‘Messianic-hysterical extremism’

Secularism, secularism, secularism. I’m tempted to get a bunch of t shirts made with ‘Secularism’ bannered across the front and back.

The prospects for secularism in Iraq are not looking very good. Actually they’re looking terrible.

Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was a centralised and largely secular state. Now, if the Shia religious parties get their way, it will be a decentralised state with a pronounced Islamic identity. The draft of the new constitution describes Islam as “a main source” of legislation and stipulates that no law may contradict Islamic principles.

Great. There go women’s rights, for a start.

In many ways, Iraq is already dramatically different from the place it was just a few years ago. Mixed marriages between Sunni and Shia, once taken for granted, are becoming problematic. In many parts of the country, women dare not walk bare-headed in the street. And reports from parts of the lawless north-west paint a grim picture of Taleban-style rule by radical Sunni militants.

Peachy. Communalism and terrorized women. Heaven on earth, the shining city on the hill.

MCB Watch has an excellent article on Panorama, Mawdudi and Selective Quoting, which includes a long quotation from Mawdudi’s Islamic Law and Constitution:

Islamic State is Universal and All Embracing
A state of this sort cannot evidently restrict the scope of its activities. Its approach is universal and all-embracing. Its sphere of activity is coextensive with the whole of human life. It seeks to mould every aspect of life and activity in consonance with its moral norms and programme of social reform. In such a state no one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private…The excellent balance and moderation that characterise the Islamic system of government and the precise distinctions made in it between right and wrong elicit from all men of honesty and intelligence the admiration and the admission that such a balanced system could not have been framed by anyone but the Omniscient and All-Wise God.

Well exactly. This is why people loathe and fear ‘a state of this sort’ – because it pries into every corner of people’s lives and then beats the crap out of them or extorts bribes (or both) if it doesn’t like what it finds. Marjane Satrapie illustrates this in Perseopolis. People used binoculars to peer into other people’s windows and then report them for having parties, dancing, playing music, playing cards. Not to mention of course the notorious constant supervision of every tiny detail of women’s dress, down to the individual hair showing. Nothing is personal, nothing is private. Spiffy. Let’s all live in an ant farm.

It is clear from a careful consideration of the Qur’an and the Sunnah that the state in Islam is based on an ideology and its objective is to establish that ideology…It is a dictate of this very nature of the Islamic State that such a state should be run only by those who believe in the ideology on which it is based and in the Divine Law which it is assigned to administer. The administrators of the Islamic State must be those whose whole life is devoted to the observance and enforcement of this Law…Islam does not recognise any geographical, linguistic or colour bars in this respect. It puts forward its code of guidance and the scheme of its reform before all men. Whoever accepts this programme, no matter to what race, nation or country he may belong, can join the community that runs the Islamic State.

Notice something missing from that lovely egalitarian list of things Islam ‘does not recognise’? Yeah – gender. Whoever accepts this programme can join the community that runs the Islamic State – except, of course, women. Because they are the ones being run, not the ones participating in the running. That is part of the very ‘ideology’ in question.

I prefer Amos Oz’s view of things. Of the settlers, for instance:

They have their own dream. The first stage is the “whole land of Israel,” filled wall-to-wall with Jews-only towns. True, Palestinians and Thai workers can come in to do the dirty work, but no more. The second stage is to transform Israel into a halachic state, a country ruled by Jewish religious law. Elections, the Knesset, the government and the courts may continue to function, but settler rabbis will decide just what issues are appropriate for these bodies to decide, and what issues are too “holy” and important to be left to the people and their elected officials. In their dream world, there is no place for secular Israel: Its culture is not culture, its values are not values, its opinions are not opinions.

Sounds like that South Carolinian utopia we heard about recently.

But we non-religious Israelis also have a dream. We want to live in an enlightened, open and just country, not in some messianic, rabbinic monarchy, and not in the whole land of Israel. We came here to be a free people in our own land. To be a free people means each person is entitled to choose which parts of Jewish tradition are important to him, and which to leave behind. It means to have the freedom to run our country according to our free will, rather than rabbinic dictates…For more than 30 years, the settlers’ dream has choked the dream of free Israelis. The dream of the whole land of Israel and a messianic kingship drains daily the hope of being a people free to build a just society.

Dreams can be nightmares…

This is the border without which we will have no state and without which there is no freedom, no society, nothing but fiery zealousness, messianic-hysterical extremism, and complete destruction…

Fiery zealousness – make it go away. Patrol that border.

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