Islam, Responsibility

[From Dag Forssell (950202 1000)]

Returning from a four day trip, I found this in a personal message from
Lars Christian Smith. Lars, why did you not post this to the net? I'll
take the liberty of doing it for you. (I guess you got the disk, Lars,
or your error signal would still be there and you would have told me).


Date: Sun Jan 29, 1995 7:13 am PST
Subject: Islam etc.

Dear Dag,

Concerning the prospects for an Islamic Reformation, Joergen Nielsen, the
director of the Islamic and Christian-Muslim Center in Birmingham,
England, has pointed out that the Christian Reformation started in part
because of two external factors. First, Europe's cultural intercourse
with the Arabs, which brought Europe back into contact with its
intellectual roots in classical Greece, as well as the Arabs' own
achievements in science and the arts. This helped bring about the
Renaissance, which in turns helped bring about the Reformation. Second,
the discovery of the Americas, and the import soon thereafter of gold and
silver which destabilized the existing European economy.

These two factors have equivalents today in the Muslim world. For
cultural influence, see the massive Western influence. For the
destabilizing effect of gold and silver, see oil.

By the way, I have long admired control of violent street crimes in
Islamic societies. When those societies are functioning well, and not
suffering from social breakdowns, such as civil war or hyperinflation,
there isn't any. Contrary to the popular idea, this is not achieved just
by cutting hands off. It is also achieved by charity and
institutionalized generosity. People give generously, also to able bodied
beggars. People in need can stand aside after prayers in the mosques, and
collections will be taken up and given directly to them (notice the
difference to the practice in Christian churches). People who can afford
it must give 2% of their wealth per year to the poor. I doubt that 2% of
taxes collected in modern welfare states are given directly to the poor.

The reason harsh sentences are justified is that alternative means to
achieve common human goals are available. It is precisely because crime
isn't necessary that drastic measures are in order when it does take

Reviewing 25 messages in my inbox, I find a thread on responsibility.
I think that Lars' message above is highly relevant and interesting. (I
appreciate your background in anthropology, Lars). People who need
sustenance can request it and get it directly, not through bureaucracies.
This gives people the degrees of freedom required to be personally
responsible for the reference signals they choose. Crime is not

Best, Dag