Leaving Islam




29- To what do you attribute the rise of religious fundamentalism in the Islamic countries?

 This is a complex matter. There are several factors that contribute to religious fundamentalism. I can mention a few of them:

1-     Lack of education: I think this is perhaps the main factor. Religious fundamentalism is the product of ignorance and knowledge is the best antidote for ignorance. The level of education in Islamic countries is generally low and the kind of education is deficient and biased. It is not rare to find people who have university degrees, and are educated as engineers, economists or architects speak of creation as a fact, or jinns as real beings. When you have university graduates whose education has been based on nonscientific religious absurdities, what can you expect from the unlettered masses? Also it should be noted that Islam discourages secular education. For a Muslim knowledge is what is contained in the Quran. If any science contradicts the Quran that science cannot be taught. You can only teach what does not go against the nonsense of the Quran and that is very little. Therefore the Islamic countries are trapped in a vicious circle. Islam keeps people in ignorance and ignorant people are attracted towards Islam. 

2-     The second factor is the opportunism of unscrupulous external and internal political powers. Religions often encourage the distrust of the people of other faiths. Political forces use this weakness to their advantage. They foment hatred of a group to procure the support of another group. In Iran the Jews and then the Baha’is became the scapegoats of the Muslim clerics, Ali Allahi’s and Sunnnis were also the target of attack for centuries. This has been the case in almost all countries were people take religion seriously. The British used this sentiment to split the India, the Americans uses the Talibans to fight against the Soviets. They supported the Hamas to weaken the PLO. The list goes on.  The support of the extremist groups by Western and colonial powers in Islamic countries is one of the greatest factors of the rise of fundamentalism.

3-     Another factor is the feeling of alienation that people in the Islamic countries have towards the rapidly changing and infiltrating Western culture. The West has got rid of religion a century ago and is marching towards a secular civilization reaping the fruits of science and democracy. Islamic countries were not ready yet for this change. They were left behind and therefore have developed inferiority complex vis-ŕ-vis the Westerners. This inferiority complex is further accentuated due to the physical and economical domination of the colonial countries in most of the Islamic world during the 19th century. Today that domination does no more exist, or at least it is subtle and behind the curtains. However the Western culture keeps invading the Islamic countries through Hollywood movies and TV serials. Muslims see their identity threatened and therefore react by going back to their roots. They seek in Islam their identity and their self worth. The general sentiment is that even if the West has scientific and materialistic advantage over us, we have the best religion and God is with us. Conversion of few westerners to Islam validates that religion and feeds the fundamentalism. Muslims make a big issue when a singer like Cat Stevens or a boxer like Muhammad Ali Clay converts to Islam. It does not matter if people who convert to Islam are "no brainers". All it matters is the number and the fact they are celebrities. Even O.J. Simpson would become a sensation if he converts to Islam. The point is that when people convert to Islam, they are feeding fundamentalism and contribute to the rise of Islamic terrorism even if they denounce the extremists. Islam is terrorism and anyone converting to this religion is approving of it even when he is confused and genuinely believes that Islam is a religion of peace.    

In my opinion Islam is a religion that cannot separate itself from fundamentalism without denying almost all the teachings of Quran. The only way to hamper the surge of fanaticism is to weaken Islam itself. All we have to do is to explain the Quran and the hadith to the Muslims. 


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