Our Russian correspondent Russkiy sends the second installment in his series of essays on the Islamic mentality (part 1 is here ).
The “Bad” Muslims
Shortly after the 9/11 events I became friends with one fellow at the university gym. I didn’t realize at first that he was a Muslim or an Arab. He was from Morocco, as I found out later.
He seemed very normal, always wore Hawaiian T-shirts, was a gym junkie and loved to go clubbing, although he never drank. He was always a sober driver for those of us who were drinking.
Other than his strange behaviour in night clubs (he never drank but seemed the least in control of his behaviour with the opposite sex — he used to whistle and say inappropriate things to women; he was embarrassing for those of us who were drunk) he seemed very normal and friendly until one day when we started discussing some political issues. The conversation revolved around the 9/11 attacks, concerning which he expressed his views as follows: “Osama Bin Laden is a great, brave man, a good Muslim. If all Muslims were like him, the Islamic world wouldn’t be such a s***hole. I wish I was a better Muslim, and brave enough to sacrifice my life in the great Jihad.”
He also said a lot of other things but the above statement summarises his general attitude. From that day onwards I was very suspicious of people who referred to themselves as “bad” Muslims — they were people who generally had a non-observant or not fully observant (Islamic) lifestyle but still referred to themselves as Muslims and defended Islam.
I have recently found out how they could justify their behaviour. Muslims on the day of resurrection are judged according to their good Islamic deeds (hasana) or bad (non-Islamic) deeds. Some Muslims try to keep track of their bad and good deeds. So if they decide to go drinking one night for example, they should go and pray a bit more, read the Quran, or kill lizards (one of the ways to score additional points. If you kill a lizard with one hit you get 100 hasanat; with two hits you get 50, and so on).
So all Muslims can once in a while lapse and do a few non-compliant (Islamically speaking) deeds as long as they compensate for that. The thing about the “bad” Muslims is that they lose track of how many bad deeds they have done. This means that they either have to leave Islam, as there is no longer any hope of salvation for them in Islam, become very, very observant in ways such as growing a beard (a hasana) and other things like that and hope that this will suffice to get them into Paradise, or become a jihadi and hope for a martyr’s death, which will guarantee entrance into Paradise.
So from this logic it can be seen that most bad Muslims would either become an atheist, join some other religion, or become Wahhabi, or even worse, a suicide bomber. Most of them don’t care about politics in Afghanistan or Somalia; they just know that there is a Jihad going on, and therefore a good chance for them to die as a martyr. A good example of this mentality is someone like Ayman al-Zarqawi, or those London bombers, all of whom used to be non-observant until one day something clicked and they suddenly became the most fanatical of all.
People like Osama or any other Muslim who were observant throughout their lives don’t have to become suicide bombers; they can participate in a Jihad, but not as fervently as some of the former “bad” Muslims.
More to come…
Killing lizards? That’s the first I’ve heard about that one. Can Muslim immigration be blocked for environmental reasons, then?
Christianity was a religion of “works” prior to Martin Luther. The Vatican was built with money from “indulgences” — get-out-Hell tickets sold by the priests. Crusaders were told that their “works” would help them achieve salvation. Fortunately, Christians have moved beyond that, and they now almost universally believe that salvation is a faith-based “gift” purchased at a great price.
The problem with an ideology which weighs good and bad “works” to determine salvation is that mankind can never live up the high standards os the Creator. Sharia Law comprises over 1,000 pages of do’s and don’t’s, as well as some downright evil sanctions against non-Muslims, ex-Muslims, women, and captives. The old dictum that there is nothing more dangerous than someone who has nothing to lose should be changed to there is nothing more dangerous than a “bad” Muslim.
ChrisLA, you have it a bit twisted. Christianity was never a religion of works. The Catholic religion/denomination, which was the sole Christian denomination in Europe until the Reformation made works the determining factor over faith in concerns to salvation in Christ.
The Reformation sought to return Christian doctrine and practice back to its roots.
Quite a lot of people tend to equate Catholicism as the be all and end all of Christianity. Yet there were variants of Catholicism at the same time as Roman Catholicism, such as Copts, Chaldeans, and the variants of Eastern Orthodox.
To say that Christianity was a religion of works prior to Martin Luther is to twist, oversimplify and misunderstand Christian theology and history.
And how shall God judge Luther and his works? Shall his works be judged as those of a “gifted” or “saved” man?
The works spring from the soul of the faithful and are an indication of the status of the soul – which ONLY God shall judge in his time.
“Martin Luther (1483—1546), a German Reformation leader, had a significant influence on German antisemitism by his harsh anti-Jewish statements and writings.”
“Luther’s attitude toward the Jews changed over the course of his life. In the early phase of his career—until around 1536—he expressed concern for their plight in Europe and was enthusiastic at the prospect of converting them to Christianity through his evangelical reforms. In his later career, Luther denounced the Jewish people and urged for their harsh persecution. In a paragraph from his On the Jews and Their Lies he deplores Christendom’s failure to expel them.”
“The prevailing view among historians is that his anti-Jewish rhetoric contributed significantly to the development of antisemitism in Germany, and in the 1930s and 1940s provided an ideal foundation for the National Socialists’ attacks on Jews. Reinhold Lewin writes that “whoever wrote against the Jews for whatever reason believed he had the right to justify himself by triumphantly referring to Luther.” According to Michael, just about every anti-Jewish book printed in the Third Reich contained references to and quotations from Luther.”
I agree with your ‘refinement’ on ChrisLA’s comment. However, I don’t think his idea is “twisted” so much as it’s a different interpretation.
When Luther, an Augustinian monk, nailed those theses up, many historians believe he was after reform rather than revolution. Sadly, the institution was too large and too rigid by then. It had passed the stage where it had enough resiliency to adapt.
I think of that sometimes when I wonder if the West is now too far gone to adapt and save itself.
Another part of Christian history, which you touch on, is the highly variable practices/orthodoxies of the Eastern churches. Rome’s ecclesiology was built on Roman lines of bureaucracy (not necessarily pejorative in its origins), while the development of moral theology depended much more on the Hellenistic Jews who’d fled Jerusalem after it was destroyed in 70 A.D. They were to be greatly influenced by the intellectual rigor of Greek philosophy, adapting it for their own needs. Some of these ppl later converted to the “new” Judaism, i.e., Christianity, of which Paul’s theology is the exemplar.
Meanwhile in MENA, monasticism, with its roots in Jewish asceticism, became Christianized most famously by Anthony – though his was an eremitic form (solitary).
Through Pachomius the communal foundations of monastic life were laid down in MENA, and then in the West Benedict adapted Pachomius’ idea to create his Rule which (with few modifications) is still the pattern followed by most orders in the West.
I mention these because it was from the monastic tradition that Luther arose to demand reform. A ‘diocesan’ priest couldn’t have done that and survived.
A point re monasticism’s perennial survival:
I hope it doesn’t start a food fight to predict that monasticism may well undergo a renaissance in the West as the larger culture becomes increasingly and ever more rigidly feminized.
As several ethnologists have pointed out, when women come to dominate a particular field or endeavor, men tend to retreat to another. Thus, as women are now beginning to outnumber men in higher education, we can expect to see the numbers of men drop over time as they move elsewhere.
And as the “Girls Rule!” culture spreads, some men will fall back to another way of life. Buddhist or Christian monasticism may be the choice for some.
Definitely a better scenario than the wilding gangs we’re beginning to see.
With or without Bin Laden, the “Islamic World” will remain a S**THOLE. With its aniti-Human theology – “Islam” will allow it NO OTHER WAY.