Tag Archive: West

I recently received a comment from Ali Naqash on a blog that I wrote a while back called Can Democracy and Islam Coexist? It’s stupidity is mind-blowing. I really don’t know where to start in the criticism of this comment.  Without question, it deserves the title of “The Dumbest Comment”. Here it is, enjoy:

“Democracy is not the way of forward, since it gives no right to women like they deserve to be given. It treats them like waste. But it is only through morality and justice as in Islam that one can expect women to be treated like Queens. This article proves that Muslims are sick and tired of people like you trying to FORCE democracy on us! We DONT want your democracy. Thank you. We would be much happier without it.”


Being raised in Toronto, Canada, I didn’t realize that there could be any questioning the concept of multiculturalism. It just seemed to work, in Toronto. Now, I have not been to every part of Toronto, but I have been to most parts, and even the neighborhoods most afflicted with poverty — Regent Park and Jane and Finch — are multicultural and there seems to be no serious problem with the mixing of cultures in these areas. In fact, it seems to have made the residents quite tolerant of one another — again, going from the biased perspective I have as an individual and the opinions of my friends who live in these areas.

There are of course predominantly more of one race in certain areas than others, but there is no place in Toronto where a person of any color would step into and feel out of place merely because of the color of their skin.

I didn’t realize until I started traveling that this is not the case around the world. When I first started traveling, I decided to get a hostel in Brixton, England because I figured, London is London. When I stepped out of the subway station in Brixton, I was quite taken aback. I don’t know what the proportion of black people is in Brixton, but for a Torontonian, it was quite surprisingly high. Please, do not confuse this with racism. I would be taken aback by seeing such a high proportion of any minority in an area, regardless of the country. If I were in an Nigerian city and I stumbled upon an area with predominantly whites, I’d be equally taken aback. To me, this seems unnatural. There should be a large degree of intermixing of people in a cosmopolitan city such as London. The reason that this kind of situation was somewhat shocking to me is because there must be a reason why this intermixing is not occurring or at least, not occurring much.

Traveling around Europe, I noticed similar ghettoization. Paris and Rome were two cities that I recollect as having some serious issues.

Why is this? Why is Toronto such a multicultural utopia in comparison to other parts of the world?

I have always believed in the ideals of multiculturalism and as a result, I never really questioned the idea of it even after these experiences abroad. Recently, however, I watched this documentary by Douglas Murray and it has started to change my mind.

I am now starting to believe that in a perfect world, multiculturalism is of course a good thing. People move to a new country with their traditions and beliefs and slowly adopt the traditions and beliefs of their host country. Why would you move to a new country if you don’t like anything about that new country?

Yet, it doesn’t seem to always work this way. Many times nationalism or pride of religion or culture prevents the immigrants from adopting the ways of the host country.

Do not get me wrong, I am not saying this is the only reason for racial division in different cities around the world. In fact, in the Brixton case I mentioned above, I would argue that it was the bad behavior of the English government that caused this ghettoization in the first place. However, times change, and so should demography. But, we are now living in a much more tolerant Europe, yet these divisions remain. I think the reasons are manifold, but I believe that a big reason that segregation exists in these different cities could be an unwillingness to adopt the lifestyle of the host country.

In this case, it is the immigrants who are being racist: quite an ironic twist since racism from the host country would have been the original reason for the establishment of these kinds of ghettos.

In short, I still do believe that multiculturalism is a goal which we should strive for; however, I now realize that it is naive to assume that all people in our society have the same goals of harmony, equality, freedom and so on. Therefore, I think that teaching needs to focus a little less on multiculturalism and a little more on universal human rights. The fact is, our system of government, law and society in the West is something to be proud of. Concessions cannot be made in favor of Sharia or other such primitive conceptions of society. Bluntly, our societal values are superior and we should not be embarrassed or feel guilty about stating this. We feel shame for the ideals of the Enlightenment at our own peril.


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!”


The Muslim Brotherhood has recently been elected with Mohamed Morsi as it’s leader — a strict Islamist.

In a recent discussion I’ve had with another blogger, musingsaudi,on a post she made Are We Just Not ‘Democratizable’?, I questioned whether a strict interpretation of Islam is possible in a democracy.

To be honest, I don’t think it can, but I am open to other opinions about how this could be so. Problems exist in Sharia that appear, to me at least, incompatible with the rule of law and sexual and religious equality, not to name many other critical institutions. Without these cornerstones, I can’t see how a democracy could flourish.

With regards to the rule of law, is it possible that Sharia can be looked to as a guide for the legal system? Can problems like adultery and apostasy be punishable by death in a democratic society? Do most Muslim agree with this? And if they don’t, then democratically speaking, these laws must run counter to Sharia.

Regarding sexual and religious equality, it isn’t difficult to see where numerous problems will exist. If women and non-Muslims are not treated on a par with men, then the majority of the population will be discriminated against. Again, a big problem in a democracy.

As to the question of whether Middle Eastern countries can become democracies, I answer with a strong “Yes”. However, my guess is that an Islamic Reformation of some sort would be required to accomplish this. Only with a tempered interpretation of Islam could a true democracy exist.


As an update, I disappointingly found an article with the exact same title as mine, which discusses the title’s question in terms of cultural imperialism. That is, the term democracy is something the West is thrusting upon Islamic countries with rules decided by the West. This is an assertion that I am wholeheartedly against for a couple reasons. First, it merely heightens the West-East dichotomy that fuels anti-West rhetoric. Democracy is not the West’s attempt to destroy Islam, it’s a political system that is not supposed to be affected by religion. Second, the author is implying that democracy for Muslims must be modified in order to fit with Islam, not the other way around (that Islam must be modified to fit with democracy). There have been many attempts at democracy throughout history. The most successful ones, like America’s, instituted checks to prevent the perversion of democracy by religion or other dogmas. This is my whole point: a strict interpretation of Islam (or any religion for that matter) will, over time, erode the “democracy” in that country.

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