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20 September 2015


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But doesn't Islam precisely and explicitly forbids an indivudual to abide by any other authority but God?
I.e. that there can be no such thing as a secular muslim state for no one could put the authority of the state above the authority of religion.
Since I am not well versed in any sort of theology (being an authentic atheist not a wishy-washy agnostic) I would be interested in "true believers" opinions on this point.



Since Islam is a religion of laymen based on the consensus of groups of laymen, Islam is whatever some particular group says it is. There is no central authority. pl


There are many whom I think should never be elected to any office, not just the presidency, but I don't hold that opinion because they are Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. I actually thought the constitution prevented such religious qualifiers.

Dr. Carson may think/believe as he is able or as he wishes, just as I may. However, I might point out that a Muslim could never be accused of being "godless."

As far as Muslims believing that the authority of religion supercedes that of the secular state - I hear lots of Christians saying the same thing. I am not agreeing or disagreeing with their points of view and/or beliefs, just pointing out the commonality.

Babak Makkinejad

There is nothing in Islamic Tradition approximating the aphorism: "Give that which is Cesar's to Cesar..." which was used in later centuries to justify the so-called Church-State separation in the states West of Diocletian Line.

For almost all Muslim States, Civilization, Urbanity, and Islam are coterminous categories - outside of Islam nothing exists.

[The exception being Iran with its distant heritage of ancient Eran-Shahr - itself a small and tiny one.]

For this as well as historical considerations I have come to the conclusion that Muslim polities cannot be secular in the Western sense unless they are some sort of military dictatorship - "Bayonet Secularism".

I think this perennial pinning for "Democratic Secular" rule in Muslim lands is not even a fantasy; it is a mirage supported by Westerners in their perennial war against any kind of religion and their Muslim interlocutors in their own perennial struggle to receive legitimacy and acceptance and respect from their betters in the dominant civilization on Earth.

If you desire "Representative Government" in Muslim countries, you have to somehow accommodate the desire for a "Sharia State" in some way in the legal structures of that state - because that is what significant numbers of people want - in my opinion - because for them a Muslim State is tantamount to a Sharia State.

I have said this before and I will say it again, the most positive and progressive path for Muslims is to follow the constitutional ideas that have been tried in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in that country.

There is no other way; in my opinion.

[Yes, I know, I am a minority of one.]


I don't think anyone, regardless of religion, who takes a religious text to be a higher authority than the constitution, could win a primary, much less a general election, much less convince congress/courts/states to go along with such an agenda. Even those who would have America be a "Christian" country haven't been able to enact their aims.



This is not a question of theology which is only one of the Islamic religious sciences. It is a question of the interpretation of Islam reached by some particular group of Muslims. I am better than a true believer from your point of view since I stand outside their system to study it. See "roots of the law." pl


Forget Muslims, how many Catholics have been President?

FB Ali

You raise an interesting point.

Don't some of the Republican candidates believe that the Bible is "literal truth" (eg, the world was created some 6,000 years ago, etc)? In other words, whereas the issue of "a Muslim" being elected President is purely hypothetical, there is a distinct possibility of an Evangelical becoming one. If not in 2016, sometime later.

That would make for some interesting times - especially if this creed also held a majority in Congress (and with the current make-up of the Supreme Court).



I completely agree that our Constitution was written to limit government. The framers as you point out knew that government is like a malignant cancer that will grow and grow unless checked. But unfortunately the majority of 21st century Americans want more and bigger government that intervenes in every sphere.

How would late 18th century Americans have reacted if they found out that their constitutionally restricted government was surreptitiously conducting mass surveillance of all citizens communications in direct violation of the black letter of our Constitution?


Ottoman Empire, certainly in the beginnings, is an example that contradicts your assertion. Their Sultans were focussed on earthly matters and used religion to the service of the former, not the other way around. Same goes with the rule of the Mongols and the Thaymourids in Iran and India.


Tidewater to turcopolier,

I am uneasy that this is off topic, but do you know that John Helmer, a very experienced reporter who runs his own blog 'Dances With Bears' and whose work now appears quite frequently on Yves Smith's 'Naked Capitalism,' has a very good essai there on the MH 17 shootdown. He has been studying the information that is slowly becoming available from Australia and Holland.

What he says is this: it looks like it was air to air. Not a BUK.

One reason not a BUK is that only 25 or so pieces or fragments of metal were recovered from the bodies. Or, to be careful here, very few metal fragments were recovered, far fewer than would have been recovered if a BUK had exploded in front and to the left of the plane.

Further, German pilots and former E. German weapons officers trained with the BUK state that the plane itself, if hit by a BUK, should have been riddled with fragments. That is the whole idea of a BUK strike, to send a large cone of metal at a fast-moving target. Also, the BUK fragments would not have gone through-and-through, that is, there wouldn't be any evidence of spalling and outward exit damage to metal.

Even more interesting, a BUK strike would not produce that "grouping" of strikes one sees in the area directly to the left of the pilot's cabin.

Because the bodies show so often signs of death from sudden decompression and the catastrophic damage done to the human body in such circumstances, and not by BUK fragments, Helmer's article raises the possibility it could have been an air to air missile. Even a missile strike followed by cannon fire. "Air to air," is what he says.

I assume TTG is working on this, but I just wanted to recommend the artice by John Helmer on Naked Capitalism. A couple of the comments are interesting, too.

nick b

Brig. Ali,

The next Evangelical President won't be the first. Jimmy Carter, a born-again Baptist, was a self described Evangelical Christian US President. Evangelical is a term that encompasses a wide range of Christian sects and perspectives, almost all completely benign. The danger, as I see it, would come from the election of a religious totalitarian of any faith, Evangelical or otherwise.



sorry your statemants are not correct.

