Saturday, February 1, 2014

Humanity and Religion (part 1)

-If religion is just about logic, reason and the meaning of life, then we would not have religions we currently have in our human society. No; religions are shaped also by our human emotions; insecurity, weakness, revenge, fear, greed, egoism, prejudice, love, anger, sadness, nostalgia and hate. That's why I don't believe in religion, nor do I believe in God; religion is human, and God is a product of our human capacity.
-But then again, I also realized that my rejection is human in nature, driven by my human intelligence and cemented by my human desire. Islam envisioned a God that is "mukhalafatuhu lil hawadith" (different from anything that's new), which implies that God in Islam is BEYOND what we can perceive; No one can actually worship this kind of God, as it is just impossible to reach such a God (hence rejecting this God would have been as equally senseless as worshiping him; but here it's no longer the question of it being sensible or not; it's now a matter of emotion; that's why some people kill in the name of God, while others love in the name of God). Hence theoretically speaking, Islam really is not about worshiping this God; it is about shaping humans.
-Which presents us with a problem; can such a feat be achieved? The feat has at its foundation the idea that there is such a thing called 'human' that is definable and tangible. 'Human' here is not just a physical-biological animal; 'human' is an idea, a concept. This concept has to be invented; only then can one begin to lay out the ideals for the ethics and religion that is to be imposed on this 'human.' Thus the 'prophet' in Islam. Those weren't historical figures; they were a fictionalized version of Abram, Moshe, Dawed, Shlomo, Yohanna and Yeheshua; a version fitted up to meet Islam's arguments, a version that is radically and fundamentally different from the Bible accounts. Why such radical differences? Because there is a revolution, regarding the nature of 'human'; no longer are 'human' viewed as given, but instead a whole new paradigm of human as 'abid' that is subservient to 'God' (explore other religions; there's not as much emphasis on the relation between God and human as being 'master-slave' relationship; this is radically different with the idea of Christian 'Father-Son", with the idea of Judaism's "Deity-Chosen People"; it's a new thing.) Did Muhammad envision such a thing? Truth be told, perhaps no; but perhaps yes; but it is not intended as a lie. Islam is, from this point of view, a religion of truth: Truth the way Muhammad saw it.
-But then, Muhammad is just a human, and so the religion he established was also human in nature. It is a flawed religion; with too much emphasis on the nature of human as slaves to God, there is just no way those slaves can bring themselves to rule their own selves; that is the reason why dictatorship, monarchy and authoritarian rule has been the rule in many Muslim countries over the past century; not even the secular Turkey escaped the tendency. Why? Because the Muslims largely don't want to rule; "leaders will get judged in Judgement Day the most." So the idea of democracy is fundamentally very challenging, if not incompatible, with the Islam theology. This theology is very deeply ingrained, and also infectious: the person who established the Baathist ideology, with its emphasis on purportedly 'Islamic' tendencies, marrying it with authoritarianism, was not a Muslim (Michel Aflaq was a Christian) but even a Christian, after years of living with Muslims (even a very secular one; even an ex-Muslim), will get influenced by Islam. The idea of human being a mere slave will surely make Jean-Paul Sartre mad; Sartre was a person who firmly believed that human is 'cursed to freedom'. I don't expect such a person would yield to Islam's ideas regarding human. Islam is never about freedom. Quran has nothing regarding freedom; it's all about submitting to God, and only by submitting to a reality you can't fight, you can find peace. Imam Shafi'e said to abandon rebellion; a rebellion against reality would strike him as being stupid, naive and misguided at best, and a borderline blasphemy, if not sheer madness at worst. But then again one has to struggle with reality. "Jihad" would mean to be this struggle; so does the word "Israel", which in Hebrew would mean 'one who struggles with God'. It's an honor given to Yaakov to be having this name; In Torah it is said that Yaakov won a wrestling match against God! Now that would really defy Islam's vision of 'master-slave'. Which means that Judaism has to be Islam's archenemy. How can a slave struggle against his master? That is blasphemous! But Judaism view humans not as a slave of God. For the Jews, they are God's own People. It was a tribal God; and being tribal, it is totally acceptable for such a God to be almost human in nature; asking Abram to kill Yitzhak and Ishmael as a test of faith, despite already knowing the result He himself was going to give; such playfulness! Isn't that human nature to be playful? But this is not Islam's Allah! No! Allah is beyond anything that is new. So trying to talk about the nature of Allah is going to be pointless; let's talk about human instead. But it's going to cause problems, because 'human' isn't a concept existing in nature. 'Human' is human's invention, invented through language. But language is invented by human. Hence we have yet another circle; "human-language, language-human" Of course, this is just a wordplay; but from this one should be able to deduct that human's attempt to describe human is at best a naive attempt. More often it is at its worst; we treat gays badly, we treat minorities badly, we treat other races badly, we treat believers of other religions badly, we badmouth each other. Why? Because these people would not fulfill our idea of what a 'human' should be like. This discrimination happens with or without religion; but religions have this knack of institutionalizing this discrimination, and moreover, justifies it. Read the Bible and its condemnation of the Egyptians and Canaanites; read the Quran, and its condemnation against the polytheists and the Jews ('the Jews and the Christians will not be happy with you until you follow them'); this religious justification, once institutionalized and sanctified by making them part of the Scriptures, is very hard to be dealt with. Of course Muhammad's idea is to eliminate Judaism and Christianity (among other religions), converting everyone to Islam, so the hatred would not last; ideally Muslims should hate Christianity, not the Christians. But this is not happening; one simply does not have the energy to convince everyone.


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