Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Realm of Order vs The Realm of Chaos

The Name is (sometimes) the Thing.

Those who wonder about the source of the conflict between Us & Them, between Islam and Everybody Else, should consider the matter of names.

For Muslims who understand Arabic (and certainly all Muslim men should), the territory ruled by Islam is Dar al-Islam roughly translated into less poetic tongues as the House of Islam (of submission/Law/Salaam/Peace).

The (so far) unconquered territory of the Rest of the World is called Dar al-Harb or the House of War (of conflict between men and between man and God).

Note that Nations are not directly involved. The House of Peace and the House of War are not Nations -- they are regions.

As you must always keep in mind, Islam doesn't mean peace it means submission. Salaam means peace. The two words are related because (in theory) submission is a form of peace (as is the Grave). Meanwhile in the House of War, we are in conflict not only with each other and with Islam but also with God.

Now it's possible to read a little history of Islam and wonder why the Dar al-Islam fails to show much in the way of internal peace, but that would be unkind.

The Realm of Submission is also the Realm of Order because its residents have submitted to Shari'ah -- the revealed Law of God. Islam has the advantage of not having to legislate on its own. God in his mercy dictated the Law to the Prophet (in Arabic) sans human intervention. We in the Dar al-Harb have to roll our own.

We, then, are (by definition) outlaws who live in a Realm of (human) Chaos separated from God. When we are eventually incorporated into the Dar al-Islam, we'll presumably be better off.

The point of all this? That it is hard to avoid a war between Order and Chaos. It seems somehow natural. Note too the parallels between this view of the split in the world and the philosophical split between believers in the chaos of Free Markets and believers in the order of socialized controls.

Heinlein once said that to understand all is not necessarily to forgive all. The more we understand some things the less we forgive them.

This lesson in multicultural understanding (and Arabic) is merely an intro to my follow-on post -- Why We Hate Them.