Slaves of the Islamist God
Next month is the anniversary of the dreadful WTC massacre. I cannot add anything to what I wrote about Sept 11th, 2001, right after that horrible day. What I would like to examine here is the root of the attitude of these servants or slaves of the Islamist God who kill in the name of their "Creator". Let me also note that I cannot add more to what MEHR organization wrote last year about the anniversary of Sept 1, 1998, another horrible day of killings by Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). A massacre by those IRI soldiers of Islamist God who rape the virgin girls before executing them, because they believe their God has asked in Koran not to execute women who are virgins, and the executioner Revolutionary Guards of IRI shamelessly go and pay the dowry of the girl they raped the previous night, to her parents, along with the lifeless body of the victim.
What is the root of this attitude of soldiers of God? A simple look at the Islamic texts shows that everywhere the human being is referred to as the *slave* of God. True that one can see this view in all Abrahamic religions, but its literal meaning is lost even by Evangelists who see a herd and shepherd relationship in the predominantly Christian countries. Whereas the extreme slave and Master, or created and Creator relationship, builds the legitimacy of clerics under Islamism, speaking in the name of God Master, to incontestably order fatwa killings, rape of prisoners, and other atrocities.
Years ago a paper was published in AI Journal entitled "Intelligent Tools: The Cornerstone of a New Civilization." In that paper, I noted how tool-making nearly made humans as we know them, and how slave society was the best example of a society where the humans were clearly used as *tools*. On one hand, tool-making made human civilization possible; but, on the other hand, it made the attitude of controlling nature and even controlling other humans possible, as noted in another work entitled "Dancing in the Air." The fact is that tool-making made it possible for humans to create new things and thus be *creator* of their *created* objects; and humans extended this view to the whole universe and human society at large. Thus they developed a view of the world as being the work of a "Creator" and regarded themselves, as well as everything else in the universe, to be the "created."
The Gods were Creators and the humans were just created objects, sometimes just to entertain the Gods, and the priesthood speaking for those Gods, needed little explanation to justify the demands of those Supreme Masters from their subjects. This view of God is present, in various degrees, in all Abrahamic religions. In contrast, one seldom sees such a view in religions like Zoroastrianism of Iran, or Hinduism, or Buddhism where they do not look at the universe in such *anthropocentric* ways. Even some traditions within the Abrahamic religions have discarded such anthropocentric ontological views.
The anthropocentric Creator-vs-created view of the universe has been dominant in all societies the same way the material basis of using humans as tools had remained until intelligent tools could be artificially made. As noted in the Intelligent Tools paper, the ending of many slave societies was not because of ending the material basis of slavery, and rather it was because the shameful treatment of our kind as a tool was no longer acceptable in the societies that discarded it, and it is noteworthy that even in the modern U.S., slavery revived centuries after it had been discarded in the world, because the material basis of slavery had not been eradicated. So until the material basis of slavery which is using the humans as tools is ended, one could not say the slavery was totally over and done with. Also the basis of the view where everything in the universe and society is viewed in a Creator and created or in a Master and slave relationship.
Let's return to the topic of Islamism in the Middle East. Islamism is even the most extreme attitude in the Islamic traditions, let alone within the Abrahamic traditions. It basically allows an Ayatollah to issue a fatwa to kill an innocent writer like Salman Rushdie, for no reason but the unhappiness of Islamist God for the man's blasphemy, and the soldiers of God from Pakistan to Iran to Saudi Arabia think it is their duty to go and kill, rape, and murder whoever they consider an infidel and the object of the wrath of their Islamist God, which speaks thru their Ayatollahs. This is the oracle of death which the created have to succumb to, when the oracle speaks for their Creator. Thus the IRI executioner who rapes the virgin girl is doing a service for his God, the same way those who beheaded their victims of human sacrifice in the Inca civilization considered their action as serving their God and people.
Now the question is what can one do with this reality of Islamism in the Middle East? Is this so different from the Christian Medievalism, burning of witches and thinkers like Giordano Bruno? Is it so different from similar ruthless atheistic systems like Communism or Nazism? Frankly I do not think it is much different and I think what Europe showed in both the Medieval Times and in the era of Nazism and Communism, was that the best antidote to the above horrific reality, is to promote *secular pluralism*. It is unfortunate that the Western world that has had similar experiences, has continuously undermined secular pluralism in the Middle East, and one way or the other, under the tags such as the so-called "Islamic Democracy", they have supported Islam's dominance in the Middle East, and have not supported the pluralist aspirations of the Middle Eastern people. Especially during the Cold War, the Western states viewed Islamism as a way to block Communism and supported states like Saudi Arabia that basically murdered anyone questioning Islam, as infidel or communist! Their war was with *pluralism* and their goal was dominance of Islam in the Middle East and they received the full support of the West.
