant Western Culture
The Pathology Behind Setpember 11th

I'm afraid, dear reader, it only gets worse.  Indeed, the common phrase "I don't know where to begin" leaps to mind when slogging through that bog of PC MC Wagner concocted as I have tried to figure out how to respond.  I was reminded of something Voegelin himself wrote, in an entirely different context -- in his introduction to the fourth volume of his magisterial epic of the philosophy of history, Order and History: The Ecumenic Age, when describing how after his third volume, he found he had to readjust and recalibrate profoundly how to approach his overarching topic -- noting that his problem at that juncture was not that he felt a horror vacui, but on the contrary a horror pleni... So too, the problem with Wagner's perspective on the problem of Islam is so richly manifold and woven as tightly as a Persian carpet that it becomes a formidable (and wearying) task to try to refute it in a standard way.  In such instances, I have learned to fall back on that tried-and-true method I learned from Internet discussion forums: the interlinear snip-&-snipe attack.

Thus, I will simply paste in his entire essay, and throughout its text I will insert my reactions in square brackets.

It would be apposite at this point to mention that not only was Wagner grievously amiss, and remiss, back in September of 2001 when he wrote the essay, but apparently, he hasn't graduated along the learning curve in the decade plus since that time:  a notice on the Voegelin discussion forum dated approximately at the time of the 10th anniversary of 911, in 2011, indicates that Wagner has remained as dense as ever:

"Rereading this reflection 10 years later he [Wagner] says he wouldn't change much of what he wrote back then."

As the reader follows me now through that original essay of Wagner's, his dismay at that cheery obtuseness ten years later will grow stronger and stronger.

Let's begin, shall we?

The Other: Islam and September 11th

[One senses right off the bat in his choice of a titular rubric for this essay, supposed to be shedding light on why a commando unit of spiritually diseased fanatics massacred thousands of Americans, that Wagner shares the axiomatic bias of most Westerners, that only Westerners cultivate a prejudice against "the Other" -- that, indeed, the West as a part of its ingrained bigotry against other cultures invented "the Other" as a supremacist category by which to denigrate (or at the very least unfairly misunderstand) peoples of other cultures; as though non-Western peoples are not capable also of indulging in such a bigotry -- as though, indeed, it is not a fact that the West of all cultures in history has succeeded the most (not perfectly, but nothing in life is perfect) in trying to transcend such tribalism.]

After the murderous events of September 11th, 2001, there was an immediate reaction in which people wanted to retaliate against Muslim Arab nations, since, after all, this was an attack worse than Pearl Harbor and therefore we needed to declare war and punish the enemy. "Arab" is used advisedly because there was no thought of attacking, for instance, Indonesia or Turkey, non-Arab Muslim nations.

[Even with one short paragraph, one doesn't know where to begin.  Sheesh.  First of all, how many "people" wanted to "realiate against Muslim ...nations"?  I don't recall any broad-based blood lust going on.  In fact, Americans were overwhelmingly calm and decently grief-stricken (if not shell-shocked) about the whole thing -- almost too much so, frankly.  It would have been refreshing to have seen a bit of rage, for God's sake, just so that we know we're still alive. Of course Wagner has no documentation to back up his conveniently vague sweeping assertion about "people" (i.e., about Americans).  Then there's this business about "Arab" nations, a needless distraction, not to mention irrelevant and misleading, since it was not the "Arabness" that motivated the Muslims who plotted and perpetrated (and for years after countenanced if not supported) 911 -- it was their Islam; and so, the little pat on the back Wagner is patroniziingly giving to Americans by noting their supposed discernment between "Arab" and "Muslim" actually reaches around to bite him in the ass, since it would have been stupid to isolate the problem to "Arabs" and ignore the motivating ideology.  Besides, everyone agreed at the time -- even Democrats who hated Bush -- that attacking non-Arab Afghanistan was appropriate because they had succumbed -- not as Arabs but as Muslims -- to a welter of Taliban control conducive to giving safe harbor to bin Laden and al Qaeda.]

But the reaction in favor of massive retaliation was only momentary and was replaced almost immediately by a determination to capture or kill the conspirators and their protectors. Such a restrained reaction is, as far as memory serves, the first time when a massive murderous act is not responded to with a reprisal on a similar scale.

