Here are some of the key components of the idea-collection known as Islam:
1. A standardized version of the idea-collection is written down.This is something basic to several religions and isn’t an Islamic invention, but it is an important factor in the success of Islam.
Something only transmitted orally can change over time, but something written will be identical a thousand years from now, and with modern printing presses, can be reproduced in the millions, giving it an enormous advantage in spreading identical copies of the idea-collection.
2. The Quran includes instructions for its own spread. It tells believers they must spread Islam. It is their holy duty to bring Mohammad’s warnings and Islamic law to every corner of the world. Read more about that.
3. The idea-collection includes instructions for its own preservation, protection, and replication fidelity. The Quran, the most important of the Islamic holy books, directly tells its followers thatthey can never change or modify or “modernize” any of the teachingswithin the idea-collection. It is perfect as it is. It is a capital sin to try to do so. This idea ensures the preservation of the whole collection.
These first three ideas are pretty standard for several successful religions. But now it gets interesting…
4. Islam commands its followers to create a government that supports it. This may be one of the most ingenious ideas in the whole collection. Islam is the only religion that uses it. Other groups of religious people have had political aspirations, but no other major religious grouporders its followers — as a religious duty — to create a government that follows its own system of law.
Islam has a system of law, called Sharia, and all Muslims are obligated to continually strive to make their government — wherever they are — follow it. Because of some of the other ideas added to Islam, you will see that this political addition to the idea-collection has significant consequences. Not only is this perhaps Islam’s most brilliant innovation, it is also the most terrifying to non-Muslims. Read more about the political nature of the core doctrines of Islam.
5. Permission to spread the religion by war. This is another brilliant innovation. Although some other religions have spread themselves using force, they had very little justification from their own religious doctrines to do so.
Not so with Islam. Expanding by conquest is very much accepted and encouraged by the idea-collection. Islamic teachings present it this way: The poor non-Muslims not living in an Islamic state need to be saved from the sin of following laws other than Allah’s. If they won’t voluntarily change their laws to Sharia, then it is the duty of Muslim warriors to insist. The world cannot be at peace until every government on earth follows the laws of Allah.
Mohammad’s own experience showed the example — an example, says the Quran 91 times, that every Muslim should follow. At first, Mohammad tried to spread Islam by peaceful means. After thirteen years he had a paltry 150 converts.
But then he changed tactics and started using warfare, slaughter, executions, and assassination, and within ten years he converted tens of thousands, and after he died, they used the same tactics and convertedmillions. And by simple population increase, it is now over a billion.
The use of warfare combines synergistically and powerfully with the instruction to create an Islamic state. So Islam spread quickly as their armies got bigger. They conquered and set up Islamic states, most of which have lasted to this day, and the laws within an Islamic state make Islam very difficult to dislodge. The laws also make it very advantageous to convert to Islam.
This is one of the most effective methods ever invented for getting an idea-collection into huge numbers of minds. It’s a method of control and indoctrination similar to those used successfully in communist and totalitarian states. But as you’ll discover below, Islam makes unique use of the power of the law to enforce complete conversion to the religion.
6. Lands must be conquered. Lands that Islam has lost must be reconquered, like Spain and Israel, for example. The Islamic empire must continually expand. Contraction is bad, expansion is good. So if a land was once Islamic and now it is not, that’s contraction, and must be remedied.
According to Islamic teachings, the earth is Allah’s. If there are parts of the earth not following Islamic law, it is the duty of the faithful to gain control of that land and establish Sharia. It is a sin to let it be.
7. The idea-collection provides for new soldiers by allowing polygamy. A Muslim man can marry up to four wives, and he can have sex with as many slave girls as he wishes.
The Quran especially encourages men to marry widows. This is an important idea to add if you are going to be losing a lot of soldiers in war. You need some way of replenishing your army. Otherwise the idea-collection could die out from a lack of offspring. Read more about this principle.
8. It is a punishable offense to criticize Islam. You can see why this one is a good supporting idea for the collection. It helps suppress any ideas that would reduce the authority of Islamic ideas. This one, like many of the others, is good for the idea-collection, but bad for people. This one limits freedom of speech. This idea is in the Quran, and Mohammad set a fierce example of punishing people who criticized him or Islam. The punishment was usually death. Read more about this principle.
