A Look at the Muslim Mindset
Amil Imani, The Family Security Matters:
Diffusing the present dangerous confrontation between Islam and the West demands rational, impartial, and cool heads to untangle facts from myth, understand the Muslim mindset, and redress any grievances on either side. READ MORE
The Muslims’ perennial complaint is that the imperialist West—all colonial powers of the past, as well as the United States of America—have victimized them for decades and even centuries and continue to do so in every conceivable way. The litany of the alleged wrongdoings by the West is encyclopedic. To begin with, they claim the West has shown utter contempt for the legitimate rights of the Muslim nations by arbitrarily dividing much of the Islamic land into fractured entities, plundering its resources, and installing in its midst its illegitimate stepchild of Israel—a huge thorn in their side, so they complain.
“A grain of truth is needed to make a mountain of lies believable,” is an old saw. In fairness to Muslims, there is some substance to their claims against the West. For now, though, let us focus on the general mindset of Muslims which bears heavily on the hostility toward the West—a serious hostility that may bring about the dreaded Armageddon. These factors are not characteristic of every Muslim, but together form a structure in which we can consider certain tendencies.
Patriarchy and Authoritarianism - Authoritarianism in Muslim society starts with the supreme authority, Allah, through his one and only prophet, Muhammad, his Caliphs or Imams, and the high-ranking religious divines all the way down to the village clergy. This authoritarian mentality encompasses all aspects of life. The king and his dominion as the viceroy of God, the Khan and his unchallenged rule over the tribe, the village headsman and his extensive power, and finally the father and his control at home over the women and children. All these authority figures are male.
The authoritarian type poses numerous problems and presents many ramifications, much too important and complex to be comprehensively treated here. For now, it is important to understand that a person with the authoritarian personality tends toward extremism. He can be docility itself under certain circumstances and a maniacal murderer under others. He is the type who would just as happily kill or die, when he is directed to do so. He would, for instance, gladly strap on an explosive vest, in obedience to a superior’s order, and detonate it in a crowd of innocent civilians without the slightest hesitation.
Focus on a Goal – In the Muslim world, the goal is everything. In its extreme interpretation, Islam condones any and all means to achieve its goals, including the ultimate objective of incorporating the entire world into the Islamic Ummah. Of course, Muslims disagree with one another regarding the character of the Ummah itself and who is going to reign over it, but this is a “family dispute” that can be resolved later. For now, the intermediate goal of defeating all non-believers is sufficient to push all interferences aside. When “The end justifies the means” is adopted as extremists' guiding principle, all sorts of betrayal, deception, and outright lies are fully condoned in furthering the work of Islam. This work, in the present-day world, is defined by an entrenched and influential clergy who issue fatwas, or rulings, that become directives and laws to the faithful.
Khomeini, the founder of the Iranian Islamic state, made extensive use of the fatwa. Widely-known in the West is Khomeini’s fatwa condemning Salman Rushdie to death for his book. A lesser known fatwa of Khomeini during the last Iran-Iraq war led to the slaughter of thousands of Iranian children. Children, nearly all under 15 years of age, were given plastic keys to paradise as they were commanded by the fatwa of the imam to rush forward to clear minefields for the tanks to follow. In obedience to a fatwa issued to help achieve a goal, willing Iranians had no problem deceiving innocent children with plastic keys to paradise to make the Iranian army's path a bit easier..
Fatalism - One of the most subtle, yet most important characteristics of many Muslim’s mindsets is the high degree of fatalism. There is hardly a statement to be made that is not made conditional on the will of Allah. “I shall see you tomorrow, Allah willing.” “You will make it home, Allah willing.” “Things will work out, Allah willing.” If something happens, it is Allah’s will. If it doesn’t, it is Allah’s will. This perspective absolves the individual of any and all responsibility, in stark contrast with the take charge individuality of the West.
Uniqueness – All people, as a group or as individuals, are unique. Muslims share a common Islamic psychological milieu, always present though in different degrees, dependent on whether they live in Islamic lands or in societies predominantly non-Islamic. The psychological characteristics of any Muslim group or individual is directly dependent on the kind and amount of the Islamic diet they consume. The Islamic diet has numerous ingredients—some of which are wholesome, some are dangerously toxic, and some are between the two extremes. Over the years, Islamic leaders have sometimes found it expedient to feed the masses mainly the toxic ingredients to further their own interests. Individuals and groups, for instance, have used the immense energizing power of hatred, the cohesive force of polarization in creating in-group solidarity; and the great utility value of blaming others for their real and perceived misfortunes.
Conclusions - Admittedly, the non-Islamic culture is no panacea. It has, however, one outstanding feature that counters many of radical Islam's most destructive characteristics - it allows for liberty for all its adherents. For those who have experienced liberty, no inducement is likely to make them give it up—particularly not the fictional promises of the Islamists that have failed in the past and are doomed to fail even more miserably in the future.
The best, yet most difficult, way to resolve this conflict is to do what hundreds of thousands of Muslims have already done, to abandon rigid, oppressive, and exploitative dogma for the nurturing expanse of liberty. Slavery of the mind is as evil as the slavery of the body. Islamofacism enslaves them both.
Within the emancipating and accommodating haven of liberty, those who wish to remain Muslim can retain and practice the good teachings of Islam but renounce intolerance, hatred, and violence. It takes great effort and courage to ascend from the degrading pit of slavery to the mount of emancipation. Yet it is both possible and exhilarating to do it, since many have done so successfully and happily. As more people leave the shackles of religious slavery, more will follow and the long-suffering Muslims, victimized for far too long, will be a free people in charge of their own life and destiny. It is a painful process of growing up, of asserting one’s coming of age, and marching lockstep with the free members of the human race.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Amil Imani is an Iranian-born American citizen and pro-democracy activist residing in the United States of America. Imani is a columnist, literary translator, novelist and an essayist who has been writing and speaking out for the struggling people of his native land, Iran. He maintains a website at http://amilimani.com