Monday, November 30, 2009

Muslim Ad Portas!: On Swiss Minarets

The Swiss have voted against building minarets in Switzerland and this has rightly brought an outcry condemning the bigotry and barely veiled racism of these people. Regardless, I will neither condemn nor commend the Swiss for their decision. You see minarets do not just spring up after a mild rain shower, nor do they serve as beacons attracting even more Muslims to come to Europe. Minarets are architectural features of Islamic mosques which were developed much later than when Islam began to spread. They are called manara in Arabic, and it means a place to see, be illuminated from, a tower. It is where the Muezzin, from the word Adhan, meaning to alert or announce, would climb up to call the faithful to prayer from all around. This functional aspect of minarets has long ago ceased to be important and today they are mostly there for aesthetic purposes.

But that is not my point. Neither Swiss bigotry, nor the religious or architectural significance of minarets are what is important about this story. What is important is that for the first time in 400 years, at least since the Ottomans besieged Vienna, Muslims are having a real impact on what is happening in Europe. The Spaniards have a saying, the Muslims occupied Spain for 800 years - and they're still here. In France, the government now has to step in to make a law banning the headscarf from being worn. In Denmark, we know what has happened. But all these events in different European countries are rooted in a deep seated alarm, perhaps with roots in historical fact, that the barbarians are at the gate. In this case the barbarians are not only at the gate, they are now in fact involved with every aspect of European society.

I remember earlier generations of Arab Muslims who came to Europe or America and easily assimilated themselves into society. They began to drink, had girlfriends and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere to personal freedoms on offer here. However each successive wave of immigrants has been stronger in their adherence to Islam. Today there are Muslims who live in a way that we do not even see in Arab countries. European legislation bans polygamy? That's ok because all that's needed for an Islamic marriage is a Sheikh and two witnesses. There are plenty of men I've met who are married to another woman Islamically in Europe, have children with her, and also have their main wife. Whether you like it or hate it, it exists here regardless of legislation. In fact in some Muslim countries such things are no longer possible. In Tunisia there are areas where police would pull the headscarf off of a woman's head. Yet far from being a religion that is commonly portrayed as oppressive of women, I find remarkably hard religious opinion arising more often from women than men. Women have taken on the role of protecting their husbands from straying, of keeping their children in the faith in a land where temptations are more readily available, and of strengthening bonds with other Muslims. Similar to the way the Qubaisia movements in Syria have served as a backbone for increased religiosity, so too are similar informal gatherings of women at each others houses serving a similar purpose. That and the ease of travel today means that links with the 'old' country are now stronger and where these things were localised phenomena, today they are becoming transnational.

To sum it up, I am not worried about the bigots. Minarets and sharia can be banned, headscarves can be torn off, and all the cartoons in the world will not stop the fact that Islam is now in Europe, and it is in America, and it is spreading throughout the world. At the end of the last century the big word had been globalisation, and that this somehow equated to the spread of Western values at the expense of local customs and traditions. This, in the shadow of the now lost "War on Terror", is now shown to be a fallacy. Far from seeing a 'McWorld' being created, we are seeing that Western cultural values and big business have been subverted and transformed by, rather than overwhelming Islamic countries. Technology has been "Islamised", science in all its amazing advances is a proof, rather than denial, of the "true" faith. Without even realising it, Europe is now, as it was 1000 years ago, being shaped by Islamic peoples. In all their moderation, fanaticism, vibrancy, benefit-scrounging, hypocritical or saintly glory different people who are Muslim are applying and living by it in their own way in a post-modern world. Like a phoenix from the ashes, Islam has reinvented itself for every time and every generation.


Jay Kactuz said...

It is so touching to see a Muslim complain about bigotry. This from a people that discriminate everywhere they dominate.

The minarets are harmless - but not Muslims. They preach hate and violence. They just don't preach it, they do it. They believe in a god that delights in torture (Or maybe skinning people alive and pouring burning oil down a throat, as it says in the Quran, is ok). They follow a man called Mohammud, that according to Islam's own traditions, attacked, plundered, killed, raped, enslaved men women and children, raped and even beat his 9 year-old wife. Even so the Quran says this man is a "moral" example to follow. Even the so-called nice good Muslims except these things.

Note also that everywhere Islam dominates it discriminates and oppresses. In case you haven't noticed, Muslims do not accept freedom of speech and religion nor separation of religion and state. oor maybe you have noticed the human rights situation in islamic societies.

