03-31-07, 08:03 AM #1
The Taliban SyndromeWHEN religious light strikes the likes of Mulla Mohammad Omar, the supreme leader of the Taliban, the result can only be apocalyptic. Religious zeal may take two divergent paths. A man may prove his religiosity by living the noble ideals and values of his faith. This, however, is a demanding option. The cheap alternative is to exalt one's God by bringing down all other Gods. If you project yourself as the enemy of your neighbour's God then, maybe, your God could be fooled into believing that you are his man.
This simplistic logic explains why many are willing to kill or die for their religion, but none cares to live by its light. The Taliban might offer the excuse of Islamic law or theology to hide the nakedness of its fundamentalism. Islam does not believe in idols; but that should not be selective or literal. Idolatry (the worship of idols) can take many forms. Whenever irrational importance is attributed to a material object, no matter what its shape, idolatry results. Idolatry is a sin because it caricatures the nature of God. The idea that God resides only in certain places and that one has to go there (as in the case of shrines, pilgrimages, Haj etc.) to meet him, or to secure religious merit, is essentially idolatrous. All religious groups are made to idolise shrines, scriptures, and saints in varying degrees. These become the means by which the priestly class formats the religiosity of their folds.
Genuine religious reform must start within one's own religious home. Idolatry is incompatible with reason and human dignity. Being ruthless with idolatry within one's own fold is the best argument against idolatry everywhere else. That was what the genuine reformers of religions tried to do in the past. But in times of spiritual decay, self-criticism becomes an unpardonable sin. Today condemning and coercing everybody else has become the proof of religious virility and it yields instant profit and popularity.
The current Taliban offensive has two broad features which it shares with all the fundamentalist convulsions in our country.
* It is subjective and selective. It absolutises one's unilateral assumptions on what is outside the scope of one's religious competence and responsibility
* It articulates religious sentiments in the language of aggression and destruction.
Violence is fundamental to religious fundamentalism. When the fundamentalist mindset acquires the muscles of militarism the result is bound to be nightmarish. The idea of vandalising the Bamiyan Buddhas is akin more to the military spirit than to the ethos of Islam, which is, literally, the religion of peace. It is native to the martial spirit that the domination of one ethnic group over the other is incomplete without the humiliation of the Gods of the vanquished. The Taliban is not a religious entity, though it dons the cloak of religion to cover the nakedness of its aggression and irreligion. The greatest danger to a religion is its own fundamentalist caricature. One has to pity Islam as it undergoes the vulgarisation of Talibanisation in Afghanistan.
That notwithstanding, it is an entertaining piece of irony that the most vehement condemnation of the Taliban misadventure has come from the sangh parivar quarters. It proves yet again that the bitterest oppositions are between two identical forces. It should not surprise us, then, that the protagonists of Ayodhya in December of 1992 see the Taliban project as a `dastardly deed'. This is one of those unique moments in which the condemnation of others becomes blatant self-condemnation.
In the end, the real issue is neither Ayodhya nor the Bamiyan Buddhas. From a fundamentalist standpoint, both are useful only as tools for whipping up the communal frenzy that is expected to serve at least two purposes. First, it helps to divert the attention of the people from their own burning issues. Ridding the land of some shrines is deemed a more urgent priority than feeding the hungry or clothing the naked. Second, it helps to establish the perverse logic by which people can be degraded into tools to serve the hidden agenda of their pseudo-religious ventriloquists.
Though this is a frontal insult to human dignity and integrity, fundamentalist projects succeed in retaining the blind loyalty of the masses for a period of time. This is achieved mainly by playing up the popular craving for aggression and violence that is endemic in an age of spiritual decay. The Taliban principle has deep psychological roots. The popular honeymoon with fundamentalism lasts until its destructive scope is fully played out. In the end, it is important to realise that the Taliban is not just a beast that prowls at a distance. It is a potent reality at work in every religious constituency that is monopolised by vested interests.
The prime `Taliban motive,' so to speak, is to foster a cultic outlook in order to anchor the people on a contrived illusion. But for the Bamiyan Buddhas, how many of us would have ever thought of Mulla Omar at the present time? Nearer home, what other survival kits does the sangh parivar have other than Ayodhya and the bogey of conversions?
The claim of Sayed Rahmatullah Hashmi, the Taliban spokesman in the US, that the bombardment of the statues of Buddha is "in retaliation to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992" is a clever afterthought, calculated to embarrass the Vajpayee Government in the eyes of the world. Mr Vajpayee is theoretically right in denouncing the Taliban move as "a further obscurantist regression - an assault on centuries of Afghan tradition". But he has to secure the moral right to be so indignant. As long as his party continues to whitewash the black deed that tarnished India's global image, we cannot hope to be taken seriously in our protestation against the Taliban's actions.
