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Maurice Allen

Is Islam Compatible With Western Society?
In modern times, as the number of Muslims living in Europe and the USA is increasing to include a significant number of the population, the question of whether Islam is compatible with Western society and all that it entails, such as democracy, freedom, etc, is being raised more often. Also the September the 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, the July 7th bombings in London among other terrorist attacks, along with a rising wave of Islamic violence and extremism around the globe have intensified the debate about Islam and its role in the modern world. Thus, it is important to examine Islam, its ideology, beliefs, and practices, and look at whether the religion of Islam can truly exist peacefully within Western society. In order to do this we must establish a firm understanding of Islamic ideology, its history and aims, and what it represents, along with an equal understanding of Western democracy and values, and of Western society as a whole. As such, this project is mainly an examination and critique of Islam, and a comparison between Islamic ideology and Western value systems, in order to determine whether or not the two are compatible, or as some argue, diametrically opposed. Most of the criticism of Islam in this essay will be based upon actual text in the Qur’an, and historical events, rather than the writings of critics of Islam.

Western Society
Western culture and society is commonly considered as having several key concepts. These concepts are democracy, equality, and an emphasis on freedom, and these are seen as distinguishing Western peoples from the rest of the world. In the Middle Ages and early modern times, the separation of Church and state developed, allowing for the development of more distinctive political ideas, such as the separation of powers, which make modern Western democracy distinct from democracy in the rest of the world. This separation of church and state developed in many Western countries, and the West is largely secularised. Thus, Western society can be seen as having several key factors that make it different from the rest of the world – Freedom – This includes freedom of speech, association, etc, Democracy – Democratically elected representatives run most Western states, Equality – In most Western states, everyone is equal regardless of sex etc, Individuality – Personal freedom and idividuality is emphasised in the West, along with capitalism which is an individualistic ideology, Secularisation – There are no theocracies in the Western world, as most states are largely secularised.

in which people argue that Islam is inherently opposed to the Western way of way of life. and military leader after receiving visions from God while meditating in a cave in the hills around Mecca. Muslims do not view Muhammad as having created Islam himself. Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Populatio (2009) 1 . at the age of 40. which they view as being corrupted versions of their own faith. but later became a religious. and by the time of his death in AD 632.” and it is often claimed that it refers to submission to the will of God. which touches on every aspect of life. the wearing of the burka. encompassing everything from banking and welfare. Thus Muslims believe Islam to be the final. “corrected” form of both Christianity and Judaism. Islam has continued to grow. in an incomplete or corrupt form. Islam’s holy book. to marrital law and warfare. Islamic contradictions with Western values There are many criticisms leveled at Islam. and the fastest-growing religion. comprising about 23% of the world's population. Tracy. These visions continued for the rest of his life. but instead regard him as a prophet through which the Qur'an and the religion was merely “revealed” by God. and the Miller. Examples of this can be seen throughout history and all over the world today. and an adherent of Islam is called a Muslim. Islam cannot exist peacefully in Western society.57 billion Muslims in the world. Mohammed conquered large parts of the Middle East in his efforts to spread Islam. in the world. However. he was the undisputed ruler of the Arabian Peninsula. Religious concepts and practices in Islam include the five pillars of Islam. and following Islamic law. following the example of Mohammed. and Jesus. Since that time. political. including through prophets such as Abraham. People argue that for this reason. such as in the practice of honour killings. The word Islam literally means “submission. The Qur’an is considered by Muslims to be the absolute word of God. 632) in 621 AD. Muslims believe that Islam is the complete version of a faith that was revealed before at many times and places. Islam was founded by Mohammed (c.1 Islam is the second-largest religion. and with about 1.Maurice Allen Islam Islam in one of the three main monotheistic religions in the world. Mohammed was originally a merchant. Moses. 570 – June 8. which are basic concepts and acts of worship. and were dictated to his followers who recorded them as the Qur’an. The most common criticisms are thus: The Role Of Women Under Islam It is often argued that women are treated as inherently inferior to men under Islam.

