Dare to Speak: Islam vs Free Democracy and Free Enterprise (I)
Much has been written about Islam, its ethics, and its relationships with other religions. Despite this large volume of work, there appears to be something missing, something even more basic and important to people of all faiths. What is missing is a study of Islam with regard to governance, particularly regarding its relationship to what we call democracy. The goal of this series is to fill the gap by providing this investigation and presenting its findings.
Why choose this subject? Because, throughout the world, we receive starkly conflicting information about Islam. Apologists claim that Islam is a religion of peace. They also claim that our democratic traditions of religious tolerance require us to respect the freedom of Muslims to practice Islam. At the same time, we see Muslims practicing violent religious intolerance around the world. This intolerance is often against their non-Islamic neighbors, who range from Orthodox Russians to Sudanese Christians, Hindu Indians, Catholic Filipinos, and Buddhist Thais. Additionally, Muslims practice religious intolerance against each other. We hear of Sunni Muslims persecuting Shiite Muslims, Shiite Muslims persecuting Sunni Muslims, and Wahhabis persecuting everyone else.
Clearly, something is wrong with this picture. Yet many people fail to associate the violence committed by Muslims with Islam itself. They steadfastly seek alternative explanations, such as colonialism, tribal tensions, racism, and poverty. They refuse to even consider the idea that Islam may be inherently aggressive and intolerant toward other religions.
This self-deception cannot continue for long. Islam’s presence and influence is growing throughout the world, and it demands our attention. For example, Nigeria’s northern states announced their conversion to Islamic Law in 2002 by sentencing several women to death by stoning for adultery. In 2006, the entire nation of Denmark was terrorized by Muslims around the world because a mid-sized, independent Danish newspaper published some political cartoons of Muhammad.
An ever-growing cascade of violence tells us that we are approaching a time when we will have no choice but to confront two disturbing possibilities:
- Islam is fundamentally incompatible with democracy as we know it, because it opposes the individual freedoms and protections that citizens of democracies cherish.
- Muslims are in the process of using our own democratic institutions to subvert democracy and to replace democratically determined law with Islamic Law.
Before you dismiss these words as bigotry, please allow me to explain:
In the United States, we have embraced notions of tolerance and freedom that may be described as “live and let live.” Applied to religion, “live and let live” means that no one has the right to force their beliefs on others; nor may they prevent others from changing their beliefs. While Americans may not always live up to the ideals of Free Democracy, we aspire to them, and use our freedoms to correct ourselves as we progress.
Tolerance and freedom are essential parts of what we call democracy, which political theorists usually call Liberal Democracy or Western Democracy. In Dare to Speak, this form of democracy is called Free Democracy.
Religious tolerance is an essential principle we live by in the United States and throughout the Westernized world. This principle has evolved from centuries of futile religious battles that caused us to violate the very beliefs we claimed to fight for. It was codified in complete form by the Constitution of the United States, which has been an example and a beacon of hope for nations around the world. While these nations have created constitutions of their own, to serve their particular circumstances, the U.S. Constitution has remained a guiding reference for progressive thinkers everywhere. Why? Because it exemplifies a framework for governance that grants unprecedented powers and freedoms to its citizens.
In contrast, there is a part of the world where Free Democracy has not flourished, and its freedoms are not valued. Free Democracy did not evolve there, and we are discovering that it does not grow there, despite a variety of working examples in other parts of the world. This infertile soil is the House of Islam.
Why has the form of democracy we cherish, which I call Free Democracy, failed to take root and grow in the Islamic world? Because Islam ties religion and politics together in a Gordian knot. Islam has its own body of laws, known as Shari’ah , and these laws sharply oppose Free Democracy. Islam and Free Democracy are as opposed to each other as Communism and Free Democracy, or Fascism and Free Democracy.
Many people refuse to consider the possibility that Islam and Free Democracy are irreconcilably opposed to each other. After all, the benefits of Free Democracy are obvious, and many Islamic nations have worked diligently to adopt it. Unfortunately, the fruits of these efforts confirm that Islam and Free Democracy do not mix. Islamic nations like Turkey, Egypt, and Algeria have histories of secular governments, but those governments have uneasy relationships with their citizens. These nations have often found themselves resorting to warlike tactics against Islamic fundamentalists to preserve themselves. In Iran, Islam’s mullahs won such a war and now use their authority to thwart the superficially democratic institutions they control.
