This is how a Muslim girl, cashier at Wal-Mart, replied to my wife’s question about the purpose of her head-covering, wrapped tightly around her head, covering everything except her face.
My first reaction was, “Phew, how do you look ‘lustfully’ at a woman’s hair?” In a Christian society, the hair is the glory of a woman (1 Cor. 11:15). We don’t normally expect Western men to fantasize over a woman’s hair; and hair is a legitimate ornament for a woman, as far as the Bible is concerned. Deviations, of course, have existed in every culture, but are they so common in the Western societies as to warrant such strict dress-code? What made this Muslim girl have such strange views about modesty?
Her views are not informed by the norms of the Western society but by the tenets of her Muslim worldview. According to the teaching of the Muslim religious teachers, a woman is a sexual object from her hair to her feet, and every part of her body is an occasion for seduction. Westerners usually believe that the burqas and the yashmaks of the Muslim women have some religious significance – something like the head coverings Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 11. They don’t. The only significance of Muslim clothing for women is the avoidance of sexual seduction by the woman. Burqas are not a religious symbol; they are a protective barrier, protecting both men and women from the male sexual lust.
Islam has a very specific view of man’s libido. In the Muslim worldview, male sexual lust is a central fact of man’s personality. It is a force that can’t be controlled in any possible way from the inside; one only accepts it as a fact and seeks ways to curb it externally. A woman is viewed as a sexual object only because a man is viewed as an animal whose sexual drive has no brakes or limits. A man is always defined by his lust, whatever other characteristics he may have. Rich men are expected to have multiple wives, and concubines as well. The sultans of the Ottoman Empire – the leaders of the Muslim world for centuries – were expected to have hundreds of wives, not so much because it was expedient for the Empire, but rather because that’s what a good Muslim was supposed to do. Most of the teachings or counseling of Muslim scholars you can find online are concerned with sexual lust, relationships between the sexes, or sexual relations within the family. Man as a sexual animal is the essential belief of the Muslim view of man, and nothing can be done about it.
This belief was also expressed in the rampant homosexuality and pederasty existing in the Muslim world for centuries. In cultures where the rich had the opportunities to appropriate many girls for themselves, and where male sexuality was considered a central fact of life, many of the younger and poorer members of society resorted to homosexuality because of the lack of available women. Even today, Muslim homosexual poetry is considered the “finest” in its “genre” among the connoisseurs. Contrary to what some Muslims today claim, the Muslim countries didn’t have anti-homosexual legislation until the late 19th century, and that appeared only as a result of Christian – particularly Victorian – influence on educated Muslim elites. In late 19th and in 20th centuries notable European homosexuals (John Maynard Keynes, Lord Byron, Joe Orton, and others), would make trips to Muslim countries to satisfy their lust for boys. It was considered normal in the Muslim world that a grown man without a wife would seek the services of young boys.
And of course, affirming this view of man, the eternal promise of Islam to its male adherents is blatantly sexual and promiscuous in nature: 72 virgins for every faithful Muslim, created to be his eternal sexual slaves.
No wonder Islam seldom teaches self-control in man. While acknowledging the destructive nature of male uncontrolled lust, Islam leaves it to women to protect themselves and society from destruction by choosing their clothing in such a way as to completely shut them off from the world. Men are supposed to remain at the level of immature puberty their whole lives. Women and girls are supposed to act wise and mature from a very early age, exercising external control where men are unable to exercise internal self-control. In the Shariah legislation, a woman is guilty of adultery even when raped. It must be her fault, and the man is very often absolved, as being an innocent victim of his own overwhelming lust and the woman’s lack of prudence.
