Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Is Freedom "Perfect Slavery?"

By Aussiegirl

"East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet" is an apt quotation by Kipling. Just as we couldn't pin Bill Clinton down on the definition of "is", you can't pin down the Moslem concept of "freedom". Contrary to what our President believes, the Palestinian mother does not always want the same thing for her child that an American mother does, on the contrary, as the recent news about the "Martyr Mom" who ran in the recent elections shows, her greatest desire for her children is that they blow themselves up while killing Jews. Even if you leave out this extreme interpretation, Islam itself means "submission", and the concept of a secular government, with laws created and passed by civil popularly elected governments, goes against the Koran -- for Allah laid out the law to Mohammed, and there is no need for any man-made laws at all, as a matter of fact, man-made laws are blasphemous. At its foundation, Islam can only be a tyranny of the Koran, with Sharia law as the only law. Andrew Bostom writes an important piece for Front Page Magazine.

FrontPage magazine.com :: Is Freedom "Perfect Slavery?" by Andrew G. Bostom

During several notable speeches since 2003, including both inaugural and State of the Union addresses, President Bush has repeatedly stressed the paramount importance of promoting freedom in the Middle East. Speaking in an almost messianic idiom, he has termed such a quest “the calling of our time; …the calling of our country”. [...]Despite President Bush’s uplifting rhetoric and ebullient appraisal of these events—which epitomizes American hopes and values at their quintessential best—there is a profound, deeply troubling flaw in his (and/or his advisers) analysis which simply ignores the vast gulf between Western and Islamic conceptions of freedom itself.

“Hurriyya”, Arabic for freedom, and the uniquely Western concept of freedom are completely at odds. Hurriyya “freedom”, as Ibn Arabi (d. 1240) the lionized “Greatest Sufi Master”, expressed it, “being perfect slavery”. And this conception is not merely confined to the Sufis perhaps metaphorical understanding of the relationship between Allah the “master” and his human “slaves.” The late American scholar of Islam, Franz Rosenthal (d. 2003) analyzed the larger context of hurriyya in Muslim society. He notes the historical absence of hurriyya as “a fundamental political concept that could have served as a rallying cry for great causes.” An individual Muslim “was expected to consider subordination of his own freedom to the beliefs, morality and customs of the group as the only proper course of behavior…” Thus politically, Rosenthal concludes, “…the individual was not expected to exercise any free choice as to how he wished to be governed…In general, …governmental authority admitted of no participation of the individual as such, who therefore did not possess any real freedom vis-à-vis it.”

Bernard Lewis, in his analysis of hurriyya for the venerated Encyclopedia of Islam, discusses this concept in the latter phases of the Ottoman Empire, through the contemporary era. After highlighting a few “cautious” or “conservative” (Lewis’ characterization) reformers and their writings, Lewis maintains,

…there is still no idea that the subjects have any right to share in the formation or conduct of government—to political freedom, or citizenship, in the sense which underlies the development of political thought in the West. While conservative reformers talked of freedom under law, and some Muslim rulers even experimented with councils and assemblies government was in fact becoming more and not less arbitrary…

And Lewis concludes with a stunning observation, when viewed in light of the present travails in Iraq and throughout the Muslim world, President Bush’s hagiographic assessment notwithstanding:

In the final revulsion against the West, Western democracy too was rejected as a fraud and a delusion, of no value to Muslims.


At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem now with the Western view of freedom is that it looks like license. Most of us have been educated in Western concepts of freedom in our civics classes (hopefully), but in practice, and especially in our decadent times, we have re-interpreted freedom to mean anything goes. Our political atmosphere has grown very nasty, unprincipled and undisciplined. So even among Westerners the concept of freedom is much confused, to say the least.

Since the "Free Speech" movement of 1964, which re-interpreted free speech to mean gratuituously vulgar speech and deceitful propagandas, our practice and eventually our concept of freedom has become very much debased. What other cultures (especially traditional ones) see of our freedom is what's exported to them from Hollywood. They see also those Westerners who travel to their countries for the sex and drug trades. So what conclusion can they draw about our freedom if what we project is depravity?

Until we clean up our own views of freedom and return to the original principles, few self-respecting non-Westerners, muslim or not, would want our freedoms.


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