This isn't hate or islamophobia; it is speaking out against an oppressive ideology. For years the West has been nice to Islam and Muslims and we have gotten nothing but hate and violence in return. Muslims refuse to look at the ugly issues in their religion. We need to draw a line in the sand and tell them that they must stop their hate, discrimination and violence.

Oh yes, they can still build their mosques to worshop their moon god and bow to their rock in Mecca. The Swiss ban was just to let them know that we are tired of their tantrums.


Safiya Outlines said...

Salaam Alaikum,

Very intriguing analysis. The use of the term 'benefit scrounging' means you've definitely lived in the U.K, right?

I've only just discovered your blog, it's a very interesting read. I've just got back from visiting Syria, my husband is Syrian, so we go every year.

Nizo said...

"Like a phoenix from the ashes, Islam has reinvented itself for every time and every generation."

Banning of minarets in Switzerland? And who talks about Muslim attitude to churches in the Missile East? Where Copts are treated like second class citizens in a country where they existed before the Arabian-Islamic hordes?

And what about the catholic church in Abu Dhabi which has been relocated in the early 80's to the middle of nowhere, and to it's right is a gigantic mosque that was built to dominate it and to blast the ears of the Christians with Allahu Akbar. That mosque by the way, being in the middle of nowhere has no visitors, in fact, an Iraqi friend of mine, a Shiite, once had to perform the adhan when the sheikh was out galavanting somewhere.

Islam isn't a phoenix, it's a vulture.

Maysaloon said...

I've been waiting for somebody like you to comment in ages. Your argument is predictable and tired and I post a reply not for you but for discerning readers who can distinguish truth from the falsehood that you are typing. Welcome.

Muslims do preach hate and violence. This is an often ignored attribute but a religious obligation nonetheless and one which has sadly still not taken full effect. The Qur'an teaches us to implement violence on those who do us wrong, who kick us out of our homes and kill and humiliate us. It also imposes a religious duty on all Muslim's to kill, in times of war, all those who have attacked and killed Muslims.

Our God is beyond your Christian notion of good and evil. Yes, if you do not believe in Him he will have you cast in hell where vigilant angels will ensure that the skins of those who did not believe in Him and killed his Prophets are flayed, and with much worse than burning oil poured down their throats. As for those who believe in him, there are rivers of wine, honey and milk. There will also be low hanging fruit, and beautiful "houriyat". You've obviously taken the effort to read the Qur'an, I think you can manage finding these passages by yourself.

As for the Prophet Muhammad, yes he did all those things to the Jews of Medina and also to all those who would not submit to the sovereignty of the rule of Allah instead of the rule of Man. He did not rape however, and certainly not his wife Aisha. Your information is slightly inaccurate as well, he did not marry her when she was nine, he married her when she was seven and waited two years before having sex with her because it was only then that she sexually matured and became a woman according to the standards of the time. So in answer of your question, yes, I and all good Muslims accept these things. I am proud to emulate the Prophet in his manners and thoughtfulness and in spite of people like you.

I disagree with you on the state of what you call Islamic societies though. These societies are in fact ruled by puppet governments supported by your enlightened West so that you can steal our resources to fuel your bankrupt and profligate lifestyles. If these countries were truly Islamic and ruled by Islamic rulers, you would be Muslim be now.

On your next point I agree, Europe and the United States must do everything in their power to stop Muslims. If you don't your children will write about people like you in Arabic. I promise you :)

Hate, discrimination and violence against those who kill and oppress Muslims will never be something I or any other Muslim will be ashamed of. You can draw all the lines in the sand, we know where we stand.

Finally, thank you, but we do not need your permission to worship our "Moon God", incidentally he is not a moon god, he is The God. Now if you told us that we worship a man whom we call His son, then we'd be offended.

Salam Aleikum

Maysaloon said...

Yes you're right, but I think if you read what I wrote, and I can tell that you didn't, you would see that I couldn't care less either way. Minaret or church. Then again you didn't come here to read anything. You came here to say what you wanted to say to vent your frustration about a society which rejects you.

Nizo said...

"You came here to say what you wanted to say to vent your frustration about a society which rejects you."

You're right Maysaloon,

I'm severely jet-lagged and I felt like Islam-bashing. For some reason every time I see a hijab I feel like vomiting. Then again, some people feel that way about homosexuals, but unlike Muslims we're just trying to make the world a more colourful place.. :))

Maysaloon said...

