Thursday, September 23, 2004

Islam, a Cult of Death?

I read a powerful editorial by David Brooks today. He writes about the reality of a death cult thriving at the fringes of the Muslim world. We have witnessed the massacre of innocents. New York, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Moscow, and Africa have all seen horrific, unspeakable acts; behind each act, Muslim Terrorists. Brooks does a good job highlighting the problem, but in reading the editorial, I asked myself, “is a death cult thriving at the fringes of the Muslim world, or could we say that Islam (or aspects of it) is a cult itself?”

According to Wikipedia, “A cult is a group with a religious or philosophical identity, often existing on the margins of society. Its marginal status may come about either due to its novel belief system or due to idiosyncratic practices that cause the surrounding culture to regard it as far outside the mainstream.” – So, it seems unlikely that the billion or so Muslims in the world are in a cult, but could parts of Islam be influenced by cult like figures? This assertion seems more reasonable given the rise of cult like figures like Osama bin Laden. Mainstream Islam seems to find the actions of Muslim terrorists abhorrent, yet we are bombarded with images of fire eyed young men and woman eager to die for Osama bin Laden’s warped cause.

It looks like I’m going to spend some time thinking about this, doing some research, and talking to a few Muslims, then post more. I appreciate any comments or thoughts that could help guide the learning process.


passthebread said...

I read "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" for exactly this kind of understanding of Cult leadership as a style of leadership and a leadership personality. I think to understand cults you have to understand the most extreme forms of manipulative and self-centered narcisistic leadership. Hitler or Stalin or Mao come to see themselves as above the law and their cause as more important than the life and fredom of others. All things become justifyable according to their self absorbed view of history which places their "will to power" and their, the leaders, ultimate ascension as the only worthy goal. Those who follow such leaders go to all lengths to do whatever is necessary for the leader or the movement. In the case of radical Islamic Fascism, this leads to killing innocent bystanders.
Hitler and Nazism are a good place to start to understand what I think you mean by "cult".

Anonymous said...

One thing fascinating about human culture is that it is relative. You norm to whatever is around you. For example, if you are 16, 25 is ancient. Once you are 30, middle age becomes much older. Kids are people still at 20, not just at 10 years.

The thing about mainsteam is that it is relative to what the majority around you is. cult is one of those words like goy or pagan or foreigner that draws a circle around one familiar norm.

For example, to Baptists, Catholics are a wierd madonna/idolatry cult under unquestioning obedience to a leader who can take any name god gives himself. To Anglicans, Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists are a cult who add extra practices and books to the canon. To non-denominational Xtians, any other people of the book, i..e Jews and Muslims and other Christians who share the old testament wierd, strange, foreign, held to narrow practices, rituals and social pressure to conform through pilgrimages, dress, listen to stylized oratory, etc.

Some on the fringes of one of the mainstreams of Cultural Islam perceive it to be more radicalized than Christianity is now, despite certain Xtian leaders uttering death threats against gays, Christians harrasssing, beating or killing women or doctors associated with abortion, marching en mass to call people cruel premeditated murders for abortion, going to rallies where there is dramatic "healings" and so on.

It's more press-worthy to speak of the radicals who can grab the camera but day to- day, Islam is just the scapegoat for the political revenge killings, for the minority of powerhungry to make pawns of others.

passthebread said...

This is true if we use the word losely and I agree that lots of people use cult as a byword for different. This is a bad thing. Whenever we catergorize different as bad, we are beening very 'immoral' and ugly, maybe even Carson-ugly (which is real ugly). To love and listen is a good thing. BUT...
This is not what mojoey is looking into, I believe. I think we need to look at cult and a very narrow and very destructive and abusive thing. Sure some religious practices may be 'cultish' and some people may use 'cult' to just mean un-orthodox, but I would be interested if someone looked to see the links between the cultural traits of 'cults' that lead to people doing extreme acts of violence either to others or themselves (or both in the case of Radical Islam). That why I think starting with Hitler is a good place to start. Here, the rant of the leader became the hope to such an extreme that millions died. Hitler's personality is so meglomaniacal. Osama bin laden and other cult leades, I imagine have similar traits.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who says theyre islamic and they believe in the koran is either evil or ignorant.Can you afford to believe the latter? Death to islam and all who preach it.