Der har den seneste tid været flere gode artikler om den arabiske verdens store krise. Det man optimistisk kaldte for et forår har helt mistet en årstidbetegnelse thi en sådan vil ikke være dækkende. En vinter er jo kun en periode, men flere ser ikke nogen umiddelbar ende på den spiral af kaos, som araberne ser ud til at blive trukket ned i. Den libanesiske Hisham Melhem skrev den glimrende artikel Barbarians Within Our Gates for Politico Magazine
Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world.
Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries?
No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world in the last century. There is no obvious set of reasons for the colossal failures of all the ideologies and political movements that swept the Arab region: Arab nationalism, in its Baathist and Nasserite forms; various Islamist movements; Arab socialism; the rentier state and rapacious monopolies, leaving in their wake a string of broken societies. No one theory can explain the marginalization of Egypt, once the center of political and cultural gravity in the Arab East, and its brief and tumultuous experimentation with peaceful political change before it reverted back to military rule.
Nor is the notion of “ancient sectarian hatreds” adequate to explain the frightening reality that along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia—the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies.
There is no one single overarching explanation for that tapestry of horrors in Syria and Iraq, where in the last five years more than a quarter of a million people perished, where famed cities like Aleppo, Homs and Mosul were visited by the modern terror of Assad’s chemical weapons and the brutal violence of the Islamic State. How could Syria tear itself apart and become—like Spain in the 1930s—the arena for Arabs and Muslims to re-fight their old civil wars? The war waged by the Syrian regime against civilians in opposition areas combined the use of Scud missiles, anti-personnel barrel bombs as well as medieval tactics against towns and neighborhoods such as siege and starvation. For the first time since the First World War, Syrians were dying of malnutrition and hunger.(…)
A byproduct of the depredation of the national security state and resurgent Islamism has been the slow death of the cosmopolitanism that distinguished great Middle Eastern cities like Alexandria, Beirut, Cairo and Damascus. Alexandria was once a center of learning and multicultural delights (by night, Mark Twain wrote in Innocents Abroad, “it was a sort of reminiscence of Paris”). Today Alexandria is a hotbed of political Islam, now that the once large Greek-Egyptian community has fled along with the other non-Arab and non-Muslim communities. Beirut, once the most liberal city in the Levant, is struggling to maintain a modicum of openness and tolerance while being pushed by Hezbollah to become a Tehran on the Med. Over the last few decades, Islamists across the region have encouraged—and pressured—women to wear veils, men to show signs of religiosity, and subtly and not-so-subtly intimidated non-conformist intellectuals and artists. Egypt today is bereft of good universities and research centers, while publishing unreadable newspapers peddling xenophobia and hyper-nationalism. Cairo no longer produces the kind of daring and creative cinema that pioneers like the critically acclaimed director Youssef Chahine made for more than 60 years. Egyptian society today cannot tolerate a literary and intellectual figure like Taha Hussein, who towered over Arab intellectual life from the 1920s until his death in 1973, because of his skepticism about Islam. Egyptian society cannot reconcile itself today to the great diva Asmahan (1917-1944) singing to her lover that “my soul, my heart, and my body are in your hand.” In the Egypt of today, a chanteuse like Asmahan would be hounded and banished from the country.
The jihadists of the Islamic State, in other words, did not emerge from nowhere. They climbed out of a rotting, empty hulk—what was left of a broken-down civilization. They are a gruesome manifestation of a deeper malady afflicting Arab political culture, which was stagnant, repressive and patriarchal after the decades of authoritarian rule that led to the disastrous defeat in the 1967 war with Israel. That defeat sounded the death knell of Arab nationalism and the resurgence of political Islam, which projected itself as the alternative to the more secular ideologies that had dominated the Arab republics since the Second World War. If Arab decline was the problem, then “Islam is the solution,” the Islamists said—and they believed it.
At their core, both political currents—Arab nationalism and Islamism—are driven by atavistic impulses and a regressive outlook on life that is grounded in a mostly mythologized past. Many Islamists, including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (the wellspring of such groups)—whether they say it explicitly or hint at it—are still on a ceaseless quest to resurrect the old Ottoman Caliphate. Still more radical types—the Salafists—yearn for a return to the puritanical days of Prophet Muhammad and his companions. For most Islamists, democracy means only majoritarian rule, and the rule of sharia law, which codifies gender inequality and discrimination against non-Muslims.
And let’s face the grim truth: There is no evidence whatever that Islam in its various political forms is compatible with modern democracy. From Afghanistan under the Taliban to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and from Iran to Sudan, there is no Islamist entity that can be said to be democratic, just or a practitioner of good governance.
Men det er Raymond Ibrahims fremragende artikel Islams Protestant Reformation fra Juni måned for Frontpage Magazine, som leverer en en dyster forklaring for hele den muslimske verden, nemlig at den er ved at knække over under presset for sin egen kognitive dissonans.