[Huh?  First of all, there has been no "massive murderous act" in the West to compare this with.  Nobody else but Muslims is going around doing 911s, Madrids, London Tube bombings, Mumbais, etc.  And if one will try to defend Wagner by saying he wrote this prior to those subsequent attacks, he is ignoring, for example, Oklahoma City.  That was a massive murderous act, though far smaller in scale and less serious in its portent for further dangers from the same quarter (pace Jayna Davis).  Americans didn't respond with a "reprisal on a similar scale".  Again, Americans were calm and judicious, if grief-stricken and disturbed; and our legal process in its ploddingly civilized way eventually executed one of the perpetrators (the other remains alive to this day).  And there were other mass murderous acts (though perhaps not "massive" enough to qualify) -- such as the Beirut suicide bombing by Muslims in ___, killing ___; or two Muslim suicide bombings in Argentina in __ and __, killing ___; or the machine-gunning (followed by savage stabbings) by Muslims in cold blood in broad daylight of innocent tourists visiting Egyptian ruins in Khartoum in __, killing __ -- just thinking off the top of my head (I'm sure I could adduce more where those came from).  No reprisals "on a similar scale" were ever taken against those outrageous atrocities.  In fact, in the 1990s, there occurred the grotesque opposite of what Wagner is claiming: the organized wanton warmongering against Serbs on largely fabricated and/or luridly (if not ludicrously) exaggerated claims of "ethnic cleansing" for which no evidence was ever adequately presented (see this notice for more details).  At any rate: Reading on, we see the direction where Wagner's turgid brain is groping.  Note: You know, I was going to take the time and trouble to fill in those blanks above -- but fuck no:  it's Prof. Wagner's responsibility to find out that information he has so unconscionably ignored.]

This restraint may exist in part from the memory of murderous bombing of civilians by the US and British air forces in World War II, by the knowledge that for the last fifteen years or so, cruel events often end up on video tape, and lastly, one would hope, that the President of the United States, in fact, lives the Christian life that he openly espouses.

[Apparently, Wagner is attempting to argue a degree of equivalency between the Allies and the Axis powers, by the ridiculous claim that our bombings of Germany and Japan were "in retaliation" for  the massive murderous attacks by Germans and Japanese; but he errs grievously and painfully here on two counts, closely inter-related.  Our bombings were not "retaliation"; they were principally acts of self-defense against fanatically megamoniacal mass-murderous supremacists hell-bent on conquering the world.  We were not only fighting in self-defense (of the West), but in defense of the world.  To call this "murderous" -- in a rhetorical context, moreover, in which a degree of equivalence is implied between us and the evil Nazis, Fascists and Shintoists -- and to muddy the waters with the equivalencist obfuscation "retaliation", is reprehensible and reckless; though, alas, all too common in our PC MC culture.]

So who are these people who committed suicide and mass murder? Do they represent a radical fringe of Islam?

[Why do I smell a rhetorical question already answered by some Axiom before any data is considered?]

Why did they do it? Is there a solution? I am not an Arabist or scholar of Islam but I needed to come to some conclusions on this like everyone else in order to cope with the disaster and draw closer to God because of it.

[Right then; let's see where he goes with what are ostensibly good questions.]

From what I have been able to read and from my memories of the thought and actions of Arabic friends, I have reached some tentative conclusions.

[Oh dear.]

Thanks to the internet, I was able to consult a very dear person living in the Middle East in order to avoid what would have perhaps amounted to caricature in some instances.1

[Ah, the old trusty Muslim friend -- and here "very dear" to add more ballast! -- who will be only too glad to help to put things "into perspective" for the gullible Westerner.  And as an added bonus for us on the receiving end, we get to feed ourselves on the empty calories of anecdotal evidence.  Yummy.]

[Onward we go, to the next subtitle...]

The Integrity of Islam

[Oh my.  Would it be too much to hope that by "integrity", Wagner is referring to the older, less common meaning of the word -- meaning the degree to which an entity coheres into a unity (perhaps even a "monolithic" one, if not one doubly totalitarian, as G.H.  Bousquet argued)...?]

