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You Will Know Them by Their Fruit

So far we’ve reviewed some of the differences between Islamic and Judeo-Christian beliefs, and how those differences translate into societies built upon each belief.  Again, these discussions are not judgments, but are based upon the facts and where logic then leads us – they are written to inform as meaningful discussion cannot occur in darkness.  There are metaphysical, theological, and logical differences between the two belief systems that lead to some significant differences between societies which use each as a foundation.  Do these differences matter? 

That is where we’ll begin this time, and we’ll start by using the Heritage Foundation’s measure of Economic Freedom (see http://www.heritage.org/index/ for more information).  Why this index?  Because it offers an objective measure relevant to some of the things discussed in this series.  So what is economic freedom?  From the web-site, ‘Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property.’  Economic freedom is a measure of an aspect of the individualism that we’ve been discussing throughout these posts, and its comparison to the notions of collectivism – at least in the area of using ones skills and property.  The following areas are measured:

  • Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption)

  • Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending)

  • Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom)

  • Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom)

Composite measures for each country are created from the various area measures mentioned above.  Finally, the index has been around for twenty years, so there is some trending information available as well.  The country with the greatest economic freedom ranks number one on the list, and the country with the least economic freedom ranks last.

When correlating country’s economic freedom rankings with the percentage of Muslims within their population, there is a negative correlation that is statistically significant at the .001 level.  The higher the percentage of Muslims within a countries population, the lower the level of economic freedom.  This analysis included such bastions of freedom as:  North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Burma in the analysis - all of which have very low Muslim populations which should bias the results against finding non-Muslim countries ranking significantly higher.  This, of course, does not mean that Islam is the cause, but merely that there is a correlation.  However, I would assert that the collectivism that is inherent within Islam, when coupled with the differences in morality and fatalism also present, do lead to less freedom.  In this respect Islam is no different from the ancient state religion civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece, or Rome.  These were not free societies either.  Nor were they much different from the other ‘modern’ forms of collectivism; whether it be communism, fascism, progressivism, or socialism.  They all have the same root, and all produce the same fruit.

So what are some other examples?  We can start with the treatment of women, as that was mentioned last time as one of the groups where differences existed within Islam.  In general, women within Islamic countries cannot vote, drive, or hold a job.  Nor do they largely receive an education.  They must also be escorted in public by a male relative. They do not possess the same legal rights as men, and simply the accusation of adultery is enough to have them stoned – and stoning does still occasionally take place.  Of course, the male’s sentence in such instances is usually different.  Women are at best second class citizens.  They are to be cared for, as with any other property, but they possess few rights themselves.  One must ask where are the international defenders of women’s rights?  Their silence is deafening.

We can also look at the treatment of Christians and Jews within Islamic countries.  Non-Muslims generally cannot run for political office in such states.  They have fewer legal rights as they cannot bring suit against a Muslim, nor can a Muslim be charged for acts of violence against non-Muslims.  Many types of jobs are also not open to non-Muslims.  However, today even the lives of non-Muslims are at risk in Islamic countries.  This is often portrayed in the media as something new – a high-jacking of Islam by extremists – but it is far from new.  It is no different than what started to occur in the ninth and tenth centuries, only several hundred years after Muhammad’s death – and indeed during Muhammad’s life itself, more on that later.  We’ve seen recent annihilations of the non-Muslim population of entire towns within Iraq by ISIS.  And in 2010 The Economist reported on the last of the Jewish Arabs leaving their homeland in Yemen.  This community was part of the thriving economically advanced trading ports within southern Arabia that existed at Muhammad’s birth.  They had their own legal system and architecture, and had lived in this area for over two thousand years.  But no more.  Their treatment by the Islamic population left them no choice but to leave, merely because of their religion.  The same is happening in cities with historically large Jewish populations such as Beirut, Damascus, and Baghdad – and not only within Jewish communities, but Christian ones as well.  We could go on with a discussion of homosexuality and the hypocrisy around alcohol consumption, but I think the point has been made.

One final area to look at, and that is suicide bombers and violence in general.  People willing to blow themselves up and take innocent people with them, all in the name of Islam.  Why has this only occurred within Islam and various anarchist groups?  We’ve previously touched on some of the fatalism within Islam.  If one is born with his fate ‘fastened to his own neck’, no free will as Allah’s will determines all, and ultimately Allah’s judgment determining whether one enters heaven or hell – despite how one lives – then what hope does one have in life?  At worst, death merely shortens the sentence of life and the injustice which can come about within this existence, in the hope that such an act may bring better things in a life to come. 

The above view implies our Creator does not care about us.  But is that position reasonable?  Consider the following argument advanced by Clement of Alexandria against those who took that same position in the second or third century.  For assuredly He does not hate anything, and yet wish that which He hates to exist.  Nor does He wish anything not to exist, and yet become the cause of existence to that which he wishes not to exist.  Nor does He wish anything not to exist which yet exists.  If, then, the Word hates anything, He does not wish it to exist.  But nothing exists, that cause of whose existence is not supplied by God.  Nothing, then, is hated by God, nor yet by the Word.  For both are one—that is, God. . . If then He hates none of the things which He has made, it follows that He loves them.  Much more than the rest, and with reason, will He love man, the noblest of all objects created by Him, and a God-loving being.  Therefore God is loving; consequently the Word is loving.’

The violence within Islam is not new.  Muhammad’s life is said to provide the perfect example for how one is to live, and evidence of the violence within that life is documented by A. Guillaume in his The Life of Muhammad (A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah).  Even the constitution of Medina, written by Muhammad in 622 when he and his followers fled Mecca, says in part, ‘A believer shall not slay a believer for the sake of an unbeliever, nor shall he aid an unbeliever against a believer. . . Believers are friends one to the other to the exclusion of outsiders. . . The believers must avenge the blood of one another shed in the way of God.’  Is there another belief which offers the choice of conversion, diminished personhood, or death?  Is there another belief where death is the answer for one who decides to leave their faith (Islam)?  Where is the friendship and love for another that a society needs to be successful and its people to prosper?

Jacques Maritain wrote the following about where societies without the connection of friendship among its members leads.  Although aimed at the problems of fascism and communism that existed in his day, I believe his words apply equally well to Islam.  If justice is first of all an essential requirement, it is as necessary condition which makes friendship possible, but this very friendship between citizens cannot prevail in actual fact within the social group if a stronger and more universal love, brotherly love, is not instilled in it and if civic friendship, itself becoming brotherhood, does not overflow the bounds of the social group to extend to the entire human race.  Once the heart of man has felt the freshness of that terrible hope, it is troubled for all time.  If it fails to recognize its supra-human origins and exigencies, this hope runs the risk of becoming perverted and of changing into violence to impose upon all “brotherhood or death.”’  The kind of death that results in the execution of thirteen teens for simply watching a soccer game.

Posted in: Islam

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About Dan Wolf

Dan WolfMy goal is that my writing will help you to get started on your own journey of discovery, or help you along the way on a journey you may have already begun. Our Founders considered education, religion, morality, and virtue to be the cornerstones for any successful society. Being successful requires understanding both the languages of reason and faith; reason alone is insufficient.