and indeed seeks to establish its spread across the globe through force of arms. which has achieved almost legendary status in Islamic lore as the first battle in which blood was spilled for Islam.” Islam’s Warlike Nature A further criticism leveled at Islam is its inherently warlike nature. or the alleged rapist must admit his guilt. The Hadith says that women are intellectually inferior to men. he ordered that they be raped in front of their husbands. In 623 Mohammed decided to take revenge against Mecca for expelling him. In Medina. The early years of Islam’s founding were awash with blood. Otherwise the victim can be stoned to death for confessing to “adultery. In 622. and their testimony in court is worth only half that of a man’s. Mohammed would give out women captured from the enemy as war prizes to his men. Their husband may also bring other wives or slaves into the marriage bed. who slaughtered thousands and conquered the entire Arabian Peninsula through force of arms. Muslim women are not free to marry whom they please. and it plainly says that husbands are “a degree above” their wives. These captured women were made into sex slaves by the conquering Muslims who had killed their husbands and brothers. The Qur’an also commands that a Muslim woman must be sexually available to her husband at any time. as it can be argued that Islam is not a passive religion by nature. According to historical accounts of his life. There are four verses in the Qur’an in which Allah makes clear that a male Muslim master has full sexual access to his female slaves. Upon looking at the Qur’an. as a field ready to be “tilled. and in the practice of Islamic law. it can be seen that there is no ambiguity as to the inferiority of women in Islam. Mohammed’s public preaching had attracted a small band of followers. This was especially true in the past. in which Mohammed and his armies fought countless battles to aid the spread of Islam. after military conquests. a man may divorce his wife at his choosing whenever he wishes to. many of the inhabitants embraced Islam and Mohammed amassed a small army. there must be 4 male witnesses to corroborate her account. yet there is not one verse anywhere in the Qur’an that prohibits rape. and attacked trade caravans to provoke a reaction.” According to the Qur’an. Many argue Islam has just followed the example of Mohammed. The Qur’an gives Muslim men permission to beat their wives for disobedience. Under Islamic law. but was decisively routed by the Muslim army at the Battle of Badr. whereas women are unable to divorce their husbands unless it is the husbands wish also. A Meccan army marched out to meet Mohammed. who had to flee from their home city of Mecca to the neighbouring city of Medina for their own safety as their preaching had caused unrest in the city. Muslim women do not inherit property in equal proportion to Muslim men. . and Islamic law. if a woman claims that she was raped. according to the Qur’an. Under the Sharia. as are Muslim men. In at least one case. and that they comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants.Maurice Allen segregation of men and women in mosques and in Islamic society in general. the story of the life of Muhammad.

and In 642. Christians. the entire population was slaughtered by the advancing Muslim armies. At Nikiou in Egypt. North Africa. In 628. and at Susa all the dignitaries were executed also. as he saw that it was far easier to spread his religion through conquest than through preaching. The Meccans surrendered almost immediately. At the death of the Prophet. declared an amnesty for the Meccan’s past offences. the Meccan army went home. and in 630 Mohammed marched on Mecca with 10. In 625 the Meccans once again attacked Medina to quell the growing influence of the Muslims. and when the prophet died in 632. so he declared the truce null and void. and 4000 peasants. They failed to capitalize on their victory and withdrew back to Mecca. In 2 years his armies had. Mohammed attacked the Jewish settlement of Khaybar for unknown reasons. a close friend of Mohammed. Within the next 100 years.” (successor) and immediately organized the invasion of Syria. shortly after this. In Armenia the entire population of Euchaita was wiped out. Mohammed entered into negotiations with Mecca. was named the first “Khalifah. The Jewish men were beheaded. In Elam.Maurice Allen However. Some of the battles from that time are detailed here. Mohammed defeated the rest of the tribes in the region in quick succession. and Non-Muslim Arabs were executed or forced to convert. were massacred. the Middle East. Islam violently overran an area of land that spread from Northwest India. Mohammed discovered the Meccans had been attacking a tribe that was on friendly terms with the Muslims. many monasteries were sacked and burned. the entire region between Gaza and Caesarea was devastated. Abu Bakr. right to the Pyrenees. conquered the entirety of the Arabian Peninsula. and defeated the Jewish army at the Battle of Khaybar. During this campaign in 634. so Mohammed attacked them and expelled them from the city for treachery. and this time defeated the Muslim army at the battle of Uhud. after 2 years. many of the Jews living in Medina who had embraced Islam began to reject Mohammed’s claims of being a divinely inspired prophet. though open warfare. across Central Asia. with a force far larger than Mohammed’s Muslim army. in an uncharacteristic display of generosity. and Mohammed. and the monks killed. Southern Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. Jews. After an ineffectual siege lasting a few weeks. Mohammed declared the remaining Jews living in Medina. to be traitors. the population was put to the sword. he was the ruler of the region. and the women and children were enslaved by the Muslims. In 627 the Meccans attacked Medina again. those who had remained loyal to him. who were killed. a tactic unknown in Arabia at the time. During the campaigns in Mesopotamia. but the Muslims had dug trenches around the city.000 men. the town of Dvin was razed and all inhabitants were . between 635 and 642. However. and signed a truce set to last 10 years. After this. and Samaritans who were defending their land. except for 10 men and women who had mocked him in songs.

