Why A "European Islam" Is Not Possible

From French commenter W. I edited it a bit for style, as English is his second language:

You said that “there is a fundamental incompatibility between liberal democracy and sharia-obedient Islam”. Of course I agree with your statement. But I don’t think a non-Sharia obedient Islam exists.
In my opinion, we Westerners have a biased view of Islam. When we think about religion, we think about Christianity. And we misunderstand Sharia. We often see it as some kind of civil code, an innovation added to a pure Islam. But Sharia is not an innovation.
Sharia is part and parcel of Islam, because Islam is a law and Sharia its expression. And in this law, there is no separation between what is private and what is public, between what is spiritual and what is political. So even if many Muslims try to create differences between the spiritual and the political, I don’t think Islam itself can do the same one day.
If I’m not mistaken, this is what Wafah Sultan and Ayaan Irsi Ali say, and this is not far from what Geert Wilders says. I can’t imagine how Muslims can deal with this contradiction. So I don’t think we will have an European Islam, because an Islam compatible with Western values will be a heresy according to Islam’s own rules, and Islam doesn’t tolerate rules other than its own. So even though it can sound like a trite “clash of civilizations theory”, nevertheless, I think that’s the way it always has to be and it can’t be any other way.

He’s right, no? Feel free to weigh in.

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23 thoughts on “Why A "European Islam" Is Not Possible”

  1. He’s got points.
    But can we really boast that Christianity is equally separable from political governance? Isn’t the U.S. just one historically long span of Christian “Jihadists?” Capitalism has certainly tempered its oppressive expression but Judeo-Christian law still reigns here in the land of the free.
    I’m certainly not arguing that 2 wrongs make a right. I’m just sayin’ that my religion is better than your religion.

  2. Yes, there was not always a clear separation between Religion and State in Christianity. Whether the State used the Religion to justify his power, or the Church influenced the State or had a political power. But in theory, the New Testament allows Christians to separate the two because Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world”. In reality, I don’t know if it’s a religious aggiornamento or the civil society pressure that make the two separate in Europe. It’s available for the Latin Church especially, for the Orthodox Church or the Oriental Churches I don’t know.
    And for the US religious groups which have a political influence, it’s really weird for a European, even if religion still have a strong influence in many European countries. Maybe it is because they are more focused on the Old Testament, or maybe that you don’t have the same experience of laicism than the Europeans have. New World was the promise land for all kind of religious minorities that were not desirable in Europe, a land of religious freedom.
    But maybe the new Pope will make me wrong.

