The Travails of Modern Islam





Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. This piece originally appeared at Mr. Pipes's website, www.danielpipes.org. This speech was given at the Future Directions International in Perth, Australia, on August 20.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

It occurred to me that I should try and fit what I know into the mission of this organization, so I will try something new.  It will be a certain level of abstraction and I invite you in the Q&A to become far more specific.

I am a historian of the Muslim world and, in addition to the day-to-day issues that come up, I look at this civilizational unit as a whole.  That's what I'll do now.

To start with, the Islamic religion prevails in majority-Muslim countries stretching from Senegal to Indonesia, and is not simply a Middle Eastern phenomenon.  Muslim people can now be found in substantial numbers in Europe, North America, Latin America, and indeed, Oceania.

The Islamic religion is also a civilization.  One scholar gave it the name Islamicate, suggesting it can be seen along the same lines as the Italianate.  I find this a useful concept.  Islamicate civilization includes non-Muslims who live in majority Muslim countries and who share certain attributes. For example, art can be called Islamicate.  You can usually tell which is Muslim art; it's not exactly Islamic as it's not connected to the religion.

I spent the first part of my career trying to understand the nature of the connection between Islam and other aspects of life. In particular I took a topic that's a little bit exotic for the dissertation and my first book, titled Slave Soldiers and Islam.  I examined a form of military organization which is unique to the Muslim world and asked how can this phenomenon be connected to the religion of Islam, how can slaves be used as soldiers within these organizations?  Of course, slaves were used as soldiers in emergency capacities in various places at various times, but the Muslim use of slaves as soldiers between roughly the years 800 and 1800 was not occasional and not only during emergencies.  It was a centralized, very significant institution called the Mamluk Institution, or the Janissary Institution, and could be found over the centuries in different continents.

What possible connection could there be with what is happening today?  To make a long story short, my thesis was that Islam demands of Muslims are so onerous to fulfill that for various reasons the Muslim populations withdrew from political life.  As a result of this, the rulers needed to reach out to non-Muslims and the best way to do that was through this exotic form of slavery.  That insight was one a step towards the larger question of how Islam influences politics.

In the broad sweep of history, the Islamic religion got off to a very fast and successful start.  Muhammad himself fled Mecca in 622 A.D.  By the time of his death, however, he was ruler of Arabia and within 100 years his followers had gone from Spain to India.  This was more than just a military conquest.  The Muslim faith was successful in culture, the arts, and the economy and created the great empires of its age.  Had you looked around the world say precisely a millennium ago, August 20, 1010, you would've concluded that Islam was the most successful civilization, more so than those of China, Europe or India.

Starting from about 1200, especially after the Mongol invasions, the civilization of Islam declined and stagnated for a long time.  The striking fact was that Muslims long were generally unaware of this downturn although it finally became vividly obvious around 1800, especially when Napoleon landed in Egypt and wiped out the Ottoman and Mamluk armies.  Napoleon brought with him a cadre of scientists who started studying the flora, fauna, and archaeology, savants who would eventually crack the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics.  His was not only a military expedition but a scientific one as well.  The contrast between the Egyptians and the French was stark and shocked Muslims into realising that, during their long period of stagnation, Europe had surged ahead.

Trauma followed.  Muslims had assumed that they were blessed by God in both spiritual and mundane ways.  Now they worried that God had forsaken them, which led to a profound reassessment of what it means to be a Muslim.  Muslims saw themselves challenged by Europe and more broadly by the West, and this is a challenge that Muslims still face today.   How is it that the people who should be on top—militarily, economically, politically, culturally, scientifically, technologically—how is it that they now sit at the bottom in terms of literacy, longevity, Nobel Prizes per capita, Olympic medals per capita?  Indeed, whatever index you choose, Muslim states are at the bottom.  Muslim people are not doing well; some of the worst countries in the world include Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq, all of which are majority Muslim.  This is a great strain, a great challenge:  What went wrong and how do they fix it?  Indeed, Bernard Lewis wrote a book titled What Went Wrong?

How do Muslims explain all this?

Over the course of the past two hundred years, there have been three major explanations.  The first one was what one might call the liberal Western explanation, namely emulating the French and the British.  These nationalities descended upon Muslim lands in particular; they built empires; they offered themselves as models.  They were extremely successful and Muslims tended to emulate them.  The symbolic figure of this trend was Kemal Atatürk, the ruler of Turkey between 1923 and 1938, who removed Islam from public life, replaced Arabic words with French words, brought in Belgian and Swiss legal codes, and in all made Turkey look increasingly Western.

