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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Quick Thought

posted by on June 19 at 14:07 PM

What is it that makes Muslims more passionate than Christians? No book, or novel, that contradicted Christian beliefs or morality could inspire such anger, such outrage. Here is a theory. It possibly has to do with the fact that Christianity, born and developed in the Roman world, is all about the end, the last days, revelation, apocalypse. Jesus even hinted that the end was just around the corner, and the fame of many early Christian prophets was made on their fevered claims that the world, meaning Rome, was about to be obliterated. In short, Christianity is about waiting—waiting for something big to happen, waiting for God.

Now let’s look at Islam. One of its defining features is that it sees itself as the end of a spiritual development. Muslims are more Hegelian than even Hegel. God, the world spirit, first revealed himself to the Jews, then the Christians, and finally them, the Muslims. What this means: Islam is the end of history. Fukuyama thought history ended with fall of the Soviet Union and the final victory of liberal democracy. Hegel thought history ended with him, the mind (or spiritual reflection) of Napoleon. With Islam, it is itself the result of a world process: it’s a faith that’s completed and complete. This sense of completeness might be the source of its most heated passions. Christians cant be so passionate because all they are doing is waiting around for something big to happen. (Christian fundamentalism is essentially an effort to give Christians something to do in the world they are waiting in.) No waiting for Muslims. What happens now, what happens in this world, is finally happening.

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Charles, Charles Charles you are such a Hegelian.
Please, get back to the materialist basic facts.
Moslems are "more passionate" because:
--they lost 1/3 of Europe. They got kicked out.
--The Europeans colonized them. (Iraq, Egypt, Russia in Afghanistan, etc.) Humiliating.
--The Europeans and the USA did impose the State of Israel on "their" land. (OK pls don't flame me I am for Israel but it is a fact it was imposed.)
--The USA fought Iraq in first war.
--The USA has invaded Afg. and Iraq now.
--In the latter case it is an international war crime, has caused about 600,000 dead, destoyed the economy, and led to the country being exposed to actual penetration and armed influence of Al-Qaeda and others.
--They got no economy no internet companies etc.
When you got all these "material" facts on the ground, my Hegelian friend, you don't need to resort to the Phenomenology of the Mind.

Posted by K. Marx | June 19, 2007 2:26 PM

i think it's even simpler than that - the phrase "kill the infidels" springs to mind. i don't think it says that anywhere in the bible.

Posted by brandon | June 19, 2007 2:30 PM

you mean "I don't think it says that anywhere in the New Testament."

Posted by K. Marx | June 19, 2007 2:34 PM

One problem here, Charles. Muslims also believe in the Day of Judgment, when the living and dead will be called before God to answer for their actions. They're waiting too.

Posted by Gitai | June 19, 2007 2:35 PM

the OT is a bit specific about who to kill. it was certain groups at a certain time, and it was certainly harsh. but it does not offer the blanket statement, kill anyone who is of a different religion. i do not know for certain what restrictions may be placed as outlined in the koran.

Posted by infrequent | June 19, 2007 2:39 PM

Don't be so quick to confuse a barbaric society that nurtures an innate capacity for and mind set disposed toward brutish violence coupled with a philosophy that encourages brutish violence with passion.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | June 19, 2007 2:39 PM

Reminds me of the marxist-lenninist insistence that Communism is the inevitable outcome for all of humanity

Posted by Vooodooo84 | June 19, 2007 2:43 PM

whether or not the koran even says 'kill the infidels' is kind of irrelevant if a large segment of mainstream islam interprets it as such. that's the problem. and when people try to engage in all sorts of philosophical gymnastics to try and excuse or explain away this problem, well, then it's an even bigger problem.

Posted by brandon | June 19, 2007 2:47 PM

Could it be there has been no reformation in Islam, and that is hasn't been subjected to co-existing with secular societies like Christianity has had to endure for the past few centuries in Europe and the Americas? What would Christianity look like today if the West was ruled by a bunch of Christian kings, like the Muslim kings that are so prevalent in places such as Saudi Arabia? How different would the world be if The Pilgrims were Shia, and tried to escape to the new world because they felt oppressed by the Sunni government back home?

