T Nation

Islam and Western Values

I found this OP ED piece referenced on the counterterrorism blog (www.counterterrorismblog.com) and thought it was interesting. The author states that muslims will never embrace western values, even in Europe and the United States. So what is the answer, allow muslim communities to govern themselves under Sharia law? Allow Muslim communities in the west to violate basic human rights in the interests of religion? I see nothing but continued conflict from this type of thinking.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/16/AR2007031601941.html

(excerpt)
In Europe and the United States, where Muslims have maximum exposure to Western culture, they are increasingly embracing Islamic values. In Britain, a growing number of Muslims advocate creating a court system based upon Islamic principles.

What all this means is that Western hopes for full integration by Muslims in the West are unlikely to be realized and that the future of the Islamic world will be much more Islamic than Western.

Instead of championing the loud voices of the secular minority who are capturing media attention with their conferences, manifestos and memoirs, the United States would be wise instead to pay more attention to the far less loquacious majority.

I think this is flawed thinking. There have been Christian sects in the Western world that have opposed Western values or sought to create theocracies, including in Britain. What has helped is that these people are otherwise integrated into society and their children have an opportunity to reject their parents’ beliefs, or to soften them.

Muslim communities in Europe and the UK aren’t integrated at all… they intentionally set themselves apart from the rest of the society. They don’t have many shared cultural traditions with the rest of the country. The best thing we can do for Muslim countries is what they did for us hundreds of years ago: introduce them to Western culture.

Not McDonald’s, not Nike, not Starbucks; Plato, Hobbes, Locke. Adam Smith. Our present Western values are intimately related to a shared philosophical past, which I do not believe Islam is incompatible with.

[quote]nephorm wrote:
I think this is flawed thinking. There have been Christian sects in the Western world that have opposed Western values or sought to create theocracies, including in Britain. What has helped is that these people are otherwise integrated into society and their children have an opportunity to reject their parents’ beliefs, or to soften them.

Muslim communities in Europe and the UK aren’t integrated at all… they intentionally set themselves apart from the rest of the society. They don’t have many shared cultural traditions with the rest of the country. The best thing we can do for Muslim countries is what they did for us hundreds of years ago: introduce them to Western culture.

Not McDonald’s, not Nike, not Starbucks; Plato, Hobbes, Locke. Adam Smith. Our present Western values are intimately related to a shared philosophical past, which I do not believe Islam is incompatible with.[/quote]

Wow. Why aren’t you in government?

[quote]nephorm wrote:
The best thing we can do for Muslim countries is what they did for us hundreds of years ago: introduce them to Western culture.

[/quote]

Wait…what did they do for us hundreds of years ago?

[quote]40yarddash wrote:
nephorm wrote:
The best thing we can do for Muslim countries is what they did for us hundreds of years ago: introduce them to Western culture.

Wait…what did they do for us hundreds of years ago?[/quote]

Medicine, Science, Math, Language. About half of western scientific though came from the middle east.

Especially medicine and math,

[quote]40yarddash wrote:
nephorm wrote:
The best thing we can do for Muslim countries is what they did for us hundreds of years ago: introduce them to Western culture.

Wait…what did they do for us hundreds of years ago?[/quote]

The current numbers you use are based on old Arabic numbers, Islamic culture was responsible, either directly or indirectly, for the development of algebra, geometry, medicine and the science of hygeine, among other things like improved irrigation and ventilation systems for large buildings. Islamic cities were some of the first to have a proper sewage system and the building of rounded arches and domes.

Plus Kabbalah and most esoteric Jewish and Islamic philosophies were cultivated in and around Cordoba and Al-Andalus, centers of Islamic learning and knowledge, to which many European scholars flocked.

*copied from a previous post of mine.

[quote]40yarddash wrote:
Wait…what did they do for us hundreds of years ago?[/quote]

Don’t take it as fond nostalgia - it was due to the crusades. But the Muslim world preserved works from antiquity that were lost to Europe, in addition to innovating in science, mathematics, and medicine.