Traditional Arab Islamic society cannot blend with Western European-US culture without disappearing in the process. Islam is a religion in the same sense that Benedictine monasticism is a religion.

[There's that annoying fixation Wagner has with "Arabic", when the majority of Muslims around the world are non-Arabic; and there exists (and existed in 2001) a mountain of data indicating that non-Arab Muslims are not significantly less fanatical in their conformity with (if not support for) the mainstream tenets of the Sunna.  As for his comparison with "Benedictine monasticism", it applies only in terms of its daily regimentation and tendency toward puritanical behaviors and thoughts -- though there exist far apter comparisons in this regard -- such as the Knights Templar (a military monastic order), or better yet Shintoism, or best of all (but still inadequate to capture the full catastrophe of Islam) the totalitarianisms of Communism and Nazism -- for, after all, Wagner's mentor par excellence, Voegelin, argued copiously and persuasively that those latter ideologies were, in fact, morphologically and substantially religions (or more precisely, "ersatz religions").]

...My Arab friend says: "Your likening of Islamic society to Benedictine monasticism is a particularly happy choice, since it captures the essence of the Islamic intention behind its multi-faceted teachings for a society that wishes to live under God.

[Oh yes, I'm sure Wagner's Arab very dear friend was "particularly happy" about Wagner handing him a misleading propaganda point on a silver platter, by which to reinforce the disastrous "Islam is a religion of peace" mantra -- along with the added bonus points, to a conservative Catholic like Wagner, of how "serious" and "committed" Muslims are to their religion unlike all those modern secular Westerners whom Wagner sighs about.  His Arab friend would be a decidedly unhappier camper, however, had Wagner made the apter comparisons I suggested above; and if Wagner would have pressed the point politely but firmly, and backed it up with evidence (which is out there for the curious person with an open mind), he may well have experienced what so many of us in the anti-Islam movement (such as it is) have seen: the transformation of the friendly smiling Muslim into an increasingly irrational and irate opponent whose good faith in which we trusted slowly but surely spirals into logical gymnastics (including the Tu Quoque, Ad Hominem, and Argument from Authority fallacies, along with Equivalencism and the usual cluster thrown in of red herrings and straw men) as he escalates his defense of the indefensible.  But Wagner is too respectful of his Arab friends (particularly the "very dear" ones) to ever treat them like responsible adults who should stand up clearly for what they support and explain their continued defense of an ideology that has moral and spiritual holes big enough to fly commercial jet planes through.]

[His Arab friend goes on, laying it on thick:]

It reminds me of a remark once made by Frithjof Schuon, in his book Light on the Ancient Worlds, in the chapter entitled "The Universality of Monasticism," where he says:
"The famous 'no monasticism in Islam' (la rahbaniyyata fil-islam) really means, not that contemplatives must not withdraw from the world, but on the contrary that the world must not be withdrawn from contemplatives"."
[What his Arab friend carefully leaves out -- in kitman fashion -- is that Christian monks have been hated and persecuted by Muslims from the beginning (with the massacre of the Trappist monks in Algeria in 1996 just one among many recent examples of the continuation of that inveterate hatred) mainly for two reasons: One, their very presence in a Muslim land is an affront and temptation for Muslims to stray from their monotheism to Trinitarianism which they consider to be polytheism and equivalent to the crime of shirk ("associating partners with Allah") -- for which the penalty under mainstream Islamic law is death.  Two, the Koran itself mentions that the culture of monasticism encourages monks to be revered, and that this reverence also constitutes shirk.  In Koran 9:30, immediately after 9:29 which enjoins Muslims to "fight those who have been given the scripture but who do not follow Allah", it claims that they (i.e., Jews and Christians) "... have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah."  Muslims have of course made exceptions in their domains, as long as monks (and Christians in general) "behave" like good dhimmis -- though even then they live a precarious existence and may be lynched when Muslims want to relieve their stress, or they may be unjustly accused of "blasphemy" or "treason" at the drop of a keffiyeh.]

