This post was prompted by comments made to one of my previous ones:
“Dude if you make a title that includes the words “the Muslims” as a group, you immediately set off the asshole detector.
Are you a libertarian?
Try thinking about people as individuals.”
I am not going to argue his assessment here, but I will try to answer the question that is lurking behind it: what does it mean to be a Muslim in the Western world? What is the meaning of identification, self or otherwise? Humans are social animals and they do group themselves in various ways. We are all individuals belonging to many different groups small and large and those groups DO define us to some degree.
Am I a Christian? I was born in a Christian country…… no, wait, I was born in a communist country that used to be Christian and now it is Christian again. I was baptised by the Hungarian Archbishop himself. No, he did not introduce himself, I know only because it was a big deal for my mother and she told me several times as I was growing up.
Am I a good Christian? Not exactly. I never took religions seriously. Well, I wanted to know as much about as many of them as I possibly can, but I have never been a believer. I have always been fascinated by the phenomenon, but I never bought into any.
Am I a communist then? If the cold war ever turned hot, I would have been the enemy. The communist. Simply because I lived in a communist country. If I was drafted into the army, I would have been identified as a communist soldier.
Was I ever a good communist? Not exactly. I was brainwashed enough to dive into it as a teenager, but I came up for air very quickly.
Am I a Hungarian? Without a doubt. I was born in Hungary, Hungarian is my first language, I was socialised in the culture, learned its literature and history, sang its songs and danced its dances.
Am I a good Hungarian? Not exactly. I left the country when I was 27. I live in Canada and I want to identify myself not just with the country but its culture as well. How far can I go doing that is a question.
I cannot erase the Hungarian in me nor would I want to, simply because it would be a futile attempt.
What I do not want is bringing Hungary here with me. Most Canadians who know me would agree that the part I cannot be free from is more than plenty. If I wanted to be a good Hungarian, I would live in Hungary, not in Canada.
I left the most important question for last:
Am I a libertarian? Well, I totally buy into the ideology, I support the cause, and I am ready to dedicate considerable effort into trying to move the world in a libertarian direction. Am I a good libertarian? Not exactly. I am not an all-out Anarcho-capitalist and for those folks I might as well be the statist devil himself.
STILL, if you asked me to define myself, my believes, motivation and convictions would be in the centre of that definition. I am a Canadian culturalist libertarian because I define myself as such. When it comes to others, I also tend to rely on self-identification. If you are from Egypt and identify yourself as an Egyptian, I think of you as such, if you say you are a Muslim, then that is the definition I will go with.
Self identification is probably the most important component of our identity, but it is not everything. We also have to consider the particular group’s willingness to accept us as one of their members and the perception of the group by the outside world.
When I ask whether I am a libertarian that is a question of self-identification. When I ask whether I am a good libertarian that is group identification asking how well I fit into the group I wish to identify myself with. When I am called a libertarian that is the public perception of the group that is projected onto me as an individual. All of these layers of my identity are shaded and enhanced by my professed believes, my behaviour and even my appearance. Wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Che Guevara on it would be a clear signal of my political identity. I couldn’t credibly call myself a communist with swastikas tattooed onto my arm.
The world’s perception of me is based on my actions and the various manifestations of my believes.
The perception of Muslims is based on their actions and the various manifestations of their believes.
The world’s perception of me is also influenced by the actions of the groups I identify myself with. The same is true for Muslims.
What makes someone Muslim? Their ethnic background? Their beliefs? Their degree of adherence to the tenets of the faith? Acceptance of the social norms professed by their communities?
It is not easy to be Muslim. Islam has heavy demands on its adherents. The first of it is being Muslim. Both Christianity and Judaism has a coming of age ceremony (the Bar mitzvah and confirmation). It is, of course, just a formality, but it is also a sign that ‘faith’ is not automatic.
If, on the other hand, you are born into a Muslim family, you cannot, at the age of twenty say that “sorry, but I don’t buy this BS, I never agreed to be Muslim, I am out.” In an increasing number of countries, that would be a self-signed death warrant. You cannot identify yourself as gay without creating the same effect. You cannot criticise the faith or its prophet as that would be seen as blasphemy. You can guess the effect. Even if we forget about these rather harsh limitations, Muslim will still be left with some weighty expectations. You cannot call yourself a GOOD Muslim unless you believe that:
- Islam is the only acceptable religion and there is no God but God.
If you believe that people should be free to believe whatever they wish, you are a bad Muslim.
- Islam will conquer the world and at some point we will all be subjects of the Caliphate.
If you do not believe in the destiny of Islam, you are a bad Muslim.
