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(Vanity) As the World Turns, Part II, or Back to the Future
grey_whiskers ^ | 12-15-2007 | grey_whiskers

Posted on 02/15/2007 9:53:50 PM PST by grey_whiskers

In my prior article, (Vanity) As the World Turns, or The Wild, Wild East I considered the possibility that changing demographics, upheavals in culture, and changing markets may bring the centuries-old preeminence of the Western World to an end. Three main heirs-apparent were mentioned: a renewed Islamic Caliphate, China, and India. I considered some of the weaknesses of the West and some of the cultural strengths of the others. In this and the following pieces, I wish to consider the potential Achilles’ heels for the rivals. I begin with Islam, with a detour into US politics and recent history.

As remarked earlier, the strength of Islam is exactly that: Islam. By analogy to the United States, which has been united across a diverse set of cultures and locations through a set of common political beliefs, Islam is united—across many racial and national boundaries—by common theological beliefs. In addition, the beliefs are such that they can be readily communicated and grasped without a great deal of formal education. In addition, the Muslim world is considerably younger (and more fecund) than the West. Finally, much of the Muslim World is centered around some of the largest oil reserves on Earth—convenient for economic power and/or blackmail against industrialized powers. However, each of these strengths contains a seed of weakness which may retard the establishment of sharia law worldwide.

First, consider the shared creed. Is the Muslim world really as unified as typically portrayed? Look at the violence in Iraq, aided and abetted by Islamic forces in Iran. Surely that is an example of Muslim unification? Not necessarily, upon closer inspection. Recall that a major battle fought by US forces in the last couple of weeks was actually against a splinter sect (Messianic isn’t quite the word to use of Muslims, but perhaps apocalyptic would do) who were setting out to slaughter a number of traveling pilgrims of a different Muslim persuasion. Or, for that matter, note that a great deal of the violence in Iraq is Sunni-Shia rivalry, echoing the see-saw of Catholic and Protestant power within Europe hundreds of years ago. (For an example of how extreme this is, consider the recent bootlegged video of the execution of Saddam Hussein. Here we have a world-class mass murderer and dictator. Not quite in the league of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, or Pol Pot, but certainly up there. During his execution (a first) a bootleg recording is made, and on it, the dictator and the executioners and witnesses get into a religious quarrel. Wouldn’t you think in Iraq’s case, crimes against humanity would take precedence over squabbles?)

Consider now the youth and demographic quotient of Islam. The problem here is twofold—one economic and the other societal. The economic problem is that with all of the young Mohammeds being born, where are they going to find employment? Recall that much of the Muslim World would be living in pretty abject poverty if not for the flood of petrodollars coming from the hands of infidels. And history has shown us that large masses of single, bored, repressed young men is not a recipe for any kind of stability. If the leaders of the Islamic world cannot find a way to channel the energies of all these youngsters into something, this may cause problems. (Yes, I realize “Death to the Great Satan” is still pretty appealing, but it doesn’t put food on the table. And if Islam unleashes its youth on the rest of the world with a view to conquest, the result will probably not be a clean victory, but instead something more like the Mad Max movies, with integrated civilization as a whole sputtering to a halt, with memories of finer things.)

Finally, there is oil—black gold. Some have considered the idea that petroleum is a perfect weapon to use against the developed and decadent infidels. I can think of two reasons why this is not necessarily true. First, it seems clear that the current crop of leaders in Saudi Arabia and other places, is very used to the level of luxury and comfort afforded by selling the oil. Unless there is a theocratic revolt, they will be very unwilling to renounce the profits. But there is another possibility as well. With all of the hindrances placed by the US Democratic Party on drilling for oil in ANWR, or off of the coasts of Florida, or many other places, in addition to the unilateral energy disarmament of the US by restrictions on coal and on CO2 emissions, the net effect is that many of the traditional sources of fossil fuels outside fo the US are disproportionately losing their supply of *cheap* fuel. Over the long term, this may have the economic effect of the “rope-a-dope” by the US, where we denude the resources of our rivals, and end up being the only player in town at the end of the day.

In summary, one hopes that Islam will not be a major threat to the US for the foreseeable future in a demographic or economic sense—always with the caveat that if Muslim fundamentalists gain access to fission or thermonuclear weapons, all bets are off. If Islam does supplant Western liberal democracy, it may be it will do so not by moving ahead, but by reducing much of the world to the Dark Ages once again. Back to the Future? Or Forward to the Past?