But this didn't work. By the 1920s and 30s, despite Atatürk, there was a sense that this liberal effort had failed.  So Muslims adopted another approach.  The approach that appeared at that time to be most impressive was the illiberal Western approach.  The 1920s were the hey-day of totalitarian societies, with Mussolini and Lenin in particular showing the way.  These offered models that proved very influential; Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt symbolizes this approach to politics.  For the next fifty to sixty years, the fascist and communist models prevailed in large swaths of intellectual and political life.  They didn't do too well either, they didn't solve the problems of weakness and poverty.

So, with the disappointment in these two movements came a third solution, namely the Islamist one.  The goal of this movement was not to emulate one form or another of Western ideology or power; it was to return to Islamic experience and to draw on the wisdom and achievements of Muslims in the past and to rehabilitate the Muslim world by learning from Islamic experience.  The goal is to do something that is old, that draws on Islamic successes of past centuries.  Ayatollah Khomeini symbolizes this approach.

Of course, you can't go back. You can emulate seventh-century Islam but you can't repeat it.  Islamist movements of recent decades have created a new ideology, not revived something old.  I am convinced this will be a failure too.  The so far number-one experiment, the Islamic Republic of Iran, has failed by any standard, if only because a great majority of its subjects are rejecting it.

Bin Laden and Wahhabi-style Islamism clearly have no future.  How can they run countries?  Just imagine Bin Laden as ruler; it would be like the Taliban and it wouldn't work.  Even a less extreme version, such as that in Iran, is not workable in the long term.  Instead, what we're seeing is that the Islamists are evolving into something that is more sustainable.  Turkey offers the outstanding model here.  The Turkish Islamists run and win elections; they don't depend on violence.  They exercise good economic stewardship and good governance more broadly.  While Turkey has many problems, its Islamists have shown that an alternative exists.  An era has begun in which Islamists in part use violence on the Bin Laden model and in part they work the political system.

Many Islamist groups are making a name for themselves by engaging in social services.  One of the tensions now in Pakistan is that the Islamists, as happened with the earthquakes some months ago, are coming in first with the most aid for the victims of flooding.  They win good will and respect for their work.

Getting back to the central issue, how Muslims answer the question"What went wrong?"  Are they approaching a functional answer?  I think not but that we are in a very dark period of little creativity, much instability, and much violence.  I don't see any improvements soon but I do anticipate the potential for improvement.  Anything that can get worse can, logically, also get better, and I expect a working out of the Islamist impulse, to be followed by something more constructive.  At some point, Muslims will begin to discard it and to look elsewhere.  I don't know what they're going to look for. Will it be return to the 19th century and Western liberalism? Will it be following the Chinese model?

In the meantime, things could get worse.  Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons are within grasp and could be used.  This threat could lead to far greater instability.  There is also considerable anger within the Muslim world as the great majority of Islamist victims have been Muslim, for example in Algeria and Darfur.

Certainly 9/11 was a major event in which some three thousand non-Muslims were killed.  Other events like Bali and Madrid were about two hundred people.  But these are not large numbers by, say, the standards of the two world wars.  So far the West has shrugged off Islamism and not seen it as a truly significant threat.  That could change.  There could be a far stronger reaction. We are at a point of flux.  We will see anarchy in the countries that I named, starting with Somalia (which has experienced twenty years of anarchy). There will also be desperation, extremism, violence, brutality and misogyny.

One implication of this is that Muslims will want to leave their homelands.  Where do they go?  They don't go to other Muslim countries though there are exceptions.  (Afghans go to Iran in huge numbers.)  But by and large, they don't want to go to Turkey or Egypt or Indonesia.  They want to go to the West for its economic well-being, freedom and security.  As you in Australia know, with your substantial number of Lebanese, Somali, Afghan, Iraqi and other refugees, distance is not much of a deterrent.

The number of refugees is likely to grow.  The challenge of mixing Islam and the West is already a major topic in much of Europe although not so much here in Australia or in the United States.  And this is happening at a time when European birth rates are falling. Europeans are having two-thirds of the children they need to sustain their numbers.  There is an expectation that immigrants will cover the shortfall.  In addition, the Christian religion in Europe is declining as is the sense of cultural confidence.  At the same time, Muslim immigrants have plenty of children, religion and cultural confidence.

