Monday, February 7, 2011

Islam, Democracy and Dictatorships: Brutality in an Unbaptized World V

“That in the realm of morals one thing stands out, the unquestioned prevalence of cruelty in the unbaptized world. Cruelty will be the chief fruit in the moral field of the Modern Attack, just as the revival of slavery will be the chief fruit in the social field.”

Hilaire Belloc, The Modern Phase


Male dominance in Islam- untempered by the female principle and deprived of the sacramental benefits of the Holy Spirit –leads us to our second consideration:

2. The theology of Islam, that is, what the Koran teaches about God's rule over the human race, is essential in understanding whether or not Islamic civilization is adaptable to democracy.

As we read in the book of Malachi and the Gospel of Luke, turning “the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” implies something. It implies that father’s hearts were not turned toward their children; that fatherly love among men had grown cold over the centuries. Among the Roman Emperors and in Herod Dynasty, for instance, fathers killed their sons if they got in the way. Infanticide was also common in the most civilized parts of the world. And in worst case scenarios, human sacrifices were practiced on every continent. For instance, where the State of Illinois is today, there was an Indian tribe called the “Mound Builders,” also known as the Natchez Indians. This sun-worshipping tribe, it was recently discovered, practiced human sacrifice. Even with Israel and Judah in the Old Testament, upon falling away from the exclusive worship of Yahweh and thus adoring other gods, succumbed to the ritual of child and human sacrifice. “They immolated their sons and daughters by fire, practiced fortune-telling and divination, and sold themselves into evil doing in the LORD'S sight, provoking him till, in his great anger against Israel, the LORD put them away out of his sight.” (II Kings 17:17-18) This is what unredeemed human nature is capable of. We take it for granted what Christ has meant to the world and the civilizing effect he has had on human beings.

As Belloc said, one thing stands out, the unquestioned prevalence of cruelty in the unbaptized world. But out of this darkness, God promised that a new day would dawn for humanity. Seven hundred years before the Incarnation of Christ, the Lord spoke through the prophet Ezekiel: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.” (Ezekiel 36:25-26) With natural hearts, men would turn toward their children and become the fathers they were created to be. With a new and generous diffusion of divine grace from heaven, there arose a new understanding of God himself. In days of old, he was Yahweh, the Almighty, the Supreme Being, whose name was not to be pronounced. With the coming of his Son, however, he was also to be looked upon as a Father.

St. Paul reminds us: “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:15-17)
No longer are we mere slaves or subjects under a Divine Master. Jesus told his Apostles that he no longer called them slaves- as they once were –but friends. And as friends of God, Jesus would tell them everything he heard from his Father.

Divine fatherhood and friendship, therefore, produced the political effect of freedom. The rights of the soul were paramount and not to be transgressed by the State. And where the Gospel had taken root, the iron fist of State authority was pacified. Indeed, despotic rule was transformed into a governance tempered by the laws of Christ. Rulers had the model of fatherly authority under which to rule. As Pope Leo XIII said, "...the authority of fathers of families preserves a certain impressed image and form of the authority which is in God 'of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.'" Civil authority which approximates to this standard governs well.

However, this kind of filial intimacy with God is foreign with Muslims. In Islam, God is not to be considered a Father; nor is man and woman believed to be the image of God. These theological considerations inform the political principles in the Muslim nations. And to be sure, they will be explored in further detail in the next blog.