(As an aside, maybe it should be emphasized that *that* is what the United States has to fear most by the Islamization of Europe. One can only hope that the ex-Christian powers have the foresight to disable or destroy any nuclear-weapons related technology or artifacts, during the slow decline of their civilization, before the point of no return is reached.)

In my next piece, I will take a look at China. Keep in mind the Chinese calendar.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; History; Religion; Society
KEYWORDS: culture; history; islam; vanity; whiskersvanity
Cheers!
1 posted on 02/15/2007 9:53:54 PM PST by grey_whiskers
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To: bondjamesbond
*Ping*!

...more coming in a couple of days (if I have time).

Cheers!

2 posted on 02/15/2007 10:17:26 PM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers
the crowd is growing restless...
the crowd is growing restless

3 posted on 02/17/2007 7:51:37 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, February 15, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SunkenCiv
The text is written, I just have to verify a couple of the hyperlinks.

Look for it tomorrown morning (Sunday), Arizona time ...

Cheers!

4 posted on 02/17/2007 10:45:35 PM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers; muawiyah

Good post, but you haven’t mentioned that the Sunni-Shia or the Shia-Ismaili etc feuds are not the same as the Catholic-Protestant feud. Islamic sects were formed primarily because of political rivalry — the Shia’s believe that Husain/Ali should have been the Caliph, while the mainstream Sunnis think that Muawiyah was good enough. Then the fight between the 5ers and the 12ers in Shia Islam (i.e. the ones who support the first 5 imams as rightful and those that support the first 12 as rightful!)


5 posted on 03/12/2009 4:18:57 AM PDT by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: Cronos; G8 Diplomat
I had thought Sunni-Shia feud being on a point of theology (who is the "right" successor to the Prophet?); it is interesting that you make it political (who is the correct Caliph?).

This presents some parallels to the entanglement of Church and State in medeival / early Renaissance Europe; and the fight between the 5ers and 12ers (which I hadn't even *heard* of, thanks for telling me about it) would be analogous to the split of Orthodox and Roman Catholic...(I wonder who the protestant Muslims are?)

But I didn't do much more than allude to these matters, simply because I was out of my depth. As Clint Eastwood said, "A man's got to know his limitations"; and as the old saying goes "It is better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

(G8, can you comment on the religious/sectarian quarrels within Islam?)

Cheers! Cheers!

6 posted on 03/12/2009 4:43:00 AM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers
I respectively disagree -- I see it as being primarily political. And this is also the viewpoint of Ibadis. Islam has never had a separation of Church and State -- indeed that is inconceivable since the prophet was also the military and political leader as well as the religious leader.

While you are right that the Protestant-Catholic and Catholic-Orthodox feuds were exacerbated by politics (kings and emperors and little princelings wanting a pound of flesh), I would say that those were not the root causes as opposed to the Islamic civil disagreemetns

"Protestant" is too broad a term, but the ones who consider themselves as returning to the original, "purer" form of the religion would be analogous to Wahabbis in Islam.


The sectarian quarrels within Islam are mainly divided between Sunnis and Shias but you also have the Allawis, Druze, Ismailies, Bohras, Ibadis etc. who have their own viewpoints. The Sufi sect is more syncretic, mystical and so the fundamentalists like the Wahabbis do attack the Sufis (witness the bombing of a mosque (rather a Sufi sant's mausoleum) in Pakistan by the Taliban).
7 posted on 03/12/2009 4:58:42 AM PDT by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: grey_whiskers

Oh, and I do not mean any disrespect to you — the articles were really very good reads and well-researched.


8 posted on 03/12/2009 4:59:17 AM PDT by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: Cronos

There are, of course, the SEVENERS, and they have a whole ‘nuther take on the whole business.


9 posted on 03/12/2009 5:58:06 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: Cronos
The Druze think they are the 144,000 men the Bible refers to. They also use hypnotic regression to take folks back to their prior lives.

Islam is a very light wrap they have used in the past to protect themselves from the extreme Islamofascist majority over the ages.

They claim, and DNA tests have demonstrated, that they are descendants of every group to have come to or ruled over the Holy Land.

10 posted on 03/12/2009 6:00:46 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

Not heard that about the Druze, but then I don’t know much about them at all. I know that they have been severely persecuted over the centuries. Could they be Samaritans? There are 300 Samaritans left in Israel I think at last count


11 posted on 03/12/2009 6:45:13 AM PDT by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: Cronos

The Druze and the Samaritans are “different”.


12 posted on 03/12/2009 6:51:17 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

I know — according to what we know, but don’t we know very very little about the Druze? Or the yazidi or the Sabaens or even the Samaritans?


