History, geography, society and Islam

Friday, August 26th, 2005

History, geography, society and Islam asserts that Islam fits the “contested areas” of the Middle East:

Geography has always made the Middle East, Central Asia and Northern India radically contested areas repeatedly plagued by conquerors, movements of peoples, and fluctuating despotic empires run by foreigners. As a result, in that part of the world it has been every man — or rather every small group — for itself. A radically divided form of society developed that featured intense local loyalties and enmities and lacked any civic feeling or public life. It is in that kind of society (or rather asocial state) that Islam began and has mostly existed.

Under such circumstances the things outsiders complain about in Islam and Muslim life become comprehensible. If social life is basically war then force and fraud become the two cardinal virtues. Suspicion, double-dealing, treachery, political corruption, and sporadic violence become permanent features of what passes for public life. Honor becomes everything. Women become prey who must be kept secluded and watched closely to prevent capture. And without social trust political reasonableness becomes impossible.

(Hat tip to 2blowhards.com.)

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