First of all, why is this not called ‘Intellectual Schizophrenia’? People often misuse the word ‘schizophrenia’ when they in fact mean ‘multiple personality’: the former is characterised by a set of symptoms including auditory hallucinations, delusions and disordered thought. It has nothing to do with having a ‘split’ or ‘multiple personality’. The two phrases are often confused in common parlance and the media and this is an affront to psychiatry.
What I mean by ‘Muslim Multiple Personality Disorder’ is the propensity amongst both lay Muslims and apologetic speakers and groups to ‘borrow’ ideas from and have ‘allies’ amongst some rather extreme Liberals while also simultaneously having a lot in common with social and even political conservatives: an illustrative example is that the ‘Left – coast’ in America was the liberal putsch for reigning in the excesses of the American authorities after 9/11 yet traditionally the Muslims of America had been Republican voters and agreed with that constituency on nearly all issues that divide them from the liberals: gay marriage, abstinence, abortions etc.
In fact it was G. W Bush who asserted that no hijaabed woman should be harmed after 9/11. Liberals often tend to have a big problem with hijaab or indeed standing up for the specifics of Islamic practice especially if they differ from the Liberal conception (which they inevitably do). In fact, it could be argued that liberals skew strongly towards ‘hijaab is oppression’ anti-thought.
Maybe it is fair to say that politically, the Muslims in this case were with the Left/Liberals. But socially or morally, they are ususally with the conservatives, if such a distinction could be made (not by any means clear). Another way to put this would be that the Muslim constituency finds, in the United States, the Republicans’ attitude towards Israel and their wars overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq repulsive; in this, they are supported by voices on the American Left or the liberal elite, like, say, Noam Chomsky. But they find the Liberals views on social issues such as abortion for laughs, gay marriage and adoption to in turn be galling.
The same can be said of the much discussed ‘Red-Green Alliance’ in the U.K between the Left and the ‘Muslims’, for example, between the groups ‘Unite Against Fascism’ or ‘Respect’ and the Muslims against the ‘English Defence League’. It has raised the ire of the Left across Europe who feel that the left should have nothing to do with these ‘backward’ Muslims as well as certain extremist Muslims who think that they should not be co-operating with these ‘kuffaar’. The Communist excesses towards Islam and indeed religion in general lurk uncomfortably in the background.
One could also cite the Muslim use of data by groups such as Amnesty International to make their case for harsh treatment, while these groups are problematic from the Muslim ‘ethical’ perspective due to their stance on various social issues.
At the risk of oversimplification, the Muslims find themselves attracted to and using the facts and references of the ‘Liberal Left’ to make their case, and even borrowing the eloquence of their speakers such as George Galloway and the aforementioned Chomsky (we could add Michael Moore, Finklenstein, Hedges and others). However, the Muslims then find themselves uncomfortable when many of these commentators wax equally lyrical about the need for abortion, lowering the age of consent for homosexuals and their insistence on a secular public sphere.
If we wanted to get more controversial, we could extend this apparent tolerance of ‘double-think’ into the military geopolitical sphere as well; we have recently seen the outrage of Muslims at Western intervention against ‘Islamists’ (a dreadful misnomer, read ‘Wahhabis’ or ‘Salafists’) in Mali with paradoxical ire at the Western refusal to intervene in Syria (on the ‘side’ of the rebels). So is western military intervention ‘good’ or ‘bad’? In the above example it depends on if it is on the side of ‘Salafists’ or not. But ask most Muslims if they consider Western military intervention in and of itself to be ‘morally neutral’ as the above dichotomy implies, and they will be most offended.
Yet again one could talk about the enthusiasm amongst many Muslims for the satellite news outlets which they perceive as being sympathetic to their cause, most particularly Press TV.
However, all of the aforementioned categories: Liberals, American or European Christian conservatives, and ‘sympathetic’ news outlets are all in a clear way much more dogmatic and insistent in their point of view than Muslims would like: for all it’s faults, the BBC is more impartial than, say, Press TV: the way to judge this is by the fact that the BBC will, at a great stretch, report negative news about it’s ‘home country’ whereas the degree of reluctance in Press TV (we could easily add Al Jazeera) to report negative information about their source country is evidently much greater (or even absolute). Everyone is willing to report bad news about others, and no matter how much this favours Muslims, it is no way to judge partiality.
My point is that Muslims seem to have no political or intellectual identity of their own and therefore they are forced to ‘borrow’ identities from other groups, which are almost always a bad fit in one way or another (i.e. liberals may, for now, be geopolitically or economically oriented with Muslims but socially they are diametrically opposed and it is conservatives who are more congruent with Islamic values).
Muslims don’t have their own sources or ‘engines of research’ and instead are forced due to reasons of intellectual and economic poverty to rely on think tanks, Amnesty International, etc for facts and are then left confused when this means having to accommodate some of their anti-Islamic values and perspectives, which are often explicit.
An interesting parallel is the Muslim borrowing of ‘Christian Creationist’ arguments rather than conducting their own research. The situation has gotten so bad that Muslim apologists are borrowing arguments for the existence of God from Islam-hating evangelical front-men such as William Lane Craig who in turn openly credits the Muslim theologian Al Ghazzali for the Kalam Arguments that he uses. So Muslims take their own ideas from Christians who hate them. Hmmm…and why could they not use the arguments from Al Ghazzali and the Asharite theologians directly? That probably has to do with the preponderance of Wahhabi groups in dawah and their antipathy to Asharis and Kalam in general, which is absurd since they are willing to plagiarise the same argument from an Islamophobic Evangelical Christian.
Indeed knowledge is the lost property of a believer, and there is no harm in taking useful knowledge from whatever source, but when it comes at the expense of ignoring one’s own intellectual heritage as in the above case and potential cognitive dissonance as in the earlier cases, Muslims need to think about reclaiming their past and eking out an new intellectual zone for themselves rather than standing on the shoulders of Leftist or Liberal giants who can at any moment turn on them, since as Tim Winter recently reminded us, it seems Liberalism can in the final account tolerate only itself. If that happens, Muslims may find themselves politically defenceless.
In the cases of the Kalam and science issues the solution is much easier: reclaim your own intellectual heritage and let the flat Earth, brazier-banning fantasies of Ibn Baz and others like him be damned.