The West has never experienced such a challenge.  I expect Europe will go in one of two rather unpleasant directions.  One is to continue the trends of the last fifty years with more Muslims, more Islamic law and more tension, until it transits to becoming an Islamic society.  The other is that Europeans at a certain point say—"No, we don't like this.  We're going to stop it.  We're going to use whatever means are necessary to stop it.  We're going to throw people out; we might even kill them."  It is too early to predict which trend will prevail.

The Muslim world, to sum up, is burdened by a sense of glory of its past success and power.  It feels acutely the trauma of modernity.  It's looking for excuses.  At this moment, Islamism is the favorite solution but I see it as temporary.  This population of over a billion people is in general stress and turmoil.  I expect things will get worse before they get better.  But they will eventually get better.

On that optimistic note, I conclude.


QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

QUESTION:  You seem to intimate that the AKP (the Turkish Justice and Development Party) is the model.  But aren't they becoming more and more anti-democratic?  They're trying to take over the army.  The free press that Turkey had is less free now after eight or so years.  It would seem that the AKP can only go in one direction.  It's going to become more and more authoritarian and totalitarian.  Would you agree with that?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  I agree with the facts that you've presented and I could present more evidence along those same lines.  As the AKP has felt stronger, particularly vis- à-vis the military, it has stopped being so tentative and careful and has taken these sort of steps.  Should it vanquish the military, should it do well in the next election which occurs by July 2011, I expect more squeezing, more pressure.

I agree with you, but I don't see why you conclude that this renders the AKP not a model.  It looks like a pretty good model to me.  It took power by being electorally attractive and then it changes the system.  This is very different from Khomeini.  I accept your facts but come to a different conclusion.

QUESTION:  The less liberal you become the closer you get to the Iranian position.  So alright, it won't happen suddenly with an ayatollah landing at the airport as happened in Iran.  It'll just take thirty years rather than an instant landing; that's all I'm saying.  Am I off the track there?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  No, we're not disagreeing.  There are two ways for Islamists to attain power, through violence or through the system.  Working through the system is a brilliant evolution away from violence.  Islamists were in the past dependent on violence.   Khomeini got to power and then wanted to spread revolution, he didn't think about developing political parties.  But Hezbollah, for example, which began as a Khomeini artefact in the early 1980s has become a political party of great influence in Lebanon.  This is a more supple and flexible kind of approach to taking power than was the case earlier.

QUESTION:  To follow the Turkish discussion, what will be the chance of them getting into Europe and can you try and explain why the British government is now favouring their entry to Europe?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  The chances of Turkish accession to the European Union are very small.  Nobody wants it—the Europeans don't want it and the Turks don't want it.  Some leaders are trying to push it through.  As for David Cameron, I have the sense that he may be not only the leader of the government, but it seems that Nick Clegg is really running the show.

QUESTION:  Dr. Pipes, perhaps starting from Gallipoli onwards, there's been a very emotional, special relationship between Australia and Turkey, with a very high regard on both sides.  How would you see Australia being able to capitalize on that to influence events in modern Turkey?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  The goal of the AKP is not to be a bridge between the West and the Muslim world.  It is to be a leader of the Middle East.  The foreign minister is a strategist who came up with a notion called Strategic Depth.  I don't see where Australia fits into that, despite a century of history.

QUESTION:  In relation to the two questions of what went wrong and how do we fix it, do you see a difference between hardcore Islamists and those that are less committed?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  They are roughly the same.  Various versions of Islamism exist.  For example, in Saudi Arabia women can't drive, can't do this, can't do that.  In Iran, they can.  The Iranian idea is that they've created an Islamic republic where women are safe.  In the Saudi vision, danger lurks in every corner and females need to be protected.  There are many such differences in both style and substance.  But in the end, all Islamists aspire to the same thing which is the application of Islamic law.  Islamic law differs slightly in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and India.  They have different schools, but these are again details and in general the aspiration to apply Islamic law is common to all Muslims.

QUESTION:  How significant do you think is the link between Turkey and Israel, especially after the Israeli boarding of the Turkish aid boat?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  The Turkish government has used anti-Zionism primarily as a vehicle for isolating and discrediting the military.  The military is its priority target, for it stands between the AKP and complete sovereignty.  The military could at any moment push the Islamists aside, as it did as recently as 1997.  But the military now feels weak.  It reads the polls and follows elections like everyone else and it doesn't have the confidence to take over.  The AKP has accused the military and others of engaging in anti-government activities and is arresting former military officers and wresting control of senior appointments.