You guys know how we’re advanced while most of the Islamic world is “backwards” right now?? Well in the middle ages Europe was “backwards” and the muslim world was advanced. They made many great discoveries in science. Things like algebra, chemistry, medicine, etc… were invented in the Islamic world.

[quote]OKLAHOMA STATE wrote:
You guys know how we’re advanced while most of the Islamic world is “backwards” right now?? Well in the middle ages Europe was “backwards” and the muslim world was advanced. They made many great discoveries in science. Things like algebra, chemistry, medicine, etc… were invented in the Islamic world. [/quote]

Some was invented, some was just kept alive from the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

After the fall of Rome knowledge of science etc was not valued in Europe. There were many “barbarian” factions that fought for control and without stability science, art etc does not flourish.

The great unifying force then turned into religion. It took a while for Europe to climb out of that hole.

Now it appears that the Middle East is in their own dark ages. They need to stop taking their religion so seriously. A little religion might be a good thing. Too much religion is scary.

[quote]Shoebolt wrote:
40yarddash wrote:
nephorm wrote:
The best thing we can do for Muslim countries is what they did for us hundreds of years ago: introduce them to Western culture.

Wait…what did they do for us hundreds of years ago?

The current numbers you use are based on old Arabic numbers, Islamic culture was responsible, either directly or indirectly, for the development of algebra, geometry, medicine and the science of hygeine, among other things like improved irrigation and ventilation systems for large buildings. Islamic cities were some of the first to have a proper sewage system and the building of rounded arches and domes.

Plus Kabbalah and most esoteric Jewish and Islamic philosophies were cultivated in and around Cordoba and Al-Andalus, centers of Islamic learning and knowledge, to which many European scholars flocked.

*copied from a previous post of mine.

[/quote]

Actually regarding Maths, Science and Medicine, they all originated in India and it was passed on through Arab traders to the West. Pythagoras studied Math from text books written by Ancient Hindu’s aswell.

(but you did say directly or indirectly so fair play :))

As far as sewage systems are concerned, yes Islamic cities did certainly possess this, but again the first well planned city with underground sewage systems was in India - The Indus Valley civilization at Harrapa.

Cheers

Nik

[quote]nephorm wrote:
I think this is flawed thinking. There have been Christian sects in the Western world that have opposed Western values or sought to create theocracies, including in Britain.
…[/quote]

Yeah, those religious nuts where shipped off to “the new world”. And now look what happened. :wink:

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
The great unifying force then turned into religion.

[/quote]
Unifying or controlling? Religion tends to divide people more than unites them. Even people who profess to practice the “same” religion cannot get along.

[quote]Wreckless wrote:

Yeah, those religious nuts where shipped off to “the new world”. And now look what happened. ;-)[/quote]

Most people overlook the fact that the “New World” owes its existance to religious nuts.

Here’s what I think. We are living in a period of extreme change. Who would have thought twenty years ago, that just about everybody would be using a computer now? Then there is globalization: people are confronted with foreign influences everywhere…not just in America, but in Europe, Asia, Middle East.

Things get difficult and complicated when this happens. There are some people who think the solution is to return to “traditional” values, the way things used to be. We can see this trend in the Middle East (among certain types of Muslims), we can see it in the United States with Christian fundamentalism. Even in Europe which happens to be more secular, you can see people like Le Pen and Sarkozy in France.

I think if you compare Muslim fundamentalism with Christian fundamentalism you will see a lot of striking similarities: literal readings of sacred texts, anti-woman, anti-homosexual, “family values”, prudishness, etc.

Of course, I find any type of fundamentalism silly. I dont RESPECT Islamic fundamentalism and I dont RESPECT Christian fundamentalism either.