[Wagner goes on to expand on the deceptive enlightenment his Arab friend has so kindly provided him with:]

This intention [in Islam to withdraw from the world monastically] must be distinguished from the West's post-Reformation privatization of religion, its withdrawal from government, from the workplace, from the schools, from the "public square," and now, frighteningly, from marriage and the family. Perhaps the most obnoxious difference in the West is the degradation of human sexuality from its protection within marital love to spirit-killing, commercialized lust. From the perspective of the comparatively healthy and integrated families and societies of Islam, the West must appear indeed as an engine of Satanic evil, the United States being the most prolific purveyor of human ugliness.

[Wagner doesn't seem to be merely neutrally describing the Muslim mindset here in its revulsion of the West, but actually wading into the pool with them for a swim.  This is basically the D'Souzish view, that Muslims are honorable Puritans sort of like the peaceful Amish, and are so horrified by our modern liberal West, they recoil at us -- and this is why they seem to remain unassimilable to a great degree and why they are constantly complaining about us in one way or another (and why so many of them -- but, of course, always a Tiny Minority of Extremists -- seem to keep "radicalizing").  And wouldn't you know it, Wagner even goes on to compare his Arab friend to the Amish!]

One consequence of this social evil is that when a devout Muslim finds himself living in the West, he is compelled to practice a kind of separateness. He resembles the Amish in many ways. He is friendly but distant, does business but keeps things polite, wishes people well but turns to his coreligionists for all that he loves and cares about.

[Some of this may be accurate, in a superficial way, but it is irrelevant and distracting from what is more important, and therefore it becomes obfuscatory, obscuring the larger point that Islamic culture, however "monastic" it may seem in certain specific respects, can, and does, coexist with a militant supremacism intolerant of others that puts dangerous teeth into such a self-imposed cultural ghettoization euphemistically seen as "monastic" -- let alone "Amish" for God's sake!]. 

He does not allow himself to become indebted to local banks or credit card companies, preferring to borrow money from among his friends.

[Sigh.  Wagner is adducing this habit of his Arab friend as though it is part of the "Amish" unworldliness.  What's actually going on here is just one of the thousand stipulations of mainstream Islam by which Muslims regulate their lives like fanatical Pharisees.  In this case, Mohammed told them not to practice usury or to garner interest, and so they are told by their clerics to eschew Western banking, because it entails interest (no wonder Muslim economies are perpetually impoverished, except when they get massive infusions of unearned wealth from the geological accidents of oil, or from billions in foreign aid we send them).]

He uses the technology available but shows a healthy ambivalence towards it, as one would towards a half-trained watchdog.

[Huh?  I'd love to know what this cryptic allusion means in terms of concrete examples.  Does his Arab friend look askance at his Android cell phone and grin with a soupçon of sardonic, neo-Luddite diffidence at those Infidels who gave him this modern instrument -- and the thousand other modern instruments that make his life more convenient and efficient?  On second thought, nah; I've had enough of Muslims and their mental and spiritual disease.  I am now concentrating on the related disease of PC MC, by which otherwise bright and intelligent Westerners like Prof. Wagner, when regarding the problem of Islam, descend into gibbering orangutans bereft of all their acquired wisdom.]

He is here so that he may attain material wealth while being freely left alone to live his religious life among his family and friends. Occasionally the children embrace the local culture and abandon Islam. When they do so they do not necessarily embrace the exemplary aspects of Western culture!

[Good God Almighty, this is getting tedious.  I'm going to have to pace myself.  If I chose to comment on every bankrupt and/or incoherent asseveration found in Wagner's essay, I'd be here all week and couldn't get anything done in my personal life.  So from now on, I will be selective, and just so my reader knows, this does not mean I don't find crucial fault with passages from Wagner's essay which I thus happen to bypass.]

The Strands of Muslim Culture

[I couldn't let this pass.  That subtitle, with its unctuous "strands", conjures up not only Persian carpets but also the "tapestry" so near and dear to Multiculturalists everywhere (except when they are considering their own Western culture -- then it's back to beating the rugs with sticks to get out all the shameful bigoted dust (and sexually depraved mites, for the D'Souzites like Wagner) that has accrued and continues to linger unless we diligently harp on it.]

