"Islam is not a religion," Answer to Lloyd de Jongh - Part 5
Religion makes it possible for the "scholars" to pervert the lay Muslims' humanity to such an extent that they are willing to kill their own children, yet are ready to die for God. If that is not a religion, then I do not know what is.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
In this concluding part, I would like to return to where Lloyd de Jongh goes wrong. De Jongh asserts, "Islam is a totalitarian system, not a religion." What he really means by "not a religion" is "not Christianity." On the notion that Christianity is the only religion, nothing more needs to be said. His two assertions: Islam is a totalitarian system, and; Islam is not a religion, are backed by an array of other assertions, these often grounded in facts. While most of these facts are incontestable, the insights he draws from them are often questionable. De Jongh commits two fundamental errors. He fails to appreciate that dominance and submission are opposite sides of the same relation, and hence mutually-defining. Furthermore, it is this relation, rather than just one side of it, that is the basic prerequisite for totalitarianism. De Jongh's second error is worse than it would seem prima facie, for he equates "subjugation" with totalitarianism, whereas the former is only the act of enforcing submission, one side of the relation necessary for totalitarianism.
Islam is not a totalitarian system because it bears superficial resemblance to other totalitarian systems. It is a totalitarian system for its own intrinsic reasons, regardless of whether other totalitarian systems exist or have ever existed. Similarly, Islam is not a religion because it bears superficial resemblance to other religions. It is a religion for its own intrinsic reasons, regardless of whether other religions exist or have ever existed. To know whether Islam is a totalitarian system and/or a religion, requires knowledge of what makes totalitarian systems and religions what they are.
De Jongh offers none of these prerequisites, and sees no need to explain anything. Instead, he offers his audience similarities, or lack of similarities, between facts as grounds for his assertions, and sometimes even these similarities and dissimilarities are imagined, rather than observed. He reinforces these assertions through selective quoting. His prioritisations are biased in favour of his prejudices, and he emphatically repeats these prejudices before he has proven anything. The most that can charitably be said about this project is that De Jongh has proven Islam is not Christianity and Christianity is not Islam. It is not clear how many people have been losing sleep unable to figure that out.
No one is suggesting that Islam is not a deen. Lloyd de Jongh knows this as well as anyone else. Why, then, does he hammer, and Hammer, and HAMMER, that Islam is a deen? Here De Lloyd shows his superiority over Islamic "scholars." His skills as a propagandist for Christianity are closer to that of the KGB than to that of the laughable da'wah amateurs, in that the questionable claim that Islam not a religion is shielded behind the unquestionable claim that Islam is a deen. The "defence" of Islam being a deen is a very sophisticated straw man, set up and knocked down in the same manipulative act, to imply the acceptance of Islam not being a religion. Proving that Islam is a deen in no way either proves or disproves that Islam is a religion, but if they are juxtaposed in just the right way, the gullible in his audience will see Islam as a religion dispensed with, when De Jongh accomplished nothing of the kind.
De Jongh cannot follow the evidence wherever it leads. Islam as a religion drives inexorably towards the conclusion that there is something seriously dark and sinister about religions. The result is inconsistency. At times he fully acknowledges the religion in Islam, at other times he implies it, he sometimes belittles it, and at yet other times he denies it altogether. The role of religion in Islam might be more complex than in other religions, and perhaps De Jongh's vacillation is a response to this complexity.
Christian ideologues, De Jongh included, have to insulate the Christian religion from any association with iniquity, despite its very long, dark and sinister history, especially prior to the Reformation. Even though, relatively speaking, Christianity no longer demonstrates the cruel and uncivilised excesses it once did, apart from still inculcating religion into children, to admit that Islam is also a religion is to draw the nature of God, and thereby God himself, into question. This is especially dangerous for Christianity, since it is secularism that finally stopped Christians from slaughtering Christians, by disempowering the Christian Shari'a.
It is ahistorical to ascribe the relatively benign character of contemporary Christianity vis-à-vis Islam to Christianity itself, as Lloyd De Jongh, Jamie Glazov, Dinesh D'Souza and others Christian ideologues are wont to do. According to Jay Smith, "We've done this in Christianity. We separated church and state." No, they did not. They fought long, bloody wars to avoid doing exactly that. Without the Enlightenment neutering Christianity, Christians could well have gone on slaughtering Christians exactly as Muslims slaughter Muslims today, with the state fully embroiled in it all. The disturbing truth De Jongh cannot face is either Islam and Christianity are both religions, or neither of them are. Either way, every religion creates its gods in its own image.
