Friday, September 10, 2010

The book burning that never was...

The book burning was never going to happen. The CIA would have ensured a car accident if the guy hadn’t backed down. America may be weakened these days, but it can put its house in order when it needs to. Social panic over nothing...

Meanwhile, there is another side to all this, and I say this as a friend of Islam and someone who has an immense respect for Islamic culture and the debt the West owes to the House of Wisdom in Baghdad (and the other great Islamic universities that transferred and developed on lost classical knowledge over 1,000 years ago – Cordoba etc.) While the Bible does have its simple minded literalists (far too many of them in our beloved Nigeria), there are long and rich traditions of understanding the metaphorical/archetypal power of its many texts. And while there are many Christians who would rather dwell on the magical power of Jesus in turning a few fish into many, there are equally powerful traditions who have long since put away a childish belief in magic and understand the power of parables – in the case of the feeding of the 5000: about how we can always be more generous than we think we can.

Metaphorical truth is always more powerful than literal truth: as anyone who has delved into proverbial wisdom of any ancient culture will know.

In fact, this takes us back to Islamic thought. The very possibility of a Renaissance and then of an Enlightenment in the West came thanks to Islamic scholars such as Averroes claiming that the world of reason is equally valid to the realm of faith (an incredibly dangerous thought for many periods in all three Abrahamic faiths) - then spending his life interpreting and developing the thought of Aristotle – at a time when Europe was awash with Vandals and Visigoths with long beards growling at each other around open fires in the forest. It is the Renaissance-Enlightenment trajectory that fundamentally challenged the institutionalised dogmatic violence of the Vatican – and the fuel for both was Islamic classical thought from a millennia ago. What they don’t teach you when doing a philosophy degree in the West is how much Thomas Aquinas ‘borrowed’ his thinking from Averroes...

For a variety of reasons, Islam didn’t build on the Abbasid legacy (we have Ghengis Khan to ‘thank’ for this) and Islam has yet to go through this process of enlightenment. Any institution, no matter how large or small, can get captured by conservative forces and regress. The Koran (and the other great Islamic texts) currently remain vulnerable to an over-determined literal interpretation – despite all the obvious (and less obvious) internal fractures of Islamic scholarship within and among Muslim populations. There is good cause to believe that the modernising process is actually happening right now – Islam’s enlightenment. The Islamic fundamentalism that looms so large as an archetype of fear in many westerner’s eyes is in reality a very weak movement in comparison. There is no hope of a new Caliphate (the dream of a history that never was). Al Qaeda is not a serious threat to any large western city any more. The vast majority of muslims form part of this modernising moment within Islam. We can witness it in Saudi Arabia. We can see it in Morocco. It would be more prevalent still had American foreign policy not made such a disastrous mistake in Afghanistan in funding the Mujahadeen and the ISI. What we fear as Islamic fundamentalism is very much a product of failed American foreign policies. Do your research.

Westerner’s with sub-conscious fears or prejudices about Islam (and non-Westerners buying into the fear-matrix) really need to learn a bit of history before they mouth off too much. They need to know a little about Christianity’s ultraviolent and dogmatic past, and they need to realise the debt Western culture owes to Islam and they need to know who and what the CIA funded in its proxy wars against the Russians in the 1970s and 1980s.

Nuff said.

25 comments:

[email protected] 9:05 pm  

Seen the joke about the Iranian president threatening to burn facebook? as he feels thats the only book important to americans.


Anyway sha God dey. The Boko haram people should not just seize this as an opportunity to strike

Obi 10:11 am  

Well said!
Americans can not have their cake and eat it too..
They can't claim to be the land of religious freedom, and then turn around and protest an Islamic center being built blocks from ground zero.

I don't care if they don't allow the mosque to be built; I don't care if the douche in Florida burns a stack of Qurans (If I had my way, that bonfire would be accompanied by a bonfire of Bibles, Torahs and all other religious texts that have delivered this irrational madness of religion unto humanity). I don't even care if a rally of KKK members were tap-dancing in my town square as long as they don't infringe on my rights.

What bothers me is the hypocrisy of it all. Islamophobes should stop denying they are Islamophobes! What irks me is the 70% of America who would vehemently resent being labeled as bigots while expressing their discomfort with the Islamic center. Apparently they do not even believe in that scrap of paper called their constitution.

