As a lifelong atheist and born cynic I have always seen religion - for other people - as a parental substitute and a kind of balm or emollient, giving comfort and offering companionship. I think of religion as a security blanket; provider of ready-made social structures; births marriages and deaths; continuity through generations. Religion can soothe away insecurities and uncertainties and eradicate loneliness.
Also, I’ve seen many a happy outcome and even had fleeting feelings of envy. But I also felt that religion could be benign, but is more often malign. Either way religion was for ‘them’ not me, and of little relevance.
That was before Islam came along and slapped us in the face. I can remember long lost tales from far-flung places, of families torn apart by wars and natural disasters, but bearing devastating loss with unimaginable stoicism because they believed it was all “the will of Allah.”
What is that all about, we would ask ourselves, marvelling at the alien beings’ capacity for credulity and resilience.
Now though, the violence accompanying the cultural tsunami of mass immigration that has engulfed an apathetic Europe forces us to acknowledge that something is not right in the state of Denmark.
I understood Islam to be a sexually repressive, misogynistic, patriarchal cult, bogged down by life-limiting dogma and cultural rules and regulations. With all that baggage stripped away, as is necessary for a reformed, new fangled, ’moderate’ Islam, would there be anything left at all, I wondered? But why even bother to speculate, as Islam’s built-in infallibility, inalienability and non-negotiability makes the prospect of any such stripping away very unlikely.
Politicians who are concerned about terrorism and aren’t sure how to react to it should read this revelatory article by MEMRI's Yigal Carmon. This is the information that the BBC should be disseminating, as per their charter - for the good of the country.
Dear Amber Rudd, you’ve got to read it. And Theresa May and all the clueless political leaders who have taken on the responsibility of governing Britain and keeping us safe. Wouldn’t we feel a little more confident knowing our politicians were on the case? As it is, they seem to have little or no idea.
Jihad is designed to divide us and make us change our way of life, but not to separate us into two camps, left wing tolerant sympathisers of Islam on the one side, and intolerant Islamophobes on the other. Neither is it to convert us and our way of life from the debauched boozers they think we are into goody-goody, teetotal church-goers.
No, holy Jihad demands an all-or-nothing revolution. They want to divide all humanity into believers and non-believers, eventually eradicating the latter - in order to create the ideal Islamic utopia.
They do want to change us and our way of life, as we infidels exist in a cesspit of promiscuity and impurity and they want the whole wide world to embrace the purity and dedication that underpins the life of the pious Muslim.
“They Are Neither 'Losers,' 'Nihilists,' 'Worshipers Of Death,' Nor 'Sick Cowards'– But Rather Believers And Idealists Who Commit Horrific Murders For A Cause And Sacrifice Their Lives For A Utopian Future: A World Ruled By Their Faith
The jihadis who perpetrate these horrific crimes are neither losers, nor nihilists, nor worshipers of death, nor sick cowards. On the contrary, the overwhelming majority of them are devout and fanatic believers. They are idealists who sacrifice their lives for the sake of a utopian future: a world ruled by their faith. The attacks they commit are extreme acts of piety. They seek to emulate the dedication of the early believers in order to revive the glory and grandeur of the past. In fact, as part of their training, many suicide bombers adopt a pious lifestyle: they immerse themselves in prayer, help the needy in their society, pay all their debts, and become moral and religious role models for others”
Yigal Carmon presents a less defeatist theory. That Islam is redeemable. That there are great things to respect and admire within historic Islam; creativity and empire building and so on. He says that in order to encourage reform it’s necessary to stop mischaracterising Islamic terrorism:
“the truth is that these perpetrators, by the standards of their own belief, are virtuous people who follow the directives of the Koran [48:29]:”
First, we must be prepared to recognise that murderous activities do derive from the core values of Islam.
“The problem lies not in the perpetrators' innate character but in some of the core values of their religious belief system. “
“Western leaders cannot expect to defeat "terrorism" in their countries when they deny and evade acknowledging the roots of the jihadi phenomenon: the deep connection of the attacks to the faith. Admitting this connection will not only be more respectful to Muslims, it will also be conducive to reforms and useful to Muslim reformists, who acknowledge that the terrorists' ideals come from within: from the houses of worship, the schools and society at large. Being truthful towards the Muslims is more respectful than denial.”
Melanie Phillips must have been reading the same piece. She has written in a similar vein in the Times (£).
I hope I’m not flattering myself when I tell you that I wrote the above before I saw her article:Terror will continue until Islam is reformed.
“We should be promoting and defending such Muslim reformers in the desperate hope that they succeed. Instead we knock the ground from under their feet by saying Islamist attacks have nothing to do with Islam. Until and unless Islam is reformed, we need to treat its practices on a scale ranging from extreme caution to outlawing some of them altogether.”
We’re really letting the reformers down if we don’t support them. Come on BBC. This is where you (could) come in.
I am tempted to go back to my initial cynicism. I am still an atheist and inveterate cynic. But if anything can be salvaged from the religion of Islam to make it compatible with me and mine, all might not be lost.