Monday, September 05, 2005

I slam, you slam, we all slam for Islam

I've been cogitating over this one for a few days so appropriate to inflict it on you now that there's a big display of pro-Islam downstairs in the foyer.

I think where our whole sense of progression and the embracing of a politically-correct agenda comes unstuck is in the Problem of Religion. We quite rightly want to foster tolerance; when we invite migrants to settle in our country we don't want to persecute them for their beliefs the way China does the Falun Gong. Only our more rabid reactionaries even want to ban the headscarf from schools, the way they do in France.

Our politicians are careful at every turn to state that the Moslems cutting people's heads off, the ones blowing up crowds with car bombs, and the ones flying planes into buildings and playing havoc with the London Underground, have a (in John Howard's words) perverted sense of Islam and its teachings. You'd want to hope so or it's no better than all those old religions that practiced ritual sacrifice.

But if it's simply down to them getting things completely wrong - perhaps for their own bloodthirsty agenda - why aren't the religious leaders taking a proactive stance to curb this activity? Now something to this effect DID happen when they were trying to rescue the hostage Douglas Wood but, apart from a token "We condemn this activity" it has been noticeably absent at a broader level. And this is most lamentable when you consider the current world situation.

So why don't the ayatollahs and imams and suchlike join forces in quelling a movement that is causing Islam almost irreparable damage? There are a few possibilities. They may be only giving lip service to the opposition while secretly supporting the bombings. Community leaders seem to inhabit a sliding scale of more or less sanctioning these acts. Or, and here is the point I wish to make, there may be no avenue for them to say that the terrorists are working against what it says in the Koran because they are spiritually in line with the teachings - a true application and not a perverse interpretation.

One of the boards downstairs states 'Ways in which Islam respects women'. Hmmmm. Have to wear burkas while men can get around with head uncovered. Strike. Clitorectomy. Major, major strike. Women travel under men's passport. Strike. Cannot own property. Strike. Must allow the man to speak for them. Strike.
More strikes than a building site. Nice try.
Want a lesson in how women are respected in Islam? Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Religious tolerance? Those Buddha statues were thousands of years old, arsewipes.

The problem, as I see it, is in trying to apply harsh desert religions two thousand years old. It goes equally for Christianity, except for the fact that Christians seem to be better at papering over its more repressive and intolerant features (unless you're a minor who's had consensual sex with another minor and live in some bohick US state where you've got a record (unspecified) as a sex offender for the rest of your days. Now that's backwards.)

And the idea of a fatwah. My attitude is that a deity who cannot fight their own battles is in no wise worth your devotion.

I came across a Koran in a department bookstore. It was only cheap and I thought I would disavow myself of my prejudice. I picked it up, opened it at random, it was a long section on detailing how a woman who had committed adultery is to be taken to the public square and stoned to death; that all the people, children, the lot, should gather to watch. I don't know what happens to the man but, given that all the accounts I hear of fathers killing the daughter who has shamed them I suspect rank hypocrisy.
It didn't disavow a goddamn thing, needless to say. I was going to buy it but I decided I had enough medieaval morality with the Old Testament.

3 Comments:

At 9:11 pm , Blogger Christopher T. George said...

Hello Berko--

You wrote: "So why don't the ayatollahs and imams and suchlike join forces in quelling a movement that is causing Islam almost irreparable damage? There are a few possibilities. They may be only giving lip service to the opposition while secretly supporting the bombings. Community leaders seem to inhabit a sliding scale of more or less sanctioning these acts. Or, and here is the point I wish to make, there may be no avenue for them to say that the terrorists are working against what it says in the Koran because they are spiritually in line with the teachings - a true application and not a perverse interpretation."

I think the leaders of Islam are threatened by the radicals, and are afraid to act against them. So it perhaps isn't as much that they are in agreement with them but more that they feel unable to take a stand fearing for their own positions and reluctant to alienate both the radicals and their own followers.

I do think the key to the problems of the Middle East and the Islamic world lies with Islam itself to straighten out, and it isn't something the West or non-Muslims can do. But the question is whether they will be able to straighten things out. Possibly not while the firebrands seem to have the incentive.

The Middle East and Islam are in turmoil and the radicals seem to be able to act with impunity in places like Egypt or Pakistan, Indonesia or the U.S. The West fails to understand that Osama bin Laden and his ilk want to overthrow the governments of the Middle East first and foremost, rather than hit U.S. skyscrapers. The West is not the primary target, although world domination by radical Islam might be the ultimate objective.

 
At 5:30 am , Blogger Sherry P said...

hi, i think there are as many different reasons as there are people for the response or seeming lack thereof.

there are, i'm sure muslims that are afraid or were afraid to comment, there are,i'm sure, people that are openly or secretly pleased that there are terrorists in their religion, think them warriors and martyrs. who knows all of the reasons people do or say or think as they do.

there were also some muslim leaders that did speak out against terrorism, but they were ignored by the media in the beginings of all of this because it wasn't the typre of thing that sold papers or kept viewers. hatred and fear sell papers, make for big ratings. it also makes for a country or countries that will react out of anger and fear and vengence giving their governments a green light to fight wars wherever they chose without real proof of a threat. that's nothing new.
i have known and know, people of all faiths or none. they are remarkably the same as any other group of people. some good, some bad, most just average, everyday people trying to get along in life as best they can.
as to islam and some leaders, i don't see any difference between an islamic cleric spouting hate and murder and pat robertson calling for the assasination of another country's leader as he did recently about chevaz or the deaths of supreme court justices.

hate is hate. there's enough to go around.

there are awful passages in the christian bible. christians, choose ,for the most part, to realize that life is different now. there is stoning in the old testament. christians study the old testament as well as the new, but pick and choose the passages, again for the most part that make sense in today's world.

i can not believe that any "God" needs human beings to force others to worship one way or another. "God" i would think, is more than able to do whatever "God" would choose, without our help. to think otherwise seems. arrogant.

 
At 8:03 pm , Blogger Berko Wills said...

Chris, you could well be right about Islamic leaders being gunshy about criticising too strenuously the actions of the radicals. Though I don't think even the mildest Christian cleric would hesitate to speak against perverse interpretations of Christianity such as that practiced by the Ku Klux Klan or various Christian militia. They mightn't offer it up as their first choice of subject for a sermon but address it as it it is put in front of them.

This is because of a weakening of western faith, a need to be accommodating and to keep pace with materialist progress in ethics. For whatever reason (I suspect the severe injunctions that remain against criticising holy word) Islam only co-exists with a freer social structure in some states - perhaps the ones you see as the targets for reform.

I think universal Islam is the goal as much as universal Christianity is for Christians. They are creed religions, not communal ones. You have to jump through hoops to convince the elders you are serious about 'becoming a Jew' whereas any reformed junkie in the mall will sign you up to a christian sect meeting in a hired hall.

Christians used to be particularly savage about showing people the light, now they can claim to possess more reason than Moslems as they mainly cajole peacefully.

Sherry, I agree that Pakistani refugees cheering the 9/11 attacks are no better than Pat proposing assassination. You have to wonder at the mentality of people who can confuse idealogy with human life - the latter is far more precious.

Of course I have no doubt that the Iraq invasion stirred up a hornet's nest and gave fuel to the conflict. But no lasting victory can come from violent acts: you have to persuade the enemy or opponent that your belief is greater.

Well I agree that this is a bad thing to do. I think it's good if people (can) put out searching criticism of a belief system without being threatened. I'm very suspicious of the efficacy of any thing that uses anything other than clear eyed logic to question its assumptions. Otherwise it becomes an exercise in finding the verse of scripture that feeds one's own hobbyhorse.

 

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