Monday, July 12, 2010

Islam and the West (INCOMPLETE)

How can Islam and the West coexist?

I've been musing on this topic for some time. My musings are admittedly ethnocentric. Western culture pursues (however imperfectly) certain ideals--equality, the dignity of the individual, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". The following is me attempting to work out the differences in values, and how different groups of people might peacefully coexist.

These ideals are superior to the ideals I see as central to Islam. To be more specific: some elements within Islam believe forced conformity is better than individual liberty. Some elements within Islam believe that some authorities are above questioning or approaching critically. Some elements within Islam believe that women are inferior to men.

These Western ideals should be universal. Every culture should respect the dignity and liberty of the individual. Every culture should treat women with respect and dignity. No culture should hold any authority above criticism or beyond questioning.

Western ideals are superior to the ideals preached by these elements within Islam (and several other religions, to be sure; the persecution of Christians in Hindu countries has for too long gone unreported. And some stripes of fundamentalist Christianity also struggle against these universal ideals.)

What are the universal ideals?
  • Every person has dignity and value. Every person should have the ability to pursue the course of their lives as they wish and as they are able. Every person should be able to believe what they want to believe.
  • The life of every person has value. It is criminal to deprive a person of life, except under strictly defined circumstances.
  • Etc., etc.
Am I saying that Islam must meet the West on the West's terms?

Sort of. If these universal ideals are truly universal, then Islam and other religions must accept their legitimacy. Even if Islam continues to teach, for example, that women are inferior to men, Moslems must acknowledge that other groups teach differently AND THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO DIFFER.


OK, this incomplete and disjointed blather brings me to a point: Islam should not be accepted as legitimate by the rest of the world as long as it does the following:
  • Sentence people to death by stoning
  • Target non-combatants for the use of deadly force (but what of Dresden?)


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