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Let it go
Nobody can save Islam without further victimising the whole Iranian society

October 28, 2006

Apart from criminal Islamists who are or were involved in the IRI, there is another spectrum of Iranian Muslim activists who still hypocritically or naively believe in an Islamic alternative to the current IRI’s dictatorship. Although, they are politically against the IRI, they intentionally prefer to ignore that the time is ripe for a secular and democratic alternative. They try of course to separate themselves from the infamous ruling Mullahs, but their blind belief, a legacy of pure tradition, obviously makes them deaf and blind to perceive how bankrupt their political Islam under any interpretation is.

What concerns the future of Islam in Iran? There is no doubt that Iranian society will be built only based on democracy and secularism. Nobody has the right to let religion, after all its destructive backgrounds, play a further role in the free society. Such a “right” would be a clear violation against the demanded rule of democracy and secularism. Religion with all its aspects of appearance will be pushed back in a confined sphere of privacy.

The obvious cure to our problem is not arguing about this or that interpretation of Islam -- as it is implicitly proposed by these Muslims activists -- but radically rejecting political system both in fundamentalist and alleviated interpretations.

Islam originated from one of the most obscure periods of history. It characterised the relations of a primitive clan society of Arabian pagans with the most dependent rules and norms. It can never be actualised and adapted to our modern needs. There is no reason of further sacrificing people for the sake of such a religion. Furthermore, even if divinity exists, there are no original proofs and logical understanding that Islam is a divine religion. Today, Islam is a synonym of backwardness, intolerance, gender segregation and terror. It has no compatibility to be adapted to the values of democracy, social justice, peace and modernity at all.

Islam from different calibers ultimately discord with democracy. Observant Muslims perceive the banishment of religious values from most aspects of daily life is what they describe as a violation to their Islamic identity. In their last word, democracy is perceived as a Western idea, if even not, blasphemy because it dares to set people as equal to Allah. For them, the original sin of democracy is to have rejected the sovereignty of Allah and put in its place the sovereignty of the people.

Conciliatory attempts of some Iranian Muslim activists of separating Islam from the IRI is as baseless as saying that Hitler or Stalin can be separated from their totalitarian ideologies. Most of these Muslims, who are now in their tactical defense, are the yesterday’s aggressive devotees of Khomeini and, maybe, the tomorrow’s followers of another Mullah.

As if the plague of the IRI were shifting to advantage of a “better” Islam, the current Muslim activists try to convince Iranians that our problem with the IRI is nothing but political. They try to persuade us that Islam is unfairly abused by the IRI’s fundamentalists, otherwise “it is the best”. They even have audacity to falsify our history by claiming thatconversion to Islam was a free choice of our people, and the early Islamic invaders helped then Iranians to achieve an Islamic ideal society with an improvement of social justice, advanced culture and a new Islamic identity.

Needless to mention, the early Islamic invaders ruined ancient Iran and its advanced civilisation. They imposed Islam on people through massive massacres and enslaving of our ancestors. Those who tell us such aberrant lies show in fact how they are far from the facts. Although, today Iran suffers from many problems since the IRI exists, but unlike Muslims’ claims, from ahistorical perspective, we can easily recognise the effects of Islam as the roots of all ills. Iranians who cannot or do not hypocritically want to point out the religious roots of our ills cannot be honestly Iranian.

Iranian Muslim activists, with already a lack of Iranian identity, through their pseudo-intellectual pontification by sugarcoating the ills of the society demagogically spread the idea if an Iranian Renaissance within the values of Islam were possible! To see how the idea of such an alleged “Renaissance” is illusionary, if not hypocritical, let have a look at these following facts:

There are more than 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of humanity, live in the Islamic countries. Within them are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, UAE and Kuwait that between them possess 700 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. All the 1.3 billion put together have an annual GDP of less than $1.5 trillion. Comparing these with the annual GDP of Western countries like 290 million Americans and their annual GDP is $10.4 trillion. France is at $1.54 trillion, Germany $2 trillion, UK $1.52 trillion and Italy, long the sick man of Europe, $1.4 trillion. In all the Islamic world, because of religious backwardness, there is no other important source of income, no basic improvement in industry and technology. We can clearly consider the affects of Islam as the only common factors of economic stagnation.

Of the 1.3 billion Muslims more than 800 million, a great majority of them women, continue to be absolutely illiterate. Among many of those literates, there are a great majority who have been traditionally deprived from a secular and free education.  Furthermore, a little ratio of Muslim scientists and a total of less than 600 universities for 1.3 billion people do not mean a divine love of Islam for culture! (India has 8,407 universities.)

