Tag Archive: beliefs

Ayaan Hirsi Ali at her best!



On the advice of another blogger, musingsaudi, I looked into the beliefs of a Muslim scholar named Hamza Yusuf. I found one of his concepts interesting, which is mentioned in this video.

He describes the reactions of conquered peoples as divided into two groups: Herodianism and Zealotism.

Herodianism is the attempt to mimic the dominant civilization, as happened in Japan (he says post-world war situation — I’m not sure if he means World War I or II. I would argue that before America defeated Japan in WWII, Japan had already been copying the American style for some time, which in turn, lead to its ascendancy). I recently read “The West and the Rest” which delves deeply into this concept and it also uses Japan as the best modern example.

It seems to be Hamza Yusuf’s belief that this would be a bad thing for Islam. However, I suggest people read “The West and the Rest” because it outlines how every country which has taken on Western values has seen a steady rise in their GDPs, standards of living, rights of all its individuals, and so on. So, is Islam a peculiar case? I fail to see why this would be true.

Yusuf states that the problem with Herodianism is that the mimicry is never as good as the original and that it is always destined to failure (that’s a very close paraphrase… YouTube started buffering when I wanted to get a perfect paraphrase). I would ask, is it really fair to state that Japan failed? A relatively small island nation growing from the ashes of war — modern nuclear war — into a global power in less than a century is a failure? Regardless of Japan’s current slow economy, considering the fact that such a small country can out-compete larger countries such as China, Russia, and America in so many ways seems quite remarkable to me, not a failure. The same argument could be made for the so-called “Asian Tigers”.

I find it hard to believe when people come back at me with the argument that, “Economic prosperity and equal rights and things like this are only Western values.” Really? Tell that to a beggar in Karachi or a sweatshop worker in China or a farmer in Siberia or a slave laborer in a North Korean Gulag. The fact is, the term “Western values” is ridiculous. These are human values. They are valuable across cultures, religions and nations.

On the other hand, Hamza Yusuf’s view of Zealotism is positive because it preserves the original teaching of the Koran and the Hadith. In other words, Islamic Reform is something which is to be avoided. I will admit, my interpretation of Yusuf’s perspective in this paragraph may not be precise, and I welcome correction. If this is an accurate portrayal of his opinion, however, I believe that this kind of thinking will keep the Arab world in an economic and intellectual stagnation in comparison to the rest of the world.

In the end, the main question remains: Should Islam become more like the West? For the future of Arabic people, I vote with a strong, “Yes!”


I will state it upfront: I am not a pacifist; nor do I beat the drums of war.

Killing in our personal lives is almost never necessary; however, things are different on the global scale. The difference lies in the fact that most of us (that is, people likely to spend their time reading a blog, and not just trying to survive) live in democratic societies, or at least societies with the rule of law.

This is not the case for many of the 7 billion of us. What is the result when you have groups of humans, often guided by ancient texts which they cannot read, living in isolated societies lacking the rule of law? In a word: racism. Often, extreme racism. It is a sad fact that there is a vestigial quality of our human mind that wants to create an us-them dichotomy, with “us” being good and “them” being evil. I say vestigial because, of course, at one time this would have been extremely useful. Encountering a random group of humans in prehistoric times was a dangerous endeavor.

However, nowadays, the desire to segregate your in-group from others is very harmful for two reasons. First, it prevents trade and therefore stymies development of the isolated group. Second, and more importantly for this discussion, it creates racist beliefs that are continuously reinforced by the other members within the in-group. Not interacting in any way (aside from war) with an out-group will never allow the in-group members to question their beliefs, and in fact, the interaction through war will only confirm many of their beliefs.

Another vestigial aspect of the human mind is the susceptibility of children to incorrect or even immoral beliefs. It seems that there is something in our minds as children that says, “Believe older people, and keep those beliefs for the rest of your life. Further, hate people who question those beliefs.”

We are products of evolution and evolution is an imperfect process. We can always be better. Unfortunately, it seems, we are stuck with the mildly barbaric minds that we are born with. Of course, reason allows us to overcome these shortfalls. People living in the mountains of Afghanistan, unfortunately for us and them, will never have access to such an advanced education that will allow them to question their in-group beliefs. Many of them will be lucky if they learn to read.

So, considering this, we come to a sad result. Some peoples’ minds are so polluted with dangerous ideas that they need to be killed. It’s a shocking statement, but it’s true. You will never convince a Taliban foot-soldier that his beliefs are misguided and that you have a better way to live. If you think you can do this, you are deluding yourself. This is especially sad because these people did not choose to be born in the mountains of Afghanistan, but their beliefs, alas, are still dangerous to the rest of us.

Imprisoning these people is a possibility, too. I’ll admit this. However, in many areas where these people live, civilization has not effectively created safe-havens from which to launch police raids. Because of this, it would be impractical and extremely costly to catch each of these people one by one.

Therefore, the only option available is what President Obama has been using on an unprecedented scale: drone strikes.

To drone or not to drone? Definitely, drone.

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