  3. Dear Robert
    I agree with our French friend in that Islam is essentially a code of law, and that all legislation should ultimately be inspired by Sharia. In that respect, Islam is like Judaism. That’s why in the Islamic Republic of Iran there is a council of elected mullas and a council of appointed guardians, half of whom are mullas as wel.
    However, sharia des not cover everything. For instance, the Koran does not establish speed limits or income tax rates. Even in sharia-ruled countries there would lots of room for secular politics.
    The main problem with the argument about the unalterability of Islam is that that it overlooks the essential fact that a religion does not exist outside the heads of believers. What matters therefore is not whether Islam can change but whether Muslims can change. What are Muslims prepared to believe and what are they prepared to do?
    To use an analogy, American evangelicals proclaim the inerrancy of the Bible and their determination to obey the Bible. Yet, they ignore most of the commandments of te OT. When we fnd ot what the behavior of a group is, we shouldn’t study their holy books but examine their actual behavior. Well, the actual behavior of Muslims often deviates very far from the prescriptions of the Koran. Let me quote Emmanuel Todd in his book Le rendez-vous des civilisations: “Aux théologiens politiques qui mettent en garde contre la volonté du Coran de régenter la vie autant civil que religieuse, nous pouvons montrer à quel point la majorité des peuples musulmans s’écartent, dans leur vie familiale et quotidienne, des prescriptions de la parole révélée.” = “To the political theologians who warn about the will of the Koran to regulate both civil and religious life, we can demonstrate how far the majority of Islamic peoples deviates from the prescriptions of holy writ in their daily lives and in their family life. ”
    According to Emmanuel Todd, the essence of modernity are high literacy, low fertility and high life expectancy. Well, in all 3 areas the Islamic world is catching up with the West, with the exception of Afghanistan. Nearly all girls in Islamic countries now go to school. In Iran, the bugbear of Western Islamophobes, fertility is now below the replacement level, women can vote and women attend universities in droves. It is only a question of time before Iran will become more secular.
    Look at homosexuality in Christianity. Obviously, the scripturally correct Christian position is that homosexuality is a serious sin, but today we have ordained homosexual clergymen. How is that possible? Simply because believers choose to ignore part of their holy book. If Christians can consider the Bible as God’s word and at the same time ignore large portions of it, then Muslims can do the same with the Koran. It isn’t important what sophistry they will use, what is important is that they will do it.
    Islamophobes should spend less time reading the Koran and more time talking to and observing Muslims of flesh and blood. Many of those Muslims have views about women that repel us, but many others do not. Not all Muslims think that it is OK to marry off a 13 year old girl to a much older man.
    Muslims in the West are constantly exposed to liberal and secular ideas, and this will almost inevitably lead many of them to change their relgious views or abandom them altogether. The same thing that happened to Judaism will likely happen to Islam, at least in the West. There will be a small orthodox minority, a liberal Islamic plurality and a large secular minority. The latter group will be Islamic only in the cultural sense, just as we have many purely cultural Christians.
    Regards. James

    1. I agree with your reasoning about the difference between what is written in Koran, and what Muslims do. So the solution can only comes from Muslims themselves, and if what they believe in can still be considered as “true Islam” or not is maybe a non-question. It depends if you consider Islam as a coherent doctrine or a cultural fact.
      I will just moderate your view about Muslims in the West who will change their religious views. I don’t think this link is so automatic. I notice younger generations (at least in France) rejects more and more openly western values. People coming directly from muslims countries have more secular views in general.

  4. Mosaic law in its purest form wouldn’t be compatible with Western Civilization either; but while religionists like to cite Leviticus to oppose gay marriage, they don’t use it to advocate gay executions. Obviously, Jews are too smart to read Leviticus uncritically. OTOH, there are sects like Jehovah’s Witnesses that are based on (literally) comic book interpretations of the bible’s most superstitious parts.
    Islam could be compatible with us if almost all Muslims were educated people who read their Quran through a filter of reason, and were able to differentiate what people thought 1300 years ago from a God-given commandment for all time. You see Islam apologia all the time from Muslims who fit this description.
    But I still wonder about the worldwide IQ map. If Rushton is right, most of the Islamic world averages a mental age of 14. Giving them a Quran would be like telling a junior high school student body that they’re actually the superiors of the adults around. If you did that, you’d get The Lord of the Flies, which is pretty close to what the Islamic world is.

    1. Sorry, to address the issue more directly, Islam is the dominant religion of Kosovo, Albania and the European part of Turkey, and it’s my understanding that in those place it does function more like “just a religion” than an all-consuming ideological system.

      1. Which is by design. Islam is just a religion. How it is practiced by society is a direct reflection of what that society is.
        All the troubles with Islam stem from the troubles with and within the Arab World. The current fanaticism is directly the result of the influence of Arab fanaticism, after the failure of Arab Nationalistic ideology.
        Hence, there is a hopeful for most Muslim countries…Just not the Arab ones.

        1. Part of the problem as I see it, is that the Koran contains implicit and explicit Arab nationalism, i.e. it is written in Arabic and says that Arabic has a special status as the language of the Koran, as well as some more implicit things not necessarily in the Koran intimately tying Mohammadeification with Arabization.
          It wasn’t easy to break the Roman monopoly on Christianity in most of Europe, but how much harder it would it have been if Jesus and his disciples had been Latin speaking ethnic Italians born in Rome? If the NT’s original language had been Latin and contained verses giving Latin a special status as the language of Christ?
          I also think Mohammadeanism has problems as a religion, not just “qua Arabs.”