Posted by Tiffany | June 19, 2007 2:48 PM

Tiffany, but Islam is the source of much of the science that eventually lead to the secularization of Christianity. Optics, mathematics, astronomy, Aristotle, Scholasticism--all come to us from or by way of Islamic scholarship.

Posted by charles | June 19, 2007 2:54 PM

Interesting perspective. There's another facet that makes Islam more 'complete' as a world-historical moment: Where Christianity saw this-world governance as the Other, Islam -- while retaining Christian-like eschatology -- embraced ways of governing this world as an integral part of the religion. It rejected "give unto Caesar..." notions with which most Christians still must grapple.

Islamic fundamentalisms can embrace views of this-world governance as an essential part of their religious world-view -- something that's merely tacked on to most Christian fundamentalisms who don't share a similar long-term history of governing in this world.

Catholic popes did, of course, rule for centuries, but there was always a counter-trend in the religion upon which they based their authority.

Mormons, however, managed to develop a synthesis from Christian teaching similar to Mohammed's that, like Islam, embraces this-world governance.

Posted by Robinev | June 19, 2007 2:57 PM

They're angrier because they are losing. The world is passing them by and giving them the finger on the way. While we are proceeding with the development of liberal democracy, capitalist economics and other more advanced ideas, they are fighting to install theocracies. (yeah, yeah, we have religious conservatives too, but not comparable in any way to the muslim world.) Not to mention the fact that they are humilated at every turn on the battlefield. While the judeo/christian West experienced unprecedented civil strife, world wars and other painful steps towards social advancement, the Muslim world sat stagnate under colonialism. They are now centuries behind, left powerless and can only lash out in rage. Flip the coin and the christian west (plus Israel of course) is the more fearful side. The side with more to lose. while muslim rage seems out of scope, christian fear i would argue, is equally out of scope.

So i don't think it has to do with any difference between christianity and islam, just a difference in which side is dominating the other. The dominated, helpless side, always going to be angrier. The dominant side, always more fearful.

Posted by longball | June 19, 2007 3:02 PM

I am well aware of that Charles. But somewhere along the line, the Middle East stopped being the place where the sciences flourished. Oh and Aristotle was long gone by the time Islam (or Christianity for that matter) came about.

Posted by Tiffany | June 19, 2007 3:08 PM

@10. Islam isn't the source of Aristotle. After Islam sunk its root into the Arabs' minds, they have hardly advanced one inch from where they were 1,500 years ago. What have they done since they took power, the ayatollahs, imams, and mullahs? Hardly anything. They waste their one-track minds on a beastly religion. Meanwhile, Spain translates as many books into Spanish each year as the Arabs have translated into Arabic since the ninth century (source: The Arab Human Development Report 2003).

Posted by Travis | June 19, 2007 3:27 PM

there are some Christians in Africa who are pretty fucking crazy and historically, well jesus christ those people have done some pretty fucked up shit.

Most christians we hear about are those in the west which is a nice happy pluralistic democracy were violence is generally not seen as an appropriate response to disagreement. Also given our modern ways even our fundamentalists are moderate compared to less modern societies were magic is still an acceptable answer to life's questions.

Like children societies sometimes need to grow up and realize that the fat man at the mall is just an minimum wage booze hound and not the path to endless treasure.

Posted by Giffy | June 19, 2007 3:38 PM

BTW, this thread got me to thinking about "Islamic Reformation", so I searched the net a little and was quite surprised to see that Salman Rushdie, of all people, is credited with coming up with the idea. Funny how all this stuff is so interconnected.

Posted by Tiffany | June 19, 2007 3:58 PM

Jesus was way cooler than Muhammad.

but Buddha was way cooler than both of them combined with all the OT prophets into one super-prophet.

And the "Madhi" Army means the Messiah Army. its why the Sunnis think the Shia are fucking nuts.

Posted by maxsolomon | June 19, 2007 4:19 PM

I've never read the Koran.
I've never seen anyone just quote the freakin' Koran. this thread doesn't do it, MSNBC doesn't do it either.
What's it say? you know, what actually is their religion ??? All I know is they like Moses and Jesus and Mohammed, Mohammed was the last prophet and they don't think Jesus was God. Kind of a sparse basis upon which to speculate about all this religion shit. Anyone got a handy dandy zippy summary?

