This is part two of my blog on the cultural paradigm of the postmodern West. You can check out part one here.
Islamic re-education starts with assessing the problems of postmodernism. Once we understand the problem, we can begin to derive real solutions from the revelation.
Identity Politics is Neo-Tribalism
French philosopher Michel Foucault (d. 1984) inspired a system that divided the world into two camps: "dominant" and "marginalized". The dominant narrative was the Eurocentric heteronormative neoliberal patriarchal narrative. The marginal narrative would be that of the people of colour, minorities, the poor, the disabled, women, children, and homosexuals. His ideas became the basis of activist groups after the 1960s.
Upper-middle-class academics in the West were thrilled that they could now speak for the marginalized groups, which they couldn't really do when communism was popular among the dispossessed. So they formed their own marginalized narratives of history. Each narrative was aimed at deconstructing the dominant narrative's "artifacts" - its pop culture, its founding literature, and its theorists. Each marginal group then formed its own history, literature, and artifacts. This process was in full swing by the 1980s.
At first sight, it appears compassionate to give a voice to marginalized people. But this postmodernist system comes with the exact same assumptions about the world that the dominant system has: (1) the belief that the world is controlled by power and chance, (2) the belief that truth is relegated to the observable natural sciences, (3) the belief that pre-modern spirituality is superstitious and ritualistic, (4) the belief that suffering is all evil, all natural, and does not have meaning, (5) and no formal end-goal or salvation, unlike Islam, Christianity, and Marxism.
For Foucault, there is no way out of the suffering - only a means to "resist" the dominant powers and survive on the margins. Postmodernists believe only in power and the fight over it. They are experts in jargon, little catch phrases, intended to gain an audience and battle the oppressor class. They disintegrate much, but they construct nothing. When all is said and done, they ultimately put their faith in the free market, and fall back onto the Anglosaxon individualist naturalist yeomanry - making them very similar to the dominant paradigm.
Foucault offered the educated bourgeoisie the opportunity to side with and speak for the working class. They are not awaiting some proletarian revolution - they are more bent on co-opting the current political and economic system to give themselves a bigger piece of the pie.
The Intersection of Power and `Asabiyya
Intersectionality is the idea that the liberation of these all "marginalized" groups (women, homosexuals, people of colour, minorities, the poor, the incarcerated) is bound together, because they have a common, oppressive, dominant enemy: heteronormative patriarchal cis-gendered Eurocentric capitalist males. For this reason, we see an alliance between feminists, LGBT activists, Black Lives Matter activists, communists, anarchists, and liberal Muslim activists. This alliance exists in student unions, labour unions, university departments, lobby groups, political parties, and protest movements.
There is a lot wrong with this:
1. The enemy of your enemy is NOT necessarily your friend. We cannot leave our ethics aside for the sake of dunyawi politics. While Muslim activists like Linda Sarsour try to push for their own marginalized Muslim liberation in America, they have taken the feminists and homosexuals as allies in their struggle. This is while they pass laws that either contradict our beliefs or hurt us directly. In the case of Linda Sarsour, we now see a direct clash between her and feminist zionists, who argue that Israel is more feminist than the Muslim world. The point is, each group as its own interests, and while they may overlap in some areas, our "liberation" is not "bound" with theirs at all.
2. Race and sex are NOT essential attributes. They are accidental attributes. Yes, we belong to certain tribes and races, but these are adjectives that should not define our worldview or ideology. We don't accept the notion that "only women can speak on women's issues", or "only blacks can speak on black issues" - the Messenger of Allah (s) spoke for all people, and the inheritors of his knowledge are the Scholars. If we belong to a certain group, we may have some extra insight into that group's issues, but it does not make us a spokesperson for that group, nor does it mean others cannot comment on the issues of that group.
3. Not all suffering comes from the dominant "system". In Islam, most suffering comes from hard-heartedness and ignorance. Any group, regardless of colour or sex, is capable of becoming an oppressor if they are hard-hearted or ignorant.
4. People of faith have always accepted the redemptive affects of suffering. All people suffer, regardless of whether they belong to the "marginal" groups or "dominant" groups. This suffering has meaning: it is either a trial (like in the case of Prophet Ayyub), a purification from sins (like the ill Muslim), a tool for our maturation and personality-building, or a divine chastisement (like the communities of Nuh, Lut, Salih, Shu`ayb, Hud, and others).
5. Not all political grievances are solved by rebellion. Allah does not change the affair of a people until they change what is in themselves. Muslim scholars have traditionally been averse to rebellions and schisms, because they are often ill-advised, violent, and divisive.
6. Power is not all that exists. Intersectional libertines only believe in power - they don't believe in dialogue, patience, or the supernatural.
How did we even get here?
Ideologues speak of the "Overton Window", which is the range of discourse that the public will accept. The window is constantly shifting.
There are issues of discussion that are unpopular and unacceptable - such as the legalization of pedophilia - and so it is not within the Overton Window of discourse. There are other issues that have recently crept into the window, such as the legalization of marijuana, which less than 10% of Americans supported in the 1950s, but now over 58% of Americans accept, and it has become legal in several states. Another example: the legalization of incest and necrophilia would have been unthinkable in modern Europe, but the youth branch of the Swedish Liberal People's Party supported it, and more "bite the bullet" secularists are accepting its possibility.
