Alan Caruba / Jun 19, 2003

The United States is now charged by the world to "rebuild" Iraq. In its 5,000-year history, Iraqis have never played any role in the governance of their nation and the past three decades of ruthless and barbaric rule by Saddam Hussein have not prepared them for this task.

The United States may get the electricity going in Iraq and repair its water and sewage systems, but whether it can get Iraqis to adopt a constitutionally based democratic government will prove a difficult, if not impossible, task. At least in the short run.

Among Muslims, only the Turks have experienced any form of self-rule and that was the result of a remarkable man, Ataturk, who literally forced them to accept westernization. In doing so, he imposed a strict divide between Islam and the governing of Turkey and this has been maintained only because the Turkish military has judiciously stepped in time and again to crush any Islamist party seeking to impose the Islam's system of rule. I

The religion of Islam and democracy are totally incompatible. Only the separation of church and state, only the rule of civil law can grant Muslims-the vast majority of whom are good, decent people---the freedom they want and many Muslims, such as those in Iran, do want it.

The laws of Islam, considered sacred and inviolable, clash with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and those expressed in both the British (1688) and American Bill of Rights (1791). To cite just a few reasons why Islam and democracy are incompatible, under Islam women and non-Muslims are declared to be inferior, slavery is acceptable, punishments for various crimes include amputations, floggings, and stoning to death, a non-Muslim cannot testify against a Muslim, and conversion from Islam carries with it the death penalty.

There is no separation of church and state under Islam and there never can be for any Muslim who accepts the Koran and the Hadith as the sacred rule of law. To suggest otherwise imperils their belief in the Koran as the word of Allah as passed to them by Muhammad, his self-appointed "final" prophet.

In Muslim nations where so-called secular, i.e. socialist governments such as the former Baath Party of Iraq and the current one in Syria exist, the reality is that these nations are run by despots and their governments are mere rubber stamps. In others, such as Saudi Arabia, a self-declared royal family rules. In nations such as Iran, where a secular government is allowed to function, a supreme council of ayatollahs can and does routinely overrule any legislative act, thus rendering democratic rule moot.

Ibn Warraq, the author of a scholarly study of Islam, notes that "Islam continually manifests hostility towards human reason, rationality, and critical discussion without which democracy and scientific and moral progress are not possible. The notion of an individual---a moral person who is capable of making rational decisions and accepting moral responsibility for his free acts---is lacking in Islam. Ethics is reduced to obeying orders."

Freedom is about individual rights granted a citizen that governments may not trespass, nor deprive. As Ibn Warraq points out, "Individualism is not a recognizable feature of Islam; instead, the collective will of the Muslim people is constantly emphasized. There is certainly no notion of individual rights, which only developed in the West, especially during the eighteenth century."

If one's first allegiance, after Islam, is to one's family and tribe, the notion of allegiance to a national entity, is stymied by Islam that allows only for the interpretation of the Koran and the Hadith by mullahs and imams. "Islam never allows the possibility of alternatives," says Warraq. Thus, the concept of debating political issues is foreign to Islamic thought.

The long-term hope is that greater access to information and knowledge will work its way on the inherent intolerance of Islam, that its educational systems will teach the values of democratic rule, that the mosques will be separated from governance, and that the rule of secular, civil law will succeed. The short-term hope is that the worldwide network of Islamic terrorists will be defeated.

Lastly, let it be said that George W. Bush did the right thing to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and to threaten the despots who rule Iran and Syria. His obligation, his duty to protect the United States of America, is directly tied to the use of American power to transform the Middle East by any means necessary. The greatest threat to America, the West, and to those Islamic nations struggling to achieve democracy and freedom is Islam.

Alan Caruba is the author of "Warning Signs", published by Merril Press. His weekly column is posted on, the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.

Copyright, Alan Caruba, 2003

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