Monday, January 19, 2009

Gaia Shibboleth 5: Religions as Dominant Social Strategies

Islam provides a stringent set of game theoretic rewards for the faithful, control of women and reproduction, and severe penalties for a variety of forms of transgression, which are designed to guarantee world supremacy over time. Although followers of other religions of God have a subsidiary status as Dhimmi, followers of more recent prophets, such as Bahai, can be murdered in gruesome ways.

The difficulty with the thesis that the Golden Rule unites all religions in an ethical principle of the common good is that religions survive not just by altruism, but by socially dominant strategies that have survived over centuries and millennia only because they pursue a strategic combination of interpersonal compassion, institutional authoritarianism and outright oppression of perceived transgressors.

Ara Norenzayan in "Religion is the key to civilisation" makes this point very clearly emphasizing that, from Göbekli Tepe 11,500 years ago to the present religion has evolved as a cultural force reinforcing cooperation by increasingly effective and dominant means. Cooperation is usually explained by one of two forms of altruism: cooperation among kin and reciprocal altruism, but cooperation among strangers is not easily explained by either. As group size increases, both forms of altruism break down. With ever-greater chances of encountering strangers, opportunities for cooperation among kin decline. Reciprocal altruism - without extra safeguards such as institutions for punishing freeloaders - also rapidly stops paying off. In his view religion, particularly those involving a moral deity, ever larger social systems which reach sizes where reciprocal and kin altruism break down because most people are now strangers.

Religious and non-religious communities alike are prone to rapid social evolution. The average lifespan of religious communes in a study was a mere 25 years. In 80 years, 9 out of 10 had disbanded. Secular communes, most of which were socialist, fared even worse: they lasted for an average of 6.4 years and 9 out of 10 disappeared in less than 20 years (Cross-Cultural Research, vol 34, p 70).

As noted in developmental predispositions, a growing view is that religious beliefs and rituals arose as an evolutionary by-product of ordinary cognitive functions. Once that happened, the stage was set for rapid cultural evolution that eventually led to large societies with "Big Gods".

Studies show that feelings of anonymity, even illusory, encourage selfishness and cheating (Psychological Science, vol 21, p 311), while social surveillance has the opposite effect. Even subtle exposure to drawings resembling eyes encourages good behaviour towards strangers (Evolution and Human Behavior, vol 26, p 245).

It follows that people play nice when they think a god is watching and conversely religious people mistrust atheists who don't. In moving from the smallest scale human societies to the largest and most complex, Big Gods - powerful, omniscient, interventionist watchers - become increasingly common, and morality and religion become increasingly intertwined (Evolution and Human Behavior, vol 24, p 126). As societies get larger and more complex, rituals become routine and are used to transmit and reinforce doctrines (Evolution and Human Behavior, vol 32, p 50). Similarly, notions of supernatural punishment, karma, damnation and salvation, and heaven and hell are common in modern religions, but relatively infrequent in hunter-gatherer cultures.

These studies are complemented by actual experiments. Children are less likely to peek in a box when told an invisible agent is watching (Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol 109, p 311). In the economic "dictator" game where a person has to donate anonymously to a recipient, believers in the Abrahamic God gave away more money than those who believed in local deities who are not as omniscient and morally concerned (Science, vol 327, p 1480). Reminders of God by being exposed to words like divine, God and spirit had a powerful effect. Most people in the unexposed group pocketed the lot but those primed to think of God heightened believers' feelings of being under surveillance (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol 48, p 298) and were much more generous (Psychological Science, vol 18, p 803).

Subtle reminders of secular moral authority, words such as civic, jury and police, can have the same fairness-promoting effect, explaining why societies which have succeeded in sustaining cooperation with secular institutions and precipitated religion's decline by usurping its community-building functions are some of the most cooperative, peaceful and prosperous in the world.

As we move from the Hebrew religion of the Old Testament through Christianity to Islam, there is a clear evolution of the social strategic game plan in which the stakes have become more astutely honed to attain global reach and dominance and to do so in a way which has utopian aims of world dominion through apocalyptic tumult in the end of days judgment. Religions thus pose acute dangers for the world future because they embrace the principal of final conflict even to triage of the living systems of the planet to achieve the supremacy of the rule of God or Allah.

Is God's mercy to blame for high crime rates?  June 2012 There's nothing like the fear of eternal damnation to encourage low crime rates. But does belief in heaven and a forgiving god encourage lawbreaking? A new study suggests it might - although establishing a clear link between the two remains a challenge.

