Freedom: True and False

By Rebecca Bynum (Oct. 2006)

 

Why do they hate us?...They hate our freedoms – our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other. – President Bush

 

Freedom is a word invoked constantly in America as a descriptive term for self-government and the concept of sovereignty of the people. The word itself conjures pride and patriotism and is an integral part of our national myth. It involves the idea of unlocking human potential, of opportunity, individualism and self-reliance. Freedom and the American ideal of individual self-realization are one and the same in the minds of most Americans. Freedom is that intangible thing we defend when we fight.

 

Less understood is the fact that the mujahadeen are also fighting for freedom, but a freedom very differently defined. According to the Muslim philosopher Sayyid Qutb,

 

This din [religion] is a universal declaration of the freedom of man from slavery to other men and to his own desires, which is also a form of human servitude. It is a declaration that the sovereignty belongs only to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. It challenges all such systems based on the sovereignty of man, i.e., where man attempts to usurp the attribute of Divine sovereignty. Any system in which final decisions are referred to human beings, and in which the source of all authority are men, deifies human beings by designating others than Allah as lords over men. (Milestones* pg. 47)

 

In Islamic terms, the western concept of political sovereignty resting with the people is a form of idolatry, for Allah’s word, as given through Muhammad, is regarded as the only legitimate source of legislation, and in addition, obedience to Allah’s law is the only form of worship Islam allows. These two ideas: that the divine is a law giver, and that obedience to that law is what constitutes worship, are the two most alien concepts confronting the western mind when analyzing Islam. They combine to create the Islamic requirement for territorial sovereignty, something entirely unique among the world’s religions.  According to Islamic doctrine, if a Muslim obeys the laws of man, as he must while residing in a modern western state for example, he actually worships man and becomes an idolater guilty of shirk – worshipping other than the one god, Allah. This is a grave sin for a Muslim and so to atone he must engage in the struggle against jahiliyya, which is to say, all non-Muslim culture and ideas, as these are thought to arise out of ignorance of the truth of Islam. And since Islam disallows criticism of itself, it forms a completely closed system of thought with all definitions, including the definition of freedom, self-contained. Qutb puts it plainly:

 

Since the objective of Islam is a decisive declaration of man’s freedom, not merely on the philosophical plane but also in the actual life, it must employ jihad. It is immaterial whether the homeland of Islam – in the true Islamic sense, dar al-Islam – is in a condition of peace or whether it is threatened by its neighbors. When Islam calls for peace, its objective is not a superficial peace requiring only that part of the earth where the followers of Islam are residing remain secure. The peace of Islam means that din (i.e., the law of the society) be purified for Allah, that all people should obey Allah alone, and every system that permits some people to rule over others be abolished. (Milestones pg. 51)

 

Thus, this struggle is not a temporary phase, but an eternal state, because truth and falsehood cannot coexist on this earth. Whenever Islam made the universal declaration that Allah’s Lordship be established over the entire earth and men be free from servitude to other men, the usurpers of Allah’s authority on earth have struck out against it fiercely; they never tolerated it. Islam was obligated to strike back and free men throughout the earth from the clutches of these usurpers. The eternal struggle for the freedom of man will continue until all religion is for Allah and man is free to worship and obey his Sustainer. (Milestones pg. 53)

 

Consider the phrase, “truth and falsehood cannot coexist.” This is a central concept in Islamic thought – that everything “false” must be destroyed. Therefore, all other cultures, when having come under Islamic domination are eventually annihilated by Islam, including their art, music, books, cultural artifacts of any kind, and of course history, all have been obliterated because these things are un-Islamic and are thus deemed worthless. Cultural genocide is what jihad in all its forms (propaganda, demography, bribery, extortion and finally violence) seeks to accomplish because these things are obstacles to the realization of perfect Islam. Again quoting Qutb,

 

The reasons for jihad…are these: to establish Allah’s authority on earth; to arrange human affairs according to the true guidance provided by Allah; to abolish all the Satanic forces and Satanic systems of life; to end the lordship of some men over others, since all men are creatures of Allah and no one has the authority to make others his slaves or to make arbitrary laws for them. These reasons are sufficient for proclaiming jihad. One should always keep in mind, however, that there is no compulsion in religion; that is, once the people are free from the lordship of men, the law governing civil affairs will be purely that of Allah, while no one will be forced to change his beliefs and accept Islam. (Milestones pg. 57)

 

 

Central to this argument is the idea that Allah’s sovereignty must be realized over actual physical territory, for one of his essential attributes is as legislator for the collective. The idea of God’s will reigning over the heart of the individual believer, the kingdom of heaven within, is an alien one to Islam and considered by Muslims to be a corruption of the truth.

