The Little Known Tolerant and Humane Side of Islamic Civilisation

...it can safely be said that no faith can show as equal sense of brotherhood between diverse colours as in Islam.

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Figure 1. Door of the Moristan of Kala'oon/Qawaloon,1878 (Source)

This author completed this work around 2003, that is nearly a decade and half ago under a different title: The Little Known Tolerant and Humane Side of Islamic Civilisation. Since then hardly anything changed for the better. Rather the opposite, everything that happened since did for the worse. Muslims and Islam are disliked, hated, even more, and by even more people about everywhere one dares look. Let anyone dare read comments about any article on Islam and Muslims on the internet. And it is not acts such as the latest outrages in Manchester (22 May 2017) and in London (3 June 2017) which are going to help, are they? One would think the contrary. If, indeed, there is act as most repellent it is that of murdering those who were murdered on those days, in Britain, the nation that has been most welcoming to Muslims. The way things are evolving, there would be nobody to welcome Muslims one day, and they might find themselves being conducted to the exit doors, instead.

Of course this author is no superman in the field who is going to fix it, and one has to conclude that only Allah has the power to change the way Muslims and Islam are perceived, and one day dealt with. What this author like others who have some sense can do is to try, and most of all try to convey the facts and truth, and leave the rest to the Almighty. All that happens in this life is for a purpose, and the main thing, as far as a scholar is concerned, however modest his or her scholarship, is to aim for the best, convey the truth, calmly, without any panic, regardless of events, and regardless if the situation around changes or not. One should never compromise and be dissuaded from following the path of reason, and firm belief that the only way to alter things eventually is to stick with truth. In one’s course of action many people and forces intervene and try to dissuade one from telling the truth because it disturbs the foes of Islam and it disturbs those amongst Muslims who like to delude themselves. One of course does not listen to such forces and individuals because should one do, one remains vile and servile to the end of life. A bit of cowardice and corruption is fine but too much is unbearable. So, one does one’s bit, takes as much care as possible in the mire of this smut of world, and enjoys the good things one is fortunate to come across whilst they last and whilst one lasts. And that’s it.


Figure 2. Scholars at an Abbasid library, from the Maqamat of al-Hariri by Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti, Baghdad, 1237 AD (Source)

In performing one’s scholarly duty, one must not mislead. If one misleads, and one is believed one causes untold harm. And the more a misleading one is believed by more the more destructive one is. If we Muslims do not look at our reality face to face, and keep deluding ourselves, we will never get anywhere. We set aside for a moment the goodness of others, who just like Muslims have their great and most vile. Human nature is the same wherever you go: capable of the worst and best. None is immune of either. Humane nature and faith have nothing to do with each other. Faith, rightly understood or assimilated, only makes you less bad than you would otherwise be. One here is referring to oneself.

In looking at the subject of this article, let’s focus on Muslims. To try and convey the idea that all Muslims are great, good, constructive, fascinating, inventive, or anything that is good, is the most preposterous claim any individual can make. If we believe that because of our outer morality we are the best people on earth, we are lying to ourselves. What counts are not the rituals, which very often mask utter corruption, vileness, and depravity. What really count are goodness of the heart and soul and good deeds. The practice of the faith is just a duty. And in terms of goodness to others, if any Muslim society (Turkey excepted (but only in this field of goodness, for Turks are like other Muslims in other respects) can show the same kind of generosity and tolerance towards Muslims such as the British, one would truly define such society as great, but it does not exist (Turkey, indeed, excepted). Muslims are millions of leagues of being the admirable nation of a few centuries back when they led the world in all that was great. One is not going to dwell on what is wrong with Muslim societies of today, not because one is frightened, but simply because only an encyclopaedia is necessary for that. One must also begin to take care of one’s own faults, and this author is himself far from being a good observant of Islam however hard he tries to do one or two good things in his lifetime. So, let’s set aside the violence which characterizes most Muslim societies, ridden with wars, terror, torture, mass disappearances, mass killing and mayhem, a reality that is the main factor that breeds Muslim depraved acts everywhere. Our societies do indeed produce monsters because the ground is fertile for monsters to grow. Let’s stay away from this, for this website is the wrong venue to dig into the gore and tragedies of the Muslim land. Let’s respect its sanctity.