It does not help to assert, over and over, that Islam is a totalitarian system, if the only support for such an assertion is Islam’s superficial similarity to Nazism and Communism. In order to convincingly show that Islam is a totalitarian system, one would have to show that the way it functions makes it inherently totalitarian, and show those same inherent functions to have obtained in Nazism and Communism. Simply showing how awful or barbaric a system is will not suffice. It also does not help to pursue a parallel agenda of buttressing Christianity by dissociating Islam from religion by sentimental or moralistic ploys.
Lloyd de Jongh is hamstrung by the same a priori imponderable that hamstrings all Christian ideologues: they have to believe that religion is a beautiful, innate attribute of all human beings that finds fulfilling expression in the bounteous love of Jesus Christ. If Islam were also a religion, that would muddy the waters way too much. Therefore, to show how grotesque Islam is, is to show how it disqualifies itself from that hallowed appellation, religion.
The logical outcome of acknowledging Islam as a religion, is the choice of which, then, becomes the worse negation of Christianity: no Christ or no God? Smarter Christians try to draw Islam into question, so as to validate Christianity. They need to negate the Islamic claim to God, since the Muslims know God to be a God of hatred, war and death. Since both religions insist that there is only one God, the problem is clear. Not so smart Christians try to invoke the "true God, false God" fallacy. If Christians acknowledge Islam is a religion, then they immediately draw God into question. For exactly the same reasons, Muslims expend vast amounts of energy on negating Christianity and their God. Yet, things could be much worse. At least Christians such as Lloyd de Jongh fight Islam.
De Jongh does not care to mention the abject Christians, the doctrinal capitulators, that make the exact opposite claim: Islam is a religion. They just never get as far as realising that their claim negates their god. The truth that Islam is a religion is worse in the hands of Christian capitulators, than the lie that Islam is not a religion is in the hands of Christian ideologues. And so it came to pass that in the year of our Lord 2008, “the ceremonial head of the worldwide Anglican Communion,” Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury (2002-2012), called for Shari’a in Britain under his doctrine of “plural jurisdiction.”
For Christian capitulators, Islam has to be a religion, for if it were not, there would be fewer “people of faith” in the world, an awful thing to have to contemplate. Thus do they foreshadow their role as slaves of the Muslims, and confirm lay Muslims in their supremacy. While lay Muslims are submissive in relation to the dominant "scholars," they are dominant in relation to the submissive kufaar. The lay Muslim finds himself on both sides of this relation. This simultaneous dominance and submission amounts to a doubling of the relation and a conflict between its two manifestations: domination-submission versus submission-domination. Since this relation affirms the dominant at the expense of the submissive, and negates the submissive to the affirmation of the dominant, the lay Muslim is the very embodiment of conflict.
Totalitarianism means both domination and submission, each side assumes a state, a condition, a mode of being, as well as an array of actions, appropriate to its station according to whether it dominates or submits. Lay Muslims must revere, listen to and obey without question, and imitate the "scholars," whom they can never attain to for they are forbidden the knowledge to which the "scholars" are privy. The "scholars" devise all the compulsions and prohibitions that the lay Muslim must observe, including that they never attempt to understand Islam, and implants in them that these diktats come from Allah/Muhammad, making religion necessary. Religion makes it possible for the "scholars" to pervert the lay Muslims' humanity to such an extent that they are willing to kill their own children, and are ready to die for God. If that is not a religion, then I do not know what is.
The "scholars," being representatives of Allah/Muhammad, meet out punishments and dispense rewards to lay Muslims, as Shari'a stipulates. The punishments entail denying access to that which makes us human, viz., the ability to satisfy our desires, predilections and preferences, as well as preserve our dignity and affirmation as human beings, while rewards entail granting such access. De Jongh is correct in that the books of Shari'a are military secrets that the kufaar, the purported enemies of Muslims, must never catch sight of, hence their denial to lay Muslims. But there is another reason: the "scholar" who is to induct the lay Muslim into the inner sanctum must first be sure that the lay Muslim's humanity is sufficiently destroyed for him to not be traumatised by what he is about to find out about his own religion, and react in ways damaging to Islam.
