Thursday, February 16, 2006

An Appeal...

This is an appeal to the people following a certain religion. Islam. I am not an Islamophobe. I am not a Muslim-hater. Some of my best friends are Muslim, and there are things about the religion that I admire strongly. Now hear me out before you jump to conclusions about me. Recent events have sown in me a great distaste for your religion, and I hope you look at this not as a condemnation or criticism, but rather a plea for improvement.

I have heard all the arguments that it is just a small minority that conducts such abhorrent acts, and the news media popularizes those minorities' actions, because sensationalism sells, dull reality doesnt. And I absolutely agree that they are extremely valid and true. So basically, people following Islam can be split into two categories, the insane extremists, and the decent moderates, the latter forming the overwhelming majority. However, the fact remains that it is only Islam that in recent times has caused the recent carnage and destruction we have all witnessed. Well, maybe caused is not the right word: Lets say, been unjustly used to justify those heinous acts. Islam, you will say does not condone any of the things those terrorists do. Yet, a relatively large number of people are convinced that Islam does indeed give them the liberty, nay the obligation, to kill or maim in the process of the spreading of God's words. This could be the result of one of two things, 1) Islam actually inherently supports violence, something I am not ready to believe, if for nothing else for the fact that I am an optimist, 2) That it is being mischaracterized, which I hope is true.

However, my belief that the second situation is true angers me even further. Since moderate Muslim's (who form the majority) version of Islam is being so grossly distorted, why are they not doing anything. If you are a moderate Muslim, I am sure you will reply that cartoons misrepresenting Islam in the western media do nothing to help your cause. But I am not talking about Western people's beliefs of Islam. I am talking about Muslim's beliefs about Islam. About the minor fringe, which has the greatest influence on your religion's image. If a significant percentage of Muslims themselves have trouble understanding what the religion is all about, after having lived in its fold all their lives long, how can you expect Christians, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus to understand your religion?

I have no answer for how moderate muslims could reform their religion, or their image, but I do believe that making sure that your religious educators stop spreading the word that blowing up buildings is a sure way to heaven, is a good starting spot. Mend your house before you trying fixing others.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

YES I FEEL YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT SAYING THAT IF THE MODERATE GROUP IS MAJORITY THEY CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE , BUT THE QUESTIONIS - IS THE MAJORITY REALLY THE POWERFUL LOT? HAVENT THEY BEEN CRITICISED AND TOD AGAIN AND AGAIN BY THEIR PREACHERS AND THE LEADERS THAT THEY ARE TRAITERS AMD THEY SHALL BE PUNISHED. SO ACTUALLY EVEN IFTHEY WANT TO DO SOMETHING TO HELP THE WORLD AT LARGE THEY ARE FRIGHTENED AS THIS FRIGHT HAS BEEN DRILLED INTO THEM SINCE THE CHILDHOOD THAT EITHER AGREE WITH US OR YOU WILL BE SENT TO HELL. SO IT IS BETTER TO KEEP QUIET AND NOT SAY ANYTHNG

sleepy sentinel said...

I think its important that someone finally stood up and said this and im really glad that you have the b**ls to do it.Yes this is an important issue that needs to be addressed and the influence that these 'mullahs' have over the life of some sections of the Muslim world is disturbing, I think it is the only religion in the world bar Christianity that has resorted to such aggressive expansionism.I guess the solution is to work for the upliftment, both financial and social, for poorer sections of the Muslim world because I think disillusioned youth is a prime target of these fanatics and only in giving them a better chance at life can this target base be diluted.With prosperity comes a natural disinclination to resort to such extreme measures.

Hiren said...

If you study religions in depth what is followed is quite different from what is proposed initially. That is why there are people who speak against organized religion and say that one should opt for spirtuality instead. (Religons are many, religion is one).

Mr Jawaharlal Nehru used to say that more harm and violence has been done in the history of mankind in the name of religion more than anything else.

You are right about one thing though- no religion can espouse violence and right minded people should speak up.

I would also add here that it is better to refrain voluntariy from using religious issues in the name of freedom of speech and unnecessarily arouse controvery which can also cause loss of innocent lives. There are plenty of other themes where one can exercise one's creativity without controversy.

Deepti said...

