All of this would require a ceaseless jihad (which did not mean “holy war” but “effort,” “struggle”), because it was extremely difficult to implement the will of God in a tragically flawed world. Muslims must make a determined endeavor on all fronts—intellectual, social, economic, moral, spiritual, and political. Sometimes they might have to fight, as Muhammad did when the Meccan kafirun vowed to exterminate the Muslim community. But aggressive warfare was outlawed, and the only justification for war was self-defense.  . . . An important and oft-quoted tradition (hadith) has Muhammad say on his way home after a battle: “We are returning from the Lesser Jihad [the battle] and going to the Greater Jihad,” the far more important and difficult struggle to reform one’s own society and one’s own heart. Eventually, when the war with Mecca was turning in his favor, Muhammad adopted a policy of nonviolence. .
Like any religious tradition, Islam would change and evolve. Muslims acquired a large empire, stretching from the Pyrenees to the Himalayas, but true to Qur’anic principles, nobody was forced to become Muslim. Indeed, for the first hundred years after the Prophet’s death, conversion to Islam was actually discouraged, because Islam was a din [way of life] for the Arabs, the descendants of Abraham’s elder son, Ishmael, just as Judaism was for the sons of Isaac, and Christianity for the followers of the gospel.
Faith, therefore, was a matter of practical insight and active commitment; it had little to do with abstract belief or theological conjecture.
I would add that mature Islam beautifully parallels the Franciscan and Christian contemplative emphasis on orthopraxy (right practice) and the importance of nondual consciousness. For our jihad to be nonviolent and transformative, our actions must be rooted in an inner experience of love and communion—what we call contemplation. Opening our hearts, minds, and bodies to union takes lifelong practice.
How History Ends Up Repeating Itself
Fascism is a way to ration a stagnant economy to in-groups. If you understand just one sentence about fascism, let it be that one — because it’s the key. Like everything in life, our love, our fear, our desire, so too, our hate serves a purpose. Fascism exists for a reason: to ration the dwindling fruits of a stagnant economy. Think about it this way: if the harvest suddenly fails, then the crop must be rationed somehow — a way must be found to take from some, and give to others, because markets and prices and so on will begin to leave people hungry. What is that way? Who will get it, and how much?
Well, that way is usually this: blaming a scapegoat for the stagnant economy, for the failed harvest, whether it’s Jews in the 1930s, Muslims and Jews and immgrants today, or virgins and witches in the dark ages. And then therefore excluding those scapegoats from the economy altogether, just as laws were passed to first expropriate, take the possessions of, Jews, and then to push them into ghettoes, then into labour camps, and then, finally, terribly, into
.. Of course, the problem then is that even those chosen few must either dwindle, along with the failed crop, in a vicious circle — or the fascist must declare war, and find someone else’s crop to seize, which is what Germany did. Either way, the point remains.
.. Fascism rations stagnation. It’s so vital I’ll say it again. We have never, ever once seen fascism arising during good times in all of human history because fascism is a way to take from some and give to others — a bad, inhuman, and foolish way to solve a problem: the problem of stagnation, when the harvest begins to fail. But it is a way to solve a problem nonetheless, and until we understand that, we have understood precisely nothing about it at all.
.. The fascist’s hate in this way serves a purpose: it is a social mechanism of rationing in order to solve the problem of stagnation.
.. Myth: our existing institutions will save us from fascism.
Reality: fascism can only arises when those institutions have already failed
.. So the rise of fascism tells us in the strongest terms possible that institutions don’t work anymore—fascism rising is their ultimate failure. That is what we see in America today: an institutional vacuum. Nothing works anymore, does it? Not the law, the media, politics, capitalism, democracy. That is precisely what gave fascism the room, space, fuel, freedom to arise.
