Monday, 6 April 2009

If "Islam is progress, science, finesse, and modernity"...why got it back lately?

A civilization built upon conquest is doomed to failure.. or...what went right at the beginning, set the stage for decline later on...

In the previous post we cited Muhammad himself prophesizing the demise of Islam.

In these days there is a lot of noise about the marvel of Islamic Culture, and how great it has been for the development of not only our culture but world’s culture in general. (Link
). It seems that “Islam is progress, science, finesse, modernity, and that fanaticism in the name of Islam is a corruption of Islam”.

In my previous post we already touched the opinion of emeritus Prof. Bernard Lewis' of how he absolves Islam from all terrorists act and violence.

He, moreover, in his analysis implausibly exonerated Islam as a factor in the Islamic world's decline. He further argued that it was not plausible to blame Islam because during most of the Middle Ages it was the world of Islam that contained the major centres of civilization and progress. While Prof. Lewis' is correct that Islam once contained the major centres of civilization and progress during the Middle Ages, there is nonetheless a plethora of evidence that overwhelmingly establishes that Islam was a substantial factor in the decline of Islamic civilization itself.

Islam is more than just a religion. In its original form, Islam is a complete social, political, and religious way of life that absolutely dominates the lives and thoughts of fundamentalist Muslims.

As a matter of simple logic and common sense, one is left to wonder how it could possibly be that the religion that so overwhelmingly drives and dominates Islamic culture could somehow have managed to not play a role in its decline!

Quite the opposite is true. Islam is a revealed religion with a distinct set of unchanging rules and guidelines to follow. It is not a religion that is supposed to "come from within" like some new age religion. It seems quite incongruous to claim that one believes that Muhammad was Allah's prophet and therefore profess to be a Muslim and then reject clear Islamic doctrine as established by Muhammad when the Qur'an demands that Muslims obey Muhammad and follow his "perfect" example. The religion is named Islam, meaning submission, because its founder, Muhammad, claimed that is the word Allah said to him in several alleged revelations (1).

We see Ahmadiya Muslims, many Sufi Muslims, and Baha’i Muslims all believing they are "Muslims" when they have deviated so far from the religion Muhammad preached and practiced that Muhammad would hardly consider them Muslims. Muhammad once ordered a mosque, whose members were practicing a heretical form of Islam burned and his followers burned it to the ground with the heretical Muslims inside thereby establishing in Islamic doctrine that schisms were not only not to be tolerated, but should be violently suppressed (2) Sikhs should be praised for admitting that they are adherents of a new religion that combines aspects of Islam and Hinduism.

Because so many Muslims do not practice fundamentalist Islam, the religion often masks its true nature very effectively.

Islam is a syncretic religion that incorporates beliefs from other religions, particularly Arabian Paganism, Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. Because it is already a syncretic religion, Islam has historically readily absorbed increased influence from the other religions previously practiced by new Muslim converts in specific regions. The most well known being the Islam practiced by many Shiite Muslims.

Real or fundamentalist Islam started as an extremely aggressive, warrior religion and its beginnings set the stage for the Islamic world's eventual decline.
What Went Right Set The Stage For Decline.

What went right? The initial success of Islam and its early rise to economic, political, and military power is also a primary cause of what ultimately went wrong. When Muhammad and his early followers arrived in
Medina, it is clear that they were in a less than secure economic state.

Mohammed said: "I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, None has the right to be worshiped but Allah, and whoever says, None has the right to be worshiped but Allah, his life and property will be saved by me (3)."

"Allah made the Jews leave their homes by terrorizing them so that you killed some and made many captives. And He made you inherit their lands, their homes, and their wealth". (4)

It should not come as a surprise that Islamic history reveals that about eighteen months after arriving in
Medina, Muhammad and his followers started raiding caravans owned by their former tribe in Mecca. These caravan raids resulted in the early Islamic community developing the resources needed to later attack entire Jewish tribes. The subsequent attacks on Jewish tribes resulted in the destruction of the Jewish tribes on the Arabian Peninsula by some combination of slaughter, slavery, and expulsion. The attacks also transferred land and great wealth to the Muslim community that allowed it to then dominate the entire Arabian Peninsula.

