The Plight of Muslim Societies
When I was living in the Middle East, I once asked a dear friend, an American lady, who was living there, this question: What do you think the main difference between the way we Arabs think and the way you Westerners think?
Even though my question was vague and general, I meant it to be that way. I wanted to see what is most distinct in her mind about the Arab culture and mentality, and the western culture and mentality.
Please keep in mind that she was a learned lady. She answered my question with a lengthy answer, which can be summarized thus:
Arab culture is a culture of secrets. Westerners do have their secrets, but they like most things to be out in public. Arab culture is a culture of shame without truth and openness. The western culture is a culture of “helping the other”, not shaming him/her. And it is a culture of honesty and public records. Arab culture is a culture of “forcing” things on the individual without any reflection. Western culture is a culture of choices, and critical reflection on things.
She said many other things that I can not recall exactly. At the time, I have not been to the west yet. So, I am sure she said many things I did not quite grasp. But these were the points that remained stuck in my memories.
After I moved to the West and lived for many years, I believe she was hitting the nails on the heads in her answer.
In the Middle East, my brain was saturated with “hate the Jew” through textbooks, religious edicts, Qur’anic verses, cultural proverbs, newspapers and other media outlets. This saturation of the mind with “hate the Jew” teachings cannot but force a certain view about Jews in ones mind. It took my many years of living in the west and dealing with many Jewish people to I realized that Jews can be a wonderful people—a process, which I may call “detoxification”. I have dealt with many Jews, who were involved in regular activities of volunteering and charitable activities, and had expertise just for the public good, a trait hardly seen in Arab culture.
My dealings with individual Jews in the West led me to question certain Arab cultural “truths”, which I had been brainwashed with while growing up in the Middle East, and which I believed in. For instance, I had been led to believe in the Arab cultural truth that the 1967 war was no more than an aggression by Israel against Arab nations. I researched this matter based on credible publications and neutral documentaries. And my conclusions caused in me what Thomas Kuhn called a “paradigm shift”. The main instigator of the 1967 war was Arab countries. The prime culprit for the breakout of this war was the then Egyptian president Jamal Abdul Naser. Of course, other Arabs leaders played a supporting role to him. And the entire Arab world suffered a crushing and humiliating defeat in a war, they proudly instigated, at the hands of tiny little state of Israel.
Since then, I have stopped trusting the Arab media or politics. I have decided to do independent research of my own to arrive at the truth.
Let’s go back to the central issue to be addressed in this article – the hopeless realities in the Arab and Islamic countries. The hopeless plight in Islamic countries results from ignoring the facts of life, and avoiding, not addressing, them. And I am convinced that Islam, which Muslims embraces as the complete code of their life, is responsible for creating this plight in Islamic countries. Islam numbs the minds of individuals and nations. It stands in the way of searching truth. Islam’s blinding spell over Muslim societies makes them disinterested in truths and leaves them in ignorance. Please allow me to explain.
The search for truth, no matter what the topic is, requires us to think critically. Critical thinking helps us investigate every truth neutrally and continually, and correct our views about them, whenever needed. This fact can be shown best in the development of sciences. Earth is flat was “Truth” for the greater part of human history. But then, scientific investigation told us otherwise about the shape of the earth – that it has an extended spherical form – different from our age-old truth that earth is flat. And we corrected ourselves.
We believed that the concept of “time” was absolute. Certain phenomena challenged such “Truth”. So, we thought in a critical manner, and ended up changing our view of time to a “relative” one. Critical thinking is, thus, crucial to searching truths, which drives scientific advancements and developments.
Islam destroys this critical element in human thinking, at least in certain matters. Islam may allow critical thinking, but in matters of religions and whatever entails it, are off limits to critical thinking. In the West, people can question the morality of Jesus. One can question the Pope’s intentions. One can challenge any norm. Not in Islam. In a Muslim country, you question Muhammad’s prophethood or veracity of the Quran, you will be dead meat. Ex-Muslim Mark Gabriel was an Al-Azhar professor. He studied Islam critically and understood how evil the foundation of Islam. So, he stopped believing in the Qur’an. Guess what happened to him? He was spat on and attacked by his colleagues at Al-Azhar University and by his family. A university professor in the West Bank questioned the existence of Muhammad due to certain historical facts. Guess what his students did to him? They threw him out of the second-floor window.
Muslims dispute Ali Sina’s assertion that Islam is a cult. But facts on the ground prove his assertions to be true day in and day out. Cult members cannot accept the fact when their leader is found to be a despicable criminal. In an exactly similar way, Muslims not only fail to accept the evident truth that Prophet Muhammad was a despicable criminal, highway robber, a mass-murderer, an enslaver, and a pedophile, polygamist and rapist. They just ignore those facts, give them a divine color, and to go the point of emulating them even today.
When Muslims hears that someone had burned the Qur’an, which could even be a rumour, all hell breaks loose. Cult mentality sets in, and Muslims go berserk. They may kill Christian nuns and missionaries anywhere in world, although the alleged Quran burning occurred at a far corner of the world. They may burn kills Jews, burn Jewish temples and Torah, or destroy Ahmadiyya mosques.
Islam is a cult that found great success because of the age it was born in. In sixth-century Arabia without functioning government, tribal force and might ruled the day. Muhammad utilized that to his advantage. He founded and open “tribe” system, called Islam. In this system, it was easy to join, but impossible to leave alive. Until this day, the punishment for apostasy is death. In that open-to-enter and closed-to-leave tribe system, Muhammad managed to attract all the criminals and renegades from other tribes. He lured them with the greed of loots and female booties for rape, and it worked. With the greed for loots and women, Muhammad set up a successful tribe system – open to entry but closed to leave. He proudly said expressions like “I was made victorious with terror” and “I am the only prophet that God/Allah made loots halal for me”.
This paradigm of Islam’s foundation, however horrendous and despicable it may be, is all to evident sacred Islamic texts, yet Muslims in the 21st century hold their unshakable belief in them to be divine truths world emulating at all times. That’s how Muslim culture does not allow development of critical thinking and self-reflection. Far from it, it suppresses it.
- “Muslims are not allowed to leave Islam. If they do they are to be killed”. Muslims are not allowed to reflect on this Islamic teaching.
- “A Muslim man is allowed to marry women of other religions (Jewish and Christian). A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim”. Muslims are not allowed to question why Muhammad taught that.
- “A Muslim is not allowed to drink a glass of wine (a healthy thing if done in moderation)”. A Muslim is not allowed to do that or reflect on that.
- “A Muslim woman’s body had to be covered, when in fact exposing your skin to the sun in moderation is a good thing. It helps manufacture vitamin D inside the body, an essential nutrient for the development of bones”. A Muslim is not allowed to challenge such teachings
The list is long. The fact remains that Muslims are not allowed to use their brains in a critical manner if any such use challenges Islamic teachings or Muhammad’s behavior, which is considered sacred Sunna. One Muslim medical doctor in Minnesota still recommends certain forms of female genital mutilation because, in one Sahih hadith, Muhammad taught to do such an evil and immoral thing that destroys female sexuality.
To develop critical thinking, one has to be taught in schools the freedom of thought and the freedom to reflect on anything that is taught or comes to ones mind. True education allows the individual to view nothing as sacred, and to question any learned or perceived fact. Such ability is not instilled in children in Muslim societies. If free and critical thinking were allowed in Muslim societies about anything and everything, I believe, Islam will take its rightful destiny in no time amongst many historical religions that human civilization surpassed. It would be buried in the desert sands of Arabia where it truly belongs.