 

In this collectivist religion the individual cannot attain happiness and fulfillment apart from the functioning of the collective, because freedom is only found through the complete submergence of the individual in this social, political and religious system.

 

This is the opposite of our conception of happiness as individual self-realization, the actualization of individual potential. In Islam, peace is only found through the total loss of individuality in complete obedience to the system. When, at some future time, when every human being is living the exact same way, praying at exactly the same times, and repeating exactly the same prayers, then and only then, will Allah be satisfied and mankind become justified. Human happiness per se, is never considered and the attainment of perfection is a purely collective act. Allah deals only with the umma, never the person (since Muhammad) or the personal. Human purpose is found only in conformity.

 

The concept of the kingdom of heaven being spiritual in nature and individual in manifestation is unrecognized by the purely material religion of Allah. “For the light shown in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not” The efforts of Muslims to co-opt Christianity (Jesus as “Palestinian” Muslim and slave of Allah) reveals perhaps a fear of dealing with the words of the Jewish Carpenter on their own terms. Ignorance of Christianity among Muslims is near total and of course kept that way by the killing of missionaries and the banning of bibles in Muslim controlled lands. Islam asserts that the words of Christ are corrupt fabrications.

 

In the western mind, in order for freedom to exist, evil or the potential for evil must also exist, otherwise freedom, as we conceive it, is impossible. Man must be free to choose between the true and the false, between reality and his own delusions. In point of fact, human delusion, that is the willful embrace of unreality, is undoubtedly a source of evil in the world. And non-Muslims can easily recognize the unreal nature of the mythical umma and how it is entirely analogous to the mythical communist collective or the mythical Third Reich. Here again is Qutb sounding remarkably like Karl Marx,

 

After annihilating the tyrannical force, whether political or racial tyranny, or domination of one class over the other within the same race, Islam established a new social, economic and political system, in which all men and women enjoy real freedom. (Milestones pg. 49)

 

In truth, however, man walks a tightrope between the spiritual prison of conformity to the mores (the doing of only what is accepted and expected) and the prison born of his own personal selfishness and the desire for unreality. The cultivation of self-control then is indispensable to true freedom as recognized by all the major world’s religions. With self-control, human actions are forced neither by the sensual appetites nor by fear of social or divine retribution. Self-mastery becomes the key to both peace and freedom because it opens up the possibility of personal choice based on individual self-reflection. Forced conformity as found in Islam can only kill individual faith even as it claims to liberate man through obedience to Allah’s system. This is not only clearly delusional, but dangerously so.

 

Real faith is in fact the great emancipator, for faith properly defined is the actual living connection between the individual believer and his divine source of love and life. Through faith we feel the Father’s presence and are able discern his will, to know right from wrong, righteousness from sin, and truth from falsehood. Faith is the mechanism that allows man to search for God, which is to say, to search for reality. Islam, on the other hand, is the destroyer of faith and the giver of delusion, creating nothing but the most profound unhappiness, born of absolute self-denial, among its adherents. The idea that God would actually desire human happiness is utterly foreign to Islam, for according to its doctrine, Allah does not value the individual except for his contribution to the collective. The idea that the individual personality has value in and of itself is non-existent. Thus art, as it is born of unique individual thought, cannot be valued, much less treasured or preserved. Islam means everything, the individual Muslim means nothing except as a vehicle for the spread of Islam. His life, his loves, his suffering, his joy, means nothing except as it relates to Islam. Islam uber alles. Islam forever. Islam, Islam, Islam.

 

So what the Islamic system has done is usurped the place of God in the lives of its believers. It has made a spiritual God unnecessary. The Islamic system is all one needs to know and obey. One must memorize the fixed words of the Qur’an, but knowing God as a living spiritual being is not required. It is not even considered. Muslims may only look forward to lives of bitter self-denial or lives culminating in self-annihilation. The actual faith adventure of finding God, being liberated by His love and growing to know Him is denied them. The freedom Muslims are promised is of course entirely delusional for the reality of Islam is utter slavery - physical, psychological and spiritual – without balm, without rest, without peace. We witness its fear-driven fanaticism every day in final proof that religion reduced to politics, cannot take the place of true religion or supplant true religious faith without dire consequences.

 

Those who think Islam provides some sort of comfort or consolation to its billion or so adherents should think again.

 

 

 

(The copy of Sayyid Qutb’s Milestones cited is copyright 1990 and published by American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, IN., ISBN: 0-89259-076-9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rebecca Bynum contributes regularly to The Iconoclast, our Community Blog. Click here to see all her contributions, on which comments are welcome.


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