La Civiltï¿½ Cattolica, the semi-official Vatican magazine, has published an important article on Christians in Islamic Countries that points out a truth that recently has dared not speak its name: Islam is an aggressive religion that aims at the acquisition of universal dominion by force and oppresses Christians (and others) who live in Islamic lands.
Those who claim to know better object to such categorical statements on grounds of antiessentialism—there is no “Islam,” there are only many islams. If you take such objections seriously, general terms can never mean anything and discussion and thought become impossible. The practical effect, since ordinary reason is inapplicable, is that no one is allowed to think anything except what certified experts tell him to think. The effect of antiessentialism, like all current academic theories, is thus to strengthen the rule of the managerial liberal expertocracy by making it logically beyond attack.
In fact, of course, Islam as such has basic principles that are publicly knowable. It holds that God is infinitely transcendent, but has made his will available to us through his Uncreated Word, the Koran, that sets forth the right life for man. We therefore have a complete system of life direct from God, applicable to everyone, and our only choice is to accept it or reject it.
Since God is so utterly transcendent, reason can tell us nothing and there is no natural law common to all. However, God’s Uncreated Word is in textual form in a human language, so we can possess it completely and—if we make the effort—put it into effect perfectly. The aggressive and even totalitarian tendencies of such a system of thought should be apparent. Islam has proved itself capable of ordering the lives of millions of civilized people for more than a thousand years, so there is more to it than that. Those tendencies are nonetheless durable and real, and for us in the West they are of fundamental importance.
So what follows? The accepted wisdom is that Islam needs a Protestant Reformation. That’s quite doubtful. It has already had its Protestant Reformation, and the result has been Wahhabism. What people who say that really mean is that Islam needs Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thought that treat it as a random collection of metaphors that can be made to mean anything and therefore mean nothing.
Which is fine if you’re a managerial liberal who thinks that nothing means anything except what people make it mean. If you’re not, and you think religions make real assertions about real issues that can’t be avoided, you won’t think you can get rid of the problem of Islam by defining Islam into something innocuous. Nor, if you reject the notion of a complete system of life applicable to everyone as aggressive and totalitarian, will you join the human-rights-and-democracy mujahedin who think Iraq can be turned into Minnesota.
Instead, you will adopt as fundamental policy promotion of a better alternative to what Islam offers and maintenance of boundaries, while promoting the notion of a natural law applicable to relations between even fundamentally opposed civilizations. In short, what you will stand for as the best hope for peace and a tolerable way of life is a restoration of Christendom in the West, within a loose world order based on natural law.