Keeping Shari'a from lay Muslims is even more important than keeping it from the kufaar. If the kufaar refuse to submit, it is easy to kill them all, but the "scholars" cannot kill every lay Muslim who refuses to submit, because they are needed for killing the kufaar. Had De Jongh focussed on Islam as totalitarian system, rather than on Islam as "not a religion," he might have arrived at this insight.
A Muslim can do nothing without prior scholarly approval, either already established in Shari'a, or issued by religious edict particular to a case. The lay Muslim's submission to the "scholars" is evidenced by the Muslim balking at doing anything, or coming to any independent opinion, or affecting any disposition, without first knowing whether a scholar has permitted it, or seeking a scholar's determination on what they may or must do, think or feel. If a scholar determines that the medicine that will save your child's life is haram, then the Muslim will make absolutely sure, lying and deceiving if needs be, that his child does not get that medicine, even as he watches his child suffer and eventually die. The Muslim is compelled to be harsh towards himself as a human being, and lenient towards himself as a Muslim.
All of the above obtains inside Islam, to which the lay Muslim is resigned. The lay Muslim's real problem begins outside Islam, in his relations with the kufaar. From early childhood, Muslims are raised to understand themselves as "the best of people," and so the ones destined to dominate. All others, "the worst of creatures," must submit to them. In their relations outside Islam, lay Muslims are no longer the subordinates of the "people of knowledge," but supreme rulers over all infidels. None but a Muslim may rule a land, any land, because a Muslim must never be under the authority of an infidel. The term ummah, variously translated as tribe, community or nation, obscures the totalitarian character of Islam, presenting the scholars and lay Muslims as one against the infidel. "The Muslims are harsh towards the infidel and lenient towards each other."
The lay Muslim straddles the boundary between totalitarianism inside Islam and subjugation outside Islam. In both relations, both in towards the "scholars" and out towards the kufaar (or up towards the "scholars" and down towards the kufaar), he must abase his own humanity. In the first relation, his faith is never strong enough, while in the second, it is always too strong. The practical outcome is that the lay Muslim is left with three options: one, become like ISIS; two, attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable, or three, leave Islam. The second is the same as doing nothing, being "moderate," getting on with your life, etc., the outcome of which is to constantly sabotage yourself, not the best recipe for a happy life, and unfortunately, the condition of most Muslims. Not without reason did Ayatollah Khomeini say, "Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humour in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious." The crux of the Muslim's problem is this: I am of the best of people; I am a slave. Supremacism and self-abasement in one.
Each of these impulses demands paramountcy over all others, driving the Muslims to ever more extreme assertive actions. This contradictory double-relation is why Muslims are so, to put it bluntly, messed up. The "scholars" help lay Muslims deal with this by teaching them that this life is worthless and but a test from Allah. Their reward will the real life that is still to come once they're dead, in the Hereafter, the Afterlife. This way the "scholars" achieve amongst Muslims what in Communist China is called "Harmony." Allowing for contextual variations, the same holds true for all people living under totalitarianism, whatever the totalitarian system. Some hope for ultimate justice in a future life, whether on earth or in Heaven, while others are void of all hope. One could debate which is worse.
In the large volume of De Jongh's output, and in the disturbing nature of the material, it is easy to lose sight of just how limited De Jongh’s insights are. He makes up for this by recruiting his audience's empathy in a very simple way: asking them to read his highlighted texts out loud themselves. Now they are accomplices to the deed. After that it becomes much harder for them to challenge or incriminate De Jongh, as they are likely to end up also incriminating themselves.
We see the same tactic employed in De Jongh's etymological and cultural sleuthing. Etymology and culture often reveal the unusual or the unexpected, which means they can be seductive, especially if one has a prejudice to bear out. Customary dress amongst Gulf Arabs assign white to males and black to females. De Jongh points out that the Ka'aba kiswah (drape) is black, thereby to infer that Allah is female, thus tying Islam back to its pagan origins. Yet De Jongh does not actually make this claim. He sets it up and then lets those willing to fall under his spell "see" it for themselves, a case of pointing the moth towards the candle.