then when you have made wide slaughter among them. heretics."2 The Qur’an also orders all Muslims to fight and kill nonbelievers as their religious duty: "When you meet the unbelievers. A year later the Muslims were driven out of Otranto by a Christian army. Islamic Intolerance Islam’s inherent intolerance means that arguably. but the Muslim holy book still accuses them of heresy. In 1480. Islam. for them garments of fire shall be cut and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water whereby whatever is in their bowels and skins shall be dissolved and they will be punished with hooked iron rods. anyone who defected from Islam later was beheaded. they entombed the skeletons behind glass walls in the town cathedral. The same trail of carnage was left by the Muslim armies in North Africa. On a hill outside the city. and homosexuals. apostates. strike off their heads. Those who appeared as ordered were humiliated and forced to convert.000 inhabitants captured by the Muslims. Of the 22. 'God is the third of three': for there is but one God. Surah XXII."3 In Islamic law. Carthage was razed to the ground and most of its inhabitants slaughtered.4 .Maurice Allen executed. atheists.9 The Qur’an. have always been totally intolerant of non-Muslims. the teachings of the Qu’ran. carefully tie up the remaining captives. These are just a few examples of many. 800 inhabitants who refused to convert to Islam were beheaded. a Muslim army under Mohammed II seized the city of Otranto is Southern Italy. apostasy is viewed as a terrible crime. it is diametrically opposed to Western liberal ideas of tolerance and freedom. Islamic law. no tolerance is shown to atheists and unbelievers. statistics show that between 200 and 300 Muslims convert to Christianity each year. and if they do not refrain from what they say. and the deeds and teachings of Mohammed. including the city’s Bishop. For example. "As for the unbelievers. the Jews of Aden were ordered before the Caliph. "They surely are Infidels who say. for fear of reprisals. however it is suspected that the real figure may actually be much higher as the majority of Muslims who convert do so secretly. Muslim theologians all agree that no religious tolerance was extended to the Non-Muslims living in Arabia at the time of Mohammed. and any Jew who failed to turn up was killed. still known today as Martyr’s Hill. where they can still be seen to this day. and is punishable by death. and the spread of Islam through war. The entire history of Islamic conquests is littered with forced conversions. 12. and when they found the beheaded bodies on the hill. Christians are marginally better regarded than Jews in the Qur’an. The only choice given to them was conversion to Islam or death. In France alone.000 were bound with ropes and tortured to death outside the city walls. Surah XLVII. in August 1198. All the Christian priests in the city were massacred. The Koran is full passages describing the punishments awaiting atheists. a severe 2 3 The Qur’an. Similarly. This is especially true outside of Europe.

God will not guide evil doers. then strike off from them every fingertip.”8 “I will instill terror into the hearts of the Infidels. Jihad is especially for the purpose of advancing Islam and forcing the world to submit to Islamic rule.75 The Qur’an. and as such Islam is the only way to salvation. whose aim is to conquer the entire world and submit it to Islam and Islamic law."5 Muslims are unwilling to accept any criticisms of Mohammed.51 6 Amnesty International Report. and it is the religious duty of all Muslims to fight and kill for Allah and for Islam. Surah IX.”9 “It is a grave sin for a Muslim to shirk the battle against the unbelievers. Surah V. "Believers. Surah VIII.”7 “Those who believe fight in the cause of Surah IV. Surah VIII. and put others in your place. Believers. and thus it is the duty of every Muslim to bring Islam to the rest of humanity. those who do will roast in Hell. Amnesty International reported that in 2009. If anyone of you takes them for his friends.15-16 11 The Quran. He will punish you severely. Surah IX. most of them for religious crimes such as apostasy and blasphemy.”11 4 5 The Qur’an. They are but one another's friends.39 . or “Holy War."4 The attitude that the Qur’an encourages Muslims to take toward the Jews is highly anti-Semitic.Maurice Allen punishment shall light on those who are unbelievers. all Non-Muslims are despised in the Qur’an. The Qur’an claims that Islam is the only exclusive and universal truth.76 9 The Qur’an. Such punishment is routinely carried out in Saudi Arabia. and at times sounds like rabid hatred. 2009 7 The Qur’an. There are many passages in the Qur’an that deal with the concept of Jihad: “Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them. Anyone who does shall incur the wrath of God and Hell shall be his home: an evil dwelling indeed!”10 “If you do not fight. However.12 10 The Qur’an. Surah V.5-6 8 The Qur. Strike off their heads. do not take Jews or Christians as friends. which for them would constitute blasphemy and are punishable by death in many Islamic countries.” the duty of all Muslims.6 The totalitarian nature of Islam is most apparent in the concept of Jihad. an extremist and highly repressive Islamic state. when you meet the unbelievers preparing for battle do not turn your backs to them. then he is surely one of them. Saudi Arabian authorities executed 102 people.

