Thursday, February 12, 2009

News flash!

"Menacing stray dogs being killed in Baghdad", the headline is actually misleading as they weren't actually referring to American soldiers. Unfortunately...

I think I will keep a regular Dogwatch, where colonial news outlets give more coverage (and regard) to animals than they do to Arabs and Muslims.


Hisham said...

absolutely spot on brother!

[ j i m m y ] said...

this is a comment on your article relating to Hari's text in the Independent. it took me an hour to type but it seems you deleted your article so i'll post my comment here anyway :)

in your article, and beyond the chronological outline of the history of modern sociopolitical systems and philosophical thought, you make a rather spectacular leap by labelling all the modern human thinking from right to left as 'liberal', you portray it as obsolete, and link its failure to the recent political failures and the collapse of the capitalistic system and [neo]liberalism.

this in my opinion is an astonishing and grave mistake by someone who obviously knows better than to condemn and label the entirety of contemporary human thinking as plain 'liberal', in an attempt to defend religion.

human thinking is evolving at speeds that exceed by light-years those of old, rotten religions. human thinking has started millenia before religions, and has and will always outlive them.

human thinking, is human, and real, and subject to review and enhancement and therefore is bound to commit mistakes and occasional atrocities (mind you, much less than those committed by religion) and evolve and learn from its mistakes. it's a closed loop system with feedback, it’s a living, dynamic system of thought. how on earth dare we compare it to a linear, prehistoric, (f)rigid, cast-in-stone religious dogma that expired the moment it was out.

human thinking evolves with humans. with their consciousness of themselves and of the universe in which they exist. how do religious books evolve?

contrary to what many might think, contemporary human thinking is now evolving fast. it's shifting from the 20th century, post-french revolution self-righteousness to a more complex, sustainable approach where the mechanistic, newtonian system of values that sees the world as a clockwork machine working in one direction only is being replaced by a 21st century 'living systems' view where peoples' cultures, societies and livelihoods are encouraged to exist within their own, indigenous system of values, and parallel to one another, therefore creating richness, diversity and resilience that resembles those of the earth’s ecosystems. and this happening indeed in spite of the horrendous globalisation trends that have ruined us for the past half century.

and we are achieving this. and it's clear through the work of people like Amartya Sen, Schumacher, Capra and others. it is also being implemented and applied slowly and surely by thousands of individuals across the globe.

this is not liberalism my friend. this is the effort to preserve AND reconcile at the same time. unlike religion which divides and sows dependence and mediocrity, modern thinking is learning to live with diversity and encourage it. it’s teaching people to cultivate their own lands, to use their own means to adapt, and to develop those means.

thinking outside dogma is not liberalism. it is plain thinking. it is intelligence. it's Popper and Hegel and Hume and Rousseau and the outcome of millennia of human thinking that transcends obsolete religious books that can only be interpreted in ways that please the religious ruling elites.

but this leads to the dilemma that you touched on in your article (although you recklessly attributed it to liberalism): will we succeed in encouraging and achieving sustainable diversity when many of the sub-systems or sub-cultures that constitute our system are still feeling (or indeed being) threatened or wiped out?

the question is definitely too hard for me to answer. each of us is living in a bubble that is constantly threatened, both by globalisation and by its surrounding context. my only point though is that the solution for this dilemma is definitely not in encouraging religion and inhibiting critical thinking. the solution lies in us learning how to further diversify our sub-system, enrich it and nurture it. and this can ONLY be done with critical thinking and feedback loops.

we need more learning and knowledge (be it indigenous or universal), and less dogma. we definitely need less emphasis on religions.

Maysaloon said...

Hi Jimmy,
I'm not sure how much you read of the post as I quickly took it off for re-editing but I'll answer your points as best as I can. These are that firstly I lumber all Western political thought as liberal, which I don't. The second issue is that I am using this to advocate for religion as you understand it, which I also do not do. I also appreciate the effort you made in typing up your response.

With regards to labelling all modern human thinking from right to left as liberal, I don't think so. I mean that in light of the collapse of their economic and political systems, those who have held on to these philosophical values are feeling lost and bewildered. I think your reading of this part of my post was a little simplistic.

Now in terms of human thinking, no I don't agree with you in that it is evolving in light years. In fact I believe it has regressed and the startling incoherence and vapidity of much present thought is a symptom of decay and not of progress. I think you do billions of people a grave injury by claiming that they are not intelligent and instead adhere to dogma. History has a way of weeding out ideas which have no relation to reality and are not strong enough to survive scrutiny. Secondly I think you relate religion to dogma, which assumes "religion" is a brush you can use to tar all things related to spiritual belief. That's a little unfair and I recommend you look into this closer as the only dogma I hear seems to be coming from you and other seclarists!

I haven't read Amartya Sen, Schumacher and Capra, I'm sure their work is impressive and the result of much effort. I would like to read what they have said at some stage but the fact that what they said hasn't filtered through to the global mass consciousness says something. It's too early to say if they actually mean anything. Even though I was not advocating religous thought in this post, I feel it necessary to answer your assumptions about it, at least as a Muslim. For myself, the Qur'an is a religious book which does not need to evolve, it speaks to human beings in all times and places. If a religious text "evolves" then it is nonsense. Islam is also not dogmatic and is completely removed from the level of debate we have about traditional "religions", it offers a complete solution for a human being who wishes to live as a human being devoid of prejudice, "states" and "dogma" as you call it. Still, this is not for me to just state but rather you are free to read and ask further, I'm happy to answer any questions you have about it. I agree with you that learning and knowledge are needed and that we need less dogma. In my view, such a quest can only lead an honest thinker with honest intentions to Islam.

[ j i m m y ] said...

dictionary description of dogma:

dogma |ˈdɒgmə|
a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true : e.g. the Christian dogma of the Trinity

you said: "If a religious text "evolves" then it is nonsense. Islam is also not dogmatic and is completely removed from the level of debate we have about traditional religions (...)"

i think this sentence in itself in the ultimate oxymoron. you're stating that islam is not dogma, yet, you're confirming that it is not allowed to either evolve or be interpreted or debated by different people in different times. anything that cannot evolve and cannot be interpreted IS dogma.

i'm sorry wassim but my little human brain has been raised to think critically and my (modest) intellect fails when other people's dogma kicks in. people discuss intellect but how on earth are they expected to discuss dictation?

this though does not mean that i'm not going to have a good read in the quran tonight.

Maysaloon said...

Hi Jimmy,
I was aware of the definition of dogma and believe me I'm not foisting anything onto you, I'm just conscious of the fact that there is nothing in the Quran which is not virtually bulletproof against any criticism.

What I mean by when I say that Islam does not "evolve" is that the Qur'an and Hadith are not there to be moulded into whatever is convenient for peoples desires. It is the core from which anything extracted cannot let you down. If you read the Qur'an once, twice and three times, you will notice that you are constantly being reminded to think and think again. See something and see again. It is not so much that the Qur'an dictates what we are to do within a restrictive sphere, it is that it allows us to do and discover everything outside of it. That is a very important difference to keep in mind. By all means, all things are subject to discussion in the Quran and subject to interpretation. There is nothing in it which expects you to not think critically. What I recommend is if you read al Ghazali's "The Deliverer from Error" you'd find much in him which is familiar and interesting. If you read it tonight and have questions then I'm happy to answer them. I say tha humbly and completely confidently.