QUESTION:  Two things jumped out at me.  The first related to the successful economic situation experienced by the West, at least until the event of the Global Financial Crisis.  The second related to the effective use of technology.  What impact did all this have on Islam and how are they likely to evolve?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  The Muslim world in general is performing poorly in economic terms.  Malaysia and Turkey would be the two exceptions.  The great feature of the Muslim world is resources, not too different, in fact, from Western Australia.  You don't so much make things as you export commodities.  But Western Australia is just a small part of the West.  There are almost no inventions from within the Muslim world.  Which Egyptian company has an R&D department?  Where's the entrepreneurship?  It's just not there.  There's little creativity.  When there is, people go West.  There are plenty of very talented Muslims but they don't have the opportunity to develop within their own countries.  They go somewhere else—for medicine, computers, whatever it might be.  The discovery recently of one trillion U.S. dollars worth of minerals in Afghanistan confirms the trend.  Westerners find things and extract them.  I see the Muslim world locked into this scenario for a long time to come; it's a little comparable to how the Soviet Union was spying forever on the West and getting its technology, information and insights from it.

This kind of dependence is hard to break.  It requires cultural confidence.  I've done some work comparing Japan and Turkey.  I chose the two countries because Japan had the Meiji Revolution and Turkey had the Atatürk Revolution.  Both leaderships not only modernized but Westernized.  In Japan, the emperor insisted on ballroom dancing as a facet of Westernising.  Likewise, Ataturk banned the turban.  But a closer look at this comparison finds that Japanese had an inner confidence that manifested itself in a cultural ease.  You can learn, adapt, and remain Japanese.  Women, for example, can wear Japanese clothing for formal occasions and Western clothing for casual occasions and it doesn't mean a thing.  It's impossible to imagine a Turk donning a traditional outfit without that being a huge cultural and religious statement.  Women who wear burqas do not do this on a part-time basis; it's a major cultural assertion.  The Japanese can play with cultural differences but not the Turks. The Japanese eat French food one day and on the next eat Japanese—again, it doesn't mean a thing.  If you're Egyptian or Turk, however, you eat a certain kind of food and that says who you are.  There's this fear among Muslims that they'll lose what it is to be a Muslim.  They hold on in a way that the Japanese do not.

QUESTION:  You mentioned earlier that the world population of Muslims was well over a billion people.  Are you suggesting that all Muslims are Islamists and have hegemonic ambitions vis- à-vis the West?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  No, I'm not suggesting that.  Somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent of Muslims, roughly an eighth of the Muslim population, seeks the total application of Islamic Law.

QUESTION:  Do you believe Islamic and European communities will rise, especially given the migration of large numbers of Muslim people to Europe?  Or will this lead to conflict?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  There used to be a clear divide between Muslim countries and the West.  Until 1955 there were no significant Muslim populations in the West with the exception of some indigenous populations in places like Albania, Yugoslavia and Russia, but certainly not in Western Europe, not here and not in the Americas.  Indeed in 1965 there were about 150,000 Muslims in the United States from a population of about 150 million.  Now it's more like three million out of a population of 300 million.  In France Muslims are thought to be between 5 percent and 10 percent of the population.  So there is a new-found presence of Muslims in the West.  Simultaneously, Christians in the Muslim world are disappearing.  In Iraq, for example, attacks on Christians, especially since 2003, have led to a massive exodus.  The same has happened in Bethlehem and Nazareth, which have for centuries had Christian majorities, but no longer.

Malaysia presents an interesting case.  Things there appear to be in flux and the role of non-Muslims in Malaysia is still open to question.  One can easily imagine that the Islamic movement is trying to push non-Muslims out or convert them.  Middle Eastern Christian and Jewish communities that have been in place for fourteen hundred years are disappearing.  There are virtually no Jews left in Egypt and the Christian population is extremely stressed, especially in the last thirty years, and is leaving.  So, simultaneously, the expansion of Islam in the West and the reduction of the West in Islam are taking place.

QUESTION:  Given as you say that the search within the Muslim world for an answer to the question of what went wrong, and also the relatively small number of committed Islamists anyway, do you see any potential for some sort of reformation movement developing within Islam as a potential solution to what went wrong?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  I am hopeful for a reformation, that there are and will be Muslims who re-read the scriptures of Islam in light of modern times.  This is the opposite of what Islamists believe.  Islamists take the scriptures and read them in a severe and archaic way.  This proves, at any rate, that the scriptures are wide open to interpretation.  A debate, I should add, is now taking place in the West between those, like me, who say that Islam is a historical phenomenon that changes and another group that says,"No, Islam is unchangeable, it is an essential core.  Jihad is this, the Koran is that.  It's unchangeable and Islam is an enemy."