Is the so-called "Islamic Democracy" in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries the harbinger of pluralism? The answer is no. Even in Europe after centuries of the Protestant challenge to Catholicism, it was only after the rise of secularism that finally a true pluralism ushered in. What is pluralism? A few years ago I wrote a paper about Pluralism, where I quoted from lectures of William James in 1907 entitled "A Pluralistic Universe". I find this passage an excellent explication of Pluralism:
interpreted, pluralism or the doctrine that it is many means only that sundry
parts of reality *may be externally related*. Everything you can think of,
however vast or inclusive, has on the pluralistic view
a genuinely 'external' environment of some sort or amount. Things are 'with' one another in many ways,
but nothing includes everything, or dominates over everything. The word 'and' trails along after every
sentence. Something always escapes.
"Even not quite" has to be
"Monism, on the other hand, insists that when you come down to reality as such, to the reality of realities, everything is present to *everything* else in one vast instantaneous co-implicated complete-ness-nothing can in any sense, functional or substantial, be really absent from anything else, all things interpenetrate and telescope together in the great total conflux." (William James, PLURALISTIC UNIVERSE, Harvard Edition, Page 45, 1977 print).
The above shows what one sees in the West. Even the European monarchies that still remain in the West have tried to be more like Federal Republics, whereas governments of Iran, Syria, Korea, and now Azerbaijan are monarchies with a republican title. VF Khamene'i in Iran is called by the people as a Shah showing Iranian people's dislike of absence of a real republic. The past presidents of Syria and Korea enthroned their sons who are now so-called presidents and if Iraq had not fallen, the same would have been true for Iraq. And now Azerbaijan is heading for the same hereditary path which tells us that for the future Iranian constitution for secular republic, to make sure to have provisions to prevent this kind of monarchy-in-disguise republics.
Finally to end the dreadful reality of Islamism and soldiers of the Islamist God, the secular pluralists are working hard in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. What one expects of the West is that the Western states to stay truthful to their own pluralist traditions, when dealing with the Middle East. Western states should condemn the attitude of Saudi Arabia, which is full of discrimination against women and Jews. Why should a Jew be scared of his/her life to go to Saudi, and still Saudi Arabia be a member of the UN and be considered a friend of the U.S.? Islamism means exclusivity of Islam in the Middle East. Middle Eastern countries are *not* Islamic countries which Islamists like to portray to the world. They are countries on the road of full pluralism and they can use all the support the West can provide to help them in their journey.
The attempts of the likes of IRI and Saudi's to attack the secularists as infidel or Communist or anything else, must be condemned. It is time to show the world that the Cold War is over and that Islamists cannot use the slogans of that era to fool the West to keep them in power. Actually majority of the secularists in all these countries are not Communists but why should anybody care what ideology the people have? Why Islam allows itself to decide what way of thinking is right for people? Islamism is not any better than Communism, so why should the West support one and not the other? As far as I am concerned, Communism and Atheism, are other religions like Islam, and as long as they do not enforce it on the people in a pluralist state, anybody can *think* what they like. Islamists have demonized secularists as Communists, Atheists, or infidels in the Middle East , to justify their suppression of free thought and oppression of free thinkers in that part of the world ,which they consider as their edge to export their creed to dominate the world.
The West would be amazed to know how much latent support for secularism and pluralism exists in countries like Iran, where the Islamists try to use intimidation, inside, and propaganda, outside, to show the people of Iran, as Islamist. Nothing can be further from the truth. Iranian people have been fighting Islamism long before the West saw this menace on Sept 11th. Even at the time of hostage-taking in Iran, there were many journalists inside Iran such as myself, who were attacked by the Islamists because of taking a stand against hostage-taking. The Islamists' Death to America slogan has been to scare the West from supporting real pluralism in the Middle East, when Islam has a hard time to keep dominance in the region. Any US Confusion on IRI in its foreign policies can help the Islamists, at the time when they are being strongly challenged inside Iran. It is time to reject Islamism and support pluralism in the Middle East. WTC massacre proved that even the West cannot be immune, as long as pluralism is suppressed by Islamism, and as long as Islamism dominates the Middle East.
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist
republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
August 7, 2003
Secularism & Pluralism-Essays