Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Valhalla Exchange, Part III

This post is the third of a multipart article where I interview a subject named "Reinhard". Reinhard is a member of FOMI - Svenska Forum Mot Islamisering (information in English; FOMI in English).

Questions are numbered and in italics, and Reinhard's responses are in
plain text. Some of these questions refer to questions and answers found in the first or second parts of the interview.

21) (This question was administrative.)

22) Please categorize yourself regarding religion. Are you Christian, Muslim, agnostic, atheist, or something else (please specify)?


23) Please describe how you have learned about Islam. Have you interacted with Muslims? Have you observed Muslims in your community or elsewhere? Are there many Muslims in the area where you live? From where? Have you read the Koran and other Islamic texts? What books or other printed media have you read about Islam, and what websites have you visited (a long, comprehensive list is not necessary, but I am trying to get a flavor for how much information you may have, and from where)? Please add any comments that may be appropriate.

My interest in Islam came about as a direct result of the Muhammed cartoon crisis. Although it mainly affected Denmark, Swedes have a strong connection to both Denmark, Norway and Finland, and what happens in one of these countries, often has an effect on the others. I was also outraged by people in Sweden who argued along the lines of ”Freedom is speech is good, but…” I felt that my liberties were being attacked from without and within, and that I had to do something.

I have mainly learned about Islam through books. I have met very few Muslims, and there are not many Muslims where I live; like I said, Sweden is a highly segregated society. Most Muslims in Sweden are from the Balkans, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and Somalia.

I have read the Qur’an several times, along with Ibn Kathir’s tafsir, the main hadith collections (sahih sittah), and the sira of Ibn Ishaq in their entirety. I am currently studying Islamic jurisprudence, and have read a large number of academic studies of and articles about Islam. Apart from Islamic scripture, I read polemical texts such as those of Robert Spencer et al., and more traditional (Western) scholarship on Islam. I read Jihadwatch regularly, and occasionally read the websites of Daniel Pipes and others when they publish items of interest to me. Other than that, I scan newspapers for events concerning Islam.

My approach to criticizing Islam is that I basically have to know more than most Muslims about their religion. I study Islam as it is defined by Muslims themselves; not only do I read their scripture, but also their interpretations of said scripture. This ensures that I always have the context covered while studying and debating Islam. That being said, I see it as my main priority to summarize the texts I’ve read so that others won’t have to. I see myself primarily as a producer of arguments.

24) What are your observations regarding Islam as a religion? In your view and based on your information, is Islam, as is so often claimed, a "Religion of Peace"? Why or why not?

First of all, one must differentiate between Islam as a religion and what Muslims believe in. My main ”beef” is with Islam, not with all Muslims. Many Muslims do not believe in the doctrine of jihad, but that does not change the fact that jihad is prescribed by Islam. Jihad as a doctrine of invasion and subjugation (dhimmitude) has always been espoused by orthodox Islam, ever since it was first formulated by Muhammed. This becomes painfully obvious when one studies Islamic scripture. This doctrine and many other aspects of Islam show that Islam has never been only a religion; it has always been a religion and a political ideology. This makes it doubly dangerous, since the political decisions it encourages Muslims to make, are thought to come from Allah himself. Since jihad, dhimmitude, and the sharia are divinely ordained, and can only be considered as violent and intolerant, this leads me to conclude that Islam has never been a religion of peace, but rather a religion of war, to a much higher degree than any other religion – since jihad has no counterpart amongst other religions.

25) Would you consider Islam a political agenda? Why or why not?

Muhammed ordained that Islamic hegemony over the entire world should be established by warfare. Muhammed was both a religious leader and a statesman; the latter part of his career was by definition political, and that tradition was continued by the caliphs, who were both political and religious leaders, in that they also instigated jihad to conquer non-Islamic countries. This is the most flagrant example of how Islam has never made a distinction between religion and politics. Indeed, it is clear that Muhammed conceived of Islam as a belief system which included every aspect of human life, including politics. Any secular Muslim state will therefore be un-Islamic. This has unfortunately lead Muslims to believe that secularism is outlawed by their religion, which of course makes it difficult for Muslim immigrants to the West to accept the secular (and non-Islamic) system of Western countries.

26) Do you agree with the statement that Islamic culture is from one religion but from more than one country, while ethnic Swedish culture is from one country, but may be from more than one religion? Why or why not?

