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The Closing of the Islamic Mind

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I posted this over at ThinkSecret a few weeks back. As is usual over there it got about a trillion views but only a handful of responses.

<a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/000/351arlzg.asp" target="_blank">The Closing of the Islamic Mind</a>
A decade ago, Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul knew the dangers of a backward-looking Islam.
by David Brooks
10/11/2001

[quote]TWO OF THE MOST BRILLIANT EXPLANATIONS of Osama bin Laden were written 11 years ago. The first is an essay that appeared in the September 1990 issue of the Atlantic Monthly by Bernard Lewis called "The Roots of Muslim Rage." The second is a lecture delivered by V.S. Naipaul as part of the Manhattan Institute's annual Wriston Lecture series on October 30, 1990. Lewis is one of the great intellectuals of our age, but Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for literature today, so let's review his thinking.

The lecture was called "Our Universal Civilization," but it is really about time and perceptions of time. Those who believe that almost all fundamental political disputes are really arguments between theories of history will find much to their liking.

Naipaul starts by describing a young man he met in Java who wanted to become a poet. Not a lot of money in that, but Naipaul asked him, "Isn't your mother secretly proud you are a poet?" The young man replied, "She wouldn't have even a sense of what being a poet is." In her worldview, all poetry had been written. It was passed down through the ages. Having her son come up and tell her that he wanted to be a poet was akin to having him tell her he wanted to grow up and rewrite the Bible. This woman's conception of history was static, whereas her son had moved into a different culture.

When Naipaul used the phrase Universal Civilization, he was talking about that civilization that believes in the future, in progress, in the unfolding of human accomplishment. That civilization started in Europe, and once had racialist overtones, but it has spread...<hr></blockquote>
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post #2 of 14
<strong>Originally posted by roger_ramjet:
<a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/000/351arlzg.asp" target="_blank">The Closing of the Islamic Mind</a>
A decade ago, Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul knew the dangers of a backward-looking Islam.
by David Brooks
10/11/2001</strong>

Same old same old. Moderates v Fundamentalists. When I was doing some research on Islam I read both the Atlantic article and VS Naipaul's lecture, barely able to contain my contempt. As a religion, it's hard to believe that something so blatantly cult-like hasn't gone through some sort of modernism. It seems too many Muslims believe that the Koran is the literal world of God, and the punishment for criticizing Islam is still cruel and unusual. So, it is a vicious circle. Without being able to criticize it, the religion can never change.
post #3 of 14
go back to the crusades you bigot.
Im barely able to contain my contempt. <img src="graemlins/oyvey.gif" border="0" alt="[Are you kidding?]" />
post #4 of 14
If you want to have discussion, lets have a discussion. We're all here to learn after all.

What does the Koran say about apostasy? How is the punishment, if there is any, applied in Islamic states? How would other Muslims treat apostates?
post #5 of 14
[quote]Originally posted by THT:
<strong>

Same old same old. Moderates v Fundamentalists. When I was doing some research on Islam I read both the Atlantic article and VS Naipaul's lecture, barely able to contain my contempt. As a religion, it's hard to believe that something so blatantly cult-like hasn't gone through some sort of modernism. It seems too many Muslims believe that the Koran is the literal world of God, and the punishment for criticizing Islam is still cruel and unusual. So, it is a vicious circle. Without being able to criticize it, the religion can never change.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I think you will find that it's some people's interpretation of the Koran that causes for them to kill everyone who doesn't believe in it. Not the book or the religion themselves.

Just like we killed because the pope told us to.

Go through your history books. Where in history has someone actually sat down with these people, talked to them and co operated. I know that when Marco Polo did it with the Chinese it was a big success. They're evil now though. They're communist and communism is beeeehd (copyright Mr.Orwell).

If you wish to criticize please do. But do it on your own research and not on someone's article. Stop being a tool.
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post #6 of 14
There are aryan nation's extremists who use their beliefs as a platform for equally horrible acts right in America.

The Bible has been used throughout history as a platform for witchhunts, Spanish Inquisition, etc.

There's a difference between ideas/religions and extremists' interpretation of them.

