Today we have a guest columnist-Dr. Babu Suseelan. It is interesting that Isalmic morality is not discussed more often. Islam has a unique ethical system with one set of ethics for Muslims and another set of ethics for the kafirs.
If you would like to be a guest columnist, contact us.
CAN MUSLIM FUNDAMENTALISTS BE MORAL?
Dr. Babu Suseelan
All of us know daily occurrences of Jihadi terrorism, Islamic homicide bombing, beheading of innocent kafirs, and organized, repetitive, regular and predictable slaughter of Muslims by Shias and Sunnis in the name of Allah. In recent months we have seen Islamic bloodshed, mass murder, beheading, and homicide bombing in all countries with substantial number of Muslims. We have seen Muslims on a murder march shouting “Allah Akbar” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Georgia, India, Philippians, Sudan and Chechnya. These are not a phenomena defined by the news media. Our judgments of reality based on daily occurrences tell us more about Islamic terrorism. Indeed, we take these destructive events for granted.
Beneath all the pictures and the prose on Jihadi terrorism and Islamic violence, we are still struggling to understand what is going on in the name of Islam. With all the freedom to discuss the subject of Jihadi terrorism, intellectuals on the far left and on the far right (anti-Zionists) are holding on to vague ideas about why Muslims resort to terrorism. They are ready to parade and promote bogus theories of economic deprivation, lack of education, and political interferences. Bogus intellectuals, Marxist Academicians and mindless media pundits resist incorporating a truly accurate understanding of the root cause of Jihadi terrorism. They merely transform their distortions and false myths into a new set of myths and willingly accept distorted perceptions in place of reality. They are rewarded by Islamo fascists in ways that they never quite understand. It is with Islamic false propaganda in which they place their confidence about the root cause of Islamic terrorism. Their faulty perception and irrational analysis are not sufficient to answer the public questions, doubts and fears on immoral acts and destructive acts of Muslim fundamentalists.
The general public must first be redirected from their eagerness to believe in such bogus theories, phony perceptions, and irrational analysis or they will stumble from one set of vulnerability to another set of immoral acts of Islamic fundamentalists.
Islam has a unique worldview. Islamic closed paradigm constitutes cultural patterns, beliefs, moral values, and social norms shared by the people of Arabia during the sixth century. For centuries, rigid, authoritarian and dualistic Islamic worldviews have been shaping Islamic behavior. The Islamic closed channel thinking is reflected in varied Islamic expressions as morality, social relationships, interpersonal communication as well as their ethical acts
Muslims have a sense of togetherness and a common identity. They have a conviction that they form a special group, as well as a sense of moral obligations and a set of beliefs in the Koran that holds that Islam is the only truth and non-believers are kafirs. Practically all Islamists share the view that Allah is the best superior being, the one those non-Muslims should follow. Faith in Allah usually accompanied by the belief that subjugation of non-Muslims is natural, morally right, and it is in the best interest of Islam to convert all infidels.
The Koran and the Hadith are two great driving forces in Islam both individually and socially. Islam provides a referent for the explanation of many events including ethical decisionmaking, rituals, and socially unacceptable acts including oppression of women, hostility against kafirs, honor killing, and Jihadi terrorism. It constitutes a system parallel to and in many ways opposed to ethical philosophy, and rational-humanistic systems.
For a Muslim, his life centers upon Allah and all his actions bear identifiable relations to Allah. As such, Islam forbids critical thinking, moral reasoning, and freedom of the will for Muslims. Equal status for women, self-examination and the expansion of ethical reasoning are not allowed. Islam does not allow introspection, creative imagination, aesthetic creation, humor and artistic expression or search for the expressions of the infinite. Muslims are not allowed the possibility of intellectual and emotional satisfaction through ethical and spiritual life outside of Islam. Islamic institutions assume important role to keep a firm hand over its non-rationality and direct its forces to restrict individual moral initiatives
Islamic fundamentalists consider Islam is a complete ideology related to all aspects of human nature concentrated on teleology, ethics, psychology and human behavior of all humans for all the time
Islamic moral principles are a one-sided mechanistic, reductionist, non-compromising, and closed. The closed, rigid, pre-determined and non-compromising Islamic paradigm and moral directives tend to place Muslims in oppositional position in relation to non-Muslims. The reductionist Islamic morality carries the assumption that moral principles of non-Muslims are inferior and should be rejected.
