Friday, February 4, 2011

Islam, Democracy and Dictatorships: Three Basic Characteristics II

An excerpt from an article on how Constantinople was lost to Islam in 1453 after having belonged to Eastern Christianity (Byzantine Empire) for over a millennium:

“Wherever nature is fairest and most beneficent, there man is frequently most feeble or most degraded. All history warns us that we are not made to pass our days amidst the sweets of a fertile garden, inhaling its odors, plucking its flowers, and tasting its luscious fruits. It is in the struggles against difficulties that all that is best in man is nurtured into vigor and preserved from decay. Through labor we live, in enjoyment we die. The thorn of a rose tree is a better friend to us than all the perfume which exhales from its blossoms.”

Catholic Periodical: The Rambler, 1854

The Byzantine Empire, with Constantinople as its capitol, was softened by comforts of prosperity before falling to the Muslim Turks of the Ottoman Empire. In modern times, while Islam was politically on the decline- especially during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries -the Christian West was on the ascendancy. But with progress and political power what inevitably follows is moral dissolution. Western Civilization is going the way of the Byzantine Empire. As the saying goes: “Civilizations die from suicide, not from murder.”

Guglielmo Ferrero, who wrote the book Ancient Rome and Modern America in 1914, warned us of the following paradox which very few people understand when they are at the height of prosperity: “A civilization is not always in reality richer and stronger in times when it bears the most visible marks of so being. We are rather apt to find that when it is most dazzling and outward seeming, its decadence has already begun.” Certainly, we have seen the apex of America’s political power and technological progress in the twentieth century only to be followed by a steep moral decline among the people.

As bleak as that may sound, Christianity is still a live option; at least in America. If we are serious about receiving the wise counsel the Scriptures, the Saints and the Catholic Faith has to offer, then we will be in a position to see Islam, Christianity and the political world as it really is. And even more importantly, we will be in a position to do something about it. But first, we have to begin by giving religion its due.

To begin with, there are three characteristics of Islam that differentiates itself from Christianity. These characteristics, which are theological in nature, shape the political science of Muslim nations and how they govern their own.

1. The religion that Mohammad founded was fashioned in likeness of Old Testament Judaism; thus putting a strong emphasis on the masculine dimension of God. This lent itself to male dominance in Islamic civilization (its counterpart is to be found in Western Civilization where a feminization is pronounced).

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.

3. Mohammad, the founder of Islam, was a religious and political leader wrapped in one. It followed, therefore, that in the religion of Mohammad there is little distinction between Church and State.

More on the next blog-