Groundhog Day is the long eternal tragedy of Islam, which always sees its shadow and always ends up with six weeks, six months or six hundred years of more winter. That hopeful time when the bitter cold of winter begins its slow transition into the warmth and renewal of spring never comes for Islam.
In a reversal of the cycle of season, the Arab Spring led to the Islamic Winter, but that is the endless pattern of Islamic attempts at reform and rejuvenation, which rather than finding renewal in their attempts at transformation only go on perpetuating the same cycle of violence, tyranny and oppression.
There is a peculiar tragedy to a religion which cannot escape its own destructive nature, each time it reaches for some form of redemption, its hands come up dripping with blood and it all ends in more bodies and petty tyrannies.
The film Groundhog Day showed us a man who was doomed to repeat the same day over and over again until he learned to use his time to become a better person. Islam has been stuck in its own form of that cycle, repeating the same few decades over and over again, moving from religious ecstasy to holy war, seeking redemption through religious tyranny and Jihad, and finding that there was no escaping the internal decay and instability in the veins of the religion.
Islam’s only redemption is in establishing a theocracy. Its commitment to power and the indulgence of the earthly and heavenly paradise of loot, slaves and violence, led to its own degeneration over and over again. Having no other spiritual form than the exercise of power, it has corrupted itself each time, and then attempted to exorcise the corruption through more of the same.
The Islamic leaders of one generation endorse the tyrants whom the Islamic leaders of another generation strive to overthrow. Hardly had Mohammed kicked the bucket than his nearest and dearest were fighting a civil war over supreme rulership. The origins of the Shiite-Sunni split lay not in theology, but in a vulgar power play between Mohammed’s son in law and his father in law’s clan. That greedy infighting has hardened into theological variations, but the real split is what Muslim wars are always really about, money and power.
Over a thousand years later the Muslim world is still dedicating all its energies to civil wars and external conflicts whose only true goal is to put money and power into the hands of its leaders. The confrontations between the prominent Persian Shiite families running Iran and the Arab Sunni families running the Arabian gulf states are not theological, though they take place under the guise of theology. They are ethnic and economic conflicts dressed up as religious conflicts.
The ugliest elements of Islam, its bigotry toward Jews and Christians, its endless Razzia raids, its need to remove the faintest doubt about the parentage of the children of its women, are pure tribal pettiness distilled into religion by warlords and clan leaders whose understanding of theology did not extend beyond personal power.
Islam was a predecessor of power movements like Communism and Nazism, its leader worship grimly real, as any cartoonist who has tried to draw a picture of Mohammed knows, or anyone who has seen Shiites cut their children bloody while crying out in mourning for Caliph Ali. Its theology incapable of embracing anything higher than its own will to power. Its objects of worship are its warleaders, its soldiers and its atrocities.
Erdogan, the future Islamist Prime Minister of Turkey, read a poem that went, “The minarets are our bayonets; the domes are our helmets. Mosques are our barracks, the believers are soldiers. This holy army guards my religion. Almighty, Our journey is our destiny, the end is martyrdom”. This rendition of Islam’s limited theological horizon was more than a warning for what would follow when his party took power, it was a depressing journey into the black hole of Islam where the only destination is self-destruction.
Not only is the Islamic imagination incapable of envisioning a better way, it is also obsessed with the destruction of anyone or anything that can. Like the dumb violent kid in the back of the class, it not only refuses to learn, it is driven to harm anyone who does learn and tries to become a better person. The reflexive Islamic hostility toward the modern and the humane is fear transformed into hate. Fear of inferiority and fear that modern sensibilities will end the tribal reign of power and usher in a new order that will no longer incline its head to bearded old men and their dreams of conquest.
Islamic fanaticism is most pronounced among those who have the most to lose. Not the poor and the downtrodden, but the sons of the upper class and the upper middle class make the most eager terrorists. The families who are now on top have the most to lose from the arrival of spring and are the most determined to retain their feudal powers, their oligarchies and tyrannies.
Apologists for Islamism like to portray those groups as liberation movements, but there is nothing liberating about terrorist groups run by millionaires and billionaires, doctors and other degree holders, and funded by the ruling clans of Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. These ruling families have the most to lose from modernization, and though they build skyscrapers in their cities, they also helped orchestrate the Arab Spring to topple more modern governments and replace them with parties affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Arab Spring is a misnomer because Islam exists in opposition to the spring, to the renewal of human energies and creative capacities. Its natural season is the wasteland, the scorching hot desert or the bitterly cold tundra, a place where life has no capacity for growth.
Islamic law is aimed at freezing human moral capacity in the seventh century deserts of Arabia where women are property, outsiders are fair game, and power is the only morality that matters. Anything that subverts this order, whether it is domestic minorities or the existence of free people an ocean away must be attacked and destroyed.
Islam has no capacity for debate. Its blasphemy laws wall off dissent and prevent anyone from questioning the moral absolute of its power. It has, as the Ayatollah Khomeini said, no sense of humor. To be able to laugh is to be able to laugh at oneself and such laughter comes too close to doubt. There is no room for doubt in Islam or for any human expression. Accordingly there is no thaw, only the eternal winter.
Carrying the seeds of its own destruction within its religion, it fights the same battles under new names and with new weapons. The wars that were once fought with spears are fought with warheads, but in the end they are still settled with knives, like the box cutters of the Islamic hijackers of September 11 or the murderers of Daniel Pearl. No matter how advanced the technology becomes, the sword is still the embodiment of Islam.
The Muslim Middle East is indeed changing, but it is changing back to what it once was, casting off the last remains of modernity imported from the West, and bringing back the reign of the Burqa, the sword and the prophet. In the West time moves forward, in the East it only moves backward. And so the spring will never come for Islam. Instead it will act out the same bloody rituals of Jihad, the killing of infidels and the civil wars, the slaves building civilizations, the masters molesting young girls and then beating them to death out of fear that the children might not be theirs.
This is the terrible cycle that repeats itself without hope of redemption. This is the rite of winter that is at the heart of Islam. It is a dark and bloody rite that has not changed in a thousand years. What we are witnessing in Islamic oppression and terror is the ancient ceremony of death, the ritual sacrifices of Ayatollahs and Mullahs over deserts and dusty fields, that holds back the coming of the spring.