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ISLAMIC TERRORISM AND WESTERN ECUMENISM

ISLAMIC TERRORISM AND WESTERN ECUMENISM

By Vladimir Moss
FACING ISLAM
http://facingislam.blogspot.com/2016/07/islamic-terrorism-and-western-ecumenism.html
July 8, 2016

Aristotle once said that the last virtue of a dying civilization is tolerance. Certainly, this is the only virtue -- if it is a virtue - that our undoubtedly dying civilization can pride itself on. Only we like to call it "compassion"... David Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain, yesterday spoke about the "extraordinarily compassionate" country that Britain supposedly is. Other national leaders are weighing in to the compassion competition. Mr. (or Mrs.) Compassion in Europe appears to be Germany's Angela Merkel. A contender for the global crown is Australia.[1]

However, tolerance is not compassion. Nor is it a virtue. Self-restraint, patience, long-suffering -- these are virtues. But tolerance as the modern world understands it -- that is, the refusal to rebuke or in any way fight against a vast array of false teachings -- is not only not a virtue, but a serious vice. The word is not even found in the New Testament.

However, intolerance of evil teaching is both found and praised in the New Testament.

Consider the following sayings of the Lord to the Seven Churches of Asia: - "This you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate" (Revelation 2.6). "I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam..." (2.14). "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezabel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants" (2.20). "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (3.15).

The usual reply to this on the part of ecumenists who pride themselves on their tolerance of evil is: "So you want to torture and kill heretics and dissenters? You want the Inquisition back?" But of course intolerance of evil by no means entails violence towards evildoers. It is the secular authorities who exercise a monopoly of violence in our society -- and rightly so. The ordinary citizen is not called to do violence to evildoers.

But he is called to oppose evil. And this is just what our society does not do. In fact, it is extremely intolerant of opposition to evil. Whether we are speaking of evil doctrines (such as atheism or heresy or false religions such as Islam) or evil acts (such as homosexuality or abortion), our society condemns any open opposition to them, and those who oppose them or simply refuse to praise them or take part in them are increasingly liable to be cast into prison or lose their jobs, or at the very least be ostracized or reviled...

But now the ecumenists and liberals have come up against a serious problem. By the Providence of God, a large and steadily increasing proportion of all western states with the exception of Japan are now Muslims, whose intolerance of western tolerance of evil poses a difficult dilemma for western politicians. Since the Muslims are numerous and well-organized -- too numerous and too well-organized to be repressed in the way traditional Christians are now being repressed -- they have to be appeased; there is no other way. Thus the archbishop of Canterbury has even suggested allowing Muslims to live by Sharia law in Britain. In any case, the ecumenists and liberals have preached for so long that they are tolerant of all religions and faiths that they would look foolish if they began to repress Islam.

And now a fresh development has made this problem still more acute. The civil war in Syria has created four million refugees, large numbers of whom are pouring through Greece and Serbia into Western Europe, most of them headed for Germany -- the richest and also, with the possible exception of Sweden, the most liberal and ecumenist state in Europe. Most Europeans do not want these refugees in such large numbers for very good reasons: they do not assimilate, but form Muslim ghettoes whose preachers openly call for the destruction of Western Christian civilization and the imposition of sharia law. Large numbers of young Western Muslims, even whole families, are joining the fearsome ISIS, which beheads and crucifies Christians, including Christian babies. Even before this recent vast new influx, western security services have been over-stretched defending their own citizens from Muslim terrorist plots. Recently David Cameron authorized the execution by drone strike of two ISIS fighters of British nationality in Syria who were plotting terrorist acts in Britain. Fears have been expressed that this recent new influx contains many ISIS warriors disguised as refugees...

Alarmed by these developments, two of the less liberal western countries -- Hungary and Slovakia -- have expressed the desire to receive only Christian refugees from Syria. This perfectly reasonable demand, which should be characterized not so much as pro-Christian and anti-Muslim discrimination, as an act of national self-defence, has been mocked by the more liberal countries of the Union.