Well you have your religion and we have ours. Welcome to Maysaloon.

jimmy said...


good post as usual.

i don't think the swiss are not being bigots. i think they're simply myopic. their vote is a pathetic act of xenophobia against a reality that they cannot change and which refuse to comprehend. instead of banning minarets, they should embrace diversity within their country. swiss muslims are as swiss as swiss atheists or swiss catholics.

in my humble opinion, a vote is an unfair way to address the social debate about minarets. a democratic ballot is always unfair towards minorities. the state and the judiciary system should have acted to protect the minorities. referring to a vote is coward.

but this brings us to another discussion. since you mention bigotry, i think bigotry is what some muslim countries are exercising today by banning the practice of other religions in these countries. imagine the life of non-muslims in the arab gulf. the hindus, buddhists, christians and others who are deprived of their right of religious worship. how revolting is this to you? in my opinion, your article relays an implicit, one-sided complaisance towards one clan rather than an objective portrayal of a systematic human problem (but we've talked about this before and it's lead us nowhere).

your statement about the phoenix rising from the ashes and islam reinventing itself is also awkward to me. i think there's nothing really particular about islam's spread and i think there is absolutely no "reinventing" in islam to date (refer our previous discussion about renaissance). i think that islam is naturally and epidemically spreading, just like any social or religious phenomenon. just like christianity, judaism, hinduism, and all other religions did. and i think it will grow to a certain level where it will have a critical mass, ie until it starts feeling less threatened. and at that point, it will peak, just like other religions peaked, and then start decaying (just like christianity and judaism are practically decayed and dead). then, and only then, i think muslims will see that it is time for them to reinvent islam. by that time, many more wars would have been fought in your god's name (and in the name of other people's gods), many civilisations pillaged in the name of dogma, many million humans would have been slaughtered, and the cycle will start again with another religion claiming a higher moral ground.

it's funny how religion+masses=war

again, i think there is only one way out of this.
it's called humanism.
and there is only one weapon.
it's called tolerance.

Safiya Outlines said...

Salaam Alaikum,

Jimmy - Yes, religion causes all wars. Except for minor skirmishes like World War 1 and 2, the Vietnam war...

Talking about one part of the world in preference to another, isn't bigotry. This is a classic derailing tactic that you're using and you've done so in order to indulge in a tedious rant against the evils of religion, rather then engage further with what Maysaloon was actually saying.

عبود -abboud said...

i have no idea how do you think, i mean if there is any logic in what your saying i would be very happy to know it.
i am a lebanese guy living in berlin and i am amazed by the fact that you are so proud of generations of immigrants who dont know the german language, generations of immigrants who have no prospect in life, generations of immigrants who barely support them selves, who have no respect for the country they live in. you claim to be an intelect. but in all your writings you forget that Islam ows its huge Success in the early years to Science, to accepting others( it was mainly Jewish and christian Scholars) who helped building what we call islamic culture, Islam owed its Success to the good buisnessmen who traveled all over the world to sell their goods, not preach anything, but because they were so tolerent and understanding ( as any buisness man should be). Please stop this way of preaching something that is perfect but all others are too stupid to see. stop preaching, no one cares about rivers of milk and honey. the idea of so much milk and honey makes me sick. while our whole generation was dreaming of the the Virgins in heaven, the Western Culture( in terms of science and culture and technology) is shaping our new world, you like it or not Islam entered the new millenium in a plane on a flight to the world trade center ( as sad as this might be)
your attitude is not an attitude that much different.

عبود -abboud said...

one more minor thing,
muslims are having impact in europe
1,5 billion person
the world's greatest energy reserves
and all the impact we are doing is immigration and integration problems, bombing metro stations
this is an impact to be ashamed off
and i am .

Maysaloon said...

If you think that being a Muslim is something to be ashamed of, then naturally I wish you well in your new German nationality.

Firstly you confuse Islamic 'civilization' with Islam, that is wrong. The two are distinct and different. Secondly, I am not preaching anything that I think anybody is too stupid to see. In fact my argument is that people like you are the ones making things too complicated for people to understand, hoping in this way to drive them into a European, materialistic view of the world.

One would think that your new-found fatherland, or even the enlightened European civilization you so eagerly adopt are the beacons of humanism.