Muhammad's goal of gaining wealth via robbery and warfare is undeniable. It is also undeniable that extremely reprehensible means were utilized. The earliest history of Muhammad originating from a devout Muslim, Ibn Ishaq, reveals the brutal means by which Muhammad conquered non-Muslims and stole their wealth Kinana, the husband of Safiya, had been guardian of the tribe's treasures, and he was brought before the apostle
[Muhammad], who asked where they were hidden. But Kinana refused to disclose the place. Then a Jew came who said, 'I have seen Kinana walk around a certain ruin every morning.' The apostle asked Kinana, 'Art thou prepared to die if we find thou knewest where the treasure was?' And he replied, 'Yes.' So the apostle ordered the ruin to be dug up, and some of the treasure was found. After that Kinana was asked again about the remainder, but he still refused to tell. The apostle of Allah handed him over to al-Zubayr, saying, 'Torture him until he tells what he knows', and al-Zubayr kindled a fire on his chest so that he almost expired; then the apostle gave him to Muhammad b. Maslama, who struck off his head. (5)

The hadith also reveal Muhammad's methods.

Muhammad said "I have been made victorious with terror. The treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand" (6)

The early behavioural example of Muhammad is of paramount importance to Muslims and set the stage for much of what is wrong in the Islamic world. The Qur'an expressly advises Muslims that in Muhammad they have "a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one" (7). In addition, the Qur'an repeatedly commands Muslims to not only obey Allah, but to obey Muhammad (8). He's early example has had a tremendous impact on Islamic culture. The example, as can be seen above, was indisputably not a favourable one. It is little wonder that Dante's Divine Comedy depicts Muhammad in Hell being tortured for eternity by devils.

Even if one ignores the immoral aspects of Muhammad's example,
once the opportunity for booty and ill-gotten gain played itself out, what was left for the Islamic world? It seems that not much was left other than to wait for the rest of the world to develop an economy that made the oil under the sand extremely valuable and that appears to be exactly what happened. Muhammad had clearly set up a system predicated upon military expansion and an economy that thrived based on the fruits of conquest. Such an economy is doomed to failure when the source of booty not only runs out, but military losses drain the economy.

Consider the example of the
Ottoman Empire - the last great Islamic Empire. In 1683, the Ottoman Turks tried to advance farther into Europe by besieging Vienna. The Turks had planned and prepared elaborately for the battle but nonetheless lost. It was a major turning point in history. Of course, it can be argued that decline from other causes led to military defeat, but my main point remains valid regardless - a civilization built upon conquest is doomed to failure. The historical record conclusively establishes that no empire has ever succeeded in maintaining its hegemony forever. Islam once made Islamic cultures stronger as it produced fearless soldiers.

Q 4.74 promises: "
Let those fight in the cause of God Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of God, - whether he is slain or gets victory - Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value)." Mohammed said: "The person who participates in (Holy battles) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostle, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to paradise (if he is killed) (9).

" The Qur'an guarantees instant Paradise to those who fight for Allah (10)

Dying for Allah is presented as preferable to living: "
And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of God, forgiveness and mercy from God are far better than all they could amass. (11)

" Martyrs are promised a secure, sensual (sensual is expanded to erotic in the hadiths) and luxurious life in paradise with beautiful women. (12).

When wars were fought hand to hand with swords and other such weapons, Islam had an advantage in that many Islamic warriors were absolutely fearless and not only unafraid to die, but sometimes eager to obtain their virgins in Paradise. As technology advanced. In the modern age, the advantage is to the better educated and better familiarized with advanced technology and religious zeal with its associated fearlessness is no longer a significant advantage. While some might argue that Muhammad was once a caravan merchant himself thereby setting an example of entrepreneurship, that profession preceded the early Muslim community's Hijra or migration to Medina. The Islamic world gives overwhelming emphasis to Muhammad's example after the Hijra to such an extent that even the Islamic calendar is not based on Muhammad's birth, the date of his first alleged revelation, or the date of his first convert. Instead, the Islamic calendar starts with the Hijra which speaks volumes. It emphasizes that what is important is not when Islam was in its infancy without military or economic power, but that what is important is political and military power. Such a view is well warranted by the statements attributed to Muhammad. Mohammed once was asked: what was the best deed for the Muslim next to believing in Allah and His Apostle? His answer was: "To participate in Jihad in Allah's cause." (13).