In the last few decades, the window has shifted due to the clever ideological pushes of postmodernists. In 2008, President Obama ran against the legalization of gay marriage, and 60% of Americans were also against it. In 2015, gay marriage was legalized, and 60% of Americans accepted it - within just 7 years of media promotion and lobbying. In 1988, that number was 12%. The pride march went from being an isolated one-day event to being a month-long city-wide celebration that national politicians must attend.
Postmodernists know that their ideas can only gain political acceptance if they are introduced gradually. In conversation, they take baby steps, and stop right at the point where you will resist them. Then, they'll come back in a few days, weeks, or months, and take a few more steps. In a few years time, you find yourself talking about things that you would've never considered before.
Not only is same-sex marriage celebrated in the centre of the Overton window, but other non-binary, transsexual and furry identities are slowly being introduced. It starts in sociology class or in a corner on the web, then it moves to a comedy hall, then once it is more normal, it is presented on television and in movies, and eventually, it becomes the prevailing narrative. We're told to simply get with the times instead of analyzing its consequences. You go from rejection, to apathy, to support; till your former rejection of it becomes despised, illegal, taboo, and unacceptable.
“The long march through the institutions”
This was the memorable slogan of infiltration, created by Rudi Dutschke, a New Left activist in the late 1960s. His ideas were influenced by Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School.
The plan? A violent proletarian revolution was out of the question. Bourgeois capitalism had deluded the proletariat into not rebelling against their "oppression". The only solution then was to invade the areas of life that were most directly responsible for opinion-forming and the bending of minds: to “work from within” and alter the consciousness of the masses, who would then be made to see the reality of their own situation and become more receptive to the message of revolution.
Comrades of the postmodern New Left would become professors, union officials, journalists, teachers, etc. They would then push a counter culture that resulted in the sexual revolution (free love, homosexuality), the dropping of "bourgeois" subjects from school curricula (Latin, violin classes), and the introduction of Social Justice Warrior deconstructivism and activism. The long-term goal would be social emancipation from the dominant capitalist Eurocentric heteronormative conservative culture.
Now, the postmodernists are in control of most Western universities, school boards, media conglomerates, publishers, unions, activist groups, advocacy groups, and some political parties. Their ideology is cultural Marxism and Foucaultianism, and their goal is to take down Abrahamic religion and the patriarchy through education and programming.
There is no easy solution to this problem, and any solution will require the collaboration of our greatest minds. This is an information war that has destroyed the faith of millions of Muslims, knowingly and unknowingly. We must all be attentive and constantly seeking guidance from Allah. But there are a few things we must all keep in mind:
1. Our ally is Allah. Allah is our God, our Saviour, and our Deliverer. We must remember to seek His truth, to love what He loves, to hate what He hates, and to put Him first. We do not need to seek allies outside of Allah, His Messenger, His hujja, their Shi`a, and the Muslim Umma. As long as we stick to our ethics, Allah will give us the ultimate success. We have the Ark of Salvation that will carry us through the darkness. We can always dialogue with other groups, and work together towards common goals, but never in a way that will compromise our ethics and change our religion. If we tolerate deviation for the sake of political alliances, then we haven't truly tasted faith.
2. Recognize the signs when you see them. Know the terminology - terms like "allies, appropriation, identity politics, trigger, intersectionality, cis-gendered, heternormative, social justice, oppression, phobia, progressive, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, melanin, white supremacy, wage-gap, rape-culture, micro-aggression, privilege, shaming, and victim blaming" are common go-to jargon that dominate western universities, schools, unions, HR departments, activist movements, and political parties. Once you recognize a sign, your antennas should go up, and you should try to understand their goal. You will see the devolution happen very gradually - a person identifying with neither gender, a queer Muslim character on a TV show, a transsexual who wins the "Woman of the Year" award, a gender-neutral bathroom, a gay nikah, a Muslim comedian who jokes about his drinking, a Buzzfeed video about Muslims doing "ordinary" (i.e. haram) things that non-Muslims can relate to, a shaykh allowing women to marry non-Muslims. You may say to yourself, none of this is a big deal, it doesn't harm me. But perhaps someday, within a few more baby steps, we may get pushed off the cliff completely.
3. Our job as always is amr bil ma`ruf wa nahi `an al-munkar. Remember the AsHab as-Sabt. There were those who disobeyed God, those who tolerated their disobedience, and those who spoke out against it. Only the third group was saved.
4. Read! Don't just eat up what your newsfeed, your sociology professor, and your television give you. Follow the money, question everything, and pray for guidance.
5. Remember that Muslims are not just some minority culture in need of Western acceptance. We are not part of this marginal coalition fighting "Islamophobia". We are doing da`wa - calling to the way of our Lord, with justice, good voice, patience, and in the best manner. That da`wa will either be accepted or rejected, but Allah will preserve our destinies. We Western Muslims have been put here to either call to Islam or to lose it completely.
6. Raise awareness in the community about the importance of understanding Nietzsche and the problems of postmodernism, if they really want to be able to correctly recognize the time that we are and the challenges that we face. Then, we need to continue developing our own distinct worldview, and support leaders in our community who are driving towards that change.
7. We are a people of intellect (aql), patience (sabr), prayer (salat), character (akhlaq), glad tidings and warnings. We must manifest those things at all times.
By the Time! Man is surely in loss, except those who believed and did good works, and exhorted one another to Truth, and exhorted one another to patience (Quran, chapter 103)