Figure 3. Opening ceremony of the First Ottoman Parliament at the Dolmabahçe Palace in 1876 (Source)

Let’s, however, just say in the shortest space what else is wrong with Muslim societies, and that maybe this website allows us to say, certainly with some reluctance as, unlike this author, it does not like to upset anybody. We have to say this, for unless we admit the reality we can never correct it. And if we do not correct it we will be forced to live with what makes us miserable and backward at once, for without some basics, backward we will remain, forever. Indeed, let’s explain to those who are deluded, and who know nothing about what development means: development does not consist in building more shopping malls, concreting the ground wherever it is not concreted enough, opening more so-called universities to cover up chronic unemployment, and having more cars on the road, and more plastic waste filthying the land; development is a society that functions in order, discipline, creativity, and harmony, guided by and always aiming for the best, the creative, and the beautiful. All these are alien to modern Muslim societies. Modern Muslim societies are chaotic, noisy, and fail to observe any discipline in regard to even the most basic such as taking care of their trash, or parking their vehicles properly. These societies are rabidly consumerist, obsessed with shopping malls, and their lands in places have become gigantic landfills of all that is discarded. The sight of trash in woodlands, parks, rivers, beaches, and other places is utterly revolting. Everywhere one sees a deadly assault on all that is naturally beautiful and green, mountains blasted for quarrying, woodlands rased to the ground, trees cut in their thousands where there are few thousands of them, and in their millions where there are millions of them, an utter disrespect to the environment as if it were a command to do so. Hardly any Muslim, especially in the West, knows what the pleasure of gardening or keeping a nice garden is, in fact his first duty is to concrete such a garden as soon as he buys an abode. There is nothing inventive in the Muslim world, nothing creative in institutions supposedly devoted to scholarship, and book reading is anathema amongst nearly all in such societies. Brains are drowned in shisha cafes, shopping malls, extravagant weddings and manifestations of the sort, and are drugged by football and dire television shows, some shows so cretin one wonders how any person can even nod their heads in the country that produces most of them. And we can go on.


Figure 4. Ahmet Ali Celikten is amongst the first black military pilots in history, clearly showing military diversification in the Ottoman Empire (Source)

Now, the remit of this work is not to explain how we got here, but stopping some such evils would be a good idea. Banning shisha cafes, forbidding smoking everywhere, shutting shopping malls and some smut purveying television channels, besides closing down 80% of pseudo universities, and sending their personnel to herd sheep, and making it criminal offence to cut trees, trash the land, and pollute water could be good starters indeed towards the road to recovery.

All this being said, the dire state of Muslims today and their societies is owed to many causes, but one thing it does not owe to is Islam. It is not Islam which is at the root of the sick acts by some so-called Islamist extremists, however hard they try to hide their murderous nature, their inner vileness, behind the faith. It is not Islam which is at the root of Muslim scientific and intellectual coma. It is not Islam which is at the root of Muslim onslaught on the environment. It is not Islam which is at the root of dirt and chaos, which blights Muslim towns, cities, and their outskirts, as well as the highways, and everywhere one looks, walks or goes.

We will explain this, but first let’s show how the enemies of Islam blame all evils of Muslim society on the faith, and how they are unfortunately followed in this by many supposed Muslims, who, in their own Islamic societies implement or conduct anti Islamic policies, which only add to the mayhem of such Muslim societies. On this last point briefly, in some Muslim countries, some powerful people think that by weakening Islam through encouraging alcohol consumption and lewdness, for instance, they are bringing their societies to modernity. Let’s just tell them that they are just adding filth upon filth.

