Puritans and Sophisticates
Islamist seventh century man strikes again. This time his target was a Jordanian Christian/atheist Cartoonist, Nahed Hattar, who was assassinated for the crime of sharing Allah cartoon in a local paper.
Seventh century man roams the world in the twenty first century, oblivious of the passing of time. A throwback, a mutation from a distant past he is to be found everywhere: in Europe, in the Americas and in many other corners of the globe.
His journey started in his “sacred” homeland in Arabia. His sublime role model is the infallible prophet on whom he mirrors his everyday life and actions. He is in fact Abd u Allah (the slave of Allah). That is why quite often he and those of his ilk have names that start with the letters abd (slave) followed by one of the ninety nine names of Allah. His relationship with the Allah (and his prophet) is that of Master and Servant.
Unwavering in his convictions he is essentially a puritan, a true Muslim who follows the scriptures scrupulously. Groomed from birth by said scriptures his narrative is not open to different interpretations, nuances nor doubt.
He is propelled by a subconscious inner drive to hold all his attitudes and beliefs in harmony and to avoid any cognitive dissonance. Even though he could be born in London, New York, Paris or anywhere away from his ancestral homeland, he will have built an iron clad shield around his mind to stop it from being polluted by the cultural influences of the society in which he is physically domiciled.
In most instances, he is an un-schooled simpleton, with a binary outlook on the world consisting of us –bait al Islam, the house of Islam and them –al Kuffar- the infidels who do not belong to bait al Islam.
The result of this compelling urge to maintain cognitive consistency takes a heavy toll on him and gives rise to a psychotic bi-polarism resulting in criminally irrational and manipulative behaviour.
To his mind though he is a true Muslim and not a terrorist. He is the one who executes the edicts of his master as written in the book. His murderous acts are always preceded by the declaration that Allah U Akbar (God is the greatest). In other words, as God’s obedient and unquestioning servant, he is justifying to himself and to the world that the action he is about to undertake will be done in fulfilment of Allah’s wishes. “Oh Master I am about to execute your commands!”.
As a puritan he was groomed to believe that those who disobey the will of Allah and the prophet must be dispatched to Jahannam -the inferno where the they will burn for eternity.
Fear of Jahannam is the major reason for his actions. Seventh century man, domiciled in the twenty first century, is crippled by fear. This is why, whenever he is instructed to eliminate a kaffir, he jumps at the opportunity to achieve martyrdom. As he has learnt from birth, al shahada-martyrdom- will speedily dispatch him to Al -Janna, paradise where he will be rewarded with endless supplies of wine and women, the terrestrial pleasures he is denied (or denies himself) while in transition on earth from the present fleeting existence he is enduring, to the eternal and blissful afterlife.
Seventh Century Man also roams the globe in a somewhat different re-incarnation. This version of seventh century man is far more sophisticated in his pronouncements than his fellow Puritan. A Sophisticate, he too will have lived in the West for many years if not all his life. He has mastered the art of narrative deception making his pronouncements sound conciliatory and moderate in order not alienate his Western interlocutors.
Unlike his fellow Puritan he is highly intelligent and educated in some of the top universities in the land. He has no reservation in referring to himself as a Muslim. However, he never ceases to protest that “Islam is a religion of peace” and that “terrorists are not real Muslims nor do they speak for Islam” He has perfected the art of manipulating the facts in order to back up his “moderate “narrative.
Sophisticates and Puritans have one fundamental thing in common. They both abhor change in the religious doctrine that binds them and determines their world view and their everyday life.
A Sophisticate would never be heard questioning the word of Allah as “written” in the Holy Book, nor advocating the reform of the Quran that controls his very existence. That would amount to blasphemy which is a serious crime in Islam punishable by death. (Quranic verses that support the many Hadith that establish the death sentence for apostates are Quran verses 2:217, 9:73-74, 88:21, 5:54, 9:66. ) He is equally gripped by fear and psychological bi-polarism.
When asked by Richard Dawkins in a recent Oxford University debate – whether he believes that Mohammad flew on a winged horse to meet up with Allah in the heavens and on his way there and back alighted in Jerusalem, British born Mehdi Hassan a journalist of renown with a degree from Oxford university replied emphatically that he did “because as a Muslim I believe in everything written in the Quran”. And for good measure he also added that he teaches his daughter the Quran including the tale of the winged horse!
“But you are an educated man of the twenty-first century!” retorted Dawkins committing his only faux pax of the evening. What in fact Dawkins should have said “I am not surprised to hear this from you coming as it does from a seventh century man transplanted in the 21st century”
May be Dawkins did not realise that the Sophisticate is as literalist in his interpretation of the Muslim scriptures as his fellow puritans.
The only difference between the Sophisticates and the Puritans is that, for a variety of reasons, Sophisticates shy away from the use of physical violence.
Reza Aslan the Iranian American historian of religion wrongly believes that Islam’s Reformation has been going on for the last one hundred years. He cites as examples the numerous convulsions, uprisings and terrorist -led organizations that have swept the region throughout the last century.
None of those was meant to reform Islam; they were uprisings against foreigners (colonialists), Kuffar (infidels), or local corrupt rulers. Not one of those movements ever called for the reform of the religion itself upon which their entire political and social edifice is constructed. Rather, they all emphasised that “الاسلام هوالحل” Islam is the solution.
Islamic reform beginning with the reformation of the Quran itself has not started yet; who would have dared start it when all Muslims believe that the Quran is “the word of Allah which cannot be altered”. Also, in the absence of a higher Islamic authority- a church- that speaks for Islam (everyone and no one speaks for Islam today) who in the Muslim world would dare be the bearer of the first torch of radical Islamic reform?
In the end however reason, science and technology will prevail. Cultures based on ancient myths and beliefs will ultimately be swept away. In the words of Charles Darwin 1809 “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”.
The Islamic world is decades if not centuries away from making this paradigm shift.