For Muslims, moral directives of the Koran and Hadith are the expression of ethics in operation. Muslims decide plan of action on the basis of Islamic values. Muslims believe that only knowledge of the Koran and Hadith can help individual Muslims solve conflicts between social and moral norms that create ethical dilemmas.
Islamic law reflects the will of Allah rather than the will of the moral majority or the will of a human lawmaker. Allah’s will reflect in Islamic law and it covers all areas of life including moral behavior. In an Islamic context, there is no such thing as a separate secular or moral authority and moral principles. Muslims believe and follow shariah. Islamic shariah means submission. Shariah seeks to establish that Allah is the divine lawgiver and no other law or moral principle may exist but Allah’s law and moral directives.
Islamic shariah includes both ethics and law. The Islamic law does not allow behavior norms based on individual conscience. The doctrine of shariah and jihad are fundamental because these are based on clear and authentic verses in the Koran and Sunna and it is considered pivotal for Muslims until all infidels are converted and Dar-Ul-Islam is established.
Muslims decide their plan of action on the basis of Islamic values and morality. Islam impels all Muslims emotionally to perform human acts directed towards Allah. Historically, there has been a very close connection between Islam and morality. Muslims consider duties that are primarily directed towards Allah and actions towards fellow believers and non-believers that are commanded by Allah. Immoral acts are practiced as moral duty such as slaughtering animals during Hajj, honor killing, Jihad war, beheading, limb amputation, stoning kafirs to death, Islamic feasting during Ramadan, oppression of women, child marriage and polygamy. These Islamic moral duties and rituals often lead to abnormal perversions and socially disastrous consequences.
Islamic religious practices frequently conflict with moral codes of many societies. Islam prohibits a Muslim living in a non-Islamic society to take moral action that may conflict with Islamic guidelines. Islam indoctrinates Muslims against the theoretical study of ethics, right civil conduct and moral action.
Muslim fundamentalists feel that there is nothing immoral about following the dictates of Allah or any immorality in forcefully converting infidels or issuing a fatwa against a kafir writing a book critical of Islam. Islamo fascists have no moral qualm in beheading an innocent non-Muslim journalist or hijacking a passenger plane in the name of Allah. Islamic fundamentalists committing immoral and heinous crimes against humanity should always weigh whether an action is morally right or wrong before the action is taken. Their commitment and love for Islamic guidelines cannot make a wrong action morally right. Even if Muslims are compelled to follow Islamic ethics that guide their actions, the difficulty remains regarding the need to compromise between their conflicting Islamic values to those of non-Muslims. Islamic fundamentalists should realize that knowledge of the Koran and the Hadith is insufficient in itself for knowing how to behave ethically. In this context, one is reminded of Kant who said that “morality….in no way needs religion for its support.” For Muslims, knowledge of ethics is needed for better moral action, not blind faith in Allah.
CAN A MUSLIM FUNDAMENTALIST BE MORAL?
In view of the differences between Islam and morality, the question may be asked; can a Muslim fundamentalist be moral? A Muslim can be moral without Islam. A Muslim can do moral acts without emulating life style of Mohammed or his non-compromising preaching. They should follow the voices of conscience and strive for morality, ethical action, and harmony.
Morality implies adherence to social norms, laws, and civilized practices rather than blind obedience to invisible Allah. Muslims who are obligated to Allah should not obscure their obligations to morality and commitment to great intrinsic value of humans. Islam rejects ethical principles and moral practices of non-Muslims. Muslims seek answers by looking to and rediscovering irrational, outdated and illogical ideas and expressions from the past. Islam rejects differing worldviews, ethical philosophy and refuses to recognize changes in moral perspectives that emphasize the inter-relatedness of individuals and community and their mutual responsibility for one another.
