Essays

How Islam Can Adapt to the Modern World: The Persian versus the Arabian Approach to Handling Complexity

Review of Western Muslims and the Future of Islam by Tariq Ramadan

Tariq Ramadan’s Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, written in 2003, is a visionary book on reconciling Islam with the West, advocating for a truly Western Islam that does not consider itself a stranger in the West, and that does not have an inferiority complex with regards to the Middle East’s Islam.

An important part of my review focuses on the way IQ affects the way Islam is interpreted, and how this goes on to lead to very different approaches to reform; a “Persian” approach the uses the intellect and conscience to renew Islam, and an “Arabian” (Salafi) approach that rejects the intellect and conscience because of its inability to handle complexity.

An adaptable Islam: The Persian versus the Arabian approach

A key effort within this book is to show that Islam must be a constantly updated derivation of the ancient texts and the modern context. Instead of trying to emulate the Prophet’s dress, we must emulate the choices that lead to him to dress that way (respecting decency, cleanliness, aesthetics and modesty).

The Shariah rests on three sources: The Quran, the Sunnah and the state of the world (the environmental context), and all three must be used as inputs to determine our practice of Islam.

Ramadan mentions that the Hanafi school acknowledges that a new consensus can be reached by jurists that cancels out an older consensus. This is something of a radical view, since it admits that our understanding and practice of Islam can improve with time. This was the view of the Hanafi jurist Abu al-Yusr al-Bazdawi in his book Usul al-Fiqh.

I have noticed that Abu Hanifah and al-Ghazali, being Persians, had a top-down approach to religion, deriving principles, then using them to reinterpret Islam. The approach of the Arabian scholars, however, has usually been to have a bottom-up approach (Salafism taking it to its logical extreme), where you gather a million individual facts about early Islam and try to follow them accurately all at the same time, even if this leads to clear philosophical contradictions.

These are different approaches to handling complexity, and I think it has a great deal to do with IQ. Persians, with their higher IQs, were comfortable with complexity and embraced it within their thinking, believing that following Islam in each age was about reviving the Islamic spirit through applying Islamic principles to new eras. The Persian approach is therefore:

The Islamic texts -> Principles derived from them -> The modern context, intellect and conscience -> Islam

The Arabian approach, however, is to avoid complexity by strictly sticking to the texts, thus their approach is (to simplify):

The Islamic texts -> Islam

Instead of dealing with complexity, it gathers individual facts from the texts and tries to apply them all, and that is Islam. If you think about, to someone who is desperate to stay true to God’s way, while being challenged from all sides by a harsh and unforgiving world, this approach makes complete sense, if you are unable to do anything more.

The Persian, multi-step approach to Islam (later adopted by Egyptians after Western colonization) requires a massive amount of intellectual work; one must first understand the literal meaning of the texts, then do pattern analysis on them to derive overarching principles, a “philosophy of Islam” that tries to find out what Islam’s mission and priorities are, and when this is achieved, this philosophy of Islam feeds back into the texts, qualifying one’s understanding of them and sometimes leading to completely new interpretations. This work is not for the faint of heart, and a lower IQ person is likely to reject it all and call it misguided, being unable to appreciate the rationale behind it.

Enabling the human intellect and conscience to have an active role in our understanding and application of Islam causes an explosion in complexity that the Arabian approach does not like and is incapable of handling. Salafism avoids this complexity by denying the intellect and conscience any role whatsoever. If Salafi Islam leads to an Islam that conflicts with one’s intellect or conscience, it is one’s intellect, or one’s conscience, that are at fault. For someone struggling to handle complexity, this allows them to live in a peaceful comfort zone; follow the texts no matter where they lead you, even if your intellect and conscience occasionally object, even if you notice glaring contradictions, it is all for the greater good, and you will be safe no matter what happens, since who can blame you for trying to strictly follow the Quran and the Prophetic traditions?

The Persian approach revolts at this way of thinking, because Persians are not desperate for a comfort zone, and they have a deep, Western-style (Indo-European?) appreciation for the human intellect and conscience. If Islam recommends something that seriously goes against one’s intellect and conscience, the Persian approach sees this as a sign for the existence of a problem within Islam; there has been a misinterpretation or a mistake made somewhere, and it must be corrected by building a better model.

The Persian approach comes from a genetic propensity (I believe) to have extremely high respect for the human intellect and conscience, and a very good ability among the elite to appreciate and handle complexity. Islam must fit the intellect and conscience, if it doesn’t, either it is a false religion that is not worth following, or there has been a mistake in our understanding (this latter conclusion being the choice of the scholars who follow the Persian approach).

The Arabian approach, in similar circumstances that challenge one’s intellect or conscience, is to retreat back to the texts and say that humans are fallible. If humans find something unacceptable, it is because they themselves are corrupt or misguided. The Arabian approach comes from a genetic propensity to try to manage complexity by cutting it into manageable parts. Each verse of the Quran and each hadith is its own little unit of Islam and the sum total of them make Islam. If your intellect and conscience revolt at something mentioned in a particular hadith narration, you are the problem, not the hadith narration. This approach must not be laughed at or belittled; it must be respected for what it is. It tries to solve a very difficult problem and comes up with a low-resolution solution that works well enough among many of those who practice it.

It is no surprise that the greatest advocates for orthodoxy have all been Arabs; Imam al-Shafi`i, Ibn al-Jawzi (he recommended that people not read books of Quranic exegesis written by the `ajam, i.e. Persians, probably considering their interpretations too unorthodox), Ibn Tamiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, Muhammad ibn Abdulwahhab (founder of “Wahhabism”), Ibn Uthaymeen, Ibn Baaz. To them relying on the texts and discarding the intellect and conscience makes complete sense, since this is necessary for keeping complexity manageable. By sticking to the texts as closely as possible, you ensure you are on the right path. If you do not stick to the texts, if you allow the intellect and conscience to take part in your interpretation of Islam, this immediately leads to an explosion in complexity that would quickly put you out of your depth (if you do not have the intellect to deal with it).

Deriving overarching principles from the Quran automatically leads to some supposedly “authentic” narrations being considered false or inapplicable. This cannot be handled by Salafism, since the entire corpus of “authentic” narrations are taken literally, since not doing so requires too much intellectual work, it gives the intellect and conscience some role, which is unacceptable. The Salafi solution is abrogation. If there is an “authentic” narration that contradicts the Quran (such as a narration recommending that atheists be killed, even though the Quran guarantees religious freedom), the hadith is given preference. The Salafi approach often has infinite scorn for the intellect and conscience and entirely relies on the texts as its only safe haven.

The hadith corpus is massive and highly specific, greatly limiting the role of the intellect and conscience, and in this way greatly reducing complexity, and therefore it is given preference by Salafis over the Quran.

The Quran, on the other hand, is often vague, makes very few rulings, and is far more concerned with moral philosophy than specific actions, therefore Salafism often ignores it, since following the Quran by itself requires much participation of the intellect and conscience, and to a Salafi this is always a hopelessly wishy-washy process that is bound to lead to dangerous corruptions. If Salafism is the Arabian approach taken to its logical conclusion, the Quran-focused school is the Persian approach taken to its logical conclusion. The Quran-focused school takes the Quran literally and uses all available tools to derive an accurate interpretation of it, then feeds back this understanding of the Quran into all of Islam. The Quran is the program, the intellect, conscience and hadith are helpers toward following the program.

The Salafi approach forces 10,000 pages of text on you, greatly limiting your ability to think and act for yourself, for your own good. The Quran-focused school asks you to follow the Quran’s 600 pages, much of which is made up of vague philosophical lessons, giving you vast freedom to think and act for yourself, and asks you to use hadith as a resource in helping you find the best thing to do in specific circumstances. These approaches are polar opposites. The Salafi approach is to use a massive text to remove your freedoms, enabling you to take the safe route instead of thinking and acting for yourself. The Quran-focused approach is to teach you a moral philosophy and respect your intellect and conscience as you try to follow it.

I doubt Salafism can ever become the majority religion in any country with an average IQ higher than a certain point (perhaps 90). It can take charge in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, since it offers great utility for managing complexity. But once a certain percentage of the population has an IQ above 120-130 (perhaps 1-2%), these intellectual elite will revolt at Salafism and discredit it, so that it becomes impossible for it to spread. Even if higher IQ Muslim cannot point out exactly why Salafism is wrong, they will consider it unrespectable. This is the attitude of most high IQ Muslims I have met.

Salafism is totalitarian, it wants to give the religious establishment great powers to manage one’s life. I doubt there is a single Salafi in the world with an IQ of 135 or higher. High IQ people like Yasir Qadhi who are taught in the Salafi school eventually grow out of it. Yasir Qadhi abandoned Salafism saying it was not “intellectually stimulating”, if I remember correctly, and this is a very apt description. Salafism is designed to be the opposite of intellectually stimulating. It is there to make the world manageable for lower IQ Muslims struggling to live in the modern world.

We must be thankful for the existence of Salafism. “Why is Salafism not the answer?” is one of the most challenging questions of our time, forcing us to rebuild the complexity-embracing version of Islam from scratch.

Tariq Ramadan tries to make mainstream Islam even more complexity-embracing than it is now by further decreasing its reliance on texts (since this is at the expense of the intellect and conscience), in this way pushing Islam further in the Persian direction, having a top-down approach to Islam that starts with intelligently driven principles and priorities.

He does not, however, clarify what is exactly wrong with the old structure of Islam; he tries to cure various ills, carving out paths of progress here and there without overhauling the structure. His newer book Radical Reform is meant to be something of an overhaul, so I will have to read that to understand his latest thinking on reform.

Zionist detractors of Islam like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes all focus on the non-mainstream Arabian approach (practiced by the Salafi minority), ignoring the mainstream Persian approach and saying that the Arabian approach is the one true version of Islam. The fact that the majority of Muslims disagree doesn’t matter to them. Somehow they think they are better fitted to tell us which version of Islam is better (the version the lowest IQ Muslims prefer).

What they do is start with a conclusion: Islam is non-adaptable to the modern world, then they go on to find a non-adaptable form of Islam practiced by a low-IQ minority (Salafism) that justifies their preconceived biases, then they say this is the one true version of Islam, and that all Muslims will one day want to follow this. The fact that the vast majority of Muslims are repulsed by Salafism, the fact that the Sunni world’s most prestigious authority (Al-Azhar University) has rejected it, and that Muslim intellectuals East and West reject it, means nothing to them, since these are inconvenient facts getting in the way of putting on a good show.

To them, any Muslim who does not accept Salafism has not truly understood Islam, even if they have followed Islam all of their lives and come from a tradition that started with some of Islam’s earliest authorities (Abu Hanifa). The minority version of Islam that helps the Zionist Jewish propaganda effort against Muslims is the only true version of Islam, and Westerners must be told this again and again until the lie is accepted as truth (dehumanizing Palestinian Muslims as brainless barbarians helps make the Israeli occupation and expansion more palatable to the Western mind).

This is very much like paying a few Muslim hacks in China to put all of their focus on fundamentalist Christians from West Virginia so that they can convince the Chinese public that Christianity is a horrible and intolerant religion. And when a few Christians complain that this is inaccurate and biased, these hacks have the audacity to say it is these Christian complainers who are wrong, that they have not truly understood their religion, and that the hacks themselves are the true authorities on Christianity who are there to enlighten the Chinese public on the great dangers of allowing Christianity into their country.

Against nihilism

He mentions that Islam rejects the nihilistic view, occasionally expressed in Western literature and media, that humans are lost and abandoned within a “tragedy of life”, that it is possible for someone to just suffer and suffer endlessly and meaninglessly for years until the day they die. Instead,

God always makes available to humankind tools and signs on the road that leads to recognizing Him.

God is present. He interacts with us. Those who seek guidance in sincerity will be guided by Him. He will not leave us alone and uncared for, controlled and thrown here and there by nature. This is not a naive optimism, it comes from accepting the Quran’s truth on its own virtues, then adopting its philosophy.

The Quran teaches that God will not abandon a person who calls out to Him. This is a very much anti-nihilistic, anti-post-modern worldview that can have world-moving consequences.

The Abodes of Islam and war

Ramadan argues that that the old juristic practice of separating the world into dar al-Islam (“Abode of Islam”) and dar al-harb (“Abode of War”) is no longer valid:

This reality has completely changed: it is becoming necessary today to go back to the Qur’an and the Sunna and, in the light of our environment, to deepen our analysis in order to develop a new vision appropriate to our new context in order to formulate suitable legal opinions. To reread, reconsider, and “revisit” our understanding of the teachings of Islam therefore appears to be a necessity.

For me, the necessity of going back to the Qur’an and the Sunnah in the light of a new environment is not something to do in exceptional circumstances, when we discover that part of our thinking is outmoded. It is something we must do as a matter of course on a daily basis. The fact that most scholars up to date have considered these concepts valid and binding is just another manifestation of the fossilization of thought that occurs as a result of the deep human desire for reducing complexity and defeating the chaos lurking everywhere.

Ramadan prefers dar al-dawa (“Abode of Calling People to God”) as a new designation to be used in Muslim-minority countries, suggested by Faysal al-Mawlawi. In my opinion even this appellation is too limiting and reactionary, because dawa suggests the calling of an “other” to Islam. I prefer the choice of certain Hanafi scholars, as mentioned by Ramadan himself, in using dar al-Islam to refer to every place where Muslims can live in safety. Muslims are not meant to be outsiders; they are meant to be full members of their societies.

Focusing on dawa turns me into a salesman that thinks of everyone as potential customers. Focusing on stewardship (embodying the Quran) turns me into a full citizen wherever I live, everyone I meet is a human, not a project to be worked on. If I carry out my stewardship properly, dawa will automatically take place. Ramadan says most of the same:

Once legitimately oversensitive and even hidden in the realms of the “abode of war” and the “abode of unbelief,” Muslims can now enter into the world of testimony, in the sense of undertaking an essential duty and a demanding responsibility—to contribute wherever they can to promoting goodness and justice in and through the human fraternity.

Ending the East-West divide

In answer to certain extremist groups that say that we Muslims cannot pay allegiance to a constitution that allows unlawful things like usury, Ramadan says that while these countries allow these things, they do not compel us to use them, therefore we can be part of such societies, respect their laws, while also following Islam.

While this is largely true, the reality is that these countries, and perhaps all countries on Earth, force Muslims to engage in certain unlawful things, therefore it is a matter of degrees, not absolutes. The taxes a Muslim pays in a country like the United States goes toward the government paying off the interest on its debt (over $200 billion USD per year in interest payments alone at the moment), therefore paying taxes does compel us to do something that goes against our conscience (paying interest).

The Salafi-style Muslim thinking deals with this matter like so many others by glossing over the complexity in order to reach a simplistic black-and-white decision. Either a Western government does not ask us to do something that is against our conscience, in which case allegiance to it is justified, or it asks us to do things that are against our conscience, and therefore allegiance to it is unjustified.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s biggest usurers, as it invests much of its oil revenue in interest-bearing US bonds. This means that the millions of Saudi citizens who benefit from Saudi’s welfare state are to some degree eating the fruits of usury. Therefore the behavior of a Saudi cleric acting as if there is something special and un-Islamic about the Western context is one of the most naive things imaginable. Eastern, Muslim-majority countries are in many ways just as “evil” as their Western counterparts in similar and different ways, and the Western focus on common law (a commonly accepted ideal of justice) is far more Islamic than the governance systems of perhaps every Middle Eastern country in existence.

I would much rather be ruled by a humanist Christian than an autocratic Saudi prince who has the support of a hundred scholars but who does not understand, is incapable of understanding or appreciating, the right of an individual to express his or her mind freely.

As Muslims, every country on Earth will ask us to do certain things that go against our conscience, the most common (and least appreciated) of which is the worldwide practice of usury by governments in the East and West, North and South. Therefore instead of deluding ourselves into thinking that some utopian Islamic government is the only government that deserves allegiance, we instead give our allegiance to the social contract of every country we exist in, the country respects our right to live in safety and to practice our religion, and the good of this far outweighs the evils the government forces us to engage in.

We must respect contracts. Those who allow us into their countries do it because they think we are entering their societies in good faith, they think that by the act of entering their societies, we have made a binding promise to act toward them with kindness and a lack of malice. Therefore it is obligatory upon us to act according to these implied or explicit promises and contracts, and a Muslim who does not acknowledge is, is incapable of acknowledging it, has no right to be in the West.

The United States is no less “Islamic” than Saudi Arabia. The United States respects my right to practice my religion and express it freely, it respects my human dignity. Saudi Arabia, with all of its capital-of-Islam hankerings has close to zero respect for a human’s dignity when the interests of its ruling class are involved. I much prefer the Anglo-Saxon love and appreciation for common law to the lip service that Saudi Arabia gives to Islamic principles.

In general, any government that to some degree believes in rule by consent, allowing its citizens to partake in governance to some degree, is going to be more Islamic than an autocratic Muslim-majority government that dehumanizes its citizens, because this democratic government is similar to the form of governance of our Prophet ﷺ, while autocratic governments are not.

We Muslims must grow up. Instead of becoming the tools of everyone who pretends to serve Islam, we must judge every nation by its adherence to the Quranic principles; justice, truth, respect for human lives and dignity. The nation whose laws and practices fit these principles the most is the most Islamic. If a Muslim feels more at home, more respected and dignified, in Iceland than in Pakistan, then Iceland is a better home for Muslims than Pakistan, and their government deserves more love and allegiance than the Pakistani government.

My allegiance is not to people who call themselves “Muslim” but betray the principles of Islam. My allegiance is to truth and justice, and if a Christian or atheist represents these ideals better, then my allegiance is to them rather than the so-called Muslim.

The minority mindset

Ramadan speaks against the “minority mindset” that afflicts many Muslims, and I fully agree with his assessment. This was in 2003 and things have gotten somewhat better, except that the influence of radical leftist ideologies are now undoing the progress among some Muslims, making them think of themselves as a political interest group rather than as citizens morally bound to contribute to their societies.

Too few Western Muslims are able unself-consciously to take an intellectual position that, in the end, acknowledges that one is speaking from home, as it were, as an accepted member of a free society, and in full awareness of that—with causes and fundamental values that must be respected.

He describes the minority mindset as belonging to an intellectual ghetto, a beautiful way of describing it.

Islamic education

Ramadan criticizes the way Islamic education is conducted, saying:

The school puts forward a  way of life, a space, and a parallel reality that has practically no link with the society around it.

Modern education is hopelessly dysfunctional because shoving 7 or 8 topics down the throats of unwilling students, as if they are robots being programmed in an education factory, is never going to be effective.

Instead, students should be taught the basics of reading, writing and perhaps math at elementary schools for a few years, perhaps until the age of 9. After that, they should be allowed to choose what to study next. A child who wants to be a computer programmer can then go on to learn programming and everything that goes toward helping them be a better programmer (such as certain fields of mathematics). If at the age of 13 or 14 they decide to switch fields, they can do it, studying economics, or medicine, for example, or continuing toward advanced degrees in computer-related fields if they still like their field. By the age of 20, able students could easily put today’s computer science PhD’s to shame.

A benefit of this system is that it encourages advanced interdisciplinary studies. A child can be taught to be a really good computer programmer by the age of 14, only to go on to study biology, and bring his or her knowledge of programming into this new field. At the age of 20, they can then go on to study economics, and bring their advanced knowledge of these two fields into their new area of study.

Ideas about education have barely advanced beyond 300 BC in most of the world. Most educators foolishly think that force-feeding children 7 or 8 areas of study for 10 or 12 years is going to produce children who will have a very good selection of “general knowledge” embedded in their heads. In reality, the majority of students will hate everything to do with this education system and will relish the chance to forget everything they have learned once they pass the end of year exams.

Forcing children to go through this system is little short of child abuse. It has zero respect for the dignity and individuality of these children. Instead of letting a budding scientist who really loves physics actually dedicate himself or herself to physics starting from the age of 9 or 10, they are made to waste their most energetic years studying topics they have little interest in, until they can finally go to college, only to discover that they have to take yet more irrelevant nonsense designed by a bunch of short-sighted and pompous middle aged men and women.

The factory model of education is an utter failure. What is needed instead is a system of independent academies, each focusing on a specific area of study, with children going to the ones that are relevant to their areas of interest. A child who wants to major in psychology will go to their city’s Academy of Psychology at the age of 9, let’s say. The child can also go to a different academy at the same time, if they want to study another area (so that they major in two fields), or if their study of psychology requires knowledge of other fields.

Islamic education can follow the same pattern. Instead of teaching students a hodge-podge of Islamic history, hadith, the Quran and jurisprudence, students should first be given an advanced education in Arabic, in Islamic rituals, and in the manners of the Prophet (not from a book of history, but a book that focuses on his manners, such as Ramadan’s own In the Footsteps of the Prophet). Once they have learned sufficient Arabic, they can go on to learn the Quran. From then on students should be free what they study next, branching off into the various Islamic areas of study as they see fit.

As for today’s Quran schools, teaching children Quran without teaching them Arabic is little more than foolishness. I met two teenagers who could recite Surat Yaseen (chapter 36 of the Quran) from memory, but who had absolutely no idea what any of it meant. I feel that a teacher who inflicts this on children deserves to be flogged. How many hours did they have to sit and memorize random sounds that had no meaning for them whatsoever?

The system of allowing students to branch out at the age of 9 or so to go on to study at different academies would fix the problem of Islamic schools having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building facilities to teach things like physics, and would also solve the problem of Muslim children being isolated from the non-Muslims around them, a problem that Ramadan speaks of in detail, leading to a form of detachment from one’s wider society. A child who goes on to study Arabic or Islam at 9 will go to an Arabic Academy where non-Muslims study too. And if they want to take physics, they go to the city’s Physics Academy (or Science Academy), where Muslims and non-Muslims study together.

Islamic feminism

Ramadan expresses support for the concept of an Islamic feminism, saying that Muslim women can fight for their rights, follow Islam, and reject everything within Western thinking that is un-Islamic, in this way ensuring women’s rights within an Islamic framework.

 

There are different types of feminism ranging from constructive to genocidal, therefore any support for an Islamic feminism must be highly qualified. See my article Islam versus Feminism for more on this.

Social responsibility

Ramadan criticizes the way some Muslims in the West justify holding themselves to lower standards, saying:

One hears many voices in the United States, Britain, Germany, and France legitimizing this position by insisting on the fact that Muslims are “a minority,” “in a weak (political and financial) position,” “without great means” of influence on the society at large. The universal message of Islam that should move Muslims’ civic conscience to promote justice, right, and goodness everywhere is reduced to this: “since we are a feeble minority”—a defensive, self-pitying discourse, narrowly concerned with the protection of self and “the community.”

He recommends that citizens be given some form of education so that they become better voters and partakers in the society and civilization around them:

Calls and slogans and singing the praises of “the good fortune of being a citizen” will change nothing: understanding one’s society, its history, and its institutions, developing one’s intelligence, and building an independent spirit—these are the things that will teach us, and everyone should be given the means to undergo this training.

In my opinion, even forcing people to take multiple courses on civic education is going to only make them marginally better citizens. It will give them a false sense of education while they continue to make the exact same mistakes as before. In reality, a minimum IQ is needed to properly appreciate one’s context and partake in it effectively, and judging by the extreme naivete of American college students, that minimum IQ is probably higher than 115, meaning that among Muslims, only the top 10% in intelligence and/or socioeconomic status (which are closely linked, see The Bell Curve) will benefit from such a program. The rest will not, but they will benefit from this 10%’s education, in an intellectual trickle-down process describe by Sayyid Qutb in his idea of a Muslim “vanguard” that takes responsibility for the well-being of their societies (which I extend to include non-Muslims).

Ramadan goes on to make this comment regarding reform:

Perpetual criticism of political authority or of the police is futile and meaningless when, alongside it, we as citizens do nothing to change things. Posing always as victims is a kind of cowardice. To be up in arms at every police blunder when we have become passive observers of the breakdown of the social fabric and watch silently (without showing any inclination toward concrete involvement) when young people display unspeakable violence and steal and assault and insult adults in their communities (particularly the police) does not make much sense and is, above all, unworthy.

In today’s hysterical climate, some people can be very upset by such lucid thought. It is dangerously rationalist and not sufficiently leftist, and quite possibly fatally racist, as I’m sure many would be happy to point out. So it is good to see Ramadan writing something like this, although whether he could write something similar today, I do not know, since this is from 2003.

Appreciating Western Civilization

Ramadan writes:

It is said that it is necessary to develop a critical mind capable of taking account of things. The West is neither monolithic nor demonic, and its phenomenal achievements in terms of rights, knowledge, culture, and civilization are realities that it would be unreasonable to minimize or reject.

Again, Ramadan breaks from militant post-modernists to speak some sense.

The failure of the zakat system

Ramadan reiterates the Egyptian reformist idea that the Islamic zakat system is not merely about random acts of charity, it is about a way of life, a basic income system designed to eliminate poverty. The way the zakat system is implemented in the West to this day is quite a pathetic failure, as I explain in Islam, the Good Parts: A Basic Income System that Encourages Employment, Productive Investment and Automation.

He writes:

Moreover, the funds are very often used to finance  building projects (e.g., mosques, centers), rather than to provide direct support to people, who are then helped in a very perfunctory way, with no precise consideration and no purpose beyond alleviating a financial difficulty here and there. Ultimately, it is the social philosophy as a whole that leads to this way of acting and maintaining only the outward form of zakat, which is thus undermined and even betrayed.

I am far more radical in this regard. The “Muslim community” that so many imams talk about is little more than a feel-good myth when barely a single imam can be found who actually seeks out his constituents and talks to them to find out if they can pay rent, if they are in debt, if he can help find them better job opportunities. A community cares about you and takes care of you. Almost no “Muslim community” does that. Islamic centers provide a form of social insurance in allowing people to apply for zakat in exceptional circumstances. That is perhaps about 1% of what they should be doing.

Dialogue with non-Muslims

Ramadan thinks that dialogue with the non-Muslims around us is crucial. I am not convinced of the value of formal interfaith dialog “to get to know one another”. Individuals from the two communities can do this if they are interested. But when it comes to the actual foundations for unity and peace between people of different faiths, a meeting of hearts is far more important than a meeting of minds, and a meeting of hearts does not even require talking about religion, at all.

It is sufficient for one to have a good Muslim coworker to understand that the Islamic texts lead to this type of person, therefore not everything about these texts is necessarily evil. This Muslim’s behavior actually convinces this observer about the possibility of the existence of shared values between them and the Islamic texts, while a formal interfaith dialog will only convince a Christian observer that there are well-spoken Muslims who are good at being polite. This is a meeting of minds and I doubt lasting effects can come from it.

A meeting of hearts is what is needed, and this is done through a Muslim treating people with an open heart, looking for the goodness in other people’s hearts regardless of their religion. A kind-hearted priest and a kind-hearted imam belonging to the same geographical area can promote much goodness toward each other’s communities without ever discussing anything about theology with each other.

Discussions of theology should be done not as a way of beginning interfaith dialog, but as its final stage, when one side is curiously interested in the topic, rather than discussing it because it is on some list of topics to be talked about.

Conclusion

Ramadan writes:

Western Muslims need to free themselves of their double inferiority complex—in relation to the West (and the domination of its rationality and technology) on the one hand and in relation to the Muslim world (which alone seems to produce the great Arabic-speaking spirits of Islam who quote the texts with such ease) on the other. We shall have to liberate ourselves from these faults by developing a rich, positive, and participatory presence in the West that must contribute from within to debates about the universality of values, globalization, ethics, and the meaning of life in modern times.

A skeptical reader may see the above paragraph as feel-good babble not meaning much of anything, but the many concrete suggestions provided by Ramadan show that he is very serious about these things. For him this is not just talk, this is his program.

Western Muslims and the Future of Islam is an important contribution and a necessary stepping-stone to getting us where we need to be in the West. You do not have to agree with everything he says to appreciate the spirit of his message.

The Psychology of Radical Leftists: GamerGate, SJWs and the War on Post-Modernism

Review of SJWs Always Lie by Vox Day

SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) are a radical leftist group or demographic who act as the West’s self-appointed thought police, judges, juries and executioners. The careers of many good people have been ruined because some SJW decided to take offense at something they said or did and organized a witch hunt against them.

Vox Day is an unabashedly outspoken Christian blogger whose blog I have read on and off for 5 years or more, although not recently. He does not have a very friendly attitude toward Muslims, but as a Muslim myself, I understand where he is coming from; his dislike for Muslims is understandable since he has seen so many of them allied with the establishment, and so many others act barbarically in spectacular ways.

A person who, based on lifelong exposure to negative information about Muslims, concludes that Muslims are a negative influence in this world, should not be dehumanized and attacked, since they are not the ones that are at fault. Those who are truly at fault should be held responsible; Muslims who act barbarically and Zionists who constantly push a negative view of Islam to help their war effort against the Arabs and Iranians.

I was curious to see what is in Vox Day’s SJWs Always Lie, so I decided to read it, and it is better than I expected. As an observer of the SJW disease, I had thought of writing a book on it myself (the way I wrote Sex and Purpose to fight the anti-male radical feminist worldview), so it is a pleasant surprise to find out that someone else has done your job for you, and better than you expected.

An Introduction to SJWs

SJWs Always Lie starts off with an examination of the SJW mindset. The key SJW behavior is the use of a pretense of victimhood to gain the moral high ground against a hated human, so that that human can be destroyed, and the process is used as a highly enjoyable hate trip that justifies their existence.

SJWs have one big problem however, which is that there just aren’t enough people to victimize them. If your identity is based on getting off on hating people, it can be highly unsettling to find no one to hate today, therefore you must go looking. Day mentions the creative ways SJWs seek opportunities for enjoying hate trips:

Did you notice someone is black? That’s racist. Did you fail to notice someone is black because “you don’t see color”? That’s racist too. Did you defend yourself against charges of being racist by pointing out that you are married to a black woman? That just shows how racist you truly are because you have objectified a black woman and reduced her to nothing more than a shield to cover your racism. Do you point out that you can’t be a white supremacist because you are not white? That’s just hiding behind your genes, which is, of course, racist.

The Tim Hunt Affair

The Nobel Prize winning scientist Tim Hunt was one of many men whose lives have been destroyed because some nobody of an SJW decided to take offense at something they said that any fair-minded person would recognize as quite benign. The reason why what he said was blown out of proportion is that SJWs have no human empathy. Once they find a good opening for a hate trip, all considerations of another person’s humanity are thrown out of the window.

Tim Hunt quickly apologized for the harmless things he had said, but below is a typical SJW response to his apology:

After intense criticism for undeniably sexist comments he made about female scientists, Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt offered up an apology that really only made him look worse. [Emphasis mine]

Day makes the important observation that SJWs, despite the intense social pressure they put on their target to apologize, do not actually care about the apology. What they are after is for the person to admit they did something wrong, which can then be used to increase the pressure on him, rather than let off the pressure.

Day mentions the general prognosis of an SJW attack:

  1. SJWs attack a statement or action by the target.
  2. The target apologizes in the hope of resolving the situation.
  3. The apology is deemed to be insufficient or irrelevant in some way, and the social pressure actually increases.
  4. The target is destroyed.

Resign now!

Day says that when SJWs are given an opening for a hate trip against someone, they orchestrate a massive attack against them in the hope of intimidating them into resignation. The person is made to feel that the world has ended for them, that there is no coming back from their fall, that everyone hates them, that they are worthless.

Another reason for intimidating people into resigning is to later be able to claim innocence in the whole affair. The SJW Mark Surman (head of Mozilla Foundation), who took part in the intimidation effort to get Brendan Eich to resign, later wrote:

As I look at the world’s reaction to all this, I want to clarify… Brendan Eich was not fired. He struggled to connect and empathize with people who both respect him and felt hurt. He also got beat up. We all tried to protect him and help him get around these challenges until the very last hours. But, ultimately, I think Brendan found it impossible to lead under these circumstances. It was his choice to step down.

According to Surman, Brendan Eich totally “chose” to resign. It wasn’t because ten thousand SJWs were screaming non-stop for him to resign, to be fired, to be crucified.

Connie St. Louis, the poor dame who was so upset by Sir Tim Hunt’s comments and who started the SJW intimidation effort against him, went on to say:

‘I’ve no regrets about breaking a journalistic story. This is about journalism. Secondly it’s about women in science. My intention was not for him to lose anything. But he didn’t lose anything. He resigned.’

“He resigned”. The fact that she and a thousand of her friends put a poor old man through hell had nothing to do with it. I actually feel sorry for her and her SJW friends. How low do you have to be, how much darkness should there be in your heart, to do this to innocent people then feel no guilt?

The psychology of radical leftists

It appears that SJWs only flourish in liberal secularist societies that have recently abandoned their dominant religion and culture (Christianity, in the West). The same applies to radical feminism, Marxism and other post-modernist ideologies. The key factor within all radical leftist (post-modernist) ideologies is that they do not believe in the infinite worth of human life.

This is something that Jordan Peterson refers to often in his lectures, although never in those same words as far as I know. To radical leftists, if you are with them, you are a human, if you are not with them, you are not a human, you can be dehumanized and demonized and zero empathy will be extended to you.

The Western Christian civilization is built on the romantic ideal that all humans are equal, and Western common law is built on the idea that human life is infinitely worthy, that you cannot treat humans like things. Even atheists like Terry Pratchett (whose thinking was far more Christian than he realized) have strongly defended this very-Christian teaching, saying:

Evil begins when people are treated like things.

The defining characteristic of all extreme leftist ideologies is the dehumanization of certain classes of humans, and this makes all of them inherently anti-Christian, and inherently anti-Western civilization. It is for this reason that in the West, those (like Jordan Peterson) who have actually internalized Western values feel extreme revulsion at these dehumanizing ideologies. They all feel scummy because they all have this unifying factor; not all humans are equal in their eyes, and in fact many SJWs would happily watch all straight white males butchered out of existence and may even lend a hand in the process.

In traditional Western morality, everyone is a human and is treated as such. In radical leftist morality, everyone is a non-human, a worthless peasant, unless they prove their humanity by proving to be members of the leftist aristocracy. A radical leftist will treat you like a potential human if they don’t know you very well, but once they discover that you do not accept to be intimidated by their aggressive worldview, they will quickly drop this veneer of civility and treat you like a non-human. To a closet aristocrat, everyone else is either a fellow aristocrat or a sub-human commoner.

James Watson, the Nobel-prize winning scientist whose career was ruined by an SJW witch hunt, says that he had become an ‘unperson’ as a result. He was no longer treated as a human by the SJW-operated media, foundations and corporations, he was no longer afforded human dignity and empathy, he was no longer a human. He was an unperson to be stamped on, to be destroyed and torn apart, because he had dared to sin against the SJW religion.

And the strange thing about all radical leftists is that they pretend to operate out of empathy. The Marxists who murdered 11 million innocent Christian women, children and men did not do it for power and privilege, oh no, they did it because they felt so sorry in their hearts for those poor peasants who were being oppressed by the aristocracy.

The most crushing critique of radical leftists I have read comes from the sci-fi writer Frank Herbert, who said they are all “closet aristocrats” (referring to anti-conservative revolutionaries). Radical feminists, Marxists and SJWs do not operate out of empathy. That is the last thing they care about, and in fact their defining characteristic is a lack of empathy for a certain section of humanity. What drives them is their closet aristocracy; they want to bring down existing power structures in order to create a new one with themselves at the top.

Kill the aristocracy and become the new aristocracy! SJWs want to destroy everyone who does not submit and join their pack, who does not submit to being led by the loudmouths who run the movement, not because they have so much empathy for the people they supposedly want to defend, but because they seek power and everyone who gets in their way is automatically a non-human that must be crushed. An SJW leader does not want to sit back and relax in a world of peace and egalitarianism. She wants to be at the top of a pile of her butchered enemies and reign supreme, unquestioned, with absolute power.

Straight white males are hated not because of any inherent evil contained within them, but because they are still, to this day, the upper class, the de facto aristocracy that a radical leftist so much desires to bring down so that she can sit in their seats herself.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a favorite reality-revising tool for SJWs. Day mentions that:

As of this writing, 55 percent of the Wikipedia page about Sir Tim Hunt, PhD, cancer researcher, Royal Fellow, Knight Bachelor, husband, father, and Nobel Prize-winner, concern “Remarks about women in science”. Of the 517 total edits to that page since it was first created in 2005, 318 were made in the first five weeks after his comments at the Korean luncheon.

GamerGate

Day does a good job of lampooning the the attention-seeking career victims Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu.

When people were disgusted with the incestuous relationship that so many in the gaming journalism had with one another and with game publishers, creating an utterly corrupt and pathetic journalism culture that hated its own audience, GamerGate was created.

What is not generally recognized is that such incestuous cultures exist all over the place, not just in gaming. It is in academia (especially the social sciences), in the broader media, in government, in the finance and banking sector, in the startup and VC scene, everywhere. It’s just that the corrupt gaming journalists were unlucky enough to pick a fight with tens of thousands of young men who had nothing to lose by fighting back (unlike in academia, where your career is always on the line if you dare to challenge corruption and deceit).

Since the start of GamerGate, gaming journalists have been screaming at the top of their voices into their own echo chambers, and using their millions of dollars of funding, continue to control the gaming journalism sector, dishing out favors to those who worship at the SJW altar and continually attacking their often imaginary enemies.

The incestuous journalists continue doubling down, as Day mentions, such as this statement by Amy Wallace for Wired:

GamerGate makes a political movement out of threatening with rape any woman who has the temerity to offer an opinion about a videogame.

They cannot help but repeat the same hysterical mantra “rape harassment homophobia rape harassment homophobia” and delude themselves into thinking they are saying something intelligent.

Science fiction

The SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) is one of your typical corrupt SJW organizations that has a Professor Umbridge-style love for their pure-blood friends (Jews, blacks, homosexuals, other protected minorities and categories) and a genocidal view toward everyone else. Such organizations generally get away with all of their corruption and abuses by pretending to stand for tolerance and other nice things.

SFWA was unlucky enough to run into Vox Day, who ruined their incestuous game of getting their own pure-bloods top the charts of their awards year after year and gain millions of dollars in easy profit through their cushy deals with publishers.

Such organizations are generally totally stuffed with leftists, since their very creation goal is to push leftist-friendly names up the charts and leftist-friendly agendas down people’s throats. Very few conservatives are attracted to them since they see through them, that they do not stand for anything except self-promotion as a primary goal and the promotion of their agendas as a secondary one.

Vox Day’s efforts to get the Hugo awards out of the clutches of the SJWs managed to get the pathologically lying John Scalzi down his pedestal and even got the Game of Thrones writer George R. R. Martin to complain about the unfairness of the fact that for once leftists are not totally in charge.

Through it all, the media almost never approaches Vox Day to get his opinion on the matter, even though he is largely responsible for the massive controversy created around the resetting of the Hugo Awards, because, as Day explains, it is so much easier to lie about someone by quoting other people about them (as the media did) instead of talking to them.

SJWs in the corporate world

Vox Day quotes Eve T. Braun of Barclays (a British financial institution), who shamelessly admits her SJW hiring procedure that is designed to help her company hire more SJWs:

Two other things we implemented which aided the recruitment process:

We followed advice which is quickly becoming the industry norm. Never look at someones Github profile until you have made the decision to hire or not hire them and do not let it influence you. Github profiles tend to favor CIS White men over most minorities in a number of ways. CIS white men often have more spare time or chose to pursue building up an impressive portfolio of code rather than women or minorities who have to deal with things like raising children or instiutionalised racism. Some in the SocJus community have even said that technically companies could possibly even be breaking discriminatory law by allowing peoples github profiles and publicly available code to influence their hiring decisions – watch this space.

We used Randi Harper’s blockbot to assess applicants twitter profiles for problematic or toxic viewpoints. This may sound a bit extreme but some of the staff here suffer from Aspergers & PTSD and our top priority is to ensure that they don’t get put in triggering situations.Making a wrong hire could present a scenario where the employee could be triggered on a daily basis by another employee with an oppressive viewpoint. Other than from a diversity standpoint, from a business standpoint these sorts of negative interactions can cost a company a huge amount of time & money in employees taking off sick days. When all the employees are on the same page the synergy in the office aids productivity.

In short, we treat straight white men as second-class citizens when hiring.

Handling an SJW attack

Day dedicates a large part of the book to teaching what to do in the case of being subjected to an attack by an SJW, such as at your job. He says that it is crucial to never try to reason with your attackers, saying:

The most important thing to accept here is the complete impossibility of compromise or even meaningful communication with your attackers. SJWs do not engage in rational debate because they are not rational and they do not engage in honest discourse because they do not believe in objective truth.

SJWs have no interest in talking to you. They want to destroy you. If you reason with them, instead of their being favorably impressed by your arguments, they will simply seek through everything you say to find more openings for attacking you.

Do not apologize, because this is always used as an admission of guilt, and is used as a basis for over-blowing your guilt.

Be aware that once they have launched an attack on you, they will press you hard for an apology and repeatedly imply that if you will just apologize, all will be forgiven. Do not be fooled! I have seen people fall for it time and time again, and the result is always the same. The SJWs are simply looking for a public confession that will confirm their accusations, give them PR cover, and provide them with the ammunition required to discredit and disemploy you.

Keep your calm, and as non-SJW neutrals see that you are just an ordinary person going about your life, they will see the SJWs for what they are.

In a corporate setting, document everything said and done by your attackers. If your boss says someone has made a complaint against you, ask them for the complaint in writing with the relevant signatures. Get your lawyer involved as soon as possible. Document any breaking of the corporate code of conduct or the relevant laws and use these against them.

And do not resign. They want to intimidate you into resigning so that they can get rid of you without being held publicly responsible for it (although there is the issue of references).

When dealing with neutrals, do not try to win them over, but stay calm and point out any lies made about you without seeking anything from them.

Using SJW tactics against them

Day recommends using the tactics SJWs use to fight them back. While most of what he recommends is morally justifiable, he does go on to mention that it is OK even if one scoops down to their level at times, through sabotage, for example.

In his view, this is war, and the enemy is ruthless and has no morality, therefore anything (legal) goes when fighting them.

Morality, as Jordan Peterson says, is about finding a way of life that can be followed today, tomorrow, next year and generation after generation by everyone in a society without it causing decay and breakdown. The Quran’s view of morality is the same. The two central priorities of Quranic moral philosophy are:

  • The long-term survival of humanity.
  • The short-term moral integrity of humanity.

This is the Straight Path (compare with Frank Herbert’s “Golden Path” in the Dune sci-fi series). The fight against SJWs is to ensure the first part of the above morality; they are anti-civilization, therefore they must be kept in check. But doing anything immoral against them goes against the second part, therefore it is not acceptable according to this view of morality.

The two things go together; you must act morally today, in the smallest and greatest things, and in this way you ensure humanity’s long-term good. If you say you are working for humanity’s good but do something immoral, you are automatically a hypocrite (or a short-sighted person). The foundation of the Quran’s moral philosophy (and Jordan Peterson’s) is to serve humanity, but to never do evil or become evil in the process. The end never justifies the means.

And what this means is that in a fight against SJWs, one must never break any laws of morality even if they themselves have zero concern for morality. I am sure that Day will agree with much of this. For example he will not support making up random statistics to prove some point against SJWs. However, he does not clearly demarcate where the line is drawn.

What he does in supporting slightly laxer morality in the fight against SJWs is the same thing done by Islamist terrorists in defining the world as an “abode of war” and pretending that they are in a war even though they are living in peace in their countries, so that they can do anything done in times of warfare.

It is far better in my opinion to always maintain moral integrity. Nothing you do against SJWs should be shameful if made public. Day’s view is that we are going from point A (SJW-dominated culture) to point B (SJW-free culture), and that slightly laxer morality is acceptable if it helps this cause. My view is that morality is about the journey, not the destination, and doing anything immoral is a way of winning a battle but losing the war. The war is for truth, justice and morality after all.

However, what if some horrible SJW in the Human Resources department is plotting to get you fired, and you work in the IT department and have the power to destroy her computer with a hidden piece of malware and get away with it? Is this a morally justifiable act of self-defense if through sabotaging her career you ensure that she cannot sabotage yours?

Day’s morality probably says yes. Quranic morality says no, one should maintain respect for the social contract and for one’s contract with the company (to not sabotage other employees). Day’s morality is more satisfying for an irreligious person, since it feels fair. Quranic morality is less satisfying, but one’s faith in God mitigates this dissatisfaction. Even if you let the bad guys hurt you and you forbid yourself from responding in kind, God will reward you, so it is actually an opportunity to earn God’s approval and rewards.

So how does one win against the SJWs if they always have access to immoral tactics while we do not? One wins through reaching the hearts and minds of good people. Jordan Peterson has severely crippled the SJW agenda by teaching thousands of young people that there is something better, that morality and truth are better, more beautiful, than the dehumanizing radical leftist ideologies that currently have sway in the West.

Since Day is focused on a small section of the effort to resist post-modernist ideologies, he is more likely to think in terms of tactics and short-term strategies rather than morality. But it is morality that will win in the end; morality is a long-term anti-post-modern strategy, and the proper morality, once adopted by a person, will cause them immunity to SJW ideology on the one hand, and will turn them into something of an anti-SJW activist on the other, enabling far more positive change than merely winning a battle or ten battles against SJWs.

The last part of the book is dedicated to various tactics to be used against SJWs, such as homeschooling, building alternative institutions, and avoiding employing SJWs and trying to get them fired wherever possible. He mentions how the Catholic Church and the US Army Rangers remained remarkably SJW-free until recently while other institutions cowed to to them. He gives a set of guidelines to help organizations stay SJW-free, such as having the leadership follow rules that encourage them to expel members who advocate for significant changes to the organization’s goals and structure.

These tactics all make sense, but in reality they are unlikely to do much good. SJWs (and all other radical leftists) are fungi that grow on the decaying foundations of dying civilizations. Rules and laws have zero power to stop them. Radical leftists took over one after another of the West’s admirable colleges and foundations and corrupted their original purposes not because these colleges and foundations lacked defenses, but because the people changed.

The power of leftists is not a cause, but a symptom, of a civilization’s decay. Any effort to fight them back with tactics is as futile as the efforts of conservatives suing universities to make them stop being so SJW-centered (mentioned by Day himself).

What needs to be done is to revitalize the civilization; it is to change people so that they once again respect truth and justice (like what Jordan Peterson is doing). Tactics are just the tip of the iceberg, and they can be useful. But alone, by themselves, they are quite futile. As the example of the Catholic Church shows, once the people change, the organization changes, no matter how conservative and how many rules and regulations it has.

Therefore the only long-term way to beat radical leftists is to instill in people a morality that rejects leftist ideologies at its foundation. A Christian like Day himself, if put in charge of an organization, will immediately start cleaning up the SJW decay. If an SJW Human Resources person makes a bogus claim of racism against an employee because they made quite a harmless joke, he is not going to take the claim seriously, and in this way the SJW is crippled. It is people, before tactics, before anything else, that are needed for defeating radical leftists.

So Day suffers from the same belief as other conservatives that tactics are central to winning the battle against leftists. They are not. Moral philosophy is.

Teach people a morality that rejects the genocidal leftist view (that some humans are non-humans), and that recognizes that the leftist view is genocidal, and you have totally crippled the leftists regardless of what new grotesque monstrosity they mutate into.

Dialectic, rhetoric and trolling

This is perhaps the book’s greatest contribution to the discussion surrounding SJWs. It encircles the battle within a logically understandable framework, explaining why talking to SJWs is futile, and why his own highly masculine, highly rhetorical approach to fighting them is so effective.

Dialectic is a tool that can be used to convince people of the truth of something through logical argument. Rhetoric is a tool that can be used to convince people by playing on their emotions, by imparting emotions to them.

In case it is not already apparent, this chapter is primarily written for dialectic-speakers. Rhetoric-speakers, especially SJWs who are inclined to think badly of me, will only see “blah blah blah, Aristotle, blah blah blah, I’m so smart, blah blah blah, spaghetti spaghetti” and scan through what looks like total word salad to them trying to find something they can use to minimize or disqualify me.

And that is exactly what an SJW does to you whenever you are trying to communicate with one using logic. Have you ever had an experience where you have clearly laid out a complete train of thought for someone, only to have him stubbornly declare that you are wrong, that you must be wrong, and there is no possibility you could be correct, without pointing to a single flaw anywhere in your argument? You were speaking the wrong language. You were speaking in dialectic to a rhetoric-speaker, and it didn’t work, did it?

Even SJWs who can more or less understand dialectic don’t speak it themselves. That is why they are infamous for never admitting they are wrong even when everyone else can see it, and why they are constantly moving the goalposts and revising the history of what everyone knows actually happened. It is absolutely pointless to speak in dialectic to them; unless you are actually talking to them for the benefit of an audience, there is no reason not to go directly to rhetoric and hammer on their emotions rather than relying on reason to accomplish the impossible.

He goes on to say:

If they launch the usual “sexist, racist, homophobic, Nazi” line, don’t blink, just hit them right back with “racist, child molester, pedophile, monster” and watch them run. If you’re of a more delicate constitution and are not willing to go that far even when attacked unprovoked, try “creepy” and “stalker” on the men and “psycho” or “ugly” on the women and it will usually have much the same effect. You know your rhetoric is effective when they block you online, or in person if their eyes widen with shock and their jaw drops. You will know you have mastered the art of rhetoric if you can make an SJW retreat in tears or cause a room full of people to gasp in disbelief before bursting out laughing at the SJW.

What he is explaining, as he himself says, is to “troll” SJWs:

“Trolling” is what SJWs call it when you reply to them in their own rhetorical language.

That is a good way of describing it. The entire SJW attack sequence is to use lies and falsehood to cause an emotional reaction in people, as Connie St. Louis did in her attack on Tim Hunt. Her Guardian article on him had to be revised 30 or more times as witness after witness called her out for her lies.

Those of us who value truth and justice and are capable of logical thought are at an immense disadvantage in any fight with SJWs, since we try to use calm logic and statistics while they throw non-stop barrages of lies at us. If you mention a statistic that reflects negatively on [SJW pure-blood category], forget the statistic, that is entirely irrelevant. What matters is that you are a racist, homophobic or misogynist person. Or you are white, which automatically makes your thinking invalid.

It is not actually the case that SJWs are incapable of logic. It is that brain blood flow seriously decreases when one is dealing with someone they are hatefully emotional about. An SJW on a hate trip cannot understand logical argument because that requires using parts of their brain that have largely shut down due to the hate trip. Instead of using their higher brain functions, they use their mammalian brains in their fight with you. They cannot write a coherent paragraph to prove you wrong, what they can do is call you names.

The hate trip causes a serious mental imbalance, which makes the SJW incapable of dialectic, and forces them to use rhetoric. Even if you write a 30-page essay that totally and utterly destroys all of their claims, instead of sitting calmly to disprove your assertions, they will know they are beaten and will act like that particular instance never happened and will retreat to calling you a Nazi. If someone brings up your essay to them when they lie about you, they will block that person, perhaps even report them for “harassment”.

Day is right that the correct way to respond to SJW attacks is to troll them wherever possible. What they want is to make you cower and submit, they hate you and want to destroy you. What you must do is to treat them like they are nobodies, jokes, outsiders, outcasts, children, and there is nothing that will make them back down faster than this.

SJWs, however, are champions at using the race, gender and minority cards, so even if you attack them in the same way they attack you, don’t be surprised if they can convince people to see your actions as ten times worse than theirs, and this can easily get you banned from SJW-controlled communities like YouTube and Twitter.

Like I said earlier, fighting SJWs is actually just a small part of the fight against genocidal post-modernist ideologies, so winning arguments against SJWs by trolling them will often be a waste of time unless you have nothing better to do. They are nobodies that will go back into the woodwork once the culture changes and pretend that they were never SJW to begin with. They are cowards who only get away with what they do because there is no one to stand up against them.

Islam and SJWs

An interesting wrench thrown into the radical leftist machine in the West is Islam. Devout Muslims who actually read the Quran often and try to follow it cannot be radical leftists, because radical leftism always, always requires the dehumanization of certain sections of society, and Islam does not allow that. My name and religion may make me appear like a useful tool for radical leftists (yet another minority to put in their pockets), but my Quranic moral philosophy makes me find the attacks on “old white men” and cracks about “rednecks” utterly revolting and a sure sign that someone is a lying hypocrite when they do this then go on to tell me how sorry they feel about [protected minority/category].

Either you respect truth, justice and the infinite value of all human life, or you do not. If you are worried about blacks living in ghettos, you must be worried about whites living in trailer parks, otherwise you are a lying closet aristocrat. There is no middle ground.

In this way, Muslims, even if they never give a thought to fighting SJWs, will fight them nonetheless as long as they follow the Quran. The Quran’s moral philosophy is antithetical to radical leftism, therefore the only friends radical leftists can find among Muslims are those who know little about Islam, who join some bandwagon or another out of a desire for power and prestige, or out of a naive desire to support some cause they do not fully understand. As soon as the SJWs show their true colors (the fact that they would happily carry out genocide against the classes of humans they dislike), devout Muslims in their camps will be revolted and would sooner or later leave.

Salafis

An interesting observation I have made is that many Salafi groups act very much like SJWs. They attack those who get in their way mercilessly, dehumanizing their enemies, even if their enemies are greatly respected leaders like Yasir Qadhi, Tariq Ramadan and Muhammad al-Ghazali. To them, either you are for them or against them. Being part of the group requires constant virtue-signalling and attacking of outsiders, and their identity is often defined in terms of who they hate, rather than who they love.

While I am against Salafism, I should clarify that there are many good, kind and pious people among them.

Conclusion

SJWs Always Lie is a necessary documentation of the SJW mindset and mode of operation that should convince many moderates that these people are not what they pretend to be, everything they support is supposedly about empathy, yet their defining quality is their dehumanization of others, their utter lack of empathy for those they hate. Vox Day’s successes against SJWs should motivate more men and women to stand up against them.

Despite his focus on a narrow expression of radical leftism, readers convinced of the truth of his message should automatically acquire some immunity toward all forms of radical leftism, and this is a great achievement in the fight against these ideologies that have no respect for truth, justice and the humanity of others.

A Biography of Ahmad Moftizadeh

Kak Ahmadi Muftizada: Darwazayak bo Xabateki Nanasraw (کاک ئەحمەدی موفتیزادە: دەروازەیەک بۆ خەباتێکی نەناسراو, Ahmad Moftizadeh: A Gateway to an Unknown Struggle) is a 394-page Kurdish biography of the great Iranian Kurdish leader Ahmad Moftizadeh written by Sarwat Abdullah, apparently published in 2010.

I have been reading all available materials on Ahmad Moftizadeh, since he is one of the few modern leaders who have truly embodied the type of activist, Quran-centered and heart-centered Islam I believe in, and it would be a shame to not learn everything significant that his life can teach. In my view studying the lives (and mistakes) of the previous few generations coming right before us is crucial to making progress.

Origin

It is mentioned that his grandfather, Abdullah Dishi, “came from” the village of Disha (a Hawrami village), which would suggest that Moftizadeh’s family are Hawrami. According to The Last Mufti, Abdullah Dishi’s family were originally from the Kurdish areas and had settled in Disha, meaning that they weren’t originally from this village, and meaning that Moftizadeh’s family are not necessarily Hawrami.

Ahmad Moftizadeh came from Iranian Kurdistan’s religious elite. His grandfather had been given the status of mufti (chief religious law-maker) of all of Iranian Kurdistan, and this title had been passed down to his son (Moftizadeh’s father), and Ahmad Moftizadeh was in line to receive the title himself. Moftizadeh’s father lectured at Tehran University on Shafii jurisprudence, and Ahmad Moftizadeh would go on to lecture there himself later on.

Dreams and childhood

It is mentioned that multiple people around him had dreams about him in his childhood in which they saw him as having a high status. This includes a very old and pious aunt of his when he was 4-5 years old. When he is 8 or 9 a friend of his mother has a dream in which she sees a great army in the city of Sanandaj and she is told that that is Ahmad’s army. She asks if they mean the little boy Aha Rash (a nickname for Ahmad Moftizadeh), and she is answered yes.

Moftizadeh had many dreams of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, in which the Prophet taught him things. Seeing the Prophet ﷺ in dreams is something highly prized by Sufis, whose influence on the area made the population look out for such dreams as well.

At the age of 13 a great officer in the army is invited to his home, so that his family cooks five types of rise and five types of meat. He is disgusted by this, considering it wasteful and thinking of all the poor people who have little to eat, and he decides not to eat anything of it. The aristocratic atmosphere of his home apparently makes him eager to leave it, so that he goes to Iraq to study.

Prison and guilt

After coming back from his studies, he goes to Tehran and is involved in some Kurdish nationalist activity, attracting the attention of the Shah’s secret police (SAVAK).

When Moftizadeh is imprisoned by the SAVAK 1964 for his Kurdish political activism, it is mentioned that he is taken to Evin prison, when in reality he was taken to Qezelqaleh prison as mentioned The Last Mufti. Evin prison comes at a later stage in his life, after the revolution. Later on, on page 53, the book contradicts itself, correctly saying that Moftizadeh was actually at Qezelqaleh.

In prison, in solitary confinement, with death feeling close at hand, he starts to feel guilty about his government job. He worked at a government office where part of his job was to assess and receive taxes from people. While he did his job with conscientiousness, not taking bribes and not cheating people (like other government employees would do), he has the realization that his salary from that job was partially impure, since it was from a government’s unjust taxes on the people.

At first he is too shy to seek repentance from God, feeling that with death so close at hand, the time of repentance is past. He eventually repents, and says to himself, “Even if my (infant) son Jiyan is about to starve to death, I will not use impure money to buy him powdered milk.”

Later in his life, one night his son Jiyan is extremely sick and the only open pharmacy in town is one that is Jewish-owned. He refuses to buy from them, thinking that his money would be used to “buy bullets” for Israel’s terror against Palestinians.

While somewhat extremist (Islam allows one to make exceptions in times of need), his method of thinking of ordinary daily decisions in activist terms is very important and relevant, and quite similar to Sayyid Qutb’s thinking. The spiritual world takes precedence over the material world. He refuses a material good (the feeding of his son, or his son’s health) to maintain a spiritual good (remaining true to God, refusing to be party to any form of injustice, even if it is merely by buying a drug from an entity that might possibly support injustice).

In mainstream Islamic practice, the culture and the clerics come in between the Quran and population. The job of making moral choices was outsourced to the religious establishment, so that morality was not something on the minds of ordinary people. If the mullahs allowed something, it was OK. If they didn’t, it wasn’t. Moftizadeh and Sayyid Qutb’s approach was to take the religious establishment out of the equation; one reads the Quran, understands its moral philosophy to the best of his or her ability, then follows it to the best of his or her ability in everything in their lives.

This is far more difficult, since there are many difficult moral choices the responsibility for which must be carried by each individual, instead of throwing the responsibility on the shoulders of the establishment without giving it a thought.

