Can Islam become moderate? Is there even such a thing as moderate Islam? To address this question, we have to look at religion itself.
Asking these uncomfortable questions about Islam will lead to even more uncomfortable questions about religion itself. Somebody has to ask them; so here it goes.
Religion, at its core, rests on faith. Reason, in the context of faith, is beside the point—and actually gets in the way. Religious faith can only be diluted or “moderated” by rationality at its own expense, and Islam has shown no indications of bending any time soon. By and large, the other two major religions—Judaism and Christianity—have, in fact, successfully moderated themselves over the centuries.
For the most part, Judaism and Christianity have reached a point where they have been “tamed” by reason and secularism. Call it the “church on Sunday” premise. The typical Jew or Christian lives a perfectly secular life while paying some level of lip service to the requirements of faith—but in actual practice, their lives are almost completely secular.
Although this is probably true of some Muslims as well, for the most part Islam is still nowhere near being civilized by reason and secularism. In fact, the political and spiritual trends in recent years have been precisely in the opposite direction. Egypt—an Islamic country somewhat friendly to the United States in the past, at least compared to the much more militant Iran, Syria and now ISIS—has gone in a radically conservative direction in recent years, not only politically but culturally. And the political results, in the form of Islamic-based, international terrorism are plain enough for all to see.
In this context, the best thing that could happen would be a widespread intellectual, psychological and spiritual rebellion against Islam as we know it, especially among young people. If young Muslims start to value life on earth, in the form of cars, (consensual) sex, houses, and general, all around pleasure, grounded in church-state separation and private property rights, then we can be sure it’s the beginning of the end of Islam as we know it.
This, of course, is why the political clerics of Iran—and the terrorists they support as soon as they skulk away from the U.N. diplomacy tables—are at war with Westernism, and specifically America. It’s a true “holy war.” In the words of Pat Buchanan, one of America’s homegrown religious fanatics, it’s a “culture war.” And they mean it. These clerics understand that force is, in the end, the only way to implement their faith. Once even a tiny bit of reason peeks through the dark curtain of blind faith, its true and consistent advocates know that they must snuff out any who see it, and, subsequently, embrace that light of happiness on earth, fueled by reason and secularism.
There’s more violence ahead in this “culture war.” The degree of violence will depend on the depth of our commitment to not merely take control of Afghanistan, ISIS or any one country or gang in isolation, but to defend all that is right about our Western—and, yes, secular—culture. But despite the current fiasco still called the war against terrorism, there’s no way the irrational forces of faith can win this war, over the long run, unless the entire population of the free world becomes suicidal at the same time.
The fact remains that faith is on the decline on planet Earth. The Muslim fanatics are the only ones who really get this. Faith is eroding in the wake of reason and freedom, and the last, violent gasps of faith are imposing themselves, at present, in the form of militant Islam. If and when the younger and better elements among the Islamics begin to question the life-hating tenets of their faith, then Islam, in the form we now know it, will be, like the Crusades and the Inquisition, a thing of the past. It will weave itself into society just as Christianity and Judaism, for the most part, have already done.
Since no such self-questioning appears imminent or likely by the most prominent leaders of Islam, the bombing and other physical destruction — particularly in the face of Western weakness and constant apologizing — will continue unabated.
The war against terrorism was never a war against terrorism. It’s a philosophical war, of undiluted faith against the strong elements of reason that have taken hold in the last several centuries. There’s no question that reason can prevail. Whether reason will prevail depends entirely on the moral and mental sturdiness of the reasonable.
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