Thus the German chancellor Angela Merkel, who once said that "multi-culturalism isn't working", has even gone so far as to open the doors of her country to 800,000 new migrants in this year alone (one of her ministers speaks of half a million per year for the next few years). This daughter of a Lutheran pastor and former agitprop member of the East German communist party seems hell-bent on destroying what is left of her country's Christian heritage -- while condemning other countries that are less willing to open their gates to the infidels... Of course, Germany has good economic reasons for letting in Muslims. Her population is declining, she has many empty houses to fill, and the refugees will help German industry. For a country like Britain, however, whose population is rising (largely because of earlier migration) and whose social services are under serious strain even before the current invasion, the situation is quite different... And for anyone who values his nation's Christian heritage, a vast influx of Muslims cannot be welcomed...

*****

Let us look a little more closely at the roots of Muslim terrorism.

The philosopher Roger Scruton has probed the difference between western and Islamic civilization in an illuminating way. [2] The core religion of the West, Christianity, grew up in the context of the Roman empire, and from the beginning gave the state a certain autonomy in its own sphere. The Christian was obliged to obey the state in all its laws which did not directly contradict the commandment of God: "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's". Although his ultimate loyalty was to God, the Christian was also a citizen of the state, and owed it, too, loyalty. The Christians did not rebel against the State, but gradually worked on its crude mores until it became Christian itself. Then Church and State worked in harmony with each other in a "symphony of powers".

The Church was universal, and had members in many different countries. The State, on the other hand, was territorial, being based on the feeling of a common destiny of all or most of the people on that territory, reinforced by commonalities of language, culture and religion. This dual loyalty -- albeit with the prior and absolute loyalty belonging to God alone - was at the basis of Christian civilization.Islam, however, did not encourage the growth of stable territorial nation-states or empires. There were tribes, and there was the universal, global religion, and very little in between. There wasshariah, the law of Allah, but very little in the way of state law, and certainly nothing comparable to the legal structures created by Constantine or Justinian. The Muslims considered "the People of the Book", the Jews and Christians, to be higher than pagans and therefore entitled to some rights. But there was no such thing as the typically Roman conception of equality under the law for all citizens, regardless of their faith. Not only were non-Muslims in the Muslim state second-class citizens: the whole non-Muslim world outside also belonged by right to Muslims alone.

The Apostles conquered the Mediterranean world by exclusively peaceful means, the preaching of the Word. The Muslims, by contrast, overcame the Romans by fire and sword. (St. Anastasius the Sinaite said that the Romans lost because they had fallen into the heresy of Monothelitism.) However, although Mohammed conquered through violence, not persuasion, he did not proclaim himself a king, still less a Persian-style "king of kings". He was, in his own estimation and that of his followers, a prophet, the messenger of one of the Arabian pagan deities, the moon-god Allah, whom he proclaimed to be the one true God and whose symbol, the moon-crescent, he took as the symbol of his new religion. In spite of these clearly pagan origins of his faith, Mohammed claimed to abhor every kind of man-worship and idolatry -- that is, the old-style politics of the Middle East -- in favour of a new, God-centred politics.

And indeed, as Bernard Lewis points out, "the power wielded by the early caliphs [the successors of Mohammed] was very far from the despotism of their predecessors and successors. It was limited by the political ethics of Islam and by the anti-authoritarian habits and traditions of ancient Arabia. A verse attributed to the pre-Islamic Arabic poet 'Abid ibn al-Abras speaks of his tribe as 'laqah', a word which, according to the ancient commentators and lexicographers, denotes a tribe that has never submitted to a king. 'Abid's proud description of his people makes his meaning clear:

They refused to be servants of kings, and were never ruled by any.
But when they were called on for help in war, they responded gladly.

"The ancient Arabs, like the ancient Israelites depicted in the books of Judges and Samuel, mistrusted kings and the institution of kingship. They were, indeed, familiar with the institution of monarchy in the surrounding countries, and some were even led to adopt it. There were kings in the states of southern Arabia; there were kings in the border principalities of the north; but all these were in different degrees marginal to Arabia. The sedentary kingdoms of the south used a different language, and were part of a different culture. The border principalities of the north, though authentically Arab, were deeply influenced by Persian and Byzantine imperial practice, and represent a somewhat alien element in the Arab world...

"The early Muslims were well aware of the nature of imperial monarchy as practised in their own day in Byzantium and in Persia, and believed that the state founded by the Prophet and governed after him by his successors the caliphs represented something new and different..."[3]

In what way was it different? According to Miloslavskaya and Miloslavsky, the difference consisted in the idea that society must be ruled by the commands of Allah, and not by the laws of men, and that the caliphate's secular and spiritual powers (the sultanate and the imamate) are indivisible.[4] However, this indivisibility of powers resulted in a gradual undermining of the quasi-democratic ideal of early Islam by the reality of the caliphs' almost unlimited power.