In Muslim history one sees the development of several traditions that are alive today, each of which combines with the others and expresses itself variously in the lives of individual Muslims. The Qu'ran (Koran), being about the length of the New Testament, is far too brief and elliptical to act as a compendium of all that must be known to live one's life in a way pleasing to God. One also needs the writings about the life of Muhammad, who stands as an exemplar and guide for daily living, which, together with many other traditions about decisions and sayings of Muhammad, are collected together as Sunna. From the word Sunna is taken the name of those who combine it with the Qu'ran, in effect making what might be termed the Muslim Torah. They call themselves Ahlu-s-Sunna (the people of the right practice) and they comprise 90% of the world's Muslims.

[See?  Fritz had been studying and learning -- giving him even less of an excuse for his abysmal ignorance in other key respects of this same subject matter.]


[Trust me, dear reader, the text you missed represented by that last ellipsis has spared you from additional torture.  Let's move on.]

Lastly, one must mention Sufism (tasawwuf in Arabic). The Sufi represent the mystical traditions in Islam. The title Sufi is either given to an adept of Sufism or, more rigorously, to the fully realized saint (wali). Sufi texts are basically indistinguishable from the texts of Western mysticism, such as The Cloud of Unknowing . They are substantively similar because they both describe the human experience of being allowed to approach God while still living in this world.

[We can lay to rest the Myth of Sufi 'Mysticism' with dispatch (and that link should be read along with the comments, which provide more damning data about Sufis).  And anyway, how does it being 'mystical' exempt it from being unjust, intolerant, evil, or dangerous?  And no, Sufism is nothing like the Cloud of Unknowing -- unless you limit your comparisons to superficial resemblancesShame on you, Professor Wagner.  God, the abysmal idiocy here is just mind-boggling.  You'd be lucky to get a D+.]

As my friend put it to me: "Early European scholarly incursions into the study of Sufism took to explaining the existence of an Islamic mystical tradition in terms of influences from Christian, Hindu or Buddhist sources....

[Blah, blah, blah, blah.  STFU, "very dear friend".]

It should be mentioned that Arabic is the language of the Islamic religion, which means practically that a scholar of Islam must know Arabic, even if he be Persian, Turk, African or South Asian. Thus Arabic is the oldest living language which is also the universal language of a major religion.

[And what is Prof. Wagner implying here?  That we cannot criticize Islam, or condemn it, unless we are scholars of Arabic?  Does he not know that most of the 1.3 billion Muslims of the world do not know Arabic (much less are they scholars of the language)?   Those hundreds of millions of Muslims would ipso facto not be competent to talk about nor understand Islam, by Wagner's breezily inept logic!  Good God Almighty!  No wonder the West is stumbling along in a Neville Chamberlain daze in this latest global threat to freedom and democracy!]

Western Misapprehension of Muslim Thought

[A supremely, excruciatingly ironic subtitle.]

I wrote to my friend to convey my understanding of the development of Islamic thought...

[Boy, Wagner sure is relying on this one anecdotal friend a lot for this essay and its sweeping assertions about Islam and Muslims.  So what did he write to his friend?  Let's see...]

In the medieval centuries Muslim culture produced great commentators (as well as transmitting the texts) on the Greek philosophers such as Aristotle—Averroës and Avicenna being the most famous philosophers known to the West. Yet this development seems to have ended because of a kind of reaction against philosophy: reason can be perverted into rationalism which can endanger the very social effectiveness of religion (certainly a central problem in the West).

[And how did his friend respond?]

My friend patiently replied, giving a more complete explanation of my rather simplistic attempt...

[Wow.  To describe the naivete at work here as "stunning" doesn't begin to adequately convey what's going on.]

(Here I paraphrase my friend.) It was once thought by Orientalists that the high development of Islamic law came at the expense of the continued development of philosophy. This was a standard Orientalist thesis on the fate of philosophy under Islam.

[Blah, blah, blah.  Basically what Wagner is really describing here is the fact that he didn't know squat about Islam when suddenly some Muslims surprised him on 911 by massacring over 3,000 Americans in a spectacularly horrifying commando attack against New York City and the Pentagon, and quite likely the White House (the plane that was forced down by brave American passengers in Pennsylvania probably), and instead of doing some intelligent homework on his own, exercizing some judicious skepticism, he relinquishes all his critical faculties and puts all his trust in his "very dear" Arabic friend to tell him what to think and how to interpret all the troubling data about Islam.  I wouldn't mind Wagner doing this in the privacy of his own den or study, necessarily; but I do mind him publishing this camelshit on an official forum dedicated to the philosophy of Eric Voegelin.]

