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By Miroljub Jevtic, Ph.D.
Douglas E. Streusand recently outlined the difference of American and European understanding of Islam and its aims. According to this professor of Islamic studies at the American Military University, the most important difference is that Americans see the Islamic challenge as a fight against terrorism while the Europeans fear Islam because their shrinking population may be overtaken by the incoming Muslims whose population is growing at a large rate.
Streusand’s proposed policy solutions reflect the general comprehension of the American science on Islam so that all of the weaknesses in the proposed policy solutions are at the same time the weaknesses in the American, indeed Western approach to the Islamic challenge.
Streusand’s analysis is based on a sound fact that the main challenge to the future of the European civil society is the possibility or, more precisely, the impossibility to integrate Muslims into the European cultural milieu. The weakness of the analysis is that those who have been treating the Islamic challenge have assumed an ideological and not a scientific attitude in dealing with sound facts, no matter what conclusions these facts are about to bring. Fearing political correctness, perhaps, Streusand concludes, for example, that the future of European-Muslim relations in Europe depends on the conduct of Muslims and not in their holy scripts that guide their conduct.
The desire to obfuscate rather then respect the facts about particulars of the Islamic doctrine has changed many Americans from serious scientists into ponficators of political correctness. As a result, Islam was treated in the same manner as the Amish. Whoever wanted to point to the difference in Islamic and Christian conceptions of war and peace was accused of islamophobia even though there was no wish to insult the Muslims.
On the other hand, it was fashionable and expected to accuse Orthodox Christians for a nonexistent genocide in Bosnia and portray Bosnian Muslims as innocent peace lovers without an ink link of thought that the religious hospitality of these idyllic Muslims of Bosnia was what brought the al-Qaeda into Europe and the West. Let us remember that 5 out of the 19 hijackers that led the 9/11 attack on America got their training in Bosnia and they got their terrorist expertise in Bosnia because the Bosnian Muslims were the ones hospitable to these killers. It is the blinding effect of the political correctness that has, in many ways, contributed to the 9/11.
That this Western intellectual construct lacks logic within the context of analysis of Islam is rather clear and apparent in the very reference – Muslims. Without the holy scripts, i.e. the Koran and the Sunna, there is no Islam. Islam is unlike Christianity whose religious source was not written by God but by human beings inspired by God, the evangelists. Islam is believed that God wrote its holy book Koran - Mohammed was only a messenger so that Islam equals Mohammed and Mohammed equals the Koran and there are no Muslims without it!
Whereas the Western world, influenced by the Christian doctrine essentially written up by secular inspirationalists, sees the role of religion to exist in the civil society, in Islam it is the other way around. Society in Islam is created in order to serve religion and, among other things, set order that arises among different religions so any reference to this society as civil is erroneous. Islam creates Islamic societies not civil and Mohamed and his behavior are the true source of methods and aims of that creation.
Even personal salvation that is so dear to the Western spirituality is merged into Mohamad's legacy. In Islam you can reach this haven of salvation only if you believe in Mohamed, not in Allah, and only if you follow his example (for he did what God ordained to him) can you be saved. The Koran reads: “And who disobeys Allah and His Messenger surely strays away in manifest error” (The Holy Qur’an, XXXIII, 37, in some translations 36).
Mohamed was a messenger of faith, the highest priest, head of state, chief commander of the army, supreme judge – Mohammed was the State! The way through salvation in Islam is to do what Mohamed did otherwise there is no salvation.
All Islamic theologians and Islamic theology in essence agree on this although some put less emphasis on it or use different rhetoric. By all, we refer to the moderate and extremist Muslims, the favorite and erroneous Western classification of Muslim believers.
For example, the most moderate and most westernized Muslim group was the one living in Bosnia up to 1992. As far back as 1985, an eminent Islamic theologian and professor at the Sarajevo Faculty of Islamic Theology in Bosnia, Fikret Karcic wrote in his book Shari’a Law Courts in Yugoslavia Between 1918-1941: “What is considered theology in Christianity is considered law in Islam – the most typical manifestation of religious teaching. To the Muslims, law is not only an element of the total Islamic teaching but its functional expression”.
This means that Islam exists by expressing itself through law. The Koran and the Sunna prescribe the regulation as well as the sanction. Therefore, in order for the Islamic laws to be executed it is necessary that an Islamic state exist.
In other words, Islam is impossible without a state.
It is now rather clear why Europe will not integrate, let alone assimilate its Muslims as well as why Muslims view the American war on terror as a crusade against Islam.
Those who believe that Islam can exist without a corresponding state can be counted on fingers of one hand, and they have been “burned at the stake” not by any Islamic government authority but by the support of a great majority of the Muslim population. American nation building in Iraq clearly shows that Iraq will be more Islamic in the future then it has ever been under Saddam's tyranny.
The Islamic urban dwellings in Europe best illustrate the practical aspect and the possibility of the Muslim integration into the western cultural model and the West itself. What is going on in the “Old Port” in Marseilles, on the Barbes-Rochchouart in Paris, in parts of Great Britain’s Brighton or in the Neu-Koeln quarter in Berlin? How these two beautiful, indeed beautiful cultures can adapt to each other can be best seen here?
Well, French, Germans and British have fled these quarters while in Holland, another country with a rapid Muslim population growth, over 30% of Dutch wish to abandon their own country and emigrate.
There is no mingling of cultures there, but islamization... and if a union of these communities is to take place, as some fantasize, Islam would have to die as Christianity is being killed there.
If the West is indeed in favor of freedom of religion, it cannot dictate to Muslims what Islam is because Western laws are, in essence, a dictat to a Muslim religion and therefore an enemy of Islam. Western civil laws that require Muslims to renounce theocracy, polygamy, be tolerant of other religions, the right of the brother to inherit twice as much as his sister... means to strike against Koran on the most sacred points of Islamic faith. Western legal concept of freedom of religion is therefore a conspiracy against freedom of religion in Islam.
This grim reality posses a much more complex and structured challenge
to the West and its civilization so that the American war on terror must
become only a small component in the overall Western response to the Islamic
Miroljub Jevtic is a full time professor of Religion and Politics at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade University, Serbia.