Hebrew Religion and Judaism

The Hebrew religion is perceived to be a qualitative advance on previous faiths, because it espouses a God acting in history through the literature of a people, rather than being merely a civic image worshipped in iconic stones and sculptured idols. This enables the religion to lay claim to an absolute power and to set out themes defining social and sexual morality as well as distinguishing the religious in-group from the heathen 'other'.

Despite claiming an abstract God of reality as patron, Hebrew religion traces its 'ancestry' through a tribal tree, extending in Genesis from Adam and Eve, through Abraham and Sarah to the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel, then through Moses, Miriam and Aaron to the exodus and the establishment of Israelite communities in Canaan as the chosen people of God.

This relationship is very much an espousal as the unrequited love between the jealous God Yahweh and the ever unfaithful Bride Israel, setting the theme for endless diatribes against the fertility worship of the Nations, from Canaan to Edom.

In addition to defining the boundary of the Israelite tribes, Genesis also sets out a clear patriarchal tradition rejecting the matriarchal inheritance patterns of Laban for those of Jacob and placing Eve under the rule of Adam and women to be ruled by their husbands in the sight of God. This is then ring fenced by horrific tales of transgressors to the patriarchal custom, such as the wife who is left to be raped and die at the door by her husband because she tarried too long at her parents house, and by diabolical penalties of stoning for adultery, or for not possessing the tokens of virginity both of which leave women vulnerable as the polluted party.

Nevertheless, despite the patriarchal emphasis, the tribal matriarchs are in strong evidence, as well as subsequent leading female figures from Miriam, through Deborah to Tamar and Ruth, showing both that women assumed positions of power as priestesses and judges and that it was through the female line that the ongoing genealogy of the life history of the people was preserved.

Although the Golden Rule is declared, along with the Ten Commandments, as a basis for prosociality, this is clearly intended to apply only to the in group of the Israelites and not to the nations, as God ordains genocide at Jericho and Hazor, although we see in other passages, such as Jeremiah, that the Canaanite customs of the Queen of Heaven continued in the streets of Jerusalem unabated.

Joshua besieges Jericho: The Golden Rule did not apply to Canaanites.

The religion is clearly costly to the practitioners in terms of a complex raft of required practices, from male circumcision, a sacrifice of a part of the sexual member to enhance procreative fortune, through observing the Sabbath and other religious festivals, prescriptions on bathing and sexual activity, to kosher provisions for food.

It has to be born in mind that Hebrew religion, or Judaism as it has now become, is not a single entity nor has it been created by a single messianic or prophetic figure, but has been a complex evolving cultural tradition of a people, which has gone through many evolutionary changes, from the first worship of stones at Bethel, through dispersed tabernacles, the syncretic worship of the Heavenly Host in the period of the Kings, the Yahwist post-exilic conservatism, diversification into Phariseses, Saducees and Essenes in the time of Jesus and later Rabbinical, ultra-orthodox, messianic and progressive movements and which has been acted out and written about by many diverse prophets, judges, writers and editors, each of whom has created differing shades of meaning.

Nevertheless the Hebrew religion is clearly set up as a defining life strategy of a people, maintained both through application of the Golden Rule to the in-group, amid costly activities to the individual which can only reap their social rewards through maintaining the covenant with God and the faith, amid well-known highly effective social strategies such as "an eye for an eye", reinforced through religious law, with sometimes extreme penalties for transgressors and enemies.

Although Christian accounts have Jesus condemned for blasphemy, resulting in continuing mistreatment of Jews by Christians, even in biblical times, the dire provisions such as stoning for adultery were rarely carried out and have not been used over the last two millennia. According to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel (10 BC - 70 CE), in the time when the religious courts had authority over capital punishment, a court that executed more than 1 person in 70 years was a "bloody court".

Martyrdom becomes murder in the control of heresy (choice): Early martyrs burning to death becomes followed by the burning of the Knights Templar, witches, women healers, Cathars, Albigenses and other gnostics, mystics and Free Spirit followers in the Inquisition.