Suffice to say on this occasion that the dichotomy of "Athens versus Jerusalem" was resolved by the application of the mystical apprehension of Divine Unity instead of the Aristotelian contemplation of being. Al-Ghazali, the great medieval theologian, who was also a great Sufi, and had thoroughly studied philosophy and composed works within its discourse, came to reject some of its speculations in favor of theology.

[Ah, Wagner wants to toss Al-Ghazali into the discussion, eh?  Let's see what Al-Ghazali, the great Sufi theologian (no less than an Islamic Aquinas in historical reputation), had to say about jihad: must go on jihad (i.e., 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 - i.e. 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... 

...the dhimmi [may never] mention Allah or His Apostle...Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [non-Muslim poll tax]....[O]n offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protuberant bone beneath his ear [lower jaw]... They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells...[T]heir houses may not be higher than the Muslim's, no matter how low.... The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle is ... wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. [Dhimmis must] wear [an identifying] patch, even women, and even in the [public] baths...[Dhimmis] must hold their tongue.... ]

As my friend phrases it:...

[Oh, tell your friend to put a sock in it.]

My friend continues on my behalf:...

[Jesus Christ -- and I'm not taking His name in vain; I'm pleading to Him in profoundly aggrieved earnestness from the depths of my splanchna to save me from this tragicomic travesty!]

Three Historical Misunderstandings

[Oh, this ought to be good...]

Three historical misunderstandings should be corrected here. Firstly, the Arabic conquest arising from Arabia and absorbing the Middle East, North Africa, Spain and parts of Asia, was an accomplished fact in about one hundred years after the death of Muhammad (632 AD) —accomplished before the Qu'ran and the Sunna were even given their final form: a process of formation which really became recognizable only three hundred years after the death of Muhammed, in the tenth century, much as the Old Testament is a retrospective rather than a contemporaneous compilation.

[This doesn't necessarily rule out a fanatically supremacist expansionism beginning in the 7th century based upon an inspiration in the mythos of Mohammed.  The spectacular geographical reach, success and ultra-violence of the expansion of Arabs in the 7th century and into the 8th century is an event that requires explanation.  Just because they may not have had a solidified and complete Koran, nor Hadiths per se, doesn't mean they didn't have Islam.  We in the West assume everyone must be like us: but Muslims frequently demonstrate behaviors that defy explanation in Western terms.  Example, millions of East Asian Muslims may in a sense be said to be ignorant of the Koran and Hadiths, and certainly don't know Arabic beyond the rote repetition they are forced to learn (with plenty of corporal punishment to drum it in) in madrassas, but nevertheless they absorb the Islamic essentials of Fear & Loathing of the Other, Paranoia about a Perpetual Enemy Around Them (particularly the Jews), a Superiority Complex (or rather a Supremacist Complex), and the Need to Wage Jihad to Defend the Super-Tribe, Islam.  The first few generations of Muslims could well have done the same, as they solidified over time what would become set in stone, as it were, in their holy scriptures.  Besides, Wagner's implied claim would be unable to explain why one of the earliest mosques (a Christian church stolen and turned into a mosque, of course), the Al Aqsa mosque, has carved in stone on the outside of its four walls the belligerently intolerant condemnation of the Christian Trinity -- a cornerstone (pun intended) of the Koranic doctrine of monotheism and shirk.  I.e., even if there was no solidified Koran at the time of the creation of the Al Aqsa mosque, when Muslims overran the Middle East at the beginning of their spectacular wave of conquests westward (and eastward), they apparently didn't need it to be driven by what would be the more solidified doctrines and attitudes it would later enshrine.]

In other words, the conquest was more the expression of an expansionist monotheistic warrior people rather than the carrying out of the mandate of a new, fully formulated religion.

[So what?  Wagner is quibbling sophistically here with weaselly words like "rather than...a new, fully formulated religion."  So if it's not "fully formulated" it can't inspire violent hatred and intolerance of the Other and the military conquest and subjugation and oppression in turn consequent upon that culture of violent hatred and intolerance?  Balderdash.]

