A citizen of a Western republic or commonwealth nation is familiar with the concept of having their voice count. From a young age it is ingrained into us that without having our voices heard, our rights will be trampled upon and that we have a civic obligation to vote and actively participate in the political process. This type of rhetoric might be even more common if, like me, you are part of a minority community. However, this concept is not 100% accurate. In fact, it’s a common misconception that Westerners, both minorities and majorities alike, have regarding their government. Our individual voices really don’t count for much because there are existing political superstructures that control the political process. Maybe our voices can count within these superstructures if they are numerous enough. However, to get to that point you have to compromise so much that by the time you have a critical mass of voices within an existing superstructure, your individual opinion is lost in the new majority. If you don’t believe me, read this Princeton study that demonstrates that the Unites States is no longer, by definition, a democracy. The renowned British strategist B.H. Lidell perhaps said it best when we wrote in Why Don’t We Learn from History:
we learn from history that democracy has commonly put a premium on conventionality. By its nature, it prefers those who keep step with the slowest march of thought and frowns on those who may disturb the ‘conspiracy for mutual inefficiency.’ Thereby, this system of government tends to result in the triumph of mediocrity, and entails the exclusion of first-rate ability if this is combined with honesty. Ut the alternative to it, despotism, almost inevitable means the triumph of stupidity. And of the two evils, the former is less.
While it is certainty part of our civic responsibility to be involved with our elected government, it will only be effective if we are realistic about what it is we are actually getting involved with. In other words, what are those superstructures and paradigms that really control the political game, the nation, and ultimately policy. For many Muslims in the West, the superstructure they engage in is the liberal left. Amongst many things, this superstructure and paradigm claims to stand for diversity (which is not true), and therefore, our involvement with them is as a “Muslim minority” so that they can continue to claim that they are the party of the many, the spirit of the nation, etc. This rhetoric moves certain Muslims so much that they actually join this superstructure in the name of Islam, not realizing that by so doing, however, they have already compromised their identity and diluted their beliefs. Now that they have converted to this new civicism, they turn their energies upon the Muslim community hoping to recruit others to their cause. In so doing, they represent another type of Islamologist, the Muslim political activist.
Compromise & Paradox
Regarding actual participation in a republic, Machiavelli writes, “in all republics, in whatever way organized, positions of authority cannot be reached by even forty or fifty citizens.” The political activist Islamologist, however, is completely blind to this fact and lays prey on innocent Muslims, usually those of a voting age, and seeks to convince them of the obligation to join the liberal-left political superstructure (or whatever superstructure they belong to). This obligation is framed with the common misconception of “your voice counts”, “if you don’t get involved, they will never hear us”, “we have to be part of the system to make a difference”, etc. And to make this obligation palpable to Muslims, arguments are wrapped in Islamic messaging; precisely the moment when their Islamology is on true display. To convince Muslims to join their new political cause, they misquote, partially quote, and even manipulate primary sources (Quran and Hadith). The verses in the Quran of shura are a reference to republican democracy, hadiths of mercy serve as a justification for policies against discrimination, Quranic injunctions to “enjoin the good and forbid the evil” are seen as injunctions to elect our guy not the other, hadiths of speaking truth to power become the fuel for the cancel culture, etc., etc., etc. However, by attempting to link Islam to broad and completely undefined concepts such as justice, liberty, equality, and democracy, the political activist Islamologist mismatches the use of one paradigm’s concept for another’s. Without doubt there is a place in Islam to discuss these concepts; these are essential first principles the Sharia advocates for. However, these concepts have different meanings as used by the political superstructure than what they mean in an Islamic context. The biggest difference is that political superstructures use these terms to drive home a very specific policy agenda that is an extension of worldly power; Islam’s agenda is submission to God irrespective of worldly power. Sure, some of the soundbites from particular political superstructures appeal to Muslim ears. Who would disagree with statements such as, “freedom for all”, “no discrimination”, “black lives matter”, etc. Yet, these slogans must be pinned to their paradigmatic origin for a true assessment to be made. It is for this reason that I am against the use of any form of religion (any religion, not just Islam) in partisan/low politics. Since the political activist Islamologist has thrown themselves completely into the realm of low politics, they are constantly substituting essential parts of Islam for civicism. They wrap this new pseudo religion in Islamic garb, but it is simply not Islam. In so doing, they present a great paradox: they want Muslims to get involved in low politics, but in order to convince them, they have to alter parts of Islam to fit into the greater political superstructure to which they now belong. The reason this is the case is that by definition political superstructures are not interested in religion qua religion. Rather, they are interested in organized groups that can add to their base of voters. Therefore, they work to make these groups feel comfortable and heard. Herein lies the comprise; herein lies the paradox.
In his Poetics, Aristotle writes, “as for comedy, it is an imitation of men worse than the average; worse, however, not as regards any and every sport of fault, but only as regards one particular kind, the ridiculous, which is a species of the ugly.” In this regard, the Muslim political activist is the most comical of all the Islamologists. The Islam that they present is so far removed from true Islam, its imitation so grotesque, it belongs, not in a classical Greek comedy, but in a Monty Python skit. While the other types of Islamologists I discussed in this series take time to learn and create some sort of thought paradigm, even if flawed, the political activist Islamologist has one the most superficial understandings of Islam’s first principles. Their paradigm is, perhaps unbeknownst to them, the paradigm of the political superstructure they have sold themselves to. Want to become politically involved, fine, but please don’t make it in the name of Islam and sully that which, by definition, is elevated.