What makes Islam different from other religions? Why is it hostile to Free Democracy? To put it plainly, it does not believe in “live and let live.” Devout Muslims do not feel obligated to convince others to convert to Islam through reason. Instead, the Koran encourages them to use persecution. According to the Koran, people of other faiths are allowed to continue in their practices only if they acknowledge that Islam is a superior religion and pay extortion money to an Islamic government in the form of special taxes. This exception, which is extolled by Muslims as an example of tolerance, is actually designed to grind down other religions to nothing over time. To people who are weak, or young in their faiths, this persecution raises a question: “Why pay extra taxes, and accept an inferior position in society, when all I have to do is convert to Islam?”
In a sense, these mercenary conversions are a saving grace. There are many Muslims in the world who are Muslim in name only. They know that if they left Islam, their Apostasy would be considered a crime punishable by death. They are prisoners of their faith instead of believers. Therefore, the apparent strength of Islam can be deceptive, and many nominal Muslims are far more benevolent than Islam calls them to be.
Many of us in the West grew up ignorant of Islam. Therefore, with few experiences to contradict our democracy-inspired beliefs, which seek to accommodate different religions, many people came to view the world’s religions as merely different paths to the same goal. For people who still believe this, the words of this series will come as a shock, because they reveal that Islam violates this assumption. to Speak will show that Islam is overtly hostile toward other religions. More importantly, it will show that Islam is overtly hostile to non-Islamic governments.
This series will also uncover the subterranean war that Muslims are currently waging against the world’s Free Democracies. It will lay out the issues, provide references to back them up, and begin a discussion on the actions that Westerners can take to preserve Free Democracy for future generations.
This series quotes extensively from the Koran (a compilation of recitations claimed by Muhammad to come from Allah) and the Hadith (compilations of Muhammad’s other words and actions), as well as recent news articles and modern religious books written by Muslims. It does so to demonstrate two key points:
- The portions of Islamic holy scripture that carry disturbing messages are not merely stray quotes in otherwise benign books. They are essential components of Islam, and the Koran and the Hadith emphasize them repeatedly. Faithful Muslims take these messages seriously and act on them.
- The actions of Islamic terrorists around the world are not merely the products of a few deviant minds, or a few menacing groups, such as al Qaeda, but are the products of violent messages that flow from one eternal source: Islamic holy scripture.
This series will demonstrate that, as long as Islam is treated as a respectable religion, and not as a hostile political ideology bent on global domination, Islam will continue to expand and sow its seeds of terror throughout the world. If we allow this to happen, the nations that currently embrace Free Democracy may one day find themselves destitute and chaotic, with their democratic laws replaced by Islamic ones.
As you read this series, you will find many references embedded directly into the text rather than exiled to appendices or footnotes. This structure gives you direct access to the sources of Dare to Speak’s assertions, to help you view them easily and form your own conclusions.
If, after reading this series, you doubt its assertions, please do your own independent research. With vast resources and newspaper archives available on the Web and in libraries, your job will be easy and inexpensive. As a starting point, I highly recommend the University of Southern California’s “Compendium of Muslim Texts,” which provides on-line access to three translations of the Koran, plus a comprehensive compilation of hadiths, along with keyword search functions for all texts. You can find this site at USC.edu
Please do not dismiss or pre-judge the points this series makes if they disagree with what you want to believe. You have a duty, to yourself and to your family, to understand the issues we face, so that you can respond to them appropriately. Your actions may impact your children even more than yourself.
Before moving on to the first chapter, I would like to tell you why I call this series “Dare to Speak.” According to Islamic Law, these writings could easily be interpreted as insulting to Islam, and to Muhammad himself. The punishment for such insults, according to Shari’ah, is severe and can include death. Therefore, by writing to you, I am truly putting my life on the line. But this is why I feel I must speak: if fear was to silence me, it would already be too late; Islam would be in control of my life, and yours.
1. Also referred to as Sharia or Shariah.
2. The Koran, which is also spelled “Qu’ran” or “Quran,” is a compilation of the recitations of Muhammad, believed by Muslims to be literal words of Allah.
3. Jizyah, which is a per capita tax imposed on adult male non-Muslims living under Muslim rule.
4. The abandonment of one’s religion. While most religions frown upon Apostasy, Islam views it, in specific legal terms, as the greatest of all crimes that a Muslim can commit. It is a crime punishable by death.