Religion is an extremely acidious thing to ponder about.. the more you dip your hand into it's faults the more it corrodes you.. it's quite true that Islam as a religion does raise its weapons more than any other religion ever has as a resort to revenge and justice!! But do you really believe that an appeal could change the beliefs of a thousand years????

suprateek said...

Religion is a man-made concept. It was invented by early man to explain things he didn't understand. Even today, religion fills in the gaps that science cannot explain. Now I'm not saying that I think that 'science is the new God' and blah blah....but I do think subscribing to a particular religion...uhh....religiously is one of the greatest flaws in us as human beings and is, at the same time, inherently a human quality. It is the greatest conundrum in the world. Religions all around the world preach many of the same things....but they differ radically in other areas and they all imply, according to us human beings,that doing other than what has been suggested is a sin! Consider a simple thing as that of eating meat.... which Jainism is against. Or of eating pork which Islam is against. OR beef, which Hinduism is against. So lemme get this straight here..... The average religious follower of religion X who does not eat the offending animal (beg yr pardon, believes that his/her God is looking down at him, nodding his head, smiling and saying "Attaboy"?!? Meanwhile Prophet Muhammad is looking at the Western countries with disdain..... while Lord Krishna stares disapprovingly at Americans chomping on beef?!?!? It truly is mind-boggling how the human race has allowed religion, an inherently flawed concept, to decide it's own fate.
To say some things about Islam are wrong.... or some things about Christianity are wrong...or things about Hinduism are wrong is a result of us being limited by our own myopic perspectives. We say that no, Islam is causing most of the problems in the world today. How do you know the other religions aren't causing problems? Just because they aren't as sensational doesn't mean they aren't problems...indeed some of them are so deep-rooted, they have become like this permanent cancerous growth on humanity which we all live with everyday....which manifests itself in the form of prejudice. You say Islam causes all the problems today....take care to examine the history of humankind in the last 3000 years and you'll find that everyone has an equal share of the pie. So, my point is that its not a particular religion which needs to change....it IS religion...which needs to change.

hey varun whats up, long time man....how're things?
:-)

vRad said...

@sleepy: I am not sure if poverty is the only factor in play here. No doubt, it does indeed magnify the problem, as it gives the people in control, easy targets to prey on. But I agree with you that better economics might be the solution.

@hiren: Actually, not just religion, but everything in the world changes radically over time. Unfortunately, religions, as they define themselves to be the absolute truth, cannot change over years, as that would undermine their message of being from God, which leads to these problems. Also, In my opinion, free speech is paramount. Its about time we stop blaming the message, but rather blame people who caused destruction because of the message. Besides, I shall utilize the line drawing fallacy here. How do you decide what should be spoken against and what not? A very large number of americans get offended when people all over the world say Fuck Bush. But they dont react by burning down embassies. Should we 'reward' their civility by by continuing cursing bush, and reward the people giving death threats by stopping anything offensive to them?

@Deepti: I certainly am not audacious enough to believe that my appeal shall change anything. Yet, I dont think that voicing my opinion hurts anyone, or anything. Unless that individual chooses to be hurt by my opinions. At the same time, it allows me to clear my thoughts, hopefully provides others with a different angle to look at things, and if in the process it reverses, modifies, or even strengthens someone's belief, I shall take that as a bonus and move on.

@Suprateek: I certainly wont deny that religion is indeed at fault. I dont think i made this very clear, but my point is, at the current time, it is indeed Islam that is at greatest fault. Over the years, most religions have caused a lot of trouble, often worse than what Islam is doing right now. But in all those religions, efforts have been made to rectify the situation. All these efforts have not been successful, and even after successes, there have been reversals, since it is the nature of things to change. But currently, it is Islam that has hit a nadir, and it is the responsibility of those who claim to be Islamic leaders, to try and improve the religion. Or at least people's interpretations of it. Tomorrow Hinduism might espouse terrorism at a global scale, at which time i will make the same appeal to Hindus all over the world. (Although, I think this is not as likely, because of Hinduism's greatest strength and weakness: A lack of a central structure, or universally agreed on beliefs, but that is a different post altogether)

One alternative is to rid the world of religion altogether, however, that is unlikely to happen, because a belief in God seems integral to human nature, even biologically (Just do a google search on the God gene). So with that in mind, it is always better to improve what is at hand, rather than say that there will always be problems and do nothing to correct the obvious issues that exist.

