Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Doctrine of misinterpretations

A news article I read a couple of days ago informed me about the prohibitory actions taken by Imams of different mosques in UP in order to prevent spread of terrorism. The article suggested that after the friday prayers, Imams should talk about terrorists, terrorisms and its tricks to fool young people into their cult using emotional tactics. The article also sweetly mentioned that the Imams will stress on how the Koran does not preach violence.

Doesn't all of the above sound perfectly reasonable and applauding as an effort? But wait, why do the Imams need Koran to say that strapping yourself with bombs and killing a bunch of toddlers is bad? Is the muslim youth so stupid to understand it themselves or the Koran so obvious to certify that it is indeed bad to run an aeroplane into a building killing thousands of people. In february when the all indian muslim law board and the jamat e islami hind denounced terrorism and similar acts of violence, they stressed that it is highly un-islamic to kill innocents. In the following passages, I will try to dissect this particular claim. The full fatwa against terrorism can be found here : http://darululoom-deoband.com/english/index.htm

When this institution wants to denounce terrorism because it is un-islamic it strongly suggests that they want to find the definition of good vs bad or moral vs immoral in the code of conduct suggested by the Koran. Doesn't it then suggest that the definition of innocence itself should come from Koran? One would say it's a trivial point, but then isn't it also clear in the Koran that it is the gravest of sins to pray offerings to multiple gods? Or to have a homosexual relationship? Or for a woman to marry and be a non-virgin? These kinds of people (hindus, gays and non-virgins) are not particularly sinners in todays world for being what they are, but the definition of Koran does suggest that they are. And then if the Koran says that you are not allowed to kill innocent people, aren't these categories outside the realm of innocence and hence _can be or may be_ killed?

One solution out of this is that we agree to the intuitive definition of innocence but we use Koran as a guiding principle on how to behave with innocents Vs non-innocents. This kind of treatment is completely absurd and clearly wants to cover Koran's ass on matter on which it is wrong. One such parallel example of such attitude is saying that people who eat cows are sinners (hinduism) and then stone them to death in public (one form of islamic punishment) and by such a divided treatment all the muslims on the earth will be stoned to death. The cows can be replaced by pork and you'll have the inverse effect. This method uses one set of norms to decide what is innocent/sin and the other set of norms to decide what are our actions regarding it. In short, Hindus (for example) in general are innocents (common sense) and Koran doesn't allow killing of innocent people and hence the argument for Koran.

Isn't this form of interpretation a misinterpretation? One cannot afford to have double standards on what is wrong and right and what one is ought to do about it. The other solution is _accept_ that Koran is wrong on some things and get on with life by introducing better definitions and actions which replace the ones in the book. It was a book written in arabia in 600 AD and has no reason to be applicable in all aspects in any other part of the world in 2000 AD. And if you do think that it is, then sadly you are suffering from some kind of delusion which was fed into your head by the rest of us. We apologize for not helping you out.

This suggests to me that the doctrine of re-interpretation of a book which suits the particular time and place is injustice to the original book and to the people onto which it is imposed. More than re-interpretation its a misinterpretation. I would dare not say that it's a bogus book in all regards, as a matter of fact if it were, we would have thrown it out in garbage a long time ago! But I certainly think that these age old books are now becoming obsolete quiet rapidly and will turn out to be completely bogus and inapplicable in the years to come. It is a good time right now to throw them in garbage and enjoy the better life ahead of us.


Karthik Shekhar said...

Check out what old Tony has to comment on Islamic fundamentalism in the following article that appeared in "The Economist":


"This new terrorism has an ideology. It is based on an utter perversion of the proper faith of Islam. But it plays to a sense of victimhood and grievance in the Muslim world. Many disagree with its methods. But too many share some of its sentiments. Its world view is completely reactionary. But its understanding of terrorism and its power in an era of globalisation is arrestingly sophisticated and strategic."

In an otherwise weird article with quite a few logical inconsistencies here and there, I think he was pretty reasonable in the above part.

On the other hand, check out his defense of the continuing war in Iraq:

"It is said that by removing Saddam or the Taliban—regimes that were authoritarian but also kept a form of order—the plight of Iraqis and Afghans has worsened and terrorism has been allowed to grow. This is a seductive but dangerous argument. Work out what it really means. It means that because these reactionary and evil forces will fight hard, through terrorism, to prevent those countries and their people getting on their feet after the dictatorships are removed, we should leave the people under the dictatorship. *It means our will to fight for what we believe in is measured by our enemy's will to fight us, but in inverse proportion*. That is not a basis on which you ever win anything."

I still cannot fathom what that starred part means!

Mandar Gadre said...

I was reminded of our earlier conversation on this issue, after reading that recent news clipping.

Islam means submission to Allah. These people are saying "Islam is a religion of mercy for all humanity. Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism." But we have seen that this so-called peace comes only after one is forced to convert, or is killed. It isn't the true peace.

Peace cannot exist without freedom to choose and express yourself - it's plain meaningless. Silence, is not peace.

Then we come to the point of attaching wickedness of people to their faith or the lack thereof.
Referring to an earlier one of your blog entries, I think it's weird when Dawkins attaches the cruelty of people to their religion. And answering him by saying that there have been bad people who were atheists doesn't solve anything. It's more like "You say we are bad, but look you've got bad guys too" stuff.

I don't know what's the answer to this. Maybe true and complete dis-association of religion (so as to keep it a completely personal issue) and socio-political life.

Roger Waters said...

I don't think Dawkins attaches cruelty to the religion.

Instead he attaches specific cruel acts to scriptures, for example, honor killing, defecating in the food of the rebel untouchables, Lynching of the slaves and beheading the sudras (as Lord Rama himself did)

They want to draw our attention not to the fact that christians,hindus and muslims are or can be cruel people but to the irrational schema which encourages them in specific objectionable behavior.

Also the way the word atheism is defined, it has to include the notion of rational curiosity and inquiry. Nobody would claim that Stalin's crimes were result of his excessive curious mind or his strict adherence to the scientific methodology. So the statement that atheist people were also bad with examples from Stalin and Hitler are simply wrong!

The major objection is to the stupid and sad clinging to the belief that what the early Aryans wrote in the Vedas is sacred text. Or believing that the Koran or the Bible are the word of god and hence infallible. In general to anything which we have to believe without insufficient evidence.