|Montreal, September 15, 2004 / No 146|
by Ralph Maddocks
Over a century ago, long before anyone became aware of the term multicultural, Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called "The Ballad of East & West" whose initial line reads: "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet." Kipling seemed to be saying that all of us are, to some extent at least, unable to adapt to the ways of others. Joseph Rudyard Kipling ought to have known, he was born in Bombay, India, where his father, John Lockwood Kipling, was a teacher at the local Jeejeebhoy School of Art. Kipling himself was essentially part of both cultures, having been born to expatriates and partly raised and working in a foreign environment before returning to the place of his birth.
The British in their colonisation process tended, or at least attempted,
to adapt foreign conditions to themselves rather than adapting themselves
to foreign conditions. One has only to look around their former colonies
to see abundant evidence of this. The names of places or towns show clearly
their origins: New York, New Jersey, New England, Nova Scotia (New Scotland
that is), New South Wales, Christchurch, etc. The British always believed
in making the mountain come to Mohamed and they almost always got away
with it because of their military power.
So the question that might be asked is, if Westerners find it hard to make the transition to the East, why would Easterners find it any easier to make the transition to the West? Especially why in the main, they do not seem to do so, although many of them emigrate to western countries?
Perhaps the answer to this question lies more in the specific environment from which emigrants come. Immigrants from the Caribbean or West African countries seem to adapt much more easily to western cultures and concepts than do those from eastern lands, although there are some exceptions. People from India, while tending – as do most immigrants anywhere – to form, live and marry within their own communities, at least in the initial generations, very often integrate into the societies in which they find themselves. Indeed Canada has quite a number of such immigrants, or their offspring, serving as MPs in Ottawa. This is not quite so true though of many people coming from other countries in the Middle East or from places like Pakistan who happen to be followers of the Islamic faith. Islam, unlike other formal religious faiths, is an integral way of life. The Muslim (“One who submits”) can allow no separation between his life and his religion, his politics and his faith.
Anyone taking even the most cursory look at those who adhere to the religion of the Prophet Mohammed will soon discover many reasons to explain the obvious difficulties facing someone from an Islamic background arriving in a western, democratic country. The clash of cultures is quite stark; slavish obedience to an ancient code versus liberty and free speech. The Saudi Arabian embassy site in the USA has an Islamic Affairs Department, and one can find there statements such as: “Muslims are required to raise the banner of jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world.” Not a stance likely to get you accepted gladly in your new land.
MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) from which the above quote was taken has many other quotes from the Islamic Affairs Department on its site, among them the following: “Today's false idols, which dominate over the entire world, are Democracy, Capitalism, Socialism and Communism. Islam instead calls for a Khilafa (Caliphate) based on consultation, and a just economic system based on Zakat and a prohibition of usury.” Hardly a resounding call for free market economics and libertarianism.
In the USA, it is believed that some 80 per cent of the mosques there are under the control of the Wahabists to whom Saudia Arabia has contributed countless billions of its petroleum dollars in order to dispense that particularly authoritarian form of Islam. Indeed, Toronto’s Salaheddin Centre too is said to be funded by Saudi Arabian Wahabists dollars. Dollars which, as Turkey’s Catholic Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini said, have not been used to create work in the poor Islamic nations of North Africa or the Middle East.
In the United Arab Emirates, there is a popular religious channel called Al-Majd TV, somewhat less well known in the west than al-Jazeera. Speaking on it recently was Saudi Professor Nasser bin Suleiman al Omar who offered his listeners the following: “Islam is advancing according to a steady plan, to the point that tens of thousands of Muslims have joined the American army and Islam is the second largest religion in America. America will be destroyed. But we must be patient.”
Half a century ago, Lebanon was predominantly Christian but now it is predominantly Muslim. Ethiopia is another ancient Christian land where Muslims have come to outnumber Christians in the last 100 years. In fact, Islam is now the second largest religion, not just in the USA but in Europe and Australia as well. In Europe there are some 15 million Muslims, and in France alone they account for one tenth of the population. Even more interesting is that the French government now estimates that some 50,000 French Christians are converting to Islam each year, although there are no French imams among the 230 imams in France. If population trends continue, France could have a Muslim majority by 2040. In Brussels, the capital of Belgium and home of the EU bureaucracy, the most popular name for baby boys during the last four years was Mohammed. Here in Canada we have over half a million Muslims living here at the moment, and in Britain there is three times that number.
In Canada, now presumably the fourth best country in the world, where freedom of speech at a Quebec radio station is menaced, the ones doing the menacing, our unelected friends at the CRTC (Canadian Radio Television Commission) awarded a licence to al-Jazeera. One wonders if it too will lose its licence if those videos of the beheading of westerners, which al-Jazeera seems pleased to show once in a while, do not have the required Canadian victim content!