- Sharia is the only law with ultimate legitimacy
…. but at the least, it is superior to ‘man made law’ and Muslims should be subject only to Sharia.
If you do not support the calls for the implementation of Sharia, you are a bad Muslim.
- That you must fight for the protection and the advancement of your faith. (Jihad, Dawa and taqiyyah). The Qur’an is absolutely clear on this one.
If you do not fight for your faith, you are a bad Muslim.
This is not an academic subject. Islam has a tendency to radicalise itself.
Quran (66:9) – “O Prophet! Strive (Jihad) against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey’s end.”
The scope of violence here also include the “hypocrites” – those who call themselves Muslims but do not act as such.
Even if Islam conquered the world that would not be the end of jihad as those who believe in a more literal interpretations of the faith will keep fighting those they consider hypocrites.
The above short list is only touching on the most fundamental aspects of Islam. If you wish to understand how insanely stupid that religion is, you need to entertain yourself with the little green book of the Ayatollah Khomeini and understand that in an Islamic state you could be punished for breaking such rules.
Let me tell you a joke.
There are four people standing on the four corners of an intersection. Santa Klaus, the tooth fairy, a moderate Muslim and a radical Muslim. There is a 100 dollar bill in the middle of the intersection. Who will get to it first?
The answer should be obvious: the radical Muslim because the other three are just figments of our imagination.
Like every good joke, this one also has a serious message: you cannot call yourself a Muslim unless you are a radical. If you are a Muslim, you are radical because Islam is a totalitarian religion that does not condone half–hearted devotion. So called ‘moderate’ Muslims are enablers of the radicals by their silent acquiescence. Whether their silence is the result of approval or fear is irrelevant.
Even if we assume that ‘moderate’ Islam does exist, how can we know which one is the real Islam?
Muslims, like Christians and libertarians come in all sort of colors. I know both Muslims and Jews who would happily wash down a bacon-wrapped pork-chop with a glass of red wine, and I know some with whom it is a drag to go out to eat because they are so stuck up on their dietary restrictions.
Can the pork-eating, booze drinking, Ramadan non-observing, no mosque attending muslims still call themselves Muslims?
Can the folks of Muslims for Liberty call themselves both Muslims and libertarians without distorting either into something unrecognizable by either group?
There are some moderate Muslims, individuals and organizations, who claim that they represent true Islam, that the radicals are an anomaly.
How can you tell who is right? How can you tell which group is more representative of the faith? I could say that you can by looking at the evidence (such as this Pew research) but maybe even that would not be a convincing answer. “Moderates” will still claim that their interpretation is the ‘real’ Islam.
I believe that actions speak louder than words. Words are cheap and words are the only thing that moderates have. I find their violent brethren far more convincing. All I need to do is to watch some beheading videos and mass executions to make up my mind about the true nature of Islam. Studying the results of the Pew survey or reading the wisdom of the Ayatollah is just the icing on the cake. The radicals are the real Muslims as they follow their instructions to the letter. For some more details on this point, read The False Dichotomy- Moderate Muslims vs. Radicals
Being Muslim is not immutable, it is not even a social construct like ethnicity. It is not as easy to walk away from it as it is from other ideologies, but it is possible. Here is a long list of people who renounced Islam.
Short of that, any Muslim can choose to be a bad Muslim which is what I suspect and hope most muslims in North America are. They are the ones we call moderates.
I want Muslims to be bad. They make me feel safer. More comfortable. Being a bad Christian, a bad communist and a bad Hungarian I feel that I have something in common with them.
I want Muslims to be ex. I want the apostates, the ones with the intelligence and the courage to walk away from that most oppressive, most anti-freedom ideology.
What I don’t want around me are the good Muslims.
I am finishing this post with a sense of utter futility. Those who agree with me, know the above already and those who do not, will not get it anyway. I find it sad to see some libertarians sucking up to a community representing the most oppressive ideology that exists in the world today. What the libertarian movement needs is not Muslims (meaning: those who submit) but those who walked away because they won’t (submit). We want those who will NOT want freedom to go to hell.
The Problem With The Libertarian View Of Islam – The Brussels Journal – excellent article
The World’s Muslims- Religion, Politics and Society – Pew Research Center – excellent research
The False Dichotomy- Moderate Muslims vs. Radicals –
Some independent sources:
List of former Muslims – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Minaret of Freedom Institute – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Little Green Book of the Ayatollah Khomeini
And some Muslim propaganda
M4L » -There is no compulsion… –
Reason Interview- Is Islam Compatible With Libertarianism- – Independent Political Report