Sunday, September 30, 2012

A World Without Mohammad and Islam

Daniel Greenfield's "Imagine if Mohammed Had Never Existed" (FrontPage, 29 September) is an invitation to explore some alternative "what might have been" history. It is tempting, for example, to imagine recent history and the state of America had President Barack Obama never existed – if, say, Stanley Ann Dunham had decided to try out for the Dallas Cheerleaders, or pursued a degree in physics, instead of trying to prove her "tolerance" with a sham marriage with a Kenyan Muslim and making whoopee in Hawaii with a black Communist on the FBI's watch list while pursuing degrees in anthropology and micro-financing – and so have never been born and sparing the country of his brand of super-sized community organizing. But, that would be too easy. We should go for the grand vista.

Of course, it would be instructive, if not entertaining, to imagine what the world would have been like had not Karl Marx, or Thomas Jefferson, or Immanuel Kant, or Martin Luther ever existed, or none of the other prominent thinkers and movers. In their absence, however, other ideas would have filled the hypothetical vacuum. What they might have been, it is impossible to project. We can extrapolate ad infinitum, and really add nothing to the argument.

Greenfield's article was prompted by the announcement on YNET News that, in the midst of all the Muslim rioting, flag-burning, embassy- and consulate-storming ostensibly over the trailer for Innocence of Muslims, a bargain-basement-produced film about the scurrilous and controlled-substance-assisted life of Mohammad, several Arab and Muslim outfits are going to produce their own films, about Islam, and especially about Mohammad.

Meanwhile, Egypt's second-largest political movement, the Salafist al-Nur party, said it will produce a movie about the life of Mohammed, titled "what would the world look like without Mohammed."

Or, "What an Allah-less Life." Or, "It's a Sharia Life."

Too obviously, members of the al-Nur Party have been copping a feel of decadent Western culture, admitting that they have been inspired by Frank Capra's hoary old altruist chestnut, It's a Wonderful Life. I can't think of a better film to rip off for Islamic themes and material, not to mention for secular collectivist themes and material. It's all about the Ummah of Bedford Falls exercising its claim on the life of hapless George Bailey, so that he may continue to sacrifice for the sake of the "community." Recall the famous scene on the bridge when he contemplates suicide, and is rescued by the angel Clarence. At one point he wishes that he had never been born. So Clarence shows him what his town would have been like if he hadn’t.

Capra's film depicts a town that has succumbed to the alleged depredations of capitalism, in the form of Mr. Potter, that mean, heartless, conniving, garrulous old banker and nemesis of George Bailey.

Al-Nur's financed filmmakers will have the angel Gabriel to show him the way. But we will not be shown Mohammad. That's against the law. Gabriel will doubtless be shown whispering sweet-nothings into – if we're lucky – an ear, in the dead of night, or amongst the dead by Mohammad's hand. Or as he shivers in a cave. Or perhaps they will adopt the "I am a camera" device, with a visible Gabriel showing an unseen Mohammad the world had he not been born, and we see it through Mohammad's eyes. That device has been used with limited success in other films. But one wonders if there is a prohibition of it in some past version of the Koran. More effort will be put into Gabriel's costume and makeup than into Mohammad's. Not a finger or a sandaled toe of Mohammad can be shown. In fact, the filmmakers needn't cast anyone for the role.

Technically, if the filmmakers begin at the year of Mohammad's birth, 570 A.D., there is really nothing they could show of the world. Mohammad won't be there to see it, unless they adopt the George Bailey-Clarence the Angel device. There's no record that Mohammad ever left the Arabian Peninsula or knew that trees grew in what would in the future become Brooklyn. All we would see is baking desert, a few oases, perhaps a dusty town or two, camel caravans, and men who were old by the age of forty. There's no evidence that he had any knowledge of Rome or even of Constantinople, or of the Atlantic Ocean.

Another task for the producer and director of "The Life of Mohammad" or "The World Without the Prophet" would be to somehow account for the lives of Mohammad's twenty-four predecessors, all revered "prophets" in Islamic lore. To not mention them would be a snub of the gravest import. But, then, Mohammad is regarded as the last in that line of monotheists. His immediate predecessor is Īsá, or Jesus Christ. "Real" revelation began with Mohammad, not with that puffed-up Christian imposter, according to Islamic lore, and not with his predecessors. So, it is okay to burn Bibles that include Christ's name.