However, these Islamic countries which allegedly follow the message of “peace and tolerance of Islam” are among the largest buyers of conventional weapons.  Added to them, the nuclear programmes of Pakistan and Iran are wasting a high sum of budget for their military and repressive organs. Needless to mention, the only aspect of modernity interesting to the Islamic authorities is the military technology which the authorities usually see as an arsenal that can guarantee their rules and mostly is turned on their own oppressed people.

Considering the colonial factor as a cause of backwardness, we will see that some non-Islamic countries, like India or China, are not bogged in their colonial backwardness. We can realise that the backwardness of the Islamic world is not only imposed by the factor of several decades of colonial powers, but rather and more destructive by many centuries of religious burden. Actually, the development of these countries was not only disturbed by colonial exploiters, but prior to them, it was barred by religion. The religion, as a heavy social ailment, has avoided any increase in productivity and national economy-- unless in traditional small-scale production and contribution of basic consumer goods.

Because of the long period of religious obscurity, no Islamic society was in the position to leave behind the obstacles of traditional backwardness. It is an important fact that has even been ignored by the Iranian left. Marx once believed that religion belonged to a category of superstructures when the Renaissance had already achieved in Europe. However, at least in the case of Islam, religion is not an ever neutral superstructure. On the contrary, Islam has been a solid foundation on which the means of production and social activities of economy are traditionally based. Under the restrictions of Islam, the democratic and secular conditions needed to advance the economy of the society can never be achieved. 

The conspicuous fact is, the more an Islamic society is bogged in its religion, and the more it is trapped in a vicious cycle of illiteracy, poverty, backwardness, misogyny and violence. Islamists continue to blame non-Muslims for all failures of the Islamic world. This is an old and routine pretext represented by some paranoid Al-Ahmad and his likes. All those Muslims, who perceive democracy and secularism as ideas of foreign dominance, who blame outsiders, “infidels” for all the ills of the society, should know that the main cause of the ills come from the core of Islam itself.

Utopia and hypocrisy aside, there is no real bridge linking the obscure values of Islam with democracy. It is an absurdity to combine these two opposite words “Islam” and “democracy”. If the Islamic societies were to be reconciled with democracy, the restoration of religion to the sphere of social life would have no sense. In fact democratic de-islamisation is to push back the religion in its confined privacy. This is the basic stipulation that must be accepted in order to start becoming adaptive to democracy.

Political Islam, by extension, refers to an emotional self-acceptance of Islam. It is not based on a simple analysis of objective needs of people. Both the objective needs and proven advantages of Islam are not presented. However, both fundamentalist and alleviated followers of political Islam differently but stubbornly deny the fact that Islam is the main factor of the existing backwardness in the Islamic world.

Instead of attaching to archaic norms, Islamic societies must take on board the values of secularist-humanist principles on which the modernity is based. If Iranian Muslim activists organised in groups or not, want to render a service to their society by incorporating evolutionary ideas, they should leave the political arena for the secular activists. Nobody can save Islam without further victimising the whole Iranian society.

A democracy cannot survive long without the values of secularism; the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to criticise and offend taboo values. Democracy is an illusion when is under any form of political Islam, and of course without a real democracy, Islam will remain intact in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress. Without vital democracy, Islam will continue stifling thought, human rights, freedom and progress.

Democracy is a heritage of social evolution. In our epoch, it evolves with the values of secularism. Religion, especially Islam, is a steady load for democracy. Iran will never be free with wooly interpretations of democracy. Iranian democrats should defend democracy or it will die from hypocritical abuses, as it was the case of ex-communist regimes, under the Marxist-Leninist interpretation of “class” democracy or, more illusionary, under the claim of Islamic democracy.

Democracy is much needed in the Islamic world, but of course without “Islam” attached to it. Iranian Muslim activists who have not been involved in the Islamist crimes, and are disillusioned by the IRI, should open their ears and eyes to finally quit the dogma that their Islam is a fixed and firmly miracle of any problem. On the contrary, the most frequent facts show that Islam has enough damaged our society. Today, to free and moderniseIran, political Islam, as a doctrine for undemocratic and backward principles, under any interpretation cannot be held at all. Comment

For letters section
To: Jahanshah Rashidian

Jahanshah Rashidian


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