“Islam never had to go through a prolonged period of critically examining the validity of its spiritual vision, as the West did during the 18th century. Islamic culture has, of course, known its own crisis… yet it was never forced to question its traditional worldview,” – writes the historian Louis Dupre.
“On the one hand, Islam is viewed positively, even enthusiastically, as a purified form of revealed religion, stripped of the many imperfections of Judaism and Christianity, and hence reassuringly akin to deism. On the other, Islam is more often regarded with hostility and contempt as a primitive, grossly superstitious religion like Judaism and Christianity, and one no less, or still more, adapted to promoting despotism,” – Jonathan Israel in Radical Enlightenment.
The history of world civilization can be divided into three main categories – Religion, Materialism, and Islam. Until the 17th century, the Church controlled every aspects of European political, social, and religious life – government, law, finance, wars, education, human-rights, rewriting of religious texts, etc. The Church’s doctrine of “Salvation through the Church” gave it divine rights to discriminate non-Christians especially the Jewish communities living in Europe – which were expelled from almost every western country during that period of time.
Jewish scholars and activists played a major role in Europe’s Enlightenment movement (between mid-17th century to early 19th century) – challenging the Church domination – which achieved its desired goal as described by historian Peter Gay: “The Enlightenment broke through the scared circle whose dogma had circumscribed thinking….” The European were told that they were now free to practice “freedom of thoughts”, “democracy” and “freedom of religion” based on human reasoning. However, after living under this hoax for over three centuries – hundreds of millions of dissatified people have come to the conclusion that all those fancy slogans were nothing but to replace the powerful Church with a powerful secular elite minority.
Gilad Atzmon recently said (watch video at the end of this post): “Enlightenment is anthropocentric in its essence, for it regards humans as the ‘universe’s most important entity’. Those who follow enlightenment ideology are basically different breeds of self -lovers. We are basically referring to humans who love themselves for being rational and liberated. We are referring to humans who are convinced that they are at the core of the essence of our cosmos. Bearing that in mind, we may be entitled to regard the last two centuries of Western conflicts as futile battles between different kinds of ‘self lovers’.”
Islamic teachings are totally against “self love”. It commands its believers to love others (who don’t plot against them) as much as they love themselves. It gives such importance to a brotherly relationship with next-door neighbor, no matter what religion he/she follows – so much so – that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told his companions that he was affraid Allah may include neighbor in ones’ inheritance.
Islam is open to all kind of progressive and rational knowledge – be it scientific or non-scientific. It promise great rewards for the true Islamic scholars (equates them to earlier prophets). In Muslim history, no scholar is known to be persecuted for his knowledge except on his political thinking (not like Bruno and Spaniard Michael Servetus who were burned at the stake by Holy Inquisition and Calvin for blasphemy or Galileo with the same fate for questioning some doctrines of the Church). Muslim dynasties in Damascus, Baghdad, and Delhi – not only patronized Muslim scholars but also Jewish, Christian, Parsi and Hindu scholars too.
Since the Renaissance, Reformation, and the Enlightenment, the West has come out of its Dark Age and has replaced the Muslim domination in scientific and technological development, giving rise to a great economic and military strength – which in its arrogance, convinced itself that West was the measure of everything, and that its new-found rationality would assure it the highest peaks of knowledge, power, and happiness ever achieved in human history. A western man still see that progress as proof of a general superiority of the western civilization over Islamic civilization and thus his God-given right to control the world and exploit its natural resources. In reality, the Enlightenment has turned the West more barbarian than it was during its Dark Age. Only in the last century, unspeakable genocides were carried out by this ‘freedom loving’ society – two savage world wars, including the use of nuclear bombs), Leninism, Stalinism, Nazism, occupation and ethnic-cleansing of Muslim lands in Palestine, Bosnia, Chechyna, Iraq, Afghanistan – resulting in the death of over 180 million civilians.
Neil Davidson in his March 2006 article titled Islam and the Enlightenment, wrote:
“Feudalism, the mode which dominated in Western Europe and Japan, was of minor importance in the states of the Muslim world, with the major exception of Persia and parts of India. Instead, the dominant mode was what some Marxists, including the present writer, call the tributary mode. In Europe the feudal estate monarchies presided over weak, decentralised states. Power was devolved to local lords based in the countryside, and it was here, in their local jurisdictions, that exploitation was carried out through the extraction of rent and labour services. But precisely because of this fragmented structure it was possible for capitalist production to begin between these different areas of parcellised sovereignty. The towns varied in size and power, but some at least were free from lordly or monarchical domination, and provided spaces where new approaches to production could develop……
The West today have to begin with the actual context of institutional racism and military intervention with which Muslims are faced every day. The absolute obligation on socialists is first to defend Muslims, both in the West and in the developing world, and to develop the historic alliance at the heart of the anti-war movement. To say to that they, or people of any faith, must abandon their beliefs before we will deign to speak to them is not only arrogant but displays all the worst aspects of the Enlightenment – “Here is the Truth, bow down before it!” Why should Muslims listen to people whose self-importance is so great they make agreement with them a precondition of even having a conversation? Enlightenment cannot be imposed by legal fiat or at the point of a gun. The real precondition of debate is unity in action, where discussion can take place secure in the knowledge that participants with different beliefs nevertheless share goals as a common starting point. It is, I suspect, more than a coincidence that those who are most insistent on the need for Islamic Enlightenment are the voices crying loudest for war….”