13 posted on 03/12/2009 7:24:38 AM PDT by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: Cronos
We know a lot more about the Druze today than we knew 10 years ago ~ there's even been discussions of them and their ancestry in National Geographic.

I suspect they are the people sometimes identified in the Bible as "scribes", and I don't mean the political sect of Jesus' time.

14 posted on 03/12/2009 7:28:21 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

Interesting — can you send me some links or something? I couldn’t find much myself on the Druze.


15 posted on 03/12/2009 7:58:11 AM PDT by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: grey_whiskers

The bottom line regarding inter-Islamic fueds is: Everyone hates each other

The origin of the Sunni-Shi’a split is over a disagreement on who should succeed Muhammad and become the next caliph. The Shi’ites believed that Husayn bin Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, should succeed him because he was actually related to him (they believe a caliph must be a descendent of Muhammad). The Sunnis argued that since Muhammad didn’t actually specify who was to succeed him, anyone would be fine as long as he was a good Muslim. They chose Abu Bakr, a friend of Muhammad to be the first caliph. Shi’ites don’t recognize the first three caliphs. They believe Ali (the fourth caliph) is the first imam (they use the term imam, not caliph). Shi’a literally means party or sect, from Shi’at Ali (Party of Ali). Sunni comes from sunnah, meaning “tradition.”

Within Sunni and Shi’a Islam there are even more divisions. There are four schools of Sunni thought, with different sects falling under each one. The puritannical Wahhabis (or Salafis as they’re also called) are one of these sects and are actually considered heretics by mainstream Sunnis. Deobandis (Pakistani/Indian Muslims) were originally quite different from Wahhabis but were Wahhabized via Saudi-funded madrasahs, and now the only real theological difference between the two is the school of thought to which they subscribe.

Shi’a Islam is full of divisions. The mainstream Shi’ites (”Twelvers”) are so called because the await the coming of the twelfth imam (like Nutjob in Iran, for instance). “Fivers” recognize only five imams, and believe the fifth one is the “mahdi” (awaited one). The ‘Alawis deviate from mainstream Shi’ism (I’m not exactly sure how, but they don’t believe the 12th imam thing). Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian govt are ‘Alawis. They are generally not looked on favorably by twelvers (except by Nutjob because he’s looking for ME allies). Other sects include Ismailis, Zaidis, Ibadis, and Ahmadiyyahs, with minorites in Yemen mostly. The Druze are an offshoot of Shi’a Islam, but are considered heretics by both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims.

Sunnis hate Shi’ites and treat Shi’a minorites poorly. That’s part of the reason for the Saudi-Iran tensions (the other is the Arab-Persian rivarly). But some branches Sunnis hate other Sunnis, and some branches of Shi’ites hate other Shi’ites. If they didn’t have the Jews to hate to provide a common interest, they would all be tearing at each other’s throats.


16 posted on 03/12/2009 8:42:11 AM PDT by G8 Diplomat (I'm learning Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, and Russian so someday you won't have to)
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To: G8 Diplomat

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the Sufis, who are considered heretics by Sunnis AND Shi’ites. The Mevlevi (the “whirling dervishes”) are prominent in Turkey.

And as someone else mentioned, there are also Sevener Shi’ites, who recognize only seven imams.


17 posted on 03/12/2009 8:43:57 AM PDT by G8 Diplomat (I'm learning Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, and Russian so someday you won't have to)
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To: Cronos

There isn’t much on the Druze. They work hard to keep it secret.


18 posted on 03/12/2009 10:04:15 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: grey_whiskers

Shi'ites believed that Husayn bin Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, should succeed him

Ooops I made a mistake. Brain clog after a final exam :)
Not Husayn; I meant Ali. He is Muhammad's son-in-law and the one the Shi'as wanted. Husayn is his son and was killed by the 6th caliph Yazid after trying to take power.
19 posted on 03/12/2009 3:19:24 PM PDT by G8 Diplomat (I'm learning Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, and Russian so someday you won't have to)
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To: Cronos
WAY over my head.

May I ask some questions?

1) Who is ibadis?

2) I agree Wahabbis would be the strictest group of Islam that I've heard of, and that they want to "purify" Islam (what is their relation to the Taliban, btw?), but I'm not sure what the Wahabbis consider themselves as rebelling against -- from my limited knowledge, I didn't think their was a formal, historical, hierarchical structure within Islam? Could you elaborate?