So, you can bet on it. Al-Nur's movie about "the prophet" will not be a musical, Muḥammad ibn `Abd Allā, Superstar.

Mohammad is regarded the end-all and be-all of all those prophets. And, for some unfathomable reason, while it is permissible to publish imagined likenesses of Nūḥ, Hūd, Ibrāhīm, Ayyūb, Mūsá, Zakariyyā, Yaḥyá, ‘Īsá, and all the others, it is not permissible under pain of death to portray Mohammad. Go figure. Every one of them preceded Mohammad by centuries and has doppelgangers in Judeo-Christian lore. Every one of them needed barbering, too. But they were first, all the way back to Adam.

By the accepted year of Mohammad's birth, Eastern Emperor Justinian had been dead for five years, and the Roman Empire he had sought to resurrect in the West had fallen apart. There were empires, kingdoms, and dynasties elsewhere in the globe, some reaching the apex of their power, others enfeebled by age and stasis, still others besieged by barbarians. A tenuous commerce existed in a world made desolate by warring tyrants and the conquest by barbarians. In the previous century, the Huns had battled the Vandals and the Visigoths over the scattered carcass of the Roman Empire. Justinian had reclaimed some of it, but it disintegrated almost immediately on his death. In Mohammad's time, Europe was a chaos of rival Germanic and Frankish tribes.

Chronologically, the Dark Ages began with the accession of a Germanic barbarian, Flavius Odoacer, in 476, when he deposed Romulus Augustus, to a literal kingship over Rome and Italy. It is interesting to note here that Odoacer was an Arian Christian. Arianism rejects the Trinity of the mainstream Christianity, that is, it denies the divinity of Christ. So does Islam. Because Islam is very likely a patchwork religion deriving its essential doctrine, texts, and iconography from Christianity, Judaism, and a variety of contemporary pagan religions (see Robert Spencer's Did Mohammad Exist?), one may credibly argue that Islam also borrowed the Arianist view of Christ to better inflate Mohammad's stature of the One and Only True Prophet.

Islam didn't exist at that time, and Arianism was to Christianity what Scientology is to Methodism today. It was known and novel. Why not "borrow" some of its doctrine? Who's going to stop Mohammad?

Whose "prophet"? Allah's. But, then, Mohammad cadged from a pagan religion and adopted its moon god, Allah. It could just as well have been Kilroy. Or Kill Joy. Or Joe Shmoe. Mohammad turned him into a very scary creature.

The world would have looked dark and desolate with or without Mohammad for roughly the next one thousand years. It was truly a world "lit only by fire," and certainly not by the fire of the intellect, not until the 14th century humanist Petrarch first made the distinction between his time and the centuries before him. The Arabian Peninsula – Mohammad's world – would have remained as it actually remained without him, a place of warring tribes of various creeds, devoted to plunder, rapine, slaughter and stagnation. Islam, as a call to conquest, did not begin making inroads in the known world until well into the seventh century, after Mohammad's death in 632. The "Moors" of that time were not necessarily "Muslims," but rather a generic appellation for tribes that lived in North Africa. Shakespeare's Othello, "The Moor of Venice," was certainly not a Muslim.

There really would not have been much difference. Religions of all stripes were the reigning moral codes, even for barbarians. It is hard to imagine what al-Nur's filmmakers will concoct, unless one can project what committed ideologues can create assisted by amphetamines.

Daniel Greenfield unleashed his imagination to project a world without Mohammad. It is a Mideast unrecognizable today. It is a center of learning, technology, civil societies, and genuine human progress and happiness. And not a single mosque, minaret, or mass arse-lifting in submission to a rock in sight. Not a single OPEC sheik, not a single Uzi-bearing terrorist or "freedom fighter" extant, either. But I'm more realistic and argue that not much would have changed at all, had Mohammad not existed. If the Islamic world has anything of value at all, it is by grace of the free West. This includes all their bomb-making materials and rocketry. For 1,400 years, it has preferred stagnation and submission and unfreedom. It is the only way it can rule.

And unless Muslims repudiate their faith, that is all they're going to inherit. All else is fantasy.

1 comment:

Joe said...

I think your conclusion is correct Ed. If not Mohammed, some other equally irrational creed would have been there to warp the path of progress. Still, at this point it is nice to contemplate a world without him.

Thanks for your work!