On the one hand, the caliphs wanted to create an order in which, "as ideally conceived, there were to be no priests, no church, no kings and no nobles, no privileged orders or castes or estates of any kind, save only for the self-evident superiority of those who accept the true faith to those who wilfully reject it -- and of course such obvious natural and social realities as the superiority of man to woman and of master to slave."[5] But on the other hand, they were military leaders, and success in war, especially against peoples trained in obedience to autocratic or despotic leaders, required that they should be able to command no less obedience.

In 747, Abu Muslim, a manumitted Persian slave, raised the standard of revolt, defeated the Umayyad caliph and created the Abbasid dynasty. A few years later, Al-Mansur (754-775) moved the capital of the empire to Baghdad, where it came under the influence of Persia with its strong despotic tradition. And so Muslim "democratism" soon passed into a despotism no less fierce than the monarchies that Islam had destroyed. The caliphs of the ninth century, particularly Mamun (813-833), believed their authority to be unlimited. And at the beginning of the eleventh century, the Fatimid ruler Al-Hakim even believed he was god.

"The increasingly authoritarian character of government", writes Lewis, "and the disappointment of successful revolutionaries is vividly expressed in a passage quoted by several classical authors. A certain Sudayf, a supporter of the Abbasids, is cited as complaining of the changes resulting from the fall of the Umayyads and the accession of the Abbasids to the caliphate: 'By God, our booty, which was shared, has become a perquisite of the rich. Our leadership, which was consultative, has become arbitrary. Our succession, which was by the choice of the community, is now by inheritance."[6]

The question whether the caliphate should be elective or hereditary was one of the questions dividing the Sunni from the Shiite Muslims. "The Shia maintained that the caliphate should be hereditary in the line of the Prophet, and therefore that all the caliphs, except only for the brief rule of Ali and of his son Hasan, were usurpers. The more generally accepted view of the Sunni Muslims was that the caliphate was elective, and any member of the Prophet's tribe, Quraysh, was eligible".[7] Al-Mansur in Spain made the caliphate there hereditary, but thirty years after his death the people abolished it altogether.

Another of the differences between the Sunnis and the Shiites was that the latter believed in a certain separation between the Church (the imamate) and the State. Thus Karen Armstrong writes: "The doctrine of the imamate demonstrated the extreme difficulty of incarnating a divine imperative in the tragic conditions of ordinary political life. Shiites held that every single one of the imams had been murdered by the caliph of his day." In 934 it was believed that the last of the imams had been miraculously concealed by God. "The myth of the Hidden Imam... symbolized the impossibility of implementing a truly religious policy in this world, since the caliphs had destroyed Ali's line and driven the ilm [the knowledge of what is right] from the earth. Henceforth the Shii ulama [learned men, guardians of the legal and religious traditions of Islam] became the representatives of the Hidden Imam, and used their own mystical and rational insights to apprehend his will. Twelver Shiis (who believe in the twelve imams) would take not further part in political life, since in the absence of the Hidden Imam, the true leader of the ummah [the Muslim community], no government could be legitimate."[8]

Another reason for the despotism inherent in Islam is the belief that all people are bound to obey Allah, and that those who do not obey -- with the partial exceptions of the Jews and Christians - have no right either to life or freedom or property. This, combined with their further beliefs in fatalism and in the automatic entrance of all Muslims that die in the struggle with the unbelievers into the joys of Paradise, made the Muslim armies of the early Arab caliphate, as of the later Turkish sultanate, a formidable expansionary force in world politics. Thus the Koran says: "O believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find firmness in you" (Sura: 9; Ayat: 123). "Fight those who believe not... even if they be People of the Book [Jews and Christians] until they willingly agree to pay the tribute in recognition of their submissive state" (Sura: 9; Ayat: 29). "You will be called to fight a mighty nation; fight them until they embrace Islam" (Sura: 48; Ayat: 16).

