Islam versus Democracy

I’ve seen a number of people suggest that the current state of affairs in Egypt is proof that Islam doesn’t work. I disagree. In fact if anything, it proves that democracy doesn’t work. Then when there is an illegal coup that suits the ones with the physical might over the populace, it’s framed as the will of the people. If the will of the people could be legally expressed in that manner as an acceptable form of democracy, then the USA would not be stuck with the despicable government that it is today.

The strange thing for me is that we keep looking to have Shari’ah implemented as if it is something external to our personal lives and incumbent upon a government to enforce as a legal system only. I beg to differ. I’m  not a scholar, nor an Egyptian, and definitely not a political analyst, but it seems logical to me that if we as Muslims conducted ourselves as Muslims in a majority Muslim country (not just Egypt), then whether or not government enforced it, the principled benefits of Shariah will automatically be achieved. However, when we insist on viewing Shariah as something external to our individual selves, and we take a lethargic approach to establishing Islamic principles and practices in our lives while believing that national identities come before our identities as Muslims, then expect things to go horribly pear-shaped very quickly.

While the events in Egypt may have triggered these thoughts, it certainly does not apply only to them. Neither Shari’ah nor Islam failed, or is failing in Egypt, or in any other Muslim-majority country. Muslims are failing, and democracy was never a feasible option to begin with. If democracy was all it was cracked up to be, there would not be civil strife across the heartland of democracy in the Americas and Europe as we’re seeing it today. But we find it necessary to delude ourselves into believing that the will of the majority is automatically more informed than the will of the minority. If that were true, the majority of this world would be intellectuals and rational human beings, and retarded fads, ridiculous fashion trends, and horrific cultural practices would never stand a chance. But reality is clearly not on the side of democracy, or capitalism for that matter, both of which appear to be increasingly difficult to tell apart these days.

Compassion Fatigue

Hearing the news about a mosque burning down in the US doesn’t evoke as strong a response as it should. Muslims around the world have become so accustomed to hearing news of such atrocities being carried out against their fellow brethren that even a drone strike on innocent civilians prompts nothing more than a woeful sigh, a shake of the head, sometimes accompanied by a muttered prayer, and often a curse for the aggressors.

It’s the downside of being human. Our ability to adapt and cope dictates that our tolerance levels will rise each time we experience something despicable. This implies that we’ll shrug our shoulders to heinous crimes that we’ve accepted we cannot prevent or avenge in any way, and so we distract ourselves with much more menial issues to compensate for the helplessness that we feel in other areas of grave concern. But this never lasts forever. At some point we realise that what doesn’t kill us doesn’t make us stronger, but in fact, it only makes us more tolerant, to a point.

There’s another effect that is often overlooked when people so dreamily proclaim that same cliche. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. No it doesn’t. It starts something in you that grows as long as your capacity and tolerance for it can harbour it until eventually you reach breaking point and suddenly realise that it never made you stronger to begin with. It only made you brittle. With each incident that wears away at your dignity and security, you practice tolerance and patience, but until the underlying tension is addressed, you become more brittle each day until eventually you lose any flexibilty and give way to the extremist that lurks in everyone. But at that point, no one is able to witness the horrors and taunts that preceded that final straw, so instead of understanding that the victim has finally lashed out, they become the victims and accuse you of unwarranted aggression instead.

Perspective. Context. Understanding. It’s been a while since I witnessed their inclusion in any rational debate about being human, or about human rights and dignity.

I’ve seen a ton on the Facebooks about ‘thanking veterans for their service’. As a veteran, let me just be very straightforward and honest with you: We didn’t ‘serve our country’; we don’t actually serve our brothers/sisters or our neighbors. We serve the interests of capital. We never risked our lives or spent months on deployment away from our family and friends so they can have this abstract concept called ‘freedom’. We served big oil, big coal, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Brown and Root, and all the other big Capital interests who don’t know a fucking thing about sacrifice. These people will never have to deal with the loss of a loved one or the physical and/or psychological scars that those who ‘serve’ and their families have to deal with for the rest of their lives. The most patriotic thing someone can do is to tell truth to power and dedicate yourself to building power to overthrow these sociopathic assholes. I served with some of the most real and genuine people I’ve ever met. You’ll never see solidarity like the kind of solidarity you experience when your life depends on the person next to you. But most of us didn’t join for that; we joined because we were fucking poor and didn’t have many other options.

An anti-capitalist veteran  (via rootof-three)