    2. If you did that, you’d get The Lord of the Flies, which is pretty close to what the Islamic world is.
      You gotta be joking…

      1. Not really. Muslims are generally pretty nice and almost embarrassingly hospitable until they decide they need to kill you for their God. Afghanistan is the only Islamic nation I can think of where a Lord of the Flies ethos prevails, and even then, the social and political environment accounts for that very well. And on an individual basis, I would guess most Afghans are pretty well behaved.
        Rhetorical question: how many mosques do you find in Haiti?

  5. This is moron-feed.
    Islam is not monolithic any more than Christianity is. The influence, positive or negative, of Muslims in host nations is entirely dependent on the origins of the people. How can you tell me that the backward British Pakistanis from villages displaced from Mangla Dam project are comparable to South Asian professional immigrants to Dubai?
    Are you going to tell me that inbred Christians in Alabama are the same as a Greek Orthodox Priest? Are you a fucking halfwit?

      1. Yes and no. Islam as a religion is being homogenized and Wahabified by the deep pockets of the Saudi ministry of religion. So if you see a new mosque or Islamic school going up in Jakarta, London, Paris, or Birmingham (England or Alabama), chances are it’s financed by Saudi money. The books and educational materials are most likely straight from the Saudi religion ministry. Granted, we are not talking about cultural, “secular” Muslims who go to mosque every Ramadan whether they need it or not. They simply don’t count. But understand this: in the event these “Ramadan Muslims” start looking for meaning–as people tend to do as they get on in life–and find it in religion, this is the religion in which they’ll be finding it.

        1. I assume your answer is a fucking parody, since you’d have to be thick as catshit and twice as nasty to think that a few Wahabis with suicide vests are financing mosques worldwide. Most mosque money comes from the communities in which they serve, and so reflects those communities. Do you think a Methodist church would suddenly change into a Catholic church if it got a suitcase of leaflets from the Pope?

        2. Nice use of straw man argument with a side of ad hominem. Or straw boys, in your case, when you can’t get any real boys into your bed. Acknowledgment to Cyrus for debating technique.
          The Wahabi influence is fact, asshole.

        3. “I assume your answer is a fucking parody, since you’d have to be thick as catshit and twice as nasty to think that a few Wahabis with suicide vests are financing mosques worldwide. ”
          I don’t think so. I don’t know about the entire world, but the Saudis are funding many mosques across Africa and Latin America.
          “Do you think a Methodist church would suddenly change into a Catholic church if it got a suitcase of leaflets from the Pope?”
          They would if they don’t want to burn in hell forever. (joke)

  6. Dear W
    You have a point about the Islamicisation of the children of Muslim immigrants in Europe. It must have something to do with identity. In Algeria, a person can be an Algerian. When the Algerian goes to France, he remains an Algerian, but his son can’t feel either Algerian or French, so he adopts an Islamic idendity. However, is adopting an Islamic identity and being a strict sharia-obedient Muslim the same thing?
    The least popular immigrants in the Netherlands are the Maroccans. The children of Maroccan immigrants are strongly overrepresented in crime. Many of them have a strong Islamic identity, but very few are devout. They are Islamic in the same way that Mexican street gangs in the US are Catholic.
    In France, there were street riots and car-burnings recently. Many of the rioters were Muslims, but did religion really have anything to do with it? Wasn’t it more a racial or social riot than a religious one? We should be careful in separating religious influences from social ones.
    Regards. James

  7. “They are Islamic in the same way that Mexican street gangs in the US are Catholic.”
    Indeed. No one could claim that Buddhists were, because of their religion, blood-thirsty warmongers just because of the Sinhalese. Buddhists in Sri Lanka have killed many, many more people than Muslims have killed in the West. But the idiot repeaters/reporters in the media, and their drooling readers, would never go around demonising Buddhists.

