Discussion after the interview with Daniel Pipes: „The battle against Islamism has not yet started“
The interview with Daniel Pipes had different reactions. The comments mostly critizised the following points:
One commentator didn´t like the term „battle against Islamism“ and prefered „war against Islamism“. He said:If the opposition to Islamism was in the 30s in facist and pre-1945 in communist terms at the moment, why fight a battle against Islamism and not a war against Islamism in future?
The distinction between Islam and Islamism was not correct. Muhammed was a messenger of God in the Koran and not a prophet. Pipes answered that in Koran Mohammed was both: A messenger and a prophet. Then came up the argument that Islam had conquered the Arab, African and parts of the European and Asian states. Therefore the commentator asked: Were these conquerers Muslims or Islamists? Pipes didn´t comment on this. Another commentator claimed if Mohammed was still alive which form of the Islam would he prefer–most likely the Islam of the Islamic State. Pipes answered that Mohammed lived 1400 years ago in a tribal society while the Islamists are a modern movement and this was pure speculation. Besides that most Muslims didn´t want to return to a society like in the era of Mohammed or to live under the rule of the Islamic State.
Another commentator critizised the comparison between Islam and Confucianism and Hinduism. Islam was a religion believing in a monotheistic God and a divine mission of conquering the world while Confucianism was a philosophy which did not believe in a God and had no tendency to conquer the world. Hinduism was a religion, but has many gods and also doesn´t want to conquer the world.However the question is: Can Islam be reformed or not? And this possibility exists. You also could have a reformed monotheistic religion which can be transformed by Enlightment and modernity like Christianty , means a reformed Islam.Therefore this comparison is not that absurd as the commentator thinks and the question was not if Islam, Confucianism and Hinduism were the same or comparable, but if they were reformable. And: Confucianism theoretically is a philosophy like Buddhism without a God, but the real worship of the Confucianists and Buddhists for Confucius and Buddha in their temples had a godlike and religious similiarity. The Confucianistzs and Buddhists worshiped Confucius and Buddha in their temples like Gods.Therefore the distinction between philosophy and religion was also not that clear as many people claim.
Another author critizised Daniel Pipes for his assessment that Islamism already reached its peak in 2012-13 and made the argument that while the Islamic State was facing some setbacks at the moment, Iran was getting stronger, Turkey was becoming a new islamofascist dictatorship, the Taliban could seize power in Afghanistan and Pakistan, even could get control over nuclear weapons and that Islamism was still spreading in Africa and the Arab countries. Daniel Pipes quoted an earler article „Islamism´s likely doom“ in which he described how Islamists have conflicts and dissent and harsh splits among each other which makes cooperation unlikely. He compared the Islamism with the Panarabism which had many Panarabists fight against each other.
„This pattern of fracturing brings to mind the 1950s divisions of pan-Arab nationalists. They aspired to unify all Arabic-speaking peoples, as the expression then went, „From the [Atlantic] ocean to the [Persian] gulf.“ However appealing the dream, its leaders fell out as the movement grew in power, dooming pan-Arab nationalism to the point that it eventually collapsed under the weight of kaleidoscopic and ever-more minute clashes. These included:
- Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt vs the Ba’th (or Baath) parties ruling in Syria and Iraq.
- The Syrian Ba’th party vs the Iraqi Ba’th party.
- The Sunni Syrian Ba’thists vs the Alawi Syrian Ba’thists
- The Jadidist Alawi Syrian Ba’thists vs the Assadist Alawi Syrian Ba’thists.
And so on. In fact, every effort at forming an Arab union failed – in particular the United Arab Republic between Egypt and Syria (1958-61) but also lesser attempts such as the Arab Federation (1958), the United Arab States (1958-61), the Federation of Arab Republics (1972-77), the Syrian domination of Lebanon (1976-2005), and the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait (1990-91).
Reflecting deep Middle East patterns, dissension among Islamists likewise prevents them from working together. As the movement surges, as its members approach power and actually rule, its cracks become increasingly divisive. Rivalries papered over when Islamists languish in the opposition emerge when they wield power.
Should the fissiparous tendency hold, the Islamist movement is doomed, like fascism and communism, to be no more than a civilizational threat inflicting immense damage but never prevailing. This possible limit on Islamist power, which became visible only in 2013, offers grounds for optimism but not for complacency. Even if things look brighter than a year ago, trends can quickly turn around again. The long and difficult job of defeating Islamism remains ahead.“
Another commentator critizised the thesis that „no civilization or religion stays permanently down“, which means that Islam can reform . However the commentator gave numerous examples of civiliziations which died and vanished–in his own words:
„More importantly, I’m struck by his (bleak) comment that „no civilization or religion stays permanently down“. Not only is this a depressing thought, but it seems massively contradicted by History.
Numerous classical and pre-classical civilizations and religions have died. Sumerian, Ancient Egyptian, Hittite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Ancient Persian and other civilizations, and their religions, have all died. No one should know this better than a member of the Jewish faith, which of all the cultural components and peoples of the Classical world, has alone survived and thrived into present times.
Classical Greek civilization died, although to the great benefit of mankind and especially the West, its spirit was resurrected a thousand years later in another land, 15th century Italy, and spread, however unevenly, over much of Europe.
Rome, the most successful and widespread civilization of Classical times, truly died.
Polytheism, the religion in numerous forms throughout the cultures and civilizations of most of the ancient world, died, although it did survive, after an interlude of Buddhism, in India.
In fact, it seems terribly significant that Islam, the last of the major (by numbers) monotheistic religions, was born in the very heart of the Dark Ages. If Islam hadn’t been born at the very low point of Middle Eastern and Western history, perhaps it would not have been so characterized by intolerance, hatred, and violence. Indeed, more likely it would not have been successfully born at all, and would not have survived to become a plague not only to much of the world, but to its own peoples, in our times.
Once it is realized, or remembered, that civilizations and religions can and do die, we are in a quite different and more hopeful world. We must then consider, that while our own civilization could in theory die, it is also true that an alien and supremacist creed and civilization, like Islam, could also die, or be overthrown, either from within or without.
Since the world is filled with evidence that Islam is incapable of bringing any genuine peace to its own lands except when it’s in a state of profound stagnation, and is a force of de-stabiulization and violence wherever its believers appear in significant numbers, it seems vitally important to remember that civilizations and religions can and do die – even a civilization that claims over a billion and a half adherents.
incidentally, that is a number hard to test since in every majority-Muslim nation it is a capital crime to voice dissent or doubt about the repect-worthiness of the religion, or to reveal that you might want to leave it. So if we can ever escape the crippling taboo against criticizing Islam, whose essence is the very antithesis of the Multicultural belief system which seems to be the main barrier against criticizing it (what irony!), and also the idea that no religion ever dies, then remarkable possibilities open up.
One of the most remarkable is to consider that if enough people engage in an all-out fair-minded, fact- and logic-based intellectual attack on the tenets of Islam, that assault and critique (although I personally doubt it) might provide the impetus for a true reform of the religion by its non-totalitarian-minded adherents. In other words, resistance to Islam by non-Muslims that is only timid and ‚reform‘-based may have no impact toward reform whereas an all-out assault on its commandments of intolerance, hatred, and violence might.“