Posted by justthefacts | June 19, 2007 6:05 PM
What is it that makes Muslims more passionate than Christians? No book, or novel, that contradicted Christian beliefs or morality could inspire such anger, such outrage.

Wikipedia's response:

Protests against the movie from religious communities began before the film had even finished production. The studio was expecting a backlash due to the controversies revolving around any media treatment of Christ (see dramatic portrayals of Jesus Christ), but the protests accompanying Last Temptation were unprecedented. Major religious leaders in the United States blasted the film in fiery sermons, and condemned its subject matter as pornographic.

On October 22, 1988, a French Catholic fundamentalist group launched molotov cocktails inside the Parisian Saint Michel movie theater to protest against the film. This terrorist attack injured thirteen people, four of whom were severely burned.

Wow, that's a lot worse. White people are such savages.

Posted by jamier | June 19, 2007 6:22 PM

I agree with Karl.

Very simply put: radical Islam is the blowback for centuries of western imperialism. It started as a radical anti-colonial movement and was armed and trained during interwar, post war, and Cold War eras by outside powers. As usual, westerners over-emphasize philosophy, theory, and culture, and undervalue the economic, political, and social origins of the problem. Culture reinforces, it doesn't create things out of thin air.

Posted by Jay | June 19, 2007 6:43 PM

Perhaps the Muslim citizens of the middle east can endure the economic, military and cultural advantages the West holds currently (hey there Chine, how ya doing?) because they are secure in knowing that they are "living right".

Maybe disrespecting Mohamed is an artillery barrage into their last sanctuary.

Posted by dirge | June 19, 2007 7:02 PM

A lot of developing countries are just fucked, so sure, Islam probably does provide some sanctuary and comfort. I don't find it particularly alien for human beings to do that. Marx is useful here too.

Posted by Jay | June 19, 2007 7:06 PM

By the way, The Stranger's continuing "Muslims are animals" meme is all about race.

Nobody's talking about the 210 million Muslims in Indonesia, the 175 million Muslims in India, the 130 million Muslims in Bangladesh, the 70 million Muslims in Turkey, the 33 million Muslims in Morocco, the 20 million Muslims in China, the 15 million Muslims in Malaysia, or the 3 million Muslims in the United States.

Most of the world's Muslims don't live in Arab countries, and you're talking about a small minority of those Muslims, mostly in Pakistan and Iran.

Posted by jamier | June 19, 2007 7:06 PM

Well said Jamier.

Posted by Jay | June 19, 2007 7:25 PM

Muslims inhibit the freedom of others everywhere in the world by threats of violence. Just look at the people murdered and living in fear (Van Gogh, Rushdie, the Danish cartoonists, etc, etc) in their OWN countries due to violence from Muslim immigrants. This will be labelled xenophobic, but it's nothing of the sort: it is a fact.

Posted by jane doe | June 19, 2007 7:33 PM

Muslims inhibit the freedom of others everywhere in the world by threats of violence. Just look at the people murdered and living in fear (Van Gogh, Rushdie, the Danish cartoonists, etc, etc) in their OWN countries due to violence from Muslim immigrants. This will be labelled xenophobic, but it's nothing of the sort: it is a fact.

Posted by jane doe | June 19, 2007 7:33 PM

Muslims inhibit the freedom of others everywhere in the world by threats of violence. Just look at the people murdered and living in fear (Van Gogh, Rushdie, the Danish cartoonists, etc, etc) in their OWN countries due to violence from Muslim immigrants. This will be labelled xenophobic, but it's nothing of the sort: it is a fact.

Posted by jane doe | June 19, 2007 7:34 PM

@18 I've read the Qur'an. I got my degree in Near Eastern Languages and Civ from UW. The problem with basing your knowledge on Islam from the Qur'an is that as with any religion, scripture accounts for about 10%, and extra-scriptural resources account for the rest. To really be familiar with Islam, you'd have to know not just the Qur'an, but also the Hadith, and depending on which branch of Islam you were talking about, a school of law. Hanbali is most useful.

Posted by Gitai | June 19, 2007 11:42 PM

Jsmier, I agree that Christianity is a primitive and brutal belief system. But are you trying to say that Islam is somehow less repulsive and somehow less ignorant, just because Christianity is also represented by extremists?

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