Muslims and non-Muslims (Kuffaar). for whoever fights on God's path. Islam & Democracy A democracy. Surah IV. Under Islamic law. NonMuslims are people of the “Dar Ul Harb. etc. if the subjugated people do not convert to Islam they will either be killed. as well as being rule by the people. or “personal conflict. the Qur’an expressly excludes all dhimmis from taking any public office.27. the Copts in Lower Egypt. In litigation between a Muslim and a dhimmi. Under Islam.13 Various Hadith in the Qur’an also forbid a Christian or a Jew to exercise any authority over a Muslim. from political and cultural to 12 13 The Qur’an. had been reduced to poverty by the taxes and revolted in 832. burning villages. An Islamic state is guided by Islamic law. In Islam. is a system in which all people are judged as equals before the law.74 The Qur’an. A Muslim can never be executed for having committed any crime against a dhimmi. the world is divided into 2 groups. The vote of every individual is equal to the vote of any other. Islam. and slaughtering thousands. Dhimmis also have to pay a poll tax and a land tax. 114-115. Any fine imposed on a Muslim for any crime is automatically halved if the victim is a dhimmi.56 .”12 It is clear from many of the above verses that the Qur’an is not talking of metaphorical battles. such as never walking in front of a Muslim. which historically was too much of a financial burden to bear. In any Islamic state. This Muslim superiority over Non-Muslims is enshrined in Islamic law. will be amply rewarded in the life to come. Those Copts who survived were deported.” any country belonging to Non-Muslims that has not been subdued by Islam but which Muslims believe is destined to pass into Islamic rule either by conversion or by conquest. only Muslim males are entitled to full rights.” is talking of literal war. Once conquered. sometimes even less. a “dhimmi” is tolerated as a second-class subject as long as they pay regular tribute to their Muslim masters. who were in dhimmitude to Arab Muslim masters. religion or gender. Let those who fight in the cause of God who barter the life of this world for that which is to come. V. and the standing of a woman is often half that of a man's. The Muslim governor ruthlessly suppressed the rebellion. regardless of race. All acts of war are permitted under Islam to conquer the Dar Ul Harb. Also.” as the Muslims see fit. Fort example. whether he is killed or triumphs. that is. enslaved. and churches. derived from the Qur'an and Sunnah.” the “Land of Warfare. Surah III. the validity of the oath or testimony of the dhimmi is not recognized by the Sharia court. a group of clerics interprets the law from the Qur’an and applies it to all circumstances. Under Islam. and bowing to any Muslim he sees. or treated as “dhimmis.Maurice Allen “Those who die fighting for the only true religion. Non-Muslims have no standing with a Muslim whatsoever. and the only option for the Kuffaar is acceptance of Islam or death. Various other rules that those in dhimmitude must follow also exist. we will give him a handsome reward.