QUESTION:  In relation to the European experience in the Islamic Balkans, is there anything that we can take from that and extrapolate more widely?  Is there anything that happened in the last twenty years in the Balkans that may lead us to believe that we're not necessarily going into that dark period?

DR. DANIEL PIPES: I would, unfortunately, draw the opposite conclusion.  Balkan Islam was moderate.  Then along came the Wahhabis, the Saudis, their money, their institutions and it's changing toward Islamism as are other parts of the Muslim world.  Historically, the more repressive movements came from the Middle East and that they influence the periphery.  You can see how powerful they Islamists have become in Nigeria, Bangladesh and Indonesia.  People often say,"Well, can you take Indonesian ideas to the Middle East" and I reply,"It's worth a try, good luck", but I doubt the Saudis are going to listen to Indonesians.

QUESTION:  Last century I visited Istanbul a couple of times.  It impressed me as a modern European city, certainly in comparison with other Muslim cities like Cairo.  So my question is why do you think the liberal model failed or is failing at the moment in Turkey?

DR. DANIEL PIPES: You are asking"Who lost Turkey?" Of course, it may not be lost and things could still work out. That said, what likely will have lost Turkey was not European coolness. Nor economic problems.  Rather, it concerns the seemingly small matter of Turkish electoral law which requires that representation in parliament be limited to parties that win 10 percent of the vote, a very high threshold.  In other countries the threshold is on the order of 1 percent, 2 percent or 5 percent.  In 2002 the vote was 34 percent for the AKP and 19 percent for the CHP, the leftist party.  And the AKP's 34 percent resulted in it gaining 67 percent or two-thirds of the seats.  Had that election law been different, or had the moderate left and moderate right managed to work together, I the AKP would not have dominated as it did.

QUESTION:  So you think rather than Turkish society becoming more radically Muslim, it's just the vagaries of politics and it could swing back?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  Yes, it could swing back.  I think the next general elections, which take place in 2011, are critical.  Should the AKP win this, it's over.  They're there for a long time.  Should they lose it, it can be redeemed.  So, the next election is the key.

QUESTION:  How does the Obama administration, including the top brass in the Pentagon and within State, see the situation?  Is there any clarity of understanding or appreciation of the magnitude of this whole phenomenon?

DR. DANIEL PIPES:  I mentioned the debate between people of my persuasion who think the problem is radical Islam and those who think the problem is Islam itself.  But there is a third position I didn't mention.  This is the establishment position, which is the position of most of those in government, journalists and academics who believe that the problem really has nothing to do with Islam at all.  It's the problem of radical extremism, of terrorism, of Al-Qaeda.  Some politicians go so far as to say it's an anti-Islamic phenomenon.  This is the prevailing attitude of the Obama administration.  Whatever the topic might be, they bleach Islam out of it.

To give you one example.  The Fort Hood Massacre in November of last year when an army major of Palestinian-Muslim background took out a gun and killed fourteen people.  Every sign indicated he was a jihadi.  But the report that came out recently on what happened didn't mention Islam.  The cause of this denial here lies deeper than political correctness.  If you're going to acknowledge it's something to do with Islam, then you have to address Islamic issues.  Institutionally, if you're the U.S. military, that's not easy to do, so you don't.


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Fahrettin Tahir - 10/28/2010

omar

Turkey was far bigger than she is today and it was not legitimate to take away from her European regions which had majority or exclusive Moslem populations as did happen.

If Ataturk and Co had spent their energy to recover lost territories Turkey could not have developed. Instead they made what remains an unfair peace and concentrated on developing the rest. The Arabs too could do exactly the same.

You are right of course that ideology does not prevent industrialisation unless it is being used as a substitute for development. Opium for the people.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/28/2010

" the Ottoman Empire at WWII, " should, of course, read " the Ottoman Empire at WWI, "
Sorry


omar ibrahim baker - 10/28/2010

Fahrettin
Neither Arab Nationalism/Socialism nor Islamism, per se, is intrinsically, structurally or doctrinairly incompatible with or is in conflict or in an a priori rejection and dismissal of " industrialisation and social development ".
The sine quo non to achieve your, and our, cherished ambitions of " industrialisation and social development " is national sovereignty and territorial integrity and security; both under incessant colonialist/imperialist attack by the West/USA and Israel.

