The Perils of Islamic Obscurantism

published on January 15, 2009

By Dr Babu Suseelan

Few months ago, I was attending a conference in London. One evening as
I lay in my bed, my attention was focused on a solitary fly on the
window of my room. The fly was located on an upper pane of glass. The
window itself was slightly raised at the bottom edge. At first, as if
by deliberation, the fly moved time and time again around the periphery
of the section to which it had become attached. Then it would crawl
diagonally, fly in desperation only to crash against the deceptive
transparency. It again moved monotonously back and forth horizontally
across the full surface of the windowpane. Random movements followed.
Punctured again by furious flight ending always in near disaster. For
whole minutes, as it stunned into stupor, the fly would remain
motionless. Energy restored finally, it would commence its futile
motions again. It crashed again like a firecracker out of control
careening crazily around the ceiling. This fly, I said to myself, is a prisoner of his frame of reference, or
probably, his lack of frame of reference. If flight into freedom was
his object, if indeed any objective existed at all, then there was an
obvious avenue of escape. An adequate passage was readily accessible at
the bottom of the window. Driven by instinct alone, bereft by reason,
caught up in a meaningless space, behavior could only be blind and it
could end only in frustration, fury and futility.

This episode has specific application and relevance to the current
cartoon crisis, Iranian nuclear crisis, Islamic terrorism, and the
violence and terror perpetuated by Hamas in the Middle East and Jihad
terrorists in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and
Pakistan. It may well be that Muslim fundamentalists are caught up in
the limitations of their own frame of reference. It is conceivable that
Jihad Muslims are squandering resources in wealth, manpower and human
energy, in a misguided quest for Islamic conquest, power and influence.
If Muslims want to succeed in determining new directions and new
dimensions, and if they want to influence the world, and restore the
glory of Islam, they need urgently to reexamine their policies and

The Burden Of Islamic Jihad

War, terrorism, violence, and hostility in the Islamic world have
existed in one form or other since Mohamed converted the Middles east
into a Muslim world. But today’s Jihadi terrorism, homicide bombing,
arson attack, nuclear threat, and the use of high-tech weapons for
murderous attack on innocent civilians have far reaching economic,
political, and social ramifications. Regardless of how much blood is
spilled in the Middle East by Jihad terrorists and the relentless Jihad
terrorism in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan and India, Muslims are not
able to dramatically change the world. The Jihad terrorism and
continued violence in Europe, Middle East and India has created
unprecedented disruption in social life and economic, political and
ecological crisis. The economic costs of Jihad terrorism in the United
States, Israel, India and Denmark continues. Prices for fuel, food and
consumer goods are soaring in several countries. The United States and
many European countries are faced with additional task of absorbing
millions of dollar for airport and flight security. Thousands of people
died or injured of terrorism, several families suffer from the loss of
family members and people are afraid of travel.

The Islamic hatred of democracy, pluralism, religious tolerance,
co-existence, freedom of expression still continues unabated. The
battle between rigid, closed, dogmatic ideology of Islam and free
thinking is by no means decided, but its outcome will determine whether
Muslims will embrace, freedom, democracy, pluralism, coexistence,
progress and tolerance or succumb to non-compromising Islamic
fundamentalism, conflict and relentless war against the civilized
world. Social policy experts and intellectuals have predicted that the
magnitude and impact of Islamic rage hostility and violence would
further destabilize the entire world. Muslim hatred and determination
to wipe out democratic Israel and non-believers make the situation more

History demonstrates whenever Muslim nations arm it to the teeth they
attack the neighboring country. Or they turn the weapons against their
own ethnic and religious minorities, all in the name of fundamentalist

The Perils Of Islamic Fundamentalism

All the Islamic countries from Algeria to Yemen have either dynastic
ruling or military dictatorships. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan,
Syria, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Iran, Muscat
and Oman, Bahrain, Sudan and Libya have varied historical experience
with tyranny, brutality, and persecution of minorities. Every Islamic
country in the world is Islamic and non-believers have no religious
freedom. Most of the Islamic nations, citizens are barred from the
political or democratic process. Freedom of expression, political
assembly, open debate and religious tolerance are nowhere to be seen in
Islamic countries. Muslim countries have no bill of rights and modern
impartial judiciary.
Whether it is a dictator, or dynasty, military or Mullah regime,
persecution, torture, execution and public beheading are frequent in
all Islamic countries. In Saudi Arabia, offenders are beheaded or have
a limp amputated in public on Friday, the day of Islamic prayer. Since
the Islamic revolution in Iran, thousands of innocent people are
executed without legal proceedings. Two Islamic countries Iraq and Iran
killed more than three million people during the war. Arab Islamic
terrorists have killed hundreds of Jewish men, women and Children in
their false hope of destroying Israel.

