Monday, January 28, 2008

A World Without Islam

Salaam and Peace to you all:
A friend emailed me about this article a few days ago. It is a worthwhile reading. Here is an abstract from the Foreign Policy web site

A World Without Islam
By Graham E. Fuller
January/February 2008

Imagine, if you will, a world without Islam—admittedly an almost inconceivable state of affairs given its charged centrality in our daily news headlines. Islam seems to lie behind a broad range of international disorders: suicide attacks, car bombings, military occupations, resistance struggles, riots, fatwas, jihads, guerrilla warfare, threatening videos, and 9/11 itself. Why are these things taking place? “Islam” seems to offer an instant and uncomplicated analytical touchstone, enabling us to make sense of today’s convulsive world. Indeed, for some neoconservatives, “Islamofascism” is now our sworn foe in a looming “World War III.”

But indulge me for a moment. What if there were no such thing as Islam? What if there had never been a Prophet Mohammed, no saga of the spread of Islam across vast parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa?

Given our intense current focus on terrorism, war, and rampant antiAmericanism—some of the most emotional international issues of the day—it’s vital to understand the true sources of these crises. Is Islam, in fact, the source of the problem, or does it tend to lie with other less obvious and deeper factors? For the sake of argument, in an act of historical imagination, picture a Middle East in which Islam had never appeared. Would we then be spared many of the current challenges before us? Would the Middle East be more peaceful? How different might the character of EastWest relations be? Without Islam, surely the international order would present a very different picture than it does today. Or would it?


From the earliest days of a broader Middle East, Islam has seemingly shaped the cultural norms and....


The idea of a world without Islam is a 'comforting thought' to many, suggesting to me that they have no clue what on earth is going on, and that their knowledge of history. politics and religion is marginal at best. The author, on the other hand, argues that wiping Islam from the collective memory of mankind may not result in a dramatically different world today.

I tend to agree with the author, not because he is a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, but because I always strongly believed that most of the conflicts are fueled by economy and ethnicity rather than religion. Religion in political conflicts is just a useful banner to get the less educated, and more emotional recruits, who may not understand the economics underlying the 'need for war' or in fact may object to a war that has economic and/or ethnic basis, or a war for the sake of expanding the reach of a superpower. In other words, the greedy plan most of the wars, and the faithful fight it for them.
This does not mean that all wars are unjust, or that patriotism is foolish. There are definitely wars worth fighting, and causes worth dying for. But the majority of wars were also definitely fought for announced causes that did not reflect the full story.
Some of the wars that seemed well justified to many include the American Civil War, World Wars I & II, and even the current Afghanistan War. But examples for the less-well-justified wars are more abundant: the Crusades, the Ottoman conquests in Europe, American recruitment and support of Mujahedeen to fight godless Soviets in Afghanistan (1979-89), Western- and Arab-supported Iraq War against Iran (1980-88) , North-South war in Sudan (1983-2005), and finally the Iraq war with Neoconservatives getting Fundamentalist Christians to back it as part of the ultimate struggle between Evil Islam and Good Christianity, etc. The economic and ethnic components may differ in magnitude from one war to the other, but in all these cases, religious aspects were inflated by all sides to gain moral and material support, and to keep the war going on.
Anyway, I liked the article because it resonated with my thoughts. See what you think.



1 comment:

  1. I think that this is a nice mental experiment that allows us to look at the root causes. Writing from Beirut I can see firsthand how religion is used to rally people to act in ways that are irrational...