Of course, all civilised people must decry and discredit the Taliban syndrome beyond our borders. It is a phenomenon programmed for destruction and endemic under-development. But the logic of fundamentalism dictates that its followers at home will be at the forefront of this ritual for whatever political mileage they may derive from it. But those who remember the first 15 pages of Veer Savarkar's book, Hindutva, do not need to be persuaded that it was not only in Afghanistan that the Buddha and his followers were administered a raw deal.
Swami Agnivesh & Valson Thampu
03-31-07, 08:10 AM #2
pls can you summarise the point of this one.
just 2 or 3 line swill do the trick.
i really cant be arsed to read all of that
you're a darling
03-31-07, 08:17 AM #3
Swami Agnivesh and Rev. Valson Thampu, religious reformers, and examines how religious extremism, of all forms is a political tool used to inflame communal feelings and is contrary to the teachings of all religions. The most significant point he makes, in my opinion, is that we should avoid religious zeal that is contrary to civilised society and counter it by recognising it for what it is: a tool to blind people to political realities and avoid resolving the real issues that face these groups. Many of these groups attain recognition only because of their extreme actions, without which no one would pay any attention to them.
03-31-07, 08:45 AM #4
Thanks Sam, i will definitely read it...
Sorry for the arrogance of my last post.
I'm trying to do my end of month and i am stuck in my office working through a shit load of paper work!!!!!!
take it ez
04-01-07, 07:11 PM #5
With this opening statement:
WHEN religious light strikes the likes of Mulla Mohammad Omar, the supreme leader of the Taliban, the result can only be apocalyptic. Religious zeal may take two divergent paths. A man may prove his religiosity by living the noble ideals and values of his faith. This, however, is a demanding option. The cheap alternative is to exalt one's God by bringing down all other Gods. If you project yourself as the enemy of your neighbour's God then, maybe, your God could be fooled into believing that you are his man.
This is a very interesting article. Did you see in it any irony? You, a monotheistic Muslim?
Surely you'd ahve thought the opening summary quite telling?
When I read it I immediately thought of how Mohammad took the path of least mental resistance and obliterated the polytheistic Arab using his army. Who also took the path of war over that of peace. It seems the author of this article would have one think that a true "Prophet" (we'll just say "teacher") would have sat in quite contemplation, taught his ideals to those who cared to listen and then allowed the sharing of this deep insight to enlighten his or her followers who then in turn find in themselves a peaceful path.
The cheap alternative is to exalt one's God by bringing down all other Gods. If you project yourself as the enemy of your neighbor's God then, maybe, your God could be fooled into believing that you are his man.
Those poor Zoroastrians, Jews, Hindus and Byzantine Xians... not to mention the destruction of the lovely millennial old Buddhist statues in the deserts of Afghanistan.
As they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.....
Of course my second thought was of the quarter Billion non-Xians converted or killed in The Age of Exploration.... Yes, the One God meme - 10000 years hence - History will record that one as a doozy!
04-01-07, 07:13 PM #6
04-01-07, 07:19 PM #7
"Violence is fundamental to religious fundamentalism."
I'm not sure if I agree with this statement - although I do think monotheists in general have a fundamental view that becuase there is only one God or because their Prophet was the "true" Prophet then of course everyone else is in some way diluted from the "True" truest Truy True True Truth
In general it seems that if one were to have a fundamental notion that there is no absolutley truth and that under no circumstances should one human kill otr enslave another - well, I'll take that fundamentalism any day iof the wekk...
It's why I've often thought that the actions at the center of a cult of personality, as most religions ultimately are (Zoroaster, Buddha, Mosses, Jesus, Mohammad, Bahá'u'lláh, John Frum, ...) are as telling as what their apologists later wrote...
Oh, what ever happened to my questions in The Encyclopedia?!? I was really hoping to get those answers
04-01-07, 07:20 PM #8
04-01-07, 07:23 PM #9
Buddhism and violence, for instance, you'll see that there is equal violence in all extremists, regardless of what their religion is.
