Sunday, October 09, 2005

On Islam

Yesterday evening, after a rushed supper, the family traipsed off to L'Abri, to hear a talk on Islam from Doug Currie's brother, Don Currie. A doctor, he's worked off and on in Pakistan for nearly 20 years.

Anyways, he observed that Islamic societies are facing enormous social, cultural, and environmental stresses. He recounts visiting a village in the middle of nowhere in Pakistan- arriving at night, noting nothing to place the village in the 20th century (or 2nd millenium) even, but then noticing a blue light- turned out to be half the village gathered around an old black & white tv watching "Baywatch". As well as being confronted with the enormous social challenges of western entertainment and the global economy, Islam faces a much deeper challenge: having gone from military victory to victory for nearly 800 years (with slight bumps in Anatolia), Islam has been weakening and in decline for the last 500 years or so, a decline more evident than ever in a global world. Add to that the environmental problems (mainly demographic pressure and water scarcity) that many Islamic nations face. Put all together, the stress on Islamic society is enormous, and can easily result in such phenomena as Bin Laden, the Taleban, and so forth.

Aside from the observations regarding the stresses on Islam, the most intriguing observation is that Islam, as a ideological system, is enormously strong at keeping external ideas at bay. But Currie proposed that Islam really only poses an external defence, and that it is not culturally equipped to compete within a society. In short, once the defences are breached, the entire system might collapse. Noting that Iranian expatriates are one of the few Islamic populations to be converting to Christianity, Currie argued that Iran might be the first Islamic society to be breached. What precisely will transpire is hard to imagine.


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