Agitated

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I allowed myself to get embroiled in a blog conversation with someone whose objective was only to inflame, ridicule, provoke, and insult. See:
I bent over backwards to accommodate A’idah’s points, give weight to her accusations, and maintain objectivity at the same time. In the end, I had to extricate myself, and I’ve been agitated for two days.

Why? What sort of emotional complex gets activated, not only in me but in many people, when religion is on the table?  This question seems more important than the conversation we’d had in the first place. The topic was Islam, of course. What other topic, these days, inflames to the extent that Islam inflames?

Islam is the third largest monotheistic religion in the world. It’s been around for centuries. Something is right with it. The best way to address troublesome issues regarding Islam and the West is to admit that something, indeed, is right with it. That “rightness” underlies all else, and needs to be acknowledged before any of us– Muslim or non-Muslim– will be able to purge Islam and cultures of the deviations have taken hold and drawn us all under the rubble.

A’idah and I were at cross purposes, and I knew it from the start, but why did I yield to the bait? The answer lies not with the conversation, but  with me. It goes all the way back to my conversion to Islam in 1987. No, it goes back further, to my rejection of certain aspects of Christianity. No, it goes back further than that, even. Maybe it goes all the way back to birth, when my cozy world spit me out into cold, noisy air and assaulted me with tactile irritations, blinding brightness and speed-of-light motion that induced a most terrifying vertigo, followed by prodding and rubbing and the shock of my own first breaths.

Then I heard my mother’s voice.

Religion is a response to birth trauma?

Does that sound far-fetched, or atheistic?

Even as a believer in Allah, I can accommodate the idea that religion could be a response to birth trauma.

Well, be that as it may, I remain agitated, angry even, at how Islam has been kicked and slugged and stabbed and blasted by people who take pleasure in the attack, who do not ask the hard questions, do not even pretend to dig into the substance of the matter, but condemn with sweeping verbosity, and polish their skills at sarcastic dialogue with bitter, lip-licking delight.




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7 responses

  1. “Religion is a response to birth trauma?

    Does that sound far-fetched, or atheistic?”

    Perhaps you should consider looking into the “god gene,” Mahram?

    People who have poor self esteem and little else in the world often turn to religion, hoping that the next life will be better than the hell on earth in which they live. The Pakistanis appear to believe that allah is punishing them. One way or the other, allah doesn’t seem to care no matter how much people pray to him.

    I followed your link and read the goings on over at Saudi woman, and found aidah’s challenges very significant. You were the only one who partially addressed the elephant in the room and still you chose to bail rather than face the music.

    What are those “hard questions” about Islam, Mahram?

    All people can see is that Muslims go ballistic anytime that anyone challenges anything about Islam. They simply make things up, ignore the hard truths and start getting agitated as you did. The “peaceful” Muslims like that crazy issa attacking with taunts like: “Stupid, fascist, racist,” and lots more did not make themselves look too good as was pointed out by several people. S/he is doing the same thing here and you condone it, just as Saudi woman does. It appears that muslims can do anything, while lesser people have to keep quiet or risk violence from some crazy-muslim without a moral compass.

    Lots of Islamic terror attacks on innocent Muslims in the last few days. Perhaps that is what is bothering you, but you dare not admit it?

    You said: “I mean, who in their right mind would make a movie like Submission and not foresee the consequences, or, worse yet, foresee the consequences and make it anyway?”

    “The consequenses”?

    Are you then admitting the moment that anyone says anything that remotely “offends” muslims there will be violence and cold-blooded murder? Other religions get plenty of criticism, but their followers don’t go murderously-crazy and start to attack and kill the people who point out that there may be some serious problems with a religion that encourages murdering those who reject it.

    Anyone has a right to criticize a religion or whatever without having to fear for their life. That is called free speech in a democracy.

    Your claim that Hirsi Ali is aligned with the christian right is silly. She rejects all manmade religions.

  2. Matthew, thank you for your comment. We can agree that Allah,or God, or whatever you call Him, doesn’t seem to care one way or another whether anyone prays to Him or not. This is a matter of faith and belief. I’ll look into the concept of the “god-gene.” I’ve heard of it, but know nothing of it.

    You said, “You were the only one who partially addressed the elephant in the room and still you chose to bail rather than face the music.”

    That’s not entirely accurate. I’d be happy to “face the music” with someone who is genuinely, objectively seeking greater understanding. I do not waste time with people who are so angry that they cannot see the forest for the trees. I do not respect people who make sweeping condemnations of religion, any religion, using insulting and acerbic language. There’s no benefit in carrying on conversation with such people.

    You ask about the “hard questions.” I’d like to ask Muslims– not non-Muslims— why, if Islam is essentially a peaceful religion, do we see such violence associated with it.

    I’d ask why it is necessary to study context in a document that is supposed to be the literal word of God, valid for all time and place. I’d ask why Allah would not make this document perfectly clear for all time and place.

    I’d ask why, nearly ten years after 9/11, the Muslim world has not yet torn terrorism by its roots, crushed it and buried it under the boot of history?

    As for going ballistic, Muslims have no monopoly on that reaction, as you have seen, and when you say,”It appears that muslims can do anything, while lesser people have to keep quiet or risk violence from some crazy-muslim without a moral compass,” you make me wonder how old you are.

