It is not that Islam is inherently evil; it is that evil has found a comfortable home in Islam.
This has happened because the same old playbook is in use – suppression of women, denial of individuality and worship of death at the expense of life. Couple this with the supine refusal of many in the West to call this out for what it is and you have a toxic combination of 1.5 billion people co-opted into a mode of living that is completely anti-evolution. It is not for nothing that Islam once had a Golden Age. Once, five hundred years ago and never since.
Numerology gets us started with a simple truth. In the Islamic World I am not writing this in the year 2015, but in the year 1436. Where Western societies are in their twenties, the Islamic World is still in its early teens. I sincerely urge you not to fall into the trap of dismissing this snippet of truth as simplistic or childish for it contains a great deal of Light.
Islam contains some interesting principles, which when taken with detachment and curiosity can bring benefit. The notion of Submission to God sets in place a helpful conversation about the limits of man, while the notion of Jihad – the spiritual war within oneself – is most illuminating. However, Islam is dominated by literalists who insist on taking these practices at face value. Thus Submission becomes submission to the intermediary of Allah - the Mullah or Imam - and Jihad becomes war with the rest of humanity. Jihadists may well believe that they have a direct connection to God, but without any knowledge of the existence of their own Dark Side this connection will always be flawed. Those who have faith in a revealed wisdom or direct connections to higher powers must always reserve 1% of themselves for the possibility that they may be wrong and moderate their behaviour accordingly.
Where Islam is a free choice, lined up on equal standing with all the other religions and none, then no problem exists. All religions should be tolerated on the basis that a personal path to truth may be found through the most unlikely doorway. But we must be free to join, leave, extol or renounce all religions and Islam refutes this utterly, with grave penalties (sometimes even death) for apostasy. Many of its followers refuse to accept the slightest challenge to their beliefs, insisting that the Qur’an and Hadith are the final words of God which cannot be challenged or improved upon in any way. In this regards Islam seems very easy to offend yet if we are in the business of growth then to receive offence is actually a blessing. If we are offended in any way about anything at all then we should recognise how privileged we are to be exposed to an alternative view that we had not considered, in order that it may test our own fondly held beliefs and maybe allow us to free ourselves from their chains. How far we have turned from the path of light when those that offer such gifts are stoned, beheaded, condemned and vilified.
Much of Islam therefore resembles the Rigor Mortis of Death, characterised by the absence of movement. The assertion that the spiritual dimensions of life have been nailed completely is claimed throughout Islam, yet all that results is a profoundly anti-choice, anti-growth, anti-individual, anti-female philosophy. Islam is not exclusive in this kind of repression, but it is the most vocal of the old ‘book’ religions, the least tolerant, the least integrated, and the most unreformed. It is true that it is people who do evil, but fully formed belief eco-systems like Islam provide the framework within which evil is encouraged, condoned, tolerated, justified and ignored. This has forever been the case in patriarchal organised religions, but whereas most of the others are dying, Islam’s influence is growing. This is why these uncomfortable words must be said.
Its influence in global financial affairs is particularly concerning. Islamic banking is now big business, a multi-billion pound industry that demands the erosion of liberal values in favour of the pretence of community cohesion, otherwise known as Sharia. These are not UK specific issues, when traditionally tolerant, open and liberal countries like Holland and Denmark start to kick against it you know that it’s not just bad old fashioned British xenophobia.
Discussion of the role of religion generally, and Islam particularly is only just getting started in the West, but it is a discussion that must be had. There are many peaceful and tolerant Muslims, with strong family values who prioritise their children’s education and do a great deal for their community. But there are many intolerants who would impose Sharia law in a heartbeat. There can be no tolerance for this for no matter how culturally relative, open and forgiving we are no subject, practice or principle of an esoteric, occult or magical nature would survive five minutes in a Sharia driven society. All mystics, healers, pagans and readers should think carefully on this. Live and let live only works if everyone does it.
Islam and Muslims are separate issues. Islam is an ideology; Muslims are human beings who have adopted a role. I have fond memories of the summer of 1991 in a Parisian banlieue with a French Muslim girlfriend. I have been offered great generosity (not to mention great food) by many Muslim families and enjoyed intelligent and enlightened conversations with Sufi mystics about the nature of God and Life. In the same way that I dislike and disagree with Six Nations Rugby it does not stop me going into a pub for a pint of Guinness when the match is on. I display tolerance of my surroundings, and the supporters display tolerance of people who aren’t into it as much as they are. Yet when one side becomes inflamed by hate, then the other side is placed in danger. It is only through two-way tolerance that both sides can flourish, yet Islam is dominated by intolerants at every turn.
These questions about the nature and value of Islam extend far beyond the barbarity of Islamic State and the recent events in Paris. During these emotive times the rush to say 'It's Islam' is matched in strength only by the rush of others to say ‘It’s nothing to do with Islam'. Step back and observe this for yourself. The 'It's Islam' Brigade often conflate Muslims and Islam together, and that is dangerous. But within the 'It’s nothing to do with Islam' Brigade there is a wilful blindness to the unreformed nature of the religion and it’s resistance to hearing new perspectives. Haters of Muslims should go out of their way to break the Ramadan fast with an Islamic family and observe the close, supportive bonds around the table. They might also want to connect with Islamic architecture and learn about the advances of the Golden Age. But all those who proclaim 'It’s nothing to do with Islam' need to read or watch Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens and then make up their own minds. Education about Islam is vital - and that means taking on information that comes from different perspectives, not simply reaffirming our prejudices from our favourite media outlet. Your personal truth on the question of Islam may then be found, when you can make an informed decision on which Islamic country you would like to live in?
Richard Abbot learned about the unseen nature of life, over a 20 year study period, with the late British occultist Arthur Norris, drawing on old English, pre-Wiccan esoteric practices. His Centre offers instruction in all mystic arts and psychic skills, globally, from its base in Northamptonshire, England.
Richard has written two books which are out now. The first – The Armchair Mystic – contains the record of fifteen years pathworking, guided visualisation, journeying and astral adventures using Tarot, Numerology, Kabbalah and the I Ching. The second – Darkness – looks at the Shadow side of popular New Age thinking and the genesis of the current problems facing the world.
These books and more information about the work is available at www.thehermitage.org.uk