More dreams

In prison, he has a dream in which he is about 13 years of age and the Prophet ﷺ is teaching him from the Quran. His elbows are resting on the Prophet’s left shoulder, with him looking on as the Prophet passes his right index finger over a book of Quran that he is reciting from. He mentions that this dream put him in a state of joy and ecstasy that lasted for many days, considering it such a great honor from God.

The start of his Quran-focused Islam

So far in his life, Ahmad Moftizadeh had been a classical Shafii jurist, having had a classical education under his father and other scholars in Iran and Iraq.

He has a dream in which he is standing on the rooftop of his childhood home in Sanandaj, when he sees two persons coming toward him from a distance. The persons do not take steps but appear to glide. They stand about a meter and a half from him and ask him to interpret Sura ad-Duha and Sura ash-Sharh (chapters 93 and 94 of the Quran). Instead of trying to interpret these chapters as an intellectual exercise, he starts speaking effortlessly, saying things he had never even thought of before.

He says that as he spoke, he saw the Prophet ﷺ and his followers during what is known as the Meccan Boycott of the Hashemites, in which the he and his followers suffered extreme difficulty. He saw the relevance of the verses he was interpreting to these conditions, as if they were all part of the same story that he himself had lived. He also sees the Prophet ﷺ praying ardently for Umar ibn al-Khattab to be guided to Islam. He says the things he said in his interpretation of these chapters were as obvious and clear to him as 2+2 = 4. When he wakes up, he is completely thunderstruck by the dream, since none of the things he had said had ever before seemed obvious to him.

This dream causes him to completely change his approach to the Quran. Before this, he had the classical approach, what I call considering the Quran a “historical artifact” or a “dead book”. He says:

Before that, when I would look at the Quran, I would look at its meaning as mere Arabic words and sentences. After that, when I looked at the Quran I saw it as a living thing. The way I looked at life, that way I also looked at the Quran.

Strangely, this appears to also have been the approach of Said Nursi and Sayyid Qutb, both of whom also suffered through prison, and both of whom went on to be great revivalists.

Moftizadeh considers this discovery his re-birth, and afterwards would go on to speak of “the old Ahmad’ and “the new Ahmad”, similar to Said Nursi’s “old Said” and “new Said”.

He says that without his discovery of the Quran’s nature, his life would have been empty, and that a hundred thousand lifetimes were nothing compared to that single moment where he discovered the Quran.

Training the vanguard

After being released from prison, SAVAK offers him a professorship at Tehran University in return for softening his rhetoric against the Shah’s regime, which he refuses. He goes back to Sanandaj with his wife and child. He appears to conclude that the best way to spread Islam’s message is to train activists, a vanguard who embody the Quran’s teachings and go on to create change within their own social circles. This was also Sayyid Qutb’s idea.

His non-classical (Quran-focused) approach quickly garners him fame and people start to flock to his house to learn his reformist-activist approach on various issues, such as women’s rights.

He invites a number of faqih‘s (mullahs-in-training) to come to Sanandaj to learn and work on his project, and works hard to buy them a house. He has a highly valuable rug in his own house that he gives away and places in the new house. When asked why, he says, “This was the last artifact I had of my jahili (pre-enlightenment) life, and you are the cause of freeing me from it.”

He starts giving lectures at Sanandaj’s mosques, until he attracts a fellowship of 60-70 people. SAVAK issues a threat against his followers, so that most of the followers leave and only 15-20 people remain. SAVAK approaches him and offers him wealth and protection, and not just for himself but for his followers too, in return for a. not working with political parties and b. softening his stance against the Shah. His extreme poverty and the pressure his extended family puts on him to make him accept this offer slowly makes him start considering it. He wasn’t going to be involved with political parties, so this wasn’t an issue. And what harm did it do to accept not to speak against the Shah?

He says this was the most difficult moral dilemma of his life, since the things offered him were so attractive, and the things required of him so seemingly unimportant. During this, he has a dream that involves the Prophet ﷺ and Umar ibn al-Khattab. The Prophet is about to tell Umar something, starting by “O Umar…”, but Moftizadeh wakes up before hearing it. This greatly upsets him and he starts to look in the books of hadith to find narrations in which the Prophet speaks to Umar in such a manner. Despairing of his search, he goes to the Quran and tries to find guidance in it for his situation, and he finds that in verse 13:17:

He sends down water from the sky, and riverbeds flow according to their capacity. The current carries swelling froth. And from what they heat in fire of ornaments or utensils comes a similar froth. Thus God exemplifies truth and falsehood. As for the froth, it is swept away, but what benefits the people remains in the ground. Thus God presents the analogies.

He sees the Shah and his apparatus as the ephemeral “froth” that is covering truth and justice for a time, but that will surely be swept away by the forces of time. This makes him decide that truth and justice are timeless principles that deserve his full and never-ceasing allegiance, while any request from the Shah and SAVAK for his allegiance should be automatically rejected, since they are the froth who want to cover up what benefits the people. They are nobodies who will be swept away by history, while truth and justice will remain supreme. He goes on to live by this learning for the rest of his life, even after the Shah falls and the “Islamic” Republic is established.

Maktab Quran

Moftizadeh garnered fame in Iranian Kurdistan by his famous speeches, such as the one he gave at the funeral of the poet Suwaray Ilkhanizada. His fearless criticism of the Shah (sometimes comparing him to the Pharaoh of the time of Moses) gave people hope, since the rest of the Islamic establishment was thoroughly hand-in-hand with the Shah’s regime. A Muslim scholar speaking against the Shah was something unknown and highly attractive.

Maktab Quran (“school of Quran”) is the name of the movement/organization he and his friends created, first in the city of Mariwan and later in Sanandaj. The word maktab refers more to a “school of thought” than a physical entity (as pointed out by Ali Ezzatyar in The Last Mufti), a reference to his use of the Quran as a source for a reformist-activist Islam. He did, however, create schools in multiple cities where the Quran and related topics were taught, so Maktab Quran was a physical entity as well.

Revolution (1978)

Moftizadeh’s fame and opposition to the Shah made him a natural leader of Iranian Sunnis at the time of the Iranian revolution. The revolution worried him because he considered it untimely, and was aware of the great possibility for the rise of a new anti-Kurdish tyranny in Tehran (which is what happened).

He believes that if his movement had been given 10-15 years without the Iran Revolution happening, the movement would have been able to bring Kurds to a state where they were ready to be the leaders of revolutionary change, since his goal was to teach people to insist on truth and justice and refuse to (intellectually) submit to tyrants.

SHAMS

After the Iranian revolution, Moftizadeh worked with other Sunni leaders (such as the scholar Abdulaziz Malazadeh from Sistan-Balochistan) to create a unified front for interacting with the Shia-majority revolutionary government, accepting Khomeini’s promises of respecting democracy and pluralism. This unified front was called SHAMS (which means “sun” in Arabic, and was an acronym for shurayeh markaziyeh sunnat, meaning “central council of the Sunnis”). A meeting was held in Tehran in public in which the creation of SHAMS was announced and its details agreed upon by Sunni religious leaders from various areas of Iran.

Naturally, Khoemini and his friends considered this union of the Sunnis a dangerous attack on their establishment, and the Iranian propaganda press went into overdrive over the few days following the meeting, associating the meeting with foreign influence, treason and all the other buzzwords that governments use to describe those who make them feel uncomfortable. Khomeini even gave a speech denouncing SHAMS.

Prison again

Khomeini’s extremist grip on power continued to increase as a number of convenient assassinations removed his more balanced Shia friends from Earth (such as Ayatollah Beheshti). This purging of the moderate Shias cleared the field for him to let his totalitarian tendencies run wild.

A year after SHAMS, the Iranian government cracked down on those associated with Moftizadeh’s Maktab Quran movement throughout Iranian Kurdistan and imprisoned many of them, including Moftizadeh himself.

They held him for ten years in solitary confinement, never allowing a single visitation by his family and friends.

Keeping Kurdistan together

During the revolution (between 1978 and 1981), Moftizadeh worked constantly to bring the Kurds together and have them reach a peaceable agreement with the new government to ensure the rights of the Kurds. The people he was interacting with, the leftist Kurdish parties on the one hand, and the Shia government on the other, were both equally power-hungry, duplicitous and unreliable, so that his efforts were seemingly entirely futile.

Moftizadeh continued to try to work with everyone else in good faith, expecting the best of them, signing agreements with Kurdish party leaders who would go on to change the agreement the next day, adding their own clauses to it that had not actually been agreed upon, or agreeing on one thing then acting another way.

Moftizadeh tried his best fulfill his role as “the leader of Iran’s Kurds” as he was widely considered, but to no good. Would it have been better if he had refused, seeing as the Kurds and the Shias were both totally and utterly incapable of working in good faith together? What is the point of trying to make things work when everyone you are dealing with is corrupt and selfish?

While his political work has generally been considered a failure, his appeals for peace and avoidance of blood-shed may have saved Iranian Kurdistan from having the same fate as Iraqi Kurdistan, with hundreds of thousands of lives lost in a war with the government. It is quite possible that hundreds of thousands of Kurds living in Iran today owe their lives to some degree to his political work.

His fight with the sheikhs and mullahs

I wonder at the people of this town. They have so many mullahs, yet they have managed to remain religious and pious and they have not lost the way of Islam. —Ahmad Moftizadeh

Ahmad Moftizadeh, despite being a classically trained religious scholar and being the son of the chief religious authority of Iranian Kurdistan (and being offered this position himself later on), was a strong critic of the Islamic establishment of his time. The Sufi sheikhs and mullahs had created a comfortable religious aristocracy where the population was made to serve their interests, finding clever ways of extracting money from the poor, such as making farmers take large portions of their harvests to the nearest Sufi establishment where a fat and corrupt Sufi sheikh usually presided.

The mullahs (clerics and preachers who worked at the mosques) weren’t much better, fleecing the population through things like “repairing” divorces, without actually working to solve the roots of society’s issues.

Islam had become a ceremonial religion devoid of its activist message. Moftizadeh considered the religious establishment cowardly and complicit with the Shah’s regime. Not a single leader could be found who dared to speak a word of truth against the Shah’s injustice. Moftizadeh made many enemies by opposing this system, so that some mullahs and sheikhs labelled him a “hypocrite” and scared people away from his circles. Eventually, with his radical honesty and fearless criticism of the Shah despite the dangers to his own life, he became the unchallenged leader of Iran’s Kurdish Sunni Muslims (and perhaps forever broke the hold of the religious establishment on Islam).

In Shia Islam, the clerical establishment claims to have secret powers to interpret Islam properly, powers granted to them as descendants of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. This is highly convenient, since it gives the Shia clerical establishment monopoly power over the way Islam is interpreted and practiced.

Sunni Islam rejects this, saying there is nothing too special about being descended from the Prophet ﷺ. In practice, however, the Sunni establishment acts somewhat similar to the Shia establishment, requiring someone to be part of the establishment before considering their opinions valid. For many Sunni clerics, ordinary Muslims do not have the right to refute a ruling from an establishment scholar. The content of the refutation does not matter; if you haven’t gone through the establishment and do not have their stamp of approval, you do not have the right to speak your mind.

Ahmad Moftizadeh’s teachings took Islam away from the establishment and gave it to each Muslim capable of reading and understanding the Quran.

Moftizadeh’s Kurdish identity

Moftizadeh in Kurdish pants.

Moftizadeh insisted on wearing Kurdish pants, as a way of encouraging other Kurds to not be ashamed of their cultural practices. This was considered unfashionable in his time by other Kurds. They would tell him “You are not a lower-class laborer, so why do you wear that?” He says he replied to such a statement once by saying, “I am a human, and laborers are humans.”

In Sanandaj, the nicknames of kaka (“big brother”), khalo (“uncle”) and mamo (also meaning “uncle”) were used as a way of addressing lower-class people. Moftizadeh came to be called kaka, and he asked his followers to continue calling him this, rejecting honorific titles.

He strongly opposed titles like “sayyid”, “sheikh”, “mala”, “haji”, all of which were used as honorifics for people supposedly religiously or socially superior to others, and all o which could be used to describe himself if I remember correctly. He says these are used to separate one section of society from another, the holier from the less holy, and this makes them un-Islamic and sinful.

Ahmad Moftizadeh considers the Medes the ancestors of Kurds, and the Persians their usurpers. He considers the Persian Empire a permanent force of oppression against Kurds since its inception. He considers Nawroz (the Iranian new year celebration) an imperial and anti-Kurd invention that celebrates the Persian usurpation of Kurdish power.

I have my doubts about this theory, and believe that considering all the Iranian races (Kurds, Lurs, Persians, Pashtos) one race that slowly branched out a far better foundation for building a constructive identity. Kurdish victimhood identity is extremely dangerous, as like all victimhood identities (Zionism, communism, feminism, Shiism) it reduces empathy and the sense of moral responsibility. A victim has the right to more privileges and is held to lower moral standards, and acts as such.

In Moftizadeh’s view, Kurds have been oppressed for 2500 years. In my view, the oppression of the Kurds might very well be a 20th century invention, as Turkish, Arab and Persian nationalism grew as responses to colonialism. Before that, the Kurds were just another subject nation of the Ottomans and the Safavids, and often enjoyed great autonomy, and their noblemen were accepted in the courts of these empires as men of power and status.

Having a single, global humanist identity is so much more beautiful and productive (I should note that I am strongly opposed to globalism, but that is another matter). Western Muslim intellectuals are ahead in this regard, in shunning racial and nationalist identities. But Moftizadeh was a product of his time, and at that time, the issue of Kurdish identity was a matter of top priority, since Persians by and large considered Kurds a backwater nation that should be Persianized for their own good. Moftizadeh’s response was to fight for Kurdish identity, saying that Kurds had as much right to exist and exercise their language and culture as Persians.

The Umayyads

Moftizadeh considers the Umayyads the root cause for the loss of the original “true” Islamic caliphate, and says things mirroring the Shia view on them; that Abu Sufyan’s conversion to Islam was not true and that Muawiyah was on the whole an evil ruler. Since he brought back the old aristocratic system, threw out the shura system of democratic rule, established a dynastic monarchy, and built a palace in which he lived in luxury, for Moftizadeh this is sufficient evidence to consider him evil and corrupt.

Personally, I doubt there is sufficient evidence to conclusively rule that Abu Sufyan or Muawiyah weren’t truly good people. They may have liked wealth and power and worked for it, but so do many other Muslims. They weren’t perfect, but this does not mean that they weren’t on the whole reasonably good people.

Moftizadeh’s anti-Umayyad stance comes from his extreme anti-aristocratic views and his dislike for the Sunni-Shia divide for which he holds the Umayyads responsible.

I believe a more balanced and sophisticated approach is needed when it comes to the historical facts of the matter. As for the religious division issue, focusing on history is not going help matters. The Shia establishment will continue promoting the Shia vicitmhood narrative, since this is important for maintaining power and relevance.

Equality and Marxism

Moftizadeh says “An Islamic society is one in which there are no (social) strata,” advocating for a radical equality among the population, from the ruler to the lowliest laborer (using the example of the Rashidun caliphs to explain what he meant). Some mullahs said that he was becoming a communist with his calls for equality. In response, he instead make a powerful critique of communism, recognizing its feudal nature. He says that communism is actually aristocracy taken to its most obscene extreme, where the central government becomes the unquestioned lord and the entirety of the population its lowly servants.

He strongly disliked the undue respect that government officials received. In one Islamic gathering he sees that a section of the best seats have been reserved for officials. He goes and sits there, to set the example that officials should not be treated specially. When officials visit his home, he is harsh and unfriendly with them. On the other hand, he treats the lower classes with the utmost love and respect.

Regarding the problem of nepotism, ever-present in the Middle East, he says:

Anyone who in his or her dealing with a government official gets preferential treatment because of family ties or other things, and he or she accepts this treatment, they have done injustice.

And on respecting the lower classes:

How miserable is the person who works in the name of leading a religious movement and dislikes meeting the poor, while exulting at meeting the rich and powerful.

His manners

Some of his followers suggested that he should get bodyguards, since they feared for his safety with his great fame and high status. He rejected this, saying that he is no better than the Rashidun caliphs Ali and Umar, who never had bodyguards. He says that one must go among the people, like the prophets used to, that separating himself from the people would automatically make him a failure.

When out, his friends suggest using a taxi to go somewhere (considered a luxury form of transport at the time), he refuses, saying “Why can’t we go like the rest of the people?”

After his release from prison (and close to his death), he was extremely sick from cancer and his body broken by the torture he had received under the Iranians. At one point he was receiving visitors, with everyone sitting on the floor as it is customary in Iran, and as he himself tried to sit, he suffered extreme pain since he couldn’t sit comfortably on the floor. Some offered to bring him a soft cushion to sit on, but he refused, saying, “A sick person can relax as needed when resting, but when among the people, he must behave like the people.” His meaning was that his sickness did not give him the privilege of acting differently and being catered to. This was part of his extreme insistence on equality and “not separating from the people”.

At one point, one of his followers opens a car door for him as a show of respect. He tells them to close it, to go sit themselves, and says, “Do you think I don’t know how to open car doors?”

He sees that someone refers to him as “dear kak Ahmad” in writing, and tells the person not to attach any title to him, even if it is merely “dear”.

One of his followers, who goes on to be killed by the Iranian government, explains that the reason why Moftizadeh attracted such a devoted following was that he truly embodied the three points mentioned in this verse of the Quran:

And who is better in speech than someone who calls to God, and carries out wholesome deeds, and says, “I am of the Muslims”? (The Quran, verse 41:33)

  • Moftizadeh called toward God, toward submission to Him and freedom from submission to all other authorities and powers. He never worked for political power or for recognition, he never called for some group of his own.
  • Moftizadeh worked to do good deeds day and night. He was a leader in applying the Quran in his own life, and this could be seen everywhere in his manners and actions.
  • His stance always was “I am of the Muslims”, which this student of Moftizadeh interprets as meaning that the person does not separate himself from the Muslims using titles and status symbols. While the typical religious leader was happy to use his status as a bargaining tool for dealing with others in power, and while such a leader usually had a highly stratified organization around him, Mofizadeh not only rejected all of this, but turned the tables; he would treat the supposedly lowliest Muslims with the utmost respect and honor, while dealing harshly with the figures of authority in his town (knowing they were corrupt and hand-in-hand with the regime).

Relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood

Some members of the Muslim Brotherhood have mistakenly claimed that Moftizadeh was a member of their organization. While he had very close relationships with some Brothers, he did not do this out of allegiance to the Brotherhood, but out of his heart-centered approach; he would collaborate and help anyone who appeared like a good person.

He was, near the end of his life, against political work, and he is quoted in The Last Mufti as saying that one who engages in political work is very likely to lose the way of guidance.

Comparison with The Last Mufti

The last 100 pages or so of the book is dedicated to translations of articles and interviews with him published in various Iranian publications in the early years of the Iranian Revolution.

The Last Mufti does a far better job of describing the cultural context of Moftizadeh’s time and the origins of his family, likely due to the fact that The Last Mufti relied on far more many sources than this book does. However, it does contain many interesting details and anecdotes not mentioned in The Last Mufti, so both are well worth reading.

Heroes

Moftizadeh’s (and Sayyid Qutb’s) life shows that people need heroes. Moftizadeh was not the founder of a new school of fiqh and one cannot point to any major work of his. A scholarly skeptic, proud of his own works and education, may look at Moftizadeh’s followers and think “What is wrong with all of these people who glorify this nobody?”

Yet the service that Moftizadeh did Islam has been immense and worthier than the works of perhaps a hundred scholars. By embodying his radical message, he became the message. It is sufficient to mention “Moftizadeh” to any of thousands of Iranian Sunnis to renew their motivation, their hope, their trust in God, their insistence on truth and justice, their bravery.

So while many people belonging to the Islamic establishment will be able to call Qutb and Moftizadeh “nobodies”, it is sufficient to see the effects of these men on their respective audiences to realize that these men did tremendously important things, that they were greater than the thousands of religious clerics who failed to do the same, who preferred silence and comfort to telling the truth and putting their lives at risk.

This is an important realization for me; that Islam cannot revive hearts and cannot cause social change unless it is embodied in certain people, no matter how few. For true, dynamic, activist Islam to exist in a community, that community needs to have its own Qutbs and Moftizadehs who are ready to be crucified for its sake, who tell the truth and stand for justice despite the danger to their own careers and lives.

Without such people, the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized will look at the religious establishment and think, “Look at those pompous idiots who think they are here to bring us salvation while they do nothing to protect our lives and dignity.” This was the attitude of people in Iran, Iraq and Egypt toward the religious establishment until people like Moftizadeh and Qutb appeared, and this is probably the attitude of many Saudi people toward their cowardly and well-fed Salafi scholars who turn a blind eye to the abuses of the Saudi family.

This is also the attitude of many Westerners toward the churches. Churchgoers who are not eager to give up large portions of their wealth to feed the poor and the oppressed in their communities have little right to pretend to be followers of Christ, and fully deserve to be considered out-of-touch and pompous hypocrites who do not really believe in their message.

If you do not embody Islam or Christianity’s radically activist message, don’t be surprised if no one takes you seriously.

Conclusion

Moftizadeh’s manners and story is similar to that of Jesus in the New Testament. He fearlessly embodied his message of radical honesty, of respecting all humans, of working against injustice and tyranny, acting like a wrench thrown into the comfortable decay of the Shah’s Kurdistan.

Moftizadeh was the worst nightmare of every corrupt politician, cleric and faux revolutionary, never accepting to limit his speech against them, never seeking material gain (thus he was unbribable), and treating his followers with far more respect and honor than the figures of authority of his society, whether secular or religious, in this way creating a new power structure that discredited the existing ones and empowered ordinary people to feel as if they had the freedom to question things.

Just like it happened with Jesus, many people started calling for his blood, including the religious establishment he was a part of. His criticism of the Shah’s regime helped topple it, but instead of acting the expected way toward his new Shia masters, silently acceding to them, he continued just like before, speaking his mind, discrediting them, not taking them seriously and focusing on truth and justice above all else.

Moftizadeh represents the ideal Muslim citizen; a good and kind friend of every good and kind person, a peaceful activist who did his utmost to prevent violence, a nightmare to every greedy and power-hungry politician, cleric and aristocrat.

Moftizadeh is a very difficult ideal to emulate. People either choose to be power-seeking revolutionaries who risk some but get a lot in return, or quietist mystics who risk nothing and enjoy a comfortable living. Moftizadeh brings together the difficult parts of both lifestyles and throws away the parts palatable to the human ego; you must be a revolutionary who does not seek power, and a mystic who risks everything. Most humans can either live up to the revolutionary ideal or the mystic ideal, very few can unite the two, because not only is there no personal gain in doing this, there is much chance of personal loss. Moftizadeh did that and suffered horribly for it, but renewed the world with his suffering.

In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan

Get it on Amazon.com

In the Footsteps of the Prophet is a long-needed biography of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that focuses on his character, manners and experience, rather than narrating meaningless dates and facts.

Many classical Islamic books are somewhat out-of-touch to modern readers, so that while they may have been satisfactory to their original (often Middle Eastern) readers, when translated into English they end up being unapproachable, enigmatic and highly inadequate, often leading to more questions than answers. In the Footsteps of the Prophet, having been written by someone who lives and breathes the Western worldview, lacks these shortcomings, so that I can refer Europeans to it without having to make apologies for it.

On embracing faith

Ramadan writes:

From the outset, the Quran presents itself as the mirror of the universe. The term that the first Western translators rendered as “verse”-referring to biblical vocabulary-literally means, in Arabic, “sign” (ayah). Thus, the revealed Book, the written text, is made up of signs (ayat) just as the uni­verse, like a text spread out before our eyes, is teeming with signs. When the heart’s intelligence, and not only analytical intelligence, reads the Quran and the world, then the two texts address and echo each other, and each of them speaks of the other and of the One. The signs remind us of what it means to be born, to live, to think, to feel, and to die.

His writing style creates vague clouds of meanings and feelings, and it is often left as an exercise to the reader to make out anything concrete from what he says. This is very much unlike my own style, but perhaps there is a demographic that finds better meaning in his. What he is saying above is that the Quran provides various pointers (rather than conclusive proofs) of the Creator’s existence and presence, and the universe around us also provides its own pointers (rather than conclusive proofs). When you bring together the total of the Quran’s pointers and the universe’s pointers, your conscience (what he refers to as your heart’s intelligence) is offered the very difficult choice of accepting faith or rejecting it.

When you run into sufficient ayat in yourself, in the world around you, and in the Quran, you reach a point where non-submission to the Creator becomes a sin against your conscience. This is the sin of kufr (disbelief), of denying God’s signs and/or favors.

Throughout your life, your conscience is like a jury watching a trial that tries to decide whether God exists or not. Sign after sign is presented to your conscience, never sufficient to conclusively prove to your rational brain that God exists, but never so little that you can deny those signs in good conscience. Once you have seen sufficient signs, you will feel guilty to deny God, because you have done something that goes against your conscience. Even if you can rationally justify your rejection of God, the guilt may never leave.

As for someone who has never seen sufficient signs, that is a different matter.

The super-humanity or not of the Prophet ﷺ

Ramadan embraces the idea that there was something special (super-human) about the Prophet ﷺ, narrating a few stories like the angels visiting him when he was a child and performing surgery on him to remove a black piece of flesh from his heart, in this way purifying him from something bad that other human hearts supposedly contain. The Egyptian scholar Muhammad al-Ghazali in his Fiqh al-Seerah rejects this story, saying that good and evil are a matter of the spirit, not the flesh.

The story is problematic because it suggests there is some inherent evil within humans, embedded right in their flesh, reminiscent of the Christian idea of original sin. This story is just one example of the myriad stories in books of seerah (biographies of the Prophet ﷺ) suggesting that the Prophet ﷺ was special, something more than human. The Christians turned Jesus into God, and Muslims would probably have done the same, out of love and a desire for a human divinity that wasn’t so terrifying as God, if the Quran wasn’t so insistent that God has no associates and wasn’t so critical of the idea of Jesus as a Son of God.

In the Footsteps of the Prophet contains only a few such stories, which makes it greatly superior to other books of seerah. And while we may not be able to conclusively say that there is was nothing specially super-human about the Prophet ﷺ, a truly human Prophet is far more admirable than a super-human Prophet in reality. What’s so special about bearing a burden if you are given super-powers by God to bear it? And resisting evil while desiring it is a greater accomplishment than resisting it after God sends angels to perform surgery on you to make you a better person.

The beautiful story the Quran tells us is that the Prophet was a human just like any of us, and that he was given a terribly difficult mission that terrified him. He had to bear this burden with all of his fears and weaknesses, he had to face humiliation after humiliation among his relatives and tribe, and he had to face death on numerous occasions, not as a super-man who couldn’t be harmed, but as a fragile human who could suffer, who could fear, who could desire, who could be impatient, who could make terrible mistakes.

Say, “I am nothing more than a human being like you, being inspired that your god is One God. Whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and never associate anyone with the service of his Lord.” (The Quran 18:110)

God did not tell the Prophet to say, “All humans are equal, but I am more equal than you.” He is told to say “I am nothing more than a human being”. That’s it. There is no need to turn him into a super-man and in this way take away from his achievements.

Activist Islam

Throughout the book, he advocates for the spiritual/activist Islam that I advocate for, but he does not, at least not in this book, provide the crucial algorithms for reaching this form of Islam; preferring the Quran’s authority over hadith, teaching everyone to treat the Quran as if it was revealed to them personally.

This type of Islam, which I call Quran-focused Islam, is almost exactly Tariq Ramadan’s kind of Islam. In this book, at least, he shows what this Islam looks like, without showing how it is arrived at and why it is so different from classical Islam. Perhaps he himself does not see his Islam as the result of a small set of algorithms but rather the result of a lifelong search for meaning. This is also the case with many other admirable personas within contemporary Islamic history, who call for a modern and extremely civilized form of Islam without clearly stating the crucial differences between their Islam and classical Islam. They show the results of a lifelong process they have arrived it, they do not, or are unable to, explain the process itself, explaining the algorithm that if applied by anyone of sufficient intelligence and knowledge always leads to their type of Islam.

This makes them easy prey to Salafis who always come with their highly simple and elegant-sounding algorithms, in this way in a statement or two appearing to demolish all of Tariq Ramadan’s thinking. The Salafi algorithm is that one must follow the Quran and the Sunnah as  accurately as possible, and who can argue with that? Tariq Ramadan, at least in this book and in his Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, does not offer a clear alternative algorithm that leads to his type of Islam and shows why the Salafis are wrong.

That alternative algorithm is that one must use all available tools to reach as accurate an understanding of the Quran as possible, and once that is reached, this understanding of the Quran is taken as a program that must lived and breathed by every person, with hadith acting as a helper. This alternative algorithm’s biggest proof of superiority is in its intellectual conclusions (solving the problem of slavery, stoning adulterers, punishing apostasy, the free will paradox) and in the lives of its greatest followers (Sayyid Qutb, Ahmad Moftizadeh).

Aisha

Sufficient evidence is not presented to show why the relationship between Aisha and the Prophet was special and exemplary, a claim that the book makes in multiple places. The issue of Aisha’s age is not addressed, and for someone who has this in mind while reading the relevant passages, nothing presented sufficiently justifies things. He mentions that the Prophet ﷺ “stayed away” from Aisha for a month after she was accused of adultery, then mentions that this event “reinforced their love and trust”. But this claim is not convincing when no evidence is presented for it, and in fact evidence is provided that it harmed their relationship.

The very important spiritual side of this matter is not mentioned. This was an intensely difficult lesson for the Prophet ﷺ, for he had not received guidance on what to do in the case of someone being accused without evidence being presented. Since the person accused was his own wife, and since he had no specific guidance on the matter, he could do nothing but suffer. He did not dare interact with his wife, not knowing whether her status as his wife was valid anymore.

Mentioning these facts would have shown that his abandoning her for a month was not an act of him throwing away his wife until she was proven innocent, as it would appear to a critical reader. Both in this book and Karen Armstrong’s  Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time, the focus on the Prophet’s persona and his sociopolitical status sometimes causes the fact of his utter servitude toward God to be neglected. In the issue of Aisha’s accusation, he was a helpless servant of God, not knowing what to do to please Him.

Later it is mentioned that Aisha remained upset with the fact that the Prophet had doubted her chastity. Her mother asks her to thank the Prophet ﷺ for forgiving her and taking her back, but she says she will only thank God, since the Prophet ﷺ had doubted her. This, while seemingly a negative fact, is a good illustration of the fact that she maintained her independence of will and did not act as an intellectual slave to her husband, but considered him a human that could be challenged. This proves Islam’s detractors wrong in considering Muslim women the toys of their men, and it also proves Salafis wrong in considering women the toys of men.

Sufficient justification for the war on Khaybar is not mentioned: the fact that it continuously sought to pay Arab tribes to go to war with the Muslims, hoping to remain the supreme Jewish power over the gentiles of Arabia, the way Israel today hopes to remain the supreme Jewish power over the gentiles of the Middle East, and using one group of gentiles to do their dirty work for them against another group while they themselves remained safe in their fortresses, the way today they get Christians to fund and fight Israel’s wars for them.

The Prophet’s manners

As mentioned, the book approaches the Prophet ﷺ as a human to be understood and emulated, and many examples are shown of his immense kindness, tolerance and civility toward both his followers and his sworn enemies. While on the whole the image of the Prophet ﷺ presented by the book is believable, there are also passages like the following which appear to attach too much of the author’s own reading to the Prophet ﷺ:

The Messenger, moreover, drew from children his sense of play and innocence; from them he learned to look at people and the world around him with wonder. From watching children experience beauty he also more fully developed his sense of aesthetics: in front of beauty, he wept, he was moved, he sometimes sobbed, and he was often filled with well-being by the poetic musicality of a phrase or by the spiritual call of a verse offered by the Most Generous, the Infinitely Beautiful.

It would have helped if these characteristics were backed by concrete examples.

Conclusion

In the Footsteps of the Prophet is a book I would recommend to anyone wishing to get something of an accurate view of Islam’s founder, a view that is neither harshly critical or fawningly uncritical piece of marketing. It shows the Prophet ﷺ as those who know the most about him see him, and I cannot give it a higher praise than this.

A non-Muslim may naturally be skeptical of a book, written by a Muslim, that offers such a seemingly charitable glimpse of the Prophet. Muslims have everything to gain if non-Muslims see the founder of their religion in a more friendly light. To that I will say that this is the Prophet ﷺ as Muslims see him. There are no dark secrets. If someone says he said or did something horrible, we reject it. The Prophet’s character, as his wife Aisha said, “was the Quran”. We think of the Prophet as a follower of the Quran, someone who did his utmost to embody its teachings, and if someone makes a claim about the Prophet that is highly out of character for him as a person who lived and breathed the Quran, then we reject that claim regardless of where it comes from.

Our only entirely reliable source about the Prophet is the Quran, therefore the Quranic worldview and its view of the Prophet takes priority over everything else (including hadith narrations), the Quran is the criterion by which we judge all other claims about the Prophet. As Abu Hanifah says, the Prophet of God cannot do anything that goes against the Book of God, therefore if someone says the Prophet did something that is out of character for him as bearer of the Quran, then that is automatically rejected.

Therefore if someone tells you the Prophet did this horrible thing, and that horrible thing is not mentioned in the Quran and goes against the Quran’s principles, then the rational thing to do is to distrust that saying. Saying the Prophet broke a Quranic principle is an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary evidence.

Skeptics of Islam who say this book gives an overly friendly view of the Prophet have misunderstood Islam. The view of the Prophet ﷺ presented in this book is the most Quranic view of him that we have, and therefore by definition it is the most accurate and believable for Muslims, and thus it should also be considered the most accurate and believable view by non-Muslims.

As rational humans, we believe in Islam because we have read the Quran and consider the likelihood of it being from God greater than the likelihood of it being a forgery, its evidence has overwhelmed us and we have gone with our conscience, which is to accept it. Different people, of course, arrive at Islam via different roads, but the place of the Quran is central. If it wasn’t a miraculous text that could prove its own truth, it wouldn’t be worth believing in. Our Islam starts with the Quran, not with the Prophet. To a Muslim, the Quran has center stage, and once you have accepted the truth of the Quran using your rational brain, what people say about the Prophet ﷺ is only of secondary importance. To you, the Prophet ﷺ is merely the Quran’s messenger, and therefore you judge him as a messenger. If someone mentions that he did something unfitting of the Quran, that is automatically rejected, since the Quran is your living, day-to-day guide, who cares what is written in some ancient history book that has no guarantee of being 100% true, even if it is generally reliable?

A skeptic who finds random narrations mentioning horrible things about the Prophet, thinking this somehow proves him to not be a very nice person, has totally misunderstood Islam. We judge the Prophet not by those narrations, but by the Quran, and if those narrations go against the Quran’s principles or the fact that the Prophet’s mission was to embody this book, then those narrations are automatically highly suspect and not worth talking about to a Muslim.

The Quran gives us a specific view of the Prophet ﷺ, and this is the unquestionable, unchallenged view. This is the canonical Prophet ﷺ that we love and follow. If you find something in an authentic hadith collection that goes against this canonical Prophet ﷺ, then say that the canonical Prophet is inaccurate, that this hadith takes precedence, then you are simply showing that you have not understood Islam. Our only 100% reliable source of evidence regarding the Prophet ﷺ is the Quran, therefore this is the canonical view. Everything else is less reliable by definition, and therefore should be judged according to the Quran’s canonical view.

This is a simple matter of giving weight to more reliable evidence (the Quran) over less reliable evidence (hadith). If the more reliable evidence gives you one view of the Prophet, and the less reliable evidence gives you another one, if you are a rational human, you will prefer the view arrived at through the more reliable evidence, and this is what we Muslims do, and this is what In the Footsteps of the Prophet does. Those who have an ax to grind against Islam ignore the reliable evidence and waste their time building an alternate-reality version of the Prophet ﷺ based on less reliable evidence, a version of the Prophet that goes entirely against the Quranic view. What they say about the Prophet, therefore, is automatically rejected, since they intentionally ignore the most important evidence (the Quran) and instead focus on secondary evidence that confirm their preconceived biases.

A fair-minded person should therefore see that what In the Footsteps of the Prophet does is exactly what we Muslims do in trying to arrive at an accurate understanding of the Prophet ﷺ; we use the canonical, Quranic view to make sense of a world of secondary evidence of varying authenticity to reach a good enough understanding of the Prophet’s mind and career.

Conflicts of Fitness: Islam, America, and Evolutionary Psychology

Get it on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook or paperback.

Conflicts of Fitness: Islam, America, and Evolutionary Psychology by A.S. Amin is a highly original examination of the dynamics of gender and sexuality within Western societies on the one hand, and within Islamic societies on the other.

As someone who has been working on reconciling Islam and evolutionary theory and on developing a post-feminist theory of human sexual dynamics, I hardly expect most books to tell me anything I haven’t already heard or thought about, but this book manages it. It is a short and enjoyable read that sticks to the facts and does not try to force an interpretation on them, which will make it agreeable to people coming from differing backgrounds and ideological currents.

The author’s main thesis is that different societies have different reproductive climates designed to maximize reproductive success. In a short-term climate, like that of most of the United States, human evolutionary instincts drive men to do their best to have sex with as many women as possible while not caring very much about a woman’s virginity and past sexual experiences. As for women, the climate drives them to display sexual receptivity through makeup, dress and manners designed to encourage men to think of them in sexual terms.

On the other hand, in a very-long-term climate like Saudi Arabia, men maximize reproductive success not by trying to have as many short-term relationships as possible, but by maximizing paternity confidence. Saudi Arabian seek virginal women so that they can be assured their children are theirs, and they go to extremes to ensure this; marrying very young women and preventing women from leaving the house, getting an education or a career.

This way of looking at the problem of women’s status in extremely conservative Muslim societies is a breath of fresh air from all of the moralistic, emotional and melodramatic treatments the subject has so far received on the hands of ideologically-driven intellectuals and commentators. It is also good to find another Muslim who can think of these matters in scientific and largely apolitical terms. Almost all Muslim-written materials on gender and sexuality is stuffed with moralistic thinking. Either they are traditionalists and try to “fight off” the West, or they are modernists and embrace unscientific moralistic frameworks like modern gender philosophy, exchanging one highly biased framework for another, abandoning one that unfairly favors males and embracing one that unfairly favors females, and thinking they have gained something out of this.

Get it on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook or paperback.

The topic of this book is close to my heart, as it has been a focus of my research for close to a decade, having recently published a book on it, Sex and Purpose. There are significant differences between our works. Amin’s book aims to be a scientific analysis that examines the problem without offering solutions. Mine is a highly opinionated work that takes evolutionary psychology for granted without bothering to offer citations, and a large focus of the book is offering a solution that bypasses modern feminist/post-modern thinking.

And while Amin’s book delves into a deep examination of Islam and gender politics, mine does not at all, since my book is not meant to have anything to do with religion directly.

A reader of Conflicts of Fitness or Sex and Purpose may wonder how a Muslim can write from an evolutionary perspective when Muslims do not generally accept the theory of evolution. Amin does not offer an explanation for this, focusing on his research topic without delving into this issue, leaving it to the readers to work it out. In my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis I explain how the Quran is compatible not only with evolution, but with abiogenesis as well.

Explaining Islam’s policy toward polygamy

Before reading this book, I had often thought of polygyny as a privilege granted men in order to deal with certain exceptional circumstances (such as having an infertile wife). Conflicts of Fitness explains that there is more to it than this, and that women, rather than men, are potentially the primary beneficiaries of polygyny:

  • If you have ten men and ten women, by allowing the most successful man to marry the two women, nine men are left to compete for the remaining eight women. These men will be forced to offer stronger commitment to these women in order to secure their hands in marriage, in this way creating a society where most relationships are highly committed.
  • Successful middle-aged men often strongly desire to use their wealth and success to build new families and have more children. In a monogamous society, such men are forced to divorce their current wives, or worse, cheat on them. In an Islamic society, a safe outlet is provided for these men, enabling them to keep their current wives (who, if divorced, would most likely be unable to marry again due to their old age), while also enabling them to create new families. While this is not ideal for the current wives, most would prefer it over being divorced. This also increases the options of younger women, since married men would compete for their hands in marriage. Polygyny is not a zero-sum game for women, and the overall benefits to women is almost certainly greater than the harm it does.

Most Western women and men empathize with the underdog when thinking of hypothetical situations, therefore they are unlikely to accept the above explanation, since they empathize with the poor woman who will suffer having to share her husband with another woman. The fact that she chooses this over divorce is not given attention since it goes against the “Islam is misogynistic” narrative.

For a Muslim who already believes in the Quran, the explanation is a good vindication of the policy, and it should help restrain scholars overeager to place strict restrictions on polygyny. In a society where marriage is by consent and where people are free to divorce whenever they want, polygyny will be self-balancing. Men will have to balance the fear of losing their present wife with their desire for a second one, meaning that the majority of men will be unlikely to abuse this right. My experience of Kurdish and Persian society proves this correct.

Explaining makeup

In a short-term reproductive climate, women signal their receptivity to short-term-style sexual relationships in various ways, one of which is makeup. One thing that makeup does is simulate the effects of sexual arousal:

It turns out that when a woman becomes sexually aroused, certain physiologic changes take place. Among these changes are dilation of the pupils and the blood vessels in the cheeks and lips.

The author refers to this facet of makeup-as-a-signal-of-sexual-receptivity in many places in the book. However, while this is highly informative, it is not the complete picture. In Sex and Purpose I provide the other part of the picture, I explain that makeup serves as an important axis for enabling women to get ahead of themselves and other women. Makeup enables a woman to enhance her apparent quality as a worthy mate by making herself look younger and healthier. In a long-term or somewhat-long-term climate, makeup helps a woman appear as a better substance compared to her competitors. This, however, runs the danger of sending the wrong signal, of appearing to be receptive to sexual advances, for this reason in a long-term climate, a woman has to walk a fine line between enhancing her looks (which helps her get the interest of more suitors wanting to marry her) and signalling sexual receptivity (which garners the attention of the wrong audience).

While Conflicts of Fitness entirely focuses on the short-term aspect of makeup, Sex and Purpose entirely focuses on its long-term aspect. In this way neither book’s theory is complete, and together they provide what is closer to a full picture.

Along these same lines, I have always told women that I prefer makeup I cannot see, since I have always had a long-term, “Victorian” mindset toward women. I like women to look beautiful, and makeup can help toward this. But I also think of women as long-term lovers and despise short-term sexual relationships (since they are anti-civilization as I will explain below), therefore if I see a glaring amount of makeup on a woman’s face, what I see is what Amin describes, that she is signalling short-term sexual receptivity, which is not something I find attractive in a woman.

Therefore to me, the ideal woman will care about her looks and will be able to enhance them, but without appearing to have done so. If she wears lipstick, it will be a color and texture that makes her lips look young and healthy without making any obvious modification to it.

Some Muslim women, confused by various differing influences, wear hijab on the one hand, while also wearing very heavy makeup on the other. This is such a glaring contradiction that it makes my eyes hurt. Her dress signals the fact that she is not sexually receptive, while her makeup is designed to signal sexual receptivity. It is, at its root, a very good indicator of the identity crisis that so many Muslims suffer from.

Of course, a woman is free what she wears and what she puts on her face. And people are free to respond to seeing her according to what their instincts tell them. You cannot send a signal on the one hand, and enforce a specific interpretation of that signal on people on the other hand. From an evolutionary perspective, heavy makeup signals sexual receptivity (that the woman is approachable). From a radical feminist perspective, this fact does not matter, what matters is whatever is going on inside the woman’s head. Not only does she have the right to wear whatever she wants, she also has the right to dictate how people interpret what she is wearing. She can expose most of her breasts while berating any man who dares to look at them. She can wear heavy makeup and complain if people, following their evolutionary instincts, interpret her makeup as meaning anything.

A large part of Sex and Purpose is dedicated to discrediting these and various other forms of irrationalist thinking present in radical feminist ideology. If a feminist is free in the interpretation she gives to people’s behaviors (which is a right that is always 100% reserved by feminists), then if equality is to be achieved, people, too, should be free in the interpretations they give to her behaviors.

If a man acts a certain way, feminists reserve the right to judge him for his behavior. Yet if she acts a certain way and a man reserves the right to judge her for her behavior, she considers this misogynistic. It is for this reason that many have called radical feminist ideology female solipsism, it is the belief that the female mind (or more likely, the feminist mind) is all that can issue valid judgments about reality, it is a woman’s nannying instinct taken to its most horrible extreme; mother always knows best, and every man is just a foolish little boy (and a potential rapist) to be told what to think and do for his own good.

The generational gap in reproductive strategies

The author mentions that an important reason for the strife that so often exists between teenage girls and their parents regarding dress and makeup is a generational gap in reproductive strategies. The parents grew up in a climate that was more long-term oriented than the present climate, and they want to enforce the mores of their outdated climate on their children, not realizing that the climate has changed, and that by preventing their daughter from dressing more skimpily or wearing more makeup or dating more freely, they are causing her to fall behind her peers.

Immigrants, especially Muslims, bringing up children in the West suffer a similar conflict. What should be done to handle this problem? The author does not say.

The fact that a highly leftist-oriented and activist mainstream media continuously pushes society toward a shorter-term reproductive climate, consequences be what they may, is not mentioned.

Should Muslims submit to the new climate, admitting that laxer standards are needed for their children, or should they fight off the West and try to keep isolated?

My creed, Quran-focused Islam, inspired by Sayyid Qutb and Ahmad Moftizadeh, offers the way to the solution. Islam should always be an application of the Quran over the modern world. Muslims living in the West, instead of trying to recreate their own mini-Arabia in Nashville, should go back to the Quran daily and ask its opinion on how they should live. This constant “going back to the Quran” leads to an Islam that can embrace or reject cultural practices as needed, responding to the environment and updating itself daily. Unlike Salafism, which tries to apply all Islamic texts to the modern world (trying to create the mini-Arabia mentioned), Quran-focused Islam only tries to apply the Quran, which is a highly simple and “lean” program, using the rest of the texts as helpers toward the Quran, rather than as goals in themselves.

This seemingly simple change in mindset changes everything, enabling Muslims to create a “Western” Islam that is truly and authentically Western. A Muslim Westerner, guided by the Quran, works daily to implement its priorities while remaining fully a citizen of the West, avoiding its evils and embracing its good (which, of course, is easier said than done).

The Muslim Westerner’s mindset toward the West’s short-term reproductive climate is not reactionary, the way the Salafi reaction always is, it is instead  constructive. It does not seek to reject, it seeks to use it to build something new. Muslim men and women, following the Quranic program, live and marry and construct their own Western society that proudly rejects everything it considers inferior and happily embraces everything it considers beneficial. Instead of trying to live in an “intellectual ghetto”, as Tariq Ramadan calls it, they live in the center of the Western intellectual tradition, reforming it, critiquing its weaknesses, calling for betterment, and freely defining new ways of life, exactly the way the intellectual elite throughout the ages have always done, defining new ways of life for themselves often at odds with the wider society.

Parents, instead of trying to restrict their “out of control” daughters, share the program with their daughters, and let the daughters themselves be evangelists of the program. I have seen this phenomenon in many Quran-focused families around me. Unlike in Saudi, where a daughter has to be held in a physical and intellectual cage for her own good, in such families the daughter is given the program and is expected to love it and follow it of her own free will. She becomes an activist social critic, rather than fearful and victim-minded minority.

Teenagers are by nature selfish and short-term minded (I used to be one myself), therefore parental management is still necessary. If Muslim adults don’t attend Western-style parties, neither should their children. The topic of bringing up children in a discordant climate would require its own book, and it is not something I have focused on so far. Perhaps this would the subject of some future work of mine.

Approaching Muslim women

I have seen some Western non-Muslim men wonder how you go about approaching a Muslim woman (i.e. “hitting on her” to see if she is interested in a relationship), since the way they dress often signals unapprochability. The answer is that you don’t approach Muslim women (at least not the vast majority). The author gives an evolutionary explanation for this. Muslim women seek long-term partners, which requires deep knowledge of the man before any contact is made. It is for this reason that parents, relatives and friends are often heavily involved in planning and executing marriages.

Approaching a Muslim woman, telling her she is beautiful and that you find her really interesting will most likely upset and offend her, since you are offering her exactly what she does not want; a relationship based on a short-term sexual attraction, and because being seen talking to a random man can harm her reputation.

Westerners, and some liberal Muslims, think these facts show that Muslims are out of touch or backward, and that they must be “better-educated”, “liberated”, “integrated”, “assimilated” and a whole lot of other euphemisms referring to the belief that Muslims should stop being Muslims and act more like non-Muslims for their own good.

The Quran requires that Muslims implement long-term reproductive strategies in their lives, meaning that for Muslims to remain Muslims, short-term reproductive behaviors can never be normalized. A Muslim woman who has a PhD and is attending a conference is not going to respond positively to some non-Muslim man’s pick-up line no matter how well-educated and liberated she is, if she is a devout Muslim. This is because in effect the man is calling her to abandon her chosen way of life. For her, sexual relationships are long-term matters that require the critique and approval of her family, relatives and friends, since Islam teaches her to think of herself as a member of a community, and to respect the opinions of her relatives and the authority of her parents.

If a man is interested in her, instead of approaching her directly, he does it in a manner that shows his respect for the Muslim community and her family, and that shows his long-term interest in her, by having a friend or relative approach a friend or relative of hers.

Of course, this is not always an option, sometimes a direct approach is the only one possible, for example for a Muslim man and woman studying at the same college but knowing nothing else about one another, and having no one to mediate for them. This is one of the many scenarios that shows the superiority of Quran-focused Islam, since it teaches that instead of trying to implement traditions as if they are binding commandments, it teaches them to follow the Quranic principles (which say very little about courtship), leaving it to the man and woman’s conscience to intelligently follow it.

Islam, women, careers and divorce

The book analyzes the significant relationship between reproductive climates and attitudes toward women having careers. In a short-term climate, men cannot be relied on as providers, since they are interested in independence and short-term sexual relationships. In a long-term climate, men can be relied on, since men have no option but to be providers, in order to be able to attract the love interest of females.

This means that in a short-term climate, a career can be essential to a woman’s survival, while in a long-term climate, it can be largely irrelevant. Western women may look down on or feel sorry for Muslim women for not having careers, while Muslim women may look down on or feel sorry for Western women for being forced to have careers in order to survive.

Men who like to follow a short-term sexual strategy (having sex with widely available women) will promote women’s “liberation” and will hate the idea of women being “locked away” within their families, inaccessible to them. For such men, it can be extremely frustrating to live in a society that limits the availability of women, and they will do everything in their power to bring about change, to “free” these women, to discredit the “backward” patriarchs, to get these women out of society’s protection and into their own hands.

This conflict between different sections of Muslim societies is analysed in detail, and it proves informative in explaining the conflicts existing in these societies between modernists and traditionalists.

In his analysis of Islamic thought as it applies to the topic, the author’s methods and ways of thought are close to mine, which was a pleasant surprise. He refers to some of my favorite scholars while also maintaining a critical eye toward their opinions. He makes many references to the UCLA professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, someone largely unknown to me until reading this book, an unknown treasure whose books I now plan to read.

Reviewing many of the Qur’ānic verses used to justify women’s restricted access to divorce, he concludes that the full implications of these verses have not been fully considered and intimates his opinion that Islam gives women the same access to divorce as it does to men. However, Abou El Fadl seems somewhat troubled that his opinion is in disagreement with the majority of Muslim jurists throughout Islamic history. The question becomes, is the majority opinion the result of the unequivocal evidence found in the sources of Islamic law, or a manifestation of the reproductive climates in which those opinions were formulated?

For me, as someone belonging to the Quran-focused school, the matter of divorce rights for women is a long-solved problem. A woman should have full rights to divorce, because ethically, this is almost certainly crucial for ensuring the fairness of the marriage system. A man is given a degree of authority over his wife in his household. To ensure that this authority does not lead to abuse and tyranny, a woman must always retain the right to leave. Preventing her from leaving is going to greatly reduce her bargaining power in the relationship.

I also support the opinions of the Salafi scholars al-Albani and Ibn Baaz in requiring a formal procedure for a man to divorce his wife, requiring him to stay with her for one menstrual cycle without having sex before the divorce is considered official. I believe that allowing a man to perform a permanent triple divorce by uttering a sentence is a highly damaging and anti-social and defeats the purposes of Islamic law.

The desire to make it difficult for a woman to leave a marriage is an instance of the same patronizing and nanny-ing behavior that scholars show in wanting to make it difficult for Muslims to leave Islam, and both policies are equally counterproductive in my opinion.

If jurists say that letting a woman leave will cause all kinds of social ills, instead of taking their hypothesis for granted, we must question it and ask them for statistical evidence. Are there devout Muslim societies where women can easily get a divorce? Are such societies more likely to accomplish the aims of Islamic law in spreading justice and preventing tyranny, or more likely to accomplish the opposite?

Instead of blindly following tradition, the Quran-focused school teaches that we must boldly question all traditions, and if a scholar ever recommends anything that we find irrational or unjust, we must demand from them extraordinary evidence, because they are making an extraordinary claim; that the Quran supports something irrational or unjust.

Reproductive climates and the practice of fiqh

Fiqh refers to Islamic jurisprudence, the field of discovering the best possible practical applications for the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s traditions ﷺ). One of the main theses of the book is that the reproductive climate affects the way men interpret Islamic principles.

According to Amin, in very-long-term climates like Saudi Arabia, paternity confidence is one of the prime directives in the minds of the scholars, so that they support nearly everything that can in some way restrict a woman from cheating on her husband and make her a better reproductive object.

Egyptians have a less long-term climate, so that their scholars are willing to make concessions to women’s freedom even if they acknowledge that in certain circumstances these granted privileges may lead to less paternity confidence.

Amin’s thesis is that reproductive climates affect the derivation of fiqh, leading to differing rulings (fatwas). This is one of the main conclusions of the book, that Muslim men prefer different interpretations of Islam based on their reproductive climates. To Saudi Muslim men, it is “obvious” that women should be restricted for everyone’s good, while to (cosmopolitan) Egyptian Muslim men, it is “obvious” that women should have more freedoms. A man’s reproductive strategy affects his values and makes him prioritize certain things over others, leading to a type of Islam that fits his own reproductive goals.

This scientific analysis of the derivation of fiqh is important and very much needed in order to separate what is truly Islamic from what is merely cultural within the rulings of the scholars. A new field can be launched, the (evolutionary) sociology of fiqh, that studies these matters.

The limitation of his evolutionary psychology approach is that it treats humans as genetic creatures, so that he studies how manifestations of genetically-driven instincts affect psychological behavior. To me this is only half of evolutionary psychology, although I know that many evolutionary psychologists limit themselves to this.

Humans are not genetic creatures, but genetic-cultural creatures, genes affect culture and culture affects genes. This adds a layer of complexity to human psychology that, if ignored, leads to incomplete theories. Thus the Egyptian toleration for less paternity confidence is not necessarily a consequence of the reproductive climate, it might be a cause of it. Perhaps the cultural appreciation of Egyptians for human rights led to a toleration for a shorter-term reproductive climate, so that this ideal was given priority over the concern for paternity confidence.

A piece of evidence in support of it being culture that affects scholarly opinion toward paternity confidence is that higher IQ Muslim nations (Egyptians, Iranians, Turks, Malaysians) have higher appreciation for our modern romantic ideals than lower IQ nations like Saudi.

IQ is largely genetic (i.e. not cultural), but its consequence is a culture that appreciates various intangible ideals, whose consequence, in turn, is a re-interpretation of religion that tolerates a laxer reproductive climate, since this is more likely to achieve those ideals.

Having a high IQ does not mean that a person will be a nice, idealistic person. Rather, a high IQ population, after accepting certain teachings (Western/Christian philosophy, the Quran, Sufism), ends up becoming something of a humanist.

A low IQ population, given the same teachings, will mostly focus on its form and ignore its content (ideals). Thus low IQ Muslims and Christians are often obsessed with appearances, socialization and ritual, while it is the high IQ Muslims and Christians who bother to read deeply into the texts and reach sweeping conclusions from them.

It is, therefore, my hypothesis that when Islam is given to a high IQ population, the result is a humanist Islam, as is so well seen in modern Egypt. While when Islam is given to a low IQ population (Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan), the result is a focus on texts (naql, its extreme example being Wahhabism) and negligence toward the Quran’s humanist teachings.

While the author’s focus on reproductive concerns within the practice of fiqh is useful and enlightening, it is an incomplete view of the system. Genetics can lead to certain cultural (by “cultural”, I mean everything that’s not genetic) behaviors, which can then come back and influence reproductive behaviors, leading to highly complex feedback loops.

Dress codes for slave women

Amin mentions the fact that jurists have tolerated laxer dress codes for slave women compared to free women. According to his theory, this is a sign of the fact that since a slave woman is a short-term mate (more of an object of desire than reproduction), a short-term mindset toward her was tolerated, some jurists going as far as allowing her to show her breasts in public. Since paternity confidence was not a concern, the amount of skin a slave woman showed was not much of a concern.

This behavior is also seen in Arab and Indo-Pakistani men living in the West who have sexual relationships with Western women without caring much about the woman’s past sexual experience or the way she dresses, but once they go on to seek a wife, they look for women who offer maximal paternity confidence by being virgins who dress modestly.

In both of the above situations, a double standard is maintained depending on the purpose of the woman in question. While the dress codes of slave women have no practical relevance to the modern practice of Islam, from a sociology of fiqh perspective, the matter provides a useful insight into the thinking processes of jurists, showing how personal biases and reproductive goals affect the way Islamic sexual morality is interpreted.

It should, however, be noted that part of the justification for this double standard for the dress codes of free vs. slave women is verse 33:59 of the Quran:

O Prophet! Tell your wives, and your daughters, and the women of the believers, to lengthen their garments. That is more proper, so they will be recognized and not harassed. God is Forgiving and Merciful.

A common interpretation of “so they will be recognized” is that so that it will be known that they are free women and not slaves (as mentioned in al-Tabari’s tafseer). This clearly provides justification for tolerating different dress codes for different classes of women.

Another Persian scholar, al-Razi, interprets this verse as saying that virtuous women should dress more conservatively if there is a chance they will run into uncouth strangers, so that those strangers may recognize them as virtuous women and not women open to flirtation. This interpretation is far more satisfactory in my opinion and prevents the use of the verse as justification for having double standards regarding different classes of women.

Short-term reproductive climates versus civilization

The most significant missing topic in Conflicts of Fitness is an analysis of the long-term consequences of short-term climates, which perhaps cannot be done without bringing politics and morality into the discussion, and therefore perhaps this is why the author avoided it. It is my belief, expressed in detail in Sex and Purpose, that short-term reproductive climates are inherently anti-civilization.

A man needs to feel integrated into his society, to feel as a part of its rises and falls, in order to be invested in its long-term welfare. Short-term climates turn men into societal satellites who dip into it when it benefits them, but who are ultimately free to move on and leave it for somewhere else where the grass is greener. Men no longer think of building a better world for their grandchildren, but of earning enough money to attract the most sexually desirable mates as quickly as possible, to have no-strings-attached sex as often as they can, and to continue to maintain a fulfilling life that maximizes pleasures and minimizes burdens.