You forget that through fire and steel they colonised, in order to exploit, two thirds of the world's land mass. They continue to do so through the consumer goods you are addicted to and the 'civilized' lifestyle you now live in cozy Germany. You and the 'good' people you have 'assimilated' with, think you are doing the world much benefit, when it is you who are the corrupters.

I think you are uncomfortable with what I say because of the fact that I know who I am.

عبود -abboud said...

it is so nice that i can have a discussion with you without being personally attacked, and without you not just miss-interpreting every sentence of mine but also adding new stuff to them. of course i am the corrupter, i have no idea of capitalism, colonisations, and exploition of the third world countries, because i am brainwashed by the germans who i define as my own people.
this is one magic lugy
i have no german nationality and dont intend to get one. members of my family were killed in 2006, the war wish i lived for 33 days, and only got more attached to the land i was born in. so please spare me the hate talk.
u turned " ashamed of the impact your proud off" into " ashamed of Islam"
is it allowed to lie on islam ?
i intentionally added " Western Culture( in terms of science and culture and technology)" to make it clear that i am aware of the negative political and economic impacts of the west,
yes i am happy to belong to a humanity that was able because of ( materialistic view of the world) to land a man on the moon and make me able to discuss this with you, i defining myself as a human being am proud of the human race that can due to a (moralistic view of the world ) come up with a human rights bill ( regardless of it being implicated)
as a human being i define with the hungry of Africa, with the Poor of South america, with the palastinians, with the red indians of the united states, with the working kids of china, and i as a human being cannot accept that my People and Land refuse all these allies because of an ununderstanding of a religion that has been going, falsely in the name of god, since 1400 years.
i am uncomfortable with what you say not because you know who you are, but because i dont like what you are (set of ideas and believes),
utmost respect

Maysaloon said...

As long as we both know where we stand that's fine. But please, spare me the bleeding heart mantra of the 'orphans in Africa'. You are not being 'daring' because you parrot the White Man's usual criticisms of your own people. Just thought I'd remind you of that point.

Nobody said...

I think you are uncomfortable with what I say because of the fact that I know who I am.

And who you are? I will tell who you are. A shy and timid creature totally lost in the chaos of multiculturalism. A bookworm desperately grabbing at his pseudo Arab and pseudo Islamic identities as he is getting sucked into the abyss of nothingness. One would think that you are a kind of revolutionary or something. Thank Allah for the Western Academy's fascination with the other and indigenous cultures. Had they got more sense they would have kicked you out together with all the nonsense you are entertaining yourself with. Anyway, besides your philosophy you have got not a shred of notion about the things you are trying to blog about.

Lirun said...

maysaloon i hear the rainfall in london is really heavy these days.. why dont you have a holiday in syria..

R.Sole said...

You should read Marcus Aurelius's "Meditations", and some other Stoic philosophy, or maybe some Islamic philosophy although I know little about the latter so cannot recommend anything. Right now you seem trapped in "them and us" partisanship, stereotyping, and politician-style debating tricks, rather than any kind of genuine quest for knowledge and understanding. If you had been born to a "secular" or Christian family in the west you would no doubt be parroting the party line there too.

In my experience, there are at least two sides to every story. How can you understand the world if you will only listen to one? By the way, this comment goes not just to "Maysaloon" but the many commenters who seem to be stuck in the same way of thinking.

If enlightenment exists, then I doubt very much that it depends upon subscribing to one ideology or another. No utopian authoritarian scheme, whether religious or political, has ever answered the fundamental questions of existence. The first step is accepting that we know little and don't have many answers. A sceptical, pragmatic, open-minded approach seems better than dogma, at least in my opinion.

Maysaloon said...

Dear R.Sole,
Thank you for the recommendation, I have read "Meditations", and I have also cast a cursory glance over some of the works of Epictetus, though time is a precious commodity for me. I have also read al Kindi, Avicenna, al Ghazali and Averroes in some depth. My personal favourite is Avicenna, you should read him some time, as you know little about Islamic philosophy.

I'm really confused with your post. Your previous comments elsewhere on this blog did engage to some level with what had been written, but your comment that I am subscribing to a "them and us" mentality is actually quite amusing!

I recommend you read Ibn Arabi, especially if you are interested in how to adopt a skeptical, pragmatic and open-minded approach. Maysaloon is no place for dogma, least of all your brand :)