Multiple Roman History geek-gasms

April 18, 2009

Archaeologists may have found the graves of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.

So, so cool.

(via Tammy Bruce)


I’m against it all

April 18, 2009

Showing the insane lack-of-logic of radical environmentalism, California’s senior US senator has urged the Secretary of the Interior to stop construction of solar-power plants in the Mojave Desert, a place where solar power actually makes sense.

Rolling Eyes


“Democracy runs counter to Islam…”

April 18, 2009

So says Islamic scholar Abd Al-Karim Bakkar in an interview on Syrian television:

Interviewer: "What is your position, as an Islamic scholar, on democracy?"

Abd Al-Karim Bakkar: "Democracy runs counter to Islam on several issues."

Interviewer: "You mean it contradicts Islam on these issues?"

Abd Al-Karim Bakkar: "Yes. But democracy is compatible
with Islam on other issues. In democracy, legislation is the
prerogative of the people. It is the people who draw up the
constitution, and they have the authority to amend it as well. On this
issue we differ.
"On the fundamental issues of Islamic society… People do not
have the right to legislate a law permitting fornication, for example.
This holds true for all nations, I believe. There are established
principles… The Americans cannot replace English as their official
language, even if they all voted for it, because this is an established
principle of the constitution."

(via MEMRI)

The interview doesn't make clear on what issues Mr. Bakkar thinks democracy and Islam are compatible, but the grounds for incompatibility are simple: Earlier in the discussion, Mr. Bakkar admits that Western societies have values (thanks, guy). These are enshrined in their constitutions, and the people are not allowed to pass laws that violate them. They can also amend these constitutions when needed. (We'll leave aside his error regarding English as an official language.)

His parallel for Islamic society is Sharia law, and the "constitution" on which Sharia law is based is the Qur'an, which, to the devout Muslim, is the literal word of Allah, a perfect copy of a book that has always resided in Paradise. Men have no power to alter the Qur'an (we'll ignore the differing versions for now), that is, to amend it, and thus have no power to write Islamic or civil law in contravention of it. That would be a grave sin – shirk, the setting up of another as an equal to Allah. As Allah is the one who gave Mankind the law, thus men, when making laws, sin against Allah by claiming his authority. And thus democracy and Islam, which cannot be separated from Islamic law, are incompatible.


Does this mean I think democracy is incompatible with Arab society? No, far from it. I supported the invasion and liberation of Iraq on several grounds, among which is the effort to fundamentally change Middle Eastern society by allowing consensual, constitutional government to take root at its heart. That effort has succeeded so far beyond my hopes. But it has succeeded in part because Iraqis rejected rule by Sunni and Shia religious fascists after experiencing the nightmare of life under Sharia in Anbar and Basra, and because the dominant figures of Iraqi Shiism don't believe in political activism.

(Sadly, Afghanistan still has those lessons to learn, it seems.)

To the extent that Iraqis continue to reject the unity of Islam and politics and the supremacy of Islamic law over all man-made laws, then, contra Mr. Bakkar, Islam can be compatible with democratic societies. To do so, however, rejects Islam as Muhammad conceived it, as the unity of state and religion. Whether this effort in Iraq and elsewhere succeeds and whether a peaceful, non-supremacist Islam can come to terms with consensual, constitutional society remains to be seen.

(hat tip: Jihad Watch)