In such a climate, the economy is “financialized”, everything is about short-term returns, and anyone who invests his money expecting returns 20 years from now on is considered hopelessly old-fashioned. The entire economy starts to function on the short-term sexual mindset; take as much pleasure as you can, give as little back as you can. Men financially rape and plunder, women worship power and privilege and offer themselves up for sale to the highest bidder.

What would be the fate of the country in 2100? Who cares? Maximize money and orgasms.

Individuals can talk about sustainability, anti-consumerism and charity. But expecting such things to be taken seriously in a short-term reproductive climate is like expecting a tree to grow on Mars, and therefore all movements that promote these things are going to be largely incapable of doing anything against the general flow of history toward ever more short-term decisions that damage and destroy civilization’s foundations. This process is slow and subtle, and therefore goes widely unnoticed.

The ideals of civilization are all long-term; a respect for truth, fairness and sustainability. A short-term climate will always act as an incentive to abandon these ideals in favor of short-term interests (personal power and profit). It is for this reason that today very few scientists are willing to state politically incorrect scientific facts. In this short-term climate, the scientists and intellectuals that rise to the top are not those that are best at unbiased factual analysis or contributing to civilization, but those who are best at being fashionable through doublespeak, cherry picking of facts and avoidance of sensitive topics.

In short-term climates, the parasites raise to the top. The lender class (the bankers and their friends, nearly every member of the super-rich), who through interest extract profit from the economy at the expense of everyone else, end up owning most of the country’s economy, real estate, publishing and media, and use their immense wealth and power to continually push society toward reflecting their short-term-oriented rape-and-plunder mindset, and part of this is the promotion of sexual freedom. They do not necessarily do this out of malice, it could just be the human desire for short-term gain.

On the one hand, there is civilization and what it needs to stay alive; a thriving population that respects its long-term ideals. On the other hand, there is the short-term climate and its love for the wide availability of other people’s money and daughters. A Manhattan billionaire would absolutely hate to be forced to sit in his office without having easy access to attractive and sexually receptive women, therefore it is a central aim of the billionaire mindset to promote sexual freedom. 99 out of a 100 billionaires probably feel a strong revulsion for anything that threatens their supply of sexually available young women, the way they feel a strong revulsion for anything that threatens the profits they extract from society.

I admit that an objective analysis of these phenomena would be needed to show beyond reasonable doubt that short-term climates are inherently anti-civilization. For now, it is a general conclusion that I have reached over the years, and the facts of the modern world and history both seem to strongly support this theory. The only place where a short-term climate can sustain civilization is the minds of science fiction writers.

What does Islam select for?

All societies select for something. —Greg Cochran
All policy is eugenics.1 —Ikram Hawramani

Another relevant and highly interesting topic that is not covered by the book is the effects of reproductive climates on genes. For example, in a society that practices polygyny for long enough, the sex ratio will likely correct itself so that slightly more women than men will be born.

As I explain in my essay The Gene-Culture, any study of humans that entirely focuses on genes, or entirely focuses on culture, is going to be incomplete, because it focuses on one force while ignoring its equally important companion force.

A study of religious policies toward gender as entirely reproductive strategies, while highly informative, is incomplete. Thinking in terms of centuries and millennia, rather than in terms of individual generations and societies, will bring into focus the importance of religion as a gene-modifying force; Islamic culture will rewrite genes by selecting for certain characteristics and against others, the same way that genes (and reproductive strategies) affect our practice and interpretation of Islam, causing us to focus on certain aspects of Islam (and ignore others at times).

Islam rewards and promotes self-restraint, which is strongly associated with IQ, therefore high IQ people will get a favorable treatment under Islam compared to lower IQ people who have difficulty with self-restraint. A woman who has a reputation for being “wild” is going to be passed up by men in favor of women who have a reputation for restraint. A man who does not have the long-term planning capacity to get a degree and a good career is going to be passed up by women in favor of men who have such capabilities.

Short-term climates create winner-take-all realities where a few attractive men get to have sex with a great number of women, as Conflicts of Fitness studies in detail, while the less sexually attractive and shy “nerdy” men are going to find it very difficult to have sex.

The Islamic system prevents this reality from existing. It punishes the womanizing “alpha males” by forcing them into long-term relationships where they have to make do with one, two or at most four women. And since many of these “alpha males” will not have the money to take care of too many women at the same time, they will often be forced to make do with just one or two women. This means that the rest of the women will not have access to these men, so that they are forced to settle for less attractive men.

In an Islamic society, similar to Japanese society 100 years ago, the majority of men will be able to marry, including shy and nerdy ones who are totally incapable of using charisma to attract women. This fact of Islamic societies may be a significant contributor to the high fertility rates that devout Muslim societies enjoy.

The system may slowly increase IQ by enabling nerdy men to pass on their genes, instead of turning nerdy-ness into an evolutionary dead-end. The explosion of European innovation over 1000 years ago may have been partly caused by Christianity’s spread, enabling nerds to marry and reproduce, while before that, it is possible that they had a winner-take-all system where men who fitted the warrior archetype left the most offspring, and those who did not were less likely to survive and pass on their genes. This, however, is a big speculation.

As for today, throughout all sexually open societies (Western Europe, South Korea, Japan), nerdy men seem to feel isolated, purposeless and shunned by their societies, since short-term sexual climates always reward the alpha male archetype. This may cause a long-term dysgenic effect that decreases IQ, along with decreasing fertility rates in general.

Conclusion

Conflicts of Fitness is a worthy contribution in the best tradition of Western civilization, an effort to arrive at the truth without concern for political considerations. Many Islamic books quickly become tiresome as the author tries to signal their virtue and belonging to the Islamic establishment, and many Western books suffer from exactly the same thing; authors virtue-signalling and using doublespeak and the cherry-picking of facts to please crowds at the expense of the truth.

Conflicts of Fitness avoids these ills and provides much food for thought that will hopefully help in the goal of reforming Islam while avoiding infecting it with new Western diseases. The book should also contribute toward the equally important goal of rescuing the Western tradition from the clutches of irrationalism.

Islam’s theory of free will versus physical determinism: Why humans are responsible for their actions even though God operates the universe

Emission Nebula

In your essay “God, Evolution and Abiogenesis,” you said an atom has no power to move on its own. It is God who has to move every single thing that moves in this world. Given that, does that mean we don’t have free will? On the atomic level, it is due to the chemical reactions and the firing of neurons in our brains that we think and make decisions. So, since God is responsible for everything that’s in motion (including atoms), then isn’t God to blame for all my immoral actions?

Your soul is “plugged into” this universe without being part of it. When you desire to lift up your hand, the desire is yours, therefore you are responsible for this action, but it is God who actually has to move the atoms (and everything else) for your hand to actually move.

When you play a video game, you can issue a command for your game character to lift its hand. You personally have no power to lift the character’s hand, it is the video game engine that actually has to carry your command out, and if the video game engine malfunctions, no matter how many times you issue the command for your character to do something, it may not do it.

When your soul, which is independent from this universe, issues a command, it is fully responsible for this command. But this command is nothing but a feeble wish, it has zero power to change the universe. It is God who has to communicate the soul’s commands to your body, and it is God who has to carry the command out by moving the universe, since nothing in this universe has the power or ability to move or change by itself.

So your soul is free, it is not part of the functioning of this universe. This universe can be thought of as a simulation that is entirely upheld and operated by God. Your soul has no power except to wish for things, and God can transfer these wishes to the body that is temporarily under a human’s control inside our universe. When a person dies, the soul is simply “unplugged” from the universe, and when the person is resurrected, the soul is plugged back into a new body in a different universe, or an outer universe inside of which our universe is contained.

Since He wants us to have the choice of disbelieving in Him, He always reliably operates this universe for us, making us think that we have control over our brains and bodies, and making us think that this universe would function by itself even if there was no God. This is a necessary part of the design of the universe, to make faith in God a choice.

Imagine yourself as sitting in a room outside of this universe, holding a remote control that enables you to send commands to your brain and body which are inside the universe. You are responsible for the commands you issue, but you do not have any power or authority to cause a change within the universe. God (or some mechanism laid down by Him) changes the universe so that the command is carried out. He does this so reliably for us that we are tricked into thinking that we have power over this universe.

In reality, the view of the universe we arrive at from the Quran is that it is a simulation-like thing upon which humans have zero power. The human soul is temporarily given the illusion of control over a body, and as the soul issues commands, God moves the body in response, as part of everything else He does in operating this universe.

Saying the soul is independent of this universe does not mean that it is not affected by it. By being plugged into this universe, it experiences it and responds to it. When a human is presented with a temptation, the physical body (and I include the brain in this), which belongs to this universe, responds to it and desires it. The soul, however, maintains final judgment on whether the human succumbs to the temptation or not. The stronger the temptation is, the less room there is for the soul to exert control over the physical body, and the weaker the temptation, the more control the soul has over the body. For this reason we are not always, perhaps never, entirely responsible for the bad deeds we do, the environment affects us and pushes us toward some things. The mistake is in thinking that the environment completely controls us, which is what some atheists say. The Quran says that while the environment affects us, our soul maintains its independence, being able to go against the environment if it wants.

God could prevent all evil from happening, since all that He has to do is stop carrying out an evil person’s intentions, or cause slight changes so that a terrible accident does not happen. I explain why He does not prevent evil things from taking place in my essay Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Humans would have had no responsibility for their actions if they were merely brains and bodies, similar to other animals. If things were so, they would be parts of this universe, and everything they do would be a consequence of the motion of particles and forces within the universe, similar to the actions of bacteria in a pond. But when a soul is plugged into the body, the soul “rides” the body, taking charge of it, directing it, and being responsible for it.

At times, the physical body is out of control, such as when under the influence of a drug, or due to mental illness, or due to witnessing some horrible crime. When this happens, when the soul loses control over the brain and body, it is no longer responsible for what the brain and body do until it regains control.

Our responsibility for a sinful act increases as the involvement of the soul increases. If there is no terrible temptation making us partially lose control over the human body that we control, if our sin is done in cold blood while having full control over the earthly body, then this is a far greater sin than a sin done out of overwhelming desire.

This concept also applies to good deeds. A person who forces their unwilling earthly body to do a good deed is going to deserve higher rewards than a person who only does good deeds that make them feel good. It is for this reason that Umar ibn Abdul Aziz says:

The best good deeds are those that one has to force the ego to perform.

When your ego wants to do evil and your soul overcomes it and prevents it from doing it, or your ego dislikes to do a good deed but your soul overcomes it and forces it to do it, in both of these cases you deserve reward, you used your free will to go against the environment, against the ego your soul is plugged into.

The ego is the earthly body’s sense of self. Even if humans had no free will, if they were merely animals, they would still have an ego. This ego makes them seek what they desire and avoid what they do not desire. The soul is an add-on over the ego, able to override it or go along with it. The ego is arrogant, loves pleasures and dislikes work. The soul can submit to it and do as the ego pleases. It can also receive guidance, submit to God and go against the ego when the ego desires something harmful.

You will meet some humans who mostly live inside their egos. The soul has nearly fully relinquished all control, letting the ego make nearly all of their decisions for them. These people are greedy, power-hungry and love pleasures, they are kind and loving toward their own families (since it is an animal instinct to be this way toward one’s own family), but have no empathy or understanding for others. If their child unjustly beats up someone else’s child, they will continue to defend their own child without caring about right or wrong, since they judge things based on the ego, and the ego wants what is good for the human animal’s interests and does not care about justice.

An easy way to find out if someone lives in their ego is to ask yourself, “Will this person help me if helping me required them to do something that gave them some inconvenience and discomfort?” People who live in their egos will generally only help others if helping others is easy and costs them nothing. If there is any cost involved, they immediately ignore the person who is asking for help, treating them as an annoyance to be gotten rid of. But if helping others will bring them fame and praise, they will do it.

The concepts mentioned in this answer are not meant to be used in scientific discussions with atheists, they help explain the Quranic view on these matters for people who have already accepted the truth of the Quran. The concepts in this essay are also useful in discussions with atheists like Sam Harris who falsely claim that the theory of physical determinism proves free will wrong. If the universe was physically determinate, there would be no free will. But there is no proof for this, as I will explain. What they say is similar to saying “If God did not exist, then there would be no God.” In reality, we can have a perfectly scientific universe that appears physically determinate, while also having free will that operates in parallel to it, and which to a scientist appears either as randomness or as a chaotic and emergent behavior

There is no proof that free will exists, the same way there is no proof that God exists. All that we have is soft evidence (rather than hard evidence) that the Quran is true, and once we have accepted the Quran as true, we accept that both God and free will exist.

LGBT rights versus religion: Refuting “everyone should do what makes them happy as long as it doesn’t affect others”

Ludgate, Evening by John O’Connor (1887)

The statement “everyone should do what makes them happy as long as it doesn’t affect others” is from a reddit comment I saw. It aptly sums up the common secularist Western mindset toward things like gay marriage. The one who says it generally assumes this is an undeniable and inalienable right, meaning that there is absolutely no way anyone with a functioning brain, common sense and a lack of religious brainwashing should oppose it. It is perhaps an extension of the train of thought so well-put in America’s Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The problem with it, however, is that it assumes that humanity is purposeless. This is not surprising, since the people who believe in it are secularists to a greater or lesser degree. But if humanity has a purpose, then the statement is false. People should not pursue what makes them happy, even if it doesn’t affect others, they should pursue whatever serves their purpose.

Therefore, embracing the statement is not a sign of being modern and enlightened, and opposing it is not a sign of backwardness and a lack of empathy for others. The difference is not between being modern or backward, the difference is in whether you consider humanity purposeless or purposeful. If humanity is purposeless, they should peaceably follow their instincts, as the statement advocates. If humanity has a purpose, humans should fulfill that purpose, instead of (merely) peaceably following their instincts.

If you have a purpose, and if acting upon an instinct goes against your purpose, then it logically follows that you shouldn’t do it.

Therefore the right to do as you please as long as it doesn’t harm others is self-evident and inalienable only if you presuppose that humans are purposeless (that there is not a God who has designated certain purposes for humanity). Since the religious do not presuppose these, they do not believe in the statement.

In a society in which both religious and irreligious people live, whose word should take precedence, since there is no hard evidence for humanity having a purpose?

Generally, as is happening in Australia, opposition to things like gay marriage is portrayed as ignorance and backwardness, since the liberals who support these things are completely and utterly incapable of seeing the religious viewpoint (that the existence of purpose requires avoiding the fulfillment of certain desires), they rather, just as ignorantly and closed-mindedly as any religious person, start with their own unproven presupposition (that humanity is purposeless), then illogically and irrationally use this to “prove” that homosexual marriage is an inalienable right.

You cannot prove something using an unproven presupposition, whether you are religious or liberal. The religious cannot prove that homosexual marriage is “wrong”, and the liberal cannot prove that homosexual marriage is “right”, since the root of the disagreement is in whether humanity has a purpose or not, something about which there is no hard evidence, whether to prove it or disprove it.

Therefore in a democratic society where both religious and irreligious people live side-by-side, instead of turning the matter into a barbaric scuffle filled with hatred, calls for blood and utter lack of empathy for the other, it should be settled democratically. The religious believe that it harms humanity’s purpose to practice homosexual marriage or tolerate it, the irreligious do not believe this. If the society is democratic, then each has the right to work for what they believe to be right like civilized humans, rather than like quarreling schoolchildren.

Those who support homosexual marriage will say that it is their inalienable right to enjoy the type of marriage they choose, what right does society have to dictate things for them? Society dictates many things on people to prevent things it considers harmful. If God exists and dislikes homosexual marriage and punishes those who engage in it, and if the spread of homosexual marriage means that society will tolerate it more, so that more of the children of the religious will be influenced by it and perhaps engage in it, then it logically follows that the religious should oppose homosexual marriage for the good of their children and societies.

You could say that the spread of homosexual marriage will not affect the choices of the religious, since they are free what they do. But that’s like saying the spread of child pornography and rape pornography is OK since people are free whether they actually molest children or rape people. Most people, including liberals, are opposed to the toleration of child pornography and rape pornography because they think it “normalizes” these things and makes it more likely for people to engage in them. The exact same logic applies to homosexual marriage; tolerating it normalizes it, which makes it more likely for people to engage in it. If the behavior is harmless, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the religious consider it harmful.

Therefore the religious opposition to homosexuality is not illogical; It is based on logic that begins with an unproven presupposition (that humans have a purpose, i.e. that God exists and commands things), while the liberal position is also based on logic that begins with an unproven presupposition (that humans are purposeless, that God does not exist or that He does not command things or certain things).

Therefore while as a liberal you have the right to work for what you consider your rights, you’d be wrong to think that an opposition to gay marriage is illogical or irrational, it uses the same methods you use (logic that starts with an unproven presupposition) to reach the conclusion that gay marriage should be prohibited. If the religious are illogical and irrational for basing their thinking on an unproven presupposition, you too are illogical and irrational for basing your thinking on an unproven presupposition.

One could go on to say that the burden of proof is on the religious to prove that there is any validity to religious thinking, that the starting point of human rationality is irreligion, therefore an irreligious presupposition (that humans are purposeless) does not require proof, while a religious presupposition (that humans have purpose) requires proof.

This argument is incorrect because rationalism does not begin at irreligion, but at a state of confusion that seeks answers, which may either lead to religion or irreligion. There is much soft evidence to direct one toward religion, as I explain in my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species, while there are also things that make one doubt the validity of religion, such as the fact that there is no hard evidence for it.

Therefore the two positions are equal; whether you presuppose the existence of purpose when you oppose homosexual marriage, or you presuppose its lack when you support homosexual marriage, you are performing exactly the same logical exercise. You either adopted religion and used it to derive principles, or you adopted irreligion and used it to derive principles.

The liberals and and the religious both started at the same place (confusion), were exposed to the world and its experiences, then used their rational brains to arrive at differing conclusions. From a moral and ethical standpoint, liberals have no right to belittle certain humans for using their rational brains to arrive at conclusions that differ from theirs. If they respected human rights, human dignity, ethics and the democratic process, they would respectfully disagree with the religious instead of dehumanizing them.

As the (atheist) writer Terry Pratchett says, evil starts when people are treated as things. If it is evil to dehumanize gay people, it is also evil to dehumanize those who oppose gay marriage. Gays and those who oppose gay marriage are both humans, and a fair-minded person will never forget this humanity and the respect and kindness it necessitates.

I consider the whole issue of gay marriage a symptom of the West’s decline, rather than a cause. It is exactly the same as the issue of sex outside of marriage. Christians who themselves engage in sex outside of marriage and other mortal sins (like usury) cannot help but appear as utter hypocrites when they oppose gay marriage.

The gay marriage issue is very useful, as it helps distract attention away from society’s actual problems. If half of the country is foaming at the mouth with anger as they support or oppose gay marriage, they will have little time and energy to critique the utter corruption of their governments, the fact that the banks control their economies, the fact that a few people own and control most of their country’s major media outlets.

And to a neo-Marxist leftist (which is what most of the people who run the mainstream media and academia are), the gay marriage issue is useful in driving wedges into society, making one section fight another, and reaping power and profit from the process; delegitimizing religion and religious institutions and making their own ideologies replace them, making themselves the heroes of the supposedly oppressed, and enforcing a militant culture of political correctness where no one dares to oppose them and stand up to them.

It is the Marxist project all over again, making one section of society hate the other (workers against capitalists, women against men, minorities against whites, LGBT against the religious), and reaping immense power and profit from the process, with zero concern for the lives destroyed, the decay in manners, the utter lack of respect for ethics, the dehumanization and promotion of hatred and violence against millions of innocent people. If millions suffer in the process, let God sort them out; almost no one remembers the 11 million innocent Christian men, women and children murdered by the Marxists. If our new Marxists do the same in promoting the dehumanization of millions of people and violence toward them, who cares as long as they get to gain power, influence, fame and outrageous salaries as pundits, non-profit executives, academic bureaucrats and career victims?

Why does God oppose homosexuality and gay marriage?

See my essay On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims. While this essay is written from an Islamic perspective, the reasons why Islam opposes gay marriage are similar to the reasons why Christians do it.

Civilization versus Feminism

Prospect of London by Antonio Joli (mid-18th century)

Why should people get married? Why can’t we all just be enlightened, have sex with whoever we want without getting society, the clergy and the government involved?

This page that you are viewing contains the whole of chapter 25 of my book Sex and Purpose, available on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook and paperback.

The point of marriage is that you cannot have civilization without it. For a society to be sustainable (to have above-replacement birthrates, i.e. to not go extinct due to depopulation), it is necessary that men be forced by society into getting into long-term relationships with women, relationships that they cannot casually get out of.

To see what happens without marriage, do not look at enlightened bachelors and professional single women in big cities who are having a rocking time doing whatever they want without a care in the world. These people generally themselves come from traditional families. Their existence relies on the existence of marriage, but the fact that they have abandoned it does not immediately cause their social circles to implode. It takes generations for this to happen.

Instead, look at America’s ghettos and trailer parks, where many men would gag at the thought of being a family man, settling down and working on creating and building things of long-term value. Instead, men sleep with whoever they have access to, without accepting any responsibility for whatever happens afterwards. A man will generally not stay with any woman for a significant length of time if he find a better one, and he will generally have children with multiple women, not accepting responsibility for any of his offspring, but rather considering it an annoyance, something to be escaped, because it prevents him from living his ghetto glamour lifestyle to be forced to be there for his kids.

His children grow up generally not knowing who their father us. They belong to their mothers. This leads to what is known as a matrilineal society, a society where children identify with their mothers, where the fathers are insignificant satellites without much purpose or function.

Some feminists think that this is how all men are. Their books are full of references to “deadbeat dads”, as if this is what every man wants to be. Ironically, they also fully support the thought of men being insignificant, the thought of children belonging to their mothers rather than their fathers, of matrilineal societies ruled by matriarchs, not realizing that since such societies have no place for fathers, all fathers in such societies are going to be to some degree deadbeat ones.

In general, there are two types of societies in this world. The first are matrilineal ones, where fathers are insignificant and do not care much for their children. Such societies exist among tribes in the Amazon and in Africa, and in America’s ghettos and trailer parks. The most important fact about such societies is that they are not civilizations. Traditional matrilineal societies are all close to the Stone Age technologically. And as for non-traditional societies, those living in technologically advanced societies, they too are entirely technologically incapable, if it wasn’t for the larger civilization supporting them, they too would slowly revert back to the Stone Age, because they are incapable of innovation, of long-term planning, of having hope in the future instead of placing all of one’s focus in short-term gratification.

The lower class whites living in a trailer park are not going to sit down and think of building a wildlife conservation foundation. That is only something done by rich and overeducated weirdoes. It is far more sensible in their opinion to use their money on drink and women.

The other type of society is the patrilineal society. This is a society that, instead of letting men do whatever they like, having sex with whoever they want, it forces them to stay with just one woman (or a few, in polygamous societies). The society holds its men responsible for the wellbeing of their women and children. Through various psychological manipulation tactics, such as shaming its men for not being “real men” if they fail to do what is best for their women and children, men are forced to work day and night to improve their own lot and the lot of their women and children, instead of lying back and just enjoying life like men do in matrilineal societies.

Extremist feminist ideology wants to destroy the “patriarchy”, to prove that men are worthless and insignificant. They think it is a good thing to destroy traditional values that have “forced” women into being men’s companions and supporters, instead of being their own persons. They want children to belong to their mothers, not fathers. They do not realize that what they are, in effect, trying to establish, is a matrilineal society. A matrilineal society, by making men insignificant and worthless, forces its men to be uninvested in the long-term wellbeing and survival of their women, children and society, so that the society always falls into decay.

By destroying patriarchy, by making men insignificant in society, they are made to feel little allegiance to their women and children. They will much rather enjoy themselves than worry about raising a family, and they will do what they can to escape taking responsibility for their children.

A deadbeat dad is not a patriarchal dad. He is a matrilineal dad. African matrilineal tribes are entirely made up of “deadbeat” dads, where no man even knows who his children are, he just knows among the 10 or 20 women he has had sex with, some of the children born to them are his, he doesn’t care which. The same reality is recreated in America’s ghettos and trailer parks, whether they are populated by blacks or whites.

Feminist ideology holds that the law can be used to enforce matriarchy on society on the one hand, and to to force men to be highly invested in their societies and their women on the other hand.

What feminism does is destroy the very societal mechanisms that force men to be invested in their women and children (by destroying marriage, promoting sexual freedom, single motherhood and the idea that men are worthless), and to replace it with a new mechanism, the law, to force men do what women want.

Just like communism1, feminism wants to throw away the traditional societal mechanisms for the survival of civilizations that humanity has developed over the millennia, thinking it knows better, thinking it can destroy it all and use the law to force a new, and better order on humanity.

The result is that neither communism nor feminism work in the long-term. Communism does not work because it is against human nature to not be allowed to keep the fruit of one’s work. Communism is exactly the same as feudalism, where the lord of the manor keeps everyone’s harvest for himself, promising to take care of the peasants himself by distributing resources where he sees fit. All communist states have a massive police state that strikes terror into the hearts of their citizens. This is necessary because human nature rebels against communism. Human nature needs to be beat into shape daily by the communist state to ensure that things continue to function.

What feminism does is more subtle. By creating a culture where men are made to be the bad guys, worthless and stupid2, men are no longer made to feel invested in their societies, instead acting like the men in matrilineal societies, enjoying video games, drinks, sports, movies, pornography and any sex they can have, without wanting to get entangled with marriage.

The result is that birthrates plummet and women find it increasingly difficult to find men who want them for marriage, rather than for a casual sexual relationship. In a traditional society like Egypt, any reasonably attractive woman is guaranteed to have many men wanting to marry her and take care of her for life. In a feminist society, many men will recoil from marriage. They are told for all of their lives that the world would be better without them, that women are morally their superiors, that men are the source of nearly all evil on this earth, and they take this to heart. They stop believing in building and creating, in seeing society thrive, because they do not consider themselves worthy or fit enough to be involved in all that.

Similar to the men in undeveloped matrilineal societies, they spend their lives not as men, but as man-children, never feeling they have a place in society, feeling like unimportant satellites that may occasionally be involved with society, but that do not really belong to it.

The purpose of marriage, which is a patriarchal construct, is to sell men the idea that there is something special about their relationship with a woman, that it is not just about sex or about his or her selfish interests, that it is something more.

For a matrilineal man, a woman is little more than a vagina, something to be used and enjoyed, but ultimately not worth much interest beyond that. This is why hip-hop culture, whether black or white, uses the word “ho” (i.e. whore) as a word for all women. To them a woman is something to be bought and used. Such men will cynically laugh at the idea of cherishing a woman and her children, being in love with her and wanting to take care of her for life. What they believe in is promising a woman the world, showing her one’s money, cars and gold, getting into her pants, enjoying her for as long as she is useful, then moving on once it gets boring.

The patriarchy, where men are made to be women’s servants and protectors, otherwise they wouldn’t be “real men”. Painting by Frederic Leighton.

Similar to the way that the rank of a soldier comes with various duties and functions that are imposed upon him by the military, the rank of a husband comes with various duties and functions that are imposed upon him by patriarchal society. He is not a real man if he simply enjoys life and couldn’t care less what happens to society or to the women he has sex with. He is a real man if he works, if he creates, if he gets himself killed defending his wife and children, if he spends his whole life being a nobody who did nothing more glorious than raising a good enough family, if he spends his entire life in the service of his woman and children.

All of these are heavy duties, and men will refuse to carry them unless they are made to believe that they have a worthy and admirable place in society, unless they are made to believe in the societal fairytale that being a husband is more than just being someone who has regular sex with a particular woman.

What feminism does is destroy that fairytale. By stamping on men’s sense of worth in society day and night, in books, at college lectures, in films and TV shows, it forces men to abandon their sense of allegiance to their society. They are made to think and feel that everything would function just fine without them, so that you have 35-year-old manchildren who still have no idea what they are going to do with their lives, exactly like the men in matrilineal societies.

By destroying the patriarchal fairytale of marriage, the result is plummeting birthrates. In the short-term, this doesn’t mean anything much, which is why many people can say that we already have enough people, so what if the US ends up having 150 million people instead of 325?

But a far-sighted person will see that if birthrates are below replacement, then the society will dwindle until it goes extinct. The US population of 325 million will dwindle to 3 million in 900 years if it ends up having Japan’s depopulation rate of losing 34% of its population every 90 years.

Since we love post-apocalyptic films, the idea of a depopulated US may actually sound attractive. But what actually happens when a population starts to dwindle is that it is taken over by patriarchal sectors of the population who continue to maintain high birthrates.

The US population will not dwindle to zero. It will be replaced by those parts of the population who continued to maintain a patriarchal mode of living, believing in marriage and the importance and worth of men.

Therefore while some men’s rights activists see a dystopian vision of a feminist police state ruling the West decades from now, what actually happens is that once feminism reaches its peak of power, that is when its demise starts, because those who buy the feminist version of reality that is being sold in the media and everywhere else are going to suffer low fertility rates and will be thrown out of the gene pool. Those who remain are those who are intelligent, cultured or religious enough to reject it, so that they maintain a patriarchal mode of living.

When I say “patriarchal”, I do not mean one where sexist men are in charge of everything. I mean a society where both men and women are respected and honored, like in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but better. Where women are free to pursue careers if they want, and where no one gets away with discriminating against women.

In the type of society I believe in, men and women are considered equally worthy members working for the same enterprise, each serving his or her own evolutionary function in the best way possible. Both men and women are considered humans before they are anything else, and their humanity is respected in all matters. Their sex organs are secondary to this. Men will serve their evolutionary function of creating form, while women will serve their function of being substance, not out of compulsion, but because they like it.

Isn’t it demeaning for a woman to define her function with respect to men, instead of doing whatever she wants? No. It might feel that way for a few, who are free to do as they like. But the majority will be perfectly happy to do what millions of years of evolution have chosen them to do best; being a man’s home, being the thing that a man sacrifices his everything for. Most women would rather marry a king instead of building a kingdom, because most women will not get a kick out of building a kingdom, doing the drudgery, the planning, the hard and boring work necessary to build anything significant, while men are designed to enjoy all of that work. Your ideal man will find that idea of marrying a queen and becoming part of her kingdom somewhat demeaning, because evolution has chosen men to do the opposite.

It is the man who builds and the woman who enters what he has built, not the other way round. Most men will not be proud of becoming part of what a woman has built, and most women will not be happy to build things for a man to become part of. This is the evolutionary rule. There are exceptions, but the exceptions do not nullify the rule. We do not need to destroy our heritage and evolutionary past because some idiot thinks he or she has a better idea.

Most families will function best with the man as the CEO and the woman as the vice president. I respect a woman’s intelligence and courage in ensuring that this arrangement works out in her best interests and the best interests of her children. She will agree to be part of such an arrangement because she likes it, because she knows this is how she can get her money’s worth. If women can easily get a divorce, if there are government agencies and hotlines to protect women’s rights and prosecute abusive husbands, then women can both enjoy their evolutionary role of being emotionally bonded to a man and belonging to his civilization, and being protected from abusive relationships. Intelligent and well-educated women can continue to work as women’s rights activists, ensuring that no injustice is done toward women, without advocating for injustice against men as so often is done by feminists.

There can be a new breed of feminists who, instead of thinking they must carry a man’s burdens to be considered worthy, make full use of the men available to them, enjoy the evolutionary instincts of sexual bonding and belonging, and do whatever else they want with their lives. Such women will have the best mental and physical wellbeing any woman can have, because they will enjoy acting according to their genetics while also having their humanity and freedoms respected. There would be no psychological conflict in their heads between their respect for women’s rights and letting a man impregnate them, between intellectual aspirations and raising children, because their sexual lives, their place in society and their intellectual lives will all be in line.

Masculinism

Feminism rejects all male-defined (or presumably male-defined) ideas regarding female role and function, building a new one that is meant to be entirely woman-made. That it is only a very small cross-section of womanhood that is writing and directing nearly all feminist ideology is irrelevant to them.

Feminism’s male alternative would be masculinism, the male ideology that all woman-defined (or presumably woman-defined) ideas regarding the male role and function should be rejected. Instead of living up to a woman’s expectations, any woman’s, a man does what he wants with his life. Whether it is a traditionalist woman wanting him to be a family man, or a feminist wanting him to be a metrosexual male feminist, he equally rejects both, going his own way instead. The MGTOW (men going their own way) movement is mostly this way, acting as feminism’s counterpart. Unlike feminists, who have billions of dollars in funding, this movement has close to zero funding, therefore few people know about it.

If feminism is destructive to civilization, masculinism is equally destructive. In both cases, the two parts of this two-part organism stupidly and shortsightedly work for their own benefit, rejecting their dependence and relationship with the other part, thinking that this is the way to achieve their true purpose, their true fulfillment in life.

Whether it is men or women ignoring their evolutionary reality (that they are designed to join in sex with a member of the opposite sex, creating a single organism and working for its benefit), the result is the same. Traditional roles and values are discarded, each sex selfishly works for its own good with no concern for how it affects the other sex, and the end result is that neither sex is too invested in their society and civilization, resulting in low birthrates and dysfunctional families.

If there were no feminists, but masculinism was the order of the day the way feminism is today, the result would be the same. We would have men constantly working for their own sex’s benefit and calling the other sex stupid, worthless and inferior, telling her a man needs a woman the way a fish needs a bicycle3, telling her the world would be a better place without her, and that she is responsible for all of the world’s problems.4

Some men think that it is justified to be a masculinist as a response to feminism. That is what feminists say too, that even if they are selfish and misandrist (male-hating), men have had it coming for centuries.

Those of us who are adults can escape these melodramatic and juvenile arguments and act according to evolutionary reality, doing what brings us most fulfillment. I will never be selfish toward the woman I love, I will never treat her like anything less than a man, and I will never blame her for acting the way women are designed to act. And I will never marry a woman who thinks men are inferior to women.

Unlike the people of either camp, I will not consider men and women rivals. I will consider them equal members of the same species and union, each making the other the way it is, both working for the same goal.

Man’s Masculine Role and Woman’s Feminine Role in Family and Civilization

As has already been covered, man’s job in his family is to create the peace and space within which his woman and children can be happy and carefree.

This page that you are viewing contains the whole of chapter 21 of my book Sex and Purpose, available on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook and paperback.

A human is a two-bodied organism. The male’s job is to reshape and maintain the external environment within which successful procreation can happen. The female’s job is to create the internal environment within which successful procreation can happen.

A man builds the civilization or nest, the woman inhabits it and builds the children inside her. Similar to the way a queen bee takes care of procreation while the rest take care of going out to gather resources,  building the colony and defending her, a woman takes care of procreation while the man takes care of providing for her, building what is needed by their civilization and defending her and it.

Those are the fundamental genetic instincts that drive humans. Since humans are highly complex creatures, they can create various differing arrangements that do not always reflect the form/substance distinction between a man and his woman. But regardless of what civilization it is you are looking at, you will see the above realities operating underneath everything else.

A man’s focus is external, he is always interested in the other, in the environment, in ideas, in machines and structures. A woman’s focus is internal. She is interested in herself and her relationship with the world, in maintaining herself, her children and her relationships with her man, her relatives and everyone else.

Whenever we are looking at a man and woman who have sex regularly, we are looking at a single creature that works for its own good, each body doing what is necessary for the whole.

Man fulfilling his masculine purpose. Boat Builder by John George Brown (c. 1904)

Since a man’s focus is external, he doesn’t care too much about his relationships. He wants to reach a stable, reliable relationship with his woman, something that is achieved best if she is young and he has regular sex with her, so that a deep emotional bond is maintained. Once this is achieved, he wants to be free to do what is necessary to improve his family’s situation in the world. He does not want what he calls relationship drama, because it reflects an inefficiency within the internal structure of his family, which is not his specialty. It is for this reason that men generally do not like romantic novels and films. Men want to find the perfect woman and be bonded with her ever after. It is the “ever after” they are interested in, the things they can accomplish once everything is working. While for a woman, it is not the ever after that is so much her interest as the process of getting there.

She is designed to enjoy working to get there, meaning she enjoys the work of romance, the work of catching the right guy to join his already-built or being-built kingdom.

A man, on the other hand, is designed to enjoy the work of building civilization, rather than the work of getting her, because to him building civilization is getting her. Evolution promises them if they build the right civilization, she will come into it, inhabit it and build his children inside her, end of story.

For a woman, that is the end of her procreative goal. She has acquired her nest, and everything else from there should be plain sailing. For a man, it is just the start. Once he has her impregnated, that’s when his most important task starts, to work to grow and sustain and expanding civilization.

A man doesn’t want to watch a film about how a woman ends up getting the right man to impregnate her. He wants to watch a film that starts from there. He wants to watch a man who already has his seed inside the perfect woman, who then goes about the world doing interesting things, being involved in the action of building, defending and maintaining civilization, whether as a spy, scientific genius or detective.

A man’s job, therefore, is to be a creator, a builder, a protector and a maintainer, who perfects his work and continuously works to increase his status, while ensuring the wellbeing of those who are in his care.

A woman’s job is to ride with him through all of this, providing him with a warm and sweet home he can always come back to, so that he can feel that it is all worth it. A man who knows the perfect woman is lovingly waiting for him at home is going to be highly effective and motivated at whatever he does. He feels appreciated, and he feels like his life is going in the right direction.

Evolutionarily, a woman likes to think of his man as someone who is out there doing cool things for both of them. A man likes to think of his woman as inhabiting his home, that all she has to do. He will most effective at doing his evolutionary job when he knows he can go home to a woman who is ready to complete him. Every man’s dream is to go home after work to a woman who loves him and willingly opens her legs for him. Once he has this in his life, he will feel that he has everything a man could ask for.

There is, therefore, an evolutionary distribution of labor between a man and woman. A man’s labor is outside the home, he is supposed to suffer stress and damage outside and come home to be made whole again. A woman’s labor is inside the home, she is supposed to protect his children inside her and remain safe from the troubles of the world, so that healthy and happy children can be born to the both of them and be raised by them.

In this way, this two-bodied organism reproduces and raises its young.

In the modern world, while we can create complicated artificial arrangements that go against the above, since people mistakenly think it is fairer if both sexes carry exactly the same responsibilities and duties. A man who washes dishes and changes diapers, and a woman who works outside the home, are considered admirable for going against their genetics.

But when a man and woman are not taught otherwise, they always revert to their genetic roles, because it has the momentum of millions of years of evolution behind it. A 50-year-old ideological movement stands zero chance of undoing it or overcoming it. It will forever be like a fish swimming against the current of a river.

While there is nothing wrong with a man helping out in the home, and it is in fact an admirable and worthy thing if he has nothing better to do, it is an incredible waste resources for a woman to make her husband work inside the home if he is a lawyer who could be making $200 an hour doing his job instead.

Men, due to their testosterone and abstract brain, have a higher earning potential, as is admitted even by feminists. Men intentionally choose high-paying fields like mathematics and petroleum engineering when women absolutely hate the very idea of these fields. Women would rather study in low-earning but comfortable fields like English and psychology.

While some people think this is the sign of an intentionally unfair system created by men that should be dismantled, it is actually the sign of an unfair arrangement created by evolution. Men are interested in accomplishment, i.e. in watching the last minute of the romance movie, while women are interested in process, in watching the whole movie.

Intellectual women are more like men, in that they enjoy abstract topics, although generally if it is not to the same creepily obsessive degree as men, spending until 4 AM awake to finish solving some mathematical problem that is not going to earn them any money to solve, or staying awake that long to finish a stage in a video game.

House Builders by Frank Dicksee (1880)

In their families, intellectual women prefer men who treat them like equals intellectually, not just as an inhabitant of their home to be fed and had sex with. They want more from life than just process, than just enjoying life, getting pregnant and raising children. They generally want to be somewhere in the middle between the masculine and the feminine evolutionary roles, enjoying family life, but also doing more.

Like a man, they too want accomplishment. In the Victorian era, they did this by forming clubs, writing novels and travel journals, and being involved with charities. Today they do it by having careers or doing the Victorian things mentioned.

Some of these women become feminists, thinking that this is the right way for all women to be, failing to realize that humans are on a spectrum, the gender role they prefer is somewhere between masculine (accomplishment-oriented) and the feminine (process-oriented). There are women who are perfectly happy to take care of their men’s homes, to have regular sex, get pregnant and raise children, without wanting to do anything more besides these. They want to enjoy the process of life, and there is nothing wrong with this. Such women are not worthless, this is how the majority of women have been throughout history, they must be loved and admired for being an essential part of humanity’s history and survival.

Other women are still in the feminine zone, but closer to the masculine side, so that they want both process and accomplishment.

Others are in the masculine side, tomboys who do not enjoy feminine things but masculine things, and who like to have careers and accomplishments. Unfortunately some of these women are highly misogynistic, and the staunchest feminists are generally among them, because they discard the majority of women and their interests as worthless and stupid. Since they are so masculine themselves, they think that all women should be like them. Like the most sexist men, they think that there is something lowly and disgusting about a woman’s process-centered life, that there is something blameworthy if a woman plays her evolutionarily feminine role too well, the role she is designed to enjoy and do best.

Thus you have career women who think their mothers are worthless and stupid because they failed to “do anything with their lives”, content to be feminine women doing feminine things. There is nothing a feminine woman has to “do with her life” other than being a woman. If she is closer to the feminine end of the spectrum, this is what she enjoys and values. She is process-centric, not accomplishment-centric. To her the greatest accomplishment is to live every moment fully and to see his man and children celebrated, not to have a bunch of meaningless-to-her trophies on her shelf. Her job is to make everyone else’s accomplishment possible, and she takes complete pride in that, knowing that her husband and children’s accomplishments are a job well done…by her.

We must learn to celebrate this type of woman, this woman that many feminists consider worthless and embarrassing for her lack of masculine trophies. It is our job to defend her from the non-stop slander she suffers by domineering feminists. She doesn’t have to do anything to prove herself worthy besides fulfilling her evolutionary role, of being there for her family. That is sufficient honor for her. Feminists can keep their stupid degrees and jobs, she doesn’t want any of that. She wants to enjoy being with her children, seeing them grow and become worthy members of society.

Instead of ignorantly deciding that there is only one right type of woman that should exist, we must instead acknowledge that women are on a spectrum, and each type of woman enjoys a type of life specific to her. It is her job to determine what it means to have a worthy life. It is none of a feminist’s business to tell her. Such a woman is closer to a woman’s feminine function, of being there for her family, than a career woman is. A career woman who has to leave her infant in the care of potentially abusive caretakers is not doing the world any favors. She is subjecting her child to people who have no reason to love him or her, who may grow up feeling abandoned and uncared for, and who may not prosper. This is not something to celebrate, but something to condemn. It is a child’s right to be brought up by their mother. Studies may eventually show that it is nothing short of child abuse to subject one’s child to the unloving care of others.

These women do not need a degree or career to be loved and considered worthy. Mother Love by Walter Langley (early 20th century)

A family woman who has no greater accomplishment than supporting a husband and children who accomplish things is greater and more admirable than a career woman who brings up a psychologically scarred child, and whose husband feels abandoned and ignored. A man and woman together create a single organism. What kind of organism is this? An ineffective one.

At any rate, women should be free what they do with their lives, and they should be considered equally worthy, whether they choose careers or homemaking. I am not against women having careers, I am against subjecting children to daycare. I cannot say what the perfect solution is, or if there is one. A woman could marry early, when is most attractive and most capable of capturing the hearts of the highest quality men, then once her children reach puberty, she could start seeking intellectual accomplishments. Although a woman who really wants to intellectual accomplishment may not enjoy this type of life.

Or perhaps the best way is for a woman to seek intellectual accomplishment until she gives birth, at which point, with the help of her heightened feminine hormones, she can enjoy homemaking for a number of years, and once the children grow up, she can then go on to again do intellectual work.

I am not one to tell what a woman should do with her life, because I firmly believe in her basic humanity, her right to do what she wants with her life. What I am saying here is that there is nothing inherently admirable about having a career, and there is nothing deplorable about a woman being perfectly content with being there for her family. Both of these cases are evolutionarily mediated. It is the height of ignorance and stupidity to make moral judgments on either type of woman, considering one inherently more admirable, when both are the products of their genes and millions of years of evolution. This is discriminating against someone for the way their genes made them, it is exactly the same as discriminating against people for having black skin.

This discussion has its converse. A man may born closer to the feminine side than the masculine side, and may enjoy process more than accomplishment. These men are made fun of for being “nancy boys”. It is equally discriminatory to chide such men for not seeking accomplishments than it is to chide women for seeking accomplishments. In both cases, a person is discriminated against for not seeking their assigned gender roles.

Unlike feminists, I do not believe there is anything wrong with gender roles. They exist not because of an artificial, man-made patriarchy, but due to millions of years of evolution. Most women are feminine, most men are masculine. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this means most women will be process-oriented, most men accomplishment-oriented. The traditional gender roles come from these facts, and there is nothing wrong with these roles. This is how the majority functions.

What is wrong is when a short-sighted and ignorant society castigates someone for not acting like everyone else. Realizing the unfairness in this is what makes some people mistakenly say that gender roles are artificial constructs. They are not. They are genetic realities. No matter how hard we try to stamp them out, they will always come back, because they are genetically mediated.

If there is nothing wrong with a woman not living up to traditional men’s expectations by refusing to be a homemaker, there is nothing wrong with a man not living up to traditional women’s expectations by refusing to be an accomplished man. Career women abandon traditional gender roles by seeking careers, and what is known as a “nancy boy” can also abandon traditional gender roles by not seeking a career.

While the modern world has moved to a place where there a place for any woman who wants to abandon traditional gender roles, there is no such place for a man (unless he enters a homosexual relationship). Everyone laughs at him for being weak and wimpy, for not being a man, for being needy, for being like a woman. And almost no one sees that there is something wrong with this.

Such men are not the topic of my research, so I cannot say what should be done regarding them or what they should do. I merely want to point out that they are the opposite of a career woman, but what defines them is that they do not want careers. They instead have the process-oriented homemaker instinct, and society has no interest in them or place for them. They are supposed to either “man up” or die. One thing such men can do is to get testosterone injections, since testosterone is an extremely powerful substance that can rewrite their very bone structure and make them feel like an ordinary man. What they can do besides this I cannot say.

Understanding Islam’s Sophisticated Approach to Slavery: Why Muslims Practiced Slavery in the Past, and Why They Reject it Today

It may sound like nothing but empty apologetics to defend Islam’s toleration of slavery and say that Islam’s goal was to abolish it, when Islam’s Prophet  and his companions all practiced it widely. And generally this is what much of the arguments defending Islam’s views on slavery sound like when they come from traditional scholars.

It is difficult to reconcile classical Islam with modern views on slavery because classical Islam calls for applying the Quran and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s traditions ﷺ as recorded in hadith collections) as equal authorities. Since the Prophet ﷺ practiced slavery, the implication is that anyone can practice it without it being an issue. Saying slavery is morally wrong today is like saying the Prophet ﷺ did something morally wrong, which naturally is considered unacceptable. The Saudi Salafi scholar Saleh al-Fawzan recently issued a fatwa (ruling) saying that terrorist groups operating in Iraq have the right to enslave women belonging to the non-Muslim Yazidi minority.

The root of the problem is the corruption of the Quran’s status and role within Islam. While Islam was originally a religion based on the Quran, with hadith acting as a helper, today the Quran has become overshadowed by hadith, so that the Quran is no longer considered the always-relevant, always-supreme authority within Islam that it is meant to be.

Within conservative Sunni Islam, there are two major schools of thought, one of which cannot explain Islam’s toleration of slavery in a satisfactory manner. This side includes classical scholars and Salafis. The other side is the Quran-focused school, which can provide a satisfactory explanation while also being fully in agreement with the modern world’s ban on slavery. For a detailed discussion of Quran-focused Islam and its differences from classical Islam, please see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

To start the discussion, I will quote the relevant part of the linked essay that deals with slavery:

When we modern folk consider slavery repulsive, when we believe in human rights and the dignity of every human being, and when we find that the Quran, while regulating slavery, never commands it, then we can reject slavery and ban it in our societies. Our living guide, the Quran, does not ask us to practice slavery. Our dead guide, hadith, mentions that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his companions, widely practiced it, because that was the common practice in the world at the time, and it served various beneficial functions (it was far superior to the Jewish and Christian practice of killing all men, women and children of a defeated enemy, or leaving them to starve). It served a purpose at the time. And if 10,000 years from now, the world goes back to being undeveloped and slavery becomes commonplace, then the Quran is there to regulate it again and slowly eradicate it.

Classical scholars today are all against slavery to some degree, but they also have to “defend the Sunnah” by saying that it is a part of Islam and by finding various justifications for it. They are placed in the difficult position of having to say that there is nothing morally wrong with slavery (because the Prophet, peace be upon, practiced it), that the Prophet’s traditions are meant to be applied as an equal to the Quran today, and that slavery today is wrong and that Islam is against it. Quran-focused Islam doesn’t suffer from having to adopt these contradictory stances, because it believes the point of Islam is to follow the Quran, and that the Sunnah is merely a help toward this.

The Quran does not command slavery, therefore if there is no slavery in a society, then Muslims do not have to engage in it, and they are free to ban it. But, if Islam finds itself in a society that already practices it, then Islam can be adopted by it, in this way their practice of slavery is reformed and slowly eradicated (the Quran strongly encourages freeing slaves, and a child born to a slave and her master is considered a free person in Islamic law.)

[…]

So we can honestly say that slavery was a part of Islam then, but that it is no longer part of Islam today, and that one day in the far future it could again become part of Islam. Our religion is always updating itself. There is no such thing as a single Islam the entirety of whose practices and ways of life can be set in stone and followed for eternity, as Salafis think. Instead, Islam is always a self-renewing derivation of the Quran and life, guided by hadith and classical scholarship wherever needed. If people say slavery is wrong, we agree with them, and tell them that Islam wants to eradicate it. If they point out Islam’s historical practice of slavery, we say it tolerated it because it was a worldwide practice then, because it served practical purposes, because banning it could have had violent consequences, but now that the world is different, Islam, too, can be different, because the Quran is living among us, telling us how to respond to each new age of the world.

According to Abul A’la Maududi, the Prophet ﷺ freed 63 slaves by himself during his life. In his commentary on Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani’s Bulugh al-Maram, the historian Muhammad bin Isma`eel al-San`ani says that the Prophet ﷺ and his companions together freed over thirty-nine thousand slaves in their lives.

The question then is if Islam had to tolerate slavery for practical purposes, why did the Prophet ﷺ himself and his close companions have concubines? Couldn’t they have chosen to be morally better than the rest of the population?

I will focus on early Islamic history, since what Muslims did after that did not always reflect Islamic principles. If we find moral justification for the Prophet’s practices ﷺ, then this is sufficient. It is not necessary to find moral justification for Ottoman practices regarding slavery, since what they did regarding slavery and a thousand other things does not necessary reflect the teachings of Islam.

Islam’s critics may say that we modern Muslims are trying to back-rationalize Islam’s “savage” beginnings by reinterpreting the Prophet’s actions ﷺ as if he wasn’t a vicious and power-seeking warlord. But as will be shown below, his policies and reforms regarding slavery were so noble and ahead of their time that he puts Christians of a thousand years later to shame.

The Arabian System of Slavery

Slavery has been a part of life in most human societies. American Christians were having sex with their black slaves by the tens of thousands. Since Christianity has no framework for dealing with slavery, the slaves and the children born would be abandoned, rather than taken care of as Islam would require.

At Islam’s beginnings, it was common practice to take the defeated enemy’s women as slaves, this was done by the pagans too. It was an ordinary and accepted part of life. Before Islam, Arabs had 20 ways of acquiring slaves according to the scholar Muhammad Mutawalli Sha`rawi, such as people being made slaves due to debt, or a tribe offering one of their own as a slave as an offering to another tribe, or one tribe attacking another with the purpose of enslaving them. Islam reduces these ways to only one way: Enemy prisoners coming out of a just war, not an offensive war done for gain, but a war done against an aggressor.1 And if there are international treaties for dealing with prisoners of war, like there are today, then this way too would be closed.

So within the Islamic system, this is how slaves are created:

  1. During an age of the world where slavery is a worldwide practice, some group launches a war of aggression against Muslims. The Quran expects Muslims to sign treaties with their neighbors and commands them to not be aggressors, therefore a war would only be against an enemy that has broken treaties. Of course, many Muslim states throughout history have abused Islamic law to justify wars of aggression, but the actions of Muslims are one thing, and Islamic principles are another. You cannot hold Islam responsible when Muslims break its laws. All major religions, ideologies and constitutions have been used to justify wars of aggression.
  2. The enemy is offered peace but refuses to back down.
  3. The enemy is conquered.
  4. The enemy’s men, women and children are taken as captives and have the status of slaves, with a long list of rights ensured by Islam. Note that the enemy would have done the same to the Muslims if they had been the conquerors.

This is what happened to the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe, which at Islam’s darkest hour, when the Muslims were under attack by a large alliance of pagan Arabs during the Battle of the Trench, they broke their treaty with the Muslims and plotted with the attackers to help them destroy the Muslim state. Their men were executed for high treason (treason during a time of war, it is also the law in the United States to execute for high treason), and their women and children were enslaved. Executing the enemy’s men was done for their treason, this wasn’t the standard practice against enemies.

In Islam’s early history, this enslavement of an enemy was not done out of aggression. An enemy, instead, initiated the aggression, with full knowledge of its potential consequences. In the case of Banu Qurayza, it was a risk they took, and it did not pay off. Had they been successful, it would have been the Muslims who would have suffered execution and enslavement under the hands of the pagan Arabs and their Jewish accomplices.

Couldn’t God have asked the Muslims to do something morally superior to enslaving the women and children? He could have, but He didn’t. We can speculate regarding this, although we may not be able to find a conclusive answer.

One important reason for tolerating slavery may have been that at the time Islam arrived, Arabs may have found it impossible to accept the idea of not enslaving an enemy, because to them this was the standard practice around the world. They may have found it incredibly unjust and infuriating to not enslave an enemy that was going to enslave them if it had the chance. Abolishing this practice could been similar to trying to teach Arabs parliamentary democracy. They may have been unable to appreciate the reasoning behind it, and this could have created discontent and division. Therefore Islam humored them for a while, allowing them to continue existing as they already existed, while reforming their practice of slavery and placing mechanisms for eradicating it slowly.

So part of the reason could be the psychology of those times. It may not have been possible to help Islam continue on the one hand, and to ask its adherents to not take defeated enemies as slaves on the other.

One other reason for tolerating slavery is that slavery took care of providing for the women and children acquired through war. The Jewish solution to this problem in Biblical times was to also kill the women and children, as is recorded in the First Book of Samuel in the Bible and in other places:

…and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. (Samuel I, 15:3)

The Jews who founded the modern State of Israel also seem to have had a similar mindset.

Christians did the same at times, for example:

Albert of Aachen, a chronicler of the First Crusade era, explicitly claims that the Arab soldiers capture and enslave virgins. (According to him, the Christians just kill everyone.)

[From a historian’s answer posted on Reddit]

Muslims, being more civilized, did not kill people needlessly, and especially not women and children. The killing of women and children in war is strictly prohibited by Islamic law.

New populations of slaves acquired during war would be mostly women and children (because the men were mostly dead, since the wars in those times were often “total wars”, where all the males fought). If this population of mostly women and children had been abandoned, it could have starved, since it had no men to take care of providing for it, and to avoid starving, the women may have resorted to prostitution, as Venezuelan women do today.

The Prophet ﷺ couldn’t have asked the Muslims to take care of these women and children without getting anything in return. Food, clothing and houses did not magically fall from the sky; it required much labor to provide these. Politically it could have been highly damaging to his cause to force the men to become practically slaves of the interests of this defeated population, building them new neighborhoods of homes in their towns and feeding and clothing them. Doing this would have also led to a great increase in prostitution and theft, because this new population of women and children would have had no major alternative ways for advancing in life. This is what happened in New York City in the 1850’s when a great number of unmarried Irish women and children were dumped into the city, escaping famine in Ireland. Their neighborhoods would have turned into ghettos full of crime, as happens to all jobless and idle populations, supported by the hard labor of the Muslims.

The Prophet ﷺ could have asked his followers to marry these women and take care of their children. This wouldn’t have worked because only a man who had two homes and the income to maintain both could have married a second woman. They couldn’t keep two wives under the same roof, because this has an immense likelihood of causing marital discontent and no sensible man would do this. Most men did not have a second home or the income to maintain one. So marrying them wouldn’t have been practical, a few of the women could been married, but not most.

As a reminder, I am describing the reasons why Islam tolerated slavery in the ancient world. As I will describe below, Islam today does not tolerate slavery and Muslims around the world have supported banning it, this is not because Islamic principles have been abandoned for modern principles, it is because the Quran supports us in doing what we know to be the just and kind thing, while also tolerating slavery in societies that already practice it. The Quran has an anti-slavery agenda, but its agenda requires that it should tolerate slavery if a society already practices it, ending it from the inside (more on this later). Societies that already practice slavery may be violently opposed to the thought of abandoning slavery, as the example of the American Civil War shows. Islam’s toleration for slavery enables it to spread in such societies and gently reform it and put an end to it.

So marriage was not a practical option. What was needed was a form of marriage that did not compete with the man’s existing marriage, that did not require a second home, and that did not require high income for a man to engage in it. The Arabian system of slavery provided all of these features by enabling the women to work as servants in the men’s homes, in this way not being competitors in status to their wives. By giving the men the right to have sex with their female slaves, it made the men willing to keep them as slaves, otherwise they wouldn’t have wanted them (as will be described further).

In this way the women were taken care of and fed as were their children, they were not killed like Jews and Christians would have done, and they were not left to starve. These women grew up thinking of slavery and concubinage as a normal part of life, and their own husbands had female slaves, and they saw nothing wrong with this as long as it was not happening to them. For them the difference between being a wife and a concubine was a difference in status, not a difference between a consensual sexual relationship and rape. This is evident to someone studying China and Japan’s ancient practice of concubinage. Concubines were neither wives nor mere sex toys. They had a specific social status, it was lower than that of a wife, but it is a highly naive view of history to think of such women as merely bodies that were abused and raped.

The Christians of Egypt gifted the Prophet ﷺ a Christian concubine named Maria. Were the Christians merely sending the Prophet ﷺ a sex toy as a gesture of good will?

Of course not. As any historian of ancient times will tell you, this was similar to a man offering his daughter in marriage to someone else, with her own opinion in the matter ignored, as has been standard practice among large sections of society in all of history, especially among the aristocracy. She did not have to be placed in chains and shipped off in a box. For her this was her job, and she had no problem with doing it, similar to the way today female actresses do not mind having a male actor’s sexual organ inside them for a movie sex scene, it is part of their job and they do it. The difference is that, in theory, concubinage was “forced”, while a modern actress is not “forced” to do that. But it all depends on the woman’s mindset. A concubine did not feel raped the way a modern woman forced into slavery would feel, she felt that she belonged to a lower-class caste of women, one of whose jobs was to have sex with their masters. She may have hoped for a better life, to one day be a full wife and not merely a concubine, but she had a respected social status and function, she thought of herself as an integral part of society, not as someone imprisoned and raped against her will like modern-day sex slaves are.