I agree with the first but not the second part of this statement. All Muslim countries have had their culture influenced by Islam, since it is an ideology which seeks to dominate. However, regional and national variations naturally occur, and I am not sure how much, say, a Tunisian would have in common with a Saudi. Swedish culture is influenced by our Catholic and Protestant Christian background. No other religion has ever had any serious impact on Swedish culture. During the last century or so, secularism has become an integrated part of Swedish culture, and Sweden can today be considered a secular Western state with its ethical roots in our Christian background.

27) I am going to use the terms Islamic culture and Swedish culture. If you haven't already done so, and feel it is appropriate, please give me your definitions for these terms which I have introduced. How are Islamic culture and Swedish culture alike? How are they different? If the Islamic culture that you have observed is from different countries or from different schools of Islam, please note any regional or other differences in its attributes. Also, please note any distinctions in Swedish culture caused by regional or religious variations. (You may wish to read the remaining questions before you answer this one, as some of your answers will more appropriately be associated with them.)

I see Islamic culture as a culture which insists on living in accordance with the tenets of Islam. It is a highly religious, aggressive and patriarchal culture, with no tradition of secularism and liberal democracy, and which quashes dissent, abhors difference, and focuses on the collective (the family and the umma) rather than the individual. Swedish culture prizes secularism while respecting all faiths, seeks compromise instead of conflict, focuses on the responsibilities and rights of the individual, and sees all human beings as equal. Islamic culture is monolithic, whereas Swedish is pluralistic; in this, we are no different than most Western countries, and I indeed feel a strong connection to the greater whole of Western civilization, which has given me those individual freedoms which I take for granted and which could never exist in an Islamic society.

Since few or none of the values I appreciate in Western civilization are to be found in Islam, I have come to realize that Western culture in general, of which Swedish culture is a part, has very few similarities to Islamic culture. This leads me to conclude that the presence of Muslims in Western countries can only lead to problems. All Islamic cultures, regardless of regional differences, are still influenced by Islam, which is in itself anathema to Western civilization; our cultures and values are simply too different for us to co-exist peacefully. This can be observed by examining which areas of Sweden are most disparaging or welcoming towards immigrants and Islam. There is no strong anti-Islamic movement in Gothenburg, which has always been a socialist city; the opposite goes for Skane, our southernmost region, which has always been more politically independent, with a stronger connection to the continent. Of course, the sheer number of Muslim immigrants in Skane (they tend to settle in Malmo, which has been described as a lost city) also helps explain this opposition, and the ensuing success of SD in this region.

28) Compare and contrast the concept of "Women's Rights" in Islamic culture and in Swedish culture.

If a Swedish male wanted to marry a nine year old, take three other wives as well, and then force them all to wear the hijab, he would be tarred and feathered and run out of town. Swedish culture considers women to be the equal of men in every respect; those who disagree are considered pariahs. In Sweden we generally allow women to express their sexuality freely, and scoff at anyone who proposes that women should refrain from dressing and acting however they want. We regard it as an inalienable right to explore and take control of one’s sexuality. Gay rights are likewise respected, and homophobes are denounced.

The situation could not be more different in Islamic culture. My opinion is that Islamic culture views women as dangerous, unpredictable creatures who must be dominated by men, lest they wreak havoc on the fabric of society. Sexuality is regulated: sex is unlawful unless one is married, and even then, there are certain things which Allah doesn’t want you to do (such as anal sex, which is haram; interestingly enough, marriage with children, which is apparently not a sin at all, is permitted). The honour of any male resides to a large degree in the behaviour of the women of his family. A licentious daughter or sister is a disgrace to the male, who has to blot out that affront to his honour. Add to this less violent forms of misogyny such as the sharia stating that women only inherit half of what their brothers receive, that a man can divorce a woman by stating ”Talaq” three times, that a woman who gets a divorce and then wants to return to her ex-husband first has to sleep with another man – and why not include the sayings of Muhammed himself, who stated that women are deficient in their religion and that most of the inhabitants of Hell are women – then it becomes plain to see that Islamic culture and Swedish/Western culture have nothing in common whatsoever when it comes to women’s rights – mainly because women quite simply have no rights in Islam.

29) Compare and contrast the concept of "Religious Freedom" in Islamic culture and in Swedish culture.