9. You can’t leave Islam once you’re in. This is an interesting one. It is actually illegal in Islamic states to convert out of Islam. This is a critical part of Sharia law. Someone who has rejected Islam who was once a Muslim is an “apostate.” This is a crime and a sin, and the punishment for it is death (and eternal damnation in hell thereafter).
Obviously, you can see why this idea has been included in the collection, but this one has actually caused Islam a problem because those who are following Islam to the letter consider more “moderate” Muslims (those who want to ignore or alter the more violent passages of the Quran) to be apostates. Since the punishment for apostates is death, fundamentalist Muslims are fighting modernizing Muslims all over the world, and keeping many rebellious, modernizing Muslims (or MINOs) from speaking up for fear of death.
Every time a group of Muslims decides that maybe Islam should be updated for the 21st century and maybe women should have some rights or maybe the government should be more democratic, the devout Muslims call them apostates and discredit them or even try to kill them.
The idea-collection protects its own fidelity (the original idea-collection cannot be altered). This is not good for the organisms (the Muslim human beings), but it’s great for the collection.
Another idea in Sharia law says it’s against the law for anyone to try to convert a Muslim to another religion.
10. Islam must be your first allegiance. This is a great idea to add to the collection if the goal is world domination. You are a Muslim first, before any allegiance you give to your family, your tribe, or your country.
This does two things: It causes a unity of people across borders which allows the group to grow bigger than any other entity. In other words, the “Nation of Islam” can grow bigger than any country, no matter how large (which gives the group a massive numerical advantage).
11. Dying while fighting for Islam is the ONLY way to guarantee a man’s entrance into Paradise. This is a great idea for creating fearless, enthusiastic warriors, especially given the Quran’s vivid descriptions of the sensuous delights of Paradise.
A Muslim man has a chance of getting to Paradise if he is a good Muslim, but it is not guaranteed. However, if he dies while fighting for Islam, he isguaranteed to get in, and that’s the only thing he can do to guarantee it.
12. You must read the Quran in Arabic. This unites believers by language, and language is a very powerful unifying phenomenon. For added incentive to learn Arabic, another idea in the collection says you can’t go to Paradise unless you pray in Arabic.
So all Muslims all over the world share a language. This makes it easier to coordinate far-reaching campaigns of protest, political pressure, and war. I doubt if Mohammad foresaw this possibility, but this idea is brilliant, even if it was an accident. Read more about this principle.
13. You must pray five times a day. This is one of the five “pillars” — that is, one of the five central practices — of Islam. Within an Islamic state, it is enforced by law. Every Muslim must pray five times a day. The practice helps the idea-collection dominate a Muslim’s life, infusing his daily rhythm with Islam.
It would be impossible to forget anything you deliberately do so often. Five times a day, every day, a Muslim must bow down and pray to Allah.
Research has shown the more effort a person expends for a cause, the more he is likely to believe in it and value it. So this is a good way to eventually make believers out of people who became Muslims through coercion.
Islam completely takes over every aspect of Muslims’ lives. Not only are they required to pray five times a day, they have to go through a washing ritual beforehand. Islam dictates the laws, and the laws cover many public and private behaviors. In an Islamic state, it is impossible to be a casualMuslim.
14. The prayers involve moving together in time. When Muslims pray, they all face the same direction, they bow down, get on their hands and knees, and put their face on the mat, all in unison, and then rise back up. Again and again.
When people move together in time, whether dancing or marching or praying, it creates a physical and emotional bond between them. That’s why all military training involves close-order drill (marching in unison), even though it has been a long time since military groups have actually marched into combat. There is no longer a need for the skill, but military training retained the practice because it is so effective at creating a strong feeling of unity between soldiers (read more about that).
The same is true of any physical movements people make in unison. So the method of prayer in Islam is a unifying idea added to the collection.
