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01 September 2002 @ 09:03 am
Thought for today  
Constantly the Quran points out that Muhammed had not come to cancel the older religions, to contradict their prophets or to start a new faith. His message is the same as that of Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, or Jesus. The Wuran mentions only those prophets that were known to the Arabs, but today Muslim scholars argue that had Muhammed known about the Buddhists or the Hindus, the Australian Aborigines or the Native Americans, the Quran would have endorsed their sages too, because all rightly guided religion that wholly submitted to God, refused to worship man-made deities and preached that justice and equality came from the same divine source.
-Karen Armstrong, Islam

I realized yesterday that Islam is one of the few religions I have not studied in much depth since the heavily slanted teachings in High School. This is actually kind of absurd: I understand Manicheanism better than I understand the fastest growing religion in our own country! Needless to say, I decided to rectify this.

So far, I'm quite impressed and surprised. I'm seeing a lot of the Byzantine Gnostic influences in early Islam; with that perspective, I can see why Muhammed was surprised and upset to discover that Christianity and Judaism had effectively split into seperate sects. I'm also beginning to understand the perspective that leads a vast subset of Muslims to hate America so much; we have come to embody all the traits the Quran criticizes in the Quraysh tribe of Muhammeds day.

I can't help imagining what a "New Age Islam" would be like, returning to the gnostic principles of very early Islam about the time al-Medina was founded. Such a creation would preach that all religions are one, that everyone should voluntarily submit to the highest God (as revealed to their ancestors), and that the first duty is to build a community characterized by practical compassion. In this form, the effort(jihad) would be simply to live as God intended.
 
 
 
Mr. Flibble: Yodacrispengray on September 1st, 2002 10:22 am (UTC)

It's a fascinating religion, isn't it?

I have to admit, I think Muhammad started getting a little silly in his latter years... I don't agree with some of his later teachings.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on September 1st, 2002 06:20 pm (UTC)
Fascinating, yes. Still need to learn more.

I still haven't found any philosopher or mystic which I agree with 100%. Still, I think Muhammed will beat Augustine in my approval ratings..
Supreme Master Chief Road WarriorPoet Taffin, M.D.: psychographtaffin on September 1st, 2002 05:41 pm (UTC)
i get this peculiar feeling from Islam. and i think the reason is that i really know less about it than any other major religion. but here's the problem: Islam is a beautiful faith that basically teaches "all of your prophets were right and we all worship the same benevolent creator. but if you keep believing in those gods, you're out of balance with heaven. even though we believe in your god as well, you need to believe in the fact that he's the same as everyone else's god. or we'll kill you."

that last part refers to the barbarism and obssession with martyrdom that we see today in Islam. some former Lybian president or something (the key point being that he was a respected member of the Arab world) recently said that the problem with the Arab world is that they've refused to move on with the rest of the world, and now that the rest of the world is living in the present rather than the past, they begrudge them for doing so. it was pretty amazing. one of the most unpolitical pieces of rhetoric i've ever heard from someone in his position. it'd be like Bill Clinton saying, "listen, there are some fundamental flaws with America's captialistic system, but it's nothing we can't fix if we're just big enough to admit we're wrong."

i'm really rambling and i'm sorry, but i guess the reason why i don't like Islam is the same reason i don't like any religion that's proactive about showing others "the light." even when they have the best of intentions, people always end up grabbing people of opposing beliefs and screaming, "listen, god loves you! now accept his love before i have to beat it into you with the Compassion Crowbar!" it's true that we should all be under one flag, because we basically all want the same things out of our physical and spiritual lives. and it's true that a conqueror can often be seen as a patriot who is doing the land good by uniting people, even if he has to fight them for the right to do so. but there's always a sticking point, some fine print that no one can agree on. and unfortunately it always seems to involve the Jews. i used to think it was sadly ironic that the bible refered to them as "God's chosen people" considering that they've spent most of their time being persecuted. but when i look at it in this light, maybe being the Chosen People doesn't mean that god takes care of you and plays favorites with you like when you like one of your cats better than the others. it means that you are the most pivotal people. all these horrid trials will give you the strongest convictions of any people and by golly you're gonna need that strength when you see what we've got in store for you!

anyways, before i got off on the pivotal nature of the Jews there, what i was trying to say was that Hitler was a great unifier, too. but the reason we don't see him as such is because he imposed unreasonable demands upon people. "everyone will be unified. except for the ones we eradicate." and facsism was not one of those unreasonable demands! try to think of your favorite and most respected person in the world. maybe it's a family member, a teacher, a best friend. if that person were to take over the world, you'd see it as a good thing, right? wouldn't it be better than a democracy where the Klan got as much say as your venerable Sensei? absolutely. and there's no problem whatsoever until this person dies or loses power, because as wise and great as he is, he may have trouble choosing (or even finding) an appropriate successor.

and of course, the only problem with that is that one person's Great Teacher is another's Great Satan. so, i must conclude (for now) that the masses of humanity will always have to suffer. only the individual can hope to find peace of mind and happiness, because it'd be impossible for a group of millions to agree on what makes everyone happy. so do what you like, work for your goals, try to find love, start a family, whatever makes you feel like going on. and if someone comes to your door with a recruiting spiel, shoot them in the face.
St. Sean the Amused: kermitseanb on September 1st, 2002 06:41 pm (UTC)
Well, I agree with you on a lot of these points. A long time ago I decided that one minumum requirement for my own beliefs is that they will not have a viral component. People who believe they need to Spread the Word make Bad Neighbors.