Islam the target of all

A multi-volume work is required to just outline the verbal (set aside the military for a moment) onslaught on Islam over the centuries. ‘The Sword of Islam’, ‘The Islamic Threat,’ ‘The Roots of Muslim Rage,’ ‘The Green Peril,’ Islam’s New Battle-Cry’: in a veritable flood of publications with these and similar titles, various authors seek to explain Islam to us,’ says Lueg,[1] who adds:

Simplified and undifferentiated descriptions of Islam in the media fan the flames of vague fears of a supposed threat to Western culture, and create a hostile image of Islam…. Instead of knowledge or at least an unbiased examination of Islamic societies, we have clichés and stereotypes, which apparently make it easier to deal with the phenomenon of Islam. The Western image of Islam is characterised by ideas of aggression and brutality, fanaticism, irrationality, medieval backwardness and antipathy towards women."[2]

This tradition of assaulting opinion with these and similar depictions dates centuries back. Vitkus writes:

The demonisation of the Islamic East is a long and deeply-rooted tradition in the West - spanning the centuries, from the early medieval period to the end of the 20th century."[3]

Muslim threat, savagery, backwardness, and whatever else the Western mind and tongue have chosen to depict Islam with, somehow retreated to the background throughout much of the 20th century whilst the Cold War raged between the ex Soviet Union and the West, and whilst left wingers, the world over, especially in Central and Southern America, paid the heaviest price in blood, torture, and every form of cruelty that could be inflicted on human beings. Then, as the Soviet Union began to weaken throughout much of the 1980s (in large measure thanks to Muslims who contributed heavily to its demise,) and finally unravel towards the end of that same decade, the shift of enmity, once more, returned to the old foe: Islam.


Figure 5. President Reagan meeting with Afghan Mujahideen leaders in the Oval Office in 1983 (Source)

According to many Western commentators [Esposito wrote back in 1992] Islam and the West are on a collision course. Islam is a triple threat: political, demographic, and socio-religious. For some, the nature of the Islamic threat is intensified by the linkage of the political and the demographic."[4]

Islam, Esposito notes:

Is portrayed as the aggressor... The West is described as defensive, responding with counterattacks, crusades, and re-conquests.. If the contemporary threat is “sudden,” then the reader will logically conclude that Muslims have a historic propensity to violence against and hatred of the West, or else that Muslims are an emotional, irrational, and war-prone people."[5]

In De L’Islam en general et du monde moderne en particulier, the Frenchman, Jean Claude Barreau, holds:

What could be described as the “great humiliation”, and what is indeed present in the basic disposition of the Muslims, can be explained by the origins of their religion: it is warlike, conquest-hungry and full of contempt for the unbeliever.[6]

Islam as a whole is presented as the aggressor against the West. It embodies ‘a theology of conquest and victory, but no theology of defeat’."[7]

According to the American news magazine Time,

This is the dark side of Islam, which shows its face in violence and terrorism, intended to overthrow modernizing, more secular regimes and harm the Western nations that support them."[8]

Then, understandably, the outrage (9/11) not only confirmed all that had hitherto been attached with Islam, it further enhanced ‘the dark, vile and evil’ side of the faith, the whole and powerful Western apparatus of opinion making unleashing the most systemic onslaught on a faith never experienced in history. There is no need to dwell on this onslaught as the literature is vast, and is a daily outpouring available to anyone to consult wherever they look: internet, printed stuff, television, or wherever. Let us just look at some ways Islam is seen at fault or responsible for the woes of the modern world, and let the focus be on the learned contribution to this. 

