Psychology of Islamic intolerance

seething_islamI have noticed that chauvinism is often the outer-garment of an inner insecurity. People that are most ardent about upholding a woman’s honor by secluding her in a kitchen or a home are the ones who are actually deathly afraid of competing against her in the workplace.

Religious chauvinism follows the same pattern of behavior. Religious zealots wax poetic about the “greater meaning” behind their piety and denounce secular (or non-religious or irreligious) pursuits as “shallow materialism” only because they cannot possibly compete against the richer and more intelligent paradigms of science and rationality.

I have the distinct suspicion that the Islamic zealotry is yet another example of chauvinism which is borne out of a deep seated fear, insecurity and lack of self-esteem. I’d like to explore that theme in this post.

Intellectual squalor

The world of Islam is experiencing a pull from two polar opposites. One the one hand, Islamic doctrine purports to be the most virtuous and promises its adherents the highest rewards. On the other hand it is plainly clear that if there is any advancement in the Islamic world, it has come from outside and not from within. Almost none of the progress that we see in the modern world is attributable to the Islamic doctrine. (Now don’t go moaning about Algebra being invented by the Arabs – it is not a part of Islamic doctrine.) In other words, Koranic exhortations and injunctions  bear no relation to progress and prosperity as we see in the world today.

By contrast, the secular (or godless) west has all the “goodies” that come with a scientific temperament while the Islamic world wallows in intellectually squalid conditions. The entire Islamic world does not produce enough scientific papers in a year to match those produced by Israel alone.

Political squalor

The Islamic world is trapped in a time-capsule of its own. It operates in an information-age with political structure of an ancient era. Kings, Sultans, and Emirs rule with absolute power in half the middle-east. The other half is benighted with presidents-for-life (Mubarak, Gaddafi et al). Then there are places like Pakistan with sporadic spasms of democracy within long spells of  dictatorial overlordship. There are other places with complete political dysfunction (e.g. Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan…) .

Stagnation and Insecurity

It does not take too much genius to realize that such an intellectual and political atmosphere is conducive ONLY to the maintenance of status quo. Islamic societies are therefore, in a state of stagnation and stultification which is in stark contrast to greatness and glory for which a ‘chosen people’ can presume entitlement. In other words, the promise of superiority  that comes with being among the ‘blessed’ has not materialized for the Islamic world. However, it seems to have been conferred upon the societies that are ‘least virtuous’ (i.e. the west).

Obviously this is frustrating and infuriating – perhaps even humiliating!  How would you feel if you were waiting endlessly on one railway platform while people on other platforms were merrily streaming to and from places? I imagine you would start to get the sinking feeling that although you were piously awaiting your turn,  it is others who seem to be heading off while you are left behind. In my opinion, it is this sense of loss and insecurity that is is gnawing away at the Muslim psyche.

The Koran tells them that the writ of Islam and its adherents shall reign supreme and yet they find themselves increasingly marginalized and emasculated intellectually, politically and socially.

Something needs to be done to resolve this inequity! Instead of pulling up their socks and joining the developed world in its path to progress, the Islamic world, beset by its insecurities, has chosen to denounce the western world and scorn its secular outlook. By deriding western society and western achievements they take the position that this kind of progress is not worth pursuing. Instead they sanctimoniously  pursue ‘ideological purity’ using the Koran for peddling vacuous constructs of “afterlife”, “jihad” and “martyrdom”. They convince themselves that nobility and salvation lies in being true to an ancient text.

Of course, the Koran carries toxic baggage of its own. Not only does it sanction backwardness, it actually exhorts people to murder others who reject it because the desire to get beyond scripture itself constitutes “kafir-hood”. In other words the Koran is used as a firewall to ‘protect‘ muslims from progress. And they do it by being  loud,  bellicose and unrelenting and by brooking no dissent.

This is *exactly* what we see in the Islamic world – i.e. frenzied denunciation of the  western values and western societies with a chauvinistic air of superiority despite being in a state of intellectual, political and social squalor.

Islam has had centuries of prosperity and progress in the past. If one looked back, the leading lights were actually quite liberal by the standards of those days.  Poetry, music, art, science and medicine flourished. However, as the western world has pulled further and further away, the muslim world has become more and more backward and has soothed its bruised pride with empty self-aggrandizement about being Allah’s chosen people with divine grace promised in the after-life.

The problem with cashing divine checks in the afterlife is that you have to exit this one with kafir blood on your hands. And that is rather too inconvenient for the rest of us (kafirs).


16 Responses

  1. I hope this don’t blow your mind, Doctor, but some women LIKE to be in the kitchen. All you know is what you’ve been told in school, and seen on t.v. There’s other, “cultures” right under your nose, that you indeed don’t understand. Try being more of a, “free thinker”. Thanks

  2. eze,

    Yes I know some women like to be at home. That does not mean ALL women MUST be kept at home. There is a little thing called “choice”. I don’t know if you have come across it in your favorite holy book.

  3. Agree. Also, the post remains 90% accurate after the following replacements: Islam → religion, muslim –> zealot, koran–> bible, western → secular. Each religion has slightly different vacuous constructs, and varying degrees of political clout.
    What’s wrong with the US lately is that zealots have gained more influence in government, so that domestically they are doing their best to reject science and introduce theocracy, and their bloodthirsty world view has infected foreign policy with disastrous results for the whole world. If the christian zealots here gained total control, the dark ages would be back with a vengeance.

