Saturday, January 07, 2006

I Am More Optimistic Than the Pope Concerning the Threat of Islam to the West

According to a Hugh Hewitt interview with a priest friend of Pope Benedict XVI, the Pope is not hopeful that Islam can adapt to "modern" ideas as embodied in the fundamental tenets of Western Civilization; especially insofar as they have been derived from Christian faith, thought and tradition. The Pope's premise, that the Koran is, for Muslims, an unalterable expression of the eternal will of Allah, is well articulated and can be found at the end of Hugh's posting on the interview here.

The history of Islam, however, presents a more hopeful and less predictable prognosis (and I am, on this subject at least, an avowed pessimist!).

From the time of Mohammed himself, there has been a historical ebb and flow between progressive and regressive Islam. Today, radical regressive Islam seems to be in the ascendancy . . . a movement emerging by means of a well-planned and well-funded program of world-wide terror and havoc spread by means of grassroots education and indoctrination.

Many Muslims see a hope of mystical liberation and a vindication of Islam in this movement. Most do not. As time passes, the inherently self-destructive path of this theocratic malignancy will become more obvious even to many of the conservative and traditional practitioners of Islam.

History shows that repressive regimes of any and all sort sooner or later collapse under their own intellectual, moral and functional bankruptcy. In order to survive, such regimes must, over time, either become more repressive in order to suppress dissent, or else open a few windows to vent the steam of pent up cultural and economic frustration and restlessness. This later tactic is, like the USSR's glasnost, no less than an admission of defeat and convincing evidence of impending implosion. Iran is, at the moment, following the first of these options; China has been cautiously experimenting with the latter.

In any case, we can be confident that the ascendancy of radical Islamism, driven by a vision of a world-wide caliphate, will sooner or later come to a dismal end. When the end comes, however, it will come from within Islam itself and not from without.

Until that day arrives, those of us who are not Muslim must do all we can to ensure the survival of Christian faith and values along with all that is good and worth saving in so-called Western Civilization.

We must also recognize and remember that there is much in our Western culture that is worthy of the scorn and repudiation of Islam. There are (it should not be surprising to say) many moral values held in common between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Our differences primarily lie in how we believe these values should be instilled and enforced in society.

We who are not Muslim must begin the task of reforming our own culture while, at the same time, defending our God-given vision of freedom and liberty against those who would take it from us.

We who are not Muslim must also make a concerted effort to offer friendship and support to those Muslims in our communities (and around the world) who share our fear of the cultural regression and terror of radical Islamist ideology.

We should pray for those more moderate Imams who are caught between a rock and a hard place in their own spiritual communities. There are many who are under threat from radicals and are overwhelmed by the Wahhabist theology propounded and spread by the wealth derived from Saudi oil.

The very soul of Islam is at stake and we would do well to pause for a long moment before we assume that Islam itself is the enemy. It is true that our terrorist enemies are virtually all Muslim. It does not necessarily follow, however, that every Muslim is our enemy.

Alongside most ordinary Muslims there are many powerful and influential Muslims in every corner of the world who are our potential allies in this fight. We must seek them out and encourage them. The threat to them is even greater that it is to least in the immediate future. A minutes thought reveals that it is the moderate Muslims who must be terminated before the rest of the world can be brought under submission to the Islamist caricature of Allah.

So then, be very, very worried. But do not be discouraged. God is the God of history as well as of creation. These times, as with all times, belong to God and are in God's hands. We who stand for God's freedom, peace, mercy, justice and redemption must stand boldly, hand in hand with all who will stand with us . . . even, and perhaps more so, if the hand we hold is the hand of a Muslim.