Ishmael’s Spiritual Spawn
From Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai) on December 1, 2006, via MEMRITV, via Solomonia: Sudanese-Canadian human rights activist Taraji Mustafa has announced the formation of the Sudanese–Israeli Friendship Association. To the interviewer, when he had asked her about the appropriateness of such a move “in light of the Israeli-Arab conflict”, she answered that the Israeli Jews treated the Sudanese better than did the Arabs, despite being fellow Muslims.
I bring this first as an example of the minority, but definitely existent minority, of Muslims who do not go with the program of implementing shariah law worldwide. Because they are a minority, our overall situation is unchanged by their existence, though Baron Bodissey has a moral piece of thought (“aimed specifically at Jews and Christians”—his words) about them. For my part, the hopefulness with which such Muslims fill me is mixed with the depressing thought that, having outed themselves now, they had better take cover. However, this post is about that specific Muslim, the Sudanese Muslim, and his relation to Islam as an Arab religion.
It is probable to me that Taraji is a Muslim for the reason many Christians are Christians and many Jews Jews: the belief that her religion is true. In tribal religions, the rule is indeed cuius regio, eius religio—each region has its own religion, its own gods, its own ways of worshiping them; but the great (in the sense of being beyond relevance to a mere tribe) religions of the world are so because they are believed to be the all-encompassing truth, truth that is right for all human beings. When a Christian speaks of the necessity of believing in Jesus’ sacrifice, he means all people must believe so. When a Buddhist speaks of the Eightfold Path toward escaping the eternal Wheel of Reincarnation, he never makes a certain group of people exempt from that wheel and the need to escape from it. And Islam likewise is proselytized as the religion for all people. Those who believe that Islam is true believe its laws are binding upon all humankind.
Judaism is a little more complex: it states there is one law for the Jews, an expanded version for the nation whom G-d has chosen to be the living proof of His existence and His constant rule over world history, and another law, less demanding, for everyone else (the Seven Noahide Laws). Nevertheless, this is only a bifurcation in practice; in belief, Judaism claims its truth to hold for all people. So, for example, assuming the truth of Judaism, the Muslim gains no reward from G-d from fasting on the month of Ramadan, for it is not one of the Seven Noahide Laws, it is not something G-d has ordered to do.
Looking at any Jewish website, be it even entirely in English, one can see the pages strewn with Hebrew terms. One could call Judaism a “Hebrew religion”, and he would be right in the sense that G-d has given it to us for, among so many purposes, preserving us as His nation for eternity. Judaism is both universally true (its tenets hold true for all people) and culturally specific (the Jew practices a system of law that cannot be divorced from his linguistic and geographic heritage—that last point is lost upon those who think they can be anti-Zionists without being Jew-haters). This situation, of Jews being both a world religion and a nation, is peculiar to Judaism, and it is strange to many onlookers from the outside. However, it is entirely self-consistent.
A Buddhist website may be sprinkled with terms from Pali, the language in which the Buddhist canon was written. However, this need not be so, and there are many books on Buddhism for Westerners where all the terminology has been translated. Some terms are left untranslated because of the great difficulty (I am told dukkha is one of those—neither “desire” nor “attachment” covers its meaning fully). However, there is not a cultural interest in preserving the terms to be in Pali, for, in addition to the global truth-claims of Buddhism, its practices are not cultural. In a similar way, Christian missionaries have translated their scriptures to numerous languages, for they aim to bring a message and not a culture (so much for the Leftist accusation of “white man’s cultural imperialism”). For Jews, the scriptures need to stay in Hebrew, for it is important for the coherence of the Jewish nationality.
Now I come to the issue of Islam: an Islamic site is full of Arabic terms; translations may be provided for newcomers, but they are required to learn the original Arabic terms and use them among themselves. And it is relatively well-known among non-Muslims that the Koran is not authoritative, not sacred to the Muslim, except in its original Arabic. There are more things worthy of notice: prayer toward Mecca, no matter where the Muslim lives; following the example of a man who lived in the Arabian desert, with all its ramifications, such as being recommended to wear Bedouin clothes even in climates to which they are ill-suited; and most of all, the internalization of a whole culture, with its customs and mentality, such that many groups of people who once were exogamous are now steeped in cousin marriage. Islam, far more than being just a religion, is a cultural package-deal.
Like Judaism, Islam is culturally specific; unlike Judaism, however, Islam claims universal orthopraxy and not just universal orthodoxy. In that, it is like Buddhism; but the orthopraxy of Buddhism is not a cultural orthopraxy, for a Buddhist in China can keep his ancestral customs and is not obliged to live the same way as his fellow religionist in Thailand.
