Monday, November 07, 2005

Reprise of An Old Post

" At 11/06/2005 9:59 PM, Jon said...
I think that Islam, mirrors Judaism/Christianity very well. There are a few exceptions--the Empire came much quicker in Islam than in Rome, because there was not much of an existing empire to create centuries of suppression.

The Koran to me reads very much like the worst parts of the Old Testament glued together and amplified. I'm always grateful when Sufis share their favorite verses, because they find the lights in there that I can't. Unlike Christianity, whose Teacher basically forbade violence, there is no such prohibition in Islam--Mohammed is much like Joshua.

"Also, it seems to me that Islam's history is somewhat like Christianity's with a 600-year lag. In the early 1500's things were getting nasty. The Reconquista drove Muslims and Jews out of Spain, the Reformation (and all its wars) were set to begin, colonization and capitalism were getting under way.

"All of these are happening in certain strains of Islam today."

Right, Jon; it is uncanny how much they have recapitulated our traditions, and our historical course. It's actually more complex of course. A couple of centuries after Mohammed you can see Muslim learning far surprassing that of the Christian West, where learning was almost solely devoted to religious studies. They got Greek culture from Greece and passed it on to the West.

We taught them violence and brutality. Before the Crusades they were militant and had conquered a big part of the world. But they were not brutal; that they learned from the Crusaders.

Muslim culture is at least as complex as ours. Both religions have their fundamentalists (who seem to be primarily lacking in simple humanity).

Reading Karen Armstrong's short history Islam, (pages 180-83), about the West's dishonorable involvement in the military coup that ended an islamic (democratically elected) government in Algeria casts light on why France is burning right now.


James Chang said...

The problem is probably very complicated. I know very little about Islamic history, although from what little I know I am aware that Algeria is almost like a textbook example of what could go wrong in a post-colonial third world country.

Regarding the teachings of Muhammad, I think it's useful to point out that Islam and Judaism are much more similar to one another than from Christianity. Whether the 'Dominionists' (such as Pat Robertson) like it or not, the historical roots of the Christian faith is not only apolitical but also anti-political. The Kingdom is to supersede the world, and the life to come is to subvert the temporal life. On the other hand, both Judaism and Islam yearn for a unified Kingdom of God here and now, which somehow help to beget very political faiths. The line between faith and temporal politics is not at all clear in the Torah or the Koran.

Larry said...

Thanks, James. Things are exceedingly complex. The worst problem the world encounters re the religio-political conflict is the inveterate determination of a large part of the population to hate viciously the 'other side', which too often includes everyone in that category.

The best way to address that, it seems to me, is to attempt to humanize the 'enemy'. People need to know more about Islam, it's history, the laudable dimension of it.

God knows the Muslims have been exposed to enough of the seamy side of our culture. We need to recognize that, not deny it. We all need to move toward the middle instead of attempting to prove how patriotic we are with unreasoning hatred of the 'enemy'.

You've stimulated me, James. Thanks.

Larry said...