If it is it doesn't matter

Saturday, February 25, 2006

My Problems with Islam 1

I was going to call this the "Muslim Mindset." I reconsidered, and am glad I did. There isn't, of course, a "Muslim mindset." Muslims aren't all of a piece. And my apologies for the cliche, but it is literally true that since I have been actively communicating on the net, most of my friends, and most of the blogs I read happen to be by Muslims. (It all started with checking out Egyptian SandMonkey's blog, and following links to links to links. If I ever get a blogroll up, there will easily be fifty to a hundred different blogs from the Middle East, or from people who came from there, and if I ever get in touch with my Pakistani friends, I'll be including many of them here.)

I read their good and sensible words -- okay sometimes some of them lean a little too much towards the neo-con for me, but I can understand this. I read their challenges of mob rule, of crazy imams, of hypocrisy, and I cheer. So many of them are secular, or speak about a moderated Islam, an Islam that -- though they might not use the word -- is truly a Reformed Islam. Or sometimes they don't discuss religion at all, just talk about their lives, what they experience, even their cats. Reading them gives me hope.

But they are such a small minority. As I read them, I also read the news, the intersect fighting in Iraq, the stories they tell of Islamicizers moving closer to power. (I know of no Muslim country where the sort of moderation that I read from Sandy, or the Big Pharaoh, or the others is even a minor political force, is even attempting to get some power. Perhaps I am wrong, please tell me I am wrong and give me examples. All i read is countries where a moderately secular government is trying to hold power against the Islamicizers, and usually making more and more concessions to them to hold on to power -- Sharia, Hudood ordinances, etc.)

And I read the others, and remember the discussions I had on that forum I have spoken of. And I remember the sites I was directed to, the arguments I got into, friendly ones yes, but the sadness of the responses I received.

And I read Omar, and his Bridging the Gap project. Such a brilliant idea, if it had been what he had purported it to be. Instead I read the same old apologetics, the same old 'don't blame us for a few crazies' (but the crazies aren't a few), 'aren't Christians sometimes terrorists too?' (yes, a minute minority that are rejected by any government they come in contact, but what Muslim government is cracking down on terrorists), "Islam isn't anti-woman, Mohammed was far ahead of Christianity when he wrote" (yes, but the West moved ahead -- partially by 'taming Christianity' and becoming secular -- but the Qur'an is immoveable and 'unchangeable.')

And I remember the superstitions and gullibility of my friends, and how sad it was that they saw the world that way. Really believing in djinns, and ghosts, and that "good dreams come from Allah, bad ones from Satan.' Creationism and the phrase one (admittedly young and not overly bright) Muslim said in the discussion, "You say monkeys turned into men, I say that men were turned into monkeys." (And I have found the verses in the Qur'an which gave him this idea). I remember the ones, not always unintelligent, not at all overly religious, who denied the Moon Landing, who bought into the "9/11 was a plot by Bush" idiocy. And the ones who in all seriousness and sincerity talked about Bush (or America) killing 'millions of Muslims.'

And the paranoia, the firm belief by so many of them, by so many writers I have read, that everybody was plotting against Islam. The belief that some of them had that "Armageddon" (and the belief that the end of days was near was as rampant among them as among the most scared of Christian Fundamentalists) would be a battle between Christians and Muslims, and their belief that Christians 'believed the same thing, the only difference was who would win.' (For those of my readers who are Muslim and who believe the same thing, let me say that I have NEVER read a Christian Apocalypticist even mentioning Muslims or Islam. They have different enemies in mind.)

And I remember a friend, who, in fact, described himself as a 'closet atheist' but who was so infected with the idea that non-Muslims were 'enemies,' that it took me a month to get him to even consider reading Naipaul, for no other reason than he was Indian (even though Naipaul's family had been Trinidadian for generations, he had no religious faith, and I praised his objectivity and abvility as a reporter.) Another discussion of Pakistan was dismissed, not because it was wrong, but because it had been published in a Bangladeshi newspaper and therefore had to be unworthy of notice.

And then come the true horrors -- and don't tell me that Christians do the same. They have committed some horrors, as have Jews, and Hindus, and others. But if I could put a pie graph here of all the horrors in the past twenty-five years, the suicide bombings, the religious riots, the other bombings, the murders of 'people who have offended our religion', the honor killings and girls kidnapped into marriage, the rapes as 'punishment', the beheadings and kidnappings and murders in churches and destruction of religious symbols and sites -- all the actions that were taken 'in the name of religion' there would be tiny, almost invisible slices for the other religions, maybe, with the abortion clinic bombings and the 'troubles' in Ireland, a larger slice for Christianity, but 99% of the chart would be colored green.

Now I have some ideas as to why these attitudes, these problems are endemic to Islam, and I am going to explore them. Hopefully more coherently than I have in this post. But please, i WANT arguements about what i have to say. As I'll explain in the next post.

(And yes, I'll get back to cats, and tv, and domestic politics soon enough.)

1 Comments:

Blogger Leila M. said...

OK, I'm going to give this a go, although I think email would probably be an easier venue that doing this in a blog (and yes you are long winded! LOL!) It'd be easier if you broke it down into short points in each post, that way the reader could respond to that particular item, etc...

to begin with, I'm going to have to point out that Islam is far from being anything monolithic in nature, there being many differences within this cubby-hole, so many variations of opinion and practise and historical view and jurisprudence and (well you get the idea). If you look at Islamic books written a century, nay fifty years ago, nay twenty, nay ten years ago, you'll notice right away how dynamic Muslims are within the islamic context. It's never just one thing.

Number two that needs to be set out- There's Muslims, and there's Islam. There's religion, and what people choose to do with it. I believe that a lot of what we are seeing in today's world is mainly political, albeight infused with a whole lot of religious rhetoric to lend itself some sort of legitimacy. I think we also come across a good deal of legitimate social justice issues that are present in todays world and there's a lot of people who are trying to make things better in this sense. Some of them do things the right way, and some of them do it the wrong way. It's the latter that we see over-promoted in the media over and over again, with very little attention here in the States given to the positive, beyond the occasional token article. This right here is reality- the information we get that is readily available is not necessarily a full picture of what the thing actually is.

Example- take Iraq, good selection for this case. Recently there was the Al Askari bombing and then the revenge attacks, and then the revenge on the revenge attacks. Looks bad in the media, doesn't it? Even I find myself flipping out over the events as well, worrying about my in laws who live in Basra. However, with these news items, we must also have some basic levity as well, such as these:

1. say, hypothetically, 20 mosques were attacked and 30 people killed

2. What is the population of Iraq? In the millions

3. Because of the sectarian violence, does it then follow that it is safe to assume that the country is therefore full of fundi sectarian kooks who are all out to kill each other? It's an easy assumption, however:

4. if that were so, wouldn't the streets be running in blood by now? Interestingly, they are not

5. Also take note the photographs being posted on the issue. We see a pictre of a man dressed in black, covering even his face, and toting an Ak47 and standing on top of a mosque.

6. First impression- he's sectarian and is trying to bomb it, or take it over, or he's up there going postal and out to shoot random passerbys.

7. Then one reads the little byline (if there even is one) that states "so and so from sect X stands on top of a mosque from sect Y in order to protect it from sectarian violence."

8. Result- we have to realise the information we get is very limited, told by indivuduals who have their own agendas (whether it be pro or anti islam, pro or anti war, religious or secular etc), and will therefore display items to others using their own "tinting" so to say...

Ok, now I'm tired. I'll try to keep up with you

9:57 PM  

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