Getting to Know Allah

It Wasn’t Always Like That

Competing World Views

Getting to Know AllahDepending on how you see the world, the Koran's new unchanging, perfect, divinely ordained world-order and our place in it was a good or a bad thing. For the believers, Western Civilization’s questioning, multi-coloured world-view is a product of the time of ignorance. The Koran’s dogmatic black and white world-view was to usher in a new age of enlightenment.

Both world-views cannot peacefully co-exist and never have.

When the 17th century welcomed the Age of Reason it was thought that one world-view had triumph over the other. Islam has proven this assumption to be wrong, and the outcome of the battle between reason and unreason is still very much in doubt.

The Renaissance, which marked the end of the Catholic Church’s dominance in Europe allowing for a flowering of the arts and sciences, and the Enlightenment which ushered in the Age of Reason may turn out to have been a short detour, taken by a relatively small segment of humanity in the march of history; a fragile exception writes Mark Lilla, professor of the humanities at Columbia University in The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics and the Modern West (2007):

After centuries of strife, the West has learned to separate religion and politics – to establish the legitimacy of its leaders without referring to divine command. There is little reason to expect the rest of the world – the Islamic world in particular – will follow.

We in the West find it incomprehensible that theological ideas still inflame the minds of men, stirring up messianic passions that can leave societies in ruin. We had assumed that this was no longer possible, that human beings had learned to separate religious questions from political ones, that political theology died in 16th-century Europe. We were wrong. It's we who are the fragile exception.

If you believe that the Koran’s world-view is the correct one, you only have to do nothing for this point of view to triumph. Islam’s blanket rejection of abortion and birth control; its approval of polygamy, early marriages and large families; its promise of death to those who would even contemplate leaving the perfect religion for one less perfect or for no religion at all mean the community of believers will always be expanding.

In fact, except for a temporary halt at the gates of Vienna in 1683, a small setback in Spain during the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand and a temporary reversal during the Mongol invasions, Islam has never looked back.

With all it has going for it, not to mention the paralyzing fear of random death as the more fanatical followers of the Prophet Muhammad threaten violence if Islam is not allowed to recruit in the “land of war”, the land of the unbelievers, in Islam you have the making of a winner.

This is a forgone conclusion for authors like Mark Stein. In his book America Alone, he writes that the future belong to Islam because “the Muslim world has youth, numbers and global ambition. The West is growing old and enfeebled, and more and more lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it.”

If you don’t believe that the Koranic world-view should prevail, what should you do?

Informing yourself of what is at stake is a start. Another would be acknowledging that Muslims are not your enemy. Religion, to paraphrase Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg, can make good people do bad things. Your enemy is a religion that was not allowed to grow beyond its desert roots; to become more than what Irshad Manji, in her plea for reform, The Trouble With Islam. A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change, calls “desert Islam.”