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Old Men

The longest standing and truly Christian Communities are the rural havens of the Mennonite and Amish clans of North America.  These are agrarian communes of patriarchal families committed to fundamental Christian principles and earth-husbandry in its many forms.  Harvard University’s Sociology Department commissioned a study some years ago to determine the ‘why’ and how’ they withstood the onslaught of Materialism for three Centuries while maintaining autonomy, integrity and longevity when all other utopian ventures failed. [1] 

They determined that the deciding factor was not doctrine but rather the continuum of concerted efforts these communities exerted to guarantee the following benefits:

1.       That none of its members were in need of basic human amenities;

2.       That all were educated;

3.    That their methods of husbandry remained current did not disturb or destroying the natural environment (= sustainability). 

4.       That everybody actually worked for individual and community welfare. 

girlIn other words, there were no shirkers or pot-bellied intellectuals or imams collecting tithes or inflated salaries for discussing heavenly matters of no earthly significance.  Actually, religion was the least significant factor excepting that its fundamental principles of social import were actually expressed by deeds.  Leadership was also low on the totem pole of their success because almost any community member was capable of taking up where another left off without nomination. 

Of interest was that, except for commerce, each commune’s leadership kept the community isolated-from rather than integrated-with the secular world; which speaks some good for apartheid policies; something Zionist rally against intellectually and legally[2] but practice by deed in Israel, as do Middle East Arabs in the Gulf States.  They also prevented usurious expansion and proselytizing although sons and daughters did migrate to establish new communes.  The movement’s leaders protected the integrity of the community by maintaining borders of ‘self’- and ‘other’-hood via religious indoctrination and the prevention of evil (secular) intrusions.  Thus, they forbade evil and ensured good which are Islamic mandates. 

Secular communities wanted no part of Mennonite or Amish discipline and generally left them in peace.  At the same time, respect and admiration for the clans did develop but took several generations of tenacity with increasing prosperity in the face of all odds and the lack of modern conveniences.  Most of their communities refused public utilities and modern modes of transportation until recently, and even now it is done on the basis of necessity without ostentatious abuse.  They also forbade/forbid TV, which is not an insignificant non-influence leading to their robustly established track record.


The success of this economy of equitable fellowship continually prospers for 8-10 generations (400 years plus), despite the onslaught of modernist and post-modernist futility.  Again, the key is not religion but rather common-sense fellowship that required the entire community to be each other’s keepers [3] in clear contradistinction to the pathological attitude of the biblical character of Cain, whom many admirers of Western culture and subcultures imitate.

amish_boyThe Harvard study was secular (i.e. religiously non-aligned) and the results speak for themselves.  That Mennonites and Amish followed moral codes of conduct goes without speaking but when sociologists evaluated their data, this was not the major cause of success because many other failed utopian communes also behaved morally.  The chief qualifier for success was this: the individual members of these communities actually helped each other on a continue and enjoyed doing so.  In addition:


1.       they did not practice usury;

2.       they did not abandon women and children to their own devices;

3.       they made equitable distributions of profit;

4.       they practiced an economy best described by the phrase: ‘waste not want not’, which included time and labor. 



They were commonly known as the ‘Plain People’ at first because their lifestyle was and remains completely un-embellished (no jewelry: sorry ladies).

Clearly, God did not withdraw His Guidance from these folk.  This cannot be said for most other communities I’ve encountered, including Muslims.  Am I implying that Muslims are deluded ascetics who’ve withdrawn from the society of the responsible?  In a sense, yes, because they withdrew from the practical responsibilities of fellowship, education, industry and commerce and cannot meet their own needs let alone those of their neighbors.  Muslim pre-occupation with religious fetishes rather than practicum created a global community of consumers addicted to form rather than substance, indicating also that survival came to depend on booty (charity), subterfuge and traditional Ali Baba hypocrisy.  This quite bluntly is pathological fetishism-in-action—which Harvard sociologists suggested was the major causative factor for the failure of all other utopian communes in their study.  There is a lesson here.

The leaders and citizens of every ‘failed’ utopian effort spent time and resources on the discussion and dissemination of dogma, hypothesis and ideas rather than on the deeds of practical application.  Ritual and sophistry became paramount while the real work of maintaining the community went unattended.  Basic needs were provided for as long as charitable booty held out, but personal responsibility was cast upon unspecified waters ‘society at large’ without consequent provision-for and administration-of networks requiring personal accountability; much like the now failing American Government.  When loot proffered by philanthropists ran dry, dogma mattered little to utopian seeking sheep, who then wandered off to greener pastures.  This sounds a lot like today’s liberals; the flower children of the 1960s; or desert Arabs moving on to Iraq, Iran, India, the Magrib and Granada after exhausting the tithes of Egypt and their own God-given peninsula.  The trouble for most Semites, however, is that there are no more ‘greener pastures’.  This certainly leaves their majorities wallowing in a squandered backwater heritage: the failure to sustainably exploit and responsibly utilize God-given wealth.


The closest thing to successful Islam I have yet to see on the face of the earth are North American Mennonite and Amish Communities.  Here is why I say this:

·         they live in peace;

·         command the respect of neighboring unbelievers;

·         have little or no crime or immorality;

·         survive in the midst of a materialist society without assimilating moral, social or economic chaos;

·         are financially independent and prosperous without reliance upon the government;

·         have little to no poverty;

·         are autonomous communes with an impressive and unassailable individual/collective integrity

·         are clean; nowhere do you see rubbish or slap-dash hovels utilized for anything.

·         The men are fit, virile, long-lived and without vice. 

·         The women are icons of modesty and home-spun industry. 

·         Their character and history is almost universally unimpeachable, except for the few bad apples that fall from every tree. 

seamstressThese good people outpaced all other Christian sects as well as Islam for the following reasons:

·         They are not an aberrant sect.  They are as pure to the doctrine of Prophet Isa (Jesus) as can be expected in light of Christian history and have no vestiges of idolatry in their worship; not even the Cross. 

·         They put the Spiritual Laws into actual practice: they are not talkers but doers of faith.

With the exception of the Trinitarian Doctrine and their mode of worship, all other differences between their religion and important Islamic Doctrines are trivial.  I fully expect (pray) that when the judgment of God falls upon America, most of these communities will be spared the horseman’s wrath.

After giving you this living example, there’s little more to say about the Law of Community except to admonish all readers to stop talking and start doing.  It is more than possible for Muslims to establish enclaves of Islam in a similar manner, and I have seen a few initiatives of great promise moving in this direction; including Imran Hosein’s initiative, the ‘Muslim Village’.  May Allah guide them away from the neo-patriarchy of social noxiousness, and the true liberty of continual success, here and hereafter.


[1]       See: Heavens on Earth: Utopian Communities in America, 1680-1880, by Mark Holloway.

[2]       AIPAC Lobby, Southern Poverty Law Center and ADL are typical examples.

[3]     The sociologists determined that the most important activity that secured the longevity of these communes was the singular fact that each community held weekly meetings in order to determine and provide for the needs of its members.  This singular factor segregated them from all other failed groups subjected to scrutiny.