Deep Purple said...

i think your last line sums it all up: 'Mend your house before you trying fixing others'

people living in glass houses shouldnt throw rocks at others' homes.

but having said everything, religon is such a personal matter, its a disgrace that we as humans cant just respect each others' similarities and differences and just move on along:(

a great post and i love your blog title:)

vRad said...

@Sadaf:

Well thats true, you would have totally got me there, except that I dont subscribe to any religion's views. So I dont have a house to mend.

Glad you liked the post. I appreciate that you can like what someone has said even if you do not entirely agree with, and that is indeed more of what the world needs.

chitra said...

(It's an emotive issue. Sorry for taking so much space!! To be deleted after perusal :-) )

For the major part of my life, I've been absolutely ignorant of the interpretations of most religious teachings. All I remember is what they taught us at school - respect all religions. They're all equal. That may have been the reason for my discomfort every time someone brought up the issue of Islam justifying killing.

Very recently, after an extremely unpleasant argument with someone regarding this, I picked up a copy of The Koran and decided to see for myself what it said. I admit it wasn't a thorough enough research, but here's the little bit that I found out.

Quotes from The Holy Koran

Rules of War

*[2:190] You may fight in the cause of GOD against those who attack you, but do not aggress. GOD does not love the aggressors.
*[2:191] You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.
*[2:192] If they refrain, then GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
*[2:193] You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors.
*[2:194] During the Sacred Months, aggression may be met by an equivalent response. If they attack you, you may retaliate by inflicting an equitable retribution. You shall observe GOD and know that GOD is with the righteous.
*[2:195] You shall spend in the cause of GOD; do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction. You shall be charitable; GOD loves the charitable.

It's for everyone to see that it does NOT justify aggression, UNLESS in response to attack or oppression. (Note again - If they refrain, you shall not aggress.)

Aren't the paranoid millions whose first reaction to the mention or sight of a muslim is that of expressing suspicion or even, in certain cases, disgust, only giving the followers of the religion a reason to respond violently? Violence in any form is wrong, unforgivable. But is there any agreement on who the real perpetrators of violence are?

It is in the excuses the most 'civilized' nations of the world invent to bomb muslim-majority states that the religious fanatics you speak of, find their excuses to preach and propogate killing in the name of religion.

vRad said...

Hey Chitra, you make a very good point, and I agree with you, that Islam probably does not promote aggression at all, in theory. However, i am a realist, and all I see is people killing people, who have not directly harmed them. The problem is not what the texts say, but their interpretation. What the koran says, or really means, is irrelevant, compared to what people interpret it to mean.

However, the fact is, that Osama Bn Laden has already claimed that America has attacked Islam, by placing its soldiers on the holy land. So just by that action, if you believe Osama, as a Muslim, you are allowed to attack civilian Americans (as they pay the salaries of the aggressing soldiers), and keep your conscience clean.

Compare this action to another nation that has US troops on its soil: Japan. Since the end of WW2, Japan has not had a military, and has american bases all over its nation. How did they react? By building their nation to the point that the US was scared that it would be taken over by Japan, albeit in an absolutely legal, and non-violent way.

On the other hand, I believe that Islamic 'Terrorism' is war, of the kind we had in the early 20th century. With one minor exception. Instead of warring factions being defined by geography, they are defined by religion. While Islamic 'Terrorism' is morally no different from German, or Japanese Terrorism (in WW2) from a moral and philosophical standpoint, from a realist position, it is best to look down upon it as wrong and reprehensible. Simply because, while most germans were contained within Germany, religious sympathizers might be your next door neighbors.

The point about Islamophobiam or racism as some would like to call it, I am a big freedom of speech and expression guy, to the extent, that if someone was to come up to me and say that I was a fucking Indian, and that all Indians were terrorists, I would not ask any action to be taken against him. I place minimal restrictions on what I consider taboo as speech, for the simple reason that speech places the onus on the listener to react the way he wants to. So someone can choose to ignore what someone else believes, or says, and there will be no significant difference in their fate. However, when speech does not provide the listener the leisure of weighing his options before reacting, then it is off limits. Threats, and the classic, shouting "fire" in a theater fall under this category. However, speech or beliefs by themselves are not causes for violence.