 (It should be mentioned here that Christian and Jewish enclaves survived within the Arabic Ecumene. They were prohibited from proselytizing or erecting new churches or synagogues and were treated as second-class citizens, but they were not compelled to chose between conversion or death.

[Wagner evidently has not educated himself about what this "second-class citizenship" entailed for so many millions of Christians and Jews over the centuries.  Nor has he learned that the "protection" under dhimmitude was conditional -- a Christian or Jew could break that protection at the drop of a fez, by exercising free speech or free expression or free behavior; or merely by being suspected of it by paranoid Muslims; or by being unjustly and dishonestly accused of it by Muslims who wanted to get back at a Jew or Christian.  As we see in Muslim lands that practice more sharia than less, such as in Pakistan, many Christians who become undesirable for any of a host of reasons -- perhaps some Muslims just want to reduce the business competition in a village -- can be easily charged with "blasphemy" and their "protection" becomes therefore forfeit, and they may be lynched ad libitum or their family be so terrorized that they feel they have to flee their homes altogether.  I.e., the lives of Christians and Jews (and later the Hindus who were granted dhimmi status) remained perpetually precarious, depending on a perpetually volatile Muslim population ever inflammable with the fanaticism of their culture of gnostic pneumopathology.]

It was rather similar to the position of recusant Catholics in England from 1534 to the early part of the nineteenth century.

[A gratuitous, irrelevant bit of equivalencism -- though no doubt highly relevant in Wagner's mind.]

My friend leaves shortly for a visit to the Monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai Desert. The monastery has survived for fourteen hundred years under the protection of Islam.)

[Notice the precious phrase "under the protection of Islam".  Only a person who has not gone to the trouble of learning about the relentless depradations Muslims have inflicted on Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and various pagan peoples in the wake of their supremacist expansionism over the centuries right into our very own 21st century, would give that datum about the St. Catherine monastery the benefit of the doubt.  The reasonable assumption is that if a dhimmi institution has survived for centuries in a Muslim land, it is because they have paid a terrible price for such a modus vivendi.  Wagner's breezy implication resembles a man who regards, from the outside, the fact that a woman has remained in a marriage for 50 years as proof that her husband -- otherwise known to be a wifebeater and childbeater (if not worse) -- must be treating her well; rather than the far likelier scenario of a living hell of Stockholm-Syndrome denial, fear and regular abuse and death threats the wife has had to endure just to remain alive under the same roof as the monster she remains married to.]

Secondly, one should point out that the Western Crusades were inconclusive, except for the harm they did to Byzantine Christianity.

[Nifty little dig at your own Western Christendom there, Professor.  You forgot to mention that the Crusades were defensive battles against a wicked force that had violently conquered vast swaths of land that had already flourished as civilized cultural centers of Christendom for a good three centuries, then subjugated and horribly mistreated and oppressed the Christians there (as well as the Jews, Berbers and other indigenous populations, including black Africans) for at least three centuries before the West got its excrement together to try do anything about it. Just because the West failed to protect its oppressed populations, this does not impugn the principle and project of the Crusades; nor should the unfortunate excursion to attack Byzantines mar the righteousness of the overall mission.  Unless you're a self-hating modern professor of a Western university, that is.]

. . .

The third point is related to our Western misunderstanding of the function of the Qu'ran and our habit of comparing it to the Bible. As my Arabic friend put it to me: "For Muslims the Qur'an is the literal Word of God, in form, sound and content, much as the Torah is to the Jews or the Veda is to Hindus. In other words, the Qur'an is for Muslims the Universal Divine Word made book, just as for Christians Christ is the Universal Divine Word made flesh."