The only problem with this particular little conceit is that the black colour of the kiswah does not have the historic continuity that De Jongh imputes to it. In the period between the Ka’aba-centred Meccan paganism and the contemporary black kiswah, the colour of the drape has, at different times, been red, white or green. The link De Jongh gets his audience to make is an interesting allusion, especially in light of the obvious erotic symbolism of the vulva-shaped black stone, the sexually explicit actions that some pilgrims (male and female) perform on it and ancient fertility rites associated with the site, any more than that and the link becomes an illusion.
De Jongh is unable to derive any insights from his vast corpus of facts, being metacognitively crippled by religious belief, a kind of belief that demands, and will tolerate, only confirmation of itself. He rebuffs challenges with the same disdain he lays at the door of Islamic scholars, including their prerogative: do not argue with me; "Allah knows and you know not." His "strength" derives not from the quality of his insights, but from the quantity of his facts.
De Jongh would not like to hear that his thinking is identical to that of Islamic “scholars,” who know Shari’a as well as he does, but use that knowledge to advance a different ulterior motive to the one he advances. Without admitting that he has one, De Jongh regards his ulterior motive as good, because it advances Christianity, and the Muslims’ ulterior motive as bad, since it advances Islam. They all, De Jongh included, use knowledge not to seek truth, but for ulterior motives. This draws De Jongh’s scholarship into question exactly as it does that of all Islamic “scholars,” of whose efforts the Introduction to Reliance of the Traveller says:
Close contact with these scholars as Muslims leaves one with a firm impression of godfearingness, the first condition of real knowledge and its most important fruit. (My emphasis).
Lloyd de Jongh not only thinks that there is a god, he also fears it, so much so that he abdicates his all before its paramountcy. De Jongh does not use his vast encyclopaedic knowledge to better understand Islam. He uses his knowledge to confirm his prejudices towards Islam. His starting point and his end point are the same, exactly as with Islamic "scholars," exactly as the Shari'a demands of those with "godfearingness." De Jongh’s frequent gratuitous remarks about atheism and atheists, always ignorant, suggest that he has more to defend than just his position on Islam.
Convincing evidence and convincing conclusions do not require an audience to be repeatedly hammered several times on the same page or slide with the same point, as if their skulls are impenetrable. Compelling insights are called that because they compel engagement. All that is required is to lead an audience from their understanding, or even prejudice or ignorance, to a coherent new position with obvious intellectual integrity, the more elegantly conveyed the better. The passage quoted below is representative of De Jongh's diction:
The second definition in the linguistic meaning of deen is obedience and bondage, which includes subordination and dominance, subordination and dominance under the power of others. So dominance under the power of others. You are subordinated under the power of others, the political control and power of others.
I hope that this answer to Lloyd de Jongh, whose work against Islam I respect, has shown that he does both his integrity and our ability to confront totalitarianism a disservice by attempting to show Islam to be a totalitarian system while at the same time insisting, against his own evidence, that Islam is not a religion. If, in showing the totalitarian character of Islam, Christianity gets caught in the crossfire, then the intellectually honest thing to do would be to acknowledge this inconvenient truth, and apply the same rigour in addressing it, wherever that may lead.
Lloyd de Jongh does what all Islamic “scholars” do: they scour vast amounts of information for anything that will underpin an a priori position, ignoring everything to the contrary. Anything that lends itself to multiple interpretations, they interpret in the way that suits them, failing to mention that other interpretations are possible. They do not expect their audience to engage with what they bring. They expect them to accept it. De Jongh's stock punctuation is "You must understand," or simply the imperative, "Understand." The a priori positing, in the case of the “scholars,” is to say only good things about Islam; in the case of De Jongh, it is to say only bad things about Islam. The method is the same: the evidence is selected on the grounds that it supports the foregone conclusions. They imagine their case is strengthened by repetitive hammering of the same point.
For De Jongh and the Islamic “scholars,” the problem they have, as they see it, is not to establish the veracity and integrity of their evidence (this does not interest them), but to break through their audiences' stubborn disbelief (they do not understand skepticism) by whatever means. Yasir Qadhi is not beyond blatant manipulation; Lloyd de Jongh is not beyond bullying. The end justifies the means. How far can such methods go? History shows us that there is no limit.