Oh, what ever happened to my questions in The Encyclopedia?!? I was really hoping to get those answers
04-01-07, 07:30 PM #10
04-01-07, 07:46 PM #11
YET, it seems to me, that at least if one were to have a religious belief one would be best served if the founder of said belief (they all seem to have a "founder" now-a-days) did not encourage killing and war and did not poo-poo others beliefs, be they polytheistic or not. I mean, come on, is there a majority Islamic country in the World that is supportive of people that want to be Polytheists? Even in Indonesia where the culture is still essentially Polynesian Asian, >98% of the populous want it to be a punishable criminal offense to switch ones personal belief from Islam to something else of their choosing.
In Xian America and Euope or Shinto/Buddhist Japan you'll not find >98%of the Citizens wanting to make personal beleif a criminal offense.
Sam, can you not see the inherent ideas in Islam that have lead to such intolerable beliefs in Indonesia (or Egypt, or Iran, or Afghanistan, or KSA, or Yemen or etc...)? If not then where do you suppose those ideas came from?
Does any of what I am writing making any sense?
My blind spot could be quickly filled in if some of my rather simple questions were answered!
[in all fairness though Sam, you are by nature, I think?, relatively open-minded and liberal. Not bad for a chick can of worms anyone.. LOL ]
04-01-07, 08:03 PM #12
I think it depends to a great extent on how you are brought up. In an educated environment, intolerance is generally low, though some Americans have made me reconsider this notion. But in general, my experience of people has been that they are ruled by their fears, and educated people are less fearful (minus Americans, who appear to thrive on fear for unknown reasons, possibly their politics).
I have met Saudis, Egyptians, Somalians, Britishers, Australians, Dutchmen, and many more nationalities and not just the cream of society, but having worked in a hospital, also the dregs. In all honesty, none of them appeared any more or less "savage" to me, but I have also lived through the riots in Bombay and seen normal cosmopolitan people who have killed their neighbors over non-issues.
It was a most shocking experience to see well educated well assimilated people turn to savages; so I think the capacity for violence is in all of us, in different degrees, we just never tap into it because our lives are, on the whole, free from the stress of survival, filled with humdrum stresses that we magnify but which are not really matters of life and death.
I think, if push comes to shove, there are perhaps, very few people who will not be provoked into violence.
04-01-07, 09:55 PM #13
It's agreed that most lay-people can be instigated into violent acts under the appropriate stimuli. However, why do Indonesians by-far and-wide harbor a inkling to persecute their fellow Citizens over their personal beleif?
You do not think the Islamic (and otherwise monotheistic) notions have something to do with this?
Doesn't the concept: their is but ONLY ONE True uncorrupted Religious book and thus can only be one True religous teaching. There is only one true God and thus only one true beleif. Add to that the typical-cult of personality, ala one True Last Prophet, and you have, in the average persons mind, the making of intolerance. This intolerance can be easily twisted to violence.
Hell, monotheism was adopted by the Romans because of this. Something I'm sure the Arabs were well aware.
04-02-07, 07:07 AM #14
So I would not say that Indonesians by far and wide are looking to kill converts or nonbelievers. What I can say is that conversion is not looked upon favorably in any part of Asia. I know a Zoroastrian family where one of the men converted to Islam and is not allowed to participate in his community, only his mother will have anything to do with him and she laments the loss of her son. And this is an educated family.
04-02-07, 07:01 PM #15
I suppose the report I read was a poll. It didn't say that the average Indonesian wanted to put people to death - just that they wanted them put in jail.
The Zoroastrians are as much a religion as a cultural identity. Many think of themselves as the last culturally true Persians. Actually, linguistically, they probably have maintained much of Farsi that was obliterated and superseded by Arabic post-colonization. Not-so-ironically, as you know, most escaped the invasion by fleeing to polytheistic religious-tolerant India, where their descendants still live today.
I asked one of the guys here (whose family is from Armenia) which he considers himself: Armenian or Aussie. He said 90% Armenian 10% Aussie. AND he's only visited Egypt once!!?! Not even Armenia! He said it was funny I asked because one time his grandmother asked the same question of his brother. His brother said Aussie and she said: You disgust me I will never speak to you again. And she didn't speak to him for years!
I jokingly said to an ex- of mine once: Holly Shit! I didn't realize you were an "Asian"! She immediately said. No I am not - I'm Japanese! (as you know I don't like the notion of "race" but I thought that was telling, and very funny!)
Indonesia, I think, doesn’t really have this problem - as most Indonesians consider themselves Indonesians. So my questions are: Do you suppose that in general, when taken as a whole, the Qur'an reinforces religious bigotry and demands subservience to only one True God and is specific in saying that there is only one Perfect Religious Book (that being itself) OR do you think that the Qur'an is fully supportive for people to choose to believe in any manner that they will and has equal respect for any person's religious belief, say Judaism, of Xianity, as well as Polytheism?
