Magdi Allam as Mythic Hero

Rod Dreher sees Magdi Allam and thinks of Ronald Reagan, especially his approach to the Soviet Union. He cites “Spengler” in Asia Times.

A self-described revolution in world affairs has begun in the heart of one man. He is the Italian journalist and author Magdi Cristiano Allam, whom Pope Benedict XVI baptized during the Easter Vigil at St Peter’s. Allam’s renunciation of Islam as a religion of violence and his embrace of Christianity denotes the point at which the so-called global “war on terror” becomes a divergence of two irreconcilable modes of life: the Western way of faith supported by reason, against the Muslim world of fatalism and submission. As Magdi Allam recounted , on his road to conversion the challenge that Pope Benedict XVI offered to Islam in his September 2006 address at Regensburg was “undoubtedly the most extraordinary and important encounter in my decision to convert”. Osama bin Laden recently accused Benedict of plotting a new crusade against Islam, and instead finds something far more threatening: faith the size of a mustard seed that can move mountains. Before Benedict’s election, I summarized his position as “I have a mustard seed and I’m not afraid to use it.” Now the mustard seed has earned pride of place in global affairs.

At the heart of this is a cartoonish depiction of both Allam and Islam, of Allam as hero bravely choosing between Islam as “a religion of violence,””fatalism and submission,” and “the Western way of faith supported by reason.”

I’ve never met a Muslim, Sunni or Shia, who would accept the characterization of Islam as a religion of violence–they see instead that some Muslims have warped the religion–just as Christians would say when confronted by tales of Church-authorized torture and crusade.

As to “fatalism”–Christianity certainly has an element of that, as well. It’s called “predestination,” and you can find it in Augustine and in Reformed Protestantism.

And this “Western way of faith supported by reason” … from whom did the West learn it? Medieval scholastics such as Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas got their Aristotelianism by way of Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna).

As to submission …? It seems to me the Bible teaches a few things about submission to God and to one another.

Here’s a suggestion–if we want to create peace in the world, especially peace between religions, why not look at examples in history and in the world today where people get along? Why not look at examples where people still have their convictions, still share them freely, and yet live peaceably as friends and neighbors? That’s what life is like here in Houston.