And yes, go back to the crusades, see how the bible was used then against islamic people. Historically, they have been walked all over.
No, the bazaar cannot satisfy users. Neither can the cathedral. Nothing can satisfy users, because software is written to enable rather than satisfy, and because most users are mewling malcontents...
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No, the bazaar cannot satisfy users. Neither can the cathedral. Nothing can satisfy users, because software is written to enable rather than satisfy, and because most users are mewling malcontents...
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post #7 of 14
...Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!

sorry...
No, the bazaar cannot satisfy users. Neither can the cathedral. Nothing can satisfy users, because software is written to enable rather than satisfy, and because most users are mewling malcontents...
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No, the bazaar cannot satisfy users. Neither can the cathedral. Nothing can satisfy users, because software is written to enable rather than satisfy, and because most users are mewling malcontents...
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post #8 of 14
[quote]Originally posted by THT:
<strong>If you want to have discussion, lets have a discussion. We're all here to learn after all.

What does the Koran say about apostasy? How is the punishment, if there is any, applied in Islamic states? How would other Muslims treat apostates?</strong><hr></blockquote>

I'm not going to claim much knowledge of Islam, but the first thing to note of course is the Sunni/Shia schism. Both sides treat the other as apostate, and "treat" here has meant the use of warfare by chemical weapons within the last twenty years. Historically, of course, there have been huge amounts of strife between the two sides, dating back to the very beginning of Islam.
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post #9 of 14
<strong>Originally posted by macoracle:
I think you will find that it's some people's interpretation of the Koran that causes for them to kill everyone who doesn't believe in it. Not the book or the religion themselves.</strong>

When I say Islam, I'm referring to a society of people whose behaviors or culture are bound together by a system of beliefs, philosophies and principles which are promulgrated by the Koran and the system of laws that which surround it. How it's interpreted and the contents of the book does have a role in it.

The point of the article and what I hold in contempt is the closing of one's mind. Criticism, namely self criticism, is a singular tool for improving ourselves and our society. V.S. Naipaul's lecture on Islam is about how the religion demands of its adherents the renunciation of their heritage. To him, cultural heritage is wealth, and a great loss if one loses it. The Atlantic article is about how Islamic fundamentalism and western ideals (secularism and modernism) are fighting for the soul of Muslims. Islam's sentiments has control mechanisms to prevent criticism of itself, ie, their minds have been closed because they can't think out of the box. Is it true of everybody? Of course not. But it appears true enough to have an adverse effect.

The price of apostasy in Islam is death. The Koran and the law around it proscribes death. Anyone critical of Islam can be considered an apostate and risks death, jail, injury, ostracism, vigilantism, just bad things.

Some nations attempt to follow suit. Some put apostates in jail. Of course some don't, but the attempt alone is absurd.

<a href="http://www.asiaweek.com/asiaweek/magazine/2000/1013/nat.malaysia.html" target="_blank">A Matter of Personal Faith? Concern grows over an 'Islamizing' trend
By SANTHA OORJITHAM Kuala Lumpur</a>


Parti Islam SeMalaysia (Pas) takes its religion seriously. For years, Malaysia's key opposition party has tried to pass various Islamic laws, including one prescribing the death penalty for Muslims who leave the faith. Now it appears the government is taking a leaf out of Pas's books. Earlier this year, one of the states passed a law providing for apostates to be detained for "rehabilitation" for up to a year. Then on Sept. 17, the parliamentary secretary in the prime minister's department said a federal Restoration of Faith Bill, dealing with similar matters, had been drafted and sent to the attorney-general prior to being tabled in Parliament.

<a href="http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010310/2001031043.html" target="_blank">Saudi Arabia human rights record
Saudi Arabia, Culture, 3/10/2001</a>


Magic is widely believed in and sometimes practiced, often in the form of fortune-telling and swindles. However, under Shariaa the practice of magic is regarded as the worst form of polytheism, an offense for which no repentance is accepted, and which is punishable by death. There are an unknown number of detainees held in prison on the charge of "sorcery," or the practice of "black magic" or "witchcraft." In a few cases, self-proclaimed "miracle workers" have been executed for sorcery involving physical harm or apostasy.

Under Shariaa conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy. Public apostasy is a crime punishable by death if the accused does not recant.

The Government prohibits public non-Muslim religious activities. Non-Muslim worshippers risk arrest, lashing, and deportation for engaging in overt religious activity that attracts official attention.