  4. I don’t think the Islamic religion itself is the root of the problem you are targetting, I think it is the followers. There are many Muslims I know who are not at all how you describe them to be (and they follow the religion properly). I think what your biggest concern is extremists, or people who are taking the religion in a pretty messed up manner. I think these people are raised very different than we are, the cruelty, or the way they demean women, is a cultural aspect, not religious. Recently, I had felt the same as you about Islam, and so I did my research. No where does it say in the true teachings of Islam that a woman is subject to her house and only her house. It says her first obligation is to the home; for obvious reasons, being a mother, only a female has the capacity to physically and emotionally nourish her children. Once a woman’s dutie’s to her home are fulfilled, she is free to work, and what not. I give you credibility, for pondering such issues, as I used to feel the same. However, I think you need more research to properly diffrentiate culture from religion, and preception.

    Thank you for the post, most enjoyable! =)

  5. untapd,

    I think you might have misunderstood the thrust of my post. My opening paragraph is about chauvinism in general (and not Islamic injunction). I just took the example of women being kept at home because it is a cross-cultural example of male-chauvinism. My main point is that just like male-chauvinism is an outcome of male-insecurity, Islamic-chauvinism is an outcome of insecurity in Islamic societies.

    As regards Islam being “innocent” of the the excesses being committed in its name, I urge you to read my earlier post : [The root-cause of Islamic terror is Islam itself].

    You mentioned that the real target of my criticism should be extremists and not moderates. I urge you to read my earlier post Fundamentalists v/s Moderates

  6. Uzza,

    I think I agree with what you say – but I doubt the replacements are necessarily all that substantive. I think it is generally true that western societies are liberal and secular in nature. It is true that the likes of Pat Robertson and James Dobson are continuously trying to poison it with Christian dogma (and we should always be vigilant about these pricks) but by and large norms of society are not driven by Christian doctrine.

    If my post were about “Religious Intolerance” your suggested edits are absolutely in order. However, my post is about “Islamic Tolerance” and hence the focus is Islam-specific.

    This does not mean Judeo-Christian doctrine is any less toxic. Its just that since western secular thought and secular politics has managed to “domesticate” religious impulses, the toxicity is somewhat contained. One cannot say the same about Islamic societies and hence Islamic intolerance imperils everyone.

  7. OK. You started nicely with some Freudian analysis, but then you ruined it with your naivety of putting Bangladesh in the same league as Pakistan.

  8. Saf,

    You are right. It was incorrect on my part to include Bangladesh in the same category as Pakistan. I have edited that paragraph and removed that reference.

    Thanks for keeping me honest.


  9. You go girl! Amazingly insightful post (as usual).

    To others who are saying that even Christian fundamentalists are exactly the same, I say – yes, its true. But the critical difference is that the majority of the population has moved on from the Christian dark ages and Pat Robertson and others are considered fringe elements who get their limelight in the media precisely because they sound like lunatics (which they are!)….

    Its a completely different story in the Islamic world. Mullahs and religious people drive public policy and agenda and the public mutely follows lest they be condemned to hell for eternity!

  10. Hi Skeptic,

    Thanks for the kind words. Glad you like it so far.

    I agree with what you say – in fact, I am working on my next post about why I focus (some would say pick) on Islam when Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism have their share of bigots and villainy. Stay tuned….

  11. It’s accurate to say Islam is the problem, but it’s a little shallow. The problem is that a religion—which just happens to be islam currently—is in control, which leads to the chauvinism outlined above. There is a danger in oversimplifying things to sound bites like “Islam is the problem” because too many people are going to be like Ann Coulter and reply with “and Christianity is the answer” (or whatever religion) It definitely is not.

  12. You are right that there are Anne Coulters of this world who will deliberately miss the point. When I come across those respondents I will take the time to disabuse them of their ideas of the “greatness” of Christianity or Hinduism or Judaism….. But I don’t feel the need to preemptively dilute the focus of my post.

    I think I have been quite clear in my earlier posts that I consider all religious dogma fairly vapid and vacuous but I focus on Islam because it remains un-restrained in its propensity for violence and it seems un-molested by things like modernity. Therefore it deserves special attention (or shall we say scorn).

    I agree with your larger point that all religions are full of crap. I am working on my next post to clarify why I focus on Islam (at least for now). Stay tuned.

  13. you can argue the “Niceties” of Islam or not, but the fact remains that Islam is intent on world domination, and this is the muslims duty to bring about, plus the extinction of Israel. In fact detroying the jews is a pre requisite.

    NO way will I stand back and watch this abomination happen.
    I will fight Islam until I die.

  14. “In other words the Koran is used as a firewall to ‘protect‘ muslims from progress. And they do it by being loud, bellicose and unrelenting and by brooking no dissent.”

    I hear you on the firewall. On a slightly different take on its use to protect the whole of Islam from progress, my hubby coined the term “Islamic Firewall” to describe the barrier that individuals built around themselves when it came to discussing Islam.

    Once our Pakistani friends felt uncomfortable (and it didn’t take long) with our questions or comments about various Islamic tenets, the firewall stopped us dead in our tracks and we were allowed no further access to the files. Sometimes, the result of our attempt to find a back door to get around that firewall resulted in loud, bellicose defensiveness brinking on hysteria before the subject was abruptly changed. I did manage once to peek through it by simply asking questions about Islamic dress, the four witnesses rule for rape, women’s rights, etc. The results were downright shocking! I could do nothing but nod in stunned silence as this beautiful, poised and seemingly well-educated woman revealed some of Islam’s sheer ugliness whilst telling herself it was beauty. I actually regretted peering beyond that firewall because I really really wanted Islam to be the nice religion it so bellicosely purports to be…

    It could be a good name for a blog…Breaking Through the Islamic Firewall.

  15. Hi Gobbycoot,

    I can imagine the conversations – but nothing like being there first-hand. Perhaps you should blog about it. I would be most interested in it. And yes …. you could name it with something catchy like you mentioned . I can already visualize the title…. “The Great Firewall of the Ummah”.


  16. Great blog, love you posts and I’m sharing them on my facebook! Keep up the good work 🙂

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