  8. @ James Schipper
    Yes, Islam also has something to do with identity. It’s not so “black or white”. You can say you’re a Muslim and drink alcohol for example. And the most devout Muslims are not those who burn cars. The way I see it is that it’s more like “us and them”. They are Muslims because they are not Christians, even the “Ramadan Muslims” as Matt called them, but religion is not the sole belonging. We could say non-Whites instead but then, what about Asians? Muslim is often a convenient definition because culture and religion are closely linked, Islam gives a great sense of community and this is an important subject these days in Europe. Some years ago we would be more likely to talk about Arabs than about Muslims.
    You talked about Moroccans in the Netherlands. You’ve certainly heard about the problems they had with gays (in Rotterdam or Amsterdam I don’t remember). What is because they are Muslims, because they’ve got a “traditional third-world mentality”, or because they have a gangster mentality… difficult to say.
    About the recent riots in France, I’ve don’t heard about them. I think you want to talk about the demonstrations. It’s considered as a normal situation, we have this kind of outbreak several time each year. And 40.000 cars are burned each year.

  9. @ James Schipper
    Finally I’ve got it ! The riots in Grenoble this summer. Two gangsters rob a casino, they met policemen on their way. They shot the police with their Kalashnikovs, one of them (Karim Boudouda) is killed by the cops. So Karim’s mother said: “it’s a murder!”. Riots lasted 3 days, the police was shot, some cars burned. The rioters yelled: “Everything which (sic) is European will be killed!”. The riots happened in “La Villeneuve”, a socially mixed area with middle-class people, big condominiums, a huge public park, lots of public facilities, lots of public money for urban renovation, public transportations. A fireman was also shot there last month. And the second gangster, Monsif Ghabbour, was arrested but he is free now.
    I really don’t think this is a social problem.
    If you read French I can give you some links for more information.

  10. What about Tatarstan in Russia.
    That is a European Islam and they have lived in co-existence for decades despite the fact that Billions with a capital B of foreign money flooded into Russia from Mid East during the 90’s trying to Islamize Russia’s Muslims which fortunately billions were diverted through there middle men to buy houses, villas, cars, etc.
    No honour among thieves I guess.
    The problem is that during the late 60’s early 70’s the CIA, MI6, Mossad and there regimes in the Mid East supported Islamic movements and groups to undermine Arab nationalist groups aligned with the Soviet Union starting with supporting the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt.
    Since then mainly through that regime in Saudi Arabia pumping billions worldwide to promote jihadism and there BS wahabbaism in Europe, Africa, North America and the Mid East supported by western intelligence to fight there proxy wars.
    But support for jihadist comes from main stream Muslim communities around the world in every country.

  11. Dear W
    I was talking about the car-burnings that lasted several weeks a few years ago when the banlieusards rioted and when Sarkozy, then a presidential candidate, called them scum. Some saw it as a race riot, others as a religious riot, and Emmanuel Todd claims that it was a social riot of the poor unemployed against a society in which there is no place for them except at the margin.
    Attacks on gays and Jews seem to be more common in Amsterdam than in Rotterdam. I don’t know why. However, we shouldn’t commit the fallacy that if most of X is done by group Y, then most members of group Y do it. Most of crime is committed by men, but most men are not criminals. Likewise, very few Muslims are involved in attacks on Jews or gays. Such attacks are infrequent, but they are heavily reported by the media.
    Now there is a story that several mosques in the NL have received threats. Somebody is sending them pamphlets saying that “Geert Wilders will get rid of you”. Such are the joys of diversity. Every European country would have been better-off today if it had never accepted non-European immigrants.
    Yes, I can read French fluently. Thanks. James

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