As L.A. Tikhomirov wrote: "In submitting without question to God, the Muslim becomes a spreader of the power of God on earth. Everyone is obliged to submit to Allah, whether they want to or not. If they do not submit, then they have no right to live. Therefore the pagans are subject either to conversion to Islam, or to extermination. Violent conversion to Islam, is nothing prejudicial, from the Muslim point of view, for people are obliged to obey God without question, not because they desire it, but because Allah demands this of them."[9]

Again, as Kenneth Craig writes, holy war, or jihad, "was believed to be the recovery by Islam of what by right belonged to it as the true and final religion but which had been alienated from it by the unbelief or perversity embodied in the minorities whose survival -- but no more -- it allowed...."[10]

Having this essentially negative attitude to politics, we can see why the Muslims have had such difficulty in establishing stable, loyal attitudes to political authorities, whether Islamic or western. Since the fall of the Ottoman empire in 1918, no political regime, whether nationalist or secularist (Baathist or Kemalist), has arisen in the Middle East that commands the loyalty of all the Islamic peoples. And yet there is no doubt that the Muslims long for a Caliph that will unite them and crush the impious West...

The Islamic religious resurgence can be said to have started with the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979. And in December, 1984 Ayatollah Khomeini said in a speech: "If one allows the infidels to continue playing their role of corrupters on Earth, their eventual moral punishment will be all the stronger. Thus, if we kill the infidels in order to put a stop to their [corrupting] activities, we have indeed done them a service. For their eventual punishment will be less. To allow the infidels to stay alive means to let them do more corrupting. [To kill them] is a surgical operation commanded by Allah the Creator... Those who follow the rules of the Koran are aware that we have to apply the laws of qissas [retribution] and that we have to kill... War is a blessing for the world and for every nation. It is Allah himself who commands men to wage war and kill."

Scruton comments: "The element of insanity in these words should not blind us to the fact that they adequately convey a mood, a legacy, and a goal that inspire young people all over the Islamic world. Moreover,... there is no doubt that Khomeini's interpretation of the Prophet's message is capable of textual support, and that it reflects the very confiscation of the political that has been the principal feature of Islamic revolutions in the modern world...

"... Even while enjoying the peace, prosperity, and freedom that issue from a secular rule of law, a person who regards the shari'a as the unique path to salvation may see these things only as the signs of a spiritual emptiness or corruption. For someone like Khomeini, human rights and secular governments display the decadence of Western civilization, which has failed to arm itself against those who intend to destroy it and hopes to appease them instead. The message is that there can be no compromise, and systems that make compromise and conciliation into their ruling principles are merely aspects of the Devil's work.

"Khomeini is a figure of great historic importance for three reasons. First, he showed that Islamic government is a viable option in the modern world, so destroying the belief that Westernization and secularization are inevitable. Second, through the activities of the Hizbullah (Party of Allah) in Lebanon, he made the exportation of the Islamic Revolution the cornerstone of his foreign policy. Third, he endowed the Islamic revival with a Shi'ite physiognomy, so making martyrdom a central part of its strategy."[11]

The Islamic Revolution gathered strength during the successful war to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan in 1979-89. Many of the Mujaheddin who fought against the Russians in Afghanistan then went on to fight the Croats and the Serbs in Bosnia in the early 1990s. And then NATO in Afghanistan... The Revolution suffered an apparent setback in the First Iraq War of 1990. However, the result of that war in military terms proved to be less important than its effect in galvanizing Muslim opinion throughout the world against the western "crusaders", who had once again intervened on sacred Muslim soil for purely selfish reasons (oil). These feelings were greatly exacerbated by the Second Iraq War, and by the NATO intervention in Afghanistan. It was not that most Muslims could not see the evil of Saddam Hussein or the Taliban. But as we have seen, such notions as political freedom and human rights mean little to the Muslim mind. Much more important to them is the principle that the followers of the true faith should be able to sort out their problems by themselves without the help of the corrupt infidels. For after all, their ultimate aim is to destroy those same infidels and conquer the world...

*****

Returning now to the current situation, we may see more clearly how the present confrontation between Western ecumenism and Muslim terrorism is providential. For Muslim terrorism is both a punishment of Western ecumenism -- a punishment, that is, for its betrayal of the Christian faith and its indifference to the survival of Christian civilization -- and a final appeal to the conscience of Western Christians to cast off their indifference and acquire zeal for the one true faith, which is Christianity. For even if there is no war between the West and Islam in the next few years, demographic trends, reinforced by Germany's folly in opening her doors to all refugees without examination, will lead to the Muslim dominance of the West within a generation or two. Whether that dominance is achieved through the ballot-box or through knives and bombs hardly matters. The result will be the same.