The fact that the Muslim world is all backward now doesn’t have much to do with religion.
All of those countries came out of colonialization not too long ago. Economically, most of them are still dependent on their former occupiers. Same thing with sub-Saharian Africa. Their resources have been - and still are - pillaged. Of course, the unilateral liberalism of big powers is also to blame for much of the disasters.

Nationalistic movement that aspired to a real independence have been crushed. Open military strikes in some cases, secret assassinations in others. That is the reason why the Arab populations are left with only one option: vote for Islamists.

It’s simplistic, I know, but I can’t cover the history of dozens of countries over a century in a post.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
The great unifying force then turned into religion.

Unifying or controlling? Religion tends to divide people more than unites them. Even people who profess to practice the “same” religion cannot get along.
[/quote]

umm, this has more to do with human group dynamics than it necessarily does with the inherent nature of religion.

[quote]BH6 wrote:
I The author states that muslims will never embrace western values, even in Europe and the United States. So what is the answer, allow muslim communities to govern themselves under Sharia law? [/quote]

Airline tickets?

[quote]Beowolf wrote:
40yarddash wrote:
nephorm wrote:
The best thing we can do for Muslim countries is what they did for us hundreds of years ago: introduce them to Western culture.

Wait…what did they do for us hundreds of years ago?

Medicine, Science, Math, Language. About half of western scientific though came from the middle east.

Especially medicine and math,[/quote]

LOL!!!

Inventions are worthless unless the people within a culture actually do something with the acquired knowledge. Certainly there were sparks of genius, which the culture quickly shut down. Can we say : Ottoman Empire?

Its not enough to invent something, have it languish for hundreds of years, then someone else takes off with it. Big deal…

When I was a kid, I thought of putting spikes on my bicycle tires. Should I now claim studded winter tires as my brainchild? LOL!!!

[quote]lixy wrote:

The fact that the Muslim world is all backward now doesn’t have much to do with religion.
All of those countries came out of colonialization not too long ago.[/quote]

Nonsense - and you really are just a one-trick pony. Muslim societies are backward by their own self-affliction.

If what you say is true, then what of all the societies that the various Muslim empires colonized? Why are they not backward after the conquest by the Muslims? Instead, they are thriving, liberal societies despite the previous dominance of Islamic masters.

Odd that you have no theory as to why your ‘colonialism’ idea doesn’t work in reverse when the Muslim empire was the one doing the conquering and dominating.

Economically, the people have no access to wealth because they have no access to education or civic opportunity. Education amounts to a rejection of all things that could give Muslims a chance to innovate, and old caste and tribal ideas keep people from exploring their full opportunities.

If “Western oppressors” all backed out tomorrow, you would still have the same thing you have now - ignorance wretches with no chance at a better life through their own efforts. That is no one’s fault but the society itself.

A primary reason Muslims vote for Islamists is the Muslims’ propensity to be victims of demagoguery. They have no tools to think for themselves or question anyone who dresses authority in the fabric of “doing Allah’s will”.

Whether they have voted for Nationalists or Islamists, they keep voting for overarching tyrants.

Well, at least this part is right - it is simplistic, ignorantly so. You always cast Muslims as innocent victims of a mean West that would be living in peaceful, tolerant harmony if only we would respect them and leave them alone.

Yet you never mention the power and explanse of Muslim empires that subjugated millions, the conquests of Islam that took and took, and of the victims of that period of imperialism. Why is your line for visiting the sins of imperialism always drawn where convenient - at the time the Muslim empire kneeled before the West (as a result of military victory, by the way, which Muslim societies recognized as legitimate, since they spread influence by the sword)? Why is that? Why not go further and analyze whether the victims of Muslim imperialism do what they do on account of their treatment at the paws of their Muslim overmasters?

Was not the West’s demand for control over the Muslim nations a fair response to the overbearing Muslim empire trying to colonize them?

Why be so ignorant and arbitrary with history? I know exactly why - are you willing to admit it?