Based on the foregoing, it is undeniable that Islam's origins are inextricably entwined with conquest and a drive for booty. As such, the origin of Islam has been a hindrance to an Islamic culture that holds Muhammad up as a perfect example for all time that Muslims are commanded to emulate. Winston Churchill reached the same conclusion: "How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! [Votaries are devout adherents of a cult or religion]. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. Many Muslims spend much of their time memorizing the Qur'an. Memorizing such Qur'anic verses as "slay the pagans wherever you find them" hardly prepares Muslims for an increasingly technical world.

The Islamic world was actually undermined when the technology advanced that made the spread of the Qur'an and hadith to larger numbers of the faithful possible. Increased knowledge of and access to the actual tenets of the religion actually caused more Islamic orthodoxy. The Internet is exacerbating the problem. Islamic civilization was actually better off when Muslims were dependent on religious leaders and hearsay for an understanding of their faith during the periods when a more moderate form of Islam developed.

Discrimination Against Women Harms Islamic Culture Islamic doctrine regarding women also impedes progress. Imagine what would happen to the world's premiere economy, the
United State's economy, if women were forced to comply with Shariah law? The United States would lose a significant percentage of its work force and its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would suffer Muhammad taught that captured women were lawfully subject to slavery and rape by their male captors (14).

Note that in the Qur’an the references to "those whom your right hands possess" is a euphemism for captives and slaves. Moberly, it is applied to non-Muslim women working for Muslims in Islamic countries. It is common to hear reports of workers in Islamic countries, especially
Saudi Arabia, being raped by their male employers (15). Islamic doctrine is no more enlightened with respect to Muslim women.

Muhammad declared that women are intellectually inferior to men and that they comprise the majority of Hell's occupants (16).

One hadith records Muhammad as stating: "
Women are naturally, morally and religiously defective". (17)

The Qur'an describes men as being above their wives, demands women's obedience to their husbands, demands that women cover themselves, and states that their husbands may beat them (18)

Muslim women are given less of an inheritance than men (19).

Probably, the most terrible aspect of Islamic discrimination against women is that their testimony in court is considered to be worth only half that of a man's testimony (20).

This law, in addition to other aspects of Shariah Law, yields the terrible result that if a woman wants to prove that she was raped, then she must have solid evidence beyond her own testimony as the male rapist's testimony is deemed to outweigh her testimony as a matter of law. Muslim women that are rape victims sometimes find themselves jailed or stoned to death for reporting rape given that since it cannot be proven, they have effectively admitted to adultery (21). Based on the foregoing, it seems obvious that
Islam has directly resulted in women being unable to make a full contribution to Islamic society. Any religion that prevents approximately half its population from full participation in the economy patently acts as a hindrance to advancement and economic growth.

Bernard Lewis seems in accord on this point. He accurately summed up the plight of women in the Islamic world as follows: "According to Islamic law and tradition, there were three groups of people who did not benefit from the general Muslim principle of legal and religious equality - unbelievers, slaves, and women. The women was obviously in one significant respect the worst-placed of the three. The
slave could be freed by his master; the unbeliever could at any time become a believer by his own choice, and thus end his inferiority. Only the women was doomed forever to remain what she was - or so it seemed at the time (22)."

Given the Islamic world's treatment of women and focus on religious studies, is it any wonder that the Islamic world declined? To understand just how poorly the Islamic world performs on the World stage, consider the following. Muslims comprise approximately twenty percent of the world's population and they have collectively won less than ten Nobel Prizes. Jews comprise .02 percent of the world's population but have collectively won more than 180 Nobel Prizes (23).