And let's face it: the Muslims are justified in despising the West's lack of zeal in the defence of its own Christian heritage, and the appalling debauchery of its sexual mores. The Muslim threat will not be neutralized, and Muslims will not come to see the falsehood of their own faith, - which, after all, must be our hope and the only real solution to the problem - until and unless the Christians stop appeasing them through their anti-Christian ecumenism and debauchery, demonstrating in their own lives what it is to be a real Christian.

Of course, the Muslims' feeling of moral superiority to the Christians is hypocritical. In Britain and Sweden Muslims have been responsible for a sickening series of mass rapes. And a recent survey by the American Center for Justice showed that ISIS rates for the buying of female sex slaves are highest for the age 1-9 category, showing that they imitate their false prophet not only in their violence, but also in their sexual depravity and paedophilia...

But the hypocrisy of our enemies should not be a reason for not cleaning up our own act, and showing the sincerity of our faith in our deeds. St. Cosmas of Aitolia prophesied that after "the general war" the "Hagarenes" -- that is, the Muslims -- would "learn the mysteries three times faster than the Christians". Presumably, by that time the horrors of the Third World War will have taught the Christians to give a better example to the Muslims...

9/11 took place on the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist in the Orthodox Church. Through it St. John, the prophet of repentance, called the western peoples to repentance. The message remains the same; only its urgency has intensified...

END NOTES:

[1] Miranda Devine, "We are champions in compassion. Stop talking us down," http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/mirandadevine/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/we_are_champions_in_compassion_stop_talking_us_down/

[2] Scruton, The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat, London, 2002.

[3] Bernard Lewis, The Middle East, London: Phoenix, 1995, pp. 140-141.

[4] T. P. Miloslavskaia, G.V. Miloslavsky, "Kontseptsia 'Islamskogo Edinstva' i Integratsionnie Protsessy v 'Musulmanskom Mire'" ("The Conception of 'Islamic Unity' and Integrational Processes in 'the Muslim World'), in Islam i Problemy Natsionalizma (Islam and the Problems of Nationalism), Moscow: Nauka, 1986, p. 12.

The indivisibility of the caliph's secular and spiritual powers is emphasized by several other writers. Thus Colin McEvedy writes that "the successors of Mohammed, the Caliphs, combined, as he had, the powers of Emperor and Pope" (The Penguin Atlas of Medieval History, London: Penguin, 1961, p. 36). Again, Ninian Smart writes that Islam "demands institutions which cover the whole life of the community. There is nothing in Islam... corresponding to the Church. There is no place for a special institution within society devoted to the ends of the faith. For it is the whole of society which is devoted to the ends of the faith" (The Religious Experience of Mankind, London: Fontana, 1971, p. 538). Again, Bernard Lewis writes:"It is sometimes said that the caliph was head of State and Church, pope and emperor in one. This description in Western and Christian terms is misleading. Certainly there was no distinction between imperium and sacerdotium, as in the Christian empire, and no separate ecclesiastical institution, no Church, with its own head and hierarchy. The caliphate was always defined as a religious office, and the caliph's supreme purpose was to safeguard the heritage of the Prophet and to enforce the Holy Law. But the caliph had no pontifical or even priestly function... His task was neither to expound nor to interpret the faith, but to uphold and protect it -- to create conditions in which his subjects could follow the good Muslim life in this world and prepare themselves for the world to come. And to do this, he had to maintain the God-given Holy Law within the frontiers of the Islamic state, and to defend and, where possible, extend those frontiers, until in the fullness of time the whole world was opened to the light of Islam..." (op. cit., pp. 138-139).

[5] Lewis, op. cit., p. 72.

[6] Lewis, op. cit., pp. 143-144.

[7] Lewis, op. cit., p. 139.

[8] Armstrong, Islam, New York: Modern Library, 2002, pp. 67, 68-69.

[9] Tikhomirov, Religiozno-Filosofskie Osnovy Istorii (The Religious-Philosophical Foundations of History), Moscow, 1997, p. 296.

[10] Craig, The Arab Christian, London: Mowbrays, 1992, pp. 57-58.

[11] Scruton, op. cit., pp. 118-120.

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