but through acts of terrorism and the increasing Islamification of Non-Muslim countries. “Islamists. that personal life and Islam. and the July 7th bombings in London. Daniel & Simon. and cannon. which is one of the cornerstones of Islam. In Islamic law. and have declared war against the West. the people are never to be placed above the Qur'an. The collective will of the people cannot rule for themselves. The tiny handful that are often held up as democracies are riven with internal tension between the government and more zealous portions of the population. immorality. manmade system that should be eradicated. Steven. Thus. Many other incidents exist also. Thus they fight with the ultimate goal of eradicating Western society.” as these people are sometimes called. as the latter often complain that democracy is an idolatrous system imposed on them by the government and desire a system of government that is derived only from Islamic law. have claimed that such unrestricted freedom and secularisation in the West has led to the proliferation of pornography. Recent years have seen a huge rise in Islamic extremism and terrorism around the globe. feminism. and the teachings of the Qur’an. scimitars. as all law must be derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah. This rising wave of extremism can be seen by the following figures – A radio station serving London's Pakistani community conducted a poll.Maurice Allen personal. Jordan (55%) and Morocco 14 Benjamin. are the same. Islam does not facilitate democracy. and many other ideas that they oppose. The Age of Sacred Terror (Random House 2002) . as only God has the right to rule. Many Muslims believe that democracy is an evil. It is debatable as to whether there are any Islamic states that qualify as democracies (certainly none that qualify as true Western-style democracies). and claims that it is the duty of every Muslim to fight for Islam and Allah. such as the 2004 Madrid bombings etc.14 A 2004 Pew Research survey revealed that Osama bin Laden is viewed favorably by large percentages in Pakistan (65%). the most famous incidents of which were the September 11th terror attacks on the World Trade Centre. while 48% said they would fight for bin Laden. Worldwide Islamic terror cells such as Al Qaeda are operating in Western countries. The main ideological tenet in Islamic extremism is the principle of Jihad. Jihad advocates war on non-Muslims and apostates. Rising Islamic Extremism & Opposition to the West These days the Islamic conquest of the world is not being carried out with sieges. They have the goal of replacing it with a worldwide Islamic theocracy in which Islamic law controls every aspect of life. secularism. which they see as evil. and that Islam should rule every aspect of life in the world. homosexuality. and as such it is an unchangeable religious text that rules. The people who are members of these groups believe that Islam is not only a religion but a political system also. in which 98% of London Muslims under 45 said they would not fight for Britain.

16 Conclusion The accusations levelled at Islam by its critics. One in four Muslims sympathises with the motives of terrorists (London Telegraph. whereas Islam still needs to evolve and adapt to fit the modern world. Islam in its curent state cannot exist peacefully in Western society without evolving to suit the modern world. and violent conquest. terrorism. as so clearly articulated by the Qur’an. and with the Muslim population rising around the globe. the situation is set to build. conquering ideology whose ultimate goal is to conquer the world for Islam. Muslim Anger Persists (Pew Reseach Survey 2005) 16 King. In Turkey as many as 31% say that suicide attacks against Americans and other Westerners are justifiable. While it is certainly not suggested that every Muslim is a violent extremist (the majority can. 25th June 2006) . is that of an aggressive.15 A 2005 Daily Telegraph survey showed that 6% of British Muslims fully supported the July 2005 bombings in the London Underground. is that Christianity has moved on and evolved. A significant minority of Muslims do support warfare and terrorism. The problem.Maurice Allen (45%). intolerance etc. however. Islamic extremism is a rising problem in the world today whereas the threat of “extremist Chrtistianity” is almost non-existent. Bibliography 15 A Year After The Iraq War. The very essence of Islam. especially given the level of conservatism amongst the Muslim community. In conclusion. Mistrust Of America In Europe Ever Higher. This may make the evolution and modernisaion of Islam extremely difficult. at least not in the way of suicide bombings. such as its warlike tendencies. live peacefully) the fact is that Islam is an ideology which openly calls for warfare against anything that is not Islamic. can arguably be levelled at Western religions such as Christianity also. Anthony. and it is the duty of every Muslim to aid his brothers and sisters in that fight. and do.

2009 Miller. Gilles. 2008) King. Anthony.Maurice Allen The Qur’an (Oxford. Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population. One in four Muslims sympathises with the motives of terrorists (London Telegraph. 2006) Bawer. 2008 reprint) Huntington. Bruce. 2008) Davis. 2007) Spencer. The Truth About Mohammed: Founder Of The Worlds Most Intolerant Religion (Regnery. Ibn. 1996) Warraq. The Clash of Civilizations & The Remaking of World Order (Simon & Schuster. Gregory M. The Age of Sacred Terror (Random House 2002) . Religion Of Peace?: Islam’s War Against The World (World Ahead. Tracy. While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying The West from Within (Broadway Books. 2003) Kemp. 25th June 2006) Kepel. Tauris. 2007) Amnesty International Report. Why I Am Not A Muslim (Prometheus. Jihad.300 Year War Against Western Civilisation (Ostara. Daniel & Simon. Robert. The Trail Of Political Islam (I. Jihad: Islam’s 1. Arthur. Steven. Samuel P.B. 2009 Benjamin.