For the last fifty years, Arab Muslims have made no notable inventions
or discoveries in science, medicine, and technology or in humanities.
Islamic fundamentalists oppress women, and place restrictions in art,
literature, philosophy and discussion on transcendental spiritual
topics other than Islamic dogma. No Islamic nation has taken the path
of secularism, rationalism, democracy, pluralism and human rights. From
Morocco to Malaysia, Muslims follow dogmatism, Islamic fundamentalism
and religious intolerance.

Dilemmas And Directions

It is doubtful whether fundamentalist Muslims can last much longer
without identifying with the changing values of pluralism, democracy,
secularism, tolerance, co-existence and freedom. Muslims must accept
the fact of change and difference. They have to escape from the closed
dogmatic, imperialistic ideology and tolerate, and accept and genuinely
respect those who differ from them. Their vision of the world and other
religions is fragmented, distorted and their approach to problems is
misguided. Because of their narrow reductionism and mechanistic
framework of the world, they mistrust the non-Islamic world and
rational, open, and democratic concepts and ideas. The closed paradigm
of fundamentalist Islam and the will to interpret matters on the rigid,
narrow-minded, bigoted and dogmatic Islamic term is the main reason for
the present crisis, violence and terrorism that we experience.
A solution for the Islamic crisis can be found. The solution must begin
with the identification of the problem. What we need is a fundamental
change in Islamic thought, perception and values. The gravity and
intensity of the crisis created by Muslims warrants refocus of their
dualistic, rigid framework. For Muslims, problems are interpreted as
conflict between infidels and faithful. Islamic fundamentalists declare
that there is no solution for the Middle East problem except through
Jihad. According to Koran, Jihad is a war against the non-believers.
Sura (1:4) says, “those who disbelieve and hinder (men) from the path
of Allah, their deeds will Allah render astray… Therefore, when you
meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, at length, when you have
thoroughly subdued them, build a barrier against them, thereafter (is
the time for) either generosity or ransom, until war lays down its
burden.” Thus Islam views the world as though it were divided in two
opposing camps… Darus Salam (Muslims) and Darul Harb (Infidels).
Again Sura (8:39) says “and fight until there remains no more infidels
or until they remain submissive only to Allah.” Many liberals
misconceive the reasons for Islamic rage, violence, unrest, brutality,
beheading, arrogance and terrorism. What Iranian Mullahs, Iraq Jihadis,
Al-Queda, Hamas, Muslim mob burning flags of democratic nations and
Muslims kidnapping journalists are certainly displaying a patterns
rooted in the Islamic dogmatism. The violence, intolerance,
non-compromising attitude, and thinking errors are an integral and
inseparable part of the total Koranic message. The violence, terrorism,
and hostility will be continued ruthlessly and relentlessly against
non-believers until final victory is assured. The strict adherence to
the closed thinking, rigid paradigm and the dualistic Islamic concept
of believers and non-believers has disastrous consequences. The crisis
and terrorism we witness in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Iran, Iraq and other Islamic countries is due to interpretation of
reality, distorted conceptualization and mechanistic problem solving
model practiced by Muslims.

Looking Toward The Future

In the changing context of modern technology and pluralism, Muslims
cannot survive in a closed system. They have to interpret, analyze,
examine and accept the social, political, cultural, scientific and
technological developments taking place around the world. Islamic
society should undergo a planned change and learn to coexist with
non-believers and accept rational and free expression of ideas.

Islamic scholars, thinkers, political leaders and media persons have an
immense opportunity, responsibility and obligation to generate new
knowledge, ideas and strategies based upon a rigorous and disciplined
assessment of the present crisis. Islam needs a reformation and Muslims
must embrace change, democracy, pluralism, coexistence, religious
tolerance and freedom of expression. Creative and systemic problem
solving strategies would reduce the possibility of future crisis and
conflict with the civilized world. Introduction of integral humanism,
secularism, and creative thinking can be an instrument for reform and
reformation in the Islamic world. This would encourage Muslims to free
themselves from the trap of absolutism, and the rigid reductionism. The
institutionalizatio n of such broad, eclectic knowledge is a
prerequisite for world peace and harmony. To face the future, Muslims
must show the discipline

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