Anonymous,  5:39 pm  

the constitution only protects against government infringement on the right to worship one's religion. not private discrimination. I see no hypocrisy there as no government body has prevented the man from burning the korans or stopped the building of the mosque

OmoIbadan Tuntun 1:09 pm  

[email protected]:11am you tried so unsuccessfully to hide your onesidedness in this discussion, your epistle - "I don't care if they don't allow the mosque to be built; I don't care if the douche in Florida burns a stack of Qurans (If I had my way, that bonfire would be accompanied by a bonfire of Bibles, Torahs and all other religious texts that have delivered this irrational madness of religion unto humanity" still couldn't hide which side you belonged to in that argument. Like the commentator after you rightly put, everybody has risen against the Pastor, a man who was just after his chance to be relevant. Even Barack obama openly kicked against the quran burning plan because, he, like the majority of us, saw it as a big slight on the Islamic world. Two wrongs do not make a right, openly telling the world you would build in Islamic center anywhere around downtown Manhattan screams of insensitivity, while openly threatening to burn qurans in retaliation screams of the same.We all should quit blamming the US for how this was handled, their constitution allows for freedom of speech and expression...so long as it didnt break any law. Both men at the center of that saga didnt break any by their planned actions, or inactions.

Anonymous,  1:16 pm  

Thank you Anonymosy for answering Obi! I cant understand people like him who dont appreciate that America is still, for all its many bigots, the world's number one bastion for religious freedowm. Christians and pastors in nothern Nigerian burn bibles everyday! Fuck! The only reason this is an issue is because America has a maddeningly free information socirty! If a loony in Morocco has tried this, the government would have arrested him!

And Jeremy, the 'unelightened' Westerbers you speak smugly of are not afriad of Islam's history; they are rightly afraid of the present distortions. if Chritians had suicide bombers as well, people would be afraid of them to. This is not about religion. This is about security, pure and simple sir.

Anonymous,  1:22 pm  

Is this blog a joke? CIA won't do anything internal. The guy would have burnt the Quran and no security agency will do nothing.

Toksboy 6:42 pm  

What sort of precedence do you think this sets? Any crackpot can now get on worldwide TV as long as he threatens any blemish on Islam? If this moron had been totally ignored then all this would have blown over. I think the only true reaction is to treat it with the disdain it deserves. As I have done on my blog.

And as for anonymous at 1.16 who wrote that "if Christians had suicide bombers". Do they really have to be suicide bombers or can they just be bombers like say the IRA for example.

As a Muslim I feel we are starting to take ourselves way too seriously and I suspect this is a reaction from 9/11', the response from Bush and everything that has happened after. If Islam mean peace then let it be.

david 10:45 pm  

this post by jeremy is a complete joke. Like someone wrote on another blog today, when will folks STOP using christian "ultraviolence" that occured thousands of yrs ago as excuse for islam's murderous rage TODAY? The same folks who bend over backwards to tell us how much they "immensely respect" islamic culture are quick to denigrate christianity. While they spend eons regaling us with Islam's rich abassid history, they forget that MUCH OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION is itself built on christianity! No the problem is not that islam failed to advance or evolve, it is that it was started PRIMARILY as a violent political tool of oppression. Mohammad is no different from his disciples today.

Mr Biggles,  12:37 am  

all yallses are soooo dumm. i cant believe yall be writin this. buidling mosques on dead people's graves who were slaughtered by moslem fundamentalists...u dont need a degree in rocket science to know that is stoopid. islam is like soooo unnecessary. christians have their issues but with islam, its like wayeee over the top. kurrazzeee peeple. dammit. and this author is on some expired grass man.

Jeremy 10:25 am  

David: your Islamophobia is troubling. For most of its history, Islam has been a peaceful religion, in marked contrast to Christianity - where burning at the stake was the usual way to deal with troublemakers - although torture was developed into a high art form during the Inquisition.

The idea that Christianity lies at the origins of western civilisation is a controversial one to say the least. Western civilisation has its origins in Greek and then Roman culture - both of which were developed and reached their highpoints well before Jesus' birth. Rome was well past its sell-by date by the time the adoption of the Christian faith came along...

Anonymous,  11:32 am  

WOW! WHAT A WAY TO BASH CHRISTIANITY JEREMY. I FEEL VERY VERY SORRY FOR YOU. I ASSURE THAT ONE DAY YOU WOULD GIVE AN ACCOUNT OF THAT STATEMENT IN FRONT OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD. THEN YOU WOULD KNOW THAT HE IS MORE THAN "MAGIC".

So in the mean time keep bashing something that you hardly know anything about.

Anonymous,  11:34 am  

"this post by jeremy is a complete joke. Like someone wrote on another blog today, when will folks STOP using christian "ultraviolence" that occured thousands of yrs ago as excuse for islam's murderous rage TODAY? The same folks who bend over backwards to tell us how much they "immensely respect" islamic culture are quick to denigrate christianity. While they spend eons regaling us with Islam's rich abassid history"

David,
you hit the nail right on the head. The same people who bend over backwards for Islam are the same people who have no trouble denigrating christianity. Why should i, a christian pay for what richard the lionheart and co. did during the crusades or what the papacy did during the spanish inquisition?