Christianity, Crusade and Inquisition

The professed stroke of genius in Christianity has been the claim that Jesus, despite claiming his mission was for the lost sheep of Israel, had reformulated God's relationship to be not one just between Yahweh and his elect chosen ones, but as Abba, or God the Father, had become the compassionate, yet son-sacrificing God of all humanity. The admittedly Helenistic attributes that then crept into Christianity under the reborn Paul, then recrafted what had begun as an exclusively Jewish-Christian movement into one embracing a Lord hero to eclipse Adonis and Dionysus, replete with a virgin mother figure Mary who could also capture significant features of the Goddess, appearing as an emulation of Isis.

Christianity, expanding its domain to its ultimate borders, has sought to make itself into a religion for all people, thus opening its utopian agenda to both embracing the entire world and, in the shadow of Zoroastrianism, to the end of times as well, in Christ’s return as avenging Lord in the day of judgment of Revelation.

Despite having one central heroic figure, Jesus, who is deemed to be the author and inspiration of the religion, Christianity began as a diverse bunch of disparate sects, from the Jewish Christians of James the Just, through the Johanine followers, to diverse Gnostic sects. It was thus only with the rise of Pauline Christianity and the overthrow of the Gnostics that Christianity began to develop an orthodox core based on the patriarchal rule of the family and the holy communion – as a carnivorous sacrament of Chris’s love and forgiveness of sins, centered around doctrines such as the Nicene creed.

Although the earliest Gnostic movements had had women in prominent positions of prophecy and authority, the orthodox church then sought to have women disbarred from the ministry, to be seen but not heard, living all the while in the shadow of Eve’s ‘carnal’ sin, mitigated only by the virginal purity and sexual chastity of mother Mary, hastily recruited as a replacement for the less than celibate persona of Mary Magdalen, despite mother Mary’s far less significant and sometimes discordant role in Yeshua’s mission.

Altar of the Lie St. Peters: After lying to St Peter, Saphira fell to the ground before the Apostle and died; in the background two young men carry the dead body of her husband, Ananias (Acts 5:1-11) Cristoforo Roncalli.

The earliest Christians appeared to be a communistic movement whose penalties to free-loaders were potentially lethal as the untimely deaths of Saphira and her husband Ananias in mortal fear of Peter's anger, for keeping back some of their property indicates. The costliness of early Christianity to the practitioners, could also hardly have been higher, with many of them voluntarily walking to a gory fate of martyrdom at the hands of Roman Emperors such as Nero, until Constantine caused an abrupt turn-around by adopting Christianity as the state religion of Rome.

From this point on, although the scripture would have us believe that Christianity has continued to be a single religion conveying the true teachings of Jesus, we are dealing with a religion which forms the social strategic glue for the largest and arguably most ruthless global empire of the age, to be born on the military standards as the foundation of Rome's might, religion gaining its name re-ligio 'to bind otgether' in echos of the 'fasces' or bundle of sticks of Fascism.

Setting up a paradigm of sexual guilt based on what would come to be pronounced later by Augustine as the ‘original’ sin of Eve seducing Adam, Christianity defined sex as for reproduction without the accoutrements of bestial pleasure. Opposing birth control and abortion infanticide of weak or genetically malformed individuals from the outset, Christianity also set up an unashamed paradigm of population expansion through the family. Despite this, many Christian offspring were simply abandoned to seek their own fate in life.

With the fall of Rome, a period ensued in which Papal authorities attempted to wrest power from feudal warlords, by imposing formal monogamous marriage, partly as a way of gaining control over feudal land estates. The church came to become a major land owner and engaged in increasingly corrupt political practices leading to widespread disaffection with the church and the emergence of Protestant denominations.

The transition from a religion of pacifism, in which Jesus said to turn the other cheek to one's enemies, to one of holy war in the name of God emerged in the Crusades, seeking to 'liberate' the Holy Land from the Muslim infidel. The Crusades having led to failure partly as a result of the corruption of their own leaders, by comparison with the more cultured discipline of Saladin, the Christian papacy then turned its wrath on its own people, in a Crusade against the newly emerging Gnostic followings of the Albigenses and Cathars and others, who had reabsorbed teachings, such as naked innocence, and the notion that Jesus and Magdalen were sexual partners, from Sufis and Gnostic remnants during the crusades.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in the audience hall of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , now Pope Benedict XVI:
"My view is that if Purgatory did not exist, we should have to invent it."

The end result was the establishment of the Inquisition, which lasted 600 years and whose office still exists in the form of the Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, whose last head, Cardinal Ratzinger has since ironically become Pope Benedict. The Inquisition led to summary torture and murders of millions of people who were believed to have league with the devil, or merely practiced forms of Christianity different from the Catholic party line. Up to four million women are believed to have been accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake, or drowned.