These things do not justify slavery, but provide part of the explanation for why Islam tolerated it. A modern woman may value her own dignity so much that she may consider murdering anyone who tries to enslave her, but at that time, the women thought of concubinage as a forced, low-status marriage that would be their fate if their men failed to protect them.

In Islam, the relationship between a slave woman and her master is an official relationship, it is similar to a marriage. She cannot be in a sexual relationship with anyone else during this relationship. If she is already pregnant when acquired, her master does not have the right of having sex with her until she gives birth. If she becomes pregnant by her master, her master no longer has the right to sell her, because she acquires that status of umm walad and cannot be sold as a slave. Her children that are born to her and her master will be free citizens and not slaves, and if her master dies, she becomes a free woman herself. If Islam was a barbaric religion that taught its adherents to enslave people, why would it have so many sophisticated mechanisms for eradicating it? What is the point of preventing a master from selling his slave once she is pregnant or has given birth? The Christian slave owners of America didn’t think there was any point in this, since they were not civilized enough to worry about the status and rights of the slave, while the Muslims of 630 AD found a point in this, because it enabled the woman to care for her children under the care and protection of her master, while also forcing the master to take full responsibility for the children, who were now free citizens. Americans just 160 years ago were barbaric savages in their dealing with slaves compared to the “barbaric” Arabs of 630 AD.

A person who has a limited view of history may think that the best solution to slavery is to ban it and let whatever happens happen afterwards, and this was the idea of the North in mid-19th century America, which led to the American Civil War2, causing the death of about a million people (it was the bloodiest war in history up to that time). Since Islam was not invented by short-sighted humans, it respects the existing culture, enables an extremely undeveloped society to take care of the women and children who are victims of war (instead of killing them, allowing them to starve or encouraging them to become prostitutes and criminals by dumping them into cities), and provides various methods for slowly but surely eradicating slavery until it can be banned without any social unrest, the way almost all Muslim-majority countries today have banned slavery.

While these facts are, of course, not sufficient to justify slavery in the modern world, in the ancient world, given the political and economic circumstances of those times, it is understandable why Islam tolerated slavery.

It would be untrue to say that the Prophet tolerated slavery entirely out of charitable motivations. The Arabian system of enslaving war captives and distributing them was done as part of the distributing of war booty, the goods taken from a defeated prisoner. From Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet:

Seven days had elapsed since the surrender, and the Hawazin had not appeared to ask for their womcn and children back. Now thinking that they would not come, Muhammad decided to share out the captives between the Quraysh Muslims (who once again received a more important share) and the Ansar. He only just finished the distribution when a Hawazin delegation arrived. The Prophet explained to them that he had waited for them, but since they had not arrived he had already shared out the captives; he said that he would intercede for them and ask people to give back their prisoners if they wanted to. After some hesitation, all the fighters gave up their captives to the Hawazin delegation. (Pages 184 and 185)

The Muslim fighters wanted the captives as their slaves. The Prophet, however, wanted them to wait for the captives’ tribe to come and hopefully sign a peace treaty, after which they would be given back the captives. Since the Hawazin didn’t seem willing to come for a treaty, the Prophet assumed they still intended war, and for this reason allowed the Arabian system to take its course, giving his warriors what they were used to get.

But once the Hawazin finally appeared, the Prophet showed his noble character and the non-Arabian-ness of Islam by convincing his fighters to give the captives back. Instead of acting like an Arab warlord, rejoicing in defeating and enslaving an enemy that had gathered to destroy the Muslims, he let them go free once their representatives came to ask for peace.

This scene also illustrates the sensitivity of the Prophet’s political situation. He could not force his fighters to give up the captives. They were from different Arabian tribes with their own ideas about their rights and their status in relation to the Prophet. The Prophet was not in charge of a “horde” of mindless soldiers like so many detractors of Islam (especially various Jews in the West’s academia) wish to portray, he had to keep a sensitive political situation balanced, giving sufficient satisfaction to each section of his following so that they would not rebel against him.

He did not act like the largely Jewish Bolsheviks of Russia (led by the Jewish Vladimir Lenin), enforcing a new ideology on the entire population and giving everyone the option of either accepting it or dying. He humored the population, their pride, their culture and their various forms of social organization. He did not want to destroy society then rebuild it (like all Marxist and neo-Marxist ideologies wish to do), he peacefully gave his message to his society, giving them the option of either accepting it or leaving it, and never responding to the violence offered him and his followers. Only when he was elected the sovereign ruler of Medina by its main tribes did he start to act like a ruler, doing what was necessary to protect his state against aggressors.

And even then, he continued to respect the existing society and culture. Instead of acting like Lenin or Ayatollah Khomeini, using assassinations and purges to enslave the population to his interests in the name of the greater good, even though he was a prophet of God and had His authority behind him. He continued to respect them, consult them, while the Muslims continued to maintain the right to question and criticize his decisions. Even at the end of his life, when he had become the supreme ruler of Arabia, his companions severely criticized to his own face his choice of a 17-year-old as the leader of a Muslim army. Instead of thinking “God’s messenger says so, therefore no argument can be admitted”, they treated him like a human and felt free to disagree with him, so that he had to convince them of the sense and rationality of his decisions.

In his truly democratic form of governance, in allowing everyone to voice their opinions and take part in decision-making, treating him like any other human, rather than as a supreme leader, he was a far cry from the typical modern dictator who expects absolute obedience, or the typical modern democratic leader who considers democracy an annoying formality that gets in the way of their achieving their goals, paying lip service to it while betraying its principles on a daily basis. It is all the more strange that someone who had over 100,000 people under him, considering him truly a messenger from God, would never make use of his status as God’s messenger to get his way, instead allowing people to challenge him daily.

Compare him to Ayatollah Khomeini, who by the virtue of (supposedly) belonging to the Prophet’s descendants and being the main religious authority of his sect, while in his weakness he admitted to believing in democracy and spoke with non-Shia leaders like Ahmad Moftizadeh, once he achieved supremacy in Iran, he quickly went on to purge the government from his opposition, rushed the constitution he liked through the judiciary to the dismay of his opposition and his own friends, and used theological arguments to prove that his decisions could not be questioned.

Vaso di fiori sulla finestra di un harem (“The window of the Harem”) by Francesco Hayez (first half of 19th century)

The Prophet’s Concubines ﷺ

A person may acknowledge that politically and economically, it made some sense for Islam to tolerate slavery instead of banning it immediately. They may even acknowledge the fact that Islam in the modern world does not command slavery nor support it, since, in the Quran-focused school of thought, Islam is always a derivation of the Quran and the modern world, and since the Quran does not command slavery, and since we in the modern world dislike slavery and consider it repulsive, Islam gives us full rights to ban it.

But they may wonder why the Prophet ﷺ himself accepted to have slave women he had sex with (concubines). Couldn’t he himself, and his closest companions, have chosen the moral high ground of avoiding it?

We cannot find a conclusive answer for this, but we can speculate. Perhaps in God’s view, there was no good to be gained by prohibiting the Prophet ﷺ and his companions from keeping concubines when everyone else did. These women would have had masters anyway, so it wouldn’t have improved the lot of these women to prevent some Muslims from keeping them, it may have even worsened their lot, because many Muslims may have tried to follow the Prophet’s example ﷺ of not keeping concubines, creating large populations of female slaves that nobody wanted. And if the Prophet ﷺ had kept concubines without having sex with them, in this way practicing slavery without the sex part, other Muslims may have tried to follow his example, and by so doing, they may have avoided keeping female slaves at all, since an important reason, perhaps 90% of the reason, for their wanting to take care of these slave women was that they received the privilege of intimacy with them. So the result, again, could have been large populations of female slaves that no one wanted. The result would have been that the slaves would have been sold to non-Muslims (since Muslims didn’t want them), and this wouldn’t have been better for the women, but worse, since the non-Muslims may have had no laws for protecting the rights of these slaves or providing them with ways for themselves or their children to be freed. So there would have been no moral gain from these choices.

By keeping concubines the way the rest of the culture did, the Prophet ﷺ showed the rest of the Muslims that they too could do this. In this way the society of that time was able to absorb conquered populations and slowly free them.

In Islam, slaves also have the right of mukataba, which was for them to be given free time in which to work, so that they could buy themselves off of their masters. In this way many male slaves were able to buy their own freedom. America’s slave owners of 1850 CE and their official laws considered their slaves and everything the slave owned as properties of their masters. Imagine their infuriation if they were told their slaves should be allowed to work in their free time, or that what they earned was not a property of the master, but a property of the slave. They, including their religious clergy, would have considered this a dangerous attack against their God-given rights over their slaves.

The Prophet ﷺ himself could have kept no concubines, saying that God had commanded him not to keep any, while making it lawful for everyone else. This could have affected his status negatively in the eyes of his followers and allies, since the concubines belonging to a man’s household added to his prestige. The Prophet himself ﷺ was part of Arabian culture, considering slavery and concubines a normal part of life, like everyone else did. God could have taught him that one day humans will discover that it is morally wrong to enslave people, but He did not for His own reasons, perhaps it served the interests of everyone, including the slaves, for the Arabian system to continue functioning like usual, with a few crucial reforms added to it to significantly reduce the number of new slaves, and to provide various ways for slaves to be freed.

While today we can think of various things the Prophet ﷺ could have done at that time instead of practicing slavery and concubinage, we can never be sure that our solutions wouldn’t fail miserably in that ancient Arabian context. We can never be sure if Islam’s solution wasn’t the best possible solution for that time and place, enabling a society to slowly eradicate slavery without causing civil wars, and without the religion being abandoned for being too ahead of its time if it had outright banned slavery.

Therefore a fair-minded reading of the Quran and early Islamic history will see that there is not sufficient justification for calling Islam a false or unjust religion for tolerating slavery at that time. They will see that the Prophet ﷺ was already greatly ahead of his time and that he made some incredible reforms in various areas of life, including reforms regarding slavery. Therefore the only thing they can criticize him for is not being even more ahead of his time, which is a pretty weak criticism. Who is to say that he wasn’t already operating as much ahead of his time as it was possible to be without people abandoning his movement?

Is Islam Outdated?

A person could say that now that the world is sufficiently developed, Islam is an outdated religion, that since it contains many rules and regulations regarding slavery, the religion must have been meant for ancient times and not today.

The truth is that there is no guarantee that the world will continue to be developed. Perhaps a nuclear war will break out 10,000 years from now and there will be isolated areas of the world that would live in conditions as basic as those of 630 AD, and in that case, there may again be warring entities that practice sexual slavery, and Islam’s rulings regarding it would become relevant again.

Or humans could establish a colony on another planet where slavery is practiced. If some people among them convert to Islam while belonging to that culture that practices it, then Islam’s rulings regarding slavery would be relevant again.

Islam’s goal is to end slavery, as it is obvious to anyone reading the Quran. Muslims have not always worked toward this goal, but this is Islam’s goal, if Muslims misapply Islam, that is their fault, not Islam’s.

The Modern Islamic View

As I explained earlier regarding the Quran-focused school of Islamic thought, since Islam is always a derivation of the Quran and the modern world, and since we in the modern world reject slavery, and since the Quran does not command that we practice slavery, then it logically follows that we modern Muslims can reject slavery without issue, working to eradicate it completely, and not practicing it even when given the opportunity.

This is not a way of rejecting Islam’s old teachings. Islam is based on the Quran, and the Quran does not command slavery, therefore practicing slavery is a choice that may make sense for some Muslims in some time and place that already practices it (as in ancient Arabia or an isolated space colony), while it may not make sense in another time and place (as in the modern world today).

Islam does not force us to practice slavery. Since we Muslims believe in human rights, since we hate the idea of any woman getting raped, since we have empathy for people, we can reject slavery while remaining 100% true to the Quran and the Sunnah, practicing the full letter of the Quran in every part of our lives.

The Quran is always the same, but Islam is not. Islam changes with the times, because it is a derivation of the Quran and the time in which it exists. When the Quran is placed inside the modern world, it leads to an Islam that rejects slavery, while when the Quran is placed inside ancient Arabia, it leads to an Islam that tolerates it for a while. Think of the Quran as a computer program. The computer program is the same, but it acts differently depending on the environment in which it is placed. Here is how the program’s logic works:

If there are practical reasons for tolerating slavery, if the world practices it and banning it would do more harm than good then slavery is tolerated, otherwise it is banned.

And this program is exactly what the majority of the world’s Muslims follow today. Almost all of the world’s Muslim-majority countries have banned slavery.

Islam’s Historical Mistakes

It is true that various Islamic empires have acted aggressively and have sought to enslave not as a matter of practical necessity but for profit and pleasure. You cannot blame a modern Muslim for the deeds of these past Muslims because, as I said, Islam is a program derived from the Quran, a program that is updated daily, therefore if the Muslims of previous times, out of ignorance, lack of appreciation for human rights or sheer greed have done things that would be found morally reprehensible today, then those acts reflect the shortcomings of those Muslims and not Islam.

One could say that if Islam had forbad slavery, all of those evils would have been prevented. There is no way to know this for sure, because as explained, banning slavery may have been politically and economically unfeasible, and even if it had been banned, Muslims were still free to do a thousand other evil things, therefore slavery is nothing special. If Muslims hadn’t enslaved, Islam’s detractors would simply have found another historical deed of Muslims to criticize Islam for.

Therefore a fair-minded person will not criticize the deeds of Muslims, but the program they follow. Islam is the program, and its programming logic makes Muslims avoid and ban slavery, therefore there is nothing to criticize today’s Islam for regarding slavery. You can, however, make this criticism:

I dislike the fact that in some isolated space colony 1000 years from now if slavery is already practiced, and if some people embrace Islam, I dislike that they will not ban it immediately but instead take a generation or two doing it.

A final question could be; why believe in a religion that has parts which require so much justification, why not just abandon it and embrace the modern world instead? Because Islam has undeniable soft evidence of its truth in the Quran, therefore the issue of slavery is a very minor thing for someone who has accepted Islam based on this evidence. In my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species, I discuss the reasons why I believe in Islam.

 

Conclusion

The best of Christians have also acted as the best of Muslims in fighting slavery, therefore what I mentioned above is about Christian history, not Christian ideals. Christians continue to use Islamic history against Islam, so there is no injustice in doing the same towards Christian history, so that it is known that Christian criticism of Islam is generally quite ignorant of the ugly sides of Christian history. As for Christian work against slavery, from Wikipedia:

Several early figures, while not openly advocating abolition, did make sacrifices to emancipate or free slaves seeing liberation of slaves as a worthy goal. These include Saint Patrick (415-493), Acacius of Amida (400-425), and Ambrose (337 – 397 AD). Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-394) went even further and stated opposition to all slavery as a practice. Later Saint Eligius (588-650) used his vast wealth to purchase British and Saxon slaves in groups of 50 and 100 in order to set them free.

Today, if there is a war of conquest between a Muslim nation and a non-Muslim one, then there would be no question of slavery, the enemy’s women would be treated according to modern practices. Muslim states officially recognize and respect international treaties, and the majority of Muslims have no problems with this. It is only barbaric, CIA-trained-and-funded groups like ISIS and al-Nusra which want to bring back slavery.

So it is true that Islam does not forbid slavery, and it is against the Quran and the Sunnah to say that the religion forbids it. But it does not encourage it either. It has a sophisticated approach toward it that takes the facts on the ground into account, regulating it and ending it when the time is right, rather than doing it too soon when it might cause starvation or war.

The fact that a child born to a female slave and her master is considered a free citizen, and the fact that the Quran strongly encourages the freeing of slaves is sufficient evidence for the fact that Islam came to end slavery, not to encourage it. If the Muslims before us made the mistake of encouraging slavery at times instead of fighting against it, we the Muslims of today are not required to act like them, and in fact are fully justified in disavowing their actions as we follow the Quranic program in the modern world.

Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism

I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I came back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam. —Muhammad Abduh

At the end of the 19th century, Egypt came into increased contact with Western ideas. Travel to and from Europe became commonplace. Many intellectuals learned French and spent time in Paris. Egyptians started to feel that their conservative Islamic culture was increasingly outdated, irrelevant and inferior compared to the supposedly irreligious West.

The above saying of Muhammad Abduh elegantly expresses this realization; that despite the fact that Islam was supposed to be God’s latest and greatest religion, an irreligious civilization had built institutions, legal structures and prosperous societies that put Muslims to shame.

Cairo’s al-Azhar University was the world’s foremost authority on orthodox Sunni Islam at the time (and still is for most of the world). Al-Azhar’s scholars rushed to update their understanding of Islam so that its teachings wouldn’t seem inferior to the Western doctrines of socialism, communism, romanticism and humanism. Books were published with the intent of proving that, despite appearances and the obvious facts on the ground, Islam was really a socialist doctrine, and that it had great respect for logic and human rights.

Islam’s secularist detractors, thanks to the weakening of scholarly authority as a result of colonial rule, were able to speak loudly and point out Islam’s various failings. It was more than sufficient for them to point out the superiority of Western science, ideas and living conditions to show how inferior the Islam of their time was.

The Egyptian reformist jurist Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905 CE, al-Azhar professor and Grand Jurist of Egypt in 1899-1905), who had spent time in Paris and England, started a movement that resolutely worked to update Islamic thought and doctrine, and his follower Mahmud Shaltut (1893-1963, chief jurist of al-Azhar University in 1958-1963 CE) continued this work. They made many new and sometimes controversial rulings, some of which remain controversial up to this day. They were the first major establishment scholars to dare to risk controversy and become the subject of attack by going against established opinions and coming up with new interpretations of the Quran that sometimes conflicted with authentic hadith narrations.

By somewhat discrediting the Islamic establishment, they helped create a new generation of Islamic intellectuals that re-embraced Islam in a Quran-focused way, rather than a hadith-focused way, deriving their ideals and principles chiefly from the Quran rather than hadith.

This movement was similar to the Salafi movement, in that it wanted to go back to Islam’s roots to re-establish an authentic version of Islam pure from the decay and irrelevance of the Islamic establishment. The difference was that while the Salafi movement bought into the classical doctrine of considering the Quran equal or nearly equal to hadith, the Egyptian Islamic intellectuals considered the Quran a living book, something completely different from hadith.

Similar to the way that the printing of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 CE revived Christian belief and initiated the Puritan movement that took Christianity away from the clerics and put it inside everyone’s homes, the Egyptian movement took the Quran away from the Islamic establishment and put it in every intellectual’s home, as a living guide that taught them nearly everything they needed to know about Islam. Hadith was relegated to the task of explaining matters of ritual and practice, being an example of how the Quran is applied, rather than being a competing authority to the Quran.

Sayyid Qutb

The Egyptian intellectual Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), after spending much of his life as a secular intellectual, rediscovered Islam at the end of the 1940’s. Thanks to the new intellectual atmosphere of Egypt, he placed nearly all of his focus on the Quran, acting as if the book was sent down to him personally, instead of acting as if the Quran was merely a text belonging to a large library of Islamic texts determining Islamic belief and practice, which is how a person going through a classical Islamic education usually thinks.

The fact that he was a secular intellectual was probably crucial in developing his new understanding of Islam. He was originally repulsed by the classical Islam of his time and considered it outdated and irrelevant, only to rediscover the Quran and realize that the spiritual and ethical teachings of the Quran led to a worldview, spirituality and religion that were very different from the Islam of his time.

Imagine if the Prophet, peace be upon him, was brought back to life and placed among the people to lead Islam once again. What kind of revolution would that be? What kind of inspiration and revival? Sayyid Qutb says that you must treat the Quran as if it is alive, as if it was being revealed on the mouth of the Prophet this very moment, guiding us every hour and every day.

To a secular person reading this, this may sound like insanity, to treat a 1400-year-old book as if it is up-to-date even though its text has not changed in that time. It would be insanity if the Quran wasn’t a miraculous book. But, if like Sayyid Qutb, you are a secular person with very good knowledge of Arabic (he was a literary critic) who rediscovers the Quran, ignoring all their preconceived notions about Islam, you’d know exactly why he thought as he did.

Realizing the Quran’s immense superiority over all other texts and authorities, he came to consider it what the Quran was meant to be all along; a miraculous text designed to guide humanity for all time; a living guide. This means that the Quran is as much of an authority as the Prophet, peace be upon him, would have been if he were living among us today. The Quran is not considered a dead book to be left on the shelf, to be considered along with hadith as a historical artifact, sometimes to be followed, other times to be ignored in favor of hadith-based principles. What the Quran says, it is as if God is saying it to us today, as if He sent it down to us this very moment.

Sayyid Qutb is today a controversial figure due to his political activism; his teachings have been used as inspiration by a number of famous terrorist organizations. Sayyid Qutb’s new, Quran-centric thinking naturally made him one of the most dangerous men in Egypt, because he had a version of Islam with him that was always up-to-date. Unlike the Islam of the scholars, it wasn’t concerned with technical matters of jurisprudence, or reciting the virtues of performing the minor pilgrimage and fasting on particular days of the month. His version of Islam was like the Prophet’s, was concerned with fighting injustice and tyranny, freeing the people from slavery and oppression, and reconnecting them with God as their always-present guide. He naturally made many enemies due to discrediting the authority of the ruling class on the one hand, and the authority of classical clerics and their control over Islam on the other.

Sayyid Qutb made the mistake of believing that the seeking of political power by Muslim groups is a good thing, and that said groups had the right to carry arms to defend themselves. This, as would be expected, was used (after his death) by others to justify terrorism. This matter is unrelated to the discussion (of Quran-focused Islam), therefore I will not delve into it. For a discussion of why I consider political power-seeking by Muslim groups detrimental to the interests of Islam, Muslims and humanity, please see my essay The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan (And a Critique of Political Islam).

Ahmad Moftizadeh

Two major Islamic leaders who followed in Sayyid Qutb’s footsteps were the Iranian Sunnis Ahmad Moftizadeh and Nasir Subhani. It is unclear to me how much influence Sayyid Qutb had on Moftizadeh, it is possible that Moftizadeh developed his Quran-focused Islam in parallel to, rather than as a result of, Sayyid Qutb’s Islam.

Nasir Subhani was a member of Iran’s Muslim Brotherhood and Sayyid Qutb’s influence on him is well-documented.

Ahmad Moftizadeh worked against the oppressive (but Western-backed) Shah regime of Iran, and later with the leader of the Iranian Revolution (Khomeini) in good faith, trying to ensure the rights of Iran’s multi-million Sunni population. Khomeini soon betrayed his promises to the Sunnis (and to some of his own Shia cleric friends who truly believed in reform and coexistence with Sunnis, such as Ayatollah Beheshti) and started a campaign of torture and assassination against them that continues until this day. Moftizadeh spent many years in prison under torture. He died in 1993, three months after being freed, due to the irreparable damage he had sustained under the regime’s treatment.

Nasir Subhani

Similar to Moftizadeh, Nasir Subhani, who was more of a classical scholar than Ahmad Moftizadeh, also worked against the Shah’s regime, and later worked with Iran’s revolutionary government to advocate for the rights of the Sunnis. Like Moftizadeh, he fearlessly criticized the duplicity and tyranny of Iran’s new “Islamic” regime, so that he was stalked by the Iranian authorities for years while he continued his activism and teaching career in Iran and abroad, until he was caught in 1989 and executed in 1990.

It should be mentioned that neither men ever condoned violence against the regime. In fact both spoke harshly against certain violent nationalist elements of the Kurdish population. Their imprisonment and deaths were brought about without any semblance of due process, and the Iranian treatment of both men were harshly criticized internationally.

The Quran as a Software Program

The easiest way to understand the difference between Quran-focused Islam and classical Islam is to use the analogy of a computer program. A computer program can choose to do entirely different things based on the environment in which it is run. The program is always the same program, but its behavior can be different depending on the environment. The issue of slavery makes this clear. When the Quran was applied during the Prophet’s time ﷺ, it led to an Islam that tolerated slavery, since the environment required this toleration. When the Quran is applied today, it leads to an Islam that does not tolerate slavery, because the environment no longer requires that Islam should tolerate slavery.

The Quran with its laws and principles has always been the same, it has not changed. But it contains programming logic that does different things at different times:

If the environment already practices slavery, then tolerate it, reform it and slowly eradicate it. If the environment does not practice slavery, then do not practice it, but act the way the best of mankind act.

The Quran does not seek to control every facet of our lives. It gives us a set of ideals, principles and basic laws, and from there gives us the freedom to live our lives according to reason, common sense and our knowledge of the world. The Quran does not lead to an Islam that is out of date or anachronistic, seeking to bring 630 CE into the modern world. It leads to an Islam that is made up of Quranic logic applied to the modern world. It stands up to all of its challenges, rejects its falsehoods and adopts the good in it.

This Quran-derived Islam can evolve and become better over time. As we humans become better connected and find better ways of social organization and interacting with outsiders, we can adopt these new practices and make them part of our Islam. The Quran teaches us to adopt the highest ideals and principles, therefore if the modern world teaches us things about the rights of humanity that all of us can recognize as good, then we can adopt these new things even if the ancients did not. The Quran does not teach us to freeze ourselves in time.

Classical Islam and Salafism make the mistake of trying to follow the Quran and its ancient application (hadith) as equal authorities, not realizing that hadith is nothing but a derivation of the Quran, a record of how the ancients applied the Quran in their specific time and place, a record of the behavior of the Quranic program in the ancient world.

Classical Islam and Salafism will always suffer conflict as they try to apply the Quran and hadith equally, because they are misusing both the Quran and hadith when they do this, not recognizing the status and role of either. It is like having a computer program that acts a certain way today, but that acted a different way in 630 CE, and trying to adopt its 630 CE behavior instead of its modern behavior. It is rejecting the Quranic program’s modern authority, treating it as a dead guide, acting as if following the unreliable record of its behavior in 630 CE is preferable to following its reliable, ever-living, ever-authoritative principles and ideals today.

By mistaking hadith for a program by itself (rather than considering it a record of the way the Quranic program functioned), an unreliable and enormous tome of text becomes an equal authority to the Quran and refuses to allow the Quran to have the freedom to respond to the modern world. It mistakenly tries to adopt the program’s ancient behavior, instead of trying to adopt the program.

Classical Islam neglects the program (the Quran) in favor of adopting its unreliably recorded set of behaviors (hadith). In this way it refuses to admit that the Quran could do anything different today than what it did in 630 CE, acting as if God’s miraculous text, God’s guide to mankind for eternity, is a dead book that can teach us nothing new today. We are made to ignore God’s miraculous program in favor of a record of the way it was applied, a record that was written down somewhere between 100 and 200 years after the fact. The software analogy and an appreciation for the Quran’s immense superiority over hadith shows that this is almost insanity and is bound to lead to a corruption of Islam’s mission; instead of being a highly dynamic, always-relevant, always-responding program that deals with the matters of the age, it becomes an outdated program that thinks its highest achievement can only be an accurate reenactment of 630 CE.

This way of thinking led Muslims to forget their duty of living in constant renewal as necessitated by the Quran, becoming a backward religion that focused on appearances and rituals, leading to a worldwide Muslim community that had the rug swept from under them by the modern world. Instead of being leaders of modernity, they had divided societies where the religious leadership continued to advocate for a remake of 630 CE while the general population watched on with horror as their supposedly world-class religion was proven inferior time and again by the West’s prosperity, justice, empathy and peacefulness.

The analogy to a computer program is, of course, not exactly accurate. Hadith is a necessary part of applying the Quran in the modern world. The proper response is not to abandon hadith, but to realize that it is the Quran that we must follow as our ever-living guide, as our program in life, and to use hadith as a helper where needed, a helper toward following the Quran.

Once we think of hadith as a helper toward applying the Quran, everything falls into its proper perspective. Hadith no longer dominates Islamic thinking, and the Quran is no longer neglected and its mission abandoned. The Quran once more becomes the center of Islam, its priorities becoming the priorities of Islam, and its philosophy is used to judge both the modern world and hadith.

A Religion for Everyone, Not Just Scholars

Since the Quran is a very clear and simple book, Quran-focused Islam takes the power of interpretation from the clerics and gives it to every Muslim capable of reading and understanding the Quran. Quran-focused Muslims are not followers of the clerical establishment (although they respect it and use it where necessary), rather, like the Prophet’s Companions, they are followers of the Quran, and this gives them the power, the courage, and some would call it the audacity, to question everything within Islam, using the Quran to renew Islam daily, removing all practices and beliefs that went unchallenged a hundred years ago, but that today we have good reason to challenge as we follow the Quran.

Islam becomes a merger of the Quran and the cutting-edge of modern thought (rationalism and empiricism), instead of being a behemoth of tens of thousands of pages like classical Islam that only a scholar can properly understand.

Hadith is not a competitor to the Quran, or an equal authority to it. Hadith merely tells us about the Prophet’s efforts in following the Quran’s guidance. Islamic belief and practice is entirely about following the Quran, hadith is there to help us toward this goal, it is not there to give us new goals, to add things to Islam, to create a companion religion to the religion of the Quran that also has to be followed, which is sadly how Islam is practiced today.

What I am describing is not Quranism, the belief that only the Quran should be followed. We are still within orthodox Sunni Islam, we are merely rediscovering the Quran’s status and role.

The Plasticity of Interpretation

Ja’far Sadiq was a descendant of the Prophet and a scholar, highly respected by both Sunnis and Shiites. When asked about the Quran, he said, “God did not make it for one specific time or people, so it is new in every age, fresh for every people, until the Day of Judgment.’1

The most significant result of the Quran-focused school is that it results in a form of Islam that is always renewing itself, day by day and year after year. Regardless of what year we are in, we always go back to the Quran, treating it as if it was revealed right at this time, as if everything it says is relevant and authoritative this moment. This means that as times change, interpretations can change (because they are updated daily as new knowledge and ideas arrive and are exposed to the Quran), and in this way Islamic thinking can change, while always staying true and authentic to the Quran.

One good example of this is the issue of evolution. Old interpretations of Islam fought evolution, and classical scholars to this day continue fighting it. But the Quran-focused version of Islam is perfectly capable of handling it, absorbing it and making it a part of Islam, because the Quran is compatible with evolution. If science says something, our living authority (the Quran) agrees with it, but hadith and the scholars disagree, Quran-focused Islam enables Muslim intellectuals and scientists to bypass the classical scholarly community and make progress on their own, reconciling science and Islam. For a detailed discussion of Islam and evolution, please see my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species.

And if one day science proves evolution false, we again go back to the Quran and ask its opinion on the new theory. We have the Quran living among us, enabling us to answer any challenge that Islam faces, now or 10,000 years from now.

Quran-focused Islam is the Quran applied in the modern world, guided by hadith where needed. In this way a simple, highly capable, intellectually satisfying and non-contradictory Islam is achieved that is not anachronistic or irrelevant, that is not concerned with unimportant and technical matters, but that is always fully fitted to the needs of the age, that’s always highly relevant and highly activist, because it is derived from God’s living authority, as if the Prophet himself, peace be upon him, was living among us this day.

Embracing Quran-focused Islam is like going back to the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, being with him and supporting him in his mission. It accomplishes what Salafism wishes to accomplish; to have an Islam that is alive and relevant today, having a living authority from God that guides each one of our steps, motivates us and inspires us to spend our lives in the service of God.

While classical Islam futilely continues to try to derive a modern Islam from the Quran and hadith, Quran-focused Islam derives Islam only from the Quran, then uses hadith to provide guidance where needed. Since the Quran is a living authority, the Islam that is derived from it is always fully modern and up-to-date, and always fully compatible with science (if it wasn’t, if it contained even a single scientifically-provable error, it wouldn’t be worth believing in).

The Quran is not twisted to fit science and modern thinking, because it does not have to be. The Quran, by the virtue of being a miraculously always up-to-date book, always fits science and modern thinking, whether it is the ‘modern’ of now or the ‘modern’ of the next century we are talking about. The Quran opposes many things in the modern world, such as usury and sexual freedom. Those of us who know something about the history of the world know that when it opposes the modern world, the Quran is not backward, but ahead of its time. Usury is a highly corrupt practice that causes the super-rich to enjoy exponential wealth growth at the expense of everyone else. Sexual freedom breaks down the evolutionary mechanisms for the continuation of civilization; no matter how good it sounds, the end result is always below-replacement fertility rates and ultimately extinction; just because it takes a few centuries to cause a society to go extinct does not make it any less evil than a deadly plague.

Renewing Islam While Following the Sunnah

Quran-focused Islam gives its adherents immense freedom to modernize Islam and counter attacks against it, while also giving them the freedom to live authentically modern intellectual and personal lives. When living in the West, instead of acting like Salafis and Orthodox Jews, separating ourselves from the world, we fully embrace Western life and thinking, reject its evils, and work to improve it from the inside. We act the way the Prophet, peace be upon him, acted in Mecca. He did not separate himself from his pagan people, even though he recognized the evil they did and tried to change things for the better. He was fully-fledged member of Arabian society, living it and breathing it, and instead of being concerned with matters of technical detail, he was concerned with Islam’s spiritual message. His mission was to teach people to recognize the Oneness of God and to serve Him with everything they had.

We in the West, instead of hating the people and the society, love it and its people, recognize the good in them, forgive them their faults, and try to show that there is a better way. We do not try to destroy the West and rebuild it, any more than the Prophet, peace be upon him, tried to destroy Arabian society and rebuild it. Unlike Salafis who are generally authoritarians who think that everything must be forbidden unless expressly allowed by Islam, we leave it to the people to manage their personal and intellectual lives. If, like the Prophet, we succeed at spreading Islam through good manners and kindness like he did, then people will by themselves, democratically, choose to do what is in their best spiritual interests, similar to the way the people of the city of Al-Madinah invited the Prophet, peace be upon him, and made him their chief.

Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed God. (The Quran, verse 4:80)

A person reading this may think that this way of thinking rejects hadith or considers it unimportant. Nothing could be further from the truth. We continue to love and respect hadith and the classical scholarly tradition, all that we want to do is make one crucial reform, which is to recognize the Quran’s immensely high status compared to hadith, and the crucial differences between the role of the Quran compared to the role of hadith.

The Quran is my guide in life. The Prophet, peace be upon him, is my hero. He is the best man ever to follow the philosophy of life that I want to follow, therefore I use his example as my inspiration.

This is similar to a person who loves the rationalist and humanist teachings of Western philosophy and wants to apply them in his or her own life. To do so, they go and study the lives of the West’s greatest intellectuals, in this way finding inspiration and guidance toward applying rationalist and humanist ideas in real life. They gather a number of heroes whose thinking, sayings and ways of life are taken as a guide.

The point is not to follow those heroes due to any innate virtue the heroes contain within themselves, considering them sacred and holy. A person who loves the Western tradition follows these heroes because they embody the philosophy they want to follow. They want to follow the philosophy, and those heroes, by having applied such philosophies very well in their thinking and lives, are followed.

In Islam, the point is the Quran. This is the philosophy we follow. The Prophet, peace be upon him, is the hero that we follow for having embodied the Quran’s teachings best in his life. As Aisha, may God be pleased with her, says:

His manners were the Quran. (Mentioned in Sahih Muslim, al-Nasa’i, Ahmad, Ibn Majah)

Most of the difficulty that the scholars have with raising the status of the Quran is that it automatically lowers the status of hadith, and to them, this lowers the status of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Anyone who praises the Quran’s immense status and mentions its central place in Islamic life is considered potentially a dangerous fanatic, because they think the person is attacking the Prophet’s status. It is a sad state of affairs when even great scholars are short-sighted enough to think like this, to think there is some competition between the Quran and the Prophet, and to have an issue with a person taking the Quran as their guide in life.

The Quran, Islam’s only entirely reliable and trustworthy source, never mentions anywhere that the Prophet was anything more than human:

Muhammad is no more than a messenger. Messengers have passed on before him. If he dies or gets killed, will you turn on your heels? He who turns on his heels will not harm God in any way. And God will reward the appreciative. (The Quran, verse 3:144)

We did not send before you except men, whom We inspired, from the people of the towns. Have they not roamed the earth and seen the consequences for those before them? The Home of the Hereafter is better for those who are righteous. Do you not understand? (The Quran, 12:109)

And in fact it mentions him making several mistakes:

It is not for a prophet to take prisoners before he has become firmly established as a sovereign the land. You desire the materials of this world, but God desires the Hereafter. God is Strong and Wise. Were it not for a predetermined decree from God, an awful punishment would have afflicted you for what you have taken. (The Quran, verses 8:67-68)

May God pardon you! Why did you give them permission before it became clear to you who are the truthful ones, and who are the liars? (The Quran, verse 9:43)

O prophet! Why do you prohibit what God has permitted for you, seeking to please your wives? God is Forgiving and Merciful. (The Quran, verse 66:1)

1. He frowned and turned away. 2. When the blind man approached him. 3. But how do you know? Perhaps he was seeking to purify himself. 4. Or be reminded, and the message would benefit him. 5. But as for him who was indifferent. 6. You gave him your attention. 7. Though you are not liable if he does not purify himself. 8. But as for him who came to you seeking. 9. In awe. 10. To him you were inattentive. (The Quran, verses 80:1-10)

We can argue about the status of the Prophet, was he nothing but a messenger like the Quran says, or was he somehow intrinsically divine like the Christians think Jesus was? Was his task to give humanity the Quran, or to also give them a 9-volume second Quran (Sahih al-Bukhari) that competes with the Quran as a second authority?

A fair-minded reading of the Quran that has not been biased by classical Islamic doctrine will see that the Quran considers itself the center of Islam, and the center of the Prophet’s mission. It wasn’t the Prophet’s job to create a religion that is 50% based on an entirely reliable and miraculous text, and 50% based on a different, and ten times bigger, text that is full of unreliability and contradiction, and that often opposes central tenets of Quranic philosophy, and that due to its massive size overshadows the Quran.

The classical, outdated view of considering the Quran and hadith equals or de facto equals leads to the creation of a monstrosity that is very difficult to follow in good faith without one’s intelligence and sense of justice being insulted. The Quran says God is just and does not punish needlessly. Authentic hadith mentions someone being sent to the Hellfire because they did not clean themselves properly after urinating. The Quran says the Prophet is unable to hear the dead. Hadith mentions him listening to people in their graves. The Quran says when a person dies, they wake up on the Day of Judgment feeling as if only a few hours or days have passed. Hadith mentions them going through eons in their graves, being conscious, before being resurrected. The Quran says God guides humanity toward what is good, yet according to hadith He supposedly will give miraculous powers (such as the ability to bring back the dead) to some anti-Christ so that he can misguide people and take them to the Hellfire. The Quran does not contain a single mention of Jesus coming back to life and establishing some Paradise on Earth, instead strongly suggesting that he is already dead, while hadith is full of narrations regarding these matters, apparently taken directly from Christian mythology.

While there is usually not sufficient evidence to clearly rule out the above claims of hadith, Quran-focused Islam turns them into non-issues:

  1. Since they are not in the Quran,
  2. and since hadith is not 100% reliable (even if it is 99% reliable. Imam al-Bukhari, may God have mercy on him, says that the chain of narrators Malik-from-Nafi`-from-Ibn-Umar is the “most reliable” chain that exists, which naturally means all other chains are less reliable)
  3. therefore they are not important parts of Islam, or they may not even be parts of Islam,
  4. and therefore they can be safely ignored,
  5. and therefore they cannot be used as a basis for any argument or for establishing any principle or law.

A fair-minded person then will read the following authentic narration from the Prophet:

There will be after me narrators of hadith. Expose their narrations to the Quran; any of them that agree with the Quran, then follow those, and those that do not agree with it, then do not follow them.

And they will realize that even hadith calls for considering the Quran a judge and authority over hadith.

Then they will learn that Umar and other Companions disliked that hadith narrations should spread, because they feared that this would reduce the Quran’s importance in people’s minds (and they were sadly right). Then they will find out that Ibrahim al-Nakh`i (A Tabi` who met Aisha, may God be pleased with her) and Abu Hanifah both considered Abu Hurairah, a major “authentic” narrator of hadith, unreliable, because they considered him a human capable of human errors and of overextending himself, rather than considering his status holy and sacrosanct like those after them considered him.

The point is not to abandon the Sunnah. The point is to acknowledge the Quran’s central place in our daily lives, to acknowledge its authority over all other authorities, and to give preference to its principles and philosophy over hadith narrations.

One important fruit of Quran-focused Islam is that it has the power to revolutionize the science of hadith. As Muhammad al-Ghazali, may God have mercy on him, and his students argue, the Quran can be used to judge the content of hadith, something that has not been done formally in the classical science of hadith. Since Islam is always updating itself due to the merger of the Quran and modern thought, if through this process we conclude that something is true (such as evolution), then we can use this new finding to go back to all existing hadith narrations and reevaluate them. Those of them which clearly contradict evolution can be lowered to the status of “unauthentic”, which will affect our opinion of the narration’s chain of narrators, and this effect will go on to affect our opinion of all other narrations that have a similar chain of narrators.

When a hadith says something questionable, it is even possible that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said something from his own opinion that is incorrect or that he has corrected in another saying. The following is recorded in Sahih Muslim and other collections:

Anas reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) happened to pass by the people who had been busy in grafting the trees. Thereupon he said: “If you were not to do it, it might be good for you.” (So they abandoned this practice) and there was a decline in the yield. He (the Holy Prophet) happened to pass by them (and said): “What has gone wrong with your trees?” They said: “You said so and so.” Thereupon he said: “You have better knowledge in the affairs of your worldly life.” (Sahih Muslim 2363, Musnad Ahmad 24964)

And from Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet:

When he arrived at Badr, the Prophet set up his camp near the first wells he found. Seeing this, Ibn al-Mundhir came to him and asked: “Was this place where we have stopped revealed to you by God, so that we must not move either forward or backward from it, or is it an opinion and a strategy of yours, linked to war expedients?” The Prophet confirmed that it was his own personal opinion; Ibn al-Mundhir then suggested another plan that consisted of camping near the biggest well, the nearest to the way from which the enemy was to arrive, then blocking the other wells in the area so that the enemy could not get to the water. During the battle, the Muslims’ opponents were thus bound to find themselves in difficulty. Muhammad carefully listened to the explanation of this strategy and accepted it straightaway: the camp was moved and Hubab’s plan was implemented. (Page 103)

These examples show that the Prophet is not infallible in matters not having to do directly with Islamic guidance. They should not be used to reject narrations left and right without proper scholarly work, and this is not what I am suggesting. Quran-focused Islam wants to correct the corruption of the status of the Quran in the minds; it does not seek to throw away the scholarly tradition, it only seeks to reform it. Scholars of hadith can continue doing the important work of analyzing hadith, but now with the Quran always in their minds as the Criterion by which all narrations are judged.

An Always-Modern Islam: Solving the Problems of Slavery, Stoning, Apostasy and Others

Quran-focused Islam is about correcting the error of the scholars in lowering the Quran to the status of hadith. It places the Quran back in its proper place; at the center of Islam. By doing this, it creates a form of Islam that is never outdated or irrelevant, but that is always fully fitted to the needs and concerns of the age, while also always fully authentic to the classical spirit of Islam, because it continues to respect and follow the Sunnah.

The great difference in this new form of Islam is that whenever modern science or thinking recognize some truth, and the Quran supports it, then Muslims can accept it, even if there are narrations that say otherwise. The Quran is used as a judge over both modern thinking and over hadith, in this way preventing us from adopting false modernist ideas (such as women’s moral superiority over men, or communism), while also preventing us from holding onto false ancient ideas that are in hadith but that are today proven false. The Quran, being always up-to-date, enables us to live through the ages and respond appropriately to all of the challenges the world throws at us, while also staying authentically orthodox Muslims.

When modern science and the Quran support the theory of evolution, if a scholar finds an authentic narration or two that go against it, then it is science and the Quran that are given precedence, by the Prophet’s own command (to use the Quran to judge all hadith narrations).

When we modern folk consider slavery repulsive, when we believe in human rights and the dignity of every human being, and when we find that the Quran, while regulating slavery, never commands it, then we can reject slavery and ban it in our societies. Our living guide, the Quran, does not ask us to practice slavery. Our dead guide, hadith, mentions that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his Companions, widely practiced it, because that was the common practice in the world at the time, and it served various beneficial functions (it was far superior to the Jewish and Christian practice of killing all men, women and children of a defeated enemy, or leaving them to starve). It served a purpose at the time. And if 10,000 years from now, the world goes back to being undeveloped and slavery becomes commonplace, then the Quran is there to regulate it again and slowly eradicate it.

Classical scholars today are all against slavery to some degree, but they also have to “defend the Sunnah” by saying that it is a part of Islam and by finding various justifications for it. They are placed in the difficult position of having to say that there is nothing morally wrong with slavery (because the Prophet, peace be upon, practiced it), that the Prophet’s traditions are meant to be applied as an equal to the Quran today, and that slavery today is wrong and that Islam is against it. Quran-focused Islam doesn’t suffer from having to adopt these contradictory stances, because it believes the point of Islam is to follow the Quran, and that the Sunnah is merely a help toward this.

The Quran does not command slavery, therefore if there is no slavery in a society, then Muslims do not have to engage in it, and they are free to ban it. But, if Islam finds itself in a society that already practices it, then Islam can be adopted by it, in this way their practice of slavery is reformed and slowly eradicated (the Quran strongly encourages freeing slaves, and a child born to a slave and her master is considered a free person in Islamic law.)

The Slave Market, painting by Allan David (1838)

While classical Islam will always have difficulty with slavery, Quran-focused Islam does not. We can sincerely say that Islam is against slavery, and that its toleration of it is for practical purposes, since, as the experience of the American Civil War shows, abruptly ending slavery can create great discontent and unrest. It is far better to gradually phase it out, as Islam does. What the Prophet, peace be upon him, did in his time in practicing slavery does not apply to our time, because we are not required to follow his way of life in a vacuum (as Salafis think), we are required to follow the Quran and use his example when it applies, and needless to say, a modern person who authentically and unabashedly follows the full letter of the Quran does not have to have anything to do with slavery, and is in fact perfectly justified in opposing it, fighting it and working to put an end to it.

What the example of our Prophet, peace be upon him, teaches us is that if we find ourselves in a society that practices slavery, instead of taking up arms against the society, we can become part of it, help Islam spread, encourage people to free slaves, and in this way phase it out. If we find a slave woman on sale in the market, we can buy her and free her like the Prophet’s companion Abu Bakr used to do. Other Muslims, who are still stuck in the mindset of that slavery-practicing culture, can buy her and use her as a slave without being condemned. The culture is respected, while slowly being changed.

Unlike a Quran-focused Muslim, a Salafi, cannot have such a mindset toward slavery (that it was acceptable then but is not acceptable now). The Prophet, peace be upon him, and the Salaf (“The Pious Predecessors”) practiced slavery and had slave women with whom they had sex, therefore there is nothing wrong with it, and the practice can be continued today (as the Saudi Shaykh al-Fawzan recently ruled regarding Yazidi women captured by terrorist groups) even if most of the people of the world, including Muslims, find it repulsive.

To them, since Islam is a derivation of both the Quran and hadith, slavery has to be considered a good and acceptable thing, since it is part and parcel of hadith. While in Quran-focused thinking, since Islam is a derivation of  only the Quran, we are free what we think about slavery, if we find it repulsive, we do not have to support it, we can avoid it and work to eradicate it. If the world, or part of the world, or some isolated space colony, goes back to practicing slavery, then the Quran and hadith are there to regulate and eradicate it again.

So to a Quran-focused person, the fact that the Prophet, peace be upon him, had slaves does not have sufficient force in argument to justify it in the modern context, and such a person can stay true to the Quran while also supporting a worldwide ban on slavery. If there is a just war between a Muslim and a non-Muslim entity, the Muslim entity, while recognizing that technically Islam permits them to enslave the enemy, also recognize that Islam is a derivation of the Quran and the modern world, and neither of these things recommend enslavement of people today. In a different time and place, in a world that practices slavery, things could be different. But, since their Islam is always up-to-date, in today’s modern context, it is fully in accordance with Islam to oppose slavery and not practice it.

So we can honestly say that slavery was a part of Islam then, but that it is no longer part of Islam today, and that one day in the far future it could again become part of Islam. Our religion is always updating itself. There is no such thing as a single Islam the entirety of whose practices and ways of life can be set in stone and followed for eternity, as Salafis think. Instead, Islam is always a self-renewing derivation of the Quran and life, guided by hadith and classical scholarship wherever needed. If people say slavery is wrong, we agree with them, and tell them that Islam wants to eradicate it. If they point out Islam’s historical practice of slavery, we say it tolerated it because it was a worldwide practice then, because it served practical purposes, because banning it could have had violent consequences, but now that the world is different, Islam, too, can be different, because the Quran is living among us, telling us how to respond to each new age of the world.

The Quran-focused view is that Islam tolerates slavery for practical reasons where it is already practiced. The classical view is that slavery is not so bad, because the Prophet, peace be upon him, practiced it. The Quran-focused view admits the possibility of development in human ideas about morality and ethics, the classical view does not.

It is true that Islam’s dedicated detractors will probably not be satisfied by the Quran-focused view on slavery, but it is not our mission to satisfy them. Our mission is to reach fair-minded and moderate people, people who do not have a hatred against Islam but who merely want to understand it.

Another important matter solved by the Quran-focused view is that of stoning adulterers, which is something that perhaps 99.999% of Muslims would not agree to witness or carry out. The Quran-focused view effortlessly shows that there is no such thing as stoning or executing adulterers in Islam. There is strong evidence in the Quran against it, as I will describe in another essay, and there is sufficient evidence to believe that the hadith narrations that mention stoning were mentioning instances of the Prophet following Jewish law before Islamic law was revealed in the Quran, as Imam Muhammad Abu Zahra (1898 – 1974 CE), prominent 20th century Egyptian scholar of Islamic law, al-Azhar professor, member of al-Azhar’s Academy of Islamic Research and president of Cairo University has argued.

Another issue is that of punishing Muslims for leaving Islam (for committing apostasy), which is clearly in opposition to the Quranic concept of “no compulsion in religion” (as stated in verse 2:256). As our modern appreciation for logic shows, forcing someone to stay in a religion is as much compulsion as forcing someone to adopt a religion. Quran-focused Islam rejects the classical Islamic thinking that apostasy is punishable, considering it a human right granted by the Quran. Ahmad Moftizadeh is the major Islamic leader I know of who has advocated for this new view of considering apostasy a right of Muslims.

And another issue is the treatment of non-Muslims in Islam. While traditionally nearly all non-Muslims were considered kafirs (“infidels”), a modern reading of the Quran shows that a kafir is someone who knows and accepts the truth but denies it and acts against, committing Satan’s sin. This means that most of the people of the world are not kafirs. It also means that faithful Christians and Jews living today, those who believe and do good deeds, will go to Paradise as the Quran teaches, rather than going to the Hellfire for not accepting Islam as classical Islam teaches, since they barely know anything about Islam. God only burdens a soul with what He has already given it, it is highly unjust to punish a Christian for not being Muslim when they barely know anything about Islam, and when they do their best to serve God in good faith.

The Quran, besides reiterating the fact that pious Jews and Christians will go to Paradise in many places, has the following verse which criticizes Muslim exceptionalism in their thinking that only they will go to Paradise, while also criticizing the Christians and Jews who say similar things:

It is not in accordance with your wishes, nor in accordance with the wishes of the People of the Scripture. Whoever works evil will pay for it, and will not find for himself, besides God, any protector or savior. But whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, and is a believer—those will enter Paradise, and will not be wronged a whit. (The Quran, verse 4:123-124)

It is a sign of the incredible ignorance and negligence of Quranic principles and the status of the Quran that Muslims, including scholars, read the above two verses, then go on to say that Jews and Christians will go to the Hellfire in clear contradiction to it.

As can be seen, while the classical view insults our sense of justice regarding non-Muslims by teaching us to consider nearly all of them enemies of God, the Quran-focused view teaches us to have a positive view of them, since they are humans partaking in the same human struggle as ourselves, without being blessed with knowledge, and it also teaches us to have great respect for faithful and practicing Jews and Christians (few as they might be), and for people of other Abrahamic religions. And to give all of them the benefit of the doubt, since we do not know what is in their hearts, and to realize that it is opposed to the Quran to call them infidels when for all that we know they might be close servants of God. The only infidels among them are those who know the truth but act against it, and such people are also common in Islamic societies.

Salafism’s Better Alternative

One criticism of Quran-focused Islam could be that by giving the power of interpretation and argument to everyone who reads and understands the Quran, it promotes disrespect for the Sunnah and scholarship, that it teaches everyone to create their own sect. The best proof of the invalidity of these allegations is the ways of life of those who have actually adopted Quran-focused Islam, such as Iranian Kurdistan’s Maktab Quran movement. They continue to be full members of mainstream Islam, they love Islamic scholarship, and they follow the Sunnah. The same is true for those in Egypt who love Quran-focused teachings.

Unlike Salafis (note that I have great respect for many Salafi scholars, such as Ibn Baaz, and consider them good and pious men), who often create elitist cliques that separates itself from the mainstream, who have an “us vs. them” mentality toward other Muslims, who attack respectable and pious scholars and leaders like Yasir Qadhi, Quran-focused Muslims, since they judge the world by Quranic philosophy, have an open and loving attitude toward all other Muslims (and non-Muslims), judging people first and foremost by the quality of their hearts, not by the quality of their virtue-signalling or their exact adherence to their version of Islam.

Quran-focused Muslims treat all Muslims as innocent unless proven guilty, while Salafism treats everyone as guilty until proven innocent.

Both Quran-focused Islam and Salafism have the same goal; to revive Islam based on Islam’s original teachings. Salafism makes the mistake of trying to derive Islam equally from the Quran and hadith, which, while often leading to good results in matters of fiqh (Islamic law), also leads to an exclusive, elitist and intolerant form of Islam.

Quran-focused Islam corrects Salafism’s mistake by not buying into classical thinking, but by evolving beyond Salafism to place the Quran back at the center of Islam and to re-derive Islam from its principles and philosophy, leading to an extremely open-minded, spiritual and tolerant form of Islam that thinks the best of everyone, that fits modern science, that solves the various issues that have Muslims questioning Islam, and that remains fully part of mainstream Islam.

It is important to reiterate that I have the same goal as a Salafi person; I too want to follow a version of Islam that most accurately represents Islam’s original mission. Having looked at both Salafism and Quran-focused Islam, it has become clear to me that Quran-focused Islam is far superior to Salafism; it accomplishes everything Salafism was meant to accomplish, while avoiding all of its pitfalls, and just as importantly, while creating a version of Islam that stands the tests of all time:

  • Salafism tries to derive “true Islam” from the Quran and hadith equally, creating a rule-based (rather than ideals-based) form of Islam. Every Muslim is judged based on their abidance by thousands of different rules, regulations and ways of thinking. Quran-focused Islam, on the other hand, tries to derive a far smaller “true Islam” from the Quran only, leading to a religion that is not rule-based, but ideals-based. Kindly and well-intentioned people of all sects are accepted, because the Quranic ideals are what matter most. Passing judgment on people is highly discouraged, because this is directly in opposition to the Quranic commandments of mercy, forgiveness and thinking the best of others.
  • Salafism always leads to elitist cliques of Muslims who separate themselves from the mainstream. Quran-focused Islam does not, because it contains nothing to build cliques on. It is a spiritual practice, a person who uses it to feel superior to others has failed to understand the basic precepts of it and will be shunned by the rest.
  • Salafism leads to a mindset that has a total lack of empathy for those who refuse to abide by its authoritarian version of Islam. It doesn’t matter that a scholar has a good heart, is pious and God-fearing, if a Salafi person finds a few technicalities to attack them by, they will do it without shame, and they will say they do it in the service of God, of course.
  • Salafism makes intellectual progress (in things like solving the problem of evolution or stoning) nearly impossible, because it refuses to admit that the Quran is an authority over all authorities, it considers Islam’s unreliable history an authority to be dragged into the modern world. Quran-focused Islam gives its adherents immense intellectual freedom, because their central authority by which they judge all other authorities is a simple and extremely open-minded book. This enables them to go out into the modern world and have a fully-fledged intellectual life that is in no way inferior to that enjoyed by the rest of the world, and is in fact far superior to it, because it has the courage to reject the things like the West’s fashionable but irrationalist ideas and ideologies.

 

Practicing Quran-Focused Islam Today

We cannot preemptively say what conclusions we may reach once the classical Islamic sciences are reformed according to Quran-focused teachings. For now, we can use the following rule to practice an intellectually satisfying and modern form of Islam that is free from the pitfalls of classical Islam:

Whenever someone says something about Islam that is not in the Quran and that is not anticipated by the Quran, you can safely ignore it.

If you hear a hadith narration about the virtue of performing the prayer (the salah) at a certain time of day, then you are encouraged to follow it, since the Quran encourages prayer, and it is fully in keeping with the Prophet’s mission (as an applicator of the Quran) to have prayed in such a way, therefore, even though such a time for performing the prayer is not in the Quran, it is anticipated by the Quran, therefore there is no issue with following it.

On the other hand, if someone tells you about devils praying on your fingernails, the Dajjal, or the need for exorcision, then while you may not be able to say that these things are definitely false (unless you have great evidence to back up your saying, or you rely on a well-respected scholar’s research on the matter), you have the right to be skeptical toward these things and to ignore them. Using the above rule, you can stay focused on Islam’s message and mission; its spirituality, its dedication to worshiping and serving God, its activism, and ignore everything that insults your intelligence.

From the outside, you can continue practicing Islam just like before, but now focusing more on the Quran, and due to the renewed devotion to God that this causes, working to carry out more of the Sunnah good deeds, while also being free from suffering the confusion, hesitation, and moral indignation that classical Islam causes. When a preacher says something so ridiculous that it makes you want to cringe and shudder, instead of feeling hopeless and questioning why you belong to this religion, you can simply think: “It is not in the Quran, and it is against the Quran’s principles, therefore it is not worth talking about. End of story.” You no longer have to submit to anyone’s authority except the Quran’s, with hadith acting as your helper toward applying the Quran in your life.

To many Muslims, what I describe here (of placing the Quran at the center of Islam) will not sound new or controversial. Within the scholarly community, however, few people dare to voice such an opinion, since they will quickly be attacked by Salafis and other hadith-centrists. Most scholars would rather choose the safe path of complacence that will ensure they will not be condemned, instead of choosing the path of respecting the Quran as an unchallenged authority as it is meant to be. In this way, with their silence and lack of courage, they continue to enable countries like Saudi to continue exporting their highly intolerant version of Islam with little resistance, so that today most Muslims cannot answer if asked why they are not Salafis.

We are not Salafis because it gives precedence to the Quran’s ancient application (hadith) rather than to its modern application (applying Quranic principles in the modern world). It thinks that if the Quran tells us to do something today, but hadith tells us that Muslims did something different in 630 CE, that we must ignore the Quran and follow the hadith, despite the fact that hadith is inherently unreliable.

