Islam main criticisms

2 – Incompatibility with modern world & democracy

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The criticism includes:

Lack of separation between church and state.

Islam is by nature incompatible with democracy, still it trains its leaders in democratic countries mainly.

In practice, none of the Islamic countries accepts freedom of belief.

Faith of Islam – responsible for the backwardness of some Muslim nations.

Pedophilia and child abuse under the marriage disguise.


Lack of separation between church and state

The main reason behind this claim is the lack of separation between church and state within Islamic countries which results in its incompatibility with democracy itself.

‘A recent in-depth Gallup survey in 10 predominantly Muslim countries, representing more than 80% of the global Muslim population, shows that when asked what they admire most about the West, Muslims frequently mention political freedom, liberty, fair judicial systems, and freedom of speech. When asked to critique their own societies, extremism and inadequate adherence to Islamic teachings were their top grievances.

Often assumed in the West to be an oppressive corpus of law associated with stoning of adulterers, chopping off limbs for theft, and imprisonment or death in apostasy cases, the incorporation of Sharia (the code of conduct or religious law of Islam) as at least a source of legislation enjoys the support of an average of 79% in the 10 countries surveyed.’(The Gallup Organization. Princeton, 2006)

Still studies show also that a majority of Muslims reject many aspects of the ‘Western democracy’ and would rather have something ‘in between’, or what some people call a ‘religious democracy’ (a form of government where the values of a particular religion have an effect on the laws and rules).

But this is simply not possible since it is a contradiction in itself. Two major ideas against religious democracy can be recognized: first, the firm principle of separation of religion and state is implicit such that without this separation there can be no freedom from tyranny. Absolute sovereignty of the people dominates in this idea. Each person has the right to decide on his/her religion. Religion should be set aside from the workings of government in order to establish democracy and freedom.

Second, democracy can never enjoy a general acceptance in a religious society. Anything outside of the rigid, but pervasive, interpretation of the religious texts is rejected and the absolute sovereignty of God prevails such that there is no role for the sovereignty of people.

One of the leading scholars on Islam in the US, the emeritus professor from Princeton University, Bernard Lewis, when talking about Islam and the modern world, said:

“When we in the Western world, nurtured in the Western tradition, use the words “Islam” and “Islamic”, we tend to make a natural error and assume that religion means the same for Muslims as it has meant in the Western world, even in medieval times; that is to say, a section or compartment of life reserved for certain matters, and separate, or at least separable, from other compartments of life designed to hold other matters. That is not so in the Islamic world. It was never so in the past, and the attempt in modern times to make it so may perhaps be seen, in the longer perspective of history, as an unnatural aberration which in Iran has ended and in some other Islamic countries may also be nearing its end. [written in 1988]

In classical Islam there was no distinction between Church and state. In Christendom the existence of two authorities goes back to the founder, who enjoined his followers to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God the things which are God’s. Throughout the history of Christendom there have been two powers: God and Caesar, represented in this world by sacerdotium and regnum, or, in modern terms, church and state. They may be associated, they may be separated; they may be in harmony, they may be in conflict; one may dominate, the other may dominate; one may interfere, the other may protest, as we are now learning again. But always there are two, the spiritual and the temporal powers, each with its own laws and jurisdictions, its own structure and hierarchy. In pre-westernized Islam, there were not two powers but one, and the question of separation, therefore, could not arise…. At the present time, the very notion of a secular jurisdiction and authority–of a so-to-speak unsanctified part of life that lies outside the scope of religious law and those who uphold it–is seen as an impiety, indeed as the ultimate betrayal of Islam. The righting of this wrong is the principal aim of Islamic revolutionaries and, in general, of those described as Islamic fundamentalists.

…In the classical Islamic view, to which many Muslims are beginning to return, the world and all mankind are divided into two: the House of Islam, where the Muslim law and faith prevail, and the rest, known as the House of Unbelief or the House of War, which it is the duty of Muslims ultimately to bring to Islam.”

The above does not mean that all Muslims want to engage in jihad warfare against the West or America, but it may mean that in many ways, Islam, a religion that was born in the 7th century, has somehow remained in the century in which it developed. One of the big questions of the twenty-first century is whether it will adapt to the modern era. Clearly many Muslims have done so, but radical Muslims have not.

(Sources: Wikipedia ‘Religious Democracy’, The Gallup Organization- Princeton 2006, Bernard Lewis ‘The Political Language of Islam’, University of Chicago Press, 1988,


Islam is by nature incompatible with democracy, still it trains its leaders in democratic countries mainly.

“In 2003 and 2004, the court [European Court of Human Rights] ruled that “that sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy” (13/02/2003), because the sharia rules on inheritance, women rights and religious freedom violate human rights as established in the European Convention on Human Rights.” European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Cambridge Encyclopedia, Vol. 24

“Many respected bodies have concluded that Shari’ah is incompatible with accepted modern standards of human rights…. In 1981 the Iranian representative to the United Nations declared that “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represented a secular interpretation of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which could not be implemented by Muslims.” Due to this unavoidable conflict between Islamic and Western notions of human rights, in 1990, the OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) who represent all 57 Muslim majority nations, created the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, using Islamic scripture as its sole source. This declaration has been severely criticized by many, including; the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), the Association for World Education (AWE) and the Association of World Citizens (AWC) for its incompatibility with human rights, women’s rights, religious freedom and freedom of expression, by “imposing restrictions on nearly every human right based on Islamic Sharia law.”