The shrapnel patterns, seen on the parts of the wreckage, pointed already a few days after the incident clearly to surface to air missile. There were to many photos.

A few weeks ago the official Russian position was changed from air-to-air to surface-to-air, now in their opinion the Ukrainian have launched the BUG. :-)

This U-turn, which is an admission that the previous Russian version was an lie, only makes sense, when the official report clearly points to surface-to-air missile, i.e. minimizes the damage.




Thanks everybody for the answers.

David Habakkuk


Since you make no effort whatsoever either to provide links to the sources of your claims, or any other means by which these sources can be easily identified, they are frankly not very much help as a contribution to serious discussion of the MH17 mystery.

As you presumably know, there has been a vast amount of argument about what the shrapnel patterns do and do not indicate.

As to your remarks about the 'Russian official position', a combination of a vague recollection and a quick Google search suggests that what you may be referring to is a report back in June of claims from an adviser to the director general of Almaz Antey.

(See http://tinyurl.com/pfoxbeg .)

If this is so, to treat these claims as a statement of a 'Russian official position' begs, if I may so, rather a lot of questions.

If indeed you can point to a statement by someone like Dmitry Peskov, who is quoted in the piece by John Helmer to which 'Tidewater' referred, and who is the official Kremlin spokesman, then I will of course retract.

But I really should no have to do Google searches to find out whether you have a credible source for claims you see fit to make without taking the trouble to post links so other people can evaluate what you say.

Unfortunately, I do not currently have the time to evaluate the claims made in the Helmer piece. As what he has had to say over the years, while certainly not to be accepted uncritically, has commonly proven to be well worth reading, it seems sensible to provide a link. It is at

http://johnhelmer.net/?p=14153 .

If you would care to provide a considered rebuttal, showing some awareness of the complexity of the arguments involved and the bafflingly paradoxical nature of much of the evidence, with proper links to the materials on which you rely, I would of course read it with interest.

ex-PFC Chuck

TW, I second your recommendation of John Helmer's reporting on the MH 17 downing and subsequent "investigation." His recent threesome of posts on the subject is especially important for Westerners to read. Your comment may be off-topic to this specific post, but considering that a major theme of our host's interest is in the functioning and dysfunctioning of USA national security policy, Dances With Bears is one of the few places where one can get a more or less objective sense of what our actions and words look like from the Russian perspective. I check his site almost every day.


Poor Ben Carson an intelligent man now groveling to his base for further support with this recent prognostication that no Muslim can become leader of our land. His horizon is not of the long view as Donald's. Fifty plus years ago Canon Law was being bantered about and I'm sure Sharia, Halakha, Hindu, Baha'i Laws et al will be also bantered about over the next hundred years. Yes, I know they are all a little different but they are Laws of the individual faith or are laws in the eye of the beholder.
What bothers me is my cold heart goes out to the people of the Muslim faith living in this country who have to listen to this garbage spouting from the mouths of supposed future leaders. Pure idiots they are who cannot remember what we did to Japanese-Americans seventy odd years back due to our ignorance.
If only SST were mandatory reading in this country would we understand our situations better.

Babak Makkinejad

If you think Ottomans were secular in the sense of Voltaire; I must disagree.


Are the youthful citizens of Iran so dogmatic that they will continue to believe that the text of the Koran is the literal "word of god"? As we see with Christians in the U.S. and Europe, the majority belief has been for decades that the text of the old testament and gospels is not literally the "word of god." We are inspired by the text but not ruled by it. Why cannot the majority opinion in a state such as Iran shift in such a direction?



Babak would respond by saying that they were all "Turks" (defined broadly).

I don't necessarily buy into his "Seljuk thesis," but it is doubtlessly true that "Turkic" Islamic empires had always been much more tolerant out of pragmatism. Although it is true that they were the also ones who had to deal with having to administer vast, multiethnic, and multiconfessional empires for a long time too. Chicken or the egg, who knows? What is definitely true, though, I think, is that many, if not most, rulers today lack that sort of true "cosmopolitan" experience. While many Western leaders today fancy themselves cosmopolitan multiculturalists, the only thing they believe in (and know of) is where everyone is secular (i.e. takes no religio-cultural tradition too seriously) and likes expensive fusion cuisine (i.e. a harmless Disneyfied version of multiculturalism, devoid of the complexities and harshness).


Minority of 2 .... it seems


Mr. Habakkuk,

Your wielding of the dialectic shiv is more impressive than my rhetorical one. Nicely done.



I'm sure if the Muslims here have it so bad they'd be fleeing en masse for their own countries where they are the majority and they can live how they please vs. under our intolerant cold regime.

Babak Makkinejad

"Why cannot the majority opinion in a state such as Iran shift in such a direction?"

Because Muslims lack the heritage of the Roman Empire especially the Legal structures and ideas of Rome which were further developed during the Middle Ages West of the Diocletian Line - in my opinion.

You can say that Rome was the Tribal Empire par excellence and thus oblivious to Revelatory Religions. Which made it possible to counterpoise its Legacy to that of Revelatory Religions.

Nothing like that had ever existed on the Iranian plateau; the Sassanid were also a religious state with Zoroastrianism being the official religion.

These are historical arguments.

On the plane of morality; what would substitute for the moral teachings of the Quran?

In fact, in the United States, the common cry that the government should not be in the business of morality clearly is leading to moral decay and decadence; all the while eroding the foundations of the Constitution of the United States.

If there is no God and the Revelations are just "really very good writing" what is to prevent one from using other human beings for the satisfaction of his every whim or desire - and discarding the husks once done?

Personally, I have seen all kinds of Iranian youth; from the religiously devout to the sluts.

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