It was only with the fall of Constantinople and the ensuing 'cultural revolution' of the Renaissance and the flowering of science art and music, that the combined reign of the Papacy and the feudal Dark Ages made a transition towards the so-called 'Age of Enlightenment' and the forms of secular democracy we have grown used to assuming as the status quo today in the West.

Over the same era, on a world basis, Christianity has sought to become a utopian movement, seeking to convert the entire world to Christian belief by persuasion, or by force. The arrival of the Conquistadors in the Americas promptly resulted in atrocities, not only of the war-like Aztecs, who recognized in the Holy Communion a blood sacrifice akin to their own religion, but the wholesale massacre and dismemberment of innocent musicians, and others who professed to any form of heathen cultural celebration. When the Christian missionaries reached the last shore on Earth, Aotearoa New Zealand, hoping to finally bring about the Second Coming when the gospel would have been taught planet wide, they were chagrined to find that the Maori turned instead to the Old Testament, claiming they were one of the lost tribes of Israel. Again in the twentieth century, the apocalyptic expectation has been raised with the founding of the state of Israel.

Thus one can see that Christianity, while espousing the Golden Rule, and Yeshua's even more extreme turning of the other cheek, has throughout much of its history become an institutional religion of empire, and applied contrary doctrines of Crusade against not only the heathen infidel, but bloody repression of perceived Christian heretics among its own ranks.

Moreover, Christianity tells a story of Heaven, Hell and the Day of Judgment, which casts all the affairs on the planet as a very temporary situation, whose misdemeanours not only may affect us in this life, but will meet far more exacting reward and retribution in the world to come. So by engaging a perpetual war between God and the Devil, Christianity, polarizes its followers on the roasting spit of salvation and damnation with little neutral territory to relax and breath a sight of relief.

Furthermore, humanity is regarded as frail, prone to sin, guilty of original sin from which escape is almost impossible and unlike Buddhism, where each person is encouraged to find their own personal equanimity in mediation, people are told their only hope is to accept Jesus as Lord and pray for guidance and salvation.

It is generally very hard for devout Christians, believing in the Christian ideals of brotherly love and the notion of an omniscient and omnipotent creator God of forgiveness looking over us from behind the scenes, even in the scientific era, to accept and understand the deep contradictions in the violent repressive history of Christianity as a religion and the endless carnivorous cycle of the blood-thirsty Holy Communion founded in the notion that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.

All in all we can thus see that Christianity has survived as a religion as much from the dubious strategic gains it has made through the violent punitive measures it has adopted, and its dominance through colonization and evangelism of other cultures as it has from applying the Golden Rule of fairness in prosocial ethics, or its more extreme example in loving your enemies, even if they seek to hurt or kill you, as God Almighty is professed to do in his infinite compassion.

Islam provides the most diverse set of game theoretic strategies of any religion
to ensure its expansion as a globally dominant world religion:
(a) for Muslims a very simple yet effective public costly commitment in terms of the Five Pillars of Islam
(b) Muslim women are reduced to half the status of a man, hidden from unrelated men, and male relatives are given
effective control over female reproductive choice, subject to dire penalties for sexual transgression.
(c) free-loaders who either do not fulfill the observations, vacillate, or do not want to engage in jihad are
branded hypocrites and given a chance to recant, but otherwise painfully punished.
(d) Dhimmi other monotheist religions receive a concession as believers in God that they can exist in Muslim societies
but they must respect Muslim supremacy, have an subject status in law and additional taxation in a long-term strategy of attrition.
Some such as Bahais sill receive death sentences for any form of religious educational activity.
(e) lethal punishments for root defectors in the eyes of God, such as idolaters, and apostates who become
Muslims and then recant the faith or blaspheme it, thus irreversibly locking in existing Muslims.
(f) reproduction is ordained by God as a means of expanding the population of the faith.

Islam, Sharia and Jihad

When we come to Islam, the relative new kid on the block, we see that, despite its apparent orphan status in the Western world as an archaic sixth century-based belief system struggling to make even minimal adaptions to the 21st century era of science and democracy, the strategic realities are rather different. This facile image belies the fact that as a strategic process, Islam has instituted a more complete socially dominant strategy than any religion before or since, which contains within it extremely effective means at maintaining and enlarging the faith through a combination of the simplicity of mass appeal, strict social controls and and a utopian agenda of world domination in the name of God, which rivals or surpasses that of any other totalitarian social system devised by humanity.

