Stephen Schwartz, who’s written for years (not inaccurately) about the tolerant, cosmopolitan Islam of the Balkans may have to insert “historically” before “tolerant,” as he provides evidence that in both Bosnia (subscriber-only for now) and Kosovo, the forces of radical Islam are gaining ground.
Your Volgi, who knows a little about Islam, is saddened but not surprised. On the back of Iranian and Saudi funding and propaganda, the Islamic world as a whole has been awash in radical, ideologicalized Islam for decades, and the world—not least the Muslim world—is reaping the whirlwind. Just as it’s possible to say that the Catholic Church moved in a more orthodox, but open, direction under the papacy of John Paul II, it’s legitimate to say that the dominant current in the ideas of the Islamic world has been in the direction of radicalism—Wahhabism, Salafism, fundamentalism, Iranian revolutionism, whatever one calls it. (This is probably the best single book on the topic, though many have criticized it for not pointing out that Islamic civilization has a long-standing problem at Playing Nice With Others. Nevertheless, it describes the profoundly modern intellectual currents which have shaped Islamism.) And even historically tolerant countries like Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India have been pulled along in its wake.
In a way, there’s nothing the West can do about this, other than outlast it and make it clear that we will not be used as props in their psychodrama. Muslims have to work these issues out for themselves. Unfortunately, given the political dictatorships and poor educational systems (and IQs?) in the region, a genuinely free market in ideas is unlikely to emerge and so whatever solution might exist will likely remain unfound.
Unless this aggressive ideology is rewarded (by, say, cultural concessions and demographic collapse—Europe, I’m looking at you), it will likely peter out due to its numerous points of divergence from reality, and the Muslim world will sink into another period of quiescence and torpor, unless Muslims can reconcile their religious ideals and, more importantly, cultural practices (which are often imbued with religious sanction through ignorance or bogus “traditions” sanctifying them) with modernity.
Islamic civilization has had some very high highs and some very low lows. We’re seeing one of the latter, though doubtless triumphalist Islamists see the former aborning, just as the Marxist faithful always saw the Age of Perfect Peace and Justice in the rotting, oppressive slum that was the Soviet Union.
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