The binary thinking and closed Islamic morality carries the assumption that non-Muslims are unethical, immoral and inferior and should be oppressed and forced to assume an Islamic identity. Non-Muslims are subjected to inhuman behavior as parts of a systematic destruction of kafirs. Islamic religious leaders promoting violence and terrorism against infidels express little shame, guilt, remorse, empathy or ethical concern. Jihadi criminals minimize or deny injuring victims by terrorism. They maintain feelings of uniqueness, tough mindedness by refusing to consider the feelings of non-Muslims. Muslims consider immoral acts and violence against infidels as not unethical but an opportunity to provide true Islamic awareness and a phase of Islamic identity development.
Do Muslims enjoy freedom? Freedom presupposes choice. If there is no choice, there is no freedom. Freedom is also not absolute. Ethics and moral action can exist only if freedom of choice exists. A Muslim or a non-Muslim can be moral if only he/she is free. Moral action is possible only if the freedom of the will and freedom of choice exist. In Islam, the will of Allah is final and dominant. Islam has forbidden freedom of choice, critical thinking, rational evaluation, and moral decision making if it conflicts with predetermined directives of the Koran
Philosophically, Muslims are un-free since they are imprisoned in the closed, non-compromising, authoritarian and reductionist Islamic dogma. Freedom also involves the capacity and opportunity to make moral decisions. Muslims are un-free because they are prevented or prohibited from doing conscientious moral actions if it conflicts with Allah’s will. Islam imposes inner limitations and Islamic religious leaders restrain them with external limitations. All these Islamic inner and outer restrictions prevent Muslims from doing conscientious acts consistent with social morality and ethical norms.
Islam teaches preconceived morality and fixed ideas about human relations and ethical behavior. Discrimination, prejudice, physical violence, and unethical behavior towards infidels are built often wittingly, into the very structure and form of Islamic society. Muslims tend to ignore unchanging Islamic values making them un-free and in moral blindness. They wish to remain ignorant of certain concepts and directives in the Koran that make them unable to make a moral choice without Islamic restraints.
Moral choice is possible only when one faces normal, better, acceptable and universally acclaimed alternatives. When the better alternatives are good, preferable and available, fundamentalist Muslims choose freedom from choice. Escape from freedom and freedom from choice enables Muslims to make lesser, harmful and dangerous Islamic choices. They rejoice their un-freedom when compelled to act on Islamic directives that are morally wrong and universally condemned.
It is time for Muslims and non-Muslims to ask the following questions:
Does Islam assist Muslims in transforming themselves and the Islamic society so that Muslims can welcome universal morality, preserve freedom, and promote ethical conduct, peace and harmony?
Can Muslims generally pursuing situational ethics transcend the limited interests of the Islamic community?
Both the Koran and Hadith are deficient and inadequate to serve as appropriate theories of ethics for practicing Muslims faced with ethical problems and moral dilemmas. Both deal with judgments in concrete situations based on subjective perceptions of Mohamed. Mohamed made decisions dependent on specific situation at hand. Mohamed’s situational ethics was based on the uniqueness of each situation for the advantage of Muslims. Muslims consider Mohamed’s situational ethics is guided by Allah and is universal and inflexible. Islamic situational ethics prohibits Muslims from recognizing the existence of moral values and freedom of choice to take decision according to one’s conscience.
Muslims can be moral if they can abandon their stubborn assumptions and question their absolute and monolithic norms. Muslims need to follow the rules of civic law and universally accepted moral principles. Ethical decisions cannot be solely based on Islamic values the guidelines of the Koran. In conclusion the question still remains: Why Muslims are afraid of freedom? Why are they unwilling to explore their moral decision-making?
Dr. Babu Suseelan is a professor of clinical psychology and the director of a drug and alcohol treatment program in Pennsylvania. He writes on the subject of Islamic terrorism and its effect on Hindu society.
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