A great deal of the Qur'an and Muhammad's own history as a prophet, military leader, social innovator and wily politician, have been brought to bear on crafting, in the archetype of the Hebrew teachings, a new social world order based on Arab tribal custom. Thus, while many Western readers will rightly find that much in the Qur'an and hadith are anything but religious, but rather a string of conservative social rules, these rules are honed astutely, as a game of social strategy, to give rise to a religion capable of dominating societies on global scales fifteen centuries later.

Islam's perceive religious destiny is to conquer the world: Left and Right protest posters. Centre Yunis Al-Astal Hamas MP: "Allah has chosen you for Himself and for His religion, so that you will serve as the engine pulling this nation to the phase of succession, security, and consolidation of power, and even to conquests thorough da'wa and military conquests of the capitals of the entire world. Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our Prophet Muhammad. Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam - this capital of theirs will be an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe".

Jihad, whether we choose to think of it as spiritual struggle, or outright genocidal warfare is central to Islam's utopian agenda to rule the world, either in the Sunni model through a world caliphate, or in the Shi'ite model through an ayatollah-based theocracy leaning heavily towards the Day of Judgment.

The Muslim world is a conflict zone divided between the domain of submission to God or Islam and Dar al Harb - the domain of war. Thus no one can be of the naive delusion that Islam is a religion of peace or peace alone. Muhammad in his own allegedly perfect example, was prepared to commit a genocide of 700 Jewish men in the souk of Medina for fear they might betray the Muslims even though they had merely made diplomatic initiatives to both sides and had not opened their gates to the enemy. He then took the women into (sexual) slavery, demonstrating preparedness to annihilate the very people from whom he learned the path of God.

Moreover having struck the peace Treaty of Hudaybiyah in the name of sakina the spirit of tranquillity, echoing from the Shekhinah of feminine face of God of Jewish folklore, when he met with superior armed resistance, Muhammad then abrogated the peace treaty on the excuse of a skirmish with an ally of the Meccans, once he had the force of numbers to march on Mecca, so a peace treaty with Islam has to be regarded as a case of takiya, or faking the peace until a more strategic opportunity presents itself.

In contradiction to Western society's hard-won ideals of secular government based on the separation of church and state, devised as much to protect religious freedom from autocratic theocracy as for any secular agenda, Islam, by contrast, seeks the unification of three pillars, scripture, law and government in the Qur'an, Sharia and the Islamic state.

Firstly, the Qur'an is regarded as the direct revelation of God's word by his holy prophet, whose face is so holy that to represent it could bring the death penalty, subsequently deemed to be the last and final prophet (except perhaps for the (Shiite) Mahdi in the Day of Resurrection), so that any other prophets who might attempt to found a new following, such as Bahá'u'lláh who founded the Bahá'í Faith, are condemned, along with their followers to death or imprisonment, as Bahá'ís are killed or imprisoned in Iran today.

On 18th June 1983 ten women (pictured above), one of whom was only 17 years old, were executed in Iran for teaching Baha'i children more about their Faith. They were among more than 200 individuals who were killed in Iran for being Baha'is but their story has stood out through the years as they were all women and many of them are very young.

Although it is clear that the claim in the Qur'an that Islam is the original religion of God, emanating first from Adam and then a string of prophets from Abraham, through Moses and the Israelites, followed by Jesus, rather than acknowledging that this entire description has come historically through the Hebrew account, Muslim teaching makes a mythical claim that Islam is the true religion of Abraham, that Hagar found the spring of Zam-Zam during her sudden flight (hajira) with Ishmael, thus laying claim to the founding mythological territory of Genesis.

Secondly, unlike Hebrew law, whose violent provisions, such as stoning for adultery, were rarely applied, even in Biblical times, and are never applied by modern Jews or Christians, however fundamentalistic their belief that the Bible is the word of God, Muslim societies frequently apply Sharia as a literal code of law, complete with diabolical sixth century punishments like stoning, which it inherited not from the Qur'an but Deuteronomic law, dismemberment, and beheading, on the basis they are ordained by God.

This means that Islam poses a real risk, particularly to women, because of the pressure to adopt Sharia and the insistence when it is adopted of applying it absolutely, even when in means killing women in gruesome slow deaths which were never conceived of in Deuteronomic law, for making what would anywhere else be an autonomous sexual choice, punishable at worst by a civil divorce suit.