My study of Islam began after I left that religion, having been driven out by the mentality and conduct of my fellow Muslims. I acknowledge my debt of gratitude to the many kafir scholars and polemicists, and a handful of former Muslims, whose works have pointed me towards knowledge I might not have found on my own, or at least, not as quickly, and whose insights have saved me dead-ends, wild goose chases and considerable frustration. I apply the same critical scrutiny to them, as I apply to the Islamic sources they alert me to. I am learning a great deal from Lloyd de Jongh, who has generously made his material available to anyone who would care to avail themselves of it. I, for one, am enormously grateful to have access to this vast corpus and urge the reader to watch De Jongh’s many online videos. All of this stands.
I agree with Lloyd de Jongh on the barbaric nature of Islam. My disagreement with him is over the role and significance of religion in Islam. On this question De Jongh is strikingly inconsistent. Understanding the role of religion in Islam will continue to elude him if he does not make up his mind over his motivation for pursuing the question in the first place. If his motivation remains to show that Islam is not a religion, then not much enlightenment can be expected from him on this question. However, should he decide to investigate whether Islam is a religion, without prejudice, then we can confidently look forward to some interesting work, for the man has great material at his fingertips. Until then, however, such honesty must remain but a hope, and perhaps a vain one.
Lay Muslims make a distinction between deen, i.e., religion, their domain, and Shari'a, i.e., law, the domain of the "scholars." When De Jongh says that Islam is a law-driven religion, he is correct. The Shari'a even says exactly that, "Avoid the unlawful and you will be the most religious of people." There ought to be no harm in holding such a position, if one were in pursuit of truth as it pertains to the nature of Islam. The fact that Lloyd de Jongh cannot settle on this position, but must continuously vacillate between Islam not being a religion, then being a religion, then being a kind of religion and yet also not quite a religion, speaks to the dilemma De Jongh finds himself in: the truth he needs does not exist, and inventing it comes at a price.
Carl Sagan coined the aphorism, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. De Jongh would do well to consider the method of astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Michael Brown, who seriously set out to disprove the existence of a hypothesised planet, only to end up finding more proof of its existence. Being intellectually honest, they are now the strongest proponents for the existence of the undiscovered planet. This writer would have been very impressed had De Jongh set out to prove that Islam is a religion, and found himself unable to do so. But that, I suppose, would be blasphemy. Instead, having duly dispensed with the notion of Islam as a religion, De Jongh set his eyes on publishing a video series aimed at bringing us "the truth" about atheism. I have been wanting something like this for decades. Bring it on.
- It would appear the Spirit did not quite move His Grace to reflect upon the fate that befell the land of Lebanon for its embrace of “plural jurisdiction.” The archbishop’s Capitulatory is an excellent example of those deluded one-sided compromises that augur catastrophe, such as "peace in our time", “land for peace”, “Palestinian ceasefire”, “deradicalisation”, “interfaith dialogue,” etc. Because we share jurisdiction, those we share it with will automatically reciprocate. What else? We lead by morally-superior example and hope, or more accurately, self-righteously assert, that they will follow. The outcome is that we end up submitting to Shari’a, yet still feel ourselves virtuous for having shared jurisdiction. Of course, both the Christian soldiers and the Christian sheep are mendacious. Atheists would do well to keep a close eye on them both. While the sheep have already joined Muslims against atheists, in the end, they will both do so, for without God, they are all nothing.
- The need for careful management of the drip-feeding of "students of knowledge" is the real reason for the now famous holes-in-the-narrative fiasco.
- Guess what so many of those lovely peaceful Muslims in the West are up to. Darling of the "interfaith dialogue" crowd, Sheikh Dr Yasir Qadhi, insists, “I do not have to respect the laws of the land [the United States]. I have to abide, agreed. But I can criticise, I can hate it, I can try to change it. All of this is something I will do, as a Muslim.” He doesn't ram cars into pedestrians, so he must be a moderate, right?
- Waffa Sultan describes the micro-replications of this double-relation between every two levels of Muslim social hierarchy. (Waffa Sultan, The God Who Hates, St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition, April 26, 2011).