Islam is Not Conducive to Democracy Many, including Bernard Lewis, have opined that Islam is not incompatible with democracy. That is an arguable point, but
what is not subject to legitimate argument is that Islam is hardly conducive to democracy. Muhammad set a clear example of combining religious and political authority. Islam also naturally fosters the belief that man cannot by popular vote set aside "Allah's laws." A religion that does not even give protection to someone for being unable to believe that Muhammad was God's prophet (Qur’an chapter 9, verses 5, 29), can hardly be expected to produce the type of enlightened belief in pluralism that is necessary in any healthy democracy. Consider what the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had to say on the subject:

"Divine governments . . . set themselves the task of making man into what he should be. To juxtapose
"democratic" and "Islamic" is an insult to Islam. Because . . . Islam is, in fact, superior to all forms of democracy" (24)

Democracy has been repeatedly proven by example to result in the most dynamic economies in the world.
Turkey's Islamic culture has been held in check by a strong secular government and military that imposes as a matter of law sever restrictions on Islamic practice. According to the CIA World Fact book, Turkey has a $12,999 per capita GDP. Conversely, Iran, an Islamic Republic, has a per capita GDP of $10,600 despite vast oil revenue and a very educated population. But the foregoing figures do not tell the whole story. On the matter of per capita GDP and income, Hassan Hakimian and Massoud Karshenas, in their article "Dilemmas and Prospects of Economic Reform and Reconstruction in Iran," observed: "During the two decades before 1975 per capita income in Iran grew faster than in Turkey and kept pace with Korea. By 1975 the level of per capita GDP in Iran was more than double those attended in Korea and Turkey. However, since the late 1970s income per head in Iran has witnessed a rapid decline. By 1990, GDP per capita in Iran had declined by half, almost down to the levels prevalent in the early 1960s and falling behind Turkey and Korea (25)." A can be seen, the reintroduction of Islamic rule in Iran caused Iran to go from having a per capita income of more than double Turkey's per capita income to a per capita GDP less than Turkey's per capita GDP.

Islamic doctrine demands that apostates, those that leave the faith or try to modify it, be killed. That command is vaguely set forth in the Qur'an, chapter 9, verse 12, but clearly set forth in the hadith (26). It is, therefore, difficult for cultural Muslims in some Islamic states to make headway against Islamic orthodoxy as any attempt to do so might result in being declared an apostate with severe consequences.

Similarly, any criticism of Islam that targets Muhammad and his example is likewise dangerous. Many Muslims can and do act quite violently to any criticism of Muhammad. Such violence is sanctioned by Islam given that Muhammad himself ordered critics and rivals assassinated.

1.      Qur’an 2:132-135

2.      Siraht Rasoul Allah: See chapter 25 called Tabuk

3.      Al Bukhari Vol. 4:196

4.      Qur'an 33:26

5.      See Siraht Rasoul Allah:; See chapter 20 called "Khaybar"

6.      Al Bukhari: Vol. 4, Book 52, Number 220

7.      Qur'an 33:21

8.      Qur'an 3:32, 3:132, 4:59, 5:92, 8:1, 8:20, 24:47

9.      Al Bukhari, Vol. 1:35

10.  Qur'an 4:74; 9:111; and 47:5-6

11.  Qur'an 3:157

12.  Qur'an 44:51-56; 52:17-29

13.  Al Bukhari Vol. 1: 25

14.  Qur'an 4:24 and 33:52


16.  Al Bukhari 2:28 and 6:301

17.  Al Bukhari 3:195

18.  Qur'an 2:228, 4:34, and 24:31

19.  Qur'an 4:11

20.  Qur'an 2:282


22.  What Went Wrong, (2002) Bernard Lewis, p67-69


24.  Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 1979, as quoted in The Iran Threat, 2007, Alireza Jafarzadeh, page 39

25.  Parvin Alizadeh (editor), The Economy of Iran, I.B. Tauris Publishers, London, 2000 as referenced online at

Al Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 52, Number 260: "The Prophet said, 'If a Muslim discards his religion, kill him.'"


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