TigerHawk has two recent posts up that address the same issues Gates of Vienna has been discussing of late. There must be something in the air.
The first post, “Regarding Mohammed and the prospects for ‘respect’”, seems to be following the same themes as we have repeatedly regarding the Great Cartoon Caper.
He begins with Eugene Volokh’s take on the issue and politely disagrees. TigerHawk says the real problem here is:
…that Muslims care a lot that non-Muslims do not regard Mohammed the same way that they do.
At the risk of earning a fatwa, let us speak a simple truth. With regard to Mohammed, there are three sorts of people in the world. First, there are those who have never heard of him, or know too little of him to have an opinion. Disregard them.
Second, there are the Muslims, who believe him to be the messenger of God, the true Prophet.
Finally, there are those of us who know who Mohammed was, and have chosen not to regard him as a prophet, the Messenger of God, or as having any religious significance at all.
Religious people who think deeply about their beliefs will never “respect” the other. To believe otherwise is a fool’s errand. Neither the right of freedom of speech nor the right to freely exercise one’s own religion — both of which are sacrosanct to Americans, if not all Europeans — have anything at all to do with respect. They are rules of engagement that are preferable to war for dealing with people that we do not respect. Get used to it.
“Get used to it?” TigerHawk, see “Respect Must Be Earned” to learn how things are progressing.
TigerHawk expands greatly on the theme, warming to his topic as he points out:
Of the twenty putative inventions that “changed the world,” all but one occurred during the Middle Ages, from roughly the 9th to the 11th centuries (Western calendar). The only “invention” that is even arguably modern is “shampoo,” which was “introduced to England by a Muslim who opened Mahomed’s Indian Vapour Baths on Brighton seafront in 1759 and was appointed Shampooing Surgeon to Kings George IV and William IV.” And 1759 is not the date of the invention of shampoo, but its introduction in England, which surely says more about the English than Muslim ingenuity.
There is a reason for the great antiquity of the Muslim inventions that “changed the world.” The umma persecuted its own Thomas Aquinas.
TigerHawk points to Ibn Rushd Averroes, the Andalusian Arab who translated Aristotle. For this and other intellectual accomplishments he was banished. Though TigerHawk doesn’t mention Hafiz, he well could have. Many of Hafiz’ poems were destroyed by the anti-intellectual, anti-mystic, and fearful authorities in 14th-century Persia.
TigerHawk backs up his assertions with a quote from Oriana Fallaci:
Islam has always persecuted and silenced its intelligent men. I remind you of Averroes who for his distinction between Faith and Reason was accused of heterodoxy by the caliphs and forced to flee. Then, imprisoned like a criminal. Then, confined to his home and humiliated to such a degree that when rehabilitated he no longer had any desire to live and died within a few months. Not without good reason, in his famous lecture held in 1883 at the Sorbonne, Ernest Renan said that attributed the merits of Averroes to Islam would be like attributing the merits of Galileo to the Inquisition.
I agree with TigerHawk that Islam’s greatest weakness is its failure to reconcile faith and reason:
It persecuted its geniuses. Christianity did too, but the Inquisition was a losing rearguard action against the Age of Reason, which had already been ratified by Saint Thomas Aquinas and other theologians. Islam’s own inquisition persists to this day.
It’s nice to be on the same page(s) as the illustrious TigerHawk.