Islam and Globalization-Second Edition Dedicated to Shahin Najafi
اسلام و گلوباليسم- ويرايش دوم تقديم به شاهين نجفی
May 2012 Preface
If in the prehistoric times, there were religions that justified human sacrifice, and if in Medieval Times, there were religions that justified burning of the blasphemous live at the stakes, in this 21st Century, there is the *organized* religion of Islamism where its religious leaders such as Safi Golpayegani, Makarem Shirazi and Fazel Lankarani issue *fatwa* calling opponents as heretics, and the Islamist mob commit the heinous crime of carrying out the kill order of their leaders, all for insulting their prophet and other idols.
The world should put an end to viewing the criminal *organized* religious views of Islamism as a private matter, the same way that *organized* political views of Nazism are not considered as private matter. Nobody would have considered the burning in the concentration camps as private matter of a Nazi faithful. The world does not need another WTC, another Salman Rushdie, another Taslimeh Nasrin, and now Shahin Najafi, to see that these organizations are criminal mobs, and being religious or not makes no difference.
If there was an organized religion in today's world which allowed sacrifice of virgins as its sanctioned practice, it would not be viewed as some fantastic private religious belief, and would be viewed as a murderous organization, not much different from mafia, and such an organization would have been dealt with by police authorities as a criminal *organization*, and if they sacrificed a human, such actions would not be considered as religious freedom and the criminals would be punished.
Islam and Globalization
The cartoons of the Danish publication (1) and the Islamic fury over it is not a new thing. From hostage-taking at the U.S. embassy in Tehran to the episode of Salman Rushdie death fatwa (2) and from the assassination of the opponents of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) in Europe to Sept 11th WTC atrocity and the hostage-takings and beheadings of innocent people in Iraq, the people of Iran and the rest of the world from the time of Iran's 1979 Revolution (3) to the present, every so often, have witnessed the flares of Islamic fury to rise, and always the claim of Islamist leaders is that all these are reactions to the injustice towards Islam or in simpler terms are the resistance to the discriminations and torments that Muslims have suffered and still suffer.
Previously I wrote that in my opinion the issue is not just Islamic extremism and no need to repeat here. Is the real reason of all this havoc the discriminations against Muslims? I do not think so. In my opinion the reason for all these actions was repeatedly pronounced by none other than Ayatollah Khomeini himself, and it is that in view of the Islamist leaders "Islam is in danger" and they are fearful of this situation and see it necessary to repeatedly prove the power of Islam. In the past, I had explained (4) that the goal of all the above actions of the Islamists reminds me of the human sacrifices of the innocent people by the holy men of Aztec at the end of that civilization in the American continent, with the goal of showing the longevity of the *power* of their faith and to create fear and horror among those who might have allowed themselves the thought of the end of that civilization.
Is Islam in danger? The answer is both "yes" and "no". Is Islam facing a situation similar to the times when many of the world intellectuals had turned their back to any religion and had become communist and atheist, or in the words of the Islamic leaders, they had become God-less? In my opinion the answer is "no". In fact, today the issue of intellectuals leaving religion in general and Islam in particular is essentially not an important subject in the world. But at the same time the answer is "yes," meaning that a danger is threatening Islam, although it is not basically from the intellectuals, while making the caveat that it is not just a danger for Islam, and it is at the same time an opportunity for Islam which oftentimes goes unnoticed by the Islamist leaders, as I will explain later.
In other words, if Islamists feared a danger from the intellectuals like Ahmad Kasravi (5) in Iran and issued their death fatwa, what one can consider as danger for Islam today, is the ordinary people leaving one religion and accepting another spiritual direction and not necessarily abandoning religion, and do not become God-less either, for example a Muslim becoming a Christian, or another becoming a deist like Thomas Jefferson meaning that they believe in God but do not follow any specific religion, or becoming a Zoroastrian and a Christian accepting Hinduism or Buddhism, a Jew joining Christianity, a Muslim entering the Baha'i Faith, and a Christian becoming a Muslim.
In other words, the religious and ideological fluidity among the people today is not particular to Muslims, although Islam is more sensitive about it, and its reason has been explained by researchers to be due to Islam not having had the reformation that had occurred in Christianity for a few centuries!
In my opinion, the geography of the world's religions is going through a glacial change, and this fundamental upheaval is changing the spiritual face of the Earth and its inhabitants. And the basic reason for this change is the growth of globalization in the world. If we look closely at the major religions of the world, they are separated geographically from each other on the planet and the reason for this geographic division among them is that the main religions of the world were developed during the agricultural society and with the end of agricultural society meaning the end of Middle Ages, they had finished the division of the world among themselves. Even small religious and ethnic groups such as the Armenians of the Jolfa of Isfahan of Iran who were moved there from Armenia by Shah Abbas of Safavids still occupied a specific area in the city of Isfahan.