Could Turkey have ever succeeded in achieving both, or be on its way to, had the Western occupation armies of WWI remained directly or indirectly on Turkish soil or had they, before departing, implanted an ALIEN nation/state, meant to fragment and dominate as is Israel, on Turkish soil??

That is where you tend to err: neither objective could ever be realized anywhere without genuine national sovereignty, territorial integrity and security!

(Do you not notice how fervently antagonistic Friedman and ilk are to both Arab Nationalism/Socialism and Islamism?

Is that out of their general good will towards or keen desire for the Arabs to avoid wasting their time and resources or out of their realization that either will be detrimental to Israel’s short term ( territorial expansion and total ethnic cleansing of Palestine from its indigenous Arab population) and long term ( regional predominance) ambitions and designs ?

I wish you will ponder that and the above and wish you well)


Fahrettin Tahir - 10/27/2010

There is an interesting new book:

The Berlin Baghdad Express

The Ottoman Empire and Germany's bid for World Power

Sean McMeekin

Allen Lane /pinguin Group 2010


N. Friedman - 10/27/2010

Fahrettin,

I think you are quite correct.


Fahrettin Tahir - 10/27/2010

I think the issue Western political thinking is trying to understand is why the Arabs are replacing the two nonfunctional ideologies nationalism/socialism with the third which also does not work anywhere it is tried.

It would be far more intelligent to invest oil income in industrialisation and social development to catch up with the West instead of further ideological prerogatives.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/27/2010

The following is as much commentary as an exposition of alternative interpretation and presentation of events.
In his impressive tour de force Pipes however can NOT help the old real Pipes reasserting itself/
That is manifest in a number of commissions, omissions, misinterpretation and
falsification of events and motives all pointing to a certain direction with an ulterior, Zionist, objective in mind to instill in his audience.
Foremost but certainly not all among which one would note:
1-The Muslim answer to “What Went Wrong” presented by Pipes “GOD forsake US” was never as pervasive and influential as he claims it to have been; except, inevitably, in the very meager, and progressively ostracized, milieus of ineffectual conservative, actually reactionary, “Scheiks” and “ulamas” that had by that time, the post 1800,lost all credibility and influence.
The really effective and influential answer to that question that came from RELIGIOUS sources were the voices of Mohamed Abdo, Al Afghani, etc who far from seeking refuge in the ridiculous “God forsake us” hypothesis were all out for material modernization, education a la Western/then European models, Women education and liberation, public participation in the running of state and national affairs etc
Soon they were joined by other non religious voices ( Al Kawakibi, Kassem Amin, Ali Mubarak, Taha Hussein etc ) that embraced the same goals and ADDED to that the need for modern public administration and militarily apparatus to establish a strong modern state.
That era soon witnessed the decline of the religious and the ascent of the modernist, secular, the adoption of Parliamentary government systems in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and a general liberal Western democracy type outlook.
It ended, inspirationally and intellectually among the, mostly Western, educated then the general public, with the unveiling of the Sykes/Picot agreement and the Balfour Declaration
With the former being a clear declaration of an unabated colonialist Western design, approved by the USA, to subjugate and rule over a divided Arab world and the latter as the practical implementation of a concerted preplanned policy to perpetuate Arab (geographical/political/economic) fragmentation and disunity through the implantation of a permanent advance Western colonialist armed Western base: Israel in Palestine after de Arabizing it through ethnic cleansing and mass expulsion of the Arab population.
The culmination of those Western designs came with the West supported Zionist success in establishing Israel in Palestine despite Arab opposition
Thence date the ever widening chasm separating the Arab/Moslem worlds from the West of Western Europe and increasingly of the USA.
2-The violent rejection of that, mostly West oriented and fundamentally pro West, era was inaugurated by the revolt of Jamal Abdul Nasser and comrades in 1952 in Egypt and a succession of military coups d’états in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen all of which professed ARAB NATIONALIST/SOCIALIST objectives.
(Pipes is being the real Pipes here when he depicts that era, contrary to unassailable historical evidence as the era of “the fascist and communist models “)
Interestingly that era also witnessed the lowest point of (Islamic) religious political influence and public acceptance due to the ultra secular disposition of the ruling Nasserist and Baathist regimes with variations thereof.
It ended with the Arab military collapse in the 1967 war with Israel.
3-The succeeding era was, inevitably, the Islamist era that not only banked on the failure of the Arab Nationalist/Socialist/secular orientation of the defeated Arab regimes but much more and increasingly so on the emergence and spiraling of the Western-American/Israeli ( Christian/Jewish) strategic alliance that could only be faced and defeated by its historical nemesis : a doctrinaire Islam based and driven PAN Islamic alliance. .
We still are in that era and it promises to be not only the most violent but also the most radicalizing of the greatest number of Moslems
Post Script:
With the collapse of the last Islamist system, the Ottoman Empire at WWII, all Moslem countries that were part of it, mainly Arab countries of the Orient soon to be joined by a newly independent North Africa( the Arab world), was faced with two options:
1-Acquissence and submission to Western/Christian domination progressively evolving into Israeli/Jewish regional predominance though originally attained with Western support but , increasingly turning flagrantly into Israeli/Jewish , with Western, mainly American, inability to stand up to ,internal and external, Jewish influence.
2-Rejection of ALIEN domination and vigorous pursuit of self assertion to achieve national political, economic and cultural independence and national territorial integrity and security.
The main obstacles to the national sovereignty option and the main foe to combat has been, still is, the WEST since Sykes-Picot and the Balfour declaration in whose outputs, a fragmented Arab world and Israel, the region still lives
We are now living the era where Islam and Islamism undertook, not only by default but also by rising public acceptance and support, the front role and the leadership of the ongoing battle to attain national sovereignty and territorial security
More than any other single factor the West’s neo colonialist ambitions of ( Sykes-Picot) and the implantation of Israel in Palestine were the determining factors in the rise of the Islamist movement and its majoritarian public acceptance
Up to the collapse of the Nationalist/Socialist era in 1967 the Islamist movement was resigned to a substantially social, cultural/religious role
The collapse of the Nationalist/Socialist era in 1967 was an open invitation to it to assume a leading political role that met with quasi unanimous public support that is making it now into THE political leader


