The thing is, either you have Sharia laws or you do not have Sharia laws. You cannot have Sharia laws and then argue that you want the more modern or mild version. You get hanged in Malaysia for ‘waging war against the King’ while under Sharia laws you do not. Under Sharia laws you are allowed to lay down your arms and will be pardoned if you do. So do you prefer hanging under Secular laws or pardoning under Sharia laws?
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
I have just completed my course on the downfall of the Roman Empire and one of the interesting discussions we had was regarding why the Roman Empire fell, and I gave my opinion on the matter as follows:
“I think the invasions were not the cause but rather the symptoms of a ‘disease’. The invasions was a symptom that Rome was weak and could no longer defend its borders. Why did Rome become weak and could no longer defend itself when in the past it was the aggressor? That goes back to the argument that you need a strong economy to have a strong military. So it is all about money in the end.”
And this is what my tutor said:
“Petra is probably correct here. I say ‘probably’ because anyone who can prove with certainty why the western empire fell is in line for a Nobel Prize. (Possibly for economics, as there was certainly a financial element).”
In short, I was talking about cause and affect. The reason for the downfall of the Roman Empire was because of invasions from the north. But then the northerners migrated south all the way into Rome because they themselves were facing invasions from the east. So to save themselves they migrated south in search of food and shelter.
Meanwhile, Rome had spread itself thin, all the way to England, so it was short of soldiers. And if you want more soldiers you need more money to pay for the military expansion. So Rome discarded their ‘gold standard’ and started minting more money. Eventually inflation set in and Rome’s money got devalued and became worthless (like the Japanese ‘banana money’).
In short, overspending and ‘printing’ more money screwed up the economy and the weak economy screwed up Rome’s military strength. And that meant the borders of the Roman Empire also became weak and hence were prone to penetrations. It became worse when the battle-hardened soldiers were sent out to fight, such as in England, while the border soldiers were locally-sourced and not battle-hardened.
But why did Rome expand to the point of implosion and eventually collapse? It was all because of image and ego. To become emperor you needed to be strong and ‘strength’ was proven on the battlefield. The emperor had to be in front of his soldiers and fight for his life (and a number of emperors died in the process). Then he marches back to Rome triumphant and claims the ‘throne’.
So the citizens of Rome paid for the glory of Rome, which is actually the glory of the Emperor of Rome. And this eventually bankrupted Rome and trigged the downfall of the Empire. It may have taken 500 years but the Western Roman Empire collapsed in the end with the Eastern Roman Empire surviving another 1,000 years before the Ottomans took over.
What would have happened had the Roman Empire remained strong? Well, first of all, Constantine would not have needed to use the Christians to strengthen his political position. And that means Christianity would not have become Rome’s official religion. Furthermore, the Nicene Creed would not have been invented and Catholicism would not have been born. On top of that, Christianity would have remained divided into hundreds of many different sects or versions and would have not become ‘united under Rome’ like it has today (early Christianity was a mess and would not be recognisable today).
So Christianity or Catholicism was a useful tool for Constantine to ‘save’ the Roman Empire and reinvent the Roman Empire as the Holy Roman Empire, which then lived for another 1,500 years until the 1800s. Hence Christianity was very much ‘political Christianity’ as Islam was, and still is, ‘political Islam’.