Salafi attitudes toward slavery, stoning, apostasy and the treatment of non-Muslims is sufficient to show the inferiority of hadith-focused (classical) Islam and the immense superiority of Quran-focused Islam in the way it solves all of these issues.

Note: The concepts mentioned in this essay are developments of Sayyid Qutb’s ideas as carried forward by the Iranian Sunni leaders Ahmad Moftizadeh, Nasir Subhani and myself. They are not directly taken from Sayyid Qutb, but are inspired by his method in interpreting the Quran.

Why do traditional societies care so much about a woman’s virginity?

Why reduce woman to her reputation and virginity. Why care so much if she’s a virgin or not?

If you are asking why things are so from a religious perspective (not from an evolutionary psychology perspective), then the reason is that when a woman has sex before marriage, this means one of two things: Either does not take the Quran seriously and thinks she has the right to disobey it, meaning that she is not worth marrying for a man who wants a devout woman, or that she is unable to control her urges, that she doesn’t have sufficient intelligence and upbringing to stop herself from engaging in that.

Both of these things make her undesirable as a wife, because if she has a casual attitude toward sex outside of marriage, or if she is unable to control her urges, then the man who marries her suffers being married to a woman who does not take religion seriously and breaks its commandments when she wants, or if she is unable to control her urges, it means she has a higher chance of cheating on him or abandoning him. After years of marriage, after the man has worked years to build the family and provide for it and raise it, she may fall in love with someone else and abandon him, or she may cheat on him and get pregnant by another man, so that he brings up another man’s child.

Therefore ideally, a religious man wants to marry a woman who takes Islam’s commandments very seriously, and just as importantly, has the ability to follow them. And needless to say, a woman who has sex outside of marriage fails at one or both of these.

The same way that women have criteria for deciding whether a man is “husband material”, men have criteria for deciding whether a woman is “wife material”.

For a man to be considered husband material, he must have a job, he must be reasonably successful, he must have sufficient social skills and masculinity to be an attractive male, and many women also require that he must be taller than themselves. This means that women discriminate against men who do not have a job, are unsuccessful, are without social skills or are short by preferring other men over them. Most women couldn’t care less how much of a nice and moral person a man is if he is extremely awkward (”creepy”), destitute and has no job or prospects. He may wish to be loved for who he is instead of being judged for factors that might be outside of his control, but his wishes do not matter, the majority of women will care about the above factors and will reject him for not having them.

Similarly, for a woman to be considered wife material, men use certain criteria to judge her, regardless of how nice of a person she is.

Both sexes look for those qualities in the other sex that increases the likelihood of having a successful marriage and bringing up healthy and successful children. Women look for husbands who are strong and successful men, because such men are good at taking care of them and their children. Men look for wives who are virgins and have a good reputation, because such women are good at following Islam and remaining loyal to the marriage.

If a woman has lost her hymen from some accident and she can prove this, then if she is still judged because of it, then that is really foolish, since she has done nothing wrong. The problem is that most people are not geniuses and jump to conclusions in all kinds of matters on a daily basis.

And a woman who has lost her hymen due to some accident but has no way of proving it, and she marries and her husband finds this out, then if he is a good man then he will judge her by what he knows of her reputation, and will not hold this fact against her, but will take her at her word.

So the important thing about virginity is not the piece of flesh (the hymen), the thing by itself doesn’t mean anything, it is just a piece of flesh and perhaps plastic surgeons will be able to reconstruct it, it is the implications of it that matter. A never-married woman who doesn’t have a hymen has either lost it due to some accident, or due to having sex outside of marriage, or due to using sex toys. Usually everyone assumes the worst (including all of the female relatives of the man), because marriage is an extremely serious business that determines a person’s fate for the rest of their lives, therefore they believe a woman who does not have a hymen when she is expected to has some explaining to do, the man’s family do not want him to marry someone who has sex outside of marriage.

So, in a traditional society, if society reduces a woman to her reputation and virginity when it comes to being considered for marriage, a man too is reduced to his success and prospects. Both are reduced to those qualities that are most crucial for a successful marriage. When a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage, the first thing the woman’s family thinks about is his job. If he has a high-status job like being an architect, her family may exult at the fact, saying “Wow! An architect wants our daughter!” What kind of person he is deep inside is rarely given a thought, and if a poor man with zero prospects asks for their daughter’s hand in marriage, they will think, “What a loser! We will never give him our daughter!” even if he is a very good and kind man inside.

Meanwhile, the man’s family will not think in such terms, they have different criteria for judging whether the woman their son wants is worthy or not. They will talk about her attractiveness, her manners, and her history, especially her history. They will gossip about her history for days and months and make use of the Old Wives and Grandmas Intelligence Organization to find out everything they can about her, because they want to make sure their son does not marry someone who does not take religion seriously, or someone who finds it easy to be disloyal and have sex outside of marriage.

Many of these activities are extremely crude and an intelligent and sensitive person will be repulsed by them, but that is how most traditional societies function, and there is some logic to its origins; the woman’s family’s purpose is to ensure that the man can take care of their daughter, the man’s family’s purpose is to ensure that the woman can take care of their son’s children and new family and not abandon it or be disloyal toward it.

No woman enjoys being under the scrutiny of a man’s family, being considered guilty until proven innocent, but she will most likely do the same to a woman her own son or brother wants to marry. I have seen this countless times. And similarly, no man enjoys being under the scrutiny of a woman’s family and being judged by his job and success rather than his innate qualities, but he will do the same if his daughter or sister is about to get married, if he is wise, he will worry about whether the man is able to take care of his daughter or sister for the long term.

If you ask why a man is not scrutinized equally for his virginity, it goes back to evolutionary differences between men and women. A religious family will care very much about his virginity (if he has never married) and will not want their daughter to marry someone who has sex outside of marriage. But, ignoring religion, in traditional societies, it was a man who supported a woman and her children, his function was mostly economic. If he had sex with other women, this did not necessarily affect his economic function, he could continue to provide for his wife and children. For this reason among irreligious folk, there is generally a laxer attitude toward a man cheating than a woman cheating.

On the other hand, in a traditional society, if a woman cheated, that could be the end of the world for the marriage. She could get pregnant by another man and her husband forced to take care of the child born. A man wants to raise his own children, and the purpose of a marriage and family is for him to achieve this. If the wife gets pregnant by someone else, then that destroys the purpose of his marriage. He will be like a slave, not working for his own benefit, but for another man’s. For this reason attitudes toward female cheating or sleeping around have usually been much harsher.

Men have an animal instinct to prefer young and sexually inexperienced women, because this instinct ensures that they are more likely to marry a woman who will be loyal to them and their marriage. Women do not have this instinct, they instead have an animal instinct to prefer successful men. It is these two instincts that come out in the behaviors of traditional societies, which do not always fit religion and are sometimes directly opposed to it.

When it comes to well-educated and intelligent populations (rather than traditional ones), the human brain has more control over their thinking processes, so that they do not judge everything by instinct. Therefore men can be found who do not mind if their wife has sex with other men, and women can be found who do not mind taking care of their families while their husbands do not work and are not successful.

Devout Muslims coming from such populations are more likely to treat the issue of cheating equally between men and women, since that is what Islam demands, and they are more likely to take a woman at her word, giving her the benefit of the doubt if she is not a virgin, and even if she is known to have dated someone, if she says they never had sex, then she may be believed, while in a traditional society she wouldn’t be.

The less intelligent a population is, the more it will judge by its animal instincts, and the more intelligent it is, the more it will judge things by ideals, religious principles and logic. In a traditional population, a woman who admits to having had sex outside of marrying, saying she has now made repentance and wants to be a good and religious person, will probably never be forgiven or given a second chance, while in a better educated and more intelligent Muslim society she will be forgiven and accepted again.

There are many female converts to Islam in the West who admit to having had sex outside of marriage before Islam, but by the middle class Muslims of the West this is not held against them. But the same woman, if she talks to the lower classes of some Middle Eastern society and tells them this fact, they will immediately treat her like she is somehow diseased and gross.

The problem is not Islam but humanity’s animal instincts and the culture that has been derived from this (since culture is a result of genes). The best-educated and most devout Muslims are most likely to have a liberal and open-minded attitude toward a woman’s virginity and to give her second chances. But this does not mean that they should completely ignore her virginity or reputation, because these are indicators of her character, and a man wants to marry a woman of good character, the same way that a woman wants to marry a man of good character. In a traditional society if a woman admits to having lost her virginity due to a mistake she made in her youth, saying that she has repented now, this may never be accepted of her and her life might be ruined, while in a more educated and more devout society, she may be easily forgiven and given another chance.

If part of your question was regarding why a virgin is more attractive than a divorced woman, it goes back to the dynamics of pair-bonding, which means that a never-married woman is far more likely to have a successful marriage than a divorced woman (a first marriage in the US lasts about 25 years, while a second marriage lasts only 10 years). Since both sexes look for those characteristics in the other sex that are more likely to enable them to have a successful and long-lasting marriage, and since a woman’s lack of sexual experience / virginity means that her marriage is much more likely to succeed (as the statistics show), then you’d expect men to have a preference for this type of woman, and it is so. For more details on this please see these two previous answers of mine:

The Most Desirable Women for Marriage are in their Early Twenties and Sexually Inexperienced

In reply to my article Will a young Muslim woman miss out on marriage by not dating and having relationships? someone wrote:

No offense but that ask about marriage with 0 dating experience has so many things wrong with it, i don’t even know where to start (& there aren’t enough chars to cover everything). – “Peak of attractiveness” technically is around 30s – That “wife material” part was quite sexist – Getting a random guy u barely know to ur family bc he says “he’s into u” is just unrealistic. I know what Islam says, but that’s unrealistic. How will u get to know the guy even? He’s marrying YOU, not your family.

Regarding peak attractiveness, here is a chart from the dating site OkCupid, which has a large database of statistics regarding dating and relationships. You can say it is unfair, but this is life. In fact according to them the peak is at 21, not even 25:

The wife material part is certainly sexist, if by that you mean treating women differently compared with men, acknowledging the evolutionary differences between them. It is not sexist if by that you mean there is something morally wrong with it. Men have an evolutionary instinct to prefer young, sexually inexperienced women. You are free to dislike this preference of men, but disliking it is not going to change men’s genetic code so that they start to prefer older or sexually experienced women. In the same way, a man may dislike the fact that many women find successful men attractive, while they find romantic men who have no degrees, no jobs, no money and live in their parents’ basement highly unattractive. A man can dislike these things and say it is discrimination against men, why should they be judged by their success instead of their innate qualities? A woman too, can say it is discrimination that she should be judged by her beauty and youth instead of her innate qualities. But in both cases, it is our evolutionary instincts telling us to prefer members of the opposite sex who are most likely to give us successful relationships, families and offspring.

Politics and morality have nothing to do with it. Unless we find a way to perform DNA surgery on men so that they start finding older and sexually experienced women more attractive, they will continue to prefer younger and less experienced women. And unless we perform DNA surgery on women, they will continue to care about a man’s success, or potential for success, before they decide whether they should marry him.

Unlike men, women are not attracted to young and inexperienced men, in a man shyness is weakness, not an attractive thing, and men, when they decide whether they should marry a woman, rarely care about her success or chances of success, because each sex wants different things in the other, thanks to evolutionary specialization.

Since humans are not animals, they can use their brains and free will to overcome their genetic instincts and make choices that go against them. But these genetic instincts will always be present underneath everything else. A woman always wants her husband to be more successful, and this would make her feel more attracted to him (while a man’s attraction for his wife has nothing to do with her career success), despite her religious and ideological beliefs.

One could say that we should change society so that these differences in sexual preferences between the sexes should go away. You, as a free-willed human, are free to do that in your own life. But since these facts have biological drives behind them, they cannot be stamped out. Apart from physical appearance, women are sexually attracted to success, men are sexually attracted to youth, not vice-versa. Trying to erase these facts is similar to communism’s efforts to erase the human desire for private ownership. The law, secret police and the gulag can be used to impose an unnatural arrangement on the population, but once this political force is removed, biological reality will reassert itself. All communist states revert to quasi-capitalist states, and all societies that have gender equality imposed upon them will eventually revert to biological sexual specialization.

Islam and biology both treat the sexes differently, giving each sex different duties and responsibilities (while as Muslims and civilized people we never forget that both are humans and capable of all human things). Modern politics wants to treat the sexes as if they are exactly the same, and as if any mention of differences between the sexes is blasphemy. I prefer Islam and science and couldn’t care less about politics and ideology.

I saw a train that was carrying knowledge and so torrentially it went.
I saw a train that was carrying politics (and so emptily it went.)

~ Sohrab Sepehri (Persian free verse poet)

I did not say she should introduce a random guy she barely knows to her family. The assumption was that she grew up knowing dozens of men, and through college and work, she could know dozens more. If one of these men she already knows well approach her, then instead of engaging in a potentially harmful relationship, she should direct them to her family.

As for someone she barely knows, then there is nothing wrong with getting to know him. From an Islamic point of view, the problem is with trying to enjoy a relationship with someone without marrying them. If the point is knowing a person, then there isn’t an issue with that as long as both sides observe custom and religious boundaries.

Next reply:

Those are OkCupid stats, they show which age range ppl are looking for, to date/meet. Has absolutely nothing to do w peak attractiveness. By sexist, I meant how a hymen is a criteria in marriage. You have every right to prefer islam rather than ideologies. But then again, Khadija (RAA) was neither inexperienced, nor young. The prophet (SAAWS) clearly didn’t follow any of what u said in ur arguments. And he is human, a man, with a dna, hormones and all. It IS VERY important to point out that Islam has asked BOTH men and women to stay virgin til marriage. So the “ unlike men, inexperienced women are biologically more attractive” argument clearly has NOTHING to do with Islam’s teachings. As much as I disagree, you have your opinions and preferences, that I accept. But please, don’t claim they’re what Islam says. Islam didn’t say that you’re less worthy as husbands or wives if you’re not virgin.

You are right that Islam requires both men and women to stay virgin, this goes without saying.

As for young and sexually inexperienced women being more attractive, I did not say this has anything to do with Islam. It has to do with biology. In my answers, I always take the facts of real life into account, and if I can give someone common sense advice along with mentioning related Islamic concepts, then I will do so, as I have done in most of my answers. This is how I would answer a question a friend asks me, and this is how I answer questions here.

I think the OkCupid data is highly relevant, it shows the female age that men find most desirable. Here is another chart from a BusinessInsider article that says the age is 23, sourced from different data:

I pointed to the rest of what you said in my previous answer. Humans have free will and are able to choose differently than their biological drives. For religious reasons, you could choose a less attractive and less wealthy man as a husband who is very religious, rather than less religious but more attractive man.

I have no problem with marrying a 40-year-old woman if she is a good person and we are fit for each other in other ways. But this does not prove biology false.

Humans love the taste of meat, but there are vegetarians who avoid it. Vegetarians will be wrong to say that there is no such thing as a human preference for meat. The preference exists, and the population as a whole follows the preference, but individual humans can go against it.

In the same way, men prefer young and inexperienced women, this is a biological preference. But they can overrule it with other concerns, moral, religious, intellectual, whatever they may be. When you look at the population as a whole, the preference will show up clearly, as the data shows.

Given the choice between three equally religious, intelligent and pretty women, one who is 22, one who is 32 and one who is 42, the majority of men would prefer the one who is 22.

In the same way, given the choice between three equally religious, intelligent and physically attractive men, one who is greatly successful, one who has moderate success, and one who has zero success and zero prospects, the majority of women will choose the most successful man.

Another way to illustrate this is if a man’s wife is 40, and she finds a magic potion to turn her back to 22, then the husband would love her to use it, no matter how much he loves her already.

And if a woman’s husband finds a magic potion that makes him much more successful than he is currently, she would love him to use it.

If there are always exceptions, what is the point of mentioning the general rules? The point is that these rules have significant effects on our lives whether we want them to or not. A woman will find it much easier to get married at 25 than at 45, because most men are not the Prophet, peace be upon him; most men will judge her by their own instincts, not be her spiritual qualities.

In the same way, a man will find it much easier to marry if he is successful, therefore he must try to be successful, doing what makes it more likely for him to marry, instead of saying that he will wait for the right woman who will marry him despite the fact that he has no job or degree.

The rule is that women are attracted to success, therefore a man should make use of this rule and seek to be successful. It is foolishness if he says that the right woman will not care about material things like success.

In the same way, the rule is that men are attracted to youth, therefore a woman should make use of this rule, realizing that it will be easier to get married when she is younger than when she is older. It is foolishness if she waits until she is 40 and says the right man will not care about material things like age.

Personally if I was given the choice of marrying either a 30-year-old or a 22-year-old, if both were equally pretty and religious, I may choose the older just because I would feel guilty to use her age against her, and would worry about her chances of marrying. I would be cognizant of the fact that most men would pass her up, so I wouldn’t.

But, and this is an important but, most men don’t think like that. You cannot rely on men’s kindness, saying they shouldn’t care about age, and you cannot rely on women’s kindness, saying they shouldn’t care about success.

If I were giving advice to a young woman regarding marriage, it is essential that I mention the importance of age. A 50-year-old woman will find it extremely difficult to marry, there will probably be little controversy about this. A 35-year-old woman still has a chance of marrying an attractive and successful man, but nowhere close to the chances of a 22-year-old.

And if I were giving advice to a young man regarding marriage, I would tell him to seek to be successful, because this is essential for him to be considered “marriage material” by women. He can call this sexist and say that he doesn’t care about a woman’s success, why should she care about his success? She does because she is designed to do so, because the survival of the species relies on her choosing someone who can take care of her and her children, and his material success is a very good indicator of his ability toward this (that he has the social skills, intelligence and stamina to take care of a family and ensure its long-term good). If he doesn’t work to be successful, then he has no right to complain if women reject his proposals.

Also note that I am not saying that older women cannot get married. Women of most ages can marry, but the older they get, the pool of men they can choose from gets smaller. A 22-year-old woman has the largest pool of men available to her, wanting to marry her, because she is at the peak of her desirability. At the age of 32, she can still marry, but she will have to settle for less attractive men. At 42 she can still marry, but she will have to settle for even less attractive men, unless a man like the Prophet, peace be upon him, appears and marries her. But most women cannot rely on this happening to them.

If you do not believe these, ask any single 40-year-old woman who wants to get married. The internet is full of stories of such women, who were deluded into delaying marriage until their late 30′s to work on their career, only to find out that almost no man finds them interesting anymore, even though in their 20′s they had dozens of men willing to marry them. It is nothing short of evil to cause this to happen to women, to delude them into letting their most attractive years pass them by just because it is fashionable politically, so that once they do start to want to get married, they run into disappointment after disappointment.

Women should instead be informed that marriage is much easier when you are young. An unmarried 40-year-old woman will not derive much consolation from calling these facts sexist and unfair and calling men “sexist pigs”.

Regardless of how much a man calls women sexist and materialist and says they should love him for who he is instead of loving him for his wallet, they will continue to care about his success, because it is their instinct to care. And regardless of how much a woman calls men sexist and materialist and says they should love her for who she is and not for her beauty and age, they will continue to care, because it is their instinct to care.

Exceptions can be found where people find fulfilling relationships that do not follow these patterns. But these rules exist, and they affect most of us to some degree. There is nothing wrong with mentioning them and taking them into consideration.

The Last Mufti of Iranian Kurdistan (And a Critique of Political Islam)

This book is a beautiful tribute to the memory of Ahmad Moftizadeh, may God have mercy on him, containing a detailed and well-supported biography of the man and detailing his works and beliefs.

As someone whose (Sunni) family spent the late 80’s and most of the 90’s in Iranian Kurdistan, Ahmad Moftizadeh and Nasir Subhani, I have been hearing the names of these two men mentioned with love for as long as I can remember.

I am thankful that such a work was done by someone with a Western background, since the quality of the research is much higher than that of Eastern publications.

On the matter of politics, the author quotes Moftizadeh as saying:

He who embarks on a political project is the most likely to lose God’s
way. Just take a look at the world.

The book provides further evidence of the futility of political Islam, something I have been studying for years, beginning with my study of Sayyid Qutb. Both men belong to a class of Islamists who believed that “good and sincere” men would be the perfect men to govern a country, ignoring the fatal flaw within this hypothesis; that there is no way to reliably find “good and sincere” men, and once supposedly “good and sincere” men are selected, there is no way to reliably make them continue being good and sincere. You always end up with a limited democracy where all kinds of insincere power-seekers make it through the system and gain power. From the history provided by The Last Mufti and clues elsewhere, it appears that there were many good and sincere men among the Shia leaders of the Iranian revolution, but within ten years the revolutionary government was ruled by some of the worst criminal scum to ever walk this earth.

The critical weakness within political Islam is that for it to work, everything must go perfectly:

  • Nearly everyone involved in the political movement must be sincere and not a power-seeker
  • The current government must respect the Islamists and allow them to peacefully take power, it must not persecute them and assassinate its leaders (Iran, Algeria, Iraqi Kurdistan and Egypt’s experience show just how naive this expectation is.)
  • Most of the country’s Muslims must support them, instead of the party becoming a cause for division and dislike among Muslims, where some people trust the party and others have good reasons not to trust it due to what they know about the party’s leadership and power structure.
  • It must be able to keep its moral integrity and attain success despite facing a thousand dirty tricks played by the opposition, which has no religion and no qualms about using every trick in the book to defeat them. If the opposition makes up lies, sets fire to its establishments, intimidates its members and uses the law to put hurdles in front of them, the Islamists, if they want to continue to following Islam truly, must not counter these with their like.

The conclusion I have reached at the moment is that seeking power is like seeking wealth, and that no God-fearing Muslim or group of Muslims will self-elect themselves to do it. Power corrupts and attracts the corruptible. All Islamist political activism that is aimed at seeking power (such as by winning elections) is inherently un-Islamic because the chances of it doing good are far smaller than the chances of it doing evil:

  • The party can attract good and sincere people, only to have the government imprison and torture them, because the party makes them easy targets, and makes the powers that be uncomfortable. While if they had not acted politically, if they had remained ordinary civilians, they would have attracted dangerous attention far later in their careers, and any persecution would have befallen a far smaller group of people. The Muslim Brotherhood has probably caused the unintentional deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people who by today would have had millions of descendants who would be devout Muslim judges, journalists, writers and professionals, doing far more for Islam than the Brotherhood has done.
  • The party causes division among Muslims, because not everyone will want to join them, since people will judge the party by its members, and if they know any of its members to be insincere and corrupt (and the party is bound to attract such members), they will not want to have anything to do with the party. This is a cause for a highly dangerous and corrupting form of division in the community, as is highly evident in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Islamist scene.
  • The party can give Islam a bad name, as Iran’s Shia Islamists, Turkey’s Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood have all done. Any evil they do reflects on Islam.
  • Terrorism is just a continuation of political Islam by other means.
  • When a foreign government wants to interfere with local politics for its own benefit, political groups including Islamist ones, are at the forefront of the tools it will consider using. Examples are Iranian support for Iraqi Kurdish Islamists, Turkish support for Syrian and Chechnian Islamists, Saudi and US support for various Islamists around the world including terrorist ones. The Islamist group can easily be entangled in international power plays and become nothing but a disposable tool that will have support for a while from a foreign entity, until the winds change and the foreign entity abandons them or starts to support their enemies against them.
  • Group think: Every political party eventually builds its own culture of “political correctness”, because there will be members who seek power, and one of the main ways of ensuring an increase in power and avoiding a loss in power is to fit in with everyone else. The least sincere and most toxic individuals will be the most eager to fit in, to create a large set of virtue-signalling behaviors that they follow to show their sincerity and dedication. This will cause others to respond in kind, and soon members of the party can be easily distinguished from the general population by their distinguishing manners, values and forms of speech developed within the party. This culture makes it difficult for sincere members to contribute through constructive criticism, because insincere power-seekers will act that such criticism is defeatist, divisive and harms the interests of the party. The sincerest members can easily become marginalized within the party.

I am not against all Islamic political activism, however. The “good” form of Islamic political activism has one key attribute: It must never seek power. That is the key differentiator. We can criticize governments, we can publish exposés, we can refuse to do any evil the government apparatus asks us to do, we can try to influence politicians in a publicized manner (we must never scheme behind the scenes, as this too is a form of power-seeking, any dealings we have with politicians must be public, such as in the form of open letters, if it has to be secret, it is a way of befriending politicians and gaining power from it, and this causes it to turn into the “bad” type of political Islam), we can do everything we can to improve the world and to reduce tyranny, but none of this must include power-seeking.

This is the way of the Prophet, peace be upon him, while he was under the sovereignty of another power. He spoke the truth, but he never sought power. And his activities eventually made those in power uncomfortable, until they tried to kill him. What he did was not fight back, but immigrate to a different area.

If the Prophet, peace be upon him, had acted like today’s Islamists, using political organization and directly targeting Mecca’s power structure, he would have attracted the murderous attention of Mecca’s pagans far more quickly, perhaps within a few months. But by not doing this, by not being political, he was able to work for 13 years in Mecca. And once it became too dangerous for him to be there, he left for a different place.

Whether political Islam seeks or does not seek power, it will always risk persecution. But the point is that while Islamism spends lives needlessly (attracting murderous persecution quickly), the Prophet’s type of political activism does not spend lives needlessly.

Islamism tries to change the world in a top-down way; we gain power, then we will do good with it. The Prophet’s political activism, on the other hand, tries to change the world in a bottom-up manner; we work with the people and tell the truth, and this causes social and political change down the road.

The Prophet’s way is far more likely to be successful because:

  • It only attracts sincere people. People are not attracted to the movement for power, because it promises no gain in power. This means that like the Prophet’s circle, it will be free from the poisonous personalities that seem to exist in every Islamist party.
  • It does not attract quick and harsh persecution. It may attract it eventually, but it will have far more time to attract devoted followers.
  • It does not create division among the people, because there is no “my Islamist group” vs. “your Islamist group”. All Muslims are treated the same by it.
  • There is no danger of group think, because the group does not seek power. There are fewer insincere people wanting to increase their power and status through virtue-signalling.

At this moment, to me the facts that the power-seeking form of political Islam attracts insincere personalities, creates division and invites harsh persecution are sufficient to consider it a very foolish form of activism. The right way is the Prophet’s way, which is to never seek power, but to work with the people, helping them improve spiritually, while also criticizing tyranny and injustice, knowing that all power comes from God, and if the time is right, He will give it, if He wants.

In Islam, we neither seek wealth nor power. We act as if we already have these, not feeling poor or weak, but criticizing those in power bravely, because we know we are servants of the Most Rich and the Most Powerful. Like the Prophet, peace be upon him, our mission is to live the Quran while not being attached to wealth or power (because by the virtue of being God’s agents, we already have these). The seeking of wealth or power has nothing to do with our mission. Our mission is to be with the people, the poor, the enslaved, the voiceless, to teach them, to help them regain some hope and courage. Like the Prophet, we deal neither with wealth nor power unless these things are freely and openly given to us, in which case we follow his example in dealing with them.

One argument in favor of political Islam that Islamists mention is that Muslims need “organization” to better arrange their affairs. I agree, but we can have all the organization we need without seeking power, therefore this does not justify Islamism.

And if they say that Islamists are needed to protect the interests of the Muslims, the examples of the past century show that Islamists expose Muslims to far more persecution, torture and murder than they would be exposed to without them, therefore no, Muslims do not need this type of poisonous favor. Islamists have shown time and again that they are completely powerless at defending the interests of Muslims. Either they and their friends get imprisoned, tortured and assassinated en masse, or they gain power only to be bombed into oblivion by the latest bully on the world stage. They can say that ideally, if everything goes perfectly, they can do much good. Yes, but things never go ideally. Ideally communism can create great happiness and equality. Realistically, communism always creates police states, purges and starvation. In the same way, realistically, Islamism always creates far more evil than good despite the best intentions of its leaders.

It should be mentioned that Maktab Quran, Moftizadeh’s movement which continues to exist today, does not seek political power. However, it continues to act as something of a party, just not a political one, and this makes it suffer some of the issues Islamist parties suffer from (causing division, attracting persecution, having limited penetration among the population). They would have done much better if they had been nothing but a group of friends with each of them acting independently, becoming leaders in their own communities, and not naming themselves anything. They continue to be highly respected and to do good deeds, as they do not suffer from one important weakness of political parties, which is the promise of power attracting toxic personalities. Their lack of power-seeking ensures that only sincere people are attracted to their group.

Better than Maktab Quran would be a movement that is not a party, but a creed, and that has no organization (or need for one). It is an intellectual movement of educated and dedicated people acting together because they all follow the same creed, similar to a colony of ants which does not have central organization, but whose each part functions in tandem with the parts closest to it. And this already exists to some degree. Throughout the world, millions of Muslim intellectuals are developing a sense of belonging to a “mainstream”, loving its leaders and doing good works in their local communities. A new creed from a new Ghazali could help give direction to them and cure the Muslim world from the misguided, power-seeking form of political Islam.

The author provides the following interesting snippet on life in modern Tehran:

During the government of Mohammad Reza Khatami, the first so-called reformist president of the Islamic Republic, the author was an intern for Iran’s premier private consulting firm in Tehran. The firm’s management was educated and or raised in the West, while the majority of its employees had similar backgrounds, or came from a segment of Iran’s middle class that was educated and relatively progressive in its values. Headscarves were promptly removed in the office, flirting was common among the young employees, and everyone but the valet sipped tea throughout the day during the month of Ramadan. Even though most of these individuals voted for reformist candidates in the Islamic Republic’s elections, they disavowed allegiance to the system, and did not believe religion should play a role in government. For them, “reformism” ideally meant reforming Iran into a modern, Western-style secular country.

Which provides a useful occasion to mention this hypothesis of mine:

Once the values, beliefs and practices of a country’s intelligentsia is significantly out of sync with the values, beliefs and practices of the state, the state experiences accelerating irrelevance that always ends in peaceful or violent regime change.

The Iranian government wants to continue to pretend that it is 1979, that they are here to save the Islamic world, and they justify every evil and injustice through this. If the Iranian government had a motto, it would be “The End Justifies the Means”. This, of course, applies perhaps to all governments in the world. Another hypothesis I can quote is this:

Once a government has committed a single utilitarian murder1, it has lost the entirety of its moral legitimacy.2

The Iranian government wants to think that it is here to save the world from Israel, thinking that one day God will give them the honor of being the Islamic world’s conquerors and flag-bearers, not admitting that to God, they are just as worthless and evil as the Israeli government. Both of them oppress and murder those under them, Israel does it to the Palestinians, Iran does it to its millions of Sunnis. Both of them torture and assassinate good and innocent people to ensure their own power and survival. Both of them keep and feed armies of bloodthirsty thugs in their secret police and intelligence organizations, for the greater good, of course. Both of them believe that having power over people is far more important than God and the justice and kindness He commands.

Both of them are rebels and outlaws against God, and both of them are on track to obliterated by Him and turned into stories:

Those before them also schemed, but God took their structures from the foundations, so that the roof caved in on them. The punishment came at them from where they did not perceive. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, He will disgrace them, and say, “Where are My associates for whose sake you used to dispute?” Those who were given knowledge will say, “Today shame and misery are upon the disbelievers.” Those wronging their souls while the angels are taking them away—they will propose peace: “We did no wrong.” Yes you did. God is aware of what you used to do.”3

Of course, both Iran and Israel will say, “It can’t happen to us! We are the good guys!” like nearly evil evil ruler and government on Earth has done before them. In the meantime, God, the Writer of History, will continue using both Iran and Israel as His tools.

On the Scrabble and IQ debate, or why mastering Scrabble doesn’t require genius

My answer to the Scrabble-IQ debate which keeps coming up on the Unz Review, from a comment I wrote on there:

The entire debate may be about crystallized versus fluid intelligence.

Scrabble requires that one be intelligent enough to be able to “crystallize” the patterns for solving each situation, so that a person can do it without having to think about it the next time they run into the same situation, but no more intelligent than that.

Winning games like chess and Scrabble requires some fluid intelligence (IQ), and massive amounts of crystallized intelligence (stored solutions), which is why they need so much training.

If you are familiar with computing, it is easy to understand what this means. A lower-IQ person can simulate high IQ in a game like Scrabble using this function:

solve(game_context) {
  if(cached_answer_exists(game_context)) {
    return get_cached_answer(game_context); // extremely fast, even for a low IQ person
  }
  else {
    return compute_answer(game_context); // slow, even for a very high IQ person
  }
}

So a game like Scrabble has a very high “caching advantage”, a person who spends immense amounts of time with it will have thousands, maybe millions, of cached answers in their heads, that enable them to nearly instantaneously find the solution for a new game context, because there is no computation involved, the solution is cached in their brains.

A lower-IQ Scrabble “genius”, however, will be incapable of mastering a topic of study they have never studied before (such as economics), so that they can quickly come up with original and interesting solutions and ideas within the field, because their genius is about being good at caching answers. Their genius has nothing to do with fluid intelligence, the type of intelligence needed to handle massive data, operate on it and synthesize new things from it. Your millions of cached Scrabble solutions are just that, millions of cached Scrabble solutions. A Scrabble genius is like a computer that has tons of Scrabble solutions and is very good at winning Scrabble games, but that cannot do much of anything else. The computer is not an AI genius, it simply has a hard drive that is filled with canned solutions.

My hypothesis, therefore is this: A race or nationality’s ability to master Scrabble does not predict its intellectual, scientific or technological achievements, because Scrabble does not require very high IQ, while the rest of these things do.

In fact, I would hazard a guess that very few really-high-IQ people (135+) bother to play games like Scrabble, because they would rather do something open-ended, rather than something entirely unproductive, with their time. Almost everyone I have met who was dedicated to chess and similar closed-ended games has not been an intellectual genius who could say something intelligent and interesting about geopolitics, for example.

I do not enjoy watching sports, and no really-high-IQ person I know enjoys them either, because it is closed-ended. There is only so much that can happen. We soon get a feel for the game and get bored with it. We would rather play a complex computer simulation game where we can manage the affairs of an empire, even though this too ultimately gets boring so that we start to read hundreds of books on economics and history like maniacs.

Another hypothesis is this: A Scrabble genius will be very bad at games with a low caching advantage. Thus a race or nationality that is good at Scrabble will perform worse at Go than a higher IQ nation, because Go has a lower caching advantage (it requires more fluid intelligence, i.e. IQ, since the situations that arise in the game are too diverse to cache, there will of course still be some caching advantage, therefore we must find a game that has a very low caching advantage, such as…Raven’s Progressive Matrices1).

The Islamic View of Sex Education and Adolescent Exposure to Sexual Scenes in Novels and Films

My child loves to read books. Some of the books she wants to read mention sex. She is 13 years old and I don’t know when to allow her to read those books or even when to tell her about sex. I need help with this. Thank you!

When a child reaches puberty (and I assume your daughter has), in Islam they are considered mukallaf (responsible for their actions, i.e. legally adults). This means that parents should start to treat them like adult humans, respecting their intelligence and freedom of choice as humans. Parents should no longer treat them like children whose lives they control and dictate.

At that age, they have the right to demand honest answers from their parents regarding sex, and they have the right to be educated about the Islamic rules and etiquette regarding sex and marriage. In Islam there is no difference between the rights and responsibilities of an adolescent 13-year-old and a 25-year-old, legally they have the same status, although developmentally they are not exactly the same.

It is natural to be wary of letting an adolescent learn about sex because of the vague potential for harm that we perceive, but we should also take into account the even greater potential for harm that comes from belittling them and restricting them for no obvious reason. There is no Islamic or scientific reason to prevent an adolescent from learning about sex, and the great scholars of the past, such as Ibn al-Jawzi, would have memorized thousands of hadith narrations, some of them explicitly dealing with sex, before the age of 10.

If she has reached puberty, then it is your duty to teach her all of the Islamic rules that surround menstruation, such as by getting her a book on this matter. You do not have to give it to her specifically if this would be too embarrassing, it can be somewhere in your house where she can look at it when she wants. It will be largely your failing if she prays in a way that is invalid because no one told her any better.

You probably know much about sex, but your appreciation for Islamic principles enables you to stay devout and to put sex in its proper context. An adolescent can do the same if the parents have done their duty of giving them an Islamic upbringing, and if inside the home they maintain Islamic manners and standards. Trying to control a child’s knowledge about sex is a futile effort, especially today when they can easily find out everything they want on the internet. There is no way you can take away all possible opportunities for them to learn about it. The logical thing to do is to be moderate, letting them learn about sex and read books that you yourself would read, while not letting them have unmonitored access to the internet and not letting them read erotic books that you yourself wouldn’t read.

There is No Conflict Between Islam and Sex Education

Is a 13-year-old who knows much about sex from books less likely to be religious and devout than a 13-year-old who has been forbidden to learn anything about it?

I would hazard a guess that the one whose intelligence and dignity has been respected to the degree that he or she is allowed to read books on sex is going to be more religious and devout, because they are not made to feel that Islam is against human nature, that there is something wrong with them when they think about sex or want to learn about it.

Devoutness has nothing to do with how much a person knows about sex. Regardless of whether an adolescent knows nearly everything or nearly nothing about sex, they will have the same level of desire for the opposite sex. This desire is not about knowledge, it is about hormones and the human brain. To be able to resist this desire, what is needed is an understanding of Islamic principles and internalization of Islamic values, so that the adolescent knows that there is a good reason why they should resist their sexual desire, instead of feeling like they are being prevented from sexual pleasure for no good reason (like some adolescents brought up in extremely strict Muslim and Christian homes feel).

For an adolescent, learning about sex is like learning about any other topic, such as physics. There mere knowledge of sex is not going to push them into sinful behaviors, the same way that a divorced 30-year-old is not going to be more likely to sin just because they know very much about sex. Their knowledge of sex and their knowledge of Islam are two separate things.

Once a child reaches puberty, their sex hormones make it certain that they will have highly detailed and explicit daydreams and nighttime dreams about sex, and that sex will be on their minds often. Muslim adolescents generally spend ten years thinking about sex, whether they want to or not, before they get married, and reading or hearing a story or anecdote about sex, whether in an Islamic book or non-Islamic book, is going to be little more than a drop in the ocean of sexual thoughts that is in their heads.

As for books that are designed to be read for sexual pleasure (erotic and explicit romance books), then neither you nor your child should reach such books, because it is against Islamic manners to seek sexual pleasure outside of marriage, and no one who reads such books can honestly claim to be reading them without sexual intent.

The Developmental Concern

The one serious concern regarding exposing an adolescent to information about sexuality is that with their as-of-yet undeveloped minds, and their heightened sexual desire, they may be more likely to fall into sinful behaviors.

Isn’t it better to let them grow some more, garner more experiences, before they are exposed to such things?

It is true that the human is not fully developed until the late twenties, that is when a person’s impulse control matures. It is for this reason that insurance companies charge higher rates to people under the age of 25, because such people are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and cause accidents.

The problem is that, their lack of wisdom and development also means that will be unable to understand why information about sex is being kept from them, and their impulsiveness means that they will be extremely unlikely to be content when a parent says they are too young. They will probably jump on any chance to learn about sex from friends, from the internet, from libraries, from anywhere they can.

Preventing an adolescent from learning about sex is in fact telling them, “You are too impulsive and not enough of an adult to learn about sex, but you must act like an adult and control your impulses when you desire to learn about it.” It is placing a contradictory demand on them. If they are too impulsive to safely read about sex, they are too impulsive to be prevented from reading about sex out of your sight.

Therefore the argument that they are too young to learn about sex is false. If they are treated like they are too immature and foolish to be allowed to learn about sex from proper sources, they will only be right to act immature and foolish by seeking information from harmful sources, they are acting exactly the way we say they will act, and they are likely to do it just out of spite. If we belittle them and make them feel they are not proper members of society, they will naturally feel like outcasts, and they will be right to act like outcasts, ignoring customs and people’s expectations. If they are not allowed to enjoy the privileges of being full members of society, why should they suffer its restrictions?

It is best to treat them the Islamic way, to acknowledge their status as full members of society, while also acknowledging the fact that they are not fully developed yet. This is the best way to prepare them for adulthood; by treating them like adults. Treating them like children is not going to do any good, they are going to resent it.

Once an adolescent is given the freedoms and privileges of an adult, they will stop thinking of themselves as children who selfishly think of their own needs the whole time, and will instead start to think of themselves as respected members of their families and societies. This is very important for their growth. By being treated like a growing adult, being given both rights and responsibilities, they will try to live up to this expectation.

If a parent is too strict, this can cause the child to feel oppressed and controlled, and this can cause them to dislike the parent and the religious motivations for the parent’s choices. It is better to give the child sufficient freedom to not feel oppressed, but not so much freedom that they can do whatever they want in private. Since they live under your roof, you can set standards of behavior and etiquette that must be observed by them and any other adult living with you.

I have rarely seen children brought up in strict families grow into sincerely devout adults. They generally consider Islam a burden that’s placed on them, rather than something they love and follow by choice. They sometimes have a child’s mentality, thinking that their families and societies are against them, that what is good and fulfilling in life is one thing and society’s expectations another thing, because they do not feel like full members of Islamic society.

The Islamic Way of Bringing Up Devout Children: Balancing Conservativeness and Liberality

The best Muslims I have known in my life have been brought up in families that mixed conservativeness and liberality, conservative in the most important things, liberal in the rest. This means that the children are taught to carry out all their obligatory duties like prayer and fasting. It is not accepted of them to abandon these like some misguided liberal Muslim families allow. They are taught the Quran and encouraged to read beneficial Islamic books, most importantly the life of the Prophet peace be upon him and the lives of his companions. If the child is female, she should have access to at least 10 books dedicated to famous Muslim women in history and encouraged to read them (but not forced).

What are Islam’s priorities? It is to believe in God and the Day of Judgment and the rest of the Islamic items of faith (aqeedah). The entire family must act and live by these beliefs. The next priorities are the obligatory deeds, the entire family must carry them out (except for children who cannot), it should be an unspoken assumption in the family that abandoning the Islamic obligatory acts of worship is entirely unacceptable.

The next thing after the above is abandoning sinful behaviors. It should be unacceptable for anyone in the family to engage in anything clearly sinful, such as drinking alcohol. It is the job of the parents to ensure that Islamic standards are maintained in the family, that no one engages in anything sinful.

The above is the core of Islam. A child brought up in a loving family to believe in the Islamic items of faith, to carry out the obligatory deeds and to follow Islamic manners is guaranteed to grow into a devout Muslim, unless at some point they make a conscious choice to abandon Islam. Humans have free will, which means that regardless of their upbringing, they will forever have the choice to abandon Islam, this ability cannot be taken away from them.

A family that focuses on the above and gets it right can then be liberal in everything else. This liberality is very important. Islam must feel small and simple to a child, it must not feel like something that controls and burdens them. This means that filling one’s home entirely with Islamic books, always having Islamic channels on TV, allowing the children to visit the mosque and no other venue, forcing them to go to Quran schools instead of learning about other things they are interested in, are all exactly the correct way to make a child hate Islam. There is only so much religion a person can take. Religion is a tool to help us develop a spiritual connection with God and to guide our manners as we go about in the world living our lives. Once a person has the correct aqeedah, performs the obligatory deeds, loves the Quran and fears God’s punishment, religion’s goal has been accomplished in them. Religion is not there to dominate them and take their humanity away from them, it is to guide them to be better humans, as they continue to be humans, doing and enjoying human things.

This means that once the core of Islam has been actualized in a family’s life, from then on everyone should be free what they do with their time. Islam does not forbid children from playing video games, women from enjoying shopping or men from playing soccer, even if none of these things serve a productive purpose. The clearest proof of this is that in Islam it is acknowledged that people have sex for pleasure, unlike among some Christians who think that sex must always be done with the intention of procreation. Sex that is done for pleasure does not serve an obvious productive purpose, except for the fact that it improves the relationship between the husband and wife and makes them have a more positive view of life.

And the above reason is also why many other enjoyable acts that strict Muslims may scoff at are actually lawful and even encouraged. A child who is allowed to play the video games he or she likes, while also being expected to follow Islamic manners and carry out their Islamic duties, is going to grow up knowing that Islam is not against human nature and the enjoyment of life, that Islam is there to help them live better lives that they define themselves, instead of being there to force them to live a narrowed down life defined by ancient texts and society.

On Books that Mention Sex

As for your original question, there is no clear Islamic text that deals with her reading books that mention sex, but if you yourself would read that book and think that it is permissible for you, then she too can read it.

Since Islam is vague on this topic, one should act based on maslahah (“what is in the best interest of the person, family and society”) with regards to it. Allowing her to read a book she likes is a good thing, because it reaffirms her dignity and freedom, and reaffirms the fact that she can enjoy what she likes while also being a devout Muslim, that Islam is not her enemy like some teenagers mistakenly think. If the book contains casual mentions of sex but is not dedicated to arousing sexual desire in the reader like erotic books are, then I see little harm in it. Adolescents are perfectly capable of imagining sexual scenes in their heads, reading about one more sexual scene is not going to be anything significant.

Philosophically, there is no difference between an Islamic book that describes a sexual act and a random non-Islamic book that does the same, since in both cases, the reader is made to imagine a sexual scene in their heads. If reading about a sexual scene is sinful, then this means reading many hadith narrations and Quranic commentaries is sinful, since they too describe sexual scenes.

Your child has the right to read the Quran, books of interpretation of the Quran (tafseer), and books of hadith, and you should encourage her to do so, and if she does, then there is no avoiding the topic of sex, since the Quran, its interpretations and books of hadith cover various sexual topics in detail. Some scholars, in fact, consider it highly recommended that the child should be taught all of these things, meaning that to them sex education is part and parcel of Islam.

A person may say that the sexual acts described in a novel might be sinful acts (they might be between unmarried people), and that this makes it forbidden to read them. But this is logically a false argument. The Quran describes various sinful acts of previous nations, if reading the description of a sinful act is sinful, then reading the Quran would be sinful. And if reading the description of a sinful sexual act is sinful, then reading various books of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) would be sinful, since they are full of mentions sinful sexual acts. The reader is expected to understand that it is sinful, and to have their core of Islamic belief prevent them from engaging in similar acts.

A person may go on to say that novels would describe sinful sexual acts in a context that approves of them, while Islamic books do not. This too is an invalid argument. The Quran mentions in detail the arguments of Islam’s detractors, arguments which support disbelief if they are read out of context:

But the notables of his people, who disbelieved, said, “This is nothing but a human like you, who wants to gain superiority over you. Had God willed, He would have sent down angels. We never heard of this from our forefathers of old. He is nothing but a man possessed. Just ignore him for a while.” (The Quran, verses 23:24-25)

If you obey a human being like yourselves, then you will be losers. Does he promise you that when you have died and become dust and bones, you will be brought out? Farfetched, farfetched is what you are promised. There is nothing but our life in this world. We die, and we live, and we are not resurrected. He is nothing but a man, making up lies about God. We have no faith in him.” (The Quran, verses 23:34-38)

Since the person is reading the Quran, we assume that they will also know about counter-arguments the Quran offers. There is nothing sinful in relating a sinful behavior as long as the person is educated sufficiently to put it in context. The above verses relate the sin of shirk (denying God’s oneness), which is a far greater sin than any sexual crime, because it is the one sin that God says He will not forgive.

Someone who reads about a sinful sexual act is not going to be led into sin by it when they also read the Quran constantly, when they have had an Islamic upbringing and have internalized Islam’s values. Any novel a devout Muslim reads is already in proper context, because the context is their own minds, which is already firm on the belief in God and the Islamic principles. Reading a random sexual scene in a novel is only the feeblest challenge to someone’s faith.

I do not recommend letting adolescents read just about everything they want. Reading a book that is designed to be read for sexual pleasure is going to be an insult to the maintenance of Islamic manners in your home, and this should not be allowed. But as for the average Western-written novel, whether you let your daughter read it should rely on what you consider to be in her best interest. Preventing her from reading a book or a category of books she likes is going to harm her faith, because her freedom is restricted in something that is not clearly harmful, and her own interpretation of Islam is discounted and your interpretation imposed upon her, which always has a psychological cost on her and on her relationship with you.

We all want to bring up devout children, and our policies toward them should be geared toward this. If being strict in the Islamic matters of priority mentioned above while being liberal in everything else enables us to bring up children who are more devout and more likely to love Islam, then that is what we should do.

In general, arbitrarily forbidding children things because of a vague potential for harm is going to do more harm than good. I know someone who started to steal from his relatives in his childhood in order to be able to go to an arcade to play video games, because his strict father refused to buy him a video game console to play with at home, since according to him it was harmful. The child was forced to engage in a clearly sinful behavior due to the father’s misguided apprehension of the possible harms of video games.

Whenever you think of forbidding your child something that you consider potentially harmful, always keep in mind that the act of forbidding itself is also always potentially harmful. You must balance between these two concerns. Being too strict is always harmful, and being too lax is also always harmful. One must find a balance. The best balance I have seen is for the parents to focus on the core Islamic principles, manners and acts of worship, then be liberal in most other things, respecting their children’s right to make their own choices even if we are not always perfectly comfortable with their choice. It is in their best interest to feel free and to be treated like respected adults whose choices are respected, it is also in their best interest to follow Islam devoutly. These two interests must be balanced, neither of them should be neglected.

I would never forbid an adolescent from reading a book I would read myself, because there is no Islamic basis for creating such a rule, and it is disrespectful and belittling toward them, and they can probably find ways of reading it out of my sight.

If your child has not read the Quran, books of tafseer, books of hadith and Islamic biographies, then this should be corrected as soon as possible. They should have sufficient appreciation for Islam to follow it in public and in private of their own desire, and if they read or hear anything that challenges their Islamic belief, they should be able to counter it themselves.

If you worry about the influence of the non-Islamic books she reads, you can ask her to read one Islamic book for every few non-Islamic books she reads, or find some other arrangement.

I would have a library in my house filled with all kinds of books, and I would give the adolescent the right to read what they want. As long as they have had a proper Islamic upbringing, as long as they have been encouraged to read the Quran, hadith, Islamic biographies and other beneficial books, then there is no danger in this. I would never forbid my daughters from reading any of the hundreds of books I have in my house even though I may have the authority to do this. What right do I have to decide for her what she can and cannot read? If I give myself the right to read something, it feels highly hypocritical to me to forbid others from reading it.

Saying that she shouldn’t read a book she wants to read will make her feel insulted and belittled. I want to treat her like an adult, like a dignified and respected human, doing that will show her that I am not really honest in that treatment, that I still consider her a child even if I say otherwise.

Is it worth it to do this? Does it improve our relationship and her love for Islam or does it harm it?

My philosophy is that influences should be countered by influences. It is true that most of the West’s media and publishing contain harmful influences.The right way to counter this is to expose my children to good influences, such as from Islamic books and TV shows like the beautiful series The Companions of the Cave, instead of following the futile strategy of forbidding them from all potentially harmful influences, which would cause them to feel restricted and belittled, and which would reduce their love for their family and for Islam. As long as my children practice the core of Islam with understanding, this by itself is a strong influence helping them counter bad influences. And this understanding can only come from being educated in Islam, learning about the purposes of the acts of worship, the meanings of the verses of the Quran they recite, and biographies of the great Muslims of history.

Out of the fear of God, if a reader starts to feel sexually aroused by a sexual scene in a book, they can skip it. What is sinful is intentionally seeking sexual pleasure outside of marriage, and a person can use an Islamic book or non-Islamic book for this purpose if they want, and they can do it even without a book using their imagination. This is a small matter between a person and God, and it is not sufficient justification for forbidding someone from reading a book.

Films are a different matter, because it is impossible to watch a sex scene without becoming aroused by it, especially when the watcher is a young and healthy person. Since a person who fears God can never be sure that God approves of this, they will not engage in it. Parents should make sure that no one under their roof, child or adult, watches sex scenes under their roof, as a matter of maintaining Islamic standards. They, however, should not make a big deal out of this, keeping an authoritarian watch over everyone’s activities. They should put it in its proper context, which is that compared to the important matters of Islamic belief and practice, it is a relatively unimportant matter and no one should be condemned and harassed for it, the same way that if a man sees his son admiring an attractive woman on the street, instead of beating him up or shouting at him, he should gently tell him it is not polite to do that, and that should be the end of it, he should immediately go back to treating him like normal, with love and kindness. The son is treated like an equal, with dignity and respect, not like a piece of property to be beaten into shape.

Summary

In summary, what we allow our children to engage in should be decided based on their best interests. An important part of their interests is to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be given freedom instead of being made to feel oppressed and controlled. Another part of their interests is to ensure that they are not given so much freedom that they develop sinful habits and engage in them without restriction. Good Muslim parents will find a balance between these two concerns, neither being too strict nor too lax, but being strict in the Islamic matters of priority and liberal in everything else, while also ensuring that many good influences are available to counter bad influences, including Islamic books and TV shows.

Adolescents have the right to sex education. There is no conflict between Islam and learning about sex. And just because a book contains mentions of sex is not sufficient reason to forbid adolescents from reading it. Any book we think we can read ourselves, they too should be allowed to read. We should not approve of their reading erotic books or watching sex scenes in films. But we should also not turn these into a great matter of concern. We should instead treat it the same way we treat a son admiring an attractive woman, with politeness and gentleness, without condemnation, respecting them as our friends and equals.

Adolescents have poor impulse control due to a not-fully-developed prefrontal cortex. This means that even if they love Islam and want to follow it, they are more likely to fall into sinful behaviors without parental guidance. They should not be allowed to spend long periods of time in privacy, and they should not be allowed to have private access to the internet or television. They should be treated like good friends who are more likely to engage in minor sins if they are not watched, they should not be held to the same standards as older adults, and if they make mistakes, they should be quickly forgiven and not condemned, acknowledging that they are good people who do not have very good impulse control at the moment, but who will one day have it.

Follow-up Question

So if the child reads a book and the book contains just one scene of sex and there is some love triangles in the book, she can read it, right?

The general rule is that anything you can read, she can read too. As long as her life is filled with good influences, one book is a minor influence and of little concern. It will become a cause for concern if someone constantly seeks that type of book to the exclusion of other books. But if a person reads such books because they are famous or classics, then there is no issue with it.

It is about intentions. A person can peruse a medical textbook with the intention of learning. Another person can peruse it for the pictures of naked people it contains. Since adolescents have low impulse control, you cannot just let them read every romance novel they want, since it can become a habit like it becomes in some people in the West, who use romantic novels as a more refined alternative to pornography. The sexual arousal that comes from reading such books can make a person want to seek more of it.

But if I have a large library and some of the novels are romance novels, and the child likes to read every type of novel, then I will not prevent them from reading what they like. The context and the child’s reading habits matter.

The most important point is that, as a matter of maintaining Islamic manners, no one in the household should make it a habit to seek sexual arousal and pleasure in a non-marriage context. Your son should not be allowed to watch erotic music videos and your daughter should not be allowed to read books designed to be read for their erotic content. But a parent who harasses them by trying to control everything they can see and read is going to do more harm than good.

For the child’s own spiritual good, they should be given enough freedom of choice and privacy not to feel oppressed and controlled, but not so much that they develop sinful habits.

Why Most Terrorists are Muslim: An Introduction to the Origins of Modern Islamic Terrorism

Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy. —George F Kennan, American Cold War diplomat and father of “Containment Theory”

Introduction

Islamic terrorists serve as useful tools for carrying out the slaughter and butchery that the CIA and other intelligence agencies perform as their day jobs. A terrorist attack can kill “only” 100 people but entirely change the course of an election or precipitate a country into war, and this can be extremely useful for achieving certain geopolitical goals. Israel funds Islamic terrorists in Syria today and treats them in its own hospitals because it wants them to succeed in ending the non-Israel-friendly Syrian government. The fact that these Islamists slaughter innocent women and children means nothing to Israel’s admirable people, because what matters is that they achieve their geopolitical goals, no matter the moral costs.

Iran has been funding Sunni Kurdish and Shiite Arab Islamists in Iraq for decades to weaken the country. In return, Iraq used to fund and host the communist terrorist organization Mujahiden-e-Khalq, who were responsible for killing hundreds of people in bombings in Tehran and elsewhere.

Today, Islamism is the most easily exploitable ideology for attacking one’s enemies while keeping one’s hand’s clean, as the CIA and Israeli support for Islamic terrorists shows. Tomorrow it might be communism that serves the same purpose. For an intelligence agency wanting to destroy an enemy, the ideology does not matter, what matters is that mass slaughter of people is carried out in a way that affects an entire country’s morale, politics and economy.

A Short History

The United States invented modern Islamic terrorism (the al-Qaeda/ISIS flavor) in 1979 as part of its efforts to fight the Soviet Union’s influence in Central Asia, that all-important part of the world, control of which is necessary for any would-be world hegemon.

The groundwork had been laid by the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that started out as a welfare and education society but grew too powerful for its own good. Its major political work was their helping in the war against an army of Jews eager to repeat the Hebrew Bible’s conquest of Canaan by systematically killing Palestinian men, women and infants in a poetic reenactment of the Book of Joshua; see the Deir Yassin Remembered website, run by a Jewish man who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Since it was Jews carrying out terrorism and genocide, rather than whites, those who carried out these atrocities are celebrated as heroes, rather than being universally condemned for the Jewish replicas of the Nazis that they are.1 David Ben-Gurion, who commanded the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians, has an Israeli international airport and a major Israeli university named after him. Moshe Sharett, one of the terrorists who carried out the King David Hotel Bombing, in which Israelis dressed as Arabs bombed the offices of the British Mandate in Palestine, killing 96 people, would later go on to become foreign minister and then prime minister of Israel. The Israeli war hero Ariel Sharon, 11th Prime Minister of Israel from March 2001 until April 2006, oversaw the execution of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, killing 3000 innocent men, women and children.2

From the perspective of Quranic law, the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in the war against these terrorists was justifiable, as the Brotherhood wasn’t acting independently, unlike today’s Islamic terrorists. It was helping in a conflict that involved existing sovereign states (Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, members of the Arab League). The Muslim Brotherhood’s war was exactly the opposite of conflicts launched by modern Islamic terrorists, it was an anti-terrorist force in the conflict, helping governments fight terrorists that were carrying out bombings and massacres, intent on terrorizing all Palestinians into leaving the territories that these Jews had decided belonged to them as God’s Chosen People.

The Brotherhood’s power grew to the point that it developed its own intelligence and covert operations arm, known as al-Jihaaz al-Sirri (The Covert Apparatus), which was involved in assassinations and bombings, such as the assassination of Ahmed El-Khazindar Bey, President of Egypt’s Court of Appeal, and Mahmoud El Nokrashy Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt, both in 1948. Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Brotherhood, condemned both of these assassinations, but he had practically lost control over his organization, since powerful factions within it wanted violence, and they had the power to bypass al-Banna’s wishes.