Fahrettin Tahir - 10/26/2010

Though I am not a religious person I think that the author overplays the role of religion and entirely avoids the role colonialism played is destroying the social fabric of Islamic societies.

The Napoleon shock was not because his people read the hieroglyphs, Turks could have done that if they had thought it important.

The shock was superior weapons and the destruction they brought.

The Christians used this power to subject the Islamic world. It is no wonder that the most advanced Islamic country is Turkey which never became a colony.

Turkey started her industrialisation effort in the 1840ies and the democratisation in the 1850ies.

Both failed because of regular Russian initiated wars, once every 20 years, which bankrupted Turkey and mass murdered the European Moslems who would have had no problems in leading the Islamic world into the modern world. That exactly was what the Christians were determined to prevent. They had to be kept underdeveloped so they could be made into colonies.

Free trade, the price Turkey paid for limited British support against Russia, at a point where the US was industrialising behind 44 % tariffs did the rest.

When oil was dicovered the British immediately constructed be modern middle east so they could install idiotic governments which let them steal the stuff. Later the US joined the Brits.

After the 1990ies Western governments made a war of the Kurdish PKK against Turkey possible to prevent the integration of the Kurds into Turkey's growing industrial economy. As a result the Kurds remain as poor and difficult as the Somalis, and the Afghans. Turkey leading historian Ilber Ortayli recently said without the war Turkey would have catched up witrh France.

That was the reason for the Wests support.

But then it is intellectually more comfortable to discuss that the Moslems are at fault for behind so backward.


Fahrettin Tahir - 10/26/2010

Though I am not a religious person I think that the author overplays the role of religion and entirely avoids the role colonialism played is destroying the social fabric of Islamic societies.

The Napoleon shock was not because his people read the hieroglyphs, Turks could have done that if they had thought it important.

The shock was superior weapons and the destruction they brought.

The Christians used this power to subject the Islamic world. It is no wonder that the most advanced Islamic country is Turkey which never became a colony.

Turkey started her industrialisation effort in the 1840ies and the democratisation in the 1850ies.

Both failed because of regular Russian initiated wars, once every 20 years, which bankrupted Turkey and mass murdered the European Moslems who would have had no problems in leading the Islamic world into the modern world. That exactly was what the Christians were determined to prevent. They had to be kept underdeveloped so they could be made into colonies.

