Friday, February 25, 2011

Is Ishmael coming home?

Genesis 16:12: [Ishmael] will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.

As a Christian, I always thought that Muslims were allergic to genuine democracy and that Muslims had a limited spectrum of socio-political options:

(a) The 'Zealot' option consisting of a fundamentalist, totalitarian state with potential links to militant terrorists.
(b) The 'Herodian' option with a corrupt, totalitarian, neo-colonial dictatorship whose sole objective was to enrich its rulers.
(c) Quirky mixtures of the two such as Zealot-turned-Herodian Muammar al-Gaddafi, and Herodians who pretend to be Zealots such as the Saudi and Emirati ruling elites.

The Ummah's digital generation has, however, surprised me by exhibiting a propensity for Jeffersonian democracy, a tendency that, I earnestly hope, is not ephemeral.

We live in a world that is inexorably gravitating towards an advanced planetary civilization, a near-Utopia (not Utopia, which is not possible in the dappled, physical realm). In this post-apocalyptic Zeitgeist, events such as the end of apartheid, the collapse of the Soviet empire, the democratization of the Muslim world or of China are not unthinkable possibilities. Neither is the possibility of cheap clean energy, clean air and clean water, an Edenic resurgence of flora and fauna or a voluntary leveling off of the world's population.

On this optimistic, Swedenborgian note, let me fervently pray that Muslims (and Christians and everyone else, for that matter) go the way of Dr, Mehmet Oz.  We know that they will, sooner than later. I only hope that they do so soon.


  1. Thanks for the link to Oz's Wikipedia site: it really emphasizes his love of Swedenborg.
    I'll bet if we walked a mile in those Muslim shoes, we would learn how impossible it is to just shake off a tribal past. And how tightly it would limit our "socio-political options". For myself, I suspect I would not buck any system that would torture me. I'm not brave.

  2. Dear Susan,
    I honestly think the peculiar issue of terrorism and violence in the Muslim world is ideological i.e. it has to do with the values of Islam. It has nothing to do with tribalism or culture. So far, it seems that exposure to the internet, and to social media in particular, is an important factor in moderating this ideological inclination.


  3. Maybe exposure to the internet frees people from the limits of their tribal culture. Getting to know us westerners is the antidote to learning only madrassa stuff. Eventually.