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Article: Islam on the Move

May 27, 2007

The prescience of Catholic scholar Thomas Molnar, exhibited in this piece from 1985. His “lessons for the West” have not lost their relevancy, nor has the urgency to heed them been greater. (excerpts from “Islam on the Move,” The Intercollegiate Review, Fall 1985):

First, we must realize, when we look at the new Islamic consciousness, that we are not dealing with a “Communist conspiracy,” nor with an “old man’s paranoia,” nor yet with a “terrorist nest” – three comfortable labels that Western opinion-makers, lacking imagination and political intelligence, usually glue on phenomena they do not understand. On the contrary, we are witnessing a historic mutation, the re-emergence of a fighting race, always easy to fanaticize, but which, in its intellectual elements, is able to produce out of its entrails important political figures and sharp-eyed visionaries.

In the second place, we should give due regard to the fact that the dispersion of Islam into many Arab and non-Arab nations is not necessarily a permanent obstacle to an eventual unity, unity at least for large-scale action…


The third point is the Moslem world’s humiliation by Israel’s repeated victory against one, two, or three Arab neighbors. Whether the PLO will remain the spearhead of the anti-Israel struggle is not the point; all observers agree that the Palestinian issue has become the focus of Moslem militancy, now too late to dismantle. From this nucleus, all sorts of consequences will arise, perhaps the emergence of unifying figure, a leader of holy wars. It is too easy to dismiss Moslem unity as a dream….in the case of Islam, unity does not mean the same thing as in other parts of the world. Here the common religion serves as an overarching communal attitude; a religious/national leader may activate and mobilize the masses, just as, in another context, “socialism” has been able to do so elsewhere.

This remark leads to the last point. The Western world has so completely evacuated any unifying myth and energizing belief from its mental structure, that it has lost the faculty of understanding psychological-religious motivations, whether among allies or enemies. Our governments are run by lawyers and businessmen of a positivistic mindcast, so that other issues are reduced and spelled-out by and for them on the lowest mentality-level in order to be dealt with….


In the age of decadence, empires – in this instance the “West” – always tend to misapprehend other people’s nature, because that is the comfortable way of seeing it. In the case here discussed, Western governments, unlike serious Western scholarship, are blind to Islam’s religious component… It must be repeated that Islamic religion is perfectly compatible with warfare, terrorist raids (think of the eleventh-century hashishim), savage campaigns and crusades. Integrism, holy war, return to tradition, and the Moslem Brotherhood are stronger than the modernizing policies timidly pursued (after the fall of the Shah) by the various regimes… The modernizing, even technological trends are not absent; but it seems that the fundamentalists whose domination will be gradually asserted in the coming decades are determined to take from the West the machines, not the values.


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One Comment
  1. Osman Bangura permalink

    Dear sir
    I read on your article and was very insteresting and much more educative.It is my believe that if only islamic nation work hard and in unity then we would able to make better differences then one would imagine.

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