There is an ongoing struggle within Islam between the radicals wanting to emphasize Islam’s beginnings as an ideology of conquest to bolster their control and those moderates who see Islam as a religious ideology with great life teachings.
Islam began as an ideology of conquest espoused by Mohammed in the seventh century as he set about building an empire. Mohammed realized that an attitude of bold take-no-prisoners conquest packaged as a religious ideology was a formula for empire building success. It’s a lot easier to whip your soldiers into a frenzied effort on the eve of battle if they believe they’re on a mission from their god.
In the lulls between wars of conquest, Mohammed behaved like any other man with too much time on his hands and excused his actions through the creation of scriptures that would find their way into the Quran when someone eventually bothered to write down Mohammed’s rantings and their endless interpretations over the centuries. After Mohammed’s death, there arose a dispute over his legitimate heir and Islam split into the Sunni and Shia factions which have continued to war over the soul of Islam to this day.
The Mideast has struggled to prosper in the modern era of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The discovery of oil suddenly thrust the backward and poor countries of the Mideast into a world of riches they were ill-prepared to handle. Their monarchical systems left the ruling class with great wealth while their citizens continued to struggle in poverty. Wealth has slowly trickled down to their populaces as the monarchs have sought to quell dissatisfaction by spreading this wealth through generous government payments. These payments have created in the people a sense of dependence upon the government that has led to both an inability to do for themselves and no desire to do so either.
The spoiled people of wealthy countries such as Saudi Arabia hire poor immigrants to do their menial labor while they busy themselves with shopping and amusements to fill their leisure time. Their children have grown up contemptuous of the wealth they feel no sense of entitlement to and find themselves turning to Islam seeking meaning for lives lived solely in pursuit of pleasure. They are shocked to discover that Islam offers no forgiveness of past transgressions and requires its adherents to make up for the prayers not prayed and the money not given as required by Islam. However, the more radical adherents mention there is a way to make up for all these past transgressions by performing an act of great sacrifice for the advancement of Islam. The implication is that by becoming a homicide bomber and taking out as many nonbelievers as possible, one can find forgiveness for the years spent ignoring Islam’s requirements.
Islam today is at war with itself as the radical faction seeks to advance the ideology through conquest while controlling its adherents for the benefit of those few leading the movement. These fundamentalists preach that Muslims are the greatest people and the Mideast is the greatest region and that the only reason they aren’t world superpowers is a lack of devotion to Islam. To emerge and take their rightful place in the world, Muslims are told they must redouble their faith in and devotion to Islam. Control is exerted constantly over the people as women are treated with contempt in the male dominated culture along with the poor who Muslims believe are being punished for some sin or the other by Allah. Power rests with the Imams whose interpretations of the Quran are taken as gospel and the rulers whose largesse funds these Imams and the spread of their doctrine. The most virulent and oppressive strain of Islam is the extremely well- funded Wahhabism promoted around the world by the Saudi ruling family.
An ideology of conquest, unwavering loyalty, and forced conversion might have served Mohammed well back in the seventh century, but it is totally unsuited to the modern world. Islam is focused on Muslim purity derived from an inward looking point of view that shuns outsiders and ignores cultural advancement. The modern world is interactive and those countries and people willing to cooperate on trade emerge as prosperous leaders. Contrast this to the stultifying culture of Muslim countries which shun outsiders and remain poor backwater nations despite the enormous wealth provided by their vast oil reserves. Even though they may build great gleaming cities with enormous green spaces in the desert, their culture and thinking remains mired in a past from which the world long ago moved on. Seeing women hidden behind burkas two steps behind a man with no chance of being allowed to drive offends our western sensibilities of fairness and fulfillment even as we walk down the streets of gleaming desert cities.