The Egyptian intellectual Sayyid Qutb, well-known among Egypt’s intelligentsia and student of the famous Egyptian journalist Abbās Mahmūd al-Aqqād, reverted to Islam after a life of secularism and adopted the Brotherhood, while also, perhaps without realizing its true consequences, building the intellectual foundations necessary for the Brotherhood’s violent arm to carry out its insurgencies. If Sayyid Qutb’s highly partisan biographer is to be trusted3, his house was used as a meeting place for Gamal Abdel Nasser and his friends as they planned the 1952 July 23 Revolution in Egypt against the British occupation.

Once president of Egypt, Nasser wanted Qutb on his side, offering him high government positions, which Qutb always refused.4 Once he despaired of Qutb joining him, he started persecuting him and his associates, imprisoning him for a decade. Nasser ordered Qutb’s hanging on the 24th of August, 1966, after a show trial. These events turned Qutb into the perfect martyr, a secular convert to Islam, a literary critic, a warrior for social justice, and a revolutionary who was stabbed in the back by Western-friendly seculars that he had supported into power.

The Brotherhood distanced itself from Qutb, going back to its early position of advocating peaceful activism (at least openly), but extremists around the world wishing for a resurgence of Islam continued to follow him as their primary source for both knowledge and inspiration.5

Brzezinski’s Genius

By the 1970’s, the time was ripe for any would-be terrorist to launch his own holy war against whoever he disliked. The CIA jumped right into the action, training, arming and encouraging these terrorists as tools for protecting US interests abroad and fighting its major enemy, the Soviet Union. Operation Cyclone, conceived by the Jewish US foreign policy strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, armed and financed jihadi warriors in Afghanistan to use them as a buffer against Soviet influence from 1979 until after 1992, to the tune of $630 million per year by 1987.

What judgment to render on all this is a matter of perspective. Asked in 1998 if he had any regrets about having helped instigate Soviet intervention in Afghanistan6, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in many respects the god-father of Operation Cyclone, reacted with astonishment. “Regret what?” he replied. “That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it?”

The interviewer pressed the point. Hadn’t subsequent rise of radical Islamism tranished that victory? Not in Brzezinski’s view. “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”7

Check out Edmonds’ interview with Pat Buchanan’s American Conservative magazine: Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?

This brilliant program to manufacture Islamic jihadists to fight America’s enemies resulted in the creation of Operation Gladio B, the United States program to train al-Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates, exposed by the FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.

In her interview, Edmonds  insisted that after its initial exposé, the Times’ investigation had gone beyond such previous revelations, and was preparing to disclose her most startling accusations. Among these, Edmonds described how the CIA and the Pentagon had been running a series of covert operations supporting Islamist militant networks linked to Osama bin Laden right up to 9/11, in Central Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus.

While it is widely recognised that the CIA sponsored bin Laden’s networks in Afghanistan during the Cold War, U.S. government officials deny any such ties existed. Others claim these ties were real, but were severed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.

But according to Edmonds, this narrative is false. “Not just bin Laden, but several senior ‘bin Ladens’ were transported by U.S. intelligence back and forth to the region in the late 1990s through to 2001”, she told this author, “including Ayman al-Zawahiri” – Osama bin Laden’s right-hand-man who has taken over as al-Qaeda’s top leader.

“In the late 1990s, all the way up to 9/11, al-Zawahiri and other mujahideen operatives were meeting regularly with senior U.S. officials in the U.S. embassy in Baku to plan the Pentagon’s Balkan operations with the mujahideen,” said Edmonds. “We had support for these operations from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but the U.S. oversaw and directed them. They were being run from a secret section of the Pentagon with its own office”.

Edmonds clarified, “the FBI counterintelligence investigation which was tracking these targets, along with their links to U.S. officials, was known as ‘Gladio B’, and was kickstarted in 1997. It so happens that Major Douglas Dickerson” – the husband of her FBI co-worker Melek whom she accused of espionage – “specifically directed the Pentagon’s ‘Gladio’ operations in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan at this time.”

In testimony under oath, Edmonds has previously confirmed that Major Doug Dickerson worked for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under the weapons procurement logistics division on Turkey and Central Asia, and with the Office of Special Plans (OSP) overseeing policy in Central Asia.

[…]

Edmonds said that the Pentagon operations with Islamists were an “extension” of an original ‘Gladio’ programme uncovered in the 1970s in Italy, part of an EU-wide NATO covert operation that began as early as the 1940s. As Swiss historian Dr. Daniele Ganser records in his seminal book, NATO’s Secret Armies, an official Italian parliamentary inquiry confirmed that British MI6 and the CIA had established a network of secret “stay-behind” paramilitary armies, staffed by fascist and Nazi collaborators. The covert armies carried out terrorist attacks throughout Western Europe, officially blamed on Communists in what Italian military intelligence called the ‘strategy of tension’.

“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game” explained Gladio operative Vincenzo Vinciguerra during his  trial in 1984. “The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people… to turn to the State to ask for greater security.”

While the reality of Gladio’s existence in Europe is a matter of historical record, Edmonds contended the same strategy was adopted by the Pentagon in the 1990s in a new theatre of operations, namely, Asia. “Instead of using neo-Nazis, they used mujahideen working under various bin Ladens, as well as al-Zawahiri”, she said.8

The US tradition of spreading the American ideals of peace and liberty in the Middle East by funding and training Islamic terrorist groups continues to ISIS, also known as ISIL, Daesh or the Islamic State.

James Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Emerging Threats at NATO – now that’s a lovely title – recently gave a talk at a private club in London on the Islamic State/Daesh. Shea, as many will remember, made his name as NATO’s spokesman during the NATO war on Yugoslavia in 1999.

After his talk Shea engaged in a debate with a source I very much treasure. The source later gave me the lowdown.

According to Saudi intelligence, Daesh was invented by the US government – in Camp Bacca, near the Kuwait border, as many will remember — to essentially finish off the Shiite-majority Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad.

It didn’t happen this way, of course. Then, years later, in the summer of 2014, Daesh routed the Iraqi Army on its way to conquer Mosul. The Iraqi Army fled. Daesh operatives then annexed ultra-modern weapons that took US instructors from six to twelve months to train the Iraqis in and…surprise! Daesh incorporated the weapons in their arsenals in 24 hours.

In the end, Shea frankly admitted to the source that Gen David Petraeus, conductor of the much-lauded 2007 surge, had trained these Sunnis now part of Daesh in Anbar province in Iraq.

Saudi intelligence still maintains that these Iraqi Sunnis were not US-trained – as Shea confirmed – because the Shiites in power in Baghdad didn’t allow it. Not true. The fact is the Daesh core – most of them former commanders and soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s army — is indeed a US-trained militia.

True to form, at the end of the debate, Shea went on to blame Russia for absolutely everything that’s happening today – including Daesh terror.9

Then there are reports like this, of US troops feeling completely safe in the presence of ISIS:

For years, Iraqi politicians, including members of parliament, have accused the US of airdropping supplies for ISIS. Since what they say goes against the US narrative, these accusations are given no airtime in the West.

The Psychological Stress of Terrorism on the Muslim Mind

Terrorism is an extremely stressful phenomenon for Muslims. It uses Islamic rhetoric to justify acts that disgust and horrify most Muslims. For Muslims, the problem with terrorism, and the reason they still haven’t figured out what to do about it, is that it is something entirely new. We Muslims are like the American Indians who were exposed for the first to time to European germs they had never faced before when Columbus discovered the Americas. Most of these native Americans had no defenses against these germs, and so they succumbed to them by the millions. Our societies, too, have no defenses against terrorism-supporting extremist ideologies because terrorism was never a threat before.

Terrorism, this new European-incubated germ (if we think of Americans as Europeans, for their European genes and culture), forces two choices on the average Muslim just trying to get on with their life. The first choice is to renew their allegiance to Islam, to convince themselves that these terrorists aren’t acting according to the true version of Islam. This argument feels weak, but they don’t know anything better, so that they try not to think about it too much and instead direct their hatred at terrorist groups like ISIS and find solace in theories that blame Western powers and Israel for the raise of these terrorist organizations, to absolve themselves of the guilt they feel. Some of the kindest and most admirable people they know are fellow devout Muslims, so while they cannot consciously tell what the fundamental difference is between Muslim terrorists and peaceful, devout Muslims, they know in their hearts that the difference exists.

The second choice is to entirely abandon Islam as something evil, outdated and barbaric. Every major terrorist attack renews the pressure on Muslims to take this choice, and many do. And from their newfound post-Islam position, they attack Islam as the embodiment of all that is evil in this world.

We are caught between a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that claims to be the only true version of Islam, and that provides the fuel that provides the ideological justification for these terrorists, and a secularism that entirely abandons Islam. Every new terrorist attack creates intense cognitive dissonance where we have to continually repeat to ourselves that this is not true Islam, hoping to preserve our faith until we can forget about the massacre and go on with our lives.

Terrorism is nothing but an intense genetic-cultural evolutionary pressure10. We are faced with two ways forward:

  • We remain in our present state of weakness, continuing to provide fertile ground for the FBI and the CIA to recruit terrorists among us and use them for their own purposes, becoming nothing but dehumanized tools of war among empires. More and more of us would feel pressured to abandon Islam, and in this way Islam fails and becomes extinct, as our children, deciding to be more enlightened than us, abandon Islam in favor of a secularism that feels much more sensible and civilized.
  • We evolve into a new type of Muslim population whose very foundations reject and cripple the terrorist ideology that has been so perfected by the peaceful and freedom-loving geniuses at the CIA.

If we are to evolve, this evolution has to happen at the level of our intellectuals, scholars and preachers, who are the midwives responsible for birthing Islam into the 21st century.

Ending Terrorism

A previous incarnation of this essay blamed the root causes of Islamic terrorism on hadith-primacism, the Islamic establishment’s focus on inherently unreliable narrations regarding the Prophet, peace be upon him, at the cost of the Quran’s teachings and principles. I have come to question this thesis, however. I continue to research this topic to find out an answer. It is obvious that the Islamic establishment is not very capable of handling this new threat, what it must do to evolve remains an open question.

I do not know if anything can be done when the world’s most powerful countries are willing to spend billions of dollars recruiting and arming ignorant youth from around the world to do their dirty work for them in the name of God and Islam.

Islam and Christianity have both been exploited by vicious and blood-thirsty rulers for most of their respective histories. Islamic terrorism might simply be another incarnation of this trend.

The Coming Multipolar World

The final solution to terrorism would be for the United States not to be the world’s hegemon, the big bully that can get away with anything it wants. As Russia and China’s power and influence grows, just as the United States continues its decades of decline, Russia and China will be increasingly capable of throwing wrenches into America’s terror-exporting business.

This is already evident in Syria, where Russia has been a big thorn in the side of the CIA’s various al-Qaeda spin-offs. What is crucially needed is for Chinese businesses to become heavily invested in Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of America and Israel’s playgrounds. Once this happens, Chinese intelligence and its military will start doing what Russia is doing in Syria, protecting their investments and regional interests, not letting America/Israel get away with being the only geopolitical manipulator on the scene.

As I discuss in my essay Forecasting the World’s Top 50 Most Powerful Countries in 2035 Using the HQI, China is on track to become two and a half times as powerful economically, technologically and militarily than the United States within the next few decades, and when that happens, we will be living in a very different world indeed.

Below is a beautiful illustration of the coming times:

Those people in Israel are sad that there are new players in the field getting in the way of themselves being the only people in the Middle East with the right to kill and bomb anyone they want. The presence of these new players means that Israel has to, for once, stop acting like a mafia of Stone Age thugs and more like a civilized nation, worrying about the consequences of its actions, instead of acting the way it has always acted, like a god over the gentiles, deciding who lives and who dies, what country survives and what is turned into a war zone, with idiotic Christians doing their dirty work for them and paying them for the privilege.

God, Evolution and Abiogenesis: The Topological Theory for the Origin of Life and Species

Introduction

This essay is now available on Amazon.com as an ebook and paperback.

As a lover of science and rationalism, and a very religious person, the issue of God and evolution has been on the back of my mind for years. I grew up hearing many refutations of the theory of evolution from everyone around me; scientifically-minded relatives, Islamic preachers and science teachers, all of whom considered evolution a challenge to religion that had to be defeated to protect our faith.

While I eventually came to consider the evolution of non-human creatures plausible, the evolution of humans continued to be a challenge. In 2010 I read Darwinian Fairytales by the Australian atheist philosopher David Stove and considered it a good a challenge to the theory of evolution.

Since then I have read many more books on the topic. Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species is one of my favorite scientific books, in which he shows an unusual level of intelligence and intellectual humility in pointing out the deficiencies he saw in his own thinking.

One of my favorite novels is Terry Pratchett’s The Last Continent, in which the wizard Ponder Stibbons repeats many of Darwin’s thought processes.

What I have sought all of these years is something that perfectly satisfies both science and religion, because if a religion is entirely true, it wouldn’t conflict with science. One of the things I’ve said in the past is this:

A religion must make as much sense as mathematics, and if it doesn’t, it is not worth believing in.

If something in our religion is proven false beyond doubt, then that proves the entire religion false. The Quran claims to contain the unadulterated words of God, and claims to contain no errors. It logically follows that the presence of a single error proves the entire book false, because it either means that God isn’t so great as all that after all, since He made a mistake, or that He was incapable of protecting His book from adulteration, which is an equally fatal flaw in an all-powerful God.

It is a common misconception that all religions require their followers to curtail their skepticism when it comes to some matters, that they would have to believe certain things even if these things clearly contradict reality. The great science fiction writer Frank Herbert writes in his 1985 novel Chapterhouse: Dune:

Religion (emulation of adults by the child) encysts past mythologies: guesses, hidden assumptions of trust in the universe, pronouncements made in search of personal power, all mingled with shreds of enlightenment. And always an unspoken commandment: Thou shalt not question!

The novel Chapterhouse: Dune is one of Western civilization’s great achievements.

In multiple places he repeats his principle that an essential commandment of religion is “Thou shalt not question!” This is a common mistake made by both the religious and atheists, and if it were true, then the existence of a conflict between evolution and Islam would not be a special thing, it would be yet another conflict between rationalistic, atheistic science and backward and superstitious religion.

While the above might be true of some religions, and of some misguided versions of Islam, it is not true of the Quran. The religion of the Quran is founded upon the commandment “Thou shalt question!” The Quran constantly refers to evidence and proof, mocks various sections of humanity for not thinking clearly or for believing in superstition, and constantly calls its readers to think, to reason, to observe, to analyze, to question.

It is from two directions, both as a lover of rationalism and a lover of the Quran, that I have approached the theory of evolution. After years of coming up with various approximate solutions then discarding them, in 2014 I reached the “mold” theory of evolution, which I later renamed to the “topological theory”, that has stood the test of time and that fully satisfies both the Quran and everything we know about evolution.

While I could have waited on publishing this theory until I could turn it into a book (with detailed references), the theory is simple and straightforward enough to be shared in its present form, and I believe this will best serve the interests of both Muslim and non-Muslim seekers of knowledge.

Explaining the Winds and Rain

Muslims who have a problem with Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection due to the fact that it takes God out of the picture have a greater problem to solve, one that usually goes neglected, and solving that problem opens the way to solving the problem of evolution.

The problem is that in the Quran, God takes credit for various natural phenomena which all have scientific explanations. Among such instances are:

God is He who sends the winds. They stir up clouds. Then He spreads them in the sky as He wills. And He breaks them apart. Then you see rain drops issuing from their midst. Then, when He makes it fall upon whom He wills of His servants, behold, they rejoice. 1

It is He who sends the wind ahead of His mercy. Then, when they have gathered up heavy clouds, We drive them to a dead land, where We make water come down, and with it We bring out all kinds of fruits. Thus We bring out the dead—perhaps you will reflect.2

Have you not seen how God propels the clouds, then brings them together, then piles them into a heap, and you see rain drops emerging from its midst? How He brings down loads of hail from the sky, striking with it whomever He wills, and diverting it from whomever He wills? The flash of its lightning almost snatches the sight away.3

We, as rational human beings, are supposed to believe that God is responsible for the things described above, even though we never see God taking care of these things. This leads one to think that perhaps the universe would go on functioning like normal even if there was no God. What is the point of saying that God is responsible for making it rain when, from observation, it appears that it would probably rain anyway even if no God existed? We can carry out physics experiments inside sealed chambers where we can make it rain or snow, what does God have to do with any of this?

Imagine a king giving a speech in a newly conquered city, telling the listeners “I bring you food and water, so be thankful!” A skeptical person may go to the gates of the city early in the morning to see who actually brings food and water. Since he never sees the king himself carrying sacks of flour into the city, he concludes that the king lied, it is not the king who brings food and water to the city, it is people who do that.

His mistake is that he fails to realize that it is by the king’s order that people are bringing food and water to his city, so when the king says he is doing it, he is right. If it wasn’t for the king, it wouldn’t be happening.

When God claims to make it rain, the fact the His hand can’t be detected in the process doesn’t necessarily mean He is lying.

If the pharaoh of Egypt claims he makes the sun rise, I would be skeptical and ask him to provide some pretty convincing evidence before I take him seriously. In all likelihood the sun would rise regardless of the pharaoh. So what is so special about a 14-century-old book out of the deserts of Arabia that I should take it seriously when it says its writer makes it rain?

Atheists demand hard evidence before they believe in scripture like the Quran. But such evidence is not forthcoming. The Quran itself promises that it will not be forthcoming, because it says that once the existence of God has been proven by hard evidence, that would be the end of the world:

Are they waiting for anything but for the angels to come to them, or for your Lord to arrive, or for some of your Lord’s signs to come? On the Day when some of your Lord’s signs come (i.e. hard evidence for God’s existence), no soul will benefit from its faith unless it had believed previously, or had earned goodness through its faith. Say, “Wait, we too are waiting.”4

The above concept is repeated in multiple places in the Quran; that once a person has seen irrefutable evidence of God’s existence, their faith will no longer be of any worth, since faith will no longer be necessary.

The purpose of this universe is to create free-willed creatures who have the option of rejecting God’s existence, so that an act of will and a submission of the heart is needed for them to become believers in Him, and for this act of will, which they have to repeat every day of their faithful lives, they will be rewarded with Paradise5.

This situation leads to the conclusion that if God’s existence is ever proven, and the world doesn’t end, then this would prove the Quran false, since the Quran claims that hard evidence of God’s existence will only be shown to humanity when the world ends.

Are they waiting for God Himself to come to them in the shadows of the clouds, together with the angels, when the matter has been settled? All things are returned to God.6

As a Muslim, I obviously take God’s claim seriously when He says that He makes it rain. As a lover of science, a rationalist and an empiricist, I reject everything that’s not backed by evidence as superstition and ideology. And yet, although there is never any hard evidence, I am capable of believing the Quran when its Writer claims responsibility for various natural phenomena. How?

A verse of the Quran is called an ayah in Arabic, which literally means “sign”, something on the road that points toward a direction. As for its figurative meaning, the scholar al-Faraahhi says in his definition of ayah:

ما تستدِلُّ به على أمر. وليست هي تمام الدليل، بل يُنَبِّهُك على الدليلِ.

That which is used as evidence toward (proving) some matter. It is not the whole of the proof, but it directs you toward the proof.7

While a single verse or even chapter of the Quran cannot be used as “proof” of God’s existence, the book in its totality and its historical context is a powerful piece of evidence that cannot be discarded out of hand in good faith, and it is for this reason that a person like me can believe in it.

The reason I believe in the Quran is the same reason I believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution. They both get too many things right, which makes it impossible for me to dismiss them in good conscience. For the Quran, among such things are:

  • Its zero-tolerance policy toward usury. The evils of usury are long-term and requires deep and lengthy analysis to bring them to the surface, so much so that one among a thousand economists today cannot be found who appreciate how it creates immense wealth inequality, creating a form of legalized stealing that constantly causes wealth to “trickle up” into the coffers of the upper class.
  • The zakat system, in which the poor charge an annual 2.5% interest on the uninvested and speculatively invested wealth of the rich. This system would be completely useless without banning usury, it takes a genius to plug that loophole, and the Quran does it.
  • The fact that in 600 pages written in the 7th century CE, it doesn’t contain a single statement that’s provably false, or that contradicts another part of itself.
  • The moral philosophy of the Quran, where moral integrity and justice are always paramount. Killing a single innocent human is similar to killing all of humanity, which means that there can never be such a thing as a utilitarian murder, the type of murder that’s practiced on a daily basis by the CIA and probably every other intelligence organization in the world, where innocent people can be murdered if there is a great enough prize to be gained by it.
  • The concept of the Straight Path, where humanity’s long-term survival is ensured while humanity’s short-term moral integrity is also ensured. The Quran never asks you to do evil for the sake of the greater good. The end never justifies the means. The Quran teaches that God ensures a good end, so that our job is to stay on the Straight Path, serving His interests while behaving in the best manner possible, being kind and forgiving to all, and never, ever doing any evil toward anyone even if it ensures great good. That’s the only type of moral philosophy I can believe in.
  • The beauty of the Quran. The Quran is the only book that I can read over and over again and continue to be surprised by how intelligent, beautiful and sensitive the mind of its writer is. The writer is always superior to me. I’ve never had a similar experience with any other writer. I used to think Terry Pratchett was incredible, and I continue to enjoy his books, having read some of his books 20 or more times, but every reading brings up further flaws in his thinking, to the point that I can no longer stand some of his books that I used to think were so clever and intelligent in the past.
  • The Quran’s non-Arabian character and the unusual restraint of the writer in not engaging in the typical rhetoric of the time. This is perhaps the greatest clue to its truth. Anyone who studies Arabic poetry from that period, and the fabricated words of revelation of Musailamah and other false prophets, will see that while all of the literary speech from that era has a distinctly Arabian character, full of hyperbole, self-aggrandizement and bad logic, the Quran does not. The Quran was brought to us by an Arab from the heart of Arabia, yet it does not have an Arabian character. It feels like it was written by an alien civilization who were far more intelligent than any human of the time, and who translated their thinking into Arabic and used some Arabic idioms to make it easier for Arabs to understand. It does not feel like a book written by an Arab for Arabs. It feels like a book written by an unbelievably intelligent being who made use of Arabic. Something else we can compare the Quran to is hadith (narrations from or regarding the Prophet, peace be upon him). These narrations are clearly by an Arab and for an Arab audience, because the words are by the Prophet himself, peace be upon him, and clearly show the same character as the rest of the Arabic literature of the time.
    A fair-minded comparison between the Quran the rest of the Arabic literature of the time will conclude that the Quran is more unusual, extraordinary and miraculous than a 1500-year-old laptop computer buried under a rock in Arabia. Once examined deeply, one concludes that it does not belong to Arabian civilization, then one concludes that it couldn’t have been made by any human civilization of the time. And unlike the 1500-year-old laptop, for the Quran, one concludes that it couldn’t be made by any human civilization of the present either.

That is just a short illustration of what makes the Quran the best guide in life that I have found. I continue to read the Quran with skepticism, assuming Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wrote it himself, as a way of ensuring that I’m being honest to myself, that I am not following it merely out of habit, but out of recognition for its virtue, and all it takes is 3 to 4 pages before the sheer amount of beauty, intelligence and sensitivity dispels any doubt I have that it could have been written by a human.

Re-examining Rain

How could God claim credit for making it rain when we cannot detect His hand in the process? In three ways:

  1. Purposeful invention. God invented rain. He designed and built a universe in which rain happens, for the very purpose of having it be a help toward the evolution and sustenance of the creatures that would one day come about on Earth.
  2. Operating the universe. This universe would be a big blob of inert, unmoving matter without God’s involvement. An atom has no power or will to move. It is God who has to move every single thing that moves in this world. That means God has to cause steam to raise, He has to make it go where it is supposed to go in the sky, He has to bring it together into clouds, and then He has to take it to where it will eventually become rain, where He condenses the water atoms into droplets of water, and where He causes these drops to fall using gravity, a energy field that He has to maintain. He does all of these things so reliably for us that we start to think of them as simply phenomena, saying “things just happen”, refusing to admit that there could be a power doing all of these things for us.
    This entire universe is like an image shown on a TV screen. Turn off the TV, and the image would disappear like it never existed. In the same way, this universe, if God decided to “let it go”, would disappear as if it had never existed: “God upholds the heavens and the earth, lest they cease (to exist). And were they to cease, there is none to uphold them except He. He is Most Clement, Most Forgiving.” (The Quran, verse 35:41) If God decided to stop moving the frames of this universe, the universe would be like a frozen video on a TV screen, not moving. It is God who has to move everything, and in this way He animates the universe, and claims responsibility for doing so. (Related essay: Islam’s theory of free will versus physical determinism: Why humans are responsible for their actions even though God operates the universe.)
  3. Intervention. While the above two ways admit for the possibility of God being responsible for the phenomenon of rain in general, we need something more. God seems to claim that He purposefully sends rain here and there (especially in verse 24:43 quoted above), in directions He wants at this moment, meaning not directions that only obey the laws of nature that He sustains. God seems to claim that His agency goes into deciding when and where rain happens, that it is not mere chance caused by the laws of nature. The way that God could make this happen is by making it happen regardless of the laws of nature, because He has the power to do that. This, of course, would be impossible to detect, according to His plan, since God does not want His existence known by hard evidence. Even if we could build a machine that perfectly predicted rain around the world, so that any aberrations caused by God’s decisions could be seen, God could change what the machine shows. While this explanation is not scientifically satisfactory, since it requires undetectable supernatural agency (which sounds like any other old superstition), the reason it can be taken seriously is that the Quran says it. Once you believe in an all-powerful God, it doesn’t require any stretch of imagination to think that He can do whatever He wants.
    Saying that God intentionally makes it rain here and there is to claim a miracle happens, since you are saying this rain is happening due to a supernatural phenomenon (God’s decision), not due to a natural phenomenon. To prove a miracle, an equally miraculous piece of evidence is needed, and the Quran is that miracle.
    Personally I’m disinclined to believe that God would change the readings of a machine just so that His hand would be hidden. It seems more likely that in the things where He intervenes, He will do it so gracefully that no further intervention would be needed to hide Himself. For example, when it comes to weather, His interventions are so subtle that they are all easily explained as “randomness” by scientists. A Muslim scientist can study the weather as a purely natural system, while also believing in God’s power to direct it as He wills, so that they can thank God when a tornado avoids their neighborhood.

Some Muslims and Christians try to re-interpret the relevant verses regarding weather and other phenomena to say that God is merely explaining how the laws of nature work. But I cannot support such interpretations in good conscience, because verse 24:43 in particular seems to claim direct agency. While a Muslim scientist may feel ashamed to admit that rain could ever happen for supernatural reasons, we Muslims aren’t actually asking non-Muslims to believe in it. We fully support scientific explanations, and we will not bother non-Muslims with anything supernatural, since that requires that they believe in God and the Quran in the first place, since they don’t, there is no point in telling them about God’s potential role in undetectably making it rain in certain times and places.

In other words, we fully believe in science. But we also believe that God is its inventor, that science is nothing more than the human effort to find out how God designed the universe, and we believe that God has the power to bypass it when He wants, in a fully undetectable way, because His own laws require that His existence should be undetectable.

An atheist could say this is like saying invisible magical fairies make it rain, and the reply is that yes, it is exactly like saying that. But in our case, we have extraordinary evidence to support our thinking; the Quran, while a person who claims that invisible magical fairies make it rain has no evidence.

Atheists will go on to say that the only reason highly intelligent and educated people believe in the Quran is cultural conditioning, that if we were reallytruly intelligent and open-minded, we couldn’t possibly believe in it, that there is some invisible, magical force that is preventing people like me from opening my eyes even after years of exposure to scientific books and enjoying books by atheists. There is no evidence for this, it is an atheist superstition that helps them feel smugly snug in their comfort zones.

Another phenomenon for which God claims direct agency is the forming of the genetic makeup of humans during conception:

It is He who forms you in the wombs as He wills. There is no god except He, the Almighty, the Wise.8

When a father and a mother’s genes unite, there are 64 trillion different possible combinations that could be created. God claims to have a hand in choosing which combination ends up actually taking place. Again, God can claim responsibility for forming our genes in the womb through the three methods mentioned above: Purposeful invention, operating the universe and intervening when He wants. Similar to weather events, the process of genetic recombination is so immensely complex and affected by randomness that God does not need to do anything to hide His hand in the matter, His interventions would be easily explainable as merely randomness, which is as it should be.

Yet another place where God claims direct responsibility for physical phenomena is in His providing sustenance for humans:

Or, who originates the creation and then repeats it, and who gives you livelihood from the sky and the earth? Is there another god with God? Say, “Produce your evidence, if you are truthful.”9

And whosoever fears God, He will create for him a way out. And He will provide him with sustenance from where he does not expect.10

The second verse implies that God has a direct hand in providing sustenance, because He says that if we fear Him, then He will provide. This is a central concept of the God-human relationship, repeated often in the Bible and the Quran,

[Moses said,] “And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks, I will grant you increase; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.'”11

If God did not intervene directly in the affairs of humans, there would be no way for this contractual relationship to be maintained. If we fear God, God will provide for us. We act, God reacts. For God to react, He has to intervene directly in our universe.12

God, Evolution and Topology

The problem that many of the religious have with evolution is that it seems to claim that the creatures on Earth could have come about regardless of whether God exists or not. They mistakenly think it is a God versus nature problem, and this mistake is also made by atheist scientists on the other end, who think that finding a scientific explanation for natural phenomena disproves God’s role. They do not see that God’s agency and the existence of perfectly explainable natural phenomena are not mutually exclusive.

Topology refers to the physical design of the universe; the physical constants that govern the universe (such as the speed of light), the placement of the galaxies, stars and planets, and the placement of mountains, rivers and oceans on Earth.

Topology is critical to evolution. Very minor differences in the universe’s topology would have made life impossible to exist. And very minor differences in the topology of Earth would have lead to the evolution of extremely different creatures than the ones we have now, and could have made the existence of humans impossible.

This is a fact of evolution that rarely goes examined even by scientists (I say this as someone who has enjoyed numerous books on evolution). Imagine if Earth was entirely an ocean planet, with the bottom of the sea a flat, featureless plain of sand. What type of creatures would evolve on such an Earth?

Ones that would be very different from the ones that we currently have. To begin with, there would be no way for land animals to evolve. The only types of bird that could evolve would be ones that could survive by sleeping on water without being eaten by the fish underneath, if such a thing is possible.

Since the bottom of this imaginary sea is flat and featureless, the type of aquatic life would be far less diverse, because diversity requires differences in conditions, the presence of unique evolutionary niches where an organism can find food and shelter and reproduce. Having an Earth that is exactly the same all the way round would lead to far less biodiversity. Perhaps the number of all species that would evolve on such an Earth would be less than a few thousand, instead of the 8.7 million species we have on Earth.

It might even be impossible for such an earth to support any type of organism beyond microscopic ones.

What this is meant to show is that the design of a planet is crucial to the type of creatures that evolve on it. And if you could design a planet with the right topology, you could create any type of creature you want.

It follows that you can create any living thing you want just by designing the right topology for it to exist.

And perhaps it is for this reason that God says:

Certainly the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of humanity, but most people do not know.13

27. Are you more difficult to create, or the sky? He constructed it. 28. He raised its masses, and proportioned it. 29. And He dimmed its night, and brought out its daylight. 30. And the earth after that He spread. 31. And from it, He produced its water and its pasture. 32. And the mountains, He anchored. 33. A source of enjoyment for you and for your animals.14

God is saying that the fact the He designed our universe’s topology is a greater accomplishment than the fact that He created humans. This would make a lot of sense if the existence of humanity was nothing more than a byproduct of the universe’s topology. When God created the universe, He didn’t merely create a lifeless system of stars and planets. He created a universe in whose topology was embedded the program that would ultimately lead to the existence of 8.7 million species, including humans.

Imagine if Earth lacked mountains and rivers. Could humans or human-like creatures have evolved on such a planet? It is unlikely, perhaps impossible. The design of the planet and the universe in which it exists decides what type of creature can evolve on that planet, meaning that the designer of the universe can be fully credited with the creation of all the creatures that exist inside that universe, if the designer had the creation of those creatures in mind to begin with.

Through the Quran’s consistent references to mountains, rivers, seas and the design of the earth and the sky, God acts as a topological designer explaining His methods. God explains the topological design of the universe in detail, and says that this is of greater importance than the creation of humans, because He is in effect describing the template, the code, that led to the existence of humans.

This universe can be thought of as nothing more or less than a factory for creating and sustaining humans. When God describes the various design elements of the universe, He is explaining His greatness as the designer of such an immensely complex factory that led to the existence of not just one species, but millions, and all done in a way that hides Him from our view.

Reversing Entropy for a Time

How can non-living matter lead to the complex biological machines that exist in all kinds of creatures? Doesn’t this go against the idea of entropy, that the universe continues to break down and become simpler over time?

It is possible if you provide 1. energy sources and 2. complexity-inducing topologies.

Both of these conditions come true on Earth, where energy is available in the form of sunlight, geothermal energy and tides, and where the topology of Earth and the universe in which it is contained create an environment in which life can not only originate, but diversify by finding niche after niche in which it can survive.

The origination of life requires that dead matter somehow join together and increase in complexity. This is somewhat like expecting a bunch of rocks to join together and walk up a hill. The difference is that in the world of atoms and molecules, things join together and increase in complexity all the time. All that’s needed is the right mixture, and usually a source of energy, and from this, extremely complex molecules can evolve. This is a fact of chemistry. The question is just how complex can these natural structures become? Someone who denies abiogenesis (the origination of life from non-living matter) would say that there is no way that the complexity can increase to the degree seen in living things, meaning that life could never evolve from non-living matter.

While someone with sufficient imagination would see that it might be possible given a large enough test chamber, ample building blocks of life, water, energy and hundreds of millions of years, and most importantly, a Designer who put all of these together in just the right way to create life.

Topological Programming

Physicists say that if the Big Bang (the explosion of the blob of matter that lead to the creation of our universe) had happened the merest fraction of a second slower or faster, the galaxies couldn’t have formed, and humanity wouldn’t have existed.

To create humanity, what God had to do was get the conditions of the Big Bang right, and 13.8 billion years later human-like creatures came into existence on one of the planets inside the universe created by the Big Bang.

The timescales involved in this, and the amount of intelligent design necessary, make it very difficult for people to imagine this actually taking place, that is, imagining God creating humans in such a complex and roundabout way.

But if you imagine the whole process taking just one second, it becomes easier to believe. Imagine a god who is holding a blob of matter in his hands. He parts his hands, the blob expands with it, and in just that second, you see a planet inside that blob of matter on which certain creatures live. Shouldn’t a god have such power? And can’t such a god claim responsibility for the existence of those creatures, if the nature of the blob of matter and the way he expanded it is all that lead to the existence of those creatures, and if the way he did was perfectly intentional, with the aim of creating those creatures?

Do the disbelievers not see that the heavens and the earth were one mass, and We tore them apart? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not believe?15

We constructed the universe with [our] capability, and We are expanding it.16

The Islamic version of intelligent design (the phrase Christians use to refer to God designing humans and other creatures) can therefore be also called topological programming. When you want to create a creature or group of creatures, all that you need to do is design a universe with the right topology. In this topology is programmed the existence of those creatures you want to create, and after millions or billions of years, which, if you are God, could be no length of time at all, those creatures will evolve on the planet or planets of your choice, according to the design you put into the topology you created.

Think of a computer program that lets you design creatures, but instead of letting you design the creatures directly, it asks you to design a universe that would lead to the type of creature you want. On the screen it shows you a box where a picture of the creature would be, but currently it is blank. And it gives you various boxes where you can input various numbers. It asks you for the size of the universe, the speed of its expansion, the external shape of it, and the various physical constants that go into that universe, such as the speed of light. By making the tiniest changes to any of these variables which the program lets you change, the creatures it shows you on the screen change immensely. Get the numbers just right, and you will get humans, among the trillions upon trillions of other possible creatures you could create.

This is what topological programming means;  designing universes with the specific aim of seeing creatures originate and evolve upon it after billions of years. A topological programmer is a designer of universes, and that is what the Creator is.

If you think about it, there is no difference between God creating all the creatures on earth by a single command that turns a large puff of smoke into all of them, which is the way our ancestors used to think how creation should work, and creating them by designing and sustaining a universe that would lead to their existence after billions of years. The end result is exactly the same, it is just that the second method is harder for the human brain to understand and appreciate.

In this way there is no clash between Darwin’s theory of evolution and intelligent design (except when it comes to humans, which will be dealt with below). The theory of evolution is merely telling us God’s means of designing creatures, which is far cleverer than anything one would usually imagine.

To design an elephant, God doesn’t need to create an elephant from a puff of smoke. He instead brings a blob of matter and expands it, and billions of years later elephants will exist on a planet or many planets inside that blob of matter. God has the power to create a new universe full of millions of planets all of which are inhabited by elephants, merely by designing a universe with the right topology to lead to such planets and creatures.

Topological programming doesn’t only explain evolution, but the origin of life as well. The same way that God can program evolution into the universe’s topology, He can also program the origination of life into it, and take credit for it.

Muslims mustn’t challenge atheists to create life from scratch, saying that if they do that we will stop believing in God. There is no suggestion in the Quran that artificial life cannot be created, and creating artificial life does not take away from God’s greatness. We are merely copying Him, from inside a universe that He designed and that He sustains.

The following verse seems to suggest that humans cannot create artificial life:

O people! A parable is presented, so listen to it: Those you invoke besides God will never create a fly, even if they banded together for that purpose. And if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it from it. Weak are the pursuer and the pursued. 17

However, this verse can actually be used as an argument for the possibility of humans creating artificial life. The second part of the verse says, “And if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it from it.”

Is it impossible to recover things stolen by flies? As a general rule, it is not impossible to catch flies and take back whatever they have stolen. What the verse is actually saying, which is a point repeated many times throughout the Quran, is that we have no inherent power of our own, that we have zero power over this universe, and that it is ultimately God who operates it. This means that we have no power to recover something a fly steals except when God enables us, by moving the relevant atoms, photons and energy fields for us so that we can carry out our intention of recovering something the fly stole.

By the same reasoning, we have no power to create artificial life, except when God enables us, by maintaining and operating the universe. Both of these things might be possible for us to do, if God makes them possible, and both would be impossible, if God makes them impossible.

In this way, creating artificial life might be as possible as recovering something stolen by a fly.

It is possible that humans will never be able to manufacture life. Perhaps there really is something special about life, and perhaps at some point God had to breathe life into Earth to jump start the process of evolution that would eventually lead to the rest of all of the creatures we see on Earth. We do not know, and it is best that we do not issue definitive statements on matters we know little about.

Personally I lean towards abiogenesis, I believe God is great enough to program the origination of life into the universe’s topology, meaning that He can create a universe that leads to the origination of life without Him having to intervene afterwards to plant life on it. Questioning the possibility of this happening is questioning God’s greatness and creativity. Just because we cannot imagine how we ourselves would accomplish this does not mean that it is impossible for God.

The Rarest Species

Why would God create life in such a roundabout way instead of creating it directly? Because this allows for the creation of the rarest species of all. No, not humans.

Atheists.

God wants His existence to be impossible to prove. He wants there to be the possibility of disbelieving in Him, and that requires that His own hand should be invisible from direct measurement. If you think about it, evolution is just the right way of achieving this. It provides a perfectly scientific explanation for the evolution of all the creatures we see, which makes God unnecessary, which makes it possible to disbelieve in God if we want to.

God wants us to have a choice, and creating life in a way that makes scientific sense is what God wants to do, so that we will not have any knowledge of the Unseen except through His scriptures.

Making it possible for atheists to exist might perhaps be God’s greatest accomplishment in this universe. Who else is there who can create such an immensely complex, well-functioning and logical universe that can lead to the existence of creatures who can doubt the Creator’s existence?

Human Evolution

God describes the creation of humans in detail, which causes many Muslims to automatically reject evolution, thinking that evolution goes against the Quran, or that the Quran goes against evolution:

26. We created the human being from clay, from molded mud.

27. And the jinn We created before, from piercing fire.

28. Your Lord said to the angels, “I am creating a human being from clay, from molded mud.”

29. “When I have formed him, and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down prostrating before him.”

30. So the angels prostrated themselves, all together.18

We know that humans share many of their genes with chimpanzees, rats, yeast and even some viruses. So are the above verses false, or is evolution false?

The answer is in the Quran, in this verse:

The likeness of Jesus in God’s sight is that of Adam: He created him from dust, then said to him, “Be,” and he was.19

We know that Jesus, peace be upon him, was a human. Yet the Quran says his creation was similar to that of Adam.

How did God create Jesus? He used some clay to create a human whose genetic code was like any other human, and at a time when other humans were around.

In the same way, God could have created Adam at a time when humans or human-like creatures already existed on earth (and existing, of course, by God’s design, who designed the topology that lead to the existence of such creatures). God took genetic code from these humans, or more likely, God already had the genetic code before the creation of the universe. He embedded that code into the universe’s topology. For example, a minimum number of rivers may be necessary on a planet for humans to exist on it. For humans to evolve on a particular planet, their genetic code has to be translated into topological features of that planet and the universe in which it is contained.

The evolution of humans or human-like creatures on earth, and the creation of Adam from scratch (rather than from another human), are not mutually exclusive. God created Adam from dust, and He created Jesus from dust, and in the first instance, humanoids may have already existed on earth, similar to the second instance.

What, then, was special about Adam? He had free will, while the human-like creatures that had evolved on Earth lacked it, they were merely animals, like Richard Dawkins thinks he is. The fact of God breathing “His spirit” into Adam may have been the critical differentiator that turned Adam into something more than yet another animal, perhaps it is this spirit which gives us free will.

Before Adam, the earth lacked any creature that could be held responsible for its actions. Adam’s introduction into Earth was the start of the existence of responsibility. It is for this reason that the angels complained about Adam being placed on Earth:

“Will You place in it (i.e. on Earth) someone who will cause corruption in it and shed blood, while we declare Your praises and sanctify You?”20

The angels do not like the idea of ruining the fact that Earth was free from all evil, since everything on it (including the humanoids) acted according to instincts placed inside them by God’s topological programming, meaning that everything on it perfectly obeyed God’s design as accurately as the planets do in their orbits.

Bears probably still ate deer, but that was according to God’s design, so it wasn’t an evil thing. Placing Adam on Earth, on the other hand, meant that there would be a creature on Earth who could defy God’s design, in this way creating evil.

The reason humans could do evil on Earth, when no other creature could do it, is that by having free will, they could do “artificial” things, things that did not directly follow from the rules and the wisdom that went into the creation of the universe. They could defy the program embedded in the universe’s topology, in this way bringing about corruption.

Some atheist writers make a great deal of the simple line of reasoning that if the universe is entirely ruled by physical laws, then there would be no place for free will or responsibility, because every action on it would be a derivation of the system itself. In a sealed chamber, if an atom moves faster than another, we do not say it decided to move fast. It moved fast because of the way it interacted with the rest of the atoms (and other forces) present in the sealed chamber. If we think of the whole universe as one big sealed chamber, then naturally, there would be no responsibility or free will, every action and reaction on it would be nothing more than particles and forces interacting. When someone decides to steal something, it is because all the different factors in the universe led them to make that decision at that time, similar to the different factors inside a sealed chamber causing a particular atom to move faster.

They do not realize that there is a big “if” at the beginning of that whole train of thought. The Quran says that humans have free will, therefore there is some special ingredient in humans that makes them an exception to the physical laws, and therefore none of the above actually applies to humans. Based on what evidence? The Quran. Therefore the above line of reasoning is irrelevant and does not prove anything, since it relies on an unproven premise. The question is whether we accept the Quran’s evidence or reject it, if we accept it, then we believe human actions are free-willed, and there is no scientific opposition to this, since there is no scientific proof that free will does not exist. All that atheists have is a line of reasoning that starts with an unproven premise, they believe in the superstition that there is no free will without having any evidence, while we believe in the Quran-and-conscience-backed, but scientifically unproven, fact that there is free will.

The Quran refers to the atheist desire to believe in unproven superstitions that help them disbelieve in God:

That is because when God alone was called upon, you disbelieved; but when others were associated with Him, you believed. Judgment rests with God the Sublime, the Majestic.21

Many irreligious people somewhat admit the truth of free will by acting as if human creations are artificial, while saying animal creations are not. They say that it is a bad thing if a city expands and destroys the uninhabited ecology in which various animals exist. But if we are simply yet another species, our destruction of the habitat of other creatures is as natural as the destruction of habitats that has gone on for millions of years as one species acquired mutations that enabled it to destroy other species, and as natural processes turned forests into deserts.

Why should our actions be artificial and the actions of animals natural? Why should humans not act greedily and destructively when animals can do it?

The reason why human creations are artificial, rather than natural, is because our free spirit is not controlled by the universe’s topological programming (by the laws God laid down for the universe), rather, we can defy it and do as we please. This makes us responsible for our actions, and it makes our creations artificial. Human creations are artificial because we are from outside this universe. We are only here for a short time. Once humanoids were given free will, from then on they stopped being partakers in nature, equal to other animals, and became something more, something that could sidestep nature, sidestep their own genetic programming, to do new things, sometimes good, sometimes evil.

Some will use the evidence-free theory of emergence to say that a piece of biological tissue (the brain) can acquire self-awareness and responsibility, and in this way do things that are artificial, that are not mere derivations of the system’s design and function. There is no proof for this, therefore it cannot be used to prove any point.

There is much debate on what consciousness is, what this thing is behind our eyes that enables us to think about thinking, to philosophize, to choose and be responsible for our choices. Consciousness is probably nothing more or less than our God-given spirit experiencing life inside a human body. This means that even if we manage to create life, it will probably be impossible to create a free-willed creature from scratch, since unlike God, we cannot breath a spirit into something to make it self-aware. This seems like a power that only God has.

We do not know the exact moment in the history of Earth that Adam was placed on it. It is possible that it was in the past 10,000 years, or it could have been 100,000 years ago. We do not know how Adam interacted with the existing humanoids, whether there was any interbreeding.

Even if Adam and his children (humanity) share genes with various humanoid creatures that have existed, that doesn’t mean we are directly descended from them, just that God used some of their genetic code to create Adam, the same way He used the genetic code of existing humans to create Jesus from dust.

God probably already had the full genetic code of humans before the creation of the universe, and it is for this reason that He can take full credit for the creation of humans (and all other creatures) despite the fact that they evolved naturally. This universe is simply a seemingly automated factory that follows a program placed inside it (embedded in its topological features) by God that is designed to lead to the origination of life and ultimately humanoids. Therefore it is not that God “took” genetic code from other humanoids to place them in Adam. He already had all of the genetic code to begin with, even before the universe was created. He placed some of the code in those humanoids indirectly (using evolution), and some in Adam directly. The code in both cases comes from God’s “library”, so to speak, one travels indirectly, hiding in the universe’s topology until, after billions of years, it is brought to life through evolution, and one travels directly, with God creating Adam from dust based on that code.

It is a case of starting with the recipe and building a massive universe in which the recipe can come into existence, without leaving any trace of one’s direct involvement in the process. God did not have to come look on Earth 10,000 or however many years ago to find genetic code to use for Adam. The code was already in His library.

The Self-Destructive Fight Against Science

Religious people, both Christian and Muslim, have done a great deal of work to discredit religion in their short-sighted and badly advised defense of it. The Christian speaker Bill O’Reilly has been the laughing stock of the internet multiple times in his ridiculous statements in support of religion.

O’Reilly makes the same mistake that many Muslims make. He supports atheists by making the exact same mistake they make; he thinks that once a natural phenomenon has been explained by science, it automatically proves God’s involvement false.

You can’t come up with a better weapon to hand to atheists to help them win their war on religion. By buying into their way of thinking, religious people enter an arena where they are guaranteed to be crushed over and over again by scientific findings.

The scientific functioning of our universe is a principle of the Quran. God’s existence must be impossible to prove, therefore there must always be scientific reasons that explain things without a need for God.

The world of the Unseen, the supernatural, is by God’s design beyond human knowledge or measurement. Everything we see around us must have a logical explanation, or seem to, or there should be the hope of finding a logical explanation for it one day. There should never be anything provably supernatural.

Provable miracles must never happen, because a miracle, by definition, is a sign of God’s direct involvement in our universe, which means it is a direct measurement of God, which means it is hard evidence for God’s existence. God, as He repeats over and over again in the Quran, intends to hide Himself from us until the end of the world, when clear signs of His existence will be shown to us:

Do they mean to wait until the angels come to them, or for your Lord to arrive, or for some of your Lord’s signs to come? On the Day when some of your Lord’s signs come, no soul will benefit from its faith unless it had believed previously, or had earned goodness through its faith. Say, “Wait, we too are waiting.” 22

Atheists say they want to wait for hard evidence for God’s existence before they believe in the fairy tales present in scripture. The Quran tells religious people to say the same thing, that we too are waiting. The above verse can be considered a pointer to the proper religious mindset toward science. We too acknowledge, with atheists, that there is no hard evidence for God’s existence. They say they will wait for hard evidence before believing, we say we believe in scripture and wait for hard evidence, and for this humble submission and patient waiting for proof, we will be rewarded.

The mistake they make is that they reject the possibility that scripture might be true, that what their consciences tell them might be true, that there is a God and that there is a purpose built into this universe, while we do not neglect our consciences and read scripture with an open heart, until the soft evidence of it proves to us that faith is better than disbelief, while acknowledging that we would never have direct proof for our beliefs until the Day of Judgment.

There is no shame in admitting that God’s existence is impossible to prove. That is what the Quran teaches. If God’s existence was possible to prove (with hard evidence), that would make faith unnecessary, and that would turn this world into a farce.

There is certainly ample proof in this universe and in the Quran for any fair-minded person to be guided to God, as the Quran says:

In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the ships that sail the oceans for the benefit of mankind; in the water that God sends down from the sky, and revives the earth with it after it had died, and scatters in it all kinds of creatures; in the changing of the winds, and the clouds disposed between the sky and the earth; are signs for people who understand.23

But these signs are not hard evidence, in that it is always necessary for the conscience to be involved before the evidence is accepted. Rational thought is not sufficient by itself.

One can argue that there is nothing besides rational thought to think with. Religion says that there is also the conscience, a power that probably comes with the unproven spirit of God that’s inside all of us, and which was given to us through Adam. This is the part of a human that is involved in faith, involved in making the final judgment to believe in God and obey His commandments without having direct proof of His existence. The recognition of the soft evidence in scripture and the universe’s design is sufficient to prove the existence of God, even if our rational brains continue to recognize that there is room for doubt and disbelief.

A Clarification on Kufr (Disbelief / Infidelity) and God’s Justice

In Islam, merely not believing in God doesn’t necessarily mean one will go into the Hellfire. The Quran’s word for someone who deserves eternal punishment is kafir. Misinterpretation and misunderstanding of this word among Muslims and non-Muslims has led to a great deal of confusion, and has turned many away from religion.

Kafir comes from kufr, which literally means “one who conceals”. For this reason kafir is actually also used to mean “farmer”, because a farmer covers up seeds with soil. A kafir is the evil mirror image of a faithful person; one who has seen the soft evidence for God’s existence and has accepted it in their heart, but who intentionally rejects this faith out of arrogance and desire. A kafir is someone who acquires faith and then disbelieves:

On the Day when some faces will be whitened, and some faces will be blackened. As for those whose faces are blackened: “Did you disbelieve after your belief?” Then taste the punishment for having disbelieved. 24

That’s what a kafir, a disbeliever, is. Someone who acquires faith but intentionally rejects it. In Islam, people who do not believe in God, or who believe in the wrong god because they do not know any better, are not automatically disbelievers. The Quran says:

God does not hold a soul responsible except for what is in its power.25

God does not hold a soul responsible except for that which He has already given it. 26

Therefore a person who never has a chance to believe in God, for example because they have only seen negative things about religion and have never had it clearly explained to them, will not be held responsible for not believing in God.

There is some disagreement among theologians on this matter. Some say that humans are endowed with sufficient capacity to believe in God even without scripture. While we cannot rule this out, I find it questionable, although I cannot think of any definite proof either way. It seems possible that perfectly good and kind people can be driven away from religion due to particular circumstances, or simply because they never learn enough about God to believe in Him, but again, we cannot make any definitive statements about what goes in inside people’s hearts throughout their long lifetimes.

Ultimately, what matters is that God is just. Many irreligious folk say that it is unjust for someone to be punished if they truly do not have sufficient knowledge to believe in God, and use this to say that religion is unjust. But religion says the same thing these people say. God is just and He will not needlessly punish anyone. God will not do anything unjust, therefore if we ever think or imagine that something He does is unjust, then we have thought wrongly about Him, and have not appreciated His kindness, generosity and justice. It is utter madness to think that the One who created humans, with all of their complexity and sensitivity, should be less just and sensitive than humans.

The God of the Old Testament is certainly that way, because of the corruptions that the rabbis introduced into the book. The God of the Quran is not. I have not found a single unjust thing in the Quran despite all of the times I have read it.

Conclusion: Time to Join in Origin of Life Research

It is time for Muslim individuals, organizations and nations to proudly adopt the theories of evolution and abiogenesis as nothing more than new fields of the sciences. The same way that we do not fight the atmospheric sciences even if they explain how rain happens, we must not fight the science of evolution just because it explains how creatures are made.

We must abandon the centuries-old superstition that discovering rational explanations for natural phenomena proves that God is not involved with them. We must eagerly endorse the effort to find out explanations for all phenomena, explanations that completely take God out of the picture, because we and the atheists have the same beliefs when it comes to this. We both believe that there can never be anything supernatural that can be measured, meaning that when doing science, we and atheists have everything in common, seeking to find rational and logical explanations for everything around us.

It is foolishness to attack a scientist for explaining how it rains, and similarly, it is foolishness to attack a scientist for explaining how creatures come into existence. In both cases, scientists try to find out how God designs and operates the universe.

Jews are a race and a religion

Can you please tell me the meaning of “Children of Israel” in the Quran?

Israel is another name for Prophet Ya`qoub, grandson of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Ya`qoub is known as Jacob in the Bible. The Children of Israel are Jacob’s descendants. He had twelve sons, and the descendants of his sons make up the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Israel/Jacob is the father of all Jews, meaning that the Children of Israel means “genetic Jews”, people who are Jewish by birth. The Quran also uses yahood to refer to Jews, which means “genetic-cultural Jews”, Jews who are Jews by genetics, and who consider themselves part of the world’s Jewry and act as a specific culture and interest group.

In Islam, a person can be Muslim and belong to the Children of Israel (i.e. be a genetic Jew), since belonging to the Children of Israel is a matter of genetics, similar to being Arab or Indo-European.

But a person cannot be Muslim and yahood, because being yahood means that one accepts to be part of Judaism to a greater or lesser degree.

These distinctions are lost on many Muslims and many people in the West, especially since some Jews act as if they are “just a faith” like Islam and Christianity, when they are not just a faith. If they were just a faith, how could Israel use genetics to decide who to give Israeli citizenship to (since only a Jew can get citizenship)? According to the racist thinking that rules in Israel, an Arab’s genes are not good enough to make them citizens, while a Jew’s genes are. It is all about race, similar to the apartheid government of South Africa treating whites as first class citizens and blacks as subhuman.

The Children of Israel refers to Jews-the-genetic-group (i.e. the Jewish race), yahood refers to Jews-the-genetic-and-cultural group, those of the Jewish race who are part of Jewish culture (even if they are not religious). The word Jew in English, among those who understand history, has the same meaning as yahood.

What “Jew” means is similar to what “WASP” means (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). WASP refers to people of European and Protestant heritage, which includes many of the white people who live in the West. WASPs are both a genetic group and a cultural/religious group (even though they are not very religious in general). Jews, instead of having white genes, have Jewish genes, and instead of belonging to Protestant culture, belong to Jewish culture (even if they aren’t very religious).

Some people can be found in the West who think that one stops being a Jew if one stops “practicing”. This is like saying one stops being a WASP if one stops “practicing”. Being a Jew, and being a WASP, is not something you practice, it is something you are.

For Jews and WASPs, there is a religious tradition that originally defined their culture, but to most Jews and WASPs, religion is something that’s only useful during weddings and funerals, although both groups retain some of the teachings of their religions. Thus many Jews, even the atheists among them, continue to maintain the Hebrew Bible idea of considering themselves a superior species of humans, separate from all other humans, and continue to view the world in terms of Jews vs. non-Jews. WASPs, too, continue to value Christian ideals to some degree, and their culture of respecting fairness, equality and hard work was originally inspired by Biblical ideas.

Question from a reader

Asalaamualaykum. who founded Judaism?, was it the children of Israel? (Yacoub) did they become jews after Moses? before the coming of Jesus? Would be grateful for any info into the history of Judaism and children of Yocoub.

Judaism as we know it today was established by Moses (Prophet Musa peace be upon him). The same way that Islam is based on the teachings of the Quran, Judaism is based on the teachings of the Torah, the revelation that was given to Moses.

The Torah makes up the first five books of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These five books contain the message and the laws of the original Judaism that was founded by Moses (with some corruptions).

The Jewish race (people of Jewish genes) existed before Moses, since their existence starts with Israel/Jacob, about 400 years before Moses according to Biblical chronologists. Before Moses, they followed the religion of Abraham and Israel.

The Jews before Moses are known as Hebrews, since in current usage Jew means a person of Jewish genes who is a follower of Moses’ religion/culture. But genetically and culturally the Hebrews and and the Jews are the same people. Once the Hebrews acquired Moses’ religion, they reformed into Jews.

Today’s Judaism is very different from the original Judaism because it follows the Talmud (writings of rabbis), which creates a new religion on top of the old religion and legalizes things like usury.

In Islamic thinking, Jesus was the Jewish messiah that was sent to correct and reform Judaism and ban the evils that the rabbis had legalized, such as usury. The rabbis tolerated for a while, until he started to threaten their profits by attacking the Temple (which was the Jewish Wall Street of that time where usury was practiced). Within one week Jesus was to be crucified for this unforgivable sin. In Islam, we believe that God saved Jesus, as is narrated in the chapter 3 of the Quran:

54. They planned, and God planned; but God is the Best of planners.

55. God said, “O Jesus, I am terminating your life, and raising you to Me, and clearing you of those who disbelieve. And I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return; then I will judge between you regarding what you were disputing.

In verse 55, God promises Jesus that He will ensure that the Jews and non-Jews who followed Jesus (the Christians) will be forever superior to the Jews who disbelieved in Jesus (Jews who continued to follow Judaism). This prophecy has continued to remain true to this day. Despite all Jewish efforts to stamp out Christianity, it went on to become the official religion of the Roman Empire, and since then Christian powers have always been orders of magnitude more powerful than Jewish powers.

On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims

You don’t have to answer this because its a very complex question but do you think you can be Muslim and gay? And how should we as Muslims feel about gays? How shall we treat them? How do you reconcile Islam (in the sense it is a religion that discourages/disagrees with homosexuality) with homosexuality? Is there even anything to reconcile? How should Islam (or I guess Muslims) move about in this world that supports homosexuality? Is there a compromise that can be made in such a pluralistic world?

There is nothing wrong with having homosexual feelings, the same way there is nothing wrong with a man having sexual desire toward another man’s wife. The desire exists, what Islam forbids is acting upon it.

