Wednesday, April 16, 2008

346)Easy Nash attempting to explain........along with others.

Over the past weekend we saw clear evidence of a "clash of ignorance" in newspaper and blog comments about the current visit of His Highness the Aga Khan to the United States of America. Various bloggers and commentators lined themselves up on both sides of the issue and my final impression was that a small level of understanding was achieved and the level of vitriol had substantially subsided as the argument progressed from start to finish. Speaking for myself, the two comments that I made were slightly different in intensity. One of them involved a response to LindaC, who asked a legitimate question in my view:

LindaC wrote:
"SpeedeeG does not sound intolerant of Muslims. He or she seems to be simply pointing out a fact about the Muslim religion. To be tolerant of something or someone does not mean one has to be in wholehearted agreement, but rather that they respectfully accept and allow the other's right to exist in peace. Christians and Jews are the most tolerant of all faiths. For example, in predominantly Christian and Jewish countries, people of all religions are allowed to freely practice their faiths. Muslim nations are intolerant of any religion but Islam. In Muslim countries, the Islamic religion prohibits people from wearing crosses or Stars of David, even prohibits them having Christian literature, a Bible or Torah, and non-Muslim women are forced to wear veils and scarves."

EasyNash55(myself) answered:
"LindaC, what you say is very true and I will not condone it. As a Muslim I was born in a western country and have never lived in a Muslim country. I have never been prevented from practising my religion of Islam in a Judeo-Christian environment and I am deeply grateful for that.

I think if we take the full sweep of history into account we can perhaps see that Islam is currently in its Middle Ages relative to Judaism and Christianity. During the actual Middle Ages of the common era we see that there was terrible conflict within Christianity and between Judaism and Christianity. Examples include the Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic-Protestant schism and all the wars that it precipitated, eg, the 30 years war, the 100 years war, the war of the Roses; the Reformation, the Holocaust, etc. The present relative stability we see within Christianity and Judaism were forged from the horror and angst of all those conflicts over many centuries.

Islam is now going through its own Middle ages and must come to terms with the modern world around it, all the advances in science and technology as well as evolve its own systems of government compatible with its own cultural expressions but moving away from dictatorial regimes and towards more representative forms of government. The most important principle it must learn to accept is the principle of pluralism which will gradually make it more tolerant not only of other religions but also of the myriad interpretations of faith within its own diverse flock. Unfortunately, this takes time and cannot be accomplished overnight."

The above comment by me was a sweeping statement about the entirety of the Islamic Ummah, all 1.4 billion of us. My next comment was a direct response to a large number of comments painting all Muslims with one paintbrush, taking the vile actions of a few and generalising it to the many. I made a couple of attention-grabbing but truthful assertions to ensure that my comment was read and not ignored(blame my course on creative writing for this). The key point of this comment was to clearly explain that it is wrong to see all 1.4 billion Muslims on the planet as one big monolith, that there is immense and wonderful diversity and pluralism within the Muslim Ummah and that not everyone has the same interpretation of the Quran. I then went on to explain, to the best of my knowledge, what I think His Highness the Aga Khan's interpretation of Islam is in the key areas of the humanistic dimension of Islam and the link between intellect and faith:

easynash(myself) wrote:
"It's not appropriate to treat the adherents of Islam as one big monolith. Islam is populated by 1.4 billion adherents who are multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-interpretational and live in many parts of the world. At least you should allow for this clearly-evident pluralism within this worldwide faith, the vast majority of whom truly are peace-loving and brotherly. Just because the Catholic Irish Republican Army carried out bombing campaigns against British civilians during the 20th century does not mean that ALL Catholics are terrorists. Its wrong to paint all Muslims with one paintbrush the way most of you have been doing. Just because President Bush held the hand of the Saudi Monarch, the leader of a country which produced 15 of the 18 9/11 hijackers, does not mean that the President is all bad; he does have redeeming features IMHO.

The Aga Khan is a man of vision who emphasises, above everything else, the humanistic dimension of Islam as being on a par with the humanistic dimensions of all other religions, especially Islam's two sister monotheistic religions. His interpretation of Islam links intellect to faith and this post on my blog will give you an inkling of what I mean by this:

Other commentators of significance also chimed in, including the much-visited and wildly popular Ismaili Mail website(imblog) and Mike Ghouse of the World Muslim Congress; commentators Hunzai and Sajjad also did valuable pinch hitting to round off the innings thus far.

In the end I am convinced that some level of understanding of the issues was achieved by the worldwide audience reading this discussion. As things stand thus far my two comments have been voted by the online newspaper among the top five recommended comments to read:

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)