The war within Islam is being won by the radicals who preach hatred of the success of other countries and blame the condition of Muslim nations on a lack of faith and devotion to Islam. It is a simple formula because it is always easy to shift blame for one’s own situation onto someone else while conveniently ignoring one’s own culpability in creating their situation. Hey, it’s not your fault you’re fat. It’s the fault of the junk food industry for producing bad food that gets you hooked on eating it. The radicals Islamists are using the same formula employed by progressives to extend their control over Americans by shifting blame onto someone else that must then be punished.
President Obama’s refusal to label the numerous attacks occurring around the word as the work of radical Islamic terrorists undercuts the ability of moderate Muslims to rid themselves of the radicals taking over Islam. When vying for the hearts and minds of Muslims, the radicals are being allowed to rack up impressive gains as they set about creating a caliphate and taking credit for numerous attacks on the west while the moderates are left merely warning that this is not the right way. The bold actions and results of the radicals is more impressive to young Muslims than the warnings of moderates not given the ammunition of world condemnation legitimized by American leadership.
For far too long, America has attempted to wage war against the radicals within Islam with moderate Muslims as their followers. To achieve victory over these radical Islamic terrorists, we must recognize that the war within Islam must be waged by moderate Muslims supported by America, not led by America. During the Cold War, Americans smirked at the Soviet pretension of conducting democratic elections where the winner received 100% of the vote. Just as Soviet pretensions of democracy were insulting to Americans, so are American pretensions of conducting a war against radical Islamic terrorists while sidelining moderate Muslims as mere partners. The moderate Muslims must be seen as leading the fight against the radical Muslims armed with the truth and supported by the west. America won the Cold War through efforts like Radio Free Europe which exposed the truth to Soviet citizens who eventually lost faith in the Soviet government. Muslims must be exposed to the truth of the radical Islamic agenda of conquest and control as moderate Muslims articulate why their vision of the world is better for Muslims than that of the radical Islamists.
There are lessons in this approach for conservatives in America as well. Progressives have infiltrated and undermined the institutions which undergird America and destroyed their credibility in the eyes of Americans. Take journalism for instance. I well remember the time when one would be astonished to come across a spelling or grammatical error reading a newspaper or magazine. Progressive infiltration of schools has led to a reduction in the English skills of students that is translated into sloppier journalism. Grammatical errors have become so commonplace in journalism that they no longer warrant our notice, and we’ve even come to expect grammatical sloppiness from journalists as the new normal.
Conservatives must wage war against the progressives to take back control of our institutions and begin the long hard work of rebuilding their reputations as impeccable as before to restore Americans’ faith and trust in them as worthy of our respect. We must insist on a return to the quality and flawlessness which allowed us to put a man on the moon and heralded America as the leading world superpower to be emulated and admired. Much like the moderate Muslims can’t expect America to do their fighting for them as they war against radicals within Islam, we can’t allow others to do our fighting against the progressives for us. It is a fine thing that new British Prime Minister Theresa May abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change, but we can’t rely on that act in our fight against the EPA here in America.
There are many parallels between the radical Islamists and the progressives. Both use propaganda to mislead the public as to their true intentions. Both are all about conquest and control. Both are absolutely intolerant of criticism or opposition. Both seek to shift the blame away from their poor records with the distraction of blaming others. Both seek to perpetuate their power through any means with no limits to the destruction they are willing to unleash. Both are guilty of the worst hypocrisy in their practices while condemning their opposition. Both think nothing of destroying innocent lives to achieve their goals. Both infiltrate and undermine legitimate institutions. Both seek to keep their citizens dependent upon the government to better control them. The list goes on, but there is no denying the parallels between progressives and radical Islamists.
As the world becomes more interconnected through communications and trade, the radical Islamists stand out even more as obstacles to freedom and prosperity for the peoples of the Mideast. Their feeble attempts to exert control over Muslims become oppressive to the point of caricature. Perhaps this is why they object so strenuously to depictions of Mohammed in cartoons – that it is too easy to portray him as the buffoon he increasingly appears to be to everyone in the modern world except the radical Islamists clinging to their belief in him because their power depends upon it.