.. Her reticence is a tactical decision, according to people in her inner circle. Ms. Suu Kyi worries that speaking more forcefully would antagonize the military, which once ran the country and still wields considerable authority, and jeopardize her goal of achieving a full democracy after years of struggle... When a visiting diplomat raised the issue of the Rohingya with Ms. Suu Kyi in 2013, she admonished: “Please don’t call them Rohingya. They are Bengali. They are foreigners,” according to a person with knowledge of the conversation. The term “Bengali” is often used in Myanmar to describe illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The person also recalled that Ms. Suu Kyi complained the international community underestimated the threat Buddhists faced from Muslims in Rakhine State... She has repeatedly stopped short of criticizing soldiers for setting fire to Rohingya settlements... Antipathy to the Rohingya, who live in Myanmar without citizenship or the right to vote, goes back decades. Some Rohingya say they were the original inhabitants of the coastal strip along western Myanmar, before Buddhist ethnic-Rakhines settled there... During World War II, Rohingya sided with retreating British forces while many local Buddhists took up arms with the Japanese in hopes of gaining independence, inflaming tensions between the two communities that have lingered to this day... what Myanmar military strategists call the “Four Cuts.” Developed in the 1970s against the country’s rebel armies, it involves sweeping through civilian areas to deny insurgents food, funds, recruits and information. The general later described the operations as “unfinished business” dating back to World War II... The crisis is raising questions about whether the push among Western nations to restore ties with Myanmar, a resource-rich nation in a strategically important region bordering China, was justified... The constitution which Myanmar’s army drafted in 2008 grants it control of the defense and interior ministries, the administrative backbone of the country. Soldiers are guaranteed a quarter of the seats in the parliament, enough to veto constitutional changes... Ms. Suu Kyi is barred from being president because she has foreign-born children... Many human rights activists and some diplomats now believe Ms. Suu Kyi may have been better suited as an icon of the opposition than a mainstream politician.
.. “What was described as strength and steadfastness is now being called inflexibility. But it’s really the same person if you look at her closely over years,” said one diplomat who knows Ms. Suu Kyi well... “A parody of democracy is infinitely worse than dictatorship,” she told one diplomat, according to a person familiar with the discussion... She has struggled to build trust with the insurgent armies, many of which regard the Myanmar military as the real power... Ms. Suu Kyi seized on an analogy used by an audience member comparing the government to a parent, with ethnic armed groups as its children. A person with knowledge of the exchange said she urged camp-dwellers to tell the armed groups: “Listen to your parents.”.. Ms. Suu Kyi has also expressed reluctance to provide the Rohingya with citizenship, saying it would only encourage more Muslims to come from Bangladesh... “She is binding herself to the military because both sides understand they have to hang together,” he said. “For all her rhetoric past and present, her leverage on the military is nil.”
Establishment Republicans have tried five ways to defeat or control Donald Trump, and they have all failed. Jeb Bush tried to outlast Trump, and let him destroy himself. That failed. Marco Rubio and others tried to denounceTrump by attacking his character. That failed. Reince Priebus tried to co-opt Trump to make him a more normal Republican. That failed.
Paul Ryan tried to use Trump; Congress would pass Republican legislation and Trump would just sign it. That failed. Mitch McConnell tried to outmaneuver Trump and Trumpism by containing his power and reach. In the Senate race in Alabama last week and everywhere else, that has failed.
.. The Bob Corkers of the party are leaving while the Roy Moores are ascending.
.. The only way to beat Trump is to beat him philosophically. Right now the populists have a story to tell the country about what’s gone wrong. It’s a coherent story, which they tell with great conviction. The regular Republicans have no story, no conviction and no argument.
.. The Trump story is that good honest Americans are being screwed by aliens. Regular Americans are being oppressed by a snobbish elite that rigs the game in its favor. White Americans are being invaded by immigrants who take their wealth and divide their culture. Normal Americans are threatened by an Islamic radicalism that murders their children.
This is a tribal story. The tribe needs a strong warrior in a hostile world. We need to build walls to keep out illegals, erect barriers to hold off foreign threats, wage endless war on the globalist elites.
.. Somebody is going to have to arise to point out that this is a deeply wrong and un-American story. The whole point of America is that we are not a tribe. We are a universal nation, founded on universal principles
.. The core American idea is not the fortress, it’s the frontier. First, we thrived by exploring a physical frontier during the migration west, and now we explore technological, scientific, social and human frontiers.
.. From Jonathan Edwards to Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln to Frederick Douglass, Americans have always admired those who made themselves anew. They have generally welcomed immigrants who live this script and fortify this dynamism.
.. The original Republicans were not for or against government, they were for government that sparked mobility; they were against government that enervated ambition.
.. Today, the main enemy is not aliens; it’s division — between rich and poor, white and black, educated and less educated, right and left.
.. Trumpist populists want to widen the divisions and rearrange the fences. They want to turn us into an old, settled and fearful nation.
.. with entitlement reform that spends less on the affluent elderly and more on the enterprising young families
.. this striving American dream is still lurking in every heart. It’s waiting for somebody who has the guts to say
- no to tribe, yes to universal nation,
- no to fences, yes to the frontier,
- no to closed, and yes to the open future,
- no to the fear-driven homogeneity of the old continent and yes to the diverse hopefulness of the new one.