This, of course, is in stark contrast to the Christian worldview based on the Bible. Far from being an irresistible drive, male sexuality is believed to be controllable, and certainly not a central fact of man’s life. A man is defined by a number of characteristics, and his sexuality – while admittedly destructive when uncontrolled – is only limited to his family. A good Christian man is expected to remain self-controlled and sober even when tempted. There are rules for modesty in a Christian culture, and there are expectations of women as there are of men, but whatever the conduct of a woman, the responsibility for adultery, fornication, and rape lies always primarily with the man. Self-restraint has been an integral part of the moral code for Christian men throughout the centuries – whether it was the monastic codes, or the chivalry rules of conduct, or the Puritan morality, or the Victorian culture. A man without sexual self-control was a man without dignity, and therefore his reputation suffered. Kings and mighty rulers may have been promiscuous at times but they have always at least tried to maintain an appearance of respectability by obeying the accepted norms for sexual conduct. Even Louis XIV, with his many mistresses, preferred to keep them private, and would listen to the advice of his religious advisers.
Unlike Islam, which expects man to remain an immature, uncontrolled beast throughout his life, Christianity encourages maturity, self-control, and restraint. A Christian civilization is a civilization controlled and protected by mature, responsible men. A Muslim civilization is an always precarious balance between the destructive lust of immature men and the protective care of mature and responsible women.
This maturity in controlling the sexual drive in man has ramifications in many other areas of human life. Immature childish lusts in men, when uncontrolled, lead to lack of self-control in other areas as well. TV coverage from demonstrations in the Middle East showing crowds of grown-up men acting chaotically like animals are known to anyone who ever watched CNN. The only analogy we have in the West is crowds of adolescents at rock concerts. Such behavior is not considered aberrant in the Muslim world, however. Men, in fact, are expected to act like animals, without self-restraint. The poor economies of the Muslim world can be blamed on the lack of self-control: rich people are expected to indulge in childish whims and desires (i.e. have garages of 300 cars, or large palaces, or spend money on other unnecessary luxuries) instead of wisely investing in the future or financing charitable organizations.
The Puritan asceticism and long-term orientation of so many of the Western wealthy families – that same asceticism that created capitalism and the wealth of the West – is completely foreign to the Muslim mentality. The absence of social justice in all the Muslim East is a product of that lack of self-control. Fathers and brothers beating and even killing female family members out of rage for wounded “honor” are a common occurrence, and are justified under the Shariah law.
A civilization is built on the self-control of men. When men are able to refuse to obey their childish whims, their energy is freed to undertake greater things: invest, build, accumulate knowledge, create economic and political organizations, innovate, explore, discover. A man who cannot control his lust is unlikely to have the long-term commitment necessary to build a civilization. The Christian civilization that created the modern world with all its technologies, prosperity, justice, and knowledge, emerged in result of the self-conscious decision of Christian men in many generations to forgo present consumption and invest in the future. In the 8th through 10th centuries, Europe had fewer resources, less population, and a worse starting point than the lands taken over by Islam. In the course of several centuries it was hit by many epidemic plagues, by the beginning of the Little Ice Age in the early 1300s, by Mongol invasions, etc. And yet, by the 1500s it emerged as a vibrant, prosperous, and technologically developing civilization that set its eyes on conquering the world. The Reformation gave it the complete moral code for civilization builders, and as a result, we have our Western world today.
In contrast, Islam started by conquering the most prosperous regions of the civilized world – Egypt, Mesopotamia, Northern Africa, Spain. Lacking the theology of male self-control, though, it gradually transformed those civilized regions in lands of savagery and barbarianism, and within 1,000 years it managed to remain woefully backward in comparison to the Christian West. Even today, the crowds of devoted Muslims are not able to produce a superior civilization. No matter how fast their numbers grow, Islam will remain an anti-civilization force, and will never be able to produce anything of value to match the West. The key is male self-control. Not only doesn’t Islam teach it, it actively discourages it. Islam is in essence a female culture: preserved from decay by mature women who are forced to take responsibility for their immature men.
The future for Islam is not as bright as is envisioned: It doesn’t have what it takes to build a successful civilization. But this is still not good news for the West. The West has lost its ability to civilize because it has lost its ability to produce self-control and maturity in man. However, this will be a topic for another article.