Jeremy 11:36 am  

@ last anonymous. I think I have a pretty good take on core Christianity - the DNA is found in the Sermon on the Mount and the message not just to love thy neighbour but to love thy enemy. At this level, Christianity joins up with pretty much every faith worth the effort - you'll find exactly the same at the core of Buddhism for instance.

Sadly, the history of the institutionalised church from Rome onwards has been a history of intolerance and war. Jesus would have been appalled to see how his name has been used and abused over the centuries, I'm sure.

Jeremy 11:38 am  

Ok my last comment was for the last but one anonymous (whoever wrote in caps)?

Last anonymous (no caps): you can apply the same argument to ordinary moderate muslims. Why should they pay (in the increasing intolerance and abuse they face around the world) for what those who have bought into wahabism have done? If you know your history, you will know how much US foreign policy has done to create the Al Qaeda monster - from the funding of the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan onwards.

Perhaps you don't really know your history.

Anonymous,  2:04 pm  

Jeremy, i agree with everything you've said and written. We christians have no clue why we are christians. At least the muslims pretend that they have a clue.

To be perfectly honest, the whole concept of organised religion is the worst thing to ever have been thought up in this world. You preach God is everywhere yet you claim we can only reach Him thru one source or thru one faith. It is a bloody huge joke. God will be laughing and Jesus most definitely will be ashamed of the idiots that pronounce His name everyday claiming miracles and what not e.g the thieving pastors with private jets. May God punish them all. Thieves ole barawo idiots!!!

Jeremy 2:08 pm  

@last anonymous. It seems an all too human trait: to create idols, to outsource responsibility to a higher power, rather than to look inside to find the power within. Religious institutions corrupt messages.

In other words, its far from being simply a Christian problem. If I look at Buddhism, its easy to see that the recorded words of the Buddha have been pretty much bastardised by the many cultures and institutions which have adopted his message.

Its a matter of individual responsibility to see through all the thought-speak, mumbo-jumbo and charlatan behaviour and find your own path. No one has the right to claim superiority in all this.

UKMedic,  2:43 pm  

...and perhaps you Jeremy are just being so one-sided in this debate.

I note you chose which posters to respond to and did not (or perhaps could not) comprehensively argue against David's point.

Now,i am a practicing christian & unasahmedly so but i've also got family who are faithful,practicing moslems. Indeed, our late maternal Grandad was actually the Chief Imam of the town.

Now the question i usually get to ask my cousins whenever we gather for family events and have our normally robust exchanges is - so how come one never hears of a "christian" terrorist?

Its always this "islamic" terrorist or the other. Whether it's an ultraviolent sect like Boko Haram or a suicide bomber on a plane or bombing up embassies,blowing themselves (& innocent people) up in a crowded market place etc...in modern & contemporary times,they are invariably of the muslim faith.

To me that suggests there must be something inherently violent about the religion.

And i don't think one should always just dismiss them as random acts of a few crazies..i mean,there are also those of the christian faith who could be rightly called "fanatics",but we don't see or hear of them blowing up planes & killing innocent people,do we?

So i ask,even if we say these folks are distorting the tenets of their faith,does that then mean there exists within the Quran a template that allows them to do this? to justify these heinous acts in the name of their faith & the prophet? is there then a fundamental basis within Islam that suggests it is perhaps ok for them to not only take their own lives but also that of innocent people as well either because they are "infidels" & belong to another faith or in the pursuit of revenge against perceived slights to Islam purportedly by the Western world and policies(ostensibly,the US govt)?

I feel these are pertinent questions,and until the so-called "moderate" moslems confront & address these issues and do more than simply make the obligatory " We condemn these acts " kind of statements whenever such attacks occur,then i fear we haven't really gotten to the root of the problem & what actually drives these people...

UKMedic,  2:47 pm  

Perhaps you Jeremy, are just being so one-sided in this debate.I note you chose which posters to respond to and did not (or perhaps could not) comprehensively argue against David's point.

Now,i am a practicing christian & unasahmedly so but i've also got family who are faithful,practicing moslems.My late grandade was the Chief Imam of our town.

Now the question i usually get to ask my cousins at robust exchanges during family gatherings is:so how come one never hears of a "christian" terrorist?

Its always this "islamic" terrorist or the other. Whether it's an ultraviolent sect like Boko Haram or a suicide bomber on a plane or bombing up embassies,blowing themselves (& innocent people) up in a crowded market place etc...in modern & contemporary times,they are invariably of the muslim faith.