V. S. Naipaul’s depictions of Islamic society carry the legitimacy of being told by a non Westerner. In An Area of Darkness (1964),[9] and Among the Believers (1981),[10] V.S. Naipaul travels through Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia.[11] In his travels all he could see was the mayhem of Muslim society: chaos, noise, filth, and all that sullies Muslim society. He narrates.[12]

Black, open drains, of exposed fried food and exposed filth; a town of prolific pariah dogs of disregarded beauty below shop platforms, of starved puppies shivering in the damp caked blackness below butchers' stalls hung with bleeding flesh; a town of narrow lanes and dark shops and choked courtyards, of full, ankle lengthed skirts and the innumerable brittle, scarred legs of boys."[13]


Figure 6. Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul (Source)

Naipaul ‘understood the sources of the evils of Muslim society’: Islam. Muslims’ failure in life ‘led back again and again to the assertion of the faith.'[14] Islam, in his opinion, was merely a refuge from distress,[15] that achieved nothing, but was parasitic and uncreative.[16] Islam, to him, is

A religion of fanaticism that leads to a sensation of utter futility; an archaic form of devotion in a rapidly progressing world. It is symptomatic of a renunciation of civilisation that can only marginalize those who are renouncing it by placing them in an intellectual vacuum from which there is no escape. The Islamic alternative to the Western pattern of social behaviour is an aberration, a contemptible failing in sophistication and skill."[17]

And in the Muslims’ rejection of the West, Naipaul sees:

Their rage - the rage of a pastoral people with limited skills, limited money, and a limited grasp of the world - is comprehensive. Now they have a weapon: Islam. It is their way of getting even with the world. It serves their grief, their feeling of inadequacy, their social rage and racial hate."[18]

For his ‘profound, erudite, and first class depiction of Islamic society,’ Naipaul earned the Nobel Prize, and the greatest literary accolades from the West.

Summing up the ‘defects of Islamic society’ are Baroness Cox and John Marks, who make the following comparison with Western society:

[In regard to social and political conditions]:

Western societies are decentralised. The political, educational, cultural, religious, and economic spheres of human life are partially separated and pluralism is encouraged and realised. There are a number of political parties and free elections by secret ballot.

Ideological traditional Islamic and Islamist societies, on the other hand, are monolithic, intolerant of dissent, and, de facto, lacking in individual freedoms. Control is attempted over all aspects of life in the name of Islam."

[In relation to legal conditions]:

In the West, there is a diffusion of power with the partial separation of legislative, executive and judicial processes. Both statute law and common law can be modified and evolve over time as can holy or canon law.

On the Islamic side, no effective checks exist on the exercise of power by the Ulema or the ruling group. The legal system is dominated by the shari’a or Islamic Holy Law, derived from the Koran and the hadith (the Prophet’s Tradition); there is no other kind of law."

[On the use of force]:

In the West, Governments have a monopoly in the use of force for defence against external enemies and to maintain order. This monopoly is subject to and controlled by the powers exercised by the legislature and independent judiciary.

In Ideological Traditional Islamic and Islamist Societies Jihad or Holy War is an obligation-imposed by Allah on all Muslims-to strive unceasingly to convert or to subjugate non-Muslims. Jihad is without limit of time or space and continues until the whole world accepts Islam or submits to the Islamic state. The use of force internally is subject to the shari’a."

[With regard to inequalities]:

In the West: There are commitments to equality before the law and to political equality for all citizens. Nevertheless, inequalities of status, opportunity and reward persist.

In Islamic societies: Shari’a law requires inequalities between Muslims and: (i) Christians/Jews; (ii) all other non-Muslims; and between men and women. Slavery has been endemic in the Muslim world for centuries and still continues. Substantial inequalities of opportunity and reward persist."[19]

Plenty more could have been added and few more extracts of such daily outpouring will be seen under different headings below. Enough has been said, though, to show that anyone, such as this author, for instance, saying anything good about Islam is not only going counter current but must truly be out of their minds.

Yet, this ‘force of darkness’ is in fact, in truth, the kindest and most humane force that has ever existed or will ever exist. This sounds an insult to good sense. Far from it, history proves it. And such unique humane side of Islam, hardly if ever publicised, has to do with the very faith itself.

The Myth of Islam as a religion of the sword:

Qu'ran III, 128: God has said;