Bolshevism in a Headdress: Islamic Fundamentalism Has More to Do with Hatred of the West Than with Religion

By Akyol, Mustafa | The American Enterprise, April-May 2005 | Go to article overview

Bolshevism in a Headdress: Islamic Fundamentalism Has More to Do with Hatred of the West Than with Religion


Akyol, Mustafa, The American Enterprise


In October of 2002 I spoke to a crowded Muslim audience in the British city of Birmingham on the topic, "The Evidence for God." My lecture focused on the modern scientific discoveries that support the idea of a designed, "fine-tuned" universe. The audience consisted mostly of Muslim students, and they were very interested in the presentation.

Yet there was a small dissatisfied group in the hall. During the question-and-answer session, one who seemed to be a spokesman for the group rose and, in a passionate voice, objected to the whole idea of the conference. "Why are we wasting time with all this useless philosophical and scientific sophistry?" he demanded. "Shouldn't we concentrate on establishing the worldwide Islamic state that will save us from all evils?"

I explained that the Koran asks every Muslim to examine the natural world and witness God's signs in it, but there is no verse ordering an "Islamic state." The essence of Islam, I said, does not concern such political objectives, but rather faith in God and morality. If he wanted to exalt Islam he should focus on science, philosophy, or art, I suggested, because these are the underpinnings of a civilization.

The young man was furious. In my speech I had mentioned the fall of Marxism as a materialistic theory that claimed to be a true explanation of human societies. He questioned me for speaking only against Marxism, not against capitalism. I responded, "Well, if we were in a communist country, we could not have a seminar titled 'The Evidence for God.' We can have it freely in this capitalist country. Isn't this a reason enough to opt for the latter?"

Later, I learned that this angry young man was a member of the radical group Hizb-ut Tahrir, firmly dedicated to establishing a global Islamic state. I am sure he and his comrades saw themselves as pious Muslims. Yet there was something terribly wrong with their faith, a defect that left them much more interested in the case against "capitalism" than in the case for God.

Muslim failure breeds radicalism

Most scholars who study radical Islam agree it is something peculiar to the twentieth century. For Muslims, the most important aspect of the last century can be captured in one word: Failure. Muslim nations became the poorest of the world, they were colonized by imperial powers, they lagged behind the West in all earthly standards, they were tyrannized by their own rulers.

In the early decades of Islam, Muslims had grown accustomed to triumph. They created a vast empire and gained military and political ascendancy over other civilizations for centuries. As Daniel Pipes, a scholar of Islam, notes: "To be a Muslim meant to belong to a winning civilization." Muslim cities like Baghdad or Cordoba were "ornaments of the world" as well as centers of science and philosophy. Historian Martin Kramer opines, "Had there been Nobel prizes in the year 1000, they would have gone almost exclusively to Muslims."

The might and sophistication of the Islamic world was severely shaken in the middle of the thirteenth century with the Mongol invasion. The "Mongol catastrophe," as it came to be known, resulted in the destruction of Muslim cities and the eclipse of the Arab civilization--which would never recover again. The Mongols slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Muslim inhabitants when they invaded Baghdad in 1258. Arab historian Ibn-i Kasir wrote that "such a tragedy has never been witnessed since God created the world."

The Mongol catastrophe devastated the Arabs, but Islam continued to shine under the Ottomans further north. Eventually, though, the Turks declined in relation to the modernizing West, and in World War I their empire was finally destroyed. Muslim nations of North Africa and the Middle East, previously subjects of the Muslim Ottomans, were colonized by European powers. Upcoming decades ushered in worse failures: socio-cultural backwardness, military defeats at the hands of Israel, the collapse of both socialism and Arab nationalism. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bolshevism in a Headdress: Islamic Fundamentalism Has More to Do with Hatred of the West Than with Religion
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.