Islam’s scriptures, specifically its “twin pillars,” the Koran (literal words of Allah) and the Hadith (words and deeds of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad), were inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of Muslims. Only a few scholars, or ulema—literally, “they who know”—were literate in Arabic and/or had possession of Islam’s scriptures. The average Muslim knew only the basics of Islam, or its “Five Pillars.”
In this context, a “medieval synthesis” flourished throughout the Islamic world. Guided by an evolving general consensus (or ijma‘), Muslims sought to accommodate reality by, in medieval historian Daniel Pipes’ words,
translat[ing] Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands [as stipulated in the Koran and Hadith] into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands… [However,] While the medieval synthesis worked over the centuries, it never overcame a fundamental weakness: It is not comprehensively rooted in or derived from the foundational, constitutional texts of Islam. Based on compromises and half measures, it always remained vulnerable to challenge by purists (emphasis added).
This vulnerability has now reached breaking point: millions of more Korans published in Arabic and other languages are in circulation today compared to just a century ago; millions of more Muslims are now literate enough to read and understand the Koran compared to their medieval forbears. The Hadith, which contains some of the most intolerant teachings and violent deeds attributed to Islam’s prophet, is now collated and accessible, in part thanks to the efforts of Western scholars, the Orientalists. Most recently, there is the Internet—where all these scriptures are now available in dozens of languages and to anyone with a laptop or iphone.
In this backdrop, what has been called at different times, places, and contexts “Islamic fundamentalism,” “radical Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Salafism” flourished. Many of today’s Muslim believers, much better acquainted than their ancestors with the often black and white words of their scriptures, are protesting against earlier traditions, are protesting against the “medieval synthesis,” in favor of scriptural literalism—just like their Christian Protestant counterparts once did.
Thus, if Martin Luther (d. 1546) rejected the extra-scriptural accretions of the Church and “reformed” Christianity by aligning it more closely with scripture, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (d. 1787), one of Islam’s first modern reformers, “called for a return to the pure, authentic Islam of the Prophet, and the rejection of the accretions that had corrupted it and distorted it,” in the words of Bernard Lewis (The Middle East, p. 333).
The unadulterated words of God—or Allah—are all that matter for the reformists.
Note: Because they are better acquainted with Islam’s scriptures, other Muslims, of course, are apostatizing—whether by converting to other religions, most notably Christianity, or whether by abandoning religion altogether, even if only in their hearts (for fear of the apostasy penalty).
Jalving skrev under blandt andet denne inspiration den glimrende advarsel til Vesten at nissen flytter med i Efter Os Syndfloden.
Men nu ser vi den. Vi ser, at det hele er noget lort på de kanter. Og vi ser noget andet og endnu værre – for os: At vi ikke evner at forvare os mod opløsningen af den arabiske civilisation. Deres ødelæggelse kan blive vores ødelæggelse. Vi importerer den nemlig.
Her tænker jeg ikke kun på de varme lande som arnested for radikalisme og jihad. Det er næsten for banalt, her er dagens episode. Næ, jeg tænker naturligvis også på den voksende strøm af flygtninge og asylansøgere, der vandrer mod Europa – og for de flestes vedkommende – kommer frem og opnår en eller anden ret til at være her – på de europæiske skatteyderes regning.
Hvem skal redde araberne fra sig selv?
Hvorfor peger flaskehalsen på os? Hvorfor er det ikke kinesernes opgave, de er trods alt de kommende, globale magthavere? Hvorfor kigger ingen på Latinamerikas ansvar, de vil for helvede også gerne handle med araberne? Hvorfor kan Putin køre friløb? Og mere graverende: Hvorfor er det ikke araberne, der løser arabernes selvskabte problemer?
Du ved godt hvorfor. Det er kun i Vesten, at vi har fået den tro, at vi og ingen andre kan løse alverdens problemer lige fra nødhjælp til geopolitik. Det er os, dvs. vores nedarvede humanisme, der i generationer har ledt Vesten på vildspor og skabt en grænseløs, universel samvittighed hinsides alle sociale konsekvenser i hjemlandene og gjort menneskerettighedskonventioner til guddommelige anvisninger.
Dér ligger hunden begravet, og det er på tide at sige det ligeud, som det er: Det er os selv, ikke araberne, der har gjort den kroniske arabiske borgerkrig til USA’s, Storbritanniens, Australiens, Canadas, Hollands, Sveriges og Danmarks evige problem. Vi vil og skal hjælpe, koste hvad det koste vil, herunder vores egen deroute.
Deroute er egentlig for venligt et udtryk. Det er ikke alene den arabiske civilisation, der forsvinder for øjnene af os, men tillige vores egen kultur, der synker sammen i bestræbelsen på at spille Jesus, imens vi tillader, at arabere, der tydeligvis ikke vil Danmark eller det land, der har givet dem eller deres forældre en ny chance, huserer som grever og baroner på gader og stræder og opfører sig, som var de herrer i vores hus.
Mærk dig disse dage, det er dage, der forandrer verden, herunder din egen. Tiderne skifter, jeg siger det bare.
Ingen milde sæder kommer af disse tiders skiften dog.