One of al-Jazeera’s popular presenters is the controversial Egyptian imam, Dr Al Qaradawi, of whom the UK’s BBC cooed approvingly that he has “star” status among the world’s Muslims. He is the one at whose feet the obsequious Mayor of London grovelled recently, and is a staunch promoter of human rights such as executing homosexuals, the right of men to beat their wives, and the murder of innocent Jews. During the ensuing uproar it went unnoticed that he also wants to conquer Europe. Those who have difficulty believing all this should listen to his popular TV show Sharia and Life, presumably coming to you soon on al-Jazeera. Again, according to MEMRI which translates the imam’s broadcasts, he prophesied in 1999 that, “Islam will return to Europe. The conquest need not necessarily be by the sword. Perhaps we will conquer these lands without armies. We want an army of preachers and teachers who will present Islam in all languages and in all dialects.” This man is not some bizarre fringe performer but someone whose programmes are extremely popular and are being watched by millions throughout the Middle East and Europe.
Another preacher, the Saudi Sheikh Said al Qahtani, said on a recent TV broadcast that “We did not occupy the US, with eight million Muslims, using bombings. Had we been patient and let time take its course, instead of the eight million there could have been 80 million [Muslims], and 50 years later perhaps the US would have become Muslim.” This appears to be an implied criticism of Al-Qa’eda for waking a slumbering West, and is hard to dismiss as a simple aberration. Indeed, the quite moderate former director of the Islamic Cultural Centre in London, Dr Zaki Badawi, has admitted that, “Islam endeavours to expand in Britain. Islam is a universal religion. It aims to bring its message to all.”
Perhaps Bernard Lewis put it as succinctly as possible in his recent best-selling book The Crisis of Islam when he wrote “The presumption is that the duty of jihad will continue, interrupted only by truces, until all the world either adopts the Muslim faith or submits to Muslim rule.” The Muslim tradition divides the world into two parts, Dar al Islam, where Muslims rule, and Dar al Harb, the “field of war” where the infidels live, something we might do well to remember.
The West is constantly castigated for having imposed its decadent values, culture and language on Third World countries, but one rarely reads that Islam colonised lands containing advanced and ancient civilizations. How long did it take the Spanish to retrieve their country in the lengthy “Reconquista”? Something like 700 years if memory serves. Elsewhere, a central Asian people, the Turks, converted to Islam and conquered the ancient Christian land of Anatolia (now Turkey).
In 1453 they captured Constantinople, then the centre of the Eastern Orthodox Church. They turned the sublime Hagia Sophia, which had been one of the most important churches in Christendom for almost 1,000 years after it was built in 537A.D, into a mosque, adding minarets. For four hundred years the Turks occupied Greece and much of the Balkans, turning the Parthenon into a mosque and besieging Vienna, before retreating as their endurance declined. Talk to a Greek Cypriot or a Greek about Islam and the Turks, but be careful to put some cotton wool in your ears first! The imam of the mosque of the Saudi government’s King Fahd Defence Academy, Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd al Rahman al ’Arifi, wrote recently, “We will control the land of the Vatican; we will control Rome and introduce Islam in it.” They already have a mosque there.
Of course, before anyone writes to tell me, I am aware that Christianity has been just as much a conquering religion in its time. The Spanish destroyed the ancient civilisations of Central and South America quite ruthlessly as they spread their message of Christian love. It was Christians too who colonised the Americas and Australia, annihilating the natives as they went. All the while, Christian missionaries were at work busy converting much of Africa. Now they have stopped their conquering and converting; indeed in much of the Christian world, in places like Quebec and France to name but two, they seem to have stopped believing in Christianity as well.
If there are doubters still about things like freedom of religious belief then consider that the Saudi Arabian government bans all churches, while the west is building, if not paying for, so-called Islamic Cultural centres. Some of the funding for the UK’s East London mosque came from such bodies as the European Development Fund, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Surestart (the UK Government's programme to deliver the best start in life for every child by bringing together: early education, childcare, health and family support), and the London Development Agency.
In some Islamic countries even the preaching of Christianity is banned, contrasting starkly with the West where the right to practice religion is enshrined in our laws and constitutions. Those 50,000 French converts to Islam, mentioned earlier, have all done so freely without reproach; any who convert to Christianity from Islam can expect death threats at the very least. Ask any of the Christian Pakistani refugees that Canada has sent back to their own country, if they are still alive that is. While the Crusades were, by and large, attempts to retrieve lands which were formerly Christian, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, apologises for them almost constantly. Rather as an old lady might apologise to a mugger for trying to retrieve her purse, was the way the Archbishop of Canterbury described it.