To me that suggests there must be something inherently violent about the religion.And i don't think one should always just dismiss them as random acts of a few crazies.

I mean,there are also those of the christian faith who could be rightly called "fanatics",but we don't see or hear of them blowing up planes & killing innocent people,do we?

So i ask,even if we say these folks are distorting the tenets of their faith,does that then mean there exists within the Quran a template that allows them to do this? to justify these heinous acts in the name of their faith & the prophet? is there then a fundamental basis within Islam that suggests it is perhaps ok for them to not only take their own lives but also that of innocent people as well either because they are "infidels" & belong to another faith or in the pursuit of revenge against perceived slights to Islam purportedly by the Western world and policies(ostensibly,the US govt)?

I feel these are pertinent questions,and until the so-called "moderate" moslems confront & address these issues and do more than simply make the obligatory "We condemn these acts" statements whenever such attacks occur,then i fear we haven't really gotten to the root of the problem & what actually drives these people...

Anonymous,  3:24 pm  

Historically, Islam appears to have had a more peaceful reign than Christianity but this is too simplistic a notion to have, Jeremy. I will admit that the Christianized/post-Christianized Western world owes a great debt of intellectual gratitude to the Islamic world for preserving ancient Graeco-Roman thought in various forms. But please, let us not forget to ask ourselves: what happened to the existing cultures in those societies that the Islamic armies overran, what tools of subjugation and oppression were employed to achieve wholescale conversions of cultures? What happened to Coptic-majority Egypt? Are the Coptic minorities in Egypt today treated fairly? What happened to Zoroastrian Persian (now Iran)? And don't talk about Al-Andalus (now modern-day Spain, the empire Bin Laden still dreams of retaking from the Jews and Crusaders)! Please! Al-Andalus may often be cited as an epitome of an Islamic society built on tolerance among religions, one in which Jews, Christians and Muslims coexisted peacefully. But in truth, we know that Jews and Christians even in Al-Andalus were not as easily tolerated as we may be led to believe. We know that whatever they achieved, they were still 'dhimmis', second-class citizens, and their interactions with their Muslim overlords were severely limited.

Anonymous,  1:23 am  

jeremy,
There is no where in Islam that says you should "love your enemies". It says that you should "slaughter" them (especially the the Jews).

Also, for you to say that christianity is the same as every other religion is false or that there are other "ways" to God besides Jesus. If there were other ways, then why did God send his son to be brutally murdered for our sake? Why didn't he use some other means afterall he is the creator of the universe. Have you ever asked yourself why one way cost so much and required so much sacrifice? Has it ever occured to you that the highest form of love is to sacrifice your life for someone else or in the case of Jesus, his enemies. If you uunderstand this, then you would understand love.

Anonymous,  7:04 am  

islamophobia: another contrived term that i'm going to get tired of hearing or reading. good grief. anyway, sha, jeremy, don't mind some of these people, bo. it never fails to amaze me how much a person can claim to be educated, but still not see the mess that organized religion, yes, including christianity, is making of our experience here on earth. but i guess if it wasn't religion, it would be something else, aye. we tend to approach things in a religious way: possessions, traditions, money, etc. i guess we're just doomed.

Anonymous,  12:02 pm  

UK Media, I think your questions is more political than religious. many in the middle east would consider the isrealis and americans terrorists for killing innocent people in their drone raids and unlawful embargos. just because the west is strong enough not to rely on lone idealistic bombers, does not make them any less of terrorists for killing sleeping children

Udegbunam Chukwudi 2:42 pm  

I'm not a religious/political person and the only qualms I have with some muslims is their readiness to resort to violence when provoked even the slightest bit.

Their "love" for violence begs the question: Is Allah/Mohammad incapable of fighting his own battles?

That said building a mosque anywhere near Ground Zero would have a negative impact on the psyche of those families who lost their members to the crazy act that day. Yes muslims also lost their lives that day but it's still embedded in the memories of EVERYONE that it was their fellow muslims who perpetrated the act.

You think about it. A girl who was raped by a mad man/rogue and had to bear his kid 9 months later to constantly remind her (4 the rest of her life) of that which went down years ago.

Finally me thinks that aside from the unnecessary acts of violence, Muslims have got their shit together FAR BETTER than we Christians with our different variety of churches and bibles and constant bickering over which church is better than the other. As far as I can see, with the muslims, it's ONE KORAN, ONE MOSQUE!

I'm out!

Joblist Kenya 11:23 am  

Nice one finally, I haven't seen it before though but it's kinda kool

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