Islam: The Iron Ceiling

Muslims make a very important point—the West has become a godless society filled with immorality and perversions. Of course, the West could respond that their failings are more public due to the freedom of the press in Western democracies—a freedom absent in nearly every Muslim populated country. However, it is true that without God a society lacks a moral safety net.

Numerous studies have indicated that religion functions as both a safety net and a ceiling for the possibilities of human nature. Without religion individuals lack a moral safety net to prevent many individuals from acting upon their impulses. The result? Individuals are prone to disorders of impulse—addictions, crimes of impulse (theft, rape, murder), suicide, etc. When religions are overly rigid, they cause a stifling of creative impulse and the higher functions of human nature that arise out of the freedom of impulse. Individuals become authoritarian, rigid, lack creativity, etc.

The problems of the West arise because it has drifted from its Judeo-Christian moral foundation. Muslims countries have not drifted so far from Islam. Thus disorders of impulse (which are on the rise in Muslim populated countries) are not yet rampant. However, the oppressive legalism of Islam so stifles human nature that nearly every higher creative impulse has been destroyed or submerged. It has become a desert religion that creates an intellectually oppressive desert of the human mind and soul.

What great intellectual achievement has come from a Muslim country since the Middle ages—scientific, artistic, philosophical, or otherwise? Answer: None! Nearly every scientific advancement has come from the West. Muslim populated countries have had to import Western talent or have had to send their best and brightest students to the West for a true education that is something more than rote memorization. (By the way, many of these Muslim students when out of a Muslim country yield to impulse. I have talked to university officials who say that a huge number of illegitimate births (or abortions) on campus involve a Muslim male. So for many Muslims the moral safety net isn’t internalized and integrated into the individual’s personality and character).

Only one Muslim writer has received the Nobel prize in literature—Naguib Mahfouz. The Muslim brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimun) first loved him, then turned against him. He was stabbed. Salman Rushdie is on the cutting edge of magical realism, an exciting new development within literature. He had to go into hiding so Muslims wouldn’t kill his creative freedom. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Islam doesn’t provide the moral safety net to the degree I thought. More likely—the moral safety net of Islam includes attacking that which is creative and different. Perhaps the purported moral strength and superiority of Islam really hides a deeper fear that the moral strength can’t withstand human creativity. Does this mean that the moral strength of the system purportedly created by Allah crumbles in the presence of a mere human exercising the creative impulse? Sad!!!

Islam fears individuals acting upon freedom and the search for meaning and identity. It is the height of rigidity. This is seen in the prescription for apostasy. An individual who tires of the stifling nature of Islam and who desires to exercise her/his mind and heart to find God as God reveals God’s self to her/him must stop, return to Islam, or die. Why? The great fear of a rigidly moralistic (not moral but moralistic) system is freedom. Fromm noted that individuals submit to a huge array of destructive oppressive ideologies because they fear freedom. While there may be no compulsion in Islam—neither is there freedom. The result? You don’t have to become a Muslim, but you aren’t free not to be a Muslim (if you are one). just are a Muslim—not subject to the ravages of giving into one’s impulses (at least not when you are in a Muslim populated country), but not blessed by the development of higher intellectual and creative impulses.

In the book of Job within the Bible, God says to Job, "gird your loins, be a man. I ask the questions, you come up with the answers." We humans don’t like that freedom and responsibility. We don’t want to have to be that courageous. We want to ask the questions and have God give us the answers—tell us what to do. If we were to create a religion, we would create one with all the answers about every aspect of life—a stifling absence of freedom and the possibility to develop a creative intellectual nature. We would create something like Islam—a complete way of life devoid of freedom and true responsibility (and creativity). We would call creativity—bid’ah—and denounce the "innovation." Our only responsibility would be to do what we were told to do (a religion for children). For me that is the very proof of the human origin of Islam.

It is sad! Muslims are absolutely correct! The problems of the Christian West are due to the rejection of the Christian faith. The problems of the Islamic world are due to the presence of the Islamic faith.

Series: Second Thoughts On Common Islamic Assumptions
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