    Yes, of course, anyone can see that the consequences for criticizing Islam tend to be more severe than the consequences of criticizing other religions, but let me point out that Muslims do not have a monopoly on retaliation, either. Christians have a fine history, even a modern one, of attacking those– like abortion doctors– who do things against their beliefs. However, this kind of comparison gets us nowhere, absolutely nowhere.

    You bring up the right of free speech in a democracy. Well, in countries where most Muslims have lived, historically, there has been no such thing as democracy. Even in democracies, free speech is not free, it is not irresponsible, and it is not meant to be deliberately provoking of other people’s most sacredly held beliefs. Legally, sure, do it all you want, but don’t be so foolish as to expect that you won’t escape the sting of someone you’ve offended. That goes for all kinds of discourse, not just religious.

    I did not claim that Hirsi Ali believes in Christianity. She is aligned with the Christian right by virtue of her employment, but she does reject all formal religions.

  3. Hi Marahm!

    I think your comments were very insightful, and if A’idah didn’t benefit from it, then I’m sure others did.
    It’s important that some issues relating to islam are adressed, but in a respectful matter. I don’t think we can discuss these kind of things with people who believe Islam is wrong and evil in the first place.
    There are a lot of bad cultural practices that get caught up in the religion, and it is very important to show and prove that they have nothing to do with islam, so people would abandon them.
    Freedom of speech is all very fine, but I believe it should be accompanied by a basic respect for the values of others. You can discuss them, but in a respectful and constructive way.
    Thanks for your post! 🙂

  4. Thank you, goldenraindrop!

    You are correct in saying,”I don’t think we can discuss these kind of things with people who believe Islam is wrong and evil in the first place.”

    I won’t let myself get drawn in again with people of this ilk. They fail to differentiate between their own, personal perspective, and that of thousands of years of social history, in which Islam (along with the other major world religions) has functioned as a normative, nurturing path for adherents.

  5. ‘There are a lot of bad cultural practices that get caught up in the religion’

    i oftentimes wonder where is this enigmatic ‘true islam’ hidden cause every single time there is criticism of Islam it comes down that muslims will say that whatever happened had nothing to do with islam. and that islam is not what muslims do. which is hard to agree with cause a lot of people would say that islam is what islam does.
    it always makes me wonder where all this suppression of any criticism is coming from. if sth is perfect and claims to be a guidance for mankind it will stand any criticism, it will defend itself with no problems at all. certainly adherents will not have to resort to violence.

  6. To Mathew

    “I followed your link and read the goings on over at Saudi woman, and found aidah’s challenges very significant. You were the only one who partially addressed the elephant in the room and still you chose to bail rather than face the music.”

    Really? What challenges are those?

    “What are those “hard questions” about Islam, Mahram?

    All people can see is that Muslims go ballistic anytime that anyone challenges anything about Islam. They simply make things up, ignore the hard truths and start getting agitated as you did.”

    Constructive criticism is welcome. Hate and supremacism are not. If that is ballistics for you then so be it.

    “The “peaceful” Muslims like that crazy issa attacking with taunts like: “Stupid, fascist, racist,” and lots more did not make themselves look too good as was pointed out by several people. S/he is doing the same thing here and you condone it, just as Saudi woman does.”

    Sorry boy but you have not been following all the discussions. What her hate, supremacism, degradation of others and racism here with my rebuttals to her point by point:
    http://saudiwoman.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/welcome-to-the-middle-ages/#comments

    She is indeed fascist and racist and that was pointed out by several people. I do not recall anyone rebuking me for what I said. If so then please point that out to me.
    Calling a fascist a fascist is telling it how it is.

    “It appears that muslims can do anything, while lesser people have to keep quiet or risk violence from some crazy-muslim without a moral compass. ”

    So Muslims should just sit and listen to others telling them they do not thinks, are terrorists, backward, lazy, inferior etc…? If this is not racisma nd hate then what is it?

    “Lots of Islamic terror attacks on innocent Muslims in the last few days. Perhaps that is what is bothering you, but you dare not admit it?”

    Of course that bothers all of us.

    “Are you then admitting the moment that anyone says anything that remotely “offends” muslims there will be violence and cold-blooded murder? Other religions get plenty of criticism, but their followers don’t go murderously-crazy and start to attack and kill the people who point out that there may be some serious problems with a religion that encourages murdering those who reject it.”

    You are wrong. Many Christians, Hindus and Jews in third world countries have rioted and killed people in anger at offenses directed at their religions. This has to do with culture not religion. But you will never hear that in the media.
    Islam protects the freedom of thought and religion for everyone. There are hundreds of verses to that effect. Read 2:256 and 109:6 for example.

    “Anyone has a right to criticize a religion or whatever without having to fear for their life. That is called free speech in a democracy.”

    That is right.

    “Your claim that Hirsi Ali is aligned with the christian right is silly. She rejects all manmade religions.”

    She is affiliated with radical Christian organizations. She demonizes Islam and Muslims. She also lies a lot. She singles out Islam and calls it a “policial ideology” and likens it to communisma nd nazism. She is intolerant and a hypocrite.

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