Criticism of Islam: HBC

Figure 1.--

Some Muslim readers believe that HBC is overly critical of Islam. A Pakistani reader writes, "Of what i have understood of all your comments is this: the western civilization is better than islamic civilization in all its aspects, be it the outlook on life, liberty of action, freedom of expression, deliverance of human rights, adherance to moral and ethical code, being tolerant, in promoting equality of genders etc. Of what I have learnt over the 24 years of my life is to stop beating around the bush and getting to the point. Sometimes I try to summarize and categorize my own thoughts that it feels like squeezing a dead lemon, buts thats me. I feel, we are only touching upon irrelevant matters such as whether democracy is acceptable in Islam or not, and likewise, which has no tangible value in the discussion of Islam really. The implementation of Democracy itself differs chalk and cheese between western countries like America and Switzerland. So let us not waste our time on these petty issues."

HBC Background

The HBC Webmaster and most of our readers are Westerners from North America and Europe. We welcome readers from other countries but the fact that HNC is an English language site prevents many from Asia and other areas from joining our forum. The poor ecomonies in many countries also mean that fewer people have computers and access to the internet. All this acts to restrict the HBC comunity primarily, but not exclusively to the West. We also indeed have Christian and to a lesser extent Jewish backgrounds, although many of do not practice any religion. As a result it could well be that we have pro-Western biases. And we welcome readers to raise this issue and we are glad to discuss this.

Western Superiority

As far as I am aware, we do not say any where in HBC that the West is superior to the Muslim world or an other section of the world. In facr in our historical assessments we praise the intelectual inquiry and tolerance of the Islamic World during the Golden Age when Europe was locked in the supers and intolerance of the Dark Ages. We also discuss in great detail the less savory asoects of the West, the Inquisition, imperia;ism, racism, Communism, and Fascism. All of this is hardly an argument that the West is superior.

Democracy and Free Markets

While we do not maintain that the West is superior, we are also not cultural relaivists. We believe that there are some approhes to human society that are superior and those are in essence democracy, free markets, and the rule of law. We do indeed believe that the key to maximizing human capabilities are democratic government based on law and free market economies. And it is primarily in the West today that democracy, the rule of law, free expresion, personal liberty, and free enterprise economies are possible. But these ideals are not limited to the West. There are Asian countries which have adopted these elements (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore) and the results have been the same as in the West. India is an example of a country that has had democracy for some time and is now beginning to implement free markets and the results speak for itself.

Economic Success

So we think our reader is wrong in saying that we uncritically say that the West is best. But we do believe that democracy and free markets are the key to the future and unlocking the enormous capabilities of human beings. It is no accident that the most affluent countries in the world are those with democratic governments and free markets (in Europe, North America, and Asia). And the poorest are those with totalitarian and theocratic systems and state controlled economies. China is a good example here. With limited steps to allow personal freedom and more defite steps to allow free markes, look at what has happened in China. We have developed a page assessing how to compare countries using objective statistical indicators.

Islam and Democracy

Because we believe democracy is so important we do not believe that the question of democracy is a side issue. We beliee that democracy along with free markets are the central issue. The heart of the problem is that if you believe that your faith is the only true faith and the only correct interpretation of the scriptures than you can justify God as authorizing you doing terrible things to people who do not agree with your faith. And this of course is incompatable with democracy. This is why in the Muslim world there is an acceptance of violence. Even viloence directed of other Muslims, especially Muslims of other sects.

Liberal Western Thought and Islam

Liberal thought in the west has in the 20th century trended toward cultural relativity. This is the idea that culture is neutral and that there may be different social values in various societies and that wecshould respect the values ad institutions in other soicieties. And that assessing a foreign society on your own parochial values is a flawed outlook. This combined with the attitude toward religious toleraion in the West has left many Westerners unwilling to criticise Islam. There is no doubt that there are strengths and weaknesses in all societies. And there is no doubt that there is much of value in both the Koran and Islam. It is also true that some Islamicys have adopted a radical view of Islam and use their religuion to justify evil acts. In many instances Islamicis are esentially cloaking Fascism in the guise of religion and attemoptng in an effort to avoid the aproprium visited on Fascism. While thereis value in cultural relativity as a check on xenephobia. It is also true that there are certain enduring human values. These values are embraced in the world's great religions and most powerfully expressed in the United Nations Deckaratioin of Human Rights. Important elements of the U.N. declaratioin are opposed by Islamiciss. Our contention is that these basic rights should be supported even when challenged by religious figures holding the Koran or other religious books.


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Created: 2:03 AM 2/2/2007
Last updated: 8:46 PM 7/27/2007