The Muslim moment


The disappearance, and probable murder, of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has encapsulated the crisis which has overtaken 1.5 billion Moslems [22 percent of world population], their religion and their civilization.

Muslims are in the ascendancy – not only through the modernization [industrialization] of their ancient societies — but their increasing immigration to a Europe suffering its own native birth decline.

Khashoggi put it succinctly when he wrote “[T]he Arab world has been seeking renaissance for the last 100 years,” but the movement for reform had been blocked by authoritarian leaders and inchoate public rage at corruption.

Islam remains for the most part retrograde, in the Arab lands and among Muslims elsewhere in the Middle East and South and East Asia. So-called reformers such as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Mohammed bin Salman promise to embrace social and economic reform, and to make his country [Saudi Arabia with its 30 million] more open and tolerant. But he and others like him in addressing the things that hold back progress have instituted their own repression.

Bin Salman presides over dozens of imprisoned Saudi intellectuals, clerics, journalists, and social media stars — the majority of whom, at worst, have violated no laws with their mild criticism of government.  Meanwhile, many members of the Saudis’ Council of Senior Scholars (“Ulema”) have extremist ideas: Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan has said that Shiites are not Muslims. Another highly regarded cleric, Sheikh Saleh Al-Lohaidan, has advised Muslim rulers they are not bound to consult others. Their reactionary opinions about democracy, pluralism – as with the celebrated issue of women driving – are protected by royal decree from counter argument.

Khashoggi had argued,”[W]e need to provide a platform for Arab voices. We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.”

Always the kind of journalist who annoyed the authorities, Khashoggi thought bin Salman an impulsive hothead who undermined his own, good ideas for reform.

But the isolation, or at least one-way colonial traffic, that once marked the Muslim world and the West has been breached. The huge numbers of Turkish, Arab, and other Moslem immigrants to Europe – who appear less likely than Western Europe’s invaders in the past to assimilate quickly – are putting their imprint on traditional European cultures. Conflicts over the rights of women in the public purview, for example, produce an almost constant stream of incidents, some serious. In France, there are “no go” areas for the police, Algerian and Moroccan neighborhoods rebuilt in a version of their North African antecedents. In Germany, similar enclaves of Turkish immigrants have arisen that also defy the traditional culture.

Furthermore, the Islam which these newcomers are bringing has yet to undergo the revolution that ended religious rule in Europe. Will they, as early Christianity [and Judaism] abandon clerical authority to the civilian leadership? It was after all to Christ himself that the rights of the laity were given paramountcy when he said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” [Matthew 22:21] and “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God. [Romans 13:1]

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