But the movements of the people belonging to various religions in the post-industrial society has a different form and today an Iranian Muslim or a Japanese Buddhist in an area in the United States may live among hundreds of Christian families and except for some ethnic groups such as the Chinese, most ethnic groups do not try to form a geographical neighborhood when migrating to other parts of the world, and again we are witnessing the fluidity of religion and spiritual tendencies and although these religions start finding new followers in the new lands, but still the other side of the coin which means the exit of their children or other companions to other religions and schools of thought in this pluralistic environment is not easily acceptable by them.
In fact, during the industrial society, the nation states, were formed centered around the main ethnic groups residing in specific geographical areas and thus the religious makeup of various regions did not change much, although the followers of one religion during the modern times might have been divided among multiple states.
This way in the society of Modern Times the geographical religious homogeneity of societies was even strengthened and in some parts of the world such as the U.S., the formation of the modern nation state was simultaneous with the ascendance of the Protestant version of Christianity to its zenith in this part of the world, a region which did not have any pre-industrial history of Christianity. But the situation is different during the post-industrial age, and with the growth of globalization, the ethnic makeup of various regions of the world is increasingly becoming an amalgamation of various ethnicities and religious leanings that have previously been residing in different geographical areas.
If in the past, exceptions such as the transport of slaves from Africa to the Americas was the reason for the ethnic mix of the Southern States of the U.S., and even those were still residing in certain neighborhoods within the cities or the plantations, today the movement of people belonging to various ethnic groups and religions to different parts of the world is mostly done on individual basis and the forms of group movement of migration to a new location, like it was true in the early history of the United States, is not true anymore, when for example a large group of German Protestants would board on a ship and move to a specific new geographical location like Texas in the U.S.
Therefore globalization has ushered in the religious and ethnic fluidity and the mixing of the various ethnic groups and followers of different religions within the national borders has increased as well.
In my opinion, more than the problems of religious and ethnic discrimination among the new dwellers, becoming an issue, the worries of the religious and ethnic leaders of seeing the endangerment of their religion and ethnic group, is the main reason of the current clashes we are witnessing, and therefore the solution is not just in removing the discrimination towards the Muslims, and one should emphasize the acceptance of a principle by the religious leaders that in the future many of those who are born from the Muslim families, will change their religion, and not necessarily because of their animosity towards Islam, the same way that many others will abandon other religions and will join Islam. This is just in the nature of a global mixing of different people with different religious backgrounds.
Those who think that the reason of Muslims abandoning Islam is secularism and thus are hostile towards secularism are making a big mistake. Incidentally in the Islamist Iran of the last two decades more people have left Islam than in the secular Turkey. The problem as noted is related to the total structural change of the world and that we are living in a world that the mass communications have made it possible for anyone living anywhere in the world to connect with people following other religions, and with various thoughts in the information space whether by radio, TV, or computer.
This is the reality of the future world of tomorrow and the apostasy laws that many Islamists reinforce to create fear of the changes of the post-industrial world and to reject the spiritual fluidity, must be nulled by the Islamic leaders, or else the reality of this global spiritual fluidity, will on one hand move the changes of the Muslim born kids underground, hiding their real religious feelings, and on the other hand will increase the hatred between Muslims and the followers of other religions.
What I would like to note at the end is to emphasize that the global change I am noting here will not take a few centuries. According to the analysis of the famous futurist Ray Kurzweil in his famous book Singularity which I previously wrote about (6), the evolution of humanity in the 21st Century will be equivalent to 20,000 years. Meaning that the 100 years of this century, that we are now living in, is equal to moving forward 10 times all the 2000 years of the history of the past major religions. This is also true about all thoughts and ideas, whether spiritual or encompassing other realms of life.
For example, in politics, the distance between us and Mossadegh's era is equal to the distance from Mossadegh to Cyrus the Great. This means an exponential movement of human society, and this is how the new global world should be understood, where the meaning of *past* has essentially changed. If at the time of horse carriages, making roads for horses took centuries to be widespread all over the world, for automobiles and making roads for them 100 years was more than enough, and for computers and widespread use of the Internet just a decade has been enough to happen. This is an issue that the religious and political leaders of our times should understand or else with the level of understanding of the agricultural or industrial society, either they will destroy the global post-industrial society or will destroy themselves, and both those options would be a catastrophic outcome.
Hoping for the acceptance of the spiritual fluidity among the followers of all religions in the world of globalization,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
May 18, 2012
Secularism & Pluralism-Essays