[no verses please - just your opinion on the Book taken as a whole]
What do you think of this notion of dividing the world into those that are either True Believers and those that are not True Believers? (I think there are Arabic labels provided?) Given that people tend towards tribal-like bigotry anyway, regardless of Belief, be it religious or not, do you think this artificial division may play a not so small part in the angst that Muslims seem to have with all of their non-Muslim neighbors?
I asked my ex-Muslim Atheist buddy what was something novel and enlightening that Islam brought. It seems most people draw a big fat blank on this one. He said equality. I said, but non-Muslims are not equal. Good point he said. Equality for Muslims then. I said Greece already had that concept – Citizens of City States were equal under the Law. Something the Hellenized ME had been exposed to for over a millennia. So I am still waiting.... well? Anyone???
I read the posts you replied with that showed some Buddhists to be every bit as nationalists as anyone else. Although, it seems they tend towards angst with monotheisms and not Hindu. Hindu and Buddhism are closely related I suppose? It’s funny that, Shinto and Taoism are very easily integrated and accepting of Buddhism and the reverse is true as well. But, monotheism this is not so and I think we both know why. Anyway, the difference is it is not proscribed in their relugous books. Each is suppose to find enlightenment ion their own in whatever path is suited to them, be that polytheism or monotheism or atheism. IMHO this is a much more enlightened approach rather than dividing the World into Blue and Red - wouldn't you agree?
You know, I once asked my friend's family who are Baptists (the Taliban of Xianity): What do you suppose happens to all those that are Hindu? The father answered with ease – why of course they burn in hell for eternity.
Done. Only through Geezahus will you see everlasting glory!
Well, I can not tell you why Indonesians are bigoted towards beleif, although I have my thoughts. I can tell you why Baptists are. They are taught there is only One true God and only One true Book and Only one True way to God and that is via Jesus. In this manner they are more than able to Demonize and even kill non-believers, such as Muslims, because, why they are just trying to help these poor poor backwards people see the True loving Light of Jesus.
One of the side effects of monotheism I maintain.
04-02-07, 07:06 PM #16
You seem to have strange views on Indonesians, is there a particular reason for that?
And for angst between Hindus and Buddhists, read Veer Savarkars Hindutva, remember Buddhists were outnumbered by Hindus.
One knows that the advent of Pushyamitra Shung in the early part of the first millenium had lead to ethnic cleansing of Buddhists on a mass scale.It is the same period when Brahminical revival took place and Manusmriti was codified. In his book Savarkar had no qualms in justifying the large scale massacre of Buddhists by Pushyamitra Shung (Veer Savarkar Prakashan, Kurla, Mumbai,1997, 9th edition, Chapter 2, P 51-74).
04-02-07, 07:26 PM #17
04-02-07, 07:39 PM #18
Remember when the Afghani had to flee to Italy last year because he changed his beleif to Xian, which is against the law, sop he was condemned to death.
My question is: Do you think Islamic Philosophy has anything at all to do with this? If so what exactly?
Seems fairly a straight forward question and it was in part inspired from the beginning of your post.
04-02-07, 08:16 PM #19
I doubt its Islamic philosophy per se, like I said conversion is frowned upon in conservative societies. This is as true for the Hindus (who frown upon Dalits converting to Christianity, Buddhism or Islam) as it for Zoroastrians in India who maintain their "pure" bloodline by excommunicating anyone who marries a non-Parsi or converts to another religion.
No doubt there are advantages to being the majority in a population, most Europeans would prefer Muslim immigrants to assimilate rather than maintain their separate culture; one reason why Jews have faced discrimination throughout the ages is their desire to maintain a separate Jewishness, which culminated in the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel.
I think it is a tendency for those with the upper hand to attempt to convert those with beliefs that they consider inferior to their own. The reverse is considered shocking, like the inability for say, a European parent to understand a daughter converting to Islam and wearing a hijab.
In any case, that was not what the opening post was about.
edit: an interesting article.
Last edited by S.A.M.; 04-02-07 at 09:45 PM.
04-02-07, 10:14 PM #20
"Religious zeal may take two divergent paths. A man may prove his religiosity by living the noble ideals and values of his faith. This, however, is a demanding option. The cheap alternative is to exalt one's God by bringing down all other Gods. If you project yourself as the enemy of your neighbour's God then, maybe, your God could be fooled into believing that you are his man."
Which path do you think that the Prophet Mohammad took and why and which path do you think the Philosopher Buddha took and why?