Free trade, the price Turkey paid for limited British support against Russia, at a point where the US was industrialising behind 44 % tariffs did the rest.

When oil was dicovered the British immediately constructed be modern middle east so they could install idiotic governments which let them steal the stuff. Later the US joined the Brits.

After the 1990ies Western governments made a war of the Kurdish PKK against Turkey possible to prevent the integration of the Kurds into Turkey's growing industrial economy. As a result the Kurds remain as poor and difficult as the Somalis, and the Afghans. Turkey leading historian Ilber Ortayli recently said without the war Turkey would have catched up witrh France.

That was the reason for the Wests support.

But then it is intellectually more comfortable to discuss that the Moslems are at fault for behind so backward.


Fahrettin Tahir - 10/26/2010

In this weeks Economist (www.economist.com) are several articles about Turkey under the AKP. The bottom line is: this voice of the British establishment loves it!

All articles published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the voice of the German establishment show, they aso love the AKP.

They expect the AKP to give the West what it always wanted in Cyprus, the Aegean Sea, the Kurdish secession, and Armenian expectations.

For these reasons they have supported the economic boom which makes AKP governmnet possible.

No previous Turkish government had such support from Europe.

SEcularist member of parliamenet and composer Zulfu Livaneli wrote that a previous German foreign minioster ahd told him "we, meaning the European Union, control the AKP.

Before the AKP Turkey had a secularist government which lost the elections after an economis crisis the secularists are sure was engineered by the US to replace the secularist government with an Islamist one which had promised to support Mr Bush Iraq invasion.

So we are not only talking about how Islamic societies are deveopling but what western manipulations are effecting in the Islamic world.


Fahrettin Tahir - 10/26/2010

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/25/2010

Surprisingly totally atypical of Pipes’ oeuvre in that it actually raises objectively some pertinent issues and questions.
FAR from faultless though.

Moslem Civilization:
It is wrong and unfactual to speak of a present day Moslem “civilization”.
That was correct and factual in the era of the real and universal Moslem Empire (approx. 580-850 AD) which really ended with the decline then fall, actually midway, of the reign of the Abbasside caliphate.
What we can seriously consider as a permanent factor in present day Moslem life is Moslem, or Islamic, CULTURE which, as Pipes correctly points out, includes and encompasses, as the dominant and prevailing culture, both Moslems and non Moslems, almost solely Christians, living in Moslem, mainly Arab, lands.

Slave Armies:
Started with mamluks ( =owned) won in war or bought or were the descendants of past mercenary armies that chose to settle in the Moslem Empire who were eventually totally assimilated in their respective Moslem communities up to the point of total integration which included, inter alia, adoption, unobstructed inter marriage, often with the daughters of their former owners, hereditary rights etc then assumed major administrative, political and military leading roles and eventually ultimate, supreme, power in their domains.
As such it is historically inaccurate, actually fallacious, to deem them as slaves in the literal meaning of the word.
Should a distinction be drawn, to distinguish them from their past Arab masters, I contend it is far more accurate to designate them as:
a-for some as Arabised Moslems drawn into the service of the, originally, Arab Moslem Empire that gradually evolved into a pan Islamic Empire
b-for others as non Arabised Moslems or recent converts to Islam that retained their original “nationalist” , mainly Turkic , Persian or Circassian (Shirkassian), identities drawn into the service of , and the opportunities, that the Islamic Empire, as a universal power, presented and afforded them.
Interestingly some of of the latter category retained their original Christian faith; mainly among the Armenians and Georgians!
Overall their depiction as SLAVE ARMIES is inaccurate and misleading.


Serge Isaac Baruch - 10/25/2010

Dr Pipes is very scholarly in his conclusions about Obama's administration and the liberally Left 'elite's' to the problem of Islam. In straight language it should be called cowardice. Historically, denial and appeasement are the habitual response of the Left to any fascistic challenge. It is indeed another indicator of the strong ideological connection between totalitarian mass movements: Nazism, Communism, and Islam. Though the latter is much older, it is a welcomed newcomer.


Serge Isaac Baruch - 10/25/2010

Dr Pipes is very scholarly in his conclusions about Obama's administration and the liberally Left 'elite's' to the problem of Islam. In straight language it should be called cowardice. Historically, denial and appeasement are the habitual response of the Left to any fascistic challenge. It is indeed another indicator of the strong ideological connection between totalitarian mass movements: Nazism, Communism, and Islam. Though the latter is much older, it is a welcomed newcomer.