In the post 9/11 age, Westerners have tried to explain why Islam has taken such a violent turn. From full-throated terrorist apologias to more sober hard-eyed analyses, America and her civilizational cousins have examined the reasons for violent jihad. Great debates have been had over the last ten years. September 11th was a wake-up call for many Westerners. While many of us are still asleep, the US conservative movement has at long last decided to examine the deeper motivations and passions that drive Islamic fundamentalism.
While this process of examination has been beneficial, sometimes it is necessary to listen to Muslim dissidents themselves. They will often tell you far more of the story than you'd likely get from other sources. That's why Raymond Ibrahim's translation of a Khaled Montaser piece is pretty important.
We Muslims have an inferiority complex and are terribly sensitive to the world, feeling that our Islamic religion needs constant, practically daily, confirmation by way of Europeans and Americans converting to Islam. What rapturous joy takes us when a European or American announces [their conversion to] Islam—proof that we are in a constant state of fear, alarm, and chronic anticipation for Western validation or American confirmation that our religion is "okay." We are hostages of this anticipation, as if our victory hinges on it—forgetting that true victory is for us to create or to accomplish something, such as those [civilizations] that these converts to our faith abandon.
And we pound our drums and blow our horns [in triumph] and drag the convert to our backwardness, so that he may stand with us at the back of the world's line of laziness, [in the Muslim world] wherein no new scientific inventions have appeared in the last 500 years. Sometimes those who convert relocate to our countries—only to get on a small boat and escape on the high seas back to their own countries.
There's a lot of truth to digest there.
First, it is important to note that there are Muslim scientists and thinkers doing important work. They study and invent and innovate not in Damascus, Jakarta or Tehran but in London, Frankfurt and Chicago. This indicates that there is no genetic or racial basis for the lack of 'Islamic inventions'. It is
the culture of Muslim-majority nations that is stifling.
The West in general, and America in particular, is the only place where a Muslim can safely use his mind to create something other than yet another jihadist ideology or violent terrorist organization. If you're a clever Muslim who wants to invent something in the United States, chances are that the fast-thinking Farouk will be rewarded for his hard work and labor should his innovation actually perform. The same cannot be said for the vast swath of kleptocracies that riddle the Middle East. The man with a plan in the Islamic sphere will most likely see his good idea stolen by the thieves that man the important government posts or ignored by religious fundamentalists. There's really no reason for the intelligent person to even bother trying, so he doesn't.
That five hundred year failure rate has to gall many hard-core Muslims. While the mongrelized infidels in America and Europe have dominated the world with rapidly changing technology, vibrant expansionist pop culture and wild commercial success, Muslims live off the fruits of Western intellectualism but cannot hope to emulate it in their own homelands. According to the Koran, it is Muslims that have the truth--and more importantly, God--on their side. For Islamic supremacists, having God in their corner should've meant that they would be blessed with inventions and innovations. They should've been the winners of progress, not the debauched kaffir West.
Consider another irony. Even many of the Islamic sphere's bad ideas come from us. The Ba'ath party that dominated Iraq and continues to oppress Syria is merely an Arab facelift for a German socialism. Bashar al-Assad is basically Erich Honeker with a much funnier name and a slightly more brutal secret police organization.
More to the point of Montaser's article, Islam's constant seeking of Western validation--specifically through the conversion of Westerners to Islam--speaks to the inherent weakness of the faith. We in the West sometimes think that Muslim expansionism is a sign that the Western world or that Judeo-Christian values are in decline. But what does it say about Islam when the only way they can feel good about themselves is if some Eurotrash brainfart or American half-wit starts praying to Mecca five times a day?
When you always have to have the approval of others, you are doomed. The same is likely true for the supremacist version of Islam. While non-Muslims cannot do much to make that collapse happen, we can encourage those voices who criticize the backwardness of modern Islam.