Quora Answer: What Would Happen if Europe Declared War on Islam?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is my answer to a Quora question: “What would happen if Europe declared a war on Islam?

How would “Europe” declare war on a major world religion?  Ideas cannot be stopped simply by declarations of war.  Declaring war against Marxism did not stop it.  Declaring war against fascism did not stop it.  Ideas are only stopped by other ideas.

Europe is not a political entity.  It is a continent what covers several different competing blocs of influence, from the Slavic regions, to NATO, to the European Economic Community, to the Nordic countries.  Many of these competing blocs have overlapping membership.  From a geopolitical perspective, we have two contending groups: the American sphere of influence, which is Western Europe; and the Russian sphere of influence, which is much of Eastern Europe.  And then there are regions that are essentially non-aligned.  We must not forget that Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania are Muslim majority, although the practice of Islam is vastly different due to their differing recent histories.

During the Communist era, Islam, and all religions, were banned in Eastern Europe.  Despite all the repression, Islam and Christianity survived, although in a greatly diminished state.  In the parts of Europe that used to be Muslim and are not, the Muslims were killed off in the millions.  There is no trace of the Muslim majority that used to exist of Bulgaria, Southern Romania, much of Northern Greece, the Crimea and Southern Ukraine.  Josef Stalin presided over a holocaust that involved the deportation and genocide of up to 20 million Muslims of various ethnic groups.  This dwarfs the Nazi Holocaust.  Mosques, tombs, and all traces were effaced from history.  Entire ethnic groups went extinct.

The consequence is that after the Communist era, religion came back, because people need something to believe in.  The problem is that what came back, for Islam, is not the orthodox Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school, from the Ottoman era.  The scholars and the learned were killed off.  What came were the Wahhabi ideologues preaching that the peaceful Muslims before were responsible for the state of their oppression, with their “idolatry” and deviation from the pure path of adherence and jihad.  This is why we have this Wahhabi scourge in Chechnya, Dagestan, Bosnia and elsewhere.  Orthodoxy was still wearing its boots while radicalism was flying around the world, funded by Saudi oil money.  Many of these people went and joined ISIS, and those who survived, have brought that expertise back.

Western Europe has its own problems with Islam.  However, it does not have the legal mechanisms to ban a major world religion, and there is no justification there.  If they can ban Islam, what is there to stop them from banning other religions?  No government is going to engage in political suicide.

One of the problems European Muslim communities are struggling with is contending values.  Muslim communities, many of them new and still growing, are fed by immigration and a higher birth rate than the rest of the population.  This creates pressures such as unemployment, disenfranchisement and crime.  France’s ghettoisation of its Muslims in Marseille and elsewhere, make them ripe for radicalism.  These communities have a dearth of actual, indigenous religious knowledge.  They import their religious from “back home”, whether it is Pakistan, or Egypt, or elsewhere, and these village mullahs, having no experience in a different society, engage in a war of civilisations they cannot hope to win.

Saudi Arabia takes advantage of this to advance their Wahhabi agenda, funding mosques, institutions and sending their own preachers, creating pockets of puritanism, at odds with the remnants of orthodoxy.  This creates further schism in these Muslim communities.  And that spills over into their interaction with wider society.  Issues such as the burqa, halal slaughter, and places of worship, are instances of a wider halocline between two different value systems that are still learning to accommodate each other.

In a sense, there is already a culture war, but it is not a war on Islam, since Islam, like any world religion, actually accommodates the culture of the people.  European Muslims need a European Islam, which accommodates European values within reason, and respects the shared values of East and West.  However, there is no reasonable scenario where any or all of Europe declares war on Islam.


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