Thirdly, there is a continuing desire on the part of Muslim scholars and clerics to bring about a global Islamic state under Sharia which would cement the three pillars of Islam into a world monolith. This then enters into the politics of some Muslim countries and becomes a world problem both when some fundamentalists preach world jihad to achieve such an aim and when certain countries with Islamist agendas seek ultimate military instruments such as nuclear weapons, with a view to a final push for a world Islamic society. This is where the notion of Islamofascism gains a strong ring of truth, demonstrating the essentially fascist nature of montheism at its core.

The sacrifices a Muslim must make to follow the religion are deceptively simple - the five pillars of Islam:

1. Believe and declare his faith by saying the Shahadah ('witness'):

'There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.'

2. Prayer must be performed five times a day.
Prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Qur'an and is chosen by the congregation.

3. The alms-tax (Zakah) on wealth, to be used as specified by Islamic law.
Also an act of purification through sharing what one has with others, as everything belongs to God, and wealth is held by man as a trust.

4. Daily fasting during the whole of the month of Ramadan.

5. To make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in one's lifetime.

One can immediately see that 1 is a confession of faith in God and his messenger just as Christians accept Jesus. 2 is a commitment to daily devotion, generally performed in public. 3 is a formulation of the Golden Rule as a requirement, 4 is a requirement to commit to a period of restraint (a similar constraint to observing the sabbath) . 5 - observing the Hajj, by contrast is a political compromise made by Muhammad with the people of Mecca, to continue the pre-Islamic polytheistic rite that gave Mecca its fame and economy.

The cost to the practitioner is extremely simple, clear and general. They declare faith in God and the prophet, have to pray five times a day from dawn to dusk, accept not just the Golden Rule but a tax to prove it, fast during the day for one month a year and finally to go once to Mecca to keep the faith to the founding city.

However the cost to other parties is also abundantly clear and shows the sophistication of the way Muhammad drafted a social code in a way which dealt in much more specific and sometimes very violent terms with all the varying strategies of turncoats, freeloaders, defectors, as well as idolaters, other religions of the book and of course women.

Firstly the idolaters can be slaughtered and it is forbidden to marry them unless they take the faith:

So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (9.5 ).

And do not marry the idolatresses until they believe, and certainly a believing maid is better than an idolatress woman, even though she should please you; and do not give(believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe, and certainly a believing servant is better than an idolater (2.221)

People of the book, named as Jews, Christians and Sabians or Hanif were given a secondary status, since they followed the true God but failed to acknowledge Muhammad as his prophet. Dhimmis "the people of the dhimma or pact of protection" (which also came to include others such as Buddhists and Sikhs as well as monotheists) were allowed to "practice their religion, subject to certain conditions, and to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy" and guaranteed their personal safety and security of property, in return for paying tribute and acknowledging Muslim supremacy. Various restrictions and legal disabilities were placed on Dhimmis, such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims. All of them, however, were designed to eliminate other religions in a deliberate, long-term process. In general, the Muslim attitude toward dhimmis was one of contempt instead of hate, fear, or envy.

Apostates who revert from Islam can be killed:

What is the matter with you, then, that you have become two parties about the hypocrites, while Allah has made them return (to unbelief) for what they have earned? Do you wish to guide him whom Allah has caused to err? And whomsoever Allah causes to err, you shall by no means find a way for him. They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from amon8-g them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper (4.89 )

Hypocrites who profess Islam but do not follow its teachings, or waver in their faith, or fail to join in battle, when the going gets tough, are also liable to painful punishment:

Surely (as for) those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them in the (right) path. Announce to the hypocrites that they shall have a painful chastisement (4.137 ) And that He might know the hypocrites; and it was said to them: Come, fight in Allah's way, or defend yourselves. They said: If we knew fighting, we would certainly have followed you. They were on that day much nearer to unbelief than to belief. They say with their mouths what is not in their hearts, and Allah best knows what they conceal. Those who said of their brethren whilst they (themselves) held back: Had they obeyed us, they would not have been killed. Say: Then avert death from yourselves if you speak the truth (3.167-8).

On the contrary, faithful Muslims do not die when they are killed, but are taken straight to heaven:

And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord; Rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace and they rejoice for the sake of those who, (being left) behind them, have not yet joined them, that they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve. They rejoice on account of favor from Allah and (His) grace, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers (3.169-71).