3) I never heard of Ismailies (it vaguely reminds me of Moby Dick, LOL), and I was under the impression that many of the Druze were Christian. Is that a different spelling, or is "Druze" an ethnic term instead of theological?

Last point -- if it *is* true that the Arabs are the descendents of the Biblical Hagar, it sure looks like Genesis 16:12 has come true...

Thanks for the information, I appreciate the corrections.

Cheers!

20 posted on 03/12/2009 3:36:21 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: G8 Diplomat
Thanks for the graduate-level course.

Sounds like "the Hatfields and the Abdullahs".

Cheers!

21 posted on 03/12/2009 3:44:28 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: G8 Diplomat
Ooops I made a mistake. Brain clog after a final exam :)

I trust and hope that the final went well? And I hope not too many more?

Thanks for the clarification, still way above my pay grade.

Cheers!

22 posted on 03/12/2009 3:56:07 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers

The final went well. Just three more now.

I can try to answer some of the questions in your post #20...

1. I’m pretty sure the Arabs are the descendents of Ishmael (hence the Ismaili sect, and the name Ismail is common amongst Muslims). Hebrew and Arabic are both Semitic languages and are fairly similar. Genesis says Ishmael’s descendents would have their hand against Isaac’s, and against the world. Boy is that true. The Muslims do indeed hate the Jews, and pretty much the rest of the world too.

2. Wahhabism is a relatively young sect of Islam. If I remember right it originated in the 1700s and was created by Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab. The Saud family, who had controlled the area around Riyadh since the 1400s, adopted Wahhabism in the 1700s and it’s still the majority sect in Saudi Arabia.

3. Wahhabism and Sunni Islam in general doesn’t have a heirarchy of clerics, but Shi’a Islam does. The lowest rank is the mullah, followed by the hujat al-Islam ( “proof of Islam” — al-Sadr was one of these), then the ayatollah, and then the grand ayatollah (i.e. Khamenei in Iran). The imam is the guy who leads prayer and gives sermons at the mosques—both Sunnis and Shi’ites have them.

I’ll let Cronos & Muawiyah give their input too :)


23 posted on 03/12/2009 4:22:14 PM PDT by G8 Diplomat (I'm learning Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, and Russian so someday you won't have to)
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To: grey_whiskers
1. The Ibadis are the majority islamic sect in Oman (they are tiny minorities elsewhere). The Ibadis are separate from Sunnis and Shia: some differences are that Ibadis believe that hell is everlasting and that there is no such thing as purgatory (sunnis and shias believe that muslims enter purgatory and then are cleansed before going to heaven -- no matter how grave the sin, though how true they are to the Koran determines which level the Muslim goes to (hence the term seventh heaven as in the levels of heaven) -- but non-Muslims all go to hell

they support Ali's stand against Muawiyah, but however, say that since Ali compromised, he wasn't worthy of being the imam. Hence the Ibadis have their own imamate -- in fact they were a law unto themselves in the Imamate of Oman (distinct from the Sultanate of Muscat until the 19th century).

2. Wahabbis are among the strictest group of islam. Taliban ARE Wahabbis -- in their beliefs. Talib means student and these poor souls were trained in Saudi sponsored madrassas in the NWFP in Pakistan -- they were brainwashed and we're living with the consequences.

There always was a formal, historical and hierarchical structure within Islam -- called the Caliphate -- the first CAliph was Muhammad and then the good caliphs like Abu Bakr and al-Khattab. Husein and Ali (descendents of the prophet) tried to make the Caliphate a dynasty but were overthrown by the Umayyads and their followers became the Shias, Ismailies, Bohras etc.

3. Ok, so now you got the split between the Shias and the Sunnis. Now, a bit later, there were disagreements about the rule of one or the other Imam and the dissenters from the main group became Ismailies (or followers of Ismail), then Bohras, Dawoodi Bohras etc.

Druze are a mystery religion with bits and pieces of Islam, etc. They are also ethnic as well as religious since they only marry among themselves and do not accept outside converts (like the Parsis or Zoroastrians in India).

I do believe that the BEDOUIN Arabs are the descendents of Hagar. The ones who are descended from the Arabs in the Yemen were more cultured and not related to the northern arabs (Yemenis after all are descendents of the Shebans and have a civilisation dating back millenia). The Arabs from the Hejaz may be descendents of Keturah.
24 posted on 03/13/2009 11:25:24 AM PDT by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: Cronos
Thanks for the info, bookmarked for later reference.

Cheers!

25 posted on 03/13/2009 4:51:39 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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