[Now, if only Prof. Wagner would actually read the Koran to see what "literal" words "of God" are contained therein, he might then learn enough to ask his "very dear friend" some tougher questions, rather than mollycoddle him with softball questions and gullibly swallow every bromide of pablum spoonfed him.  For example -- just to pluck one verse from a turban out of dozens of horrifying verses one could adduce -- Koran 4:34, where Allah tells Muslim men to beat their women -- with the justifying pretext for this being merely suspecting their women of "rebellion".  Since Wagner's "very dear friend" already established that the Koran is the literal word of God to be regarded with the same reverence with which Christians regard Jesus Christ Himself, how would he explain (or explain away) 4:34?  And why isn't Prof. Wagner asking him this, and expecting an honest answer?  And what honest answer could possibly get any Muslim out of this frightful corner his own Islam has painted him into?]

One is compelled to ask how the person of Muhammad becomes of central importance in addition to the Qu'ran? My friend continued:
But one also needs the life record of the Prophet Muhammad, who stands as the perfect exemplar of the Qur'anic content as a whole, not only the teachings. He is the "Unlettered Prophet", who is perfect container of the perfect Divine Word. In this, the soul of the Prophet may be likened to that of the Virgin Mary. She is Virgin. He is Unlettered (Ummi in Arabic). Both are the perfect vessel of the revealed content!

Thus, the records of the Prophet's life are collected as the Sunna (lit. means the wont or way of being and doing). The Sunna resembles the New Testament in that it is the record of the life and deeds of the founder of the religion—from which is derived the idea of imitatio Christi for instance—whereas it is not considered as the very body of the Divine Word as such.

Theologically, the Sunna comes secondary in status to the Qu'ran , but it is treated with the greatest reverence nevertheless. Indeed, following the Sunnat is the hallmark and criterion of all orthodoxy.
[Prof. Wagner just takes his friend's word on all this.  What are we supposed to be reading here?  Wagner's reasoned interpretation of what he has learned about Islam, or merely the parroted, regurgitated propaganda of a Muslim who happens to be a "very dear friend" of his?  Of what worth is the latter to Wagner's readers?  And has Wagner bothered to defend his promiscuously indiscriminate reliance upon his Muslim friend?  Of course not!  He expects the reader to assume its veracity as axiomatically as he does.  Now, once again -- as with the Koran -- his friend has set Islam up for a fall, by defining Mohammed in such impeccably vaunted terms, and even handing us on a silver platter the Sunna as the body of information from which we may examine Mohammed's character with a little more rigorously dispassionate objectivity than Wagner seems willing, or capable, of doing.  How about we look at the "Sunna" and see what the most authoritative source in Islam for Mohammed's sayings records?   Hm?  Are you listening, Prof. Wagner?  Apparently not.  Oh well, for those readers who still have l'âme ouverte, all you have to do, if you have not done so already in trying to understand this horrible apparition called Islam in the modern world, is read what the Sunna records Mohammed saying.  And there is a lot more dreadful stuff in the hadiths where that link's data comes from.  Shame on Prof. Wagner for not educating himself, and for continuing to purvey a false impression on the basis of his reckless, colossal ignorance.]

Our Strange and Distant Western Culture

[Okay, I'm done with Prof. Wagner.  I don't have time or patience to go through the rest of his tedious essay exculpating an ideology more evil and horrific than Nazism.  Readers can read it and be horrified for themselves.  And remember:  This is a conservative philosophy professor spewing this PC MC garbage, not some "liberal".]


Fiqh said...

Well, that was certainly worth waiting for. And I don't mean that sarcastically. An amazing essay. I have much to say about this. Unfortunately, I'm on deadline, and I'm about to get hit with a hurricane. Hesp, if I may ask, just hold on. Give me three days? Four maybe? This could be a fun discussion. Based on my initial read ... well, I was going to say something, but I need to get to bed or I'll miss my deadline and possibly die. Great essay!

Hesperado said...

Thanks Fiqh -- I rather hastily put this essay up, and just read through it again and found numerous small typos and a couple of errors, but nothing that would change the essential content or meaning you read. Just letting you know, in case you noticed some of those errors. I have just now corrected them all.

I'm eager to see what thoughts you have on this.

You may or may not have detected from between the lines of my essay, but I was barely restraining my fury at Prof. Wagner; for he is not merely being obtuse about a serious subject -- he is helping to endanger my life and the lives of my loved ones and fellow citizens, to whatever degree (even if minor in the larger scheme of things) he may be influential in perpetuating -- grossly so -- the irrationality of PC MC with regard to the problem of Islam.