Contrast this with the statements of his opposite numbers which call loudly for the overthrow of Christendom. This is not to claim either that all conversion to Islam has been by the sword. Indonesia was peaceably converted by Muslim traders and is now the most populous of all the Islamic nations. But the conquests haven’t stopped; Islam has continued spreading in sub-Saharan Africa most noticeably in Nigeria and Sudan. Heard from Darfur recently?
Even the most vociferous critics of the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions by President Bush are unlikely to believe that he did so in order to spread the word of Jesus. The supreme irony in this is that by deposing the hated Saddam Hussein, who ran the most secular of Arab regimes, the USA, publicly in favour of creating an Iraqi democracy, is actually transferring power to the imams. We read too of Christian churches in Iraq being attacked. Over the centuries, religions have changed because they needed to do so in order to survive. The Roman Catholic Church split into two when the Eastern Church broke away. Additional fragmentation occurred at the Reformation as numerous other sects came into being and today who knows how many Protestant sects there are?
Even Judaism, the basis of both Christianity and Islam, has changed over the almost four thousand years of its existence and did so by making changes which allowed its devotees to live and survive in various cultures and countries. This does not seem to be true of Islam, where there appears to be no room for adaptation to the conditions of the 21st century, nor seemingly any incentive to do so. The laws of the 7th century were essentially designed for a nomadic people and have remained virtually unchanged ever since. This is in part why modern concepts of freedom, human and women’s rights, equality and tolerance have not advanced in the Muslim world. Indeed there is conflict in many countries which have large Muslim populations and one only has to think about the Philippines and India to realise this.
India, where Islamic invaders burned their way through the country periodically from the 8th century onwards, has endured sectarian violence for centuries, culminating in the creation of Pakistan. Mohammed’s injunction to “Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them” was enthusiastically followed in India, where not only Hindus but Buddhists – a religion which has never fought a religious war – were slaughtered and their women and children taken into slavery. The Hindus were fair game, not being “of the book” as are Christians and Jews, although too numerous to eliminate completely.
A Sharia regime grants the status of Dhimmitude to the Dhimmis (a protected people) allowing them to practice their religion. They do so, but under a series of humiliating regulations designed to enforce the command of the Koran that non-Muslims shall “feel themselves subdued.” This denial of equality of rights and dignity is part of the Sharia which the global Islamists would like to impose everywhere they go, ultimately the entire world. Recently an item in the press mentioned that Canadian judges could be enforcing Islamic law, or Sharia, soon in disputes between Muslims. Could this be the precursor of an Islamic penal law which will institute sentences such as the flogging or the stoning of adulterous women? What about other Muslim cultural features such as arranged marriages, divorce at will (by the husband of course), revenge killings, and female circumcision? Islam does not take kindly to music and dancing, gambling is forbidden and while not absolutely prohibited, drinking alcohol is discouraged. Will Canada become like the Malaysian state, controlled by an Islamist party, which says that any Muslim who converts to another faith has three days in which to repent, failing which he faces having his property forfeited and being sentenced to death?
As one Dutch imam pointed out “The Sharia does not have to adapt to the modern world because these are divine laws. People have to bend to the Sharia.” What many of today’s politically correct ‘liberals’ and social engineers will think of as expressions of ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’, are perceived by Islamist radicals as simply more examples of decadent Western weakness. Judging from what is known of the internal structure of many Islamic communities living in Western countries, the notion that consent would always be genuine is quite implausible. Those Islamic radicals pushing for the introduction of Shariah into Western countries do not want to “live in peace” with us, they seek the destruction of all that we understand and accept as Western values. Should they fail to convert us, as their writings show clearly, they would be prepared to accept our actual physical destruction.
The aforementioned Dr Al Qaradawi is also the spiritual guide of the hard-line Muslim Brotherhood, which is growing across Europe, and whose leader Muhammad Mahdi Othman ’Akef declared recently, “I have complete faith that Islam will invade Europe and America, because Islam has logic and a mission.” Can we be confident that he was not including Canada in his prediction? Can we be certain that our politicians understand that Islam is not simply a religion, but a way of life? Given the extremely short term views of Western politicians, whose concern for their country’s future rarely extends beyond the next election, the answer is likely to be more restrictions on the freedom of their own populations. We can expect also the continuing politically correct condemnation, using ‘hate speech’ laws, of those who try to raise awareness of the problems likely to arise when intolerance is invited into a society in the name of tolerance and multiculturalism. Maybe Kipling was on to something after all.