Photo by George Daley
There is an incompatibility between Islam and the ideas which are fundamental to Western civilization.
There are logical contradictions between the principles at the basis of Islam and the West. One cannot resolve logical contradictions, they cannot be solved in the way that problems can. You simply cannot square a circle.
It’s got nothing to do with terrorists, or fundamentalists, fanatics, or Islamic radicals of various sorts.
I’m here talking about mainstream Islam and the fact that it is in serious, direct and open contradiction with principles which are at the core of Western civilization and form the very basis on which all our Western world is erected.
I am not talking about issues like the treatment of women. Islam’s treatment of women is only one aspect, one application of the much more general problem of Islam’s incompatibility with Western principles which I am about to discuss.
There are several elements in Islam which conflict with and contradict Western core principles. Here I'm outlining one of them.
All Muslims believe (and they must believe, I mean it’s not open to interpretation or dispute) that the Koran is the actual word of God. They think God himself dictated it word by word to Mohammed.
Christians think that the Bible was written by human beings: that leaves a lot open to different interpretations and variations in opinion, and it leaves a lot of room for mistakes.
But for Muslims, none of this tolerance and flexibility is possible. Every true Muslim must believe in the complete, literal truth of every word of the Koran.
So, basically, every Muslim is a fundamentalist. That old, tiresome, repeated ad nauseam distinction between Islamic fundamentalists and the “benign” majority of mainstream Muslims is much less important than it is constantly portrayed to be.
This fact in itself, that all Muslims believe in the literal truth of the Koran (no word of the book can actually be disputed) “invites trouble”, opens the gate to all the flood of problems that we have continuously witnessed in the history of Islam. It is a veritable Pandora’s box.
The funny thing is that Muslims themselves have used this argument in order to justify their own intransigence and intolerance, for instance when they try to justify the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
And I want to remind that, when in Muslim communities living in Britain there were episodes of public burnings of Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in the streets, it wasn’t a minority of fundamentalists who were doing and justifying the burnings. On the contrary, it was the Muslims’ majority.
Whenever I watch a TV debate or interview involving Muslims, hardly ever I see the interviewer or participant in the debate ask a Muslim person (supposedly a member of the tolerant Muslim majority who has no problems with Western values) what s/he thinks of the fatwa against Rushdie. That question, and especially its answer, obviously would immediately show an unbridgeable gulf between the supposed “tolerant Muslim” and the rest of us, and would expose this construct of the “tolerant Muslim” for what it is: a myth.
To clarify a possible misunderstanding, I am not here talking about personality traits: I don’t mean “tolerant” in the sense of nice, decent, pleasant, likeable person. I’m sure that there will be many Muslim individuals who fit the latter description. But their “tolerance”, or rather lack of it, is nothing to do with their personal characteristics: it’s not a matter of personal choice. They have no choice. If they are Muslim, they must think that the Koran was indeed written by God through Mohammed’s hand, and therefore it necessarily follows that they cannot tolerate a work like The Satanic Verses: to them it will be tantamount to blasphemy, an insult to God himself.