Some people like William Tucker, writing in the American Spectator, believe that the actual conflict results from what he calls the Muslim Intelligentsia. He says that “we are not facing a clash of civilizations so much as a conflict with an educated segment of a civilization… Poverty has nothing to do with it. It is stunning to meet the al Qaeda roster—one highly accomplished scholar after another with advanced degrees in chemistry, biology, medicine, engineering, a large percentage of them educated in the United States.”

This analysis is contrary to the idea that poverty breeds terrorism. While it is certainly true that many recruits for jihad come from impoverished situations, it is also true that the leadership comes from those who are well-educated and highly accomplished.


In practice, none of the Islamic countries accepts freedom of belief.

“Freedom of religion and belief does not mean merely the freedom to have a faith but also the freedom to change one’s religion or belief. But under the Sharia, apostasy (either advocating the rejection of Islamic belief or announcing such rejection by word or deed) is not permitted and for a man may be punishable by death. The punishment for a woman may be more lenient, although opinions differ. She might be spared, but only to stay in prison until she reverts, however long it takes. Even when the death penalty is not applied, those accused of apostasy can be subject to the most violent treatment. This discrimination is clearly contrary to freedom of religion and belief and to the principle that religion should be a private matter for the individual. In a feeble attempt to disguise the Islamic attitude to apostasy, apologists often quote the Koranic verse: “There shall be no compulsion in religion”. For a Muslim wishing to leave Islam this is simply not true.

The Islamic position on apostasy has been described as: “total disbelief that any sane person could possibly have a genuine reason for leaving ‘the most perfect religion’. He or she must therefore, by definition, be acting in bad faith”. Really? Read ‘Leaving Islam’ by Ibn Warraq for the testimonies of over 20 brave souls who have done just that.

Belief in any religion should be voluntary and a private matter, but more often than not it is a collective statement and part of a person’s identity. Typically, people inherit their religious belief from their parents, and share the beliefs of the community of which they are part. For most, religion is more a matter of tradition, loyalty and custom than of deeply held belief. But for Muslims there is the added incentive of the severest penalties for any who wish to leave. One may ask the question of how strong a religion is if it has to force its adherents to stay under penalty of death.’

(Source: International Humanist and Ethical Union

According to many NGOs activating in Muslim countries, there are many more who leave Islam but are too afraid for their lives to publicly recognize it.

‘Saudi Arabia remains to these days a strong example of lack of freedom of belief, especially in practice. The country still prohibits public non-Muslim religious activities. Non-Muslim worshipers risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation, and sometimes torture for engaging in overt religious activity that attracts official attention.’


‘One key issue is proposed changes to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law. The law has been widely abused. It has helped inspire mob violence in response to alleged offenses against Islam such as disrespect to its Prophet Muhammad and to the defacing of paper containing Quran verses.’ Rafiq A. Tschannen


See Islamic countries ratings on freedom in ‘Freedom in the World’ yearly survey and report that produces annual scores representing the levels of political rights and civil liberties in each country, here.


Faith of Islam responsible for the backwardness of some Muslim nations.

John L Perkins in his article about ‘Islam and Economic Development’ said: “Islamic tax regimes may negatively effect resource allocation, productivity and innovation. Conflict between secular and sharia law may contribute to an ineffective rule of law, a lack of trust in judicial institutions, moral hazard in judiciary, limitation on property rights and contract law, all of which have negative economic consequences. Religious constraints on the freedom of speech and on the power of the legislature, may impinge on democratic rights, institutions, political freedom and the ability to expose and eradicate corruption, again with negative economic impacts. These can generally be described as factors leading to a lack of motivation. In Islam, it is considered more important to prepare for the next life, by conformance to Islamic morality, than to be concerned with material gain in the current life. This results in an effective and immoral denial of welfare and communal prosperity. This derives from a misplaced belief that the Quran, and its definition of morality, is the truth. (…)

The limitation on the labor force participation of women reduces potential production and income. The role of women in Islamic society, with its focus on domestic responsibilities, may lead to a high birth rate and population growth rate, a correspondingly lower per-capita income growth rate, further contributing to relative poverty. The role prescribed for women in Islam as outlined in the Quran conforms with Arabic customs in the 7th century. It does not conform to modern standards of equality and objections to sexism. Discrimination against women also contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements. It also contravenes modern standards of morality.’

(Source: John L Perkins, “Islam and economic development”, more here )


Pedophilia and child abuse under the marriage disguise.

“The Islamic faith condones pedophilia. Therefore in many Islamic countries, child marriages are common practice. Girls far below the age of puberty are forced to marry older persons (sometimes in their 50s and later) for various personal gains by the girls’ guardian. Pedophilic Islamic marriages are most prevalent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, followed by other countries in the Middle East and Bangladesh. This practice may also be prevalent to a lesser extent amongst other Muslim communities, and is worryingly on the rise among the growing Muslim populations in many Western countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

Women’s rights activists say corrupt religious officials are prepared to conduct Islamic ceremonies for couples when the woman is too young for a state service, leaving her unprotected if her husband leaves her, uneducated and vulnerable to medical complications.”


“Cases of child abuse- marriages between men over 40 and 50 with girls 13 years old and below are currently being investigated in different Muslim countries (Nigeria, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia) and heavily criticized by Human Rights and Child Protection Organizations. When asked about these acts the men responsible claim they have tried to follow the life of their Prophet who, according to religious texts, married a 6 years old, when he was 52 and consummating his marriage when she was only 9 years old.”

(Sources: Wikipedia’s_wives)

See a CNN reportage about pedophilia and child abuse, here.