I don't claim to be an expert after reading a couple chapters of one book on Islam, but I have developed this impression: In Islam, as with all major religions, there is a vast gulf between the ancient core ideals and the current practice. For the first few centuries of Islam, most Muslims believed that Islam was only for the descendants of Ishmael; within their territories, non-Arabs were encouraged to keep their old religions, especially "People of the Book" (Christians and Jews).

Hehe, that was actually one point emphasized in the Christian school I went to; being "God's Chosen People" is not necessarily something to be happy about. Most often it amounts to being the people God chooses to make an example of.

Incidentally, it seems that the Muslim hatred of Jews is a very recent phenomena. According to Karen Armstrong "The Quran continued to revere Jewish prophets and to urge Muslims to respect the People of the Book. Smaller Jewish groups continued to live in Medina, and later Jews, like Christians, enjoyed full religious liberty in the Islamic Empires. Anti-semitism is a Christian vice. Hatred of the Jews became marked in the Muslim world only after the creation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent loss of Arab palestine. It is significant that Muslims were compelled to import anti-Jewish myths from Europe, and translate into Arabic such virulently anti-semetic texts as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, because they had no such traditions of their own."

Of course, I have religios injunctions against believing anything I read.
Supreme Master Chief Road WarriorPoet Taffin, M.D.taffin on September 2nd, 2002 07:29 am (UTC)
you're wise to not believe everything you read, but i think that may be spot-on. if it weren't for that goddamned "holy" land, those three faiths could finally stop killing each other long enough to realize they're basically long lost siblings. (couldn't we have picked anywhere but the single most contentious piece of land in the world to establish an independent state of world's most persecuted people?!) i was going to use the term "Judeo-Christian," but that leaves out the Muslim part. is there a term that links all three? maybe no one's thought of it since the Arab world is always viewed as so separate. i remember i was shocked when i learned, fairly late in life, that Islam was descended from Judaism and Christianity. i hardly got any indication of that when i was a kid.
Supreme Master Chief Road WarriorPoet Taffin, M.D.taffin on September 1st, 2002 05:43 pm (UTC)
i'm so sorry to littler your comments page with the massive comment above, but you happened to catch me at just the right philospohical moment. i had just finished watching the one work that gets me thinking like no other. and all those Thoughts for the Day got me going. i'm going to add you if you don't mind, if only to have your Thoughts for the Day as a counterpoint to all the bitching and complaining on my friends page. i'm not begrudging that, btw, because i'm the biggest LJ complainer imaginable and i picked every one of those annoying friends i have :P
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on September 1st, 2002 06:42 pm (UTC)
By all means, post away! If my little snippets amuse you, feel free to read them! My theme, as much as I have one, seems to be "Discordian ideas from unexpected sources". Of course, I have many deviations from this.
Supreme Master Chief Road WarriorPoet Taffin, M.D.: psychographtaffin on September 2nd, 2002 07:32 am (UTC)
i keep hearing this term Discordian, and while i know what discord means, i figure it has to have some meaning besides "slamming a bunch of discordant ideas together in hopes of some universal truths being exposed." so would you mind giving me a quick definition?
St. Sean the Amused: chaoseanb on September 2nd, 2002 09:45 am (UTC)
God is a woman and she's insane
Discordianism is something of a joke religion, related to but predating the Church of Subgenius. It was first introduced fictionally in the 'Illuminatus!' trilofy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, and the actual 'Principia Discordia', the main text of Discordianism, was written several years later.

The name Discordian follows from the Goddess they worship, Eris, who was known to the Romans as Discordia. In this conception, she is seen as the goddess of insanity, practical jokes, and a universe so crazy that the only way to stay sane is enlightened madness.

Here's a copy of the Five Commandments (the Pentabarf) to give you an idea of Discordian thought:

KNOW YE THIS O MAN OF FAITH!

I - There is no Goddess but Goddess and She is Your Goddess. There is no Erisian Movement but The Erisian Movement and it is The Erisian Movement. And every Golden Apple Corps is the beloved home of a Golden Worm.

II - A Discordian Shall Always use the Official Discordian Numbering System.

III - A Discordian is Required during his early Illumination to Go Off Alone & Partake Joyously of a Hot Dog on a Friday; this Devotive Ceremony to Remonstrate against the popular Paganisms of the Day; of Catholic Christendom (no meat on Friday), of Judaism (