Islam considers apostasy to be a capital offence, which I of course find wildly offensive. Religion is somewhat of a non-issue in Sweden, whereas in Islam, it is of paramount importance. Islam is considered by Muslims to have abrogated every other religion; all other religions are false. The Qur’an exhorts to war against polytheists and monotheists. Islam can simply not accept the existence of other religions. This attitude influences the view on religious freedom. Such a concept is an impossibility within Islam. Again, Islamic and Swedish culture are worlds apart.

30) Compare and contrast the concept of "work ethic" in Islamic culture and in Swedish culture.

The general work ethic in Sweden is inherited from our Protestant background. Stores are open every day of the week. We strive to find jobs which are satisfying in and of themselves; I believe that few people in Sweden are prepared to work solely for the money. At the same time, we make sure that no one has to starve, regardless of how able or willing they are to work. Islamic culture seems to not have as strong a work ethic as Swedish culture. While I am loathe to generalize, I have the distinct impression that many (but certainly not all) Muslim immigrants are perfectly happy to live on welfare without even trying to find a job. This leads to a large segment of the population costing the state a lot of money and giving nothing in return. The lack of a strong work ethic within Islamic culture can further be observed by studying Muslim states around the world; when it comes to for instance technology, they import everything and export nothing. I have yet to find any Islamic scripture which tries to impart a work ethic to Muslims; perhaps because Islam, as formulated by Muhammed, originally subsisted on war booty?

31) Compare and contrast the role of violence in Swedish culture and in Islamic culture. Specifically, what historical roots does violence have in Sweden? Please consider group violence (such as war), individual violence (such as schoolyard fighting or domestic abuse), and anything in between (street gangs, for example). How does that compare and contrast with modern Sweden? Then, please compare and contrast with the role of violence in historical Islam, as you understand it, and in modern Islam, especially as you understand it within Sweden.

Sweden engaged in imperialism during the 16th and 17th centuries. Our power then waned during the 18th century. We have not partaken in any wars since the early 19th century. We thus have a roughly 200 year old tradition of remaining neutral and avoiding conflict. We have not had any civil wars since the middle ages. Swedes on an individual basis are likewise prone to backing down rather than asserting themselves in potentially violent situations. Modern Sweden conforms to its history of non-assertiveness and its belief that all conflicts can be solved through discussion, which leads to difficulties when we are confronted by immigrants from more assertive and aggressive cultures.

Islam has always seen violence as something which is good and pleasing to Allah as long as it helps the spread of Islam. Violence is in itself never condemned by Islamic scripture; on the contrary, it is glorified when it relates to jihad. This breeds into the culture of Muslim nations. Islam inculcates hatred of non-Muslims, and it is my belief that many Muslim immigrants to Sweden bring with them this culture of hate and violence and refuse to get rid of it while living here. Muslims are victims of Islam, and now we are the victims of Muslim violence. The source of the problem is with Islam. What we are seeing on a global scale today, is the return of Muslims to the Islam of their forefathers; jihadists today are no different from the jihadists of the middle ages. The traditional Islam has reawakened, and is acting as it always has, demanding submission and inciting to violence. The only way to defeat the global jihad is to reform Islam. Islam is not the solution; it is the problem.

32) (This question was administrative.)

Stay tuned to
Stop Islamic Conquest for further questions and some final comments on The Valhalla Exchange.


anticant said...

"Islam...is in itself anathema to Western civilization; our cultures and values are simply too different for us to co-exist peacefully... Islam inculcates hatred of non-Muslims"

This puts our dilemma as Westerners in a nutshell. Is our only recourse to meet hatred with hatred? You speak of 'reforming' Islam - but who is to do this, and how?

So much of contemporary political effort is mis-spent in futilely endeavouring to square circles. The Islamic vs. Western culture circle is one that cannot be squared, for sure. So what are we to do?

pela68 said...

Yes, Reinhard is very intelligent and wellspoken (both in Swedish aswell as in English). I have read many debate posts by him over at FOMI and elswhere. I'm sorry to say, that I have not followed the ongoing debate at FOMI lately. Mostly because they tend to ban certain debatours- which has made the forum there somewhat boring.

I have myself never posted at the forum, but FOMI was what first got me in to the counter jihad movement. It opened my eyes for the threat of islam, and really was the fuse that started off my Gummihund blog"

I'm very pleased to be able to read this series of interviews.
Very thought provoking questions- aswell as answers!

As a final note; The "Vares" series is now concluded.

Muslims Against Sharia said...

Muslims Against Sharia Poll:
Does Islam Need to Be Reformed?