Thus Islamic martyrs thus believe they are taken straight to heaven to see the face of God, in a manner as effortless as surgery under anesthetic, even though they may main or kill innocent bystanders in the process.

Sexual relations in Islam are highly asymmetric

Finally we have the inferior status of women in Islam, in contradiction to claims that Islam improved the status of women, when the previous Meccan society worshipped female deities and extolled their matriarchs:

1. A Muslim man can have up to four wives, but not vice versa:

And if ye are apprehensive that ye shall not deal fairly with orphans, then, of other women who seem good in your eyes, marry but two, or three, or four; and if ye still fear that ye shall not act equitably, then one only; or the slaves whom ye have acquired: this will make justice on your part easier... (Sura 4:2).

2. Wives are a tilth for the ploughing, expected to be sexually available to her husband's wishes:

Your wives are a tilth for you, so go into your tilth when you like (2.223 ).

3. Muslim men have absolute freedom to divorce or repudiate their wives simply by uttering the triple talaq "I divorce you" three times, however the women then have to wait three months in case they carry the man's child who divorced them:

You may put off whom you please of them, and you may take to you whom you please, and whom you desire of those whom you had separated provisionally; no blame attaches to you; this is most proper, so that their eyes may be cool and they may not grieve, and that they should be pleased, all of them with what you give them (33.51).

And the divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three courses; and it is not lawful for them that they should conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the last day; and their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation; and they have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them, and Allah is Mighty, Wise (2.228).

4. Women rate only half the value of a man in law and endowment:

Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females (4:11)

call in to witness from among your men two witnesses;
but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses (2: 282).

5. The Qur’an states that God prefers men over women and that women are to be beaten, if their husbands fear their perverseness:

"Men stand superior to women in that God hath preferred the one over the other ... Those whose perverseness you fear, admonish them and remove them into bed chambers and beat them, but if they submit to you then do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great" ( 4:34)

This sura is cited by Islamic preachers to approve a husband forcing sex on his wife and beating her if she resists:

A Muslim cleric in Australia who said men have a right to force their wives to have sex has been told to apologise in public and repudiate his statements by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The cleric, Samir Abu Hamza reportedly questioned how rape can exist within marriage, and encouraged "light beating" of disobedient women. He was replaced as Mufti of Australia in 2007 after creating a storm of protest when he described scantily-dressed women as "uncovered meat" inviting rape. (Cleric 'must deny' views on rape BBC 22 January 2009).

Depersonalization of women: Going, going, gone! Atefah Sahaaleh hung at 16 in Iran in 2004 for 'crimes against chastity'
displays a Shi'ite chador, followed by Sunni neqab successively covering all but two eyes, one eye, two slits, none.

6. The Qur'an does not say that women should be veiled or their faces and hands be covered, but merely that they should dress modestly and not expose their breasts. However Muslims use the fact the Muhammad ordered his wives to be behind a curtain, after the guests stayed too long after his marriage to Zaynab, as an excuse to keep women veiled and covered, sometimes from head to toe, with only their eyes visible, or one eye, or both hidden behind a network screen.

“And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess [slaves], or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known” (24.31).

7. The above requirement for women to hide themselves from non-related men leads further to the requirement, particularly in traditional Sunni countries, that women cannot go out in public without being chaperoned by a male relative. The veil and chaperoning thus combine to reduce or eliminate a woman's ability to meet and form partners of her own choice, let alone have a working career, or education. This gives related males and family almost exclusive rights to determine who Muslim women can associate with and marry, and serves to ensure Muslim women will not be able to marry non-Muslim men, or will have great difficulty doing so.

Given the fact that many Muslim societies also practice honour killing if they even so much suspect a female is having a relationship with a partner not of her family's choosing, even if she is still a virgin, and given that several Muslim countries proscribe whipping, or even the death penalty, for perceived acts of female immorality, Islam serves as a religious instrument to give Muslim men almost complete control over the reproductive choices of their female relatives.

Finally, the fact that sex and procreation are viewed as a primary act of men, ordained by God, traditional Muslim societies tend to have high birth rates, ensuring the spread of the religion by reproductive pressure.

go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him) (2.222).

Although some Muslim measures have been marginally better then Christian oppression in the Dark Ages of Crusade and Inquisition, they are still far more restrictive and arbitrarily punitive than the law and social norms of Western democracies today.

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