It's progressives v moderates v fundamentalists in the culture of Islam. It's high time for the progressives and moderates to step up and force Islamic culture to leave these sorts of things behind. Not only will their religion be better off, but their economic well-being may be as well.

<strong>Just like we killed because the pope told us to.</strong>

Who are you saying we? Ie, I'm not Catholic, nor any denomination of Christianity, so I pretty much ignore what the Papacy says. On top of that, the sins of the parent are not the sins of the child - nor are the sins of the child the sins of the parent - and the primary thing that history holds for us is to learn its lessons and prevent such things from happening again.

It's probably an understatement to say we don't learn from history very well.

<strong>Go through your history books. Where in history has someone actually sat down with these people, talked to them and cooperated.</strong>

Their problem isn't history, it's geography and climate. The climate isn't temperate enough to provide a rich agricultural base for a comfortable life with lots of free time to think of radical concepts. Genetically engineered agriculture could perhaps help. Irrigation and water delivery programs as well.

The West dominates because of modern implements of economics (capitalism), science and technology. China understands this very well and are changing apace. The Islamic nations need to change their religion in whatever fashion to help them get over the hump.

<strong>If you wish to criticize please do. But do it on your own research and not on someone's article. Stop being a tool.</strong>

I said: "When I was doing some research on Islam I read both the Atlantic article and VS Naipaul's lecture, barely able to contain my contempt." In the course of doing research, it's pretty common to read other people's articles.

If you require that I travel to a majority of states where Islam is the majority religion, I don't have the resources or the time to do so.

[edit: forum software is still a touch buggy ]

[ 11-20-2001: Message edited by: THT ]</p>
post #10 of 14
Oh, THT, stop being such a tool. Do your own research.
post #11 of 14
<strong>Originally posted by stimuli:
There are aryan nation's extremists who use their beliefs as a platform for equally horrible acts right in America.

The Bible has been used throughout history as a platform for witchhunts, Spanish Inquisition, etc.

There's a difference between ideas/religions and extremists' interpretation of them.</strong>

One would hope that these people are pushed into irrelevancy in today's society. It makes me cringe every time I see Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, the Grahams and others presented as moral authorities in various media outlets (like talk shows).

<strong>And yes, go back to the crusades, see how the bible was used then against islamic people. Historically, they have been walked all over.</strong>

Er no. They seem to have a persecution complex like Christians seem to have, so it feels like they've been walked all over historically, but it's a complex, not reality.

The religion and corresponding culture surrounding it (internal factions and all) germinated in the Arabian Peninsula and rapidly expanded, in the span of about 4 centuries, across Eastern and Northen Africa to the Iberian Peninsula, across modern day Turkey all the way into the Balkans, and through Central Asia into Western China and India. Eventually it pierced its way through India and converted peoples in Eastern India and all the way out to Indonesia and neighborhood island nations. I don't think most of those were peaceful expansions. Hindus have a deep hatred of Islam for a reason after all.

They were truly walked over during the European Colonialism period, like a major portion of the world was, but it's been long enough for them to not use it as an excuse imo. The losses in Europe (merely Spain) looks like to be mostly about pride to me.
post #12 of 14
[quote]Originally posted by stimuli:
<strong>...Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!

sorry...</strong><hr></blockquote>

I contemplated that one myself
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post #13 of 14
A scholar friend quoted an ancient Islamic leader on books worth having in his library: (I must paraphrase) "If it is not about the words of the prophet, it should be destroyed, and only the words of the prophet are worthy interpretations of the prophet"

meaning, basically, that no other text but the Koran should exist.

However there is a rich poetic tradition in Islam, though I know mostly that which would fall under the rubric of Sufi writing. also there is a rich tradition of philosophy and mathamatics and architecture . . . though much of that is very old and being erased by fundamentalism . . .
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--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

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post #14 of 14
[quote]Originally posted by pfflam:
<strong>A scholar friend quoted an ancient Islamic leader on books worth having in his library: (I must paraphrase) "If it is not about the words of the prophet, it should be destroyed, and only the words of the prophet are worthy interpretations of the prophet"</strong><hr></blockquote>

This is the legendary story of the Caliph Omar and the burning of the Library of Alexandria.
This is not 38, this is old 97!
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