Combs Spouts Off

"It's my opinion and it's very true."

  • Calendar

    May 2024
    S M T W T F S
  • Recent Posts

  • Tag Cloud

  • Archives

Islam, dualism, and the Golden Rule

Posted by Richard on April 14, 2008

"The Study of Political Islam" first appeared in Frontpage magazine in February 2007 and was posted at the Center for the Study of Political Islam's blog last August. It's an interview with the Center's director, Bill Warner, and it's a must read. I discovered it at ACT for America!, where it's presented with an informative introduction by Jerry Gordon. Here's an excerpt:

Endless ink has been wasted on trying to answer the question of what is Islam? Is Islam the religion of peace? Or is the true Islam a radical ideology? Is a moderate Muslim the real Muslim?

This reminds a scientist of the old arguments about light. Is light a particle or is light a wave? The arguments went back and forth. Quantum mechanics gave us the answer. Light is dualistic; it is both a particle and a wave. It depends upon the circumstances as to which quality manifests. Islam functions in the same manner.

Our first clue about the dualism is in the Koran, which is actually two books, the Koran of Mecca (early) and the Koran of Medina (later). The insight into the logic of the Koran comes from the large numbers of contradictions in it. On the surface, Islam resolves these contradictions by resorting to "abrogation". This means that the verse written later supersedes the earlier verse. But in fact, since the Koran is considered by Muslims to be the perfect word of Allah, both verses are sacred and true. The later verse is "better," but the earlier verse cannot be wrong since Allah is perfect. This is the foundation of dualism. Both verses are "right." Both sides of the contradiction are true in dualistic logic. The circumstances govern which verse is used.

All of Western logic is based upon the law of contradiction–if two things contradict, then at least one of them is false. But Islamic logic is dualistic; two things can contradict each other and both are true.

What Warner calls the law of contradiction is also known as Aristotle's law of non-contradiction, and it's a corollary of the law of identity (those of us with a Randian background know the short version: "A is A"). A culture that hasn't adopted the laws of identity and non-contradiction is, IMHO, pre-rational.

It's not just a characteristic of primitive cultures, however. Many modern academics reject reason, and they eagerly embrace and defend inconsistency and contradiction. Ironically, an Islamic philosopher proposed an appropriate response to such nonsense about a thousand years ago:

Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.
— Avicenna (Ibn Sina)

Apparently, Avicenna's rather colorful method of teaching the law of non-contradiction wasn't widely adopted, so Islam's dualistic "logic" persists still today. As does UC-Berkeley's. Too bad.

Getting back to the Warner interview, here's another, somewhat more provocative, excerpt: 

Let's examine the ethical basis of our civilization. All of our politics and ethics are based upon a unitary ethic that is best formulated in the Golden Rule:

Treat others as you would be treated.

… On the basis of the Golden Rule–the equality of human beings–we have created democracy, ended slavery and treat women and men as political equals. So the Golden Rule is a unitary ethic. All people are to be treated the same. All religions have some version of the Golden Rule except Islam.

FP: So how is Islam different in this context?

Warner: The term "human being" has no meaning inside of Islam. There is no such thing as humanity, only the duality of the believer and unbeliever. Look at the ethical statements found in the Hadith. A Muslim should not lie, cheat, kill or steal from other Muslims. But a Muslim may lie, deceive or kill an unbeliever if it advances Islam.

There is no such thing as a universal statement of ethics in Islam. Muslims are to be treated one way and unbelievers another way. The closest Islam comes to a universal statement of ethics is that the entire world must submit to Islam. After Mohammed became a prophet, he never treated an unbeliever the same as a Muslim. Islam denies the truth of the Golden Rule.

Read the whole thing, by all means. You might want to look around the Center's website, Political Islam, too. The latest article expands on the above discussion of Islamic ethics.

Subscribe To Site:

5 Responses to “Islam, dualism, and the Golden Rule”

  1. RedPencil said

    Of the Golden Rule editions, I vastly prefer Rabbi Hillel’s negative formulation: “Do not do unto others, that which is hateful to you.”

    This is not a trivial distinction. Sensible laws legislate against bad behavior, they do not (and, really, cannot) enforce good. The negative phrasing is also a lot easier to follow than Jesus’ “do unto others” instuctions on a personal level. For example, under the negative formulation, I am not enjoined to share my winning lottery ticket with an indeterminate number of my fellow citizens; I AM enjoined not to steal someone else’s winnings.

    Also ithe “Do Not Do Unto Others” accounts more for variance in personal likes and dislikes: I may wish others would read me Shakespeare, but I am pretty sure there are others who do NOT wish to have Shakespeare read to them. Hmmm… perhaps all those people with annoying boom boxes are simply using the wrong edition of the Golden Rule.

  2. Hathor said

    Since when is any religion rational.

  3. rgcombs said

    It’s true that no religion is rational. But they’re not all equally irrational, either. I agree that Hillel’s negative version is superior to the more common positive formulation. But any version of the Golden Rule is superior to the belief that you can do as you please with those who are different from you.

  4. Classical Thinker said

    Islam is indeed a pre-rational and pre-psychological form of tribalism in which the Arab tribe subjugates, exploits, then eliminates competing tribes. The Koran is the justification for doing so. About 60% of it is diatribes against anyone who does not follow Mohammed as tribal chief. Mohammed demands his followers treat their “brothers” with utmost generosity and curtesy, but the evil kufaar (infidels) should be forced into a permanent position of political inferiority. Islam assumes the political system will that of “president-for-life” dictatorship. The only way an Islamic leaves his post is through death (q.v. Saddam Hussein, Moammar Khaddafi, Anwar Sadat, etc.) Pakistan is having a horrible time trying to assimilate British parliamentary democracy and the Islamists appear to be vomitting it out their mouths and struggling to wrench the country back to normative Islamic dictatorship.

    Islam demands the “other” remain in permanent inferiority, hoping they will eventually “go away”. The ill-treatment of Assyrian and Coptic Christians over millennia shows the effects of Islamic tribalism: both populations would now number at least 100 million if unremitting, state-sponsored persecution of minorities had not occurred. Both populations (of the original occupants of the two countries) now number only a few million! Perhaps the majority of Copts and Assyrians now live abroad due to official Islamic persecution in their homelands.

  5. Nancy Lee said

    Excellent post very informative and spot on!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.