We can speculate about the reason why God forbids these things, for example it appears that any society that approves of sex outside of marriage and homosexuality quickly dies out due to low fertility rates. There isn’t a single civilization on Earth today that has tolerated homosexuality for centuries on end and survived.

I don’t doubt that some people can have highly fulfilling homosexual relationships, the same way that people can have highly fulfilling relationships outside of marriage. What matters is that God considers these harmful, and so He forbids them.

We do not need to be convinced of the harms of these things to avoid them. God forbids that we eat bacon, although by all accounts it is an extremely tasty thing to eat. We do not need to be convinced that bacon is bad for our health, God forbids it, therefore we avoid it. God forbids that we eat during the daytime in Ramadan, even though the food and water in the Ramadan daytime are just as nourishing as they are at night. The food and drink don’t turn into poison during the day, yet God forbids that we consume them.

The Quran gives a certain structure to our lives that we have to implement, even if we do not fully appreciate the wisdom behind it. The matter all boils down to the Quran, one reads it, becomes convinced that it is truly from the Creator, and decides of their own free will to follow it, which means they will follow all of it, including the parts of it that they do not fully understand, because, since they are convinced that it is from the Creator, they trust Him to know what is best for them.

Part of the structure that the Quran gives to our lives is to not have sex outside of marriage, and to not engage in homosexual relationships, despite whatever fulfillment that exists in these things. As God’s lowly servants, we can only say “We hear and we obey.” (The Quran, verse 24:51).

Reconciling Islam with homosexuality is similar to reconciling Islam with the desires of a man who is not satisfied with having sex within marriage only but constantly desires other women. While there might be scientific reasons for their desires, and while carrying out their desires might give them extreme fulfillment, Islam requires that they do not act on their desires for the greater good, therefore there can be no reconciliation.

A person who has homosexual desires might wonder, “What is so wrong with desiring a person of the same sex? We don’t mean harm to anyone, and our relationship is consensual.” What’s wrong with it is that it goes against the structure that God wants to give to our lives. It is similar to eating in the daytime during Ramadan. You can do it without meaning harm to anyone, and it can give you pleasure, but it goes against the rules that God has placed.

If one thinks God’s rules are silly and not worth following, then this is not about homosexuality, it is about their not believing in the Quran. And if they believe in the Quran but feel that it is unjustly discriminating against them, this is similar to a person feeling it is unjustly discriminating against their desire for alcohol, or for sex outside of marriage. It might feel unjust and oppressive, but it is for the greater good.

If a person feels that giving up the fulfillment of a homosexual relationship for the greater good is not worth it, then they are choosing the present life at the expense of the hereafter. Millions of people have taken this choice in various ways, choosing fulfillment in the present life instead of being content with God’s commandments, to their ultimate loss.

Homosexuality is just another condition that prevents a Muslim from having satisfactory intimate relationships. There are thousands of such conditions, and there is nothing special about homosexuality that makes one deserve to break God’s laws so that one can attain fulfillment.

A Muslim engaging in homosexual sex saying there is no other way for them to receive fulfillment is like a poor Muslim man of 60 who really desires women but who has never had sex saying that he deserves to sleep with a prostitute in order to receive fulfillment, since God has prevented him from getting fulfillment the acceptable way, or like a crippled Muslim woman who thinks she can never get married saying that she is allowed to get sex outside of marriage since there is no other way for her.

There are many people living with horrible conditions that prevent them from enjoying life and cause them great suffering, or that prevent them from ever having intimate relationships. Being homosexual and not being able to enjoy heterosexual relationships is just one of those thousands of conditions. Many Muslims patiently suffer through such conditions, and they do not justify breaking God’s laws in order to attain fulfillment.

Millions of Muslim men and women desire marriage but live their lives without enjoying an intimate relationship even once because they are too poor or too unattractive to marry, or they are attractive but there is no one they can marry, and in this way they get old and die without marrying.

For a homosexual Muslim, the matter is entirely between themselves and God. They should read the Quran and use their conscience to decide the best course of action, and they should reject the 24/7 propaganda in the West that constantly tells them they should act on their desires.

As for dealing with a Muslim who has homosexual desires but who does not act on them, then they should be treated like any other Muslim, since they haven’t broken any Islamic laws.

And as for dealing with Muslims who do engage in homosexual acts, they should be dealt with like other sinners, for example those who engage in heterosexual sex outside of marriage, or those who drink alcohol. We should treat them in public with politeness like we treat all people. If we have a close friend who is a sinner, we can admonish them with kind words if they are close enough to not be offended by our words. As for distant friends and acquaintances; we will not cause a Muslim alcoholic to suddenly come back to the Straight Path by calling them sinners or sending them articles about how people like them will go to hell. In such cases, it is best to avoid them, or if we have to interact with them, to be as polite and generous as we always are.

If such a person seeks our friendship or help, we should not reject them automatically. The Prophet, peace be upon him, says: “For God to guide another person through you is greater in worth than red camels.” Red camels were considered the most valuable commodity in Arabia at that time. (Bukhari and Muslim)

But he also says: “The similitude of good company and that of bad company is that of the owner of musk and of the one blowing the bellows. The owner of musk would either offer you some free of charge, or you would buy it from him, or you smell its pleasant fragrance; and as for the one who blows the bellows (i.e., the blacksmith), he either burns your clothes or you smell a repugnant smell.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Associating with any type of sinner can be good for both of you; they may be encouraged to become better people, and you could earn the rewards of being a cause for them to come back to the Straight Path. But it could also be harmful for both of you, in that you could become involved with their sin, and in this way both of you could earn punishment, you for falling into sin, and they for being a cause for it. What one should do is not a clear matter, it is a conscience call, and one should decide on a case-by-case basis. There is no single rule that fits all cases.

To reiterate regarding your main question (whether there is something to reconcile), there isn’t. Homosexual sex is like sex outside of marriage, drinking alcohol or engaging in usury. There is nothing to reconcile. Regardless of how common it is, or the billions of dollars that leftist billionaires spend promoting it, we must judge things according to how God judges them, even if this makes us unfashionable. Fashions come and go, but God’s words remain the same. Today it is fashionable to legally steal money from the poor through usury, and every rich celebrity engages in it by “investing” their money into various financial institutions that lend money at usury. Just because fashionable people do this does not mean we should follow their example or approve of it or try to reconcile Islam with their desires. They may all have a mental condition that makes them really like stealing money from the poor. Islam, however, asks them to not carry out their desires for the greater good even if what they do is perfectly acceptable according to today’s fashions.

200 years ago in the West usurers were treated like the most disgusting wretches of society by Christians. Today almost every single Christian engages in usury through mortgages and various investments, and even the Vatican lends money at usury through the Vatican Bank. Have they gained anything by this other than God’s wrath and the hollowing out and demise of their culture and civilization?

Question:

I’m not Muslim but I’ve been looking into the religion lately. I’m just wondering why don’t Muslims stand up for the ways LGBT are treated in Muslim countries? I understand that the Koran is against homosexual acts but I don’t understand why they are OK with gays and lesbians being alienated, beaten and killed in Muslim countries. It scares me that Muslims have so much hatred for them. If I can understand this part then maybe I can understand the rest of the religion.

It first be noted that Islam is not forced upon people. People are free to embrace it or leave it as they see fit. Classical Islam ignores this right and considers leaving Islam a punishable offense, which is against the Quran. I deal with this issue in my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

Ideally, Islamic law is enacted by democratic choose. If the majority of the people in a state are Muslim, they can elect to have Islamic law as the basis of their legal system. While if Muslims are a minority and are not in charge of the country, as in the West, then they do not have the right to use force to make others follow Islam, therefore they must either tolerate what the law allows or leave the country. They can take part in the democratic process, like the various different religious and political groups in the United States do, in order to affect the legal system.

In Islamic law, engaging in homosexual acts is a punishable crime, meaning that a Muslim majority country can use the democratic process to enact a law that punishes homosexual acts.

Punishing sexual acts is something that is done throughout the world, but different countries have different ideas about what is acceptable. In the United States, for example, pedophilia is punishable by law and the police is allowed to use extreme violence against people wanting to engage in it, or to even watch videos of people engaging in it. The reason for this is that the people of the United States agree that pedophilia is harmful to the child involved and to the rest of society. Regardless of how much fulfillment pedophilia brings to a pedophile, they are required to keep themselves in check and to neither engage in it, or even watch videos of others engaging in it. They are required to stay put and act as if they are not pedophiles, for the sake of society’s greater good.

Homosexual acts are of course not like the acts of pedophiles, since it involves consenting adults. So why would a society punish consenting adults for doing what brings them fulfillment and which seemingly harms no one?

The reason is that, according to the Islamic view, tolerating homosexuality has long-term harms to society. Even if in the short-term it brings great fulfillment to the people involved, in the long-term, thinking in terms of generations and centuries, it brings great harm. A plague is still a plague whether it takes one year to cause a civilization to go extinct, or whether it takes two centuries.

There isn’t a single civilization existing today that has tolerated homosexuality for multiple centuries and survived. The civilization always experiences declining fertility rates and either collapses, is conquered, or its entire population is slowly replaced by a section of its population that does not tolerate homosexuality.

The harms of homosexuality are similar to the harms of usury (the charging of interest). You can get a credit card, a mortgage and invest in bonds without seemingly doing any harm to anyone, and without suffering harm. But on a macro level (looking at the entire economy), usury always leads to exponentially increasing wealth inequality, a soulless corporate economy that is controlled by the banks, a corrupt corporate media that is fully in bed with the banks and the political elite, and a defense-military-intelligence complex that constantly seeks to get into new wars, because new wars require the issuance of bonds, and the super-rich earn hundreds of billions of dollars every single year on their bond investments, so the more bonds, the better, and if they get the country into a war that costs trillions, that means tens of billions of extra annual interest income for them.

Islam, since it is a religion from God, takes society’s long-term interest into account, its interest over generations and centuries, and for this reason it requires them to avoid short-term fulfillment (sex outside of marriage, credit cards, cars bought on loan) for the sake of the long-term good of themselves and their civilization.

You can argue that since homosexuality is between consenting adults, it is unlikely to do any short-term or long-term harm to society. But you do not know that. Every society on earth that tolerates homosexuality has a below-replacement fertility rate as far as I know, and this means that the society is slowly, but surely, going extinct. Since this process takes many generations, most people couldn’t care less about it. But Islam cares, because Islam has a very-long-term view, it is a religion that thinks in terms of generations and centuries.

For these same reasons, Islam forbids sex outside of marriage, even though it is perfectly natural for people to have sexual desire toward each other and want to be intimate.

The central mission of Islam is to follow the Straight Path, and the Straight Path is made up of two things:

  • Ensuring humanity’s long-term survival
  • Preserving humanity’s short-term moral integrity (never justifying evil for utilitarian purposes)

So a society of intelligent and devout Muslims living on an isolated planet have both of these things assured. Their civilization will not die out like so many other civilizations do. And their civilization never justifies evil (such as killing innocent people when there is something to be gained by it, like the CIA and every intelligence organization in the world does) for the sake of some gain. Even if doing an evil act will ensure great gain for the civilization (such as the US funding various terrorist groups because it advances its geopolitical goals), the civilization instead chooses to lose out on that opportunity, because to it, its mortal integrity is more important than material gain.

Islam’s punishment for all sex outside of marriage is flogging, and this includes homosexual acts. Homosexual acts are just a subcategory of “sex outside of marriage”.

As for killing homosexuals, it is similar to killing adulterers, both of which are against Quranic law, although most classical Islamic scholars support both of them, because they ignore the Quran in favor of less reliable historical texts (hadith). For a discussion of this see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

Any punishment homosexuals receive should be after due process. There is no such thing in Islam as individuals taking the law into their own hands. This is similar to honor killings, which in Islam would be considered murder, but which is carried out in the Middle East and Southeast Asia by many cultures, Muslim and non-Muslim. Classical Islamic scholars have been party to this crime (of killing people without due process) by being silent about it, and by accepting the corruption of the Quran’s place as Islam’s central authority, preferring less reliable hadith narrations over its principles and teachings.

As I mentioned in the earlier part of this essay, a homosexual who doesn’t engage in homosexual acts is not a sinner and Islamic law has nothing against them they are similar to anyone else wanting to have sex outside of marriage but not doing it.

The reason that in Muslim countries few people stand up for the “rights” of homosexuals is the same reason that few people in the United States stand up for the “rights” of pedophiles. Homosexuality is taboo and practicing it is forbidden and considered harmful in Muslim countries. Pedophilia is taboo and practicing it is forbidden and considered harmful in the United States.

Very few people in the United States stand up for the “rights” of pedophiles, even if it is a pedophile who has a genetic preference for children and who promises to never touch a child, because standing up for their rights causes one to be associated with them, and very few people want that. In the same, in Muslim countries standing up for the “rights” of homosexuals is similarly taboo and few people want to be associated with them.

As the world progresses, Muslim countries will hopefully adopt the Quranic attitude toward homosexuality, which is that there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is not acted upon, and that if acted upon and proven after due process, the punishment is not execution but the Quranic punishment of 100 lashes.

As for what “hope” there might be for homosexual rights in Muslim-majority countries, it is similar to what “hope” there is for pedophiles in the United States. They are required to stay put and not to engage in their desires for the greater good.

Again, I am aware that homosexuality and pedophilia are extremely different, but it is useful to compare them since both of them involve sexual acts that are violently suppressed by society. While the Western view of “sexual acts that must be violently suppressed” only includes pedophilia and rape, the Islamic view expands this definition to also include sex outside of marriage, which automatically includes all homosexual acts.

A homosexual is treated with hatred in Muslim countries for the same reason that a pedophile is treated with hatred in the United States. Both of them threaten to do harm to society, it is just that the Islamic view takes very-long-term harm into account, while the Western view is short-sighted and only cares about immediate or short-term (single-generation) harm.

What happened to Islamic civilization? Why did Muslims fall behind in science and technology?

I wanted your in depth opinion on a particular observation. Muslims, historically speaking, have been responsible for hundreds and thousands of scientific discoveries. What happened to us? Why are we in the stage we are?

Only 100 years ago, which is just a little more than one human lifetime, the Ottoman Empire was a sovereign Muslim nation that could stand up to any Western power. No Jewish colonizer would have dared to terrorize and massacre Palestinians when the Ottoman Empire was there to protect its citizens.

While many Muslims, including scholars, think that Muslims were always powerful, capable and thriving throughout history until modern times, this is mostly a romantic fairy tale told to console and encourage.

The Crusaders were able to take Jerusalem and other parts of the Levant from Muslims in 1099 CE and ruled it for nearly 100 years. Where were the great Muslim powers in this time that they couldn’t take it back? The Middle East was a mix of weak and fractured “Muslim” powers, who were only Muslim in name but in general acted like any modern power, killing and destroying while using religion to justify their actions, and while being under the influence and sometimes control of foreign non-Muslim powers.

The current weakness and powerlessness of Muslims is similar to their state during the Mongol invasions. Some Muslims thought the end of the world had arrived, thinking the Mongols were the promised Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj (Gog and Magog) mentioned in the Quran. The Mongols utterly destroyed the Sunni Muslim Khwarezmian Empire which controlled nearly all of Modern Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and parts of Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, and which had existed for 150 years, through the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children. After that, they went on to destroy Baghdad and Damascus, although the Abbasid Empire had been in decline for centuries before the Mongols arrived.

On the other side of the Medieval world, Muslims ruled nearly half of Spain for nearly 800 years, until 1492 CE (which is also the year the Americas were discovered). Just as they threw Muslims out of Spain, Christians went on to conquer two continents, spread Christian rule all over them, and eventually built the world’s most powerful nation there.

The Myth of Continuous Power Increase

There is a myth among Muslims that since they belong to God’s chosen religion, they should have been able to establish a globally dominant power that ruled the world forever. But God doesn’t promise us that. He promises that we will be tested:

You will be tested through your possessions and your persons; and you will hear from those who received the Scripture before you, and from the idol worshipers, much abuse. But if you persevere and lead a righteous life—that indeed is a mark of great determination.1

God also threatens us with His ability to remove us from power and replace us with others if we do not follow His guidance:

131. To God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. We have instructed those who were given the Book before you, and you, to be conscious of God. But if you refuse—to God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. God is in no need, Praiseworthy.

132. To God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. God suffices as Manager.

133. If He wills, He can do away with you, O people, and bring others. God is Able to do that. 2

Verse 131 above mention’s God’s warning to the People of the Book. The Old Testament contains many promises by God that if His people disobey, He will abandon them to whatever that may happen to them, and that He will make others dominant over them. In the Book of Deuteronomy (part of the Old Testament, and part of the Torah), prophet Musa (Moses) says:

25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger:

26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.

27 And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.3

The Quran, too, mentions prophet Musa saying similar things:

6. Moses said to his people, “Remember God’s blessings upon you, as He delivered you from the people of Pharaoh, who inflicted on you terrible suffering, slaughtering your sons while sparing your daughters. In that was a serious trial from your Lord.”

7. And when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks, I will grant you increase; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.”

8. And Moses said, “Even if you are ungrateful, together with everyone on earth—God is in no need, Worthy of Praise.” 4

Our relationship with God is not one where He constantly supports us just because we say we are His nation, unlike some Muslims and many Jews think. Here is the Jewish feminist author Naomi Wolf expressing her surprise at finding out (by reading the Hebrew Bible) that unlike what many Jews think, God does not promise them never-ending support just because they are “His chosen people”:

He never says: “I will give you, ethnic Israelites, the land of Israel.” Rather He says something far more radical – far more subversive — far more Godlike in my view. He says: IF you visit those imprisoned…act mercifully to the widow and the orphan…welcome the stranger in your midst…tend the sick…do justice and love mercy ….and perform various other tasks…THEN YOU WILL BE MY PEOPLE AND THIS LAND WILL BE YOUR LAND. So “my people” is not ethnic — it is transactional. We are God’s people not by birth but by a way of behaving, that is ethical, kind and just. And we STOP being “God’s people” when we are not ethical, kind and just.5

She is not quite correct when she says “my people” is not ethnic. Jews are God’s chosen, what they don’t generally realize is that being chosen doesn’t necessarily mean one is chosen for a good thing. Jews are God’s chosen in that He gave them many scriptures and throughout the centuries continuously sent them new prophets to guide them back to the Straight Path. He chose them for a specific test. Their being chosen is not just a privilege, it is both a privilege and a heavy burden. If they reject God despite being chosen, God sends the most terrible punishment on them, like He has done many times throughout history. Many Jews forget the burden and choose to enjoy the privilege of thinking of themselves as God’s chosen elite.

Our relationship with God is contractual. If we obey, He supports us. If we disobey, He stops supporting us and subjects us to unfriendly powers.

The story of the Jews is a good lesson for us. Many times in their history they were extremely powerful. After they left Egypt, they entered Canaan around 1446 BCE. They disobeyed God when they were about to overtake a city and live in it, so God punished them by having them wander in the desert for 40 years. They finally entered Canaan in 1406 BCE and completely conquered it by 1399 BCE. Once they become a sovereign power, they soon start to do evil, abandoning God, worshiping Baal or the Calf, practicing usury or allying themselves with irreligious foreign powers. For this reason, as they rejected and sometimes even killed their prophets, every few generations God would send a powerful foreign power to destroy many of their cities and slaughter many of their people.

When they continued to reject God, He sent Babylon to conquer their lands and sent them into exile for 70 years. After that the Persian emperor, whose empire had conquered Babylon, allowed the Jews to return to their lands and reestablish themselves there. Their story continued the same as before, with them doing evil and being punished for it. In 70 AD, a few decades after they rejected Jesus and tried to kill him, they tried to escape the rule of the Roman empire. In return they had their city of Jerusalem utterly destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Jews killed.

The Arch of Titus, which commemorates the Roman victory over the Jews, among other things, still stands in Rome.

Titus, the Roman commander who was in charge of the Roman victory over the Jews, is supposed to have refused to wear a wreath after the victory, saying that he was only acting as a tool of God’s wrath over the Jews. Perhaps this was God’s punishment on them for their rejecting God’s prophet.

Another recent example from Jewish history is Germany in the first few decades of the 20th century. In 1920, Jews owned most of Germany’s media, banks and large corporations and controlled Germany’s academia. They continually promoted homosexuality and sex outside of marriage in books, plays and films in the name of progress. In short, they acted exactly the way they act today in the United States and Europe.

That ended abruptly with the rise of Hitler, who utterly destroyed everything the Jews had worked for.

In Jewish history there is an important historical lesson; that just because a nation associates itself with God and claims to be His people does not mean they will always have God’s support.

Muslim nations have had a history similar to that of the Jews. Many powerful Muslim states have risen and fallen throughout history, and this process is not going to end. If we establish a caliphate like some Muslims dream about, and even if it rules the world for 1000 years, if most of the population abandons Islamic values and Islam becomes largely culture and tradition and not faith, then that caliphate too will fail. God will enable another Mongol invasion, or another invasion by the British and the French, to come and divide their caliphate and do with it as they please.

Christianity’s Place in Islamic History

Just as Islam faded in the Middle East and became little more than cultural tradition and ceremony, Christianity rose in the West. The Christians who conquered the Americas thought they were doing it for God’s sake. They read the Bible daily, they established Biblical law in their colonies, and they braved many dangers in order to establish families, villages and cities in empty and hostile lands.

God’s promise in the Quran came true for them for their deeds:

65. Had the People of the Scripture believed and been righteous, We would have remitted their sins, and admitted them into the Gardens of Bliss.

66. Had they observed/enforced the Torah, and the Gospel, and what was revealed to them from their Lord, they would have consumed amply from above them, and from beneath their feet. Among them is a moderate community, but evil is what many of them are doing.6

While it is common for many Muslims to think of Christians as nothing but heathens who should magically disappear now that Islam has come, Christians are as much God’s people as Muslims are, that is, they too have a contract with God, and if they uphold their contract with God, God will uphold His contract with them. If a Christian nation is more faithful, more eager to serve God, and more observant of God’s laws, then we shouldn’t be surprised if God gives them His full support.

This was the case in the Americas and much of Western Europe until 1900 CE. With all of the corruption present, the average person’s actions and thinking were still largely controlled by Christian ideals.

Today, things are different. The West has finally abandoned the religion that made it great. The only reason the West is great today is the momentum of the past. A Muslim may lose hope when they look at the United States and see its immense capacity to dominate and do evil throughout the world. But the United States is already past its prime. It is desperately trying to hold onto its past power, constantly threatening Russia, China and Iran, but incapable of doing anything about them as they continue to rise.

The United States has had a below-replacement fertility rate since the 1970’s. If it wasn’t for their continuous importation of immigrants, their population would have been shrinking by now. A decades-long below-replacement fertility rate is all that is needed to illustrate that a nation is failing.

It is a country’s population that gives a nation its economic, technological and military power, and once the population starts to shrink, its power will decrease, because there will be fewer people to innovate, and fewer people to consume the fruits of these innovations and in this way pay for further innovations. Today the United States can afford to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on military spending every year, and it is this spending that enables various military companies to continue innovating. But as the American tax base and economy both shrink, with it its power to spend will shrink. America is on a trajectory to become the next Portugal, once a global superpower, now a complete non-entity.

One illustration of the continuing fall of the United States is that of the world’s top 15 skyscrapers (those higher than 350 meters) finished in the past 3 years, 10 are in China, and only one in the United States. China continues to rise, the United States continues to stagnate and fall. America’s failing economy has no need for new office buildings, hotels and restaurants, since it already has more than its shrinking economy needs.

The answer to the question of why Muslims are so powerless compared to the West these days is that Islamic history ran into Christian history. Christian power was still rising went it clashed with an Ottoman Empire that was already past its prime, so the Ottomans didn’t stand a chance.

Today, Christian powers too are past their prime, and great change is coming.

The United States is unlikely to become a Portugal any time soon, and if Islam continues to spread, it might change into a new type of superpower without becoming irrelevant.

It should be noted that while China’s rise will probably be a good thing in the short-term, as its rise to power will probably prevent further significant US excesses for the next few decades, once it is firmly established as the world’s most powerful country, it could start acting like the US, forcing every other country to either become a de facto client state or get turned into a war zone.

Islam in the West

There already are tens of millions of Muslims living in the United States and Western Europe. Just as the native populations of these countries continue to shrink, the Muslim population continues to increase.

At the moment, of course, Muslims are extremely poor and powerless in the West. But demographics decides the destiny of a nation. It is this fact that is terrifying Zionist career Islam-haters like Robert Spencer, Geert Wilders, Daniel Pipes and Pamella Geller and the billionaire Jews supporting them.

They know that it is only a matter of time before Muslims have the political power to affect the foreign policy of these nations, and that means they will have the power to affect the policy of these nations toward their beloved Israel.

Ten years ago, in 2007, every terrorist attack and every crime that could potentially be blamed on Muslims would be plastered all over the Jewish-owned or operated Western media (which is nearly all of the West’s media) for weeks on end. It appears that some time between 2014 and 2016 the Jews decided that it was more in their self-interest to protect Muslims and promote unfettered Muslim immigration to the West, to prevent white Christians from ever gaining total control of a Western country and in this way having the power to dictate Jew-unfriendly laws, as happened in Nazi Germany. Their media today does its best to hide the identities of terrorists, and whenever a terrorist attack occurs, Jewish-operated companies like Google can be seen promoting articles (in this case, in search results and on Google News) that blame these attacks on white people rather than on Muslims.

The Jewish-owned and operated Salon Magazine, a leftist publication, is a big defender of Muslims at the moment. This is a magazine that hasn’t made a profit in the past 20 years, it is entirely a tool of propaganda for leftist Jews. If they pretend to care about us, if they defend us, should we celebrate and join forces with them?

In ten years, when winds change again and the Jews7 decide, like they did in the first decade of the 21st century, that it is in their best interest to promote a negative image of Islam in the West, then they will do that all over again. We in the West are on a collision course with Jews. As our population, and thus our political power, increases, so will our power to sway Western governments against Israel. And when that happens, when we become a threat to Jewry’s beloved Israel, they will turn around overnight, attacking us left and right and portraying us as evil barbarians intent on destroying Western civilization, like they were doing 24/7 a few years ago, and like so many Jewish Islam-haters and “conservative” Jewish media outlets like Breitbart continue to do today.

We must learn to develop long memories, and our best help in this regard is the study of history. We must never ally ourselves with an evil force that has decided at the moment it is in its self-interest to defend us, because tomorrow it can decide that it is in its self-interest to attack us. We must never justify evil for the greater good, and we must never lose our moral integrity for the achievement of political goals.

Islam might go on to become the dominant religion of the West in 100 years, as non-Muslim white people continue to die out, and as white people who convert to Islam continue to increase and have higher fertility than non-Muslim whites. And of course, there are the millions of Muslim immigrants currently residing in the West.

While Muslims continue to be strangers in the West at the moment, this is going to change soon. Today it is still common for us to be viewed as barbarians and outsiders. But a point will be reached when everyone will know a few Muslims and accept them as ordinary citizens, and when that happens, the number of conversions to Islam could multiply very fast, because these people will finally see that Islam is nothing but an updated and improved version of Christianity.

The Long View of History

Even if Muslims establish a new global superpower that lasts for hundreds of years, it too can eventually fail and get conquered by non-Muslim powers. Imagine if this world continues to exist for the next 100,000 years. The story of Muslims being powerful then weak then powerful again might play out fifty or a hundred times more.

We humans wants safety and security. We want to establish Paradise on Earth once and for all and then go on living in it. But that is not the purpose of this world, and dreams of establishing a Paradise on Earth are naive and futile.

We are taught over and over again in the Quran that this world is worthless, that it will soon be over, that none of our deeds done in this world will last. The Quranic character Dhul Qarnain shows his appreciation for God’s message when he says the following right after completing building a structure for God’s sake:

He said, “This is a mercy from my Lord. But when the promise of my Lord comes true, He will turn it into rubble, and the promise of my Lord is always true.”8

For us Muslims, it is always about the journey, not the destination. It doesn’t matter what we accomplish in this world. What matters is the record of our deeds. No matter what we build, no matter how much power we have, we could see it all destroyed tomorrow. This has happened over and over again in history, though sadly we continue to fail to learn the lesson.

Why did God let the Mongols destroy Baghdad and Damascus if our purpose was to continue to gain power, wealth and fame in this world? Why did He let the Ottoman Empire, the last truly sovereign Muslim power, be invaded and destroyed? Why did He not allow the Arab powers to defeat Israel during their multiple wars?

Because this world is a test. It is not our purpose to build Paradise on Earth. Our purpose is khilafah, literally “to be stewards”. We are stewards of the earth. Our purpose is to take care of it by enjoining good and admonishing against evil, so that humanity continues, and so that the the earth does not become entirely corrupted.

A steward takes care of a farm until the owner returns, continuing the running of the farm as best they can. It is the owner’s business what they do with the farm. In the same way, our job in this world is to continue be God’s stewards, God’s agents for good in this world, but it is His business what He does with this world, and whether He gives us power or takes it away from us. All that we can say is, “We hear and we obey.”

We are not seekers after power. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not seek power, it was given to him. Neither did any of the righteous Rashidun caliphs. We do not seek to establish global dominance, or to carry out global war. Our job is to be God’s stewards, to walk on the Straight Path.

Being on the Straight Path does not require gaining power, and in fact the seeking of power is directly opposed to it, for the seeking of power always requires that one abandon one’s moral integrity “for the greater good”. This is the story of every political party that starts out with high moral ideals only to become a nest of corruption and evil.

It is God who gives us power if we deserve it, and if the time is right, for His own purposes, and as long as it pleases Him, until He can take it away from us. As for us, we must be thankful and content throughout all of this:

No, but worship God, and be among the thankful ones.9

It is God who manages history for us. We are not in charge, God is.

No calamity strikes except by God’s permission. Whoever believes in God, He guides his heart. God is Aware of everything.10

No calamity occurs on earth, or in your souls, but it is in a Book, even before We make it happen. That is easy for God. That you may not sorrow over what eludes you, nor exult over what He has given you. God does not love the proud snob.11

God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves. And if God wills any hardship for a people, there is no turning it back; and apart from Him they have no protector.12

God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds, that He will make them successors on earth, as He made those before them successors, and He will establish for them their religion—which He has approved for them—and He will substitute security in place of their fear. They worship Me, never associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that—these are the sinners. 13

Our job is to do good wherever we find ourselves, to worship God, to be kind and just, to follow His commandments as best as we can, and it is God who will establish us on Earth when He pleases:

God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds, that He will make them stewards on Earth, as He made those before them stewards, and He will establish for them their religion—which He has approved for them—and He will substitute security in place of their fear. They worship Me, never associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that—these are the sinners.14

We can, of course, be political activists and critics. We can constantly work toward social justice and the lifting of poverty. But instead of doing these by seeking power first, we do them without seeking power. We do what is right and just and kind toward everyone, and God, if He wishes, can give us power any time He wants.

Ibn al-Jawzi says in his Sayd al-Khaatir (“Quarry of the Mind”):

I reflected upon the envy that exists among scholars, and saw that its source is the love of the worldly life, because the scholars of the afterlife engage in love and do not envy others. What separates the two groups is that the scholars of the worldly life seek power and leadership in it, and they love to accumulate wealth and praise, while the scholars of the afterlife live in seclusion from these things, they fear them and have mercy toward those who are being tested by them.

Truly good and kind people, who fear God and take the afterlife seriously, do not seek power in my experience. Sometimes the right situation arises for a good person to rise and become powerful, as it happened with Saladin. Saladin wasn’t a revolutionary who grabbed power, or a politician. He became powerful as part of his job as a military commander, and one thing led to another until he became a powerful ruler.

The writer Frank Herbert says the following in Chapterhouse: Dune, and I find them true from all that I have seen:

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological
personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the
corruptible.

Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect all who seek it.

Scientific vs. Divine Explanations for Islam’s Decline: Islam, Christianity and Indo-European Genes

Islam’s great revolution in science and scholarship came from Sunni Persians. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, al-Nasaa’i, and Ibn Majah were all Persian. The first formal grammarian of the Arabic language was Sibawayh, a Persian. Some of the greatest names in Islamic history, such as al-Khawarazmi, al-Ghazali, Abu Sinaa, al-Biruni and Ibn Hayyan were Persian.

Persians are an Indo-European race, and to this day have continued their superiority in learning and scholarship over Arabs. In Iran over 70,000 books are published per year, compared to less than 20,000 per year in the entire Arab world.

It appears that historical events like the Mongol destruction of the Khwarezmian Empire, Shiite rule over Iran, and the centuries of conflict between the Persians and the Ottomans, caused Persian populations to shrink and become isolated, and in this way they fell out of the mainstream history of Islam. This might be the single most important historical reason for the decline of Islamic science.

Just as Islam lost its main source of Indo-European genes, Christianity acquired a tremendous new source in northwestern Europe. Christianity went through a similar process to that of Islam’s scientific rise, inspired by Greek philosophy and carried forward by religious thinkers like Thomas Aquinas. Christianity had far better access to Indo-European genes for many centuries compared to Islam, therefore the scientific revolution happened in Christendom. Christianity continued to ensure above-replacement fertility rates, Christian ideals continued to inspire and motivate people, and Indo-European genes supplied the high IQ needed for scientific progress.

This might be the scientific explanation for why Christianity overtook Islam after the Middle Ages.

A mistake many people make, both religious and irreligious, is that when they discover a scientific explanation for something, they start to think that it means that thing is not from God. But it is a principle of God that He will never allow us to have direct evidence of His existence, therefore when God does something, it is always through scientific means, or He makes it appear to be that way. God will not carry out miracles that can be recorded and published on YouTube. The only time that we will have direct proof of the existence of God and the rest of the Unseen is at the end of the world. When the pagans requested that they see an angel before they believe in God, God’s reply was this:

Had We sent down an angel, the matter would have been settled, and they would not have been reprieved.15

If we ever had direct evidence of God’s existence, then there would be no need for faith in God. God does not want that to happen, therefore everything that happens to us must have logical scientific explanations. We can examine Islamic history to find out where things went wrong. But even if we discover every single cause and try to cure it, our success is not guaranteed.

The divine reason for the fall of Muslims is that they abandoned Islam in their hearts, while the scientific reason is the above. The divine reasons precede the scientific reasons. If we disobey God, God will bring about logical and scientifically-explainable reasons for our destruction. And if we obey God, and carry out our stewardship in the best manner possible, God will inspire us toward whatever will give us success and power in this world.

Today, mainstream Islam is again acquiring Indo-European genes in the form of European converts to Islam. As these people increase in number, just as the number of seculars and Christians dwindles, among them will come great scholars and scientists, and soon (within a lifetime or two) Muslims could be responsible for half or more of the West’s scientific output.16

Conclusion

As Muslims, our goal in life is not to acquire power, glory or supremacy in this world. Our goal is not to establish Paradise on Earth. We can appreciate technological and scientific accomplishments, and we can work toward them as part of our stewardship on Earth, but we must never lose sight of the fact that ultimately, everything we do is meant to serve God, and that a day will come when all of our worldly works will be destroyed as if they never existed.

In this world, we are stewards of a temporary farm, a farm whose Owner has promised to destroy in the end. We must never get attached to this farm, or seek its improvement or power over it as a goal in itself. We must never get attached to the idea of establishing a global power. Even if we establish one, it too can come and go like every other Muslim power in history. History will continue going in cycles, Muslims will rise to power, fall, and rise again. The only people who achieve success are those who fear God and serve Him in the best way possible. It is only the record of our deeds which lasts forever, everything else is temporary.

If Muslims are weak today, look again in 500 years, and they may be the strongest and most technologically advanced power on Earth. Look again in 1500 years, and they may again be weak,  oppressed and backward. It is God who gives and God who takes. If we are thankful and obedient, He will increase us and improve our station in life, and if we are ungrateful, He can always take it all away from us and subjugate us to others, like He did to the Andalusian Muslims.

Feelings, censorship and gender in science: Is it unfair to say that women backbite more than men?

This is a follow-up discussion in regards to what I wrote in Dealing with a porn addiction.

Brother I understand that you answered that question as best you could, no one should be shaming you because you are offering advice that you could have easily ignored. However I would just say that to just mention how women may backbite was insensitive and unnecessary. Imagine all the stigma us sisters face on a daily basis, everyday we have certain brothers telling us what we should and should not be doing whilst they engage in haram activities. (1)

So imagine when someone asks you about porn addiction that has nothing to do with women backbiting, and even then we are bought into it, I’m sure as an understanding brother you can see. Tomorrow if someone has a problem yet I say “Don’t worry it’s less of a sin as millions of Muslims especially men, don’t grow their beards to the proper length, you are no worse than them”, look how insensitive that seems. I hope I have not offended you brother, it is our duty to guide with kindness and openess

Thank you for your kindly phrased message. I understand what you are saying, and I’m sure you are right when you say you have suffered unjust criticism.

I have never considered women a class, like feminists imagine, separate from men. I consider them humans, my equals, and hold them to the same standards. I don’t walk on eggshells when I discuss men’s problems, and I will not start walking on eggshells when discussing women’s problem’s.

I consider you my equal, and that means we both should be free to speak our minds. You shouldn’t be silenced if you have a truth to speak just because it may hurt some men’s feelings, and I shouldn’t be silenced if I have a truth to speak just because it may hurt some women’s feelings.

It is certainly good manners to not bring up negative facts about someone in ordinary daily interactions. You do not call an overweight person fat even if it is true.

But if I’m trying to solve a technical problem, I expect people to put their feelings aside, to sit down like adults and to discuss the problem rationally, and that is what I was doing in my answer.

If I’m doing a scientific study on finding ways to reduce backbiting among women, would you call it insensitive? I’m sure many would, that it is somehow oppressive and unjust to focus on females, that if I discover a method that works well in preventing females from backbiting, I should shove it under the carpet in case some woman’s feelings is hurt, even if it will do them good in the long-term.

We cannot have progress if we are not allowed to speak our minds freely, if we have random no-go zones where we are not allowed to analyse things in case it hurts this group’s feelings, or that group’s, or that group’s. That’s censorship and regression, that’s not progress.

It is like saying I should not talk about the unhealthy effects of being obese because it will hurt obese people’s feelings. Should we just throw out all obesity-related research in case some obese person comes across it and has their feelings hurt?

I was helping put a mostly-male problem into perspective using a mostly-female problem, as an intellectual exercise. I consider women equals, not superiors and not inferiors, but equals, humans to be treated with the same standards, not to be treated like children, but treated equally, like I would treat any man, and I certainly never worry about hurting men’s feelings when I bring up facts that reflect negatively on them.

If men are unjustly criticizing you, I fully support your right to fire back at them and put them in their place. I defend your right to speak your mind. And I defend my right to speak my mind. We are not enemies, and we are not different species. We are both humans, and we can treat each other as such.

We do not achieve equality by enforcing double-standards where a male speaker is not allowed to say certain things in case it hurts women’s feelings. We achieve equality when no one thinks about their own sexual parts but can consider the problem and its solution rationally, like adults. The speaker says men have a problem with ignoring their wives? Fine, I will try to be a better husband. The speaker says that women have a problem with ignoring their husbands? Instead of getting offended that a person of the opposite sex is pointing out a fault, women can choose to benefit from it, “Fine, I will try to be a better wife.”

This is equality, where I am not forced to treat you like a “woman”, but like a human, and where I do not patronize and belittle you by censoring my speech in case it hurts your fragile feelings, but where I can treat you like I treat any man, expecting you to be intelligent and confident enough to accept it and roll with it.

These are my standards when it comes to public speech. In private one-to-one interactions, it is good manners to hide people’s faults, to not criticize, and to make them feel good about themselves. But in public, for example if I’m doing a scientific paper studying women’s psychology, I will not sugarcoat my findings just because it may hurt women’s feelings, in this case telling the truth takes precedence over being nice.

And as a nice person, I will never mock an obese person by calling them fat, and I will not let others do it if I can stop them. But I will happily continue researching the eugenics of obesity (how genes affect obesity, and how obesity affects future genes) like I currently do no matter how many obese people are offended by it.

In the same way, I will continue to be frank and straightforward when writing about women, since in my research writing, truth always takes precedence over being nice. But when dealing with women in my personal life, I will always be as kind, gracious and uncritical as is required by good manners, civility and Islam.

A reply from a reader

I feel you were wrong in saying that women do more backbiting. Not saying it is in itself true or false ( I really dont think they are any reliable studies) but I think it was completely unnecessary to say it the way you did. You could have said simply that many Muslim backbite it would have been enough. No need to drag women into it. Im not attacking you or anything just saying there might have been a better way to go at it.

If I were a woman and jokingly mentioned that fact, I don’t think anyone would be bothered. The only reason that it is “wrong” is that a male said it. And if I had mentioned a fact that reflected negatively on men, not women, I don’t think anyone would be bothered.

I have never bought into the Western nonsense of treating women like children to be pampered to. I like to treat them like my equals, which means that I speak my mind without bothering what type of sexual organs my listeners have. I consider you all the same, we are all humans.

So no, I don’t think I did anything wrong. Having a porn-watching problem is a mainly male problem, and having a backbiting problem is a mainly female problem. I have heard many women agree with both of these facts. Mentioning both problems together is a very useful intellectual exercise to help put the problem of porn-watching into context.

If I had mentioned a positive fact about women, you wouldn’t be upset. You are thinking like a politician, “he said something negative about my interest group without belonging to said group, which makes it automatically wrong.”

What you really want to enforce is that all men should be able to talk about women, as long as they stick to mentioning positive facts, as long as they maintain a parallel-reality of cotton candy and fluffy bunnies where no woman’s feelings can ever get hurt.

I prefer to speak my mind freely, and I prefer to treat women like adults. I never worry about hurting men’s feelings in my research writing / answers, and I will not start worrying about hurting women’s feelings.

If you disagree with this, that’s your right. I, however, will continue to be as I am, focusing on serving God, and having my allegiance only to truth. If people’s feelings get hurt when I mention a fact like how unhealthy obesity is or how Indians can never compete with the Chinese in innovation, at least not for the next 500 years or so, I’m sorry. I will never mock someone or say any truth that may hurt their feelings in private interactions. But on my blog, where I want to teach and guide people, I will speak the truth, and I will not self-censor my speech like a politician.

If this is unacceptable for you, if you’d like me to hire someone to review everything I say in case it may be considered discriminatory to one of a dozen interest groups, then you are in the wrong place. I have always been a free-speech and anti-Political Correctness activist.

You are right that I didn’t have to bring women into the discussion. It was a perfectly voluntary act on my part.

My mother and sister have a sense of humor and the last thing they would do would be to get upset over what I wrote. I think they have got things right. I treat all women like them, intelligent and confident in their femininity. And if I ever say something stupid or unjust, they will not let me get away with it but will correct my mistake, the way a man would do.

Of course, I won’t go around speaking negative things about women saying that they have to deal with it. That’s like calling overweight people fat, it is rude even if it is true. As I said, in private interactions, I do what good manners, civility and Islam require of me. And in my research writing or answers, I write frankly without bothering who gets offended.

I encourage you to open your heart, to see how an innocently made remark done in good faith and with the intention of helping someone should not be criticized just because a person of the wrong sex said it. Stop thinking like a Western politician and more like a fair-minded Muslim with a sense of humor.

You could say that context matters, that in that particular context it was wrong for me to mention women since I have many female followers whose feelings could get hurt. I disagree. It is my personality to be frank in my writing and to treat women the way I treat men, considering them really my equals instead of patronizing them by treating them like a protected minority.

What to do when your spouse is less religious than you

A question I received recently:

I am in my early twenties and have married a woman who comes from a Muslim family. After marrying her, I have found that religion is not very important to her. I had wished to marry a woman who was my equal in faith, so that we could create a faithful family together. I feel like I have made a mistake in marrying her, and I don’t know where to go from here. Why did God allow me to marry her?

My answer:

It is normal to start having doubts after marriage when you have no previous experience with it. Many ideas and assumptions about the other sex will be proven false or inaccurate once you are living the reality of marriage.

Women are generally more liberal than men and laxer when it comes to religion. I come from a conservative Muslim family but I’ve had trouble convincing close female relatives to stop engaging in negative gossip about people (i.e. backbiting, ghaibah). I know a woman who is a civil engineer (so she is educated and intelligent enough to know better), and even though she went to an Islamic boarding school where they recited Quran every night and sometimes stayed up all night for prayer, she continues to think it is her every right to gossip about people.

When dealing with women, always remember Imam al-Shafi`i’s saying: “Be harsh on yourself, easy on others.” You shouldn’t hold your wife to the same standards as yourself, and if she does the minimum that is requested of her by religion, you should be thankful for that.

I grew up knowing many great men in my extended family, highly religious, kind and observant men. But almost none of these men had wives who could match them in faith, and some had wives who only did the minimum and didn’t care about religion at all. This hasn’t stopped them from bringing up good religious families.

In a household, men and women are not equal when it comes to authority. The Quran gives men a degree of authority over women (Quran 2:228, 4:34), and perhaps part of the reason for that is that men are, in general, more observant and more conservative, though a minority of women can be found who are like this too. It is a man’s duty to keep standards high in his household, preventing lax behaviors like not praying, not fasting or eating what is not halal, though he must do this with love and kindness, not with authoritarianism:

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice, and debate with them in the best possible manner.”1

If your wife does the obligatory deeds (praying, fasting, etc.) and avoids haram (alcohol, interest, etc.), then this is the most you can expect of her, and leave it to her as a free-willed human being to make up her mind to do more if she wants. If she doesn’t do the obligatory deeds or engages in haram, then you have a clear right to give her an ultimatum, for her to come back to the Straight Path and do the minimum of what’s requested of her in Islam. If she doesn’t, then in effect she is refusing to do what the Quran asks of her, meaning that she is denying its truth, and in a way she is a non-believer. There is no obligation for you to stay married to her in such a case.

If she does the minimum required of her, then the Quran encourages you to be patient and to rely on God to steer your destiny for you. The Quran says in 4:128 that when a (devoutly Muslim) husband and wife are in disagreement, making peace is always the best option, and warns them to be wary of their ego’s greedy desire for better things.

One of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) didn’t like his wife. The Prophet told him to fear God and keep her, this advice of the Prophet to him is recorded in the Quran in verse 33:37. The companion (Zayd, the only companion mentioned by name in the Quran) ultimately decided to divorce her. So, while Islam teaches that a man should hold onto his wife, a man’s right of freedom of choice is respected.

A man’s role in life is to acquire worth, marry a woman, have children, take care of his family, and in this way continue Islamic civilization. For this to be successfully done, it is not necessary for the woman to be as religious as the man. Ideally, of course, that’s what we want, but in reality, the nature of men and the nature of women is different, and you will have a very hard time finding women who cares about religion as much as you do.

It is better to be practical. To be thankful for what God has given you and to try to make the best of it. Do your best to be kind, generous, patient and forgiving, rather than judgmental and demanding. Some men mistakenly try to force their women to become what they want, only to give up after years of futile effort. You must learn to trust God and leave it to Him to steer your destiny. If you do separate in the end, you should be able to say “I did my best to make things work, but it didn’t work out.”

I am not saying to be like a feather in the wind, going wherever life throws you. You must rather always face God, working to please Him. You must not face your wife constantly trying to change her. She is only a small part of the big picture. You are a servant of God and you were made to serve Him. He recommends that you try to make your marriage work even if you are not pleased with your wife. Since you are facing God and aiming to please Him, you will be kind, generous and non-judgmental toward your wife as long as she does the minimum that Islam asks of her. Whether you think she deserves this lenient treatment or not, you are not doing it for her, but for God, and you expect your reward from God.

Having an unsatisfactory wife is a difficult test since you might be thinking that maybe this is how things will be for the rest of your life. You do not want to be stuck with someone who doesn’t live up to your standards. You probably wish to get in charge of your destiny, get rid of her and get a far better woman in her place.

The problem with this is that 1. It is not your job to manage your destiny and 2. No matter how good the imaginary new woman is, assuming you can find her and marry her, you could run into new and unexpected problems that could make your life with her miserable, she may develop an illness, she may suffer an accident and go blind, she may have a bad family who constantly interfere with your life.

As a Muslim, you believe that God is the King of the universe, and that He has the power to do anything He wills. He had the power to prevent your marriage from taking place. He had the power to make you marry the perfect woman. But He didn’t. And today He has the power to swiftly end your marriage with little effort on your part, and He has the power to give you the type of woman you desire. But He doesn’t.

It is God who manages your destiny, taking you from one stage of life to another, testing you, helping you learn, helping you grow in wisdom, understanding and kindness. Your focus should be on God, He can take your life anywhere He wants, and He has the power to do it this instant if He wanted to. Since He is not doing it, that should tell you something. You must do your best in the current test you are in, you must follow His advice that trying to make your marriage work is better than separation, and the Prophet’s advice to fear God and hold onto your wife, and leave it to God to change your situation if and when He wants. You must expect only from God and ask only of Him.

You could of course ask, “What if this test is not intended for me? What if I will needlessly suffer for nothing?” If you put your focus on God, since you know that He has the power to take you out of any unwanted situation, then you will know that there is no such thing as needlessly suffering. If you keep your wife for the sake of God, God will reward you for it, both in this life and the next. And if He doesn’t want you to keep her, He will make it easy to separate.

If your marriage somehow naturally falls apart, with both of you, or at least you, trying your best to keep it together through non-judgmentalism, forgiveness and generosity, and you reach an agreement to separate without any negative emotions, without guilt and without fearing that you might be doing the wrong thing, then you can take that as a sign that God approves of the separation.

But if things go along normally, if things are good enough, if the thought of separation contains tremendous amounts of uncertainty, guilt and fear, then that is your sign that it is not time to separate, that if you were to work toward separation, you’d be going against the flow of the destiny God has chosen for you. You can do it, like Zayd did, since God respects your freedom. But it is better for you to accept it and do your best, constantly asking God for forgiveness and betterment. If you reject this test, God will give you an equally demanding test, because God will never stop testing you.

Until the day you die, if God loves you, He will constantly give you new opportunities to prove your patience, your generosity, your worth. If He gave you the perfect life, you’d have no opportunity to prove these things.

What I would do in your situation is this: I would do my best to improve myself as a Muslim, reading as much Quran as I can, praying tahajjud and constantly asking for God’s forgiveness. I would do my best to be kind and forgiving toward my wife no matter how distasteful I find her behavior. I would do more than what is strictly necessary to make the marriage work, for God’s sake, even if it displeases me to do this. I would always try to be the bigger person. I would put my focus on God, recognizing His power to change my wife and my life in any way He wishes, recognizing that all good things come from Him, not from my own efforts.

And if after all of this, I receive a clear sign that my marriage should end (she decides she wants divorce and is intent upon it), then I would do what is necessary in that situation. Maybe you will stay married to her for the next ten years, and after that separate to enjoy the type of life you desire. Or maybe in some years she will change into someone with as much faith as yourself, and then you may be glad that you stayed with her.

So my advice is the Prophet’s advice, peace be upon him: Fear God and keep her.

And leave it to God to take care of your destiny. Trying to steer your destiny is a heavy and exhausting burden. Free yourself from that burden. Enjoy the life that God has given you, do your best, constantly ask for God’s forgiveness, and know that God can put you in a better place anytime He decides. If you want to speed this process up, you can do it through worship, asking for forgiveness, and avoidance of sin.

To improve your situation in life, raise your status in God’s eye, and He will do it for you better than you ever could. Trying to improve your situation in life through your own efforts, rather than through God, will always lead to new situations that are as equally difficult as the one you left.

Patience means to go against your desire for the sake of God. If you patiently keep your wife despite your wishes, you will be rewarded for your patience. Patience might possibly the greatest virtue of a believer. The angels commend the believers on their patience when they are about to enter Paradise, as the Quran describes in Surat al-Ra`d:

22. And those who patiently seek the presence of their Lord, and pray regularly, and spend from Our provisions to them, secretly and openly, and repel evil with good. These will have the Ultimate Home.

23. Everlasting Gardens, which they will enter, along with the righteous among their parents, and their spouses, and their descendants. And the angels will enter upon them from every gate.

24. “Peace be upon you, because you endured patiently. How excellent is the Final Home.”

And do not try to push your wife to change for the better, or to buy her Islamic books, forward her Islamic articles or make her go to lectures hoping she will be better guided. Calling people to Islam should never be inflicted on people. They must seek Islam themselves.

It is God Who guides people, it is not people who guide people. Therefore no matter how hard we try or wish that someone was guided, our efforts and wishes may never come true.

You cannot guide whom you love, but God guides whom He wills, and He knows best those who are guided.2

God will not leave all the tests to you and neglect your wife. He will continue testing her too to help her grow and to guide her, but the stage she is in could be very different than yours, and the types of lessons she needs could be nothing like you imagine.

Leave it to God to guide her, He will do it in the best way possible.

Why God Allows Evil to Exist, and Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

Introduction

There is a surprising amount of confusion among the religious, even among clerics and scholars, when it comes to understanding why evil exists and why God stands aside when so much suffering happens throughout the world. I’ve heard nothing but lame excuses and naive, illogical reasoning from them when they try to justify the existence of evil.

Most of us express wonder when we see some horrible catastrophe happen, or when we see evil individuals, companies and institutions wield so much power. Some people even go so far as to blame God for the evil things that exist in this world, since if God had desired, He could have prevented such things from existing or happening in the first place. Others take this even further, using the existence of evil as proof of God’s non-existence. How can a good and supposedly all-powerful God stand by while so much evil happens? Where is our God?

I cannot follow a self-contradictory, unpredictable and illogical God, which is what God is as taught by many teachers of religion. Since I do not fit the criteria for becoming an atheist (being intelligent enough to reject the incoherent religion taught by my parents and teachers, but not intelligent enough to fix these incoherences and find my own path to God), what I have done throughout my life is to go back to Scripture and re-invent God based on its teachings, getting rid of all the cultural baggage that has entered into common religious belief to go back to the focus of all religion: The understanding and worship of God.1

There are good, perfectly logical explanations for these things, deep explanations that elucidate the purpose of this universe, our place in it, and our relationship with God, and through this give us perfectly good reasons for the existence of evil.

Why Evil Exists

What is the point of the existence of this world anyway? Many mistakenly think that the purpose of this world is to be a permanent residence where people judge whether God exists or not. They think that they can gauge God’s “level” of existence by the things that happen around them, so that given the right set of events, they will decide He is alive and active, and given others, they will decide He doesn’t exist, because if He existed, the world wouldn’t be the way it is.

A friend said that he once went on a trip abroad, and before he left, he asked God to protect three things that were most important to him in his life. During his trip, he lost all three, which included the dying of loved ones, and this made him decide that God doesn’t exist. He is a Buddhist now.

The above case is an example of earth-centric thinking, that considers this world a goal in itself. This is the core mistake that leads to millions of people misunderstanding, even disliking, God. That is a mistake because this world is nothing besides a testing hall where humans can freely choose to do as they like, to prove their worthiness of God’s approval or wrath. This world is not meant to be a permanent residence.

Most religions teach that an end of the world is coming. Regardless of religion, the universe is on track to become a dark, lifeless mass as the stars and galaxies die out. Everything is going to end, and what remains is the record of our deeds, kept by God. Even if we manage to create the greatest empire on earth, or write the most wonderful novel, none of our accomplishments will last.

One day the universe will shut down as if it never existed, and on that day what significance can our achievements have? This world is not meant as a permanent home of peace, but as a test. And a test requires that the possibility of failure should exist. If all humans acted according to God’s wishes, evil would not exist. But since God has given humans the freedom to disobey Him, they have the ability to do evil.

God is good, and evil is the absence of goodness, the same way that darkness is the absence of light. If God is Light, we cannot blame Him for the darkness we encounter when we turn away from Him, distance ourselves from Him, and act against His wishes.

Why didn’t God make the universe a place of wholesome goodness lacking in the possibility for evil? Because if evil could not exist, humans wouldn’t truly be free beings.

To be free, humans require the freedom to act against God along with the freedom to act for His sake. God wants to give humans perfect freedom to act and grow, so that they can be the best or the worst they want to be. Since humans have the freedom to act against God, and since to act against God is to create evil, humans have been given the freedom to create evil.

God did not make this world a perfect place because that is not its purpose. Imagine if you were a maker of creatures. If the creatures you made were controlled by their nature to do exactly what you put in them to do, they could never be truly your friends. They would be subservient robot-like machines that cannot help doing whatever you put in them to do.

But imagine if one day you wanted something more. You wanted to make creatures that could truly be your friends. The only way to have a true friend is to create a creature that can choose whether to be your friend or not. And so, you make creatures with free will, who can act according to whatever they wish, rather than according to your programming. Some of these creatures will choose to be your friends, others will ignore you, others will choose to be your enemies. They may fight among themselves, doing much evil to one another, and blaming you, their creator, for the evil they do, when in truth they should blame themselves, for they are the ones choosing to act the way they do. They have the freedom to be good, and many of them choose to be good, but some of them  choose to be evil instead.

The only thing we can blame God for is His creating us and giving us the freedom to be evil. This is a pointless blame. This is our reality and our fate, we cannot escape it. We have been thrown into this game regardless of our wishes, a game that forces us to choose to be either good or evil. We can debate the ethics of forcing people to choose between good and evil. But at the end of the day, we are forced to play this game. There is no dropping out.

Our Creator has done this to us, possibly against our will2, but we cannot get hung up over this fact, because our future holds something very important: Either eternal reward, or eternal punishment. Blaming God will not help our future. It may make us feel better now to hate God as so many do, but by making us think badly of God, this will reduce our chances of future success. The future is coming whether we want it to or not, and we have the power to make it a good or a bad future.3

Not all evil is done by humans. Droughts, floods and other natural disasters can cause much evil and suffering, and we can lose loved ones through car accidents and illnesses. Why doesn’t God prevent these things from happening if He loves us? Because, in order for the testing hall that is this world to be a true and consistent place of testing, God shouldn’t interfere with the functioning of nature4. The laws of nature should behave in such a way that makes sense even without reference to God. If we were as intelligent as we are, and yet we saw that nothing bad ever happened on earth, no car accidents, to illnesses, nothing, that everyone died in old age of natural causes, then this would be undeniable evidence of the existence of a higher power that protects humans.

God wants us to have the possibility of being atheists. It is one of God’s self-imposed rules that it should be impossible to directly detect His existence. And that requires that the functioning of this world should make perfect sense according to predictable scientific laws.

God wants us to believe in Him without seeing Him or knowing that He truly exists, because if it were possible to prove His existence, it would reduce our freedom to act against Him. God wants our universe to seem to make perfect sense without any necessity for His existence. This way we are given the freedom to discover Him and His Scriptures, and through our knowledge and conscience, we gain the ability to either follow His way or disbelieve in Him. Once we are given this knowledge, there is no turning away from the choice between good and evil.5

God wants our test to be a perfect test, in which we have perfect freedom to be good or evil. This would allow us to take credit for our actions. If God’s existence were proven, we’d be turned into slaves who cannot help but do as He says. We’d become merchants who act in our best interests by following God’s commandments. This is not what God wants. God wants us to be honored creatures who befriend Him not because we are forced to, but because we choose to. This is what gives worth to our friendship.