As the recently deceased Anwar Shaikh wrote, Islam, though claiming universality in both creed and deed, is at its heart an Arab religion. It is inseparable from its roots in 7th-century Arabia, and it has an Arabizing effect upon all who convert to it. This is not necessarily, inherently a bad thing, but it is schizophrenic: a religion universal and culturally specific at the same time (without the “dual law” doctrine of Judaism). Though Muslim apologists love to regurgitate that saying of Mohammad about piety and not skin color being what counts in the eyes of the deity, and to contrast this with “the basic White Racism of the Christian West”, the fact is Arab supremacy has been a given in the Muslim world for much of its history—the situation that the status of Arab Muslims is higher than that of non-Arab Muslims, brethren, co-religionists. Even the Iranian nation, one with a long and proud history that dates from over a thousand years before the Arabs went on their religion-mandated land grabs and occupations and establishment of apartheid states, sets its eyes upon the family of that Arabian prophet. Both historically and now, Iranian national consciousness has been in inverse proportion to religious fervor.
We now come back to that Sudanese Muslim woman, Taraji Mustafa. Her people are being slaughtered as we speak by fellow Muslims, with hardly a peep from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the international mouthpiece for Muslim interests, the same body that never stops screaming about “the plight of the Palestinians under the Zionist oppressor”. To paraphrase Orwell, all Muslims are equal, but some Muslims are more equal than others; the black Muslims of Sudan cannot be considered equals to Arab Muslims, for the latter are the nation from which the prophet of Islam came and in whose language the Koran was given, while the former have always been valued as slaves in the Muslim world (but remember, only whites can be racists—at least according to the dialecticians of the Western Left). Mustafa has tasted, first-hand, the betrayal of Arab imperialism: an imperialism that welcomes every man on earth to join its ranks, but ends up subsuming them all into the mold of 7th-century Arabia.
Now, for the sake of those who would rush to accuse me of “anti-Arab racism”, I say that my argument is not against Arabs or their culture and language, but against the universalization of Arab culture and language under the pretense of a religion for all mankind. For any other perpetrator of this, especially if Western, that would be a textbook example of what the Left decries as cultural imperialism. There is a cultural religion like Judaism, but it keeps to itself; and there is a universal religion like Buddhism, but it does not come with any cultural baggage; and there is Islam, which is both cultural and universal, and that is the definition of cultural imperialism! One may point out similarities between the precepts of the Torah and those of the Koran, such as the prohibition of idol worship, but it is so often overlooked that such examples of universal laws are given to all humankind by themselves according to the Jewish view, while according to the Islamic view they must be taken together with its cultural load: the Koran has to be learned in Arabic, for starters.
From the Jewish point of view, this paradox of Islam is clear, all too clear, from G-d’s Word. He promised Abraham to make Ishmael a great nation also, and Islam was His tool for the fulfillment of that promise. It may seem that this all necessarily has racial (or at least ethnic) consequences, for the Torah talks about the progeny of Ishmael. But the sages of Judaism have always understood people like Ishmael and Esau to be types, spiritual ancestors more than physical ones. In our day the majority of Muslims are not Arabs, and many Arabs are non-Muslims. G-d fulfilled His promise to Abraham in the form of spiritual spawn, which is Islam. Whenever people, no matter whatever race or ethnicity, convert to Islam, they convert to Ishmael’s mentality: the mentality of kicking the others, the non-Muslims, like a wild ass (Genesis 16:12), which is manifest in terrorism worldwide, and the mentality of living off the property of others, both physical and spiritual, manifest in appropriating lands like Pakistan, Southern Thailand and Muslim areas in the cities of Europe, and in the claim that Abraham was a Muslim (curse that thought) and that Jerusalem has no Jewish history whatsoever (closed forever be the mouth that utters this).
Taraji Mustafa is keen to the facts (in that, she reminds me of Yehoshua Sobol) and brave to speak them out, yet she is a victim of a system that does not have her best interests in mind. Islam piles apartheid upon apartheid, down from the atheist and pagan (who are given the “choice” between conversion and death), through the Jew and Christian (who are dhimmis, forced to pay a tax for their lives, and ever at the whim of their Muslim masters), through the non-Arab Muslim (second-class jihad fodder), up to the very pinnacle of the human race, the Arab Muslim. A true lover of the slogan, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité!” would be opposed to such a system in principle. That so many who claim to stand for that slogan are not opposed to Islam defies all rational explanation.