Sunday 9 August 2009

Green shoots in Palestine. Really?

“The bad news” says Thomas Friedman, (Green Shoots in Palestine, International Herald Tribune, Aug 4), “things have gotten worse” since the first Arab Human Development Report of 2002.  His summary of the 2009 Report discusses the deterioration of "deficits" in three areas:  (i) Freedom  (ii) Women’s empowerment and (iii) Knowledge-creation.  Not once does Friedman mention Islam, and the report itself mentions it only in passing.   Clearly too hot a potato.  
Perhaps Islam is not the only reason for these worsening problems, but it is surely one of the most important.  It is so, because all the 25 members of the Arab world are predominantly Islamic, with Islam playing a far more important part in the political and cultural life than, say, Christianity does in Europe.  For Islam is a total system, a "whole way of life", and in many of the Arab countries the Constitution is based on Islamic Sharia law.  To talk about the problems in the Arab world without mentioning Islam is like analysing why the Twin Towers collapsed without mentioning the planes....
Freedom: Islam places no emphasis on personal freedom.  The very word means “Submission” to the will of God, as channeled through imams, ayatollahs and caliphs.  The sign below sums this up pretty succinctly:  the official Islamic view of freedom. 
Women’s empowerment: Islam is rightly notorious for its treatment of women as second-class citizens, routinely denied their basic human rights.
Knowledge-creation:  Sharia law prohibits “innovation” and the whole corpus of Islamic doctrine is against curiosity and scientific advancement (see  The Reliance of the Traveller, the manual of Islamic jurisprudence). 

As long as the Islamic politico-religious edifice exerts its baleful influence, by the time of the next Arab Development report, Friedman will surely have to conclude, yet again:  “Things have gotten worse”. 
This is Islam's position on western Freedom.  In Islam, one is only "free" to submit