There is little honor in an employee acting according to his or her boss’s wishes, this is the expected behavior. While even this amount of obedience to a boss justifies reward, so that even if we had proof of God’s existence, we could still be rewarded for obeying Him6, God wants to take us beyond this boss-employee relationship. He wants to raise us to the status of honored friends, who act out of love and friendship, and out of our own efforts toward remembrance of God, rather than acting out of practical compulsion.

God wants us to be the servant who continues to love and serve his master, even though the master goes away for years, decades. What incredible honor and reward can await such a servant who faithfully loves and serves his absent master for 50 or 60 years, until he dies, even though the master never returns?7

God, by creating the possibility for the existence of true friendship between Himself and the humans He created, had to also create the possibility for the existence of true enmity between Himself and them. He wanted friends, but He knew that they couldn’t truly be called friends unless they had the option to be His enemies.

The evil done by humans on Earth is a doing of humans when they act against God, it is not a doing of God, therefore humans should be blamed, not God. And the evil done by nature is nature’s own doing, caused by the rules of physics, and God does not want to interfere with it because constant interference with nature would cause His existence to become apparent. It is necessary for disasters and accidents to be possible, as these prove to us the validity of nature’s rules, and allows the atheist the freedom to use these to prove that God doesn’t exist.

God and Nature shall always be apart, or seem to be apart, so that each one appears to function without the other. This is necessary, as this is what enables humans the freedom to choose between faith and disbelief, between good and evil. The world needs to make perfect, logical sense without having to refer to God in our thinking. It should be possible for us to believe that the world functions on its own without anything supernatural existing, this is what gives us the freedom to believe and disbelieve in God.

We need to be able to believe that the Master is absent. This is when the true nature of the servant comes through. Bad servants start to misbehave as soon as the Master looks away, and if the Master is away long enough, they entirely give up serving Him. They will start to loot His property and defile His name. But the good and honorable servant, even as he sees all of this happen, continues to have love and loyalty toward his Master. It makes no difference to him even if the Master never comes back. He keeps the remembrance of his Master in his heart, and he admonishes and encourages himself to continue to be the best servant he can be.

The world, the way it is, gives us the perfect opportunity to be this honorable and admirable servant. If evil did not exist, and if bad things did not happen, then there would have been no way for such servants of God to exist. We’d instead all be lowly and menial servants who never had a chance to disobey, and thus never had a chance to prove our loyalty toward God.

A world without evil and disaster would be a dysfunctional testing hall that cannot differentiate between the best and the worst of us. Without evil and disaster, God’s existence would be so clearly visible to us that most of us would cower in front of Him. A few people might be found who are daring enough to disobey God even in such circumstances, but the majority of people would kneel before God as they would before a great emperor, regardless of whether they had any loyalty toward Him.

A world that seems to be ruled by the cold, harsh laws of nature, and that completely hides the existence of God from our eyes, gives us the perfect opportunity to prove our loyalty to God. This world, with all of its problems, is the perfect testing hall, because of the problems it has.

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

I will get around the metaphysical complexity of defining good and bad people by saying that a good person is anyone the reader thinks does not deserve to suffer, while a bad person is someone who does not deserve God’s protection.

Why good people suffer has already been mostly answered. If bad things never happened to good people, this would act as a proof of God’s existence and the invalidity of nature’s laws. If all good people lived to old age and died of natural causes, this would be easily detectable by even the simplest analysis.

There are religious people who wrongly think that if you are truly faithful, you will never suffer anything bad. When they see bad things happen to people, they try to find the reasons why the sufferers themselves are responsible for the suffering that has come upon them.

But disasters are a natural part of life, and it should affect good and bad people equally, or at least it should seem to do so. God does not want to be seen, so it should be impossible to detect miracles happening to save good people.

The suffering of good people proves that nature’s laws are real. If nothing bad ever happened to good people, but only happened to bad people, the fact would act as a proof of God’s existence, and this is what God does not want in this world. God wants us to follow Him and serve Him of our own free will, without any compulsion or strong inducement.

There would be millions, maybe billions, more believers if avoiding suffering was as simple as believing in God and serving Him. But these believers would be tantamount to fair-weather friends, who are on the bandwagon of faith only for their own immediate, short-term interest. They wouldn’t be loyal friends of God.

The world should occasionally give the faithful the impression that God has abandoned them. This is the true test of faith. Once all blessing seems to have gone from our lives, that’s when we look inside our hearts to find God again. If we weren’t true believers, if we only believed in God to ensure our own worldly good, then there would be no God in our hearts. We’d lose faith and abandon religion once we had the impression that God has abandoned us, like millions do.

But as for the truly faithful, when life gives us the impression that God has abandoned us, we continue to believe in God and to do our best to protect our faith. If our Master seems absent, it does not mean He has gone away forever. Only a dishonorable servant would start to act as if the Master is dead once He is gone away for a month or two. Those of us who truly believe in God, who love Him and want His friendship, and who have accepted to be His servants for eternity, will not abandon serving Him, regardless of what hardship and loneliness comes our way.

By the morning brightness

And [by] the night when it covers with darkness,

Your Lord has not taken leave of you, nor has He detested [you].

And the Hereafter is better for you than the first [life].

And your Lord is going to give to you, and you will be satisfied.

Did He not find you an orphan and give [you] refuge?

And He found you lost and guided [you],

And He found you poor and made [you] self-sufficient.
[Quran 93:1-8]

The possibility of good people suffering something horrible is nothing but an extension of these facts of life; the need for a proof of nature’s laws, the necessity for some suffering to prove one’s faith and virtue. God can inflict the greatest suffering on His most beloved servants, as He did with Abraham when He asked him to slaughter his beloved son, and as He did was Jacob in allowing him to believe, for years on end, that his most beloved son was dead, as this is how the greatest friends of God are raised to the highest ranks.

There can never be virtue without suffering. A virtuous act is one where we overcome our natural tendencies for the sake of God, and attaining virtue always has an element of suffering in it, small or great. A rich person who, out of love for God, refuses to practice usury to further enrich himself or herself, is doing a virtuous thing. Their suffering is that they watch their fellow rich men and women practice usury and see their wealth increase exponentially, while their own wealth increases slowly and is subject to far more risk.

And someone who attains virtue by working for a charitable cause, or by giving money to the poor, is also subject to a mild form of suffering (what economists would call “opportunity cost”), as they lose time and money that could have been used for something pleasurable.8

The possibility of good people suffering does not mean that blessedness in this world does not exist. As in the story of Joseph, God will allow suffering to happen, followed by periods of ease and enjoyment, followed by more suffering, until His servant is raised to the highest possible status. God will not leave his faithful servants abandoned alone to be entirely subject to the cold, harsh laws of nature, though it is necessary that it should appear so, so that God’s existence will not become apparent. The Quran says:

Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, and who is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.
[Quran 16:97]

Besides reward in the afterlife, the verse promises a good worldly life. The word used in the verse to mean “good” is tayyib, which can also be translated as “wholesome”. God will have a hand in the lives of good people, ensuring that despite the disasters they suffer, they will end up having wholesome, blessed lives. This, of course, cannot be proven, in accordance with God’s plan. But it can be seen in little things for those of us who have faith. The lives of believers seem to have more purpose. Their life stories seem better arranged and guided. This of course cannot be proven to an atheist, and it doesn’t have to be.

On the other hand, for disbelievers, people who knowingly rebel against God even though they believe in Him in their hearts, the Quran has this to say:

But whosoever turns away from My Remembrance, verily for him is a life narrowed down, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment. He will say: “My Lord, why have you summoned me as a blind person when I was sighted?” He will say: “Thus did Our signs come to you, and you forgot them; that is why you have been forgotten this Day.”
[Quran 20:124-126]

This verse, similar to the previous one, implies that there are worldly consequences for having (and in this case, not having) faith. Those who knowingly reject God will have a “narrowed down” life, also translated as “straitened” and “constricted”. Similar to how the lives of good people are blessed despite their hardships, the lives of evil people are constricted despite their joys and pleasures.

To put it another way, the general theme of a believer’s life is blessedness, while the general theme of a disbeliever’s life is constrictedness, a feeling of being oppressed by life. Both will enjoy periods of joy and periods of suffering, but through submitting to God, believers are blessed by God and are freed from many of the constraints of life, while disbelievers are, in general, and not very detectably, made to submit to the harshness and coldness of nature.

There will be a hidden hand of God that shields and guides the believer, while there is no such shield and guide for the disbeliever, and the world, itself a servant of God, treats them the way they like to be treated, as if God does not exist.

God could inspire us to always make the right choices in order to avoid all that is bad and to always gain what is good. But, besides making God’s existence apparent, this would reduce the value of our friendship with Him. A true friend of God is the one who keeps his faith in Him during difficulties, while a fair-weather friend of God is the one who only loves and worships God during times of peace and plenty, and whose faith is shaken whenever something bad happens to them (and plenty of such believers do exist).

The matter of ranks of God’s chosen friends in the afterlife is important, because it decides a person’s status in the afterlife for all of eternity. God does not want most of us to leave this world without having proven how good of a friend of God we are. That, in fact, is the main purpose of this world: To distinguish our ranks, from the very best of us to the very worst.

Some people die before they can prove themselves to God, for example infants. God allows this to happen because infant deaths are required by the laws of nature. And as for the poor infant, while their death is a tragedy in this life, in the afterlife God can choose to give them great reward without them having worked for it, since God’s generosity is not limited. He may also give them a higher status in the ranks of His friends than their parents as a reward for the parents, while also raising the status of the parents who kept their faith during the ordeal. A truly just God will not let an infant’s death go to waste.9

There are a thousand ways in which God can preserve eternal justice while allowing tragedies like infant deaths to happen, since this life is no more than a mere flicker compared to the eternity of the afterlife, and everything that happens here will one day be nothing more than a pale memory when a person has spent millions of years enjoying the rewards of the afterlife, close to family and friends and close to God.

Suffering is a natural part of a believer’s life. God does not ask us to stoically control our emotions, never letting any suffering show, to prove that we are faithful. Jacob was a prophet of God, and yet he cried so much after his son was believed dead that his eyes turned blind. There is no shame in sadness. God does not ask us to be super-human, but to keep faith alive in our hearts as we are subjected to life’s joys and sorrows.

Isn’t it Unkind for God to Punish His Creatures?

Think of God as Light. By staying close to Him, by following His commandments, we ensure our eternal good. No one is perfectly close to Him, each person is at some degree of distance. Eternal punishment is only for those who knowingly stray so far away from the Light that they knowingly wallow in complete darkness. Anyone who stays within the merest flicker of Light may gain God’s forgiveness and eternal reward.

Eternal punishment is necessary because that is the only way of ensuring that evil-doers don’t get away with their evil deeds. Many Jews (and Christians too) have become corrupted by the idea that they are God’s chosen children and that no matter what they do, they will eventually be forgiven. This is a highly dangerous thing to believe, because once you believe that you will never be punished eternally, then you can get away with anything. If you are an Israeli settler, who cares if you take over other people’s lands with violence. You are God’s Chosen, and you will be forgiven.

Once the idea of eternal justice is corrupted, then from that all evil follows. Even if people believe in an afterlife, if they think that there will be a limit on their punishment term, that they will burn for a thousand years and then will be freed to enjoy life for the rest of eternity, then many of them will not find it so bad to devolve utterly into sin, since they will eventually get away with it.

To preserve justice, people should not be able to get away with their crimes. During their lifetimes God gives them thousands of opportunities to repent and become better people. God believes that a human lifetime is sufficient to distinguish good people from bad, that it contains enough opportunities for humans to prove whether they deserve eternal good or eternal punishment. Every hour of every day contains opportunities for us to change, for better or for worse, and these small changes mount. There is a Light in this world and we can choose to either walk toward it or away from it every hour of every day. Every time we take a step away from it, we do it in the full knowledge that we have the chance to take a step toward it instead.

If we spend all of our lifetimes walking away from the Light by knowingly doing evil, we shouldn’t be surprised when one day we find ourselves in total darkness, hopeless of ever finding the Light again. It was our own choices that brought us here. For years and decades we had the option to turn back and walk toward the Light again, our consciences kept reminding us that we still had a chance to return to God, that God’s door was wide open to us, but instead we decided to keep walking away, chasing our shadow instead of chasing the Light.

Once a person falls into total darkness through their own choices, there will no longer be a point to extending their lives to let them come back. This is what Scripture claims, that once a person is totally surrounded by their evil deeds, they will never come back toward the Light. There is a point of no return, meaning that a person who crosses this point, even if given a lifetime of a hundred thousand years, it will not make a difference in their fate.

In fact, the Quran claims that such evil people, even if taken to the afterlife and shown all of the signs of God’s greatness, then brought back to earth, they will continue to be evil. Among some Christians there is the belief that people, no matter how bad, can be made to become good through education and reformation. The Quran, always unabashedly realistic, has a more satisfactory view, that guidance can only be had with God’s blessing, that even if someone fully understands God and believes in Him, they can still choose to be evil. The Quran goes beyond this, saying that once a person fully devolves into evil, not only will they become unreformable, but that God will actively prevent any reform, because they’ve done sufficient evil to seal their fate (as in the case of the Pharaoh of Egypt in the story of Moses).

If you could but see when they are made to stand before the Fire and will say, “Oh, would that we could be returned [to life on earth] and not deny the signs of our Lord and be among the believers.”

But what they concealed before has [now] appeared to them. And even if they were returned, they would return to that which they were forbidden; and indeed, they are liars.

And they say, “There is none but our worldly life, and we will not be resurrected.”

If you could but see when they will be made to stand before their Lord. He will say, “Is this not the truth?” They will say, “Yes, by our Lord.” He will [then] say, “So taste the punishment because you used to disbelieve.”

Truly, they have lost, those who deny the meeting with God , until when the Hour [of resurrection] comes upon them unexpectedly, they will say, “Oh, [how great is] our regret over what we neglected concerning it,” while they bear their burdens on their backs. Unquestionably, evil is that which they bear.

And the worldly life is nothing but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear God, so will you not reason?
[Quran 6:27-32]

The average person might be a sinner, but they do not fight against God every chance they get, and at the time of death they will likely possess enough light to be eligible for God’s forgiveness.

What are some examples of people who deserve eternal punishment? Usurers and their central bankers, who knowingly enslave millions to an evil, unnatural type of debt to enrich themselves, who orchestrate economic bubbles and bursts to reap trillions of dollars in profit while destroying the livelihoods of millions of families, and who plunge countries like the US into war after war, knowing that hundreds of thousands of innocent people will be killed, just so that they can earn their trillions financing these wars. A just God will not let these people go unpunished, and their punishment will not be something they can laugh at, it will not be a slap on the wrist like the US government gives to the usurers at Goldman Sachs every year when they are caught manipulating markets and destroying parts of the economy to enrich themselves. It will be something that will make them cry every single day for eternity.

I will not believe in a God who lets these people get away with the immense evil they do.

Conclusion

People make the mistake of considering this world their permanent home. They become attached to its blessings and disasters, and they think they can judge God based on what happens in their lives. But this world is nothing more than a tool for distinguishing God’s true friends from His fair-weather friends, and distinguishing these from His true enemies.

This world is nothing more than a preparation for the eternity of the afterlife. We would be wise not to become attached to its ups and downs, and to know that these are the days given to us by God in which we can prove ourselves to Him.

***

I originally published this essay as a short ebook on Amazon in 2015. I’ve decided to publish it for free here on my website, after thoroughly rewriting it, so that more people may (hopefully) benefit from it.

Why the Banks are So Powerful and Why the Bible and the Quran Forbid Usury: Charting How Interest Creates Obscene Wealth Inequality

Imagine if in 1913 the real economy of the US had $100 billion in capital, while the banks and money-lenders had only $1 billion. Given everyday economic circumstances, by 2017, the wealth of the real economy would have grown to $2163 billion (with a 3% economic growth rate). Meanwhile, the wealth of the banks and money-lenders during the same period would have grown from $1 billion to $3806 billion. Starting at only 1% of the wealth of the real economy, within just over 100 years, the financial sector grows to 175% the size of the real economy.

This is the heart and soul of usury; the reason why banks are so powerful, and the reason why usurers have been hated with visceral hatred throughout history. The usury sector uses the law to enforce an alternate reality where their profits grow faster than the real economy. If they were honest investors, their money would be directly invested into the economy, so that their wealth would grow (and shrink) with the real economy. But through the hateful invention of usury, they create an alternate reality where their wealth always grows faster than the real economy.

The chart assumes a relatively low business loan interest rate of 5%, and a high delinquency rate of 6.75% (the highest recorded by the St. Louis Fed between 1987 and 2016), and a high (usurer-unfriendly) reserve ratio of 33% (the lower the reserve ratio, the faster the wealth money-lenders grows, as they earn more interest on their capital).

Wherever the usurers take control of an economic system, within a short span of time their wealth grows so that they own most of the economy; its largest companies, its real estate market, its mainstream media, its academia. In the United States, through neo-liberal usurer economics, they have entirely shut down any honest examination of the evils of usury. Through their control of the media, interest and usury are taken for granted, and the mostly-Christian peasant class of the West is made to think of mortgages as an “investment”, rather than a tremendous risk that enslaves them to debt.

Usury is evil because, on a macro scale, it passes off most risks to the borrower, and most profits to the lender. When a usurer lends money at 5% interest to a town’s businesses, some of these businesses will make a profit, and some will make a loss. If the town’s economy grows at 3% during the year, it means some businesses made a profit on the money they borrowed, and some made a loss, so that on average there was a profit of 3% and a loss of 2%. To the usurer, none of this matters. He gets to charge 5%, pretending that the economy grew at 5%, so that after the year passes, he ends up with close to a 5% profit, while the town ends up with a profit of 3%. This gives him an annual profit advantage of 2%. Within just a few years his profits grow so fast that he will afford to buy up more and more of the town’s land, housing and businesses, until he gains near-total control of the town’s economy, and manages to extract rent and profit from every nook and cranny of it. Below is a chart of this process over 20 years, assuming both the money-lender and the townsfolk have $10 million at the beginning.

The chart only shows the money-lender’s wealth growth from his interest income. But as his wealth grows, he will invest the surplus wealth into buying up land, houses and business, so that his real wealth growth would be quite larger after 20 years.

The usurers at the Federal Reserve, Wall Street and the Chicago School of Economics would have you believe that the above situation is unavoidable, that it is just a fact of life, and that if you dislike money-lenders for their profiteering and rent-seeking, you are just hating them for their wealth.

What is never mentioned is that there is a way for the wealthy to invest their wealth without creating wealth inequality and giving themselves such an obscene advantage over the population, and that method is simply honest investment, what I call Socratic Finance, as Socrates mentions it in Plato’s Republic. It is to make the lender and the borrower share in their fair portion of risk and gain.

How is this magic performed? By prohibiting the charging of interest, as it used to be the law of England (look up the 1552 AD Act Against Usury of King Edward VI). According to the 1599 Geneva Bible Notes (written by John Calvin and other Puritans),

To the bankers and money changers. Usury or loaning money at interest is strictly forbidden by the Bible, (Exo 22:25-27; Deu 23:19-20). Even a rate as low as one per cent interest was disallowed, (Neh 5:11)1

When the charging of interest is prohibited, money-lenders are prevented from increasing their wealth exponentially, without regard to the actual economy. They are made to invest in the real economy, and to share in its profits and losses. If the town’s money-lender cannot practice usury, and has $10 million in wealth compared to the town’s $10 million, he would be forced to spend his money investing in the real economy by buying businesses or starting new businesses, creating jobs in the process, and raising wages, as he has to compete with other business for available talent. Some of these endeavors would make a profit, and others would make a loss. If the town’s economy grows at 3%, and if his investments are spread throughout the town’s economy, then he would make a 3% profit along with the town, so that after a year, he wouldn’t be any more richer or poorer than the rest of the town as a whole. Everyone’s wealth would increase equally, so no income inequality is created.

If he wants to invest his money to finance housing, instead of using the corrupt practice of mortgaging, he would offer up houses on a rent-to-own basis.

In a normal mortgage, a person is made to carry the burden of a $300,000 loan while the money-lender continues to own the house. In the case of default, the money-lender gets the house back, sells it, and if it sells for less than the outstanding loan amount, he goes after the borrower for the rest of the principal. Most mortgage defaults happen during times of financial crises, when people lose jobs, and when houses lose value. If the home was mortgaged at $300,000, during a crisis it would sell for only $200,000. If the buyer had paid $20,000 of the principal off, they would lose the house, and still owe $80,000 to the usurer.

But Socratic home financing is a world apart from this. If a person gets a Socratically-financed home, and then is unable to make payments, the investor gets the house back and sells it, and the home-buyer gets his principal share of the house back. If he had paid off 20% of the principal, he would get 20% of the house’s sale price. In a Socratically-financed home, the buyer always gets some money back in the case of default, as there is no loan involved, it is real ownership transfer of the house. In the previously mentioned case of the $300,000 house, the buyer would get $40,000 back after foreclosure, instead owing $80,000.

Over the past 400 years, most Christians have continued the tradition of being utter disgraces to the name of Christ, so that today even the Vatican funds its operations through usurious lending. Even the Amish practice usury.

If but a probable suspicion arose
of a man to occupy that filthy trade
He was taken for a devil in the likeness of a man.
But good Lord, how is the world changed?

That which infidels2 cannot abide, Gospellers allow,
That which Jews take only of strangers
and will not take of their countrymen for shame,
That do Christians take of their dear friends
and think for so doing they deserve great thanks.

Thomas Rogers (Anglican theologian, ca. 1555-1616)

Today’s usurers try to absolve themselves from their sins, and whitewash their actions, through the practice of philanthropy. Almost every wealthy usurer is described as a “philanthropist” on Wikipedia. They gain billions of dollars by squeezing the life out of the economies that play host to them, using usury to drive a wedge into the economy and extract rent from it, then spend a few hundred million dollars funding hospitals, museums and universities, and lo and behold! They are philanthropists. It is to this usurer trick of philanthropy that Rabbi Hermann Adler, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire from 1891 to 1911, refers when he says:

No amount of money given in charity, nothing but the abandonment of this hateful trade, can atone for this great sin against God, Israel and Humanity.

Forecasting the World’s Top 50 Most Powerful Countries in 2035 Using the HQI

The following table is a list of 50 countries that are predicted to have the most economic, technological and military power in the world by the year 2035, according to HQI theory. The projected power of the United States is set to 100 to make it easy to compare other countries with it. China’s projected power is 251.6, meaning it will be more than double as powerful as the United States in 2035.

The 2035 populations are projected based on the average of a linear regression of population growth rates between 1995 and 2015. If a country’s population growth rate was 3% in 1995 and 2% 2015, it is assumed that in 2035 the population growth rate will be 1%. The average of the 2015 and 2035 growth rate is taken (1.5%), and this is recursively applied 20 times to arrive at the 2035 population. This is somewhat crude but good enough for our purposes.

The HQI is the Human Genetic-Cultural Quality Index, a measure of a population’s capacity for intellectual achievement and technological innovation, by taking into account a country’s scientific output and real (Smithian) economic growth. China’s HQI is 856 while the HQI of the United States is 1372, meaning each Chinese citizen adds a relative value of 856 to China’s economy, while each American citizen adds a value of 1372. The HQI indicates the “quality” (as opposed to quantity) of the human capital of a country.

By multiplying a population’s count by its HQI, we arrive at a number that indicates the total power for innovation in the population as a whole. In 2035, India will have more people than China (1.52 billion versus 1.46 billion), but since China’s HQI is higher (i.e. since its population is of higher genetic-cultural quality), its power and might will be consequently larger. In fact, China will be five times more powerful than India in 2035, and 2.5 times more powerful than the United States. It will be the most powerful country in the world by a wide margin.

Iran gets an advantage over Russia due to its higher economic growth, fast growing population, and its higher scientific output per capita (25% higher than that of Russia). However, many of Russia’s recent troubles have been due to economic warfare from Wall Street, therefore it is highly unlikely that it will ever be less powerful than Iran. As the HQI is updated over the next few years, Russia’s numbers should improve significantly.

Qatar and Saudi’s high HQI numbers are largely due to their importation of foreign scientists to carry out research in their universities and are not indicative of native capabilities.

It is unlikely that Germany will be less powerful than the United Kingdom in 2035. The HQI of the UK is inflated by the UK’s higher output in the “soft” sciences. Germany actually outdoes the UK in many important scientific fields, such as energy, engineering, physics, astronomy, mathematics and chemical engineering. The UK is superior in medical research.

South Korea produces far more science per capita than Japan, and its economy is growing fast. Both of these factors go toward its much higher HQI compared to Japan (1627 vs. 605). South Korea’s actual advantage may be smaller, and it seems unlikely that it will actually be more powerful than Japan.

How it Works

A country’s HQI shows its potential for growth. It says that after decades of infrastructure-building, urbanization and everything else that goes into producing a developed economy, that country can reach the level of output and innovation that another, fully developed nation of similar HQI has. What this means is that multiplying a non-fully-developed nation’s HQI will give us a number that reflects its power in a few decades, when it has finished developing.

The Chinese population’s HQI of 856 is close to that of Italy’s (945). What this means is that 20 years from now, once China has fully developed, it will have the same economic, military and technological power of an imaginary Italy that has 1.46 billion people. This thought alone should be sufficient to keep those Americans awake at night who think they will forever be the world’s and perpetual biggest bully. Can an America with 364 million people stand up to an Italy with 1.46 billion people? Italy’s 60 million people published 106000 scientific papers in 2015. If that population grows to 1.46 billion, an increase by a factor 24, that means they would likely be able to publish 2.5 million scientific papers per year, dwarfing America’s scientific output of 600,000 papers per year, and with that, dwarfing America’s ability at innovation and technological progress, and its economic and ultimately military power.

That imaginary Italy is very much what China is going to be in 20 years. The HQI of Italy and China are similar. All that remains for China to do to become an Italy with 1.46 billion people is to finish building its economic and scientific infrastructure, and this will probably be done in the 20 years, as the example of South Korea’s development shows.

As for already developed nations, their HQI can be multiplied by the present population to get its present level of power, and it can be multiplied by its projected future population to get its future power. This only makes sense for developed nations. For developing nations like China (and South Korea until recently), the population is high quality, but everything else isn’t, therefore the population is being held back by various factors from achieving what their HQI suggests. For this reason we give these fast-developing nations 20 years to reach their full potential.

Country Projected 2035 Population HQI Relative Economic, Technological and Military Power in 2035
1 China 1,464,562,493 856 250.46
2 United States 364,631,940 1372 100.00
3 India 1,520,438,646 162 49.24
4 United Kingdom 79,223,389 1818 28.79
5 Germany 93,984,408 1218 22.88
6 Australia 31,623,131 3561 22.51
7 France 72,157,368 1165 16.80
8 South Korea 50,400,996 1627 16.39
9 Canada 42,699,016 1859 15.87
10 Brazil 225,917,248 332 14.99
11 Japan 117,049,007 605 14.15
12 Iran 100,194,389 626 12.53
13 Italy 61,510,122 945 11.62
14 Spain 44,357,325 1277 11.33
15 Turkey 101,374,566 479 9.70
16 Russian Federation 149,971,486 312 9.35
17 Switzerland 10,987,401 3910 8.59
18 Poland 37,352,026 1120 8.37
19 Netherlands 18,189,750 2238 8.14
20 Taiwan 22,039,541 1717 7.56
21 Sweden 12,588,464 2775 6.98
22 Saudi Arabia 43,095,570 768 6.61
23 Nigeria 312,375,890 97 6.05
24 Singapore 5,924,284 4823 5.71
25 Malaysia 36,376,961 756 5.50
26 Israel 10,953,808 2410 5.28
27 Egypt 132,313,330 198 5.23
28 Belgium 12,642,382 2058 5.20
29 South Africa 70,569,040 292 4.12
30 Iraq 68,203,001 295 4.03
31 Norway 6,858,738 2925 4.01
32 Austria 10,735,422 1859 3.99
33 Czech Republic 11,684,419 1569 3.66
34 Pakistan 272,264,022 66 3.59
35 Denmark 6,374,946 2812 3.58
36 Mexico 152,508,904 110 3.37
37 New Zealand 6,972,004 2352 3.28
38 Hong Kong 7,811,688 1997 3.12
39 Qatar 4,879,996 2815 2.75
40 Argentina 50,278,252 253 2.54
41 Finland 5,873,345 2034 2.39
42 Portugal 8,783,800 1359 2.39
43 Thailand 68,077,965 174 2.37
44 Chile 21,146,173 535 2.26
45 Ireland 5,233,086 1959 2.05
46 Indonesia 314,805,429 29 1.84
47 Romania 19,228,586 475 1.83
48 Colombia 55,052,245 163 1.80
49 Greece 8,774,644 934 1.64
50 Algeria 58,570,388 129 1.51

Please see my essays on the HQI and the 12-Year Min-Max Average for the fine print regarding how the above numbers were calculated. Most of the data is from the World Bank. Taiwan’s population growth rate was taken from Worldometers.com as it is missing from the World Bank data.

Below is the same table with the nitty-gritty details exposed, and with seven bonus countries at the end.

Country 2015 Citable Scientific Documents 2015 Population 1995 Population Growth Rate 2015 Population Growth Rate 2035 Projected Population Growth Rate Projected Annual Population Growth Rate (Mean of 2015 & 2035 Rates) Projected 2035 Population Average Real Annual Economic Growth (2004-2015) [12-Year Min-Max Method] HQI Relative Power in 2035
1 China 416,409 1,401,586,609 1.1 0.5 -0.1 0.2 1,464,562,493 10.5 856 250.46
2 United States 567,007 325,127,634 1.2 0.8 0.4 0.6 364,631,940 0.5 1372 100.00
3 India 123,206 1,282,390,303 1.9 1.2 0.5 0.9 1,520,438,646 7.1 162 49.24
4 United Kingdom 169,483 63,843,856 0.3 0.8 1.4 1.1 79,223,389 -0.6 1818 28.79
5 Germany 149,773 82,562,004 0.3 0.5 0.8 0.7 93,984,408 -0.8 1218 22.88
6 Australia 82,567 23,923,101 1.2 1.3 1.5 1.4 31,623,131 3.0 3561 22.51
7 France 103,733 64,982,894 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.5 72,157,368 -0.1 1165 16.80
8 South Korea 73,433 49,750,234 1.0 0.4 -0.3 0.1 50,400,996 3.6 1627 16.39
9 Canada 89,312 35,871,283 0.8 0.9 0.9 0.9 42,699,016 0.1 1859 15.87
10 Brazil 61,122 203,657,210 1.5 0.9 0.2 0.5 225,917,248 3.7 332 14.99
11 Japan 109,305 126,818,019 0.4 -0.1 -0.7 -0.4 117,049,007 -0.4 605 14.15
12 Iran 39,727 79,476,308 1.4 1.2 1.1 1.2 100,194,389 5.0 626 12.53
13 Italy 95,836 61,142,221 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 61,510,122 -1.7 945 11.62
14 Spain 79,209 47,199,069 0.2 -0.1 -0.5 -0.3 44,357,325 0.3 1277 11.33
15 Turkey 39,275 76,690,509 1.6 1.5 1.4 1.4 101,374,566 2.3 479 9.70
16 Russian Federation 57,881 142,098,141 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.3 149,971,486 0.4 312 9.35
17 Switzerland 39,358 8,238,610 0.7 1.2 1.7 1.5 10,987,401 1.0 3910 8.59
18 Poland 37,285 38,221,584 0.1 0.0 -0.2 -0.1 37,352,026 4.2 1120 8.37
19 Netherlands 51,434 16,844,195 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.4 18,189,750 0.0 2238 8.14
20 Taiwan 34,011 23,381,038 0.8 0.1 -0.7 -0.3 22,039,541 4.5 1717 7.56
21 Sweden 35,039 9,693,883 0.5 1.1 1.6 1.3 12,588,464 0.4 2775 6.98
22 Saudi Arabia 17,529 29,897,741 2.6 2.1 1.6 1.8 43,095,570 5.9 768 6.61
23 Nigeria 5,112 183,523,432 2.5 2.6 2.8 2.7 312,375,890 18.2 97 6.05
24 Singapore 17,976 5,618,866 3.0 1.2 -0.7 0.3 5,924,284 7.3 4823 5.71
25 Malaysia 23,414 30,651,176 2.5 1.4 0.3 0.9 36,376,961 3.0 756 5.50
26 Israel 18,040 7,919,528 2.7 2.0 1.3 1.6 10,953,808 3.7 2410 5.28
27 Egypt 14,800 84,705,681 1.9 2.1 2.4 2.3 132,313,330 4.5 198 5.23
28 Belgium 29,180 11,183,411 0.2 0.5 0.8 0.6 12,642,382 0.7 2058 5.20
29 South Africa 17,409 53,491,333 2.2 1.7 1.1 1.4 70,569,040 2.0 292 4.12
30 Iraq 1,793 35,766,702 3.1 3.2 3.4 3.3 68,203,001 27.8 295 4.03
31 Norway 18,228 5,142,842 0.5 1.1 1.8 1.5 6,858,738 1.2 2925 4.01
32 Austria 21,818 8,557,761 0.2 0.8 1.5 1.1 10,735,422 -0.1 1859 3.99
33 Czech Republic 20,759 10,777,060 -0.1 0.3 0.6 0.4 11,684,419 1.0 1569 3.66
34 Pakistan 10,962 188,144,040 2.5 2.1 1.7 1.9 272,264,022 4.6 66 3.59
35 Denmark 23,081 5,661,723 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.6 6,374,946 -0.6 2812 3.58
36 Mexico 18,417 125,235,587 1.9 1.3 0.7 1.0 152,508,904 0.2 110 3.37
37 New Zealand 13,052 4,596,396 1.5 1.9 2.3 2.1 6,972,004 1.3 2352 3.28
38 Hong Kong 14,710 7,313,557 2.0 0.9 -0.2 0.3 7,811,688 3.1 1997 3.12
39 Qatar 2,766 2,350,549 1.2 2.9 4.6 3.7 4,879,996 14.9 2815 2.75
40 Argentina 11,815 42,154,914 1.3 1.0 0.8 0.9 50,278,252 2.2 253 2.54
41 Finland 17,551 5,460,592 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 5,873,345 -1.5 2034 2.39
42 Portugal 21,159 10,610,014 0.4 -0.5 -1.4 -0.9 8,783,800 -0.8 1359 2.39
43 Thailand 11,632 67,400,746 0.9 0.3 -0.2 0.1 68,077,965 3.4 174 2.37
44 Chile 10,347 17,924,062 1.5 1.0 0.6 0.8 21,146,173 2.5 535 2.26
45 Ireland 11,370 4,726,856 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 5,233,086 1.1 1959 2.05
46 Indonesia 6,280 255,708,785 1.5 1.2 0.9 1.0 314,805,429 5.5 29 1.84
47 Romania 13,053 21,579,201 0.0 -0.4 -0.8 -0.6 19,228,586 0.7 475 1.83
48 Colombia 7,500 49,529,208 1.7 0.9 0.2 0.5 55,052,245 4.3 163 1.80
49 Greece 16,616 11,125,833 0.5 -0.6 -1.7 -1.2 8,774,644 -1.7 934 1.64
50 Algeria 5,171 40,633,464 1.9 1.9 1.8 1.8 58,570,388 3.8 129 1.51
51 Serbia 6,540 9,424,030 -1.4 -0.5 0.5 0.0 9,490,218 3.0 663 1.26
52 Tunisia 6,228 11,235,248 1.9 1.0 0.1 0.5 12,525,418 2.2 493 1.23
53 Hungary 9,478 9,911,396 -0.1 -0.2 -0.3 -0.3 9,408,537 -0.8 653 1.23
54 Viet Nam 4,092 93,386,630 1.6 1.1 0.5 0.8 109,194,988 6.4 55 1.20
55 Slovakia 6,271 5,457,889 0.3 0.1 -0.1 0.0 5,463,349 2.7 1068 1.17
56 Morocco 4,079 33,955,157 1.5 1.3 1.1 1.2 43,445,867 5.0 134 1.16
57 Ukraine 8,868 44,646,131 -0.8 -0.4 0.1 -0.1 43,369,074 -1.4 129 1.12

 

Measuring Economic and Military Potentials of World Nations with the Human Genetic-Cultural Quality Index (HQI)

Introduction

What is the biggest predictor of a country’s scientific output, industrial capacity and military prowess? It is not geographic size. For instance, Kazakhstan and Mongolia are huge compared to Israel and Switzerland, yet Israel and Switzerland far outdistance them in all measures of intellectual, technological and military attainment.

It is not population. India’s 1.28 billion people are close in number to China’s 1.4 billion. And India has been a West-connected capitalist country since its independence in 1947, while China only started in the 1980’s. Yet China far outstrips India in all measures of technological and military power.

It is not natural resources. Russia has vastly more natural resources than Germany. Yet Germany’s economy is many times that of Russia, and its scientific output is double that of Russia, even though Russia’s population is close to double that of Germany.

The most important predictor of a country’s power and accomplishment is the nature of its population. A country’s most precious natural resource is its citizens. It is the genetic makeup of a population, enabled by supportive cultures, institutions and infrastructure, that predicts the country’s military-industrial power and capacity for innovation.

The book IQ and the Wealth of Nations by the professors Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen makes a powerful argument for the importance of IQ in predicting a country’s power and prosperity, with IQ being a highly heritable (genetically-mediated) trait. While some of the data they use is not reliable, the general force of their argument is undeniable. The data used by Adam Smith and Charles Darwin were none too reliable either, but that didn’t stop their theories from being world-class accomplishments.

IQ is not everything. Japan’s IQ is in the same league as Germany and Sweden. Yet Swedes produce four times more science per citizen than the Japanese (measured in scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals). Germans produce double the amount of science per citizen than the Japanese. An argument can be made that Japan’s infrastructure has yet to catch up with that of Western Europe. But Japan has had more than enough time (seven decades, in fact) to catch up. And a look at Japan’s infrastructure shows that they might even be ahead of Western Europe when it comes to infrastructure.

The factors that lead to Japan’s low accomplishment relative to Western Europe could be other genetic factors not widely studied. One factor could be Japan’s low testosterone levels compared to Europe, with testosterone being a significant contributor toward the drive for accomplishment1. Another factor could be aging. An aging population is going to be less productive than a younger one. Another factor could be non-genetic; for example cultural practices and ideals, although these factors are not independent of genetics and should be considered together with genetics2.

The Human Genetic-Cultural Quality Index

The HQI, short for the Human Genetic-Cultural Quality Index, takes account of both genetic and cultural factors to accurately predict a country’s real scientific, economic and military potential. It is a measure of the quality of human capital, a nation’s most important natural resource, and provides a single number that can be used to compare the quality of the human capital of different nations.

The math of the HQI will be explained below. For now, I will offer certain examples from it to illustrate the concept. Ukraine has an HQI of 129, while Russia’s HQI is 311. This means that a Russian citizen adds 2.6 times more value to Russia’s economy and scientific output than a Ukrainian citizen adds to Ukraine’s economy and scientific output. The quality of Russia’s human capital is 2.4 times that of Ukraine’s human capital. Even if Russia and Ukraine had exactly the same population (let’s say each had a population of 150 million), Russia would still be 2.4 times as powerful as Ukraine. Today, Russia’s population is 3.15 times as large as Ukraine’s (143.5 million vs. 45.49 million). Multiplying this by the 2.4 times HQI advantage, we arrive at a factor of 7.59. Russia is, or will be, 7.59 times as powerful as Ukraine when both countries reach their near-full development potential, perhaps in the next 30 years.

China’s HQI is 855. India’s is 162. Even if both countries had the same population, China would still be 5.2 times as powerful as India once both countries reach their near-full development potential.

The HQI uses two data points as predicting variables:

  1. Scientific papers per capita, which refers to the number of scientific papers published in a year by the nation, divided by its population. This measures the intellectual capacity of the nation’s population.
  2. Real economic growth rate. When a nation’s economy is growing fast (such as that of China), it shows that the nation’s institutions and infrastructure haven’t reached their full potential. The economic growth rate is used to correct for this fact. For instance, China’s papers per capita is only three times that of India’s. But China’s real 12-year average annual economic growth rate is 10.5%, while India’s is 7%. This means that the economic and scientific potential of China’s human capital has significantly more room to grow than India’s, as will be further illustrated down below.

The (real) economic growth rate of a nation expresses elasticity of human potential for a given nation. If growth is faster, improvements in infrastructure and institutions lead to big gains in the human potential of the nation, i.e. that the human potential of the nation is being held back by infrastructure and institutions, and that as these improve, so will the output of the nation’s human capital.

A slow economic growth rate indicates one of two things:

  1. The nation has reached close to its full potential, so that its human capital is already working at its full capacity. This is the case with slow-growing developed nations like Japan and the Netherlands.
  2. The quality of the nation’s human capital is so low that while theoretically there is much room for growth given the nation’s circumstances, that growth is being held back by human capital that’s not capable of achieving it. This is true in the case of various African and Latin American countries that have everything they could possibly need for growth, except a population that’s actually capable of said growth.

The history of colonization shows the importance of the genetic and cultural factors that go into the HQI. Any nation that becomes colonized by a high HQI population will quickly grow to reflect the home population’s intellectual prowess rather than the native population’s destitution. This has been true in the United States, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa.

The most recent example comes from Israel. When Israel was colonized by Ashkenazi Jews that had been selected for high IQ in Europe during their 2000 year stay there3, Israel’s economy quickly grew to reflect a developed European nation, rather than a typical Middle Eastern one. It grew even above Eastern European nations, though it doesn’t seem likely it can surpass Germanic nations, as it has already had all the time and help it needs to achieve this.

The Mathematical Model

For any given nation and year, this is how the HQI basis number is calculated:
With a being the number of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles published in the year, b being the 12-year min-max average of economic growth4 for that year and the preceding 11 years, and c being the population of the nation in that year.

China published 416,409 peer-reviewed scientific journal papers in 2015. Its annual economic growth rate was 10.545 for the period 2004-2015 inclusive. And its population in 2015 was 1,401,586,609 (1.4 billion). The equation to calculate the HQI basis number thus becomes:

This results in a number of 0.001162729158. Since this is not a user-friendly number, the numbers for all nations are all multiplied by the arbitrary value of 735853.761, which gives an HQI of 1 to the lowest HQI country. This provides an easy-to-follow ground to which other countries can be compared. China’s HQI thus becomes 855.59. This means that a Chinese citizen adds a value to China’s economy that is 855.59 times greater than the value added by a citizen of the lowest HQI country to their respective economy (which happens to be the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Raising the number of a country’s scientific papers to a power of (1 + its economic growth rate) is a mathematical trick that models both of these scenarios:

  1. Scientific output growth that continues at the rate of the country’s past 12-year economic growth rate for the next 11 years.
  2. Scientific output growth that starts off at the country’s average past 12-year economic growth, and then slows down by 6.95% every year over the next 30 years.

The assumption here is that a country’s scientific output will continue growing at the rate of the country’s economic growth over its past 12 years. This may seem a strange assumption, since a country’s future growth cannot be assumed to follow at the same rate as its past growth.

In fact, the correct assumption is that its economic growth will be quite lower. But what we are modeling here is not economic growth, it is growth in scientific output, whose future growth follows along the lines of a country’s past economic growth.

An example will make this clear. South Korea’s GDP grew from $771 billion USD in 2004 to $1.14 trillion in 2015 (all in 2000 dollars), a growth of about 48%. During the same period, its scientific output rose from 31182 papers in 2004 to 69469 papers in 2015, a growth of 122%, more than double its economic growth.

The growth in South Korea’s scientific output from 2004 to 2015 is actually similar to its GDP growth from 1989 to 2003 ($332 billion to $735 billion, a growth of 122%).

In short, scientific output is a lagging indicator of a country’s development, due to the amount of past investment necessary for its growth. No matter how much a country invests into increasing its scientific output, the tangible fruits of said investment will be over a decade in the future. The exception being countries like Saudi Arabia who rapidly increased their scientific output by importing foreign scientists.

India’s scientific output grew from 33031 papers in 2004 to 113144 papers in 2015, a growth of 242%. During the same period, its inflation-adjusted GDP grew from $0.971 trillion to $2.03 trillion, a growth of 109%. The growth in its scientific output was more than double the growth in its economic output.

Its growth, in fact, was similar to its GDP growth from 1981 to 2003. The reason for its slow economic growth over this period may have been its low-effectiveness gene-culture (low IQ, etc.), and its low urbanization rate accompanied by its vast size, that meant it took far longer than South Korea to build the infrastructure and institutions necessary to support effective scientific research.

This phenomenon of scientific growth growing far faster than economic growth can be seen throughout the world. Needless to say, a more rigorous study of the relationship between scientific output and past economic growth can be done. But we can take it as a general rule that past economic growth predicts future scientific output growth.

China’s Coming Supremacy

Raising China’s 2015 scientific paper count of 416409 to a power of 1.105 (1 + its annual economic output growth over 2004-2015) results in 1620204, or 1.62 million. What this means is that once China reaches close to its full economic potential (perhaps after 2030), it will be producing about 1.62 million scientific papers every year. Compare this to the 567000 scientific papers published by the United States in 2015, which, according to the same HQI calculation, will grow to 606000 during the same period. In other words, in the next 20 or more years, China’s scientific output will be 2.67 times as large as that of the United States.

While this may sound controversial to someone who has been wooed by the nascent racism of neocons, globalists and central bank usurer economists in their propagandizing the idea that the US can somehow maintain a permanent technological edge over China, that despite China’s enormous growth and a scientific output that is closely approaching that of the United States, that there is something wrong with the Chinese that will forever keep them as second-class citizens on the world stage, to someone who understands the history of Japan and South Korea’s growth, and who understands the realities of the gene-culture, this conclusion of China’s approaching supremacy is merely stating the obvious.

Using the HQI for Comparative Study of Gene-Cultures and National Potentials

Below is a list of the world’s highest HQI nations (the full list is at the end), for the reader’s viewing pleasure, and to help you follow along the rest of the essay.

Rank Country 2015 Citable Scientific Documents 2015 Population Average Real Annual Economic Growth (2004-2015) [12-Year Min-Max Method] HQI Predicted Scientific Output at Near-Full Potential (2035 and After)
1 Singapore 17,976 5,618,866 7.32 4823 36,824
2 Switzerland 39,358 8,238,610 1.01 3910 43,774
3 Australia 82,567 23,923,101 2.99 3561 115,764
4 Iceland 1,365 336,728 2.41 3549 1,624
5 Norway 18,228 5,142,842 1.17 2925 20,445
6 Qatar 2,766 2,350,549 14.88 2815 8,991
7 Denmark 23,081 5,661,723 -0.65 2812 21,633
8 Sweden 35,039 9,693,883 0.41 2775 36,556
9 Monaco 129 38,320 1.64 2683 140
10 Luxembourg 1,692 543,261 1.51 2564 1,893
11 Israel 18,040 7,919,528 3.71 2410 25,938
12 New Zealand 13,052 4,596,396 1.25 2352 14,693
13 Netherlands 51,434 16,844,195 -0.03 2238 51,239

While the Qatari population have a higher IQ, and are more liberal, than most other Arab populations (perhaps with the exception of Lebanese Christians), their high HQI is strongly a result of their importation of foreign scientists on the one hand, and their fast growing oil revenue on the other, the latter funding the former.

Germanic nations have the highest HQI in the world. Switzerland and Iceland, with their relatively low immigration rates, show the high productivity of Germanic genes and cultures. Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand and the Netherlands, with their Germanic roots, follow along the same lines.

The table shows how the HQI can be used to compare the genetic-cultural quality of any two countries. Iceland’s HQI of 3548, divided by the 2238 HQI of the Netherlands, results in a 58% advantage for the Icelandic people. Icelandic people are 58% more capable and productive than Netherlanders, and if the two countries had the same population, Iceland would be 58% more powerful militarily, technologically and economically.

Israel’s high HQI is influenced by its high economic growth, a large portion of which comes from its cozy relationship with the United States (US intelligence agencies, for example, are reliant on many Israeli technology companies). It’s highly unlikely that its population is more capable than that of the Netherlands or New Zealand. This shows that the HQI is not immune to aberrations, similar to all other methods, as reality is full of aberrations caused by disasters, sanctions, wars and political changes.

But regarding Israel, the HQI shows one very important result: Israel is already close to its full scientific potential. Over the next 30 years or so, its scientific output can grow from 18040 papers to 21631. No great improvement can be expected from Israel, and given its precarious political situation, even this much growth may not be possible, though stranger things have happened.

Changes in HQI Reflect Fundamental Genetic-Cultural Changes in a Nation

Far more interesting than a country’s economic growth is HQI growth. The HQI itself is a measure of growth potential, HQI growth means growth in the growth potential. When a nation climbs toward a peak in achievement, economic growth refers to this climb. HQI growth refers to an increase in the height of the peak, a removal of constraints that prevent a nation from reaching the heights reached by other nations.

China’s 2015 HQI was 6.4% lower than its 2010 HQI. This means that between 2010 and 2015, there were some forces in effect that reduced China’s genetic-cultural fitness, or economic fitness, so that while it continued to grow fast, its predicted near-full potential decreased. This was mostly caused by a large drop in the number of scientific papers published by China in 2015. I have contacted SCImago to find out whether this change was due to changes in their paper counting methodologies or whether it was due to a real drop in China’s output. If it was a real drop, maybe it was due to China’s best and brightest aging and retiring, or due to growing practice of usury creating a Western European-style of stagnation faster than expected, or due to some unknown dysgenic effect.

From 2010 to 2015, Ethiopia’s HQI increased by 173%. This is a very, very good sign. It means that there are genetic-cultural changes that are improving the nation’s future potential, or that there are bottlenecks that are being overcome. Not only is the nation climbing toward the peak, the peak itself is growing. Perhaps it is due to improvements in nutrition and health care, or beneficial cultural changes, or both. The actual beneficial change is probably smaller.

Poland has been Europe’s favorite backwater since at least Adam Smith’s time. What does the HQI tell us about what is going on in there? From 2010 to 2015, Poland’s HQI increased by 21.9%. There are forces at work in Poland that are increasing its population’s genetic-cultural fitness, so that whatever we believed Poland’s maximum growth potential to have been in 2010, in 2015 that maximum growth potential was 21.9% higher.

The HQI of the United States decreased by 12.3% from 2010 to 2015. This means that there are forces at work reducing the genetic-cultural fitness of America’s average citizen. One simple explanation could be the increase in immigration from lower HQI nations, who increase the population of the US without significantly increasing its economic and scientific output. Keeping population constant, the HQI still decreased by 8.9%, therefore immigration might be only causing a 3.4 percentage points of this dysgenesis.

Germany’s HQI increased by 0.2% from 2010 to 2015, meaning that no interesting structural change happened. These numbers are from before the recent migrant crisis, whose presence is sure to bring down Germany’s HQI.

Japan’s HQI fell 15.7% from 2010 to 2015. Not only is the nation coming down the peak (through its negative economic growth), the nation’s peak is also decaying.

Russia’s HQI increased by 31.1% from 2010 to 2015. Even though its economic growth was low (0.36%), its scientific output greatly increased during this period, from 38878 papers to 55500. Russia’s seeming low GDP growth is largely due to economic warfare from Wall Street. Its scientific growth shows its true economic fitness.

Why Scientific Output is Important

The HQI uses scientific output as the most important indicator of a nation’s genetic-cultural fitness. There are many good reasons for this, the two most important being:

  1. Producing science requires that a nation be prosperous enough to afford having a class of society who dedicate most of their time to research. And that prosperity can only come from high genetic-cultural fitness for most countries, excepting a few oil states that can afford to import scientists.
  2. Producing science requires very high intellectual capacity and drive for accomplishment (perhaps most importantly IQ and testosterone). If a nation’s population is incapable of producing science, they will be equally incapable of producing high-tech military equipment and industrial innovation, necessary for a nation to increase its power.

A nation’s scientific output is a very good indicator of its fitness. If a nation’s economy is growing fast, by raising the scientific output to the power of its real economic growth, the HQI gives the nation a fair chance at proving itself. China’s scientific output per capita is quite low compared to that of the United States. But its real economic growth is much higher. We can safely assume that China’s per capita scientific output is going to grow at a rate similar to its past economic growth.

The Bottleneck Effect in the Growth of Scientific Output

India’s example shows that there might be a bottleneck effect in the growth of scientific output in large and highly undeveloped nations. As mentioned, India’s scientific output grew by 242% from 2004 to 2015, similar to its economic growth from 1981 to 2003. 12 years of scientific output growth were equal to 23 years of past economic growth. While in the case of South Korea, its 2004 to 2015 scientific growth was roughly similar to its economic growth of the 12 years preceding that.

India may have already overcome the bottleneck. Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Philippines and Vietnam probably haven’t yet, and this probably partly accounts for their low HQI’s.

For a large, undeveloped and already low-HQI nation (low IQ, bad law enforcement, etc.), building the prosperity and infrastructure necessary for doing science takes far longer than it takes a smaller and higher HQI nation. Decades of education, infrastructure building and perhaps most importantly, urbanization, are needed before a country’s scientific output momentum gets going.

List of 203 Sovereign States by Human Potential

Below is a table of 203 sovereign states sorted by HQI, from highest HQI to lowest. Note that the HQI number shows the genetic-cultural quality of each individual citizen within that nation, not the nation’s power. While each additional Singaporean citizen adds a value of 4822 to the economy of Singapore, each additional US citizen adds a value of 1372. Since the genetic-cultural quality of Singaporeans is so much higher than the genetic-cultural quality of US citizens, what the HQI shows is that if Singapore had the same number of citizens as the United States, it would 3.5 times as powerful as the United States, as each individual citizen adds so much more to its power and productivity. Singapore’s real superiority is probably lower, as it is mostly its fast economic growth, aided by its geo-political situation, that’s contributing to its high HQI.

The HQI for certain nations, such as Indonesia and North Korea, are clearly inaccurate due to their exclusion from the world’s scientific community. The HQI of Indonesia and many former Central Asian Soviet states should increase considerably as they start to adopt Western scientific practices.

Please see below the table for the fine print regarding the numbers.

Rank Country 2015 Citable Scientific Documents 2015 Population Average Real Annual Economic Growth (2004-2015) [12-Year Min-Max Method] HQI
1 Singapore 17,976 5,618,866 7.32 4823
2 Switzerland 39,358 8,238,610 1.01 3910
3 Australia 82,567 23,923,101 2.99 3561
4 Iceland 1,365 336,728 2.41 3549
5 Norway 18,228 5,142,842 1.17 2925
6 Qatar 2,766 2,350,549 14.88 2815
7 Denmark 23,081 5,661,723 -0.65 2812
8 Sweden 35,039 9,693,883 0.41 2775
9 Monaco 129 38,320 1.64 2683
10 Luxembourg 1,692 543,261 1.51 2564
11 Israel 18,040 7,919,528 3.71 2410
12 New Zealand 13,052 4,596,396 1.25 2352
13 Netherlands 51,434 16,844,195 -0.03 2238
14 Belgium 29,180 11,183,411 0.68 2058
15 Finland 17,551 5,460,592 -1.55 2034
16 Hong Kong 14,710 7,313,557 3.12 1997
17 Liechtenstein 102 37,461 -0.40 1967
18 Ireland 11,370 4,726,856 1.09 1959
19 Canada 89,312 35,871,283 0.13 1859
20 Austria 21,818 8,557,761 -0.09 1859
21 Slovenia 5,428 2,079,085 -0.43 1851
22 United Kingdom 169,483 63,843,856 -0.60 1818
23 Taiwan 34,011 23,381,038 4.53 1717
24 South Korea 73,433 49,750,234 3.61 1627
25 Greenland 125 57,275 0.05 1610
26 Czech Republic 20,759 10,777,060 1.02 1569
27 United States 567,007 325,127,634 0.51 1372
28 Portugal 21,159 10,610,014 -0.77 1359
29 Macao 819 584,420 3.20 1278
30 Spain 79,209 47,199,069 0.30 1277
31 Estonia 2,620 1,280,227 -2.23 1264
32 Germany 149,773 82,562,004 -0.77 1218
33 France 103,733 64,982,894 -0.08 1165
34 Grenada 140 106,694 3.33 1138
35 Poland 37,285 38,221,584 4.23 1120
36 Cyprus 1,789 1,164,695 -0.51 1088
37 Slovakia 6,271 5,457,889 2.67 1068
38 Malta 559 431,239 0.75 1000
39 Italy 95,836 61,142,221 -1.74 945
40 Greece 16,616 11,125,833 -1.67 934
41 Saint Kitts and Nevis 62 55,376 1.83 889
42 Croatia 5,533 4,255,374 -1.12 869
43 China 416,409 1,401,586,609 10.55 856
44 Saudi Arabia 17,529 29,897,741 5.90 768
45 Malaysia 23,414 30,651,176 2.95 756
46 Brunei Darussalam 366 428,539 1.03 668
47 Serbia 6,540 9,424,030 2.97 663
48 Hungary 9,478 9,911,396 -0.81 653
49 Lithuania 2,973 2,998,969 -1.86 629
50 Iran 39,727 79,476,308 5.02 626
51 Japan 109,305 126,818,019 -0.41 605
52 New Caledonia 171 263,147 3.75 580
53 San Marino 22 31,802 3.26 563
54 Seychelles 59 93,754 3.79 540
55 Chile 10,347 17,924,062 2.50 535
56 Latvia 1,503 2,031,361 -1.23 498
57 Tunisia 6,228 11,235,248 2.17 493
58 Bermuda 43 65,578 0.13 485
59 Palau 14 21,291 -0.22 481
60 Turkey 39,275 76,690,509 2.27 479
61 Romania 13,053 21,579,201 0.70 475
62 Lebanon 2,076 5,053,624 5.60 464
63 Montenegro 316 621,556 2.50 432
64 Dominica 37 72,680 2.90 416
65 Bulgaria 3,441 7,112,641 1.73 410
66 United Arab Emirates 3,858 9,577,128 2.30 358
67 Uruguay 1,208 3,429,997 4.39 354
68 Macedonia 814 2,109,251 3.01 347
69 Barbados 128 287,482 0.83 341
70 Russian Federation 57,881 142,098,141 0.36 312
71 Jordan 2,313 7,689,760 5.45 338
72 Oman 1,461 4,157,783 3.56 335
73 Brazil 61,122 203,657,210 3.70 332
74 French Polynesia 122 282,764 0.11 319
75 Kuwait 1,327 3,583,399 1.84 311
76 Iraq 1,793 35,766,702 27.77 295
77 South Africa 17,409 53,491,333 2.03 292
78 Argentina 11,815 42,154,914 2.17 253
79 Bahrain 344 1,359,726 5.20 252
80 Georgia 1,067 4,304,540 4.28 246
81 Armenia 953 2,989,467 -0.14 232
82 Andorra