Thought Contagion and Islam


I searched Google to find out if anyone had written about Islam as a meme (if you don't know what a meme is, click here). I found several articles, but none were what I was looking for. Then I came across an excerpt from the book, Thought Contagion. It was exactly what I was looking for. But here's the funny thing: I already owned the book and had even read it!

But when I read it, the World Trade Center was still standing and the information was only mildly interesting to me at the time. Things have changed. I read it again, and it felt like I was reading it for the first time.

The author, Aaron Lynch, looked at several institutions in his book — families, politics, and religion — and in the religion section, he looked at most of the major religions, including Islam. What can memetics (study of memes) tell us about Islam and the trouble in the Middle East?

Memetically, Islam is a very successful memeplex (group of memes). Several embedded memes help make it so. For example, if Muslims drift away from Mohammed's teachings, Allah will end the world. That makes converting others and promoting Islam a matter of survival. It also motivates Muslims, as Lynch points out, "to dissuade each other from losing faith."

It is also a requirement of Islamic faith to make a public prayer five times a day. The unusual posture attracts attention, and the prayers can be heard by anyone within earshot. Under some circumstances, this might help Islam spread. And the fact that the Muslim is repeating his prayers five times a day makes it very easy for him to stay focused on Islam. It would be almost impossible for him to forget it.

Islam is different from other religions in at least one important way: It began at a time and in a place where no empire constrained its spread. In other words, if you start a religion within the Roman Empire, you're going to have certain limitations. The Romans would see any new religion — especially a militant or political religion — as a threat to its power and would make sure it stayed peaceful. A religion that preached tolerance and goodwill toward others might survive, but a violent or militant or political new religion would be quashed immediately.

But Islam had no such restriction when it began, so it could incorporate "conversion by warfare" into its memeplex, and it did. As Lynch wrote, "The faith provides for a jihad or holy war, which historically led to Islamic rule over whole societies." Once a country was conquered by war, pagans were often given a simple choice: convert to Islam or die. That is written into Islamic law. If any members of the newly acquired country were Christian or Jewish, they were required to pay a special tax and became a second-class citizen, unless they wanted to convert.

This information answered a question I had for a long time. Why are there "Muslim" countries? Do you see Buddhist countries? Hindu countries? Christian countries? I know there are countries where these religions are in the majority, but has the religion taken over the government? No. But the way Islam was created, taking over the government is what the faithful will do. Not the "extremists." Not the crazy ones. The faithful Muslims, if they follow the teachings of Muhammad, will take over the government, establish the religion as the national religion, and rule using the law of Allah.


According to the Koran, if you die while fighting for Islam, you are guaranteed eternal paradise. This meme not only encourages bravery in battle, but it encourages continual warfare against non-Muslim nations. You cannot die fighting for Islam if there is no fighting going on. This answered another question I had for a long time: Why can't the people in the Middle East just work out their differences and get on with their lives? That question assumes that warfare is not desirable. I was assuming war is a temporary break in an otherwise peaceful, productive life. But that is an assumption that was not shared by the author of the Koran.

So continual warfare is part of the teachings of Islam. And another meme has been added to reduce the costs of war. When men die, the ratio of women to men changes, of course, leaving widows childless or unable to take care of the children they already have. But the Koran says each man can marry up to four wives. This makes sure warfare doesn't reduce the numbers of the next generation of the faithful.

This is all very interesting in a detached, academic sort of way, but as you can easily surmise, this has profound implications. How then, should the rest of the world interact with Muslim countries? The religion has slowly spread and taken over countries. Should they be stopped? How can you stop such a thing?

In the heyday of Islam, Muslims were invading India, China, Europe, and Africa all at the same time, spreading rapidly, taking over countries, building an Islamic empire. They were fought back and contained, and had been contained for a long time. But they are inventing new methods to fight.

What can we do? The first thing is to know what we're dealing with, and political leaders repeating "Islam is a religion of peace" doesn't really help clarify the situation.

I have heard from several people saying they are Muslims and they have no desire to fight anyone. Obviously, it is possible to be moderate about anything. But Islam requires a lot from its followers and appears to inspire more commitment more often and with more militancy and governmental aspirations than any other religion.

If you'd like to know more about the memes in Islam, the best way is to read the Koran (you can do it online) and find out for yourself what it really says. This is the manual orthodox Muslims are using. Since you and I are their target, it seems like a good idea to know what they are basing their actions on and why. I think you'll find it surprising.

Read more: The Terrifying Brilliance Of The Islamic Memeplex.

Citizen Warrior is the author of the book, Getting Through: How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam and also writes for Inquiry Into Islam, History is Fascinating, and Foundation for Coexistence. Subscribe to Citizen Warrior updates here. You can send an email to CW here.


Anonymous 9:43 AM  

A meme can be viewed as a mind virus. Islam is at least partly so successful because it appeals to the lowest common denominator of human emotion. It appeals to the animal brain. Along with being exhorted to commit violence, I submit that Muslims are addicted to slaughter and simply wouldn't have a clue how to stop and no desire to do so. It is as normal to them as drinking is to an alcoholic or smoking to a smoker. And, it's getting worse every generation.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

You can find a good treatment of the MemePlex here:

Anonymous 1:28 AM  

Judeo-Christians Westerners value democracy and personal freedom and rule of law.

The evidence is that when muslim becomes huge minority, you will loose your culture and traditions that has been cheerish for generations.

You loose your unique identity (personal freedom). You have a bunch of foreigners that speaks foreign language and pray on the streets in front of your house that will one day impose their value from failed states on you and your children (freedom and rule of law).

They has no loyalty to the country (democracy), as can be seen by thousands of fighters to middle east. they only loyal and fight for to caliph, as seen by isil.

They are not compatible with democracy, only secular turky is a good example, the rest are govern by AK47 or by clerics, by default, royalty or sultans. They are from failed states. This shows that their system is a failure.

Bear in mind they cannot be converted. The result is death.

There is no solution in sight once their number gets bigger, its like a disease.

Love and kindness doesn't exist in their religion. (it is not a religion of peace)

The first sign that the country is in trouble is;

Islamic school is their first step.

Halal food and certification (part of sharia law) is the second.

By the time they set up shariah court, the end game is near for the citizens.

A country could never allow a parallel juriacial system, it is the begining of break down in society.

Walter Sieruk 10:10 AM  

This article that revealed that about a Muslim male that “the Koran says each man can marry up to four wives.”

The practice of polygamy in Islam started with the Prophet and founder of Islam, Muhammad, did have many wives and all Muslim throughout history and even now in this twenty first century look to him and a great and perfect example of a model for them to emulate. Therefore, in many Islamic countries Muslim men have taken up to four wives.

Which this statement it needs to be made clear that polygamy is not sanctioned by God. For example God gave Adam one wife. Furthermore, in the New Testament Jesus taught “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife…” Jesus said “wife.” Not “wives” Mathew 19:5. [K.J.V.] Likewise, in First Timothy 3:2. In instructs “A bishop the must be blameless, the husband on one wife.” Here again it’s “one wife”

Nevertheless, there are some people who will act as apologists for polygamy by say the king David of Israel and then later his son ,who became King Solomon of Israel did practice polygamy. Such people aren’t taking into account both the time and place. For the only reason that God did tolerate this tradition was not because it was right or that He approved of it. It was because this practice of having many wives was such an entrenched custom in the ancient Middle East that God allowed it for the above mentioned Kings of Israel. This does not mean that this custom, of polygamy, was to keep on going in other times and places.

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