15. A woman is in a thoroughly subordinate position. This idea really helps support other ideas in the collection, like five and six. If women had too much influence, they’d try to curb the warring. Women in general don’t like to send their husbands and sons off to war. But if women have no say, then the rest of the ideas can express themselves without interference. By subordinating women, the idea-collection prevents their effective vote against war, violence, and conquest.
The rules and laws within Islam that keep women subordinate are numerous. For example, she is not allowed to leave her house unless she is accompanied by a male relative. Under Islamic law, a woman is forbidden to be a head of state or a judge. She can only inherit half of what a man can inherit. In court, her testimony is only worth half of a man’s. She is not allowed to choose where she will live or who she will marry. She is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim or divorce her husband. He, however, can divorce her with a wave of his hand. And according to Sharia, he can (and should) beat her if she disobeys him.
All of these ideas keep her subordinate, which helps keep the war machine going unimpeded by domestic rebellion. Read more about Islam’s subordination of women.
16. The only way a woman can get into Paradise for sure is if her husband is happy with her when she dies. When I read about this one, I thought, “Mohammad, you are a crafty one.”
This idea obviously helps with the subjugation of women. It motivates her to subjugate herself. It gives her a strong incentive to subordinate her wishes to her husband’s, because while she might have a chance to get into Paradise if she’s a good Muslim, the only way she can guarantee she will go to Paradise (and avoid eternal suffering in hell) is to make sure her husband is happy with her when she dies.
17. Allah gives Himself permission to edit his own work. This is an interesting one. It says in the Quran that if a passage written later contradicts an earlier passage, then the later one is the better one (read more about this). The Quran was written in sections (Mohammad’s revelations, each written as a sura or chapter) over a period of 23 years. The circumstances of Mohammad’s life and his religion changed quite a bit over those 23 years.
One of the ideas in the Quran is “this is the word of Allah.” People had already memorized his earlier revelations, so Mohammad couldn’t just change his revelations. It would look a little strange for the all-knowing, infinitely wise Allah to change something He had already said.
But with this new idea — that later revelations abrogated or overwrote any earlier revelations they contradicted — Allah’s methods could change as Mohammad found more effective ideas.
As I pointed out earlier, in his first 13 years of peacefully preaching, Mohammad only managed to win 150 followers. But as a military leader and violent conqueror, he was able to subjugate all of Arabia to Islamic law in less than 10 years. The peaceful ways were too slow. Conversion by conquering and establishing Sharia was much faster and more efficient. So later, violent, intolerant verses abrogate the earlier peaceful, tolerant passages. Read more about which passages were abrogated and what the last passages say.
18. The Quran uses the carrot and stick to reinforce behavior. Throughout the book are vivid descriptions of hell, where sinners and non-Muslims will have to drink boiling, stinking water, will be thrown face down into a raging fire, and will be there for eternity, suffering endless torments in agony. Read more about this.
There are also vivid descriptions of Paradise. In Paradise, it says, believers will wear green silk robes and recline on plush couches. Trees will shade them, fruit will dangle nearby. They’ll have tasty food and refreshing drinks served in silver goblets. To have a chance of achieving this, they must be devout Muslims. To guarantee it, they must die in jihad (for men) or make sure their husbands are always happy with them (for women).
19. It provides a huge and inspiring goal. Leaders of countries or companies or religions have all discovered that you can get the most motivation and enthusiasm from your followers if you provide them with an expansive vision — an enormous goal. In the Islamic idea-collection, the goal calls for a continuous effort to expand the domain of Islamic law until all the world is subjugated to it.
Many religions have the goal of converting everyone, but Islam has a method available nobody else has: To expand by seizing and converting governments to Sharia.
Once the whole world is Islamic, peace will reign. That’s why even terrorists can say with complete sincerity, “Islam is a religion of peace.”
The Quran says it is best if non-believers accept Islam and become Muslims without force. But if they refuse, then you must fight them and conquer them and save their poor souls by insisting they live by the laws of Allah. Read more about this.
Once all countries are conquered, the world will be at peace. Therefore, Islam is a religion of peace.
It is an enormous and inspiring goal, and a strongly unifying purpose. It creates motivated, enthusiastic followers.