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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Where DO we go from here?

IPS News Today:

Hundreds of worshippers watched in horror as the workers, mostly Muslims, brought down the roof, pushed down the walls and smashed the deities that immigrant Indian workers had brought with them from South India to provide solace in a strange new land.
Having witnessed the government-backed stupid and disgusting acts of the demolishing of Babri Mosque by Hindus in secular India and of the Bamiyaan statues by Muslims in Talibanized Afghanistan it comes as no surprise that progressive Malaysia is heading the same way with its recent temple-breaking. Nothing, it seems, will stem the tide of fanaticism.

Although we are often told that 'education' will put an end to all this (with more than a subtle hint at Western-style education being the only valid kind), most of the neo-Cons and the American Right-Wingers prove that even education received at the most prestigious of Universities can't keep bad men down. And it's not just bad men. Even fairly reasonable people, like blogger Svend White, commenting on this dastardly act, writes:
Let's be fair to the zealots. Their actions bear a certain surface similarity to the actions of the Prophet (pbuh) when he smashed the idols in the Kaaba upon his victorious return to Mecca. Of course, the context of the Prophet's actions were utterly, categorically different. For one thing, he was the divinely inspired Messenger of Allah. Then there's the fact that he was cleaning out the greatest of all shrines to God, a sanctuary built according to Islamic tradition by Abraham himself.
I am afraid I don't quite follow that line of reasoning. What is it about religious beliefs that incites such acts of madness? I believe it is the indoctrination of an unholy trinity of concepts that teach [a] we are right; [b] they are wrong; [c] as true believers it is our duty to save them from hell-fire (or consign them to it, if they disagree).

In some cases success in this venture offers an additional bonus in the afterlife. No logical or scientific approach can win over such ideas merely by putting out parallel tracts. The concepts, themselves, in their very basic assumptions, need to be challenged head-on! 'Moderate Enlightenment' certainly won't do it (Sorry, Mr President!) because it's a flawed concept.

Gautama Buddha said the only wars in which disputes are really settled is when both sides win. Now, think: If a non-believer on one side and a strong believer on the other are asked to become moderate, wouldn't that mean that the non-believer merely has to express personal tolerance for the other view (with qualifiers like 'agreeing to diasagree' and 'live and let live')? While the believer needs to shift from a stance that is not merely personal but Divinely Ordained. He not only finds no justification for doing so, after his accepting the three points made above, but also risks a terrible afterlife. And, in any case, how long will the 'tolerance' of either party last when the other's interpretation of this truce develops scope-creep?

Sam Harris's The End of Faith provides an interesting point of view; and Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) makes a fascinating comment via his fast-paced The Religion War, for readers of lighter books — a category that could exclude English Lit Majors ;-)

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Blogger vintage said...

i thought islam was a religion of tolerence and peace. why people tend to forget that baffles me.

who gave the authority to the people mentioned, to play God and decide who's right and who's wrong?

sometimes, i wonder whether education as it is percieved today, as in, what education really is, will help or not?

why do people feel a need to be a part of something greater than themselves (hence forming groups and engaging themselves in the acts as described above). why cant they find that greatness within themselves and just live and let live?

13 June, 2006 13:03

Blogger afp763389 said...

great idea... great effort... very sensitive and revealing... good luck & take care

13 June, 2006 13:13

Blogger the olive ream said...

ZAK, a remarkable post raising a very important question.

I can only hazard a guess as to the real cause of such extreme/radical behaviour. Perhaps, it stems from some personal inferiority complex which forces them to cling to a group that they consider powerful. There seems little difference between these so called 'Muslims' and bunch of college fraternity brats. Both suffer from avarice and are in desperate need for recognition.

13 June, 2006 20:23

Anonymous rayhan said...

The only thing bold about your questions, Vintage, is the annoying font style!

05 July, 2006 10:24

Anonymous vintage said...

honestly rayhan, is that the best you could come up with? if you didn't have anything to say about the post, you needn't had said anything at all.

as for my annoying font style: live with it.

05 July, 2006 15:01

Blogger Zakintosh said...

sorry, vintage. i couldn't, either ... so it's been modified.

05 July, 2006 15:01

Blogger vintage said...

its different if you want it that way Z, its your blog, your rules apply. and i can respect that.

06 July, 2006 00:11

Anonymous svend said...

This comment is a bit late in coming, but I don't think it's been established that belief in God or religion causes people to do these things.

As the Talmud says, "Man is made of a crooked timber." Whatever he touches gets warped accordingly.
Villains invoke whatever is politically effective in their mileau to achieve their ends. For most of history, the most politically effective ideas and slogans were religious, so that's how carnage was justified.

Ben Franklin said, "If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?" Some might argue that the unique (in quantity as well as quality) carnage of the 20th century provides a chilling answer to that question.

I should note that your excerpt might leave the wrong impression. I was not arguing that these actions are in line with Muhammad's example at all. Quite to the contrary in numerous respects, I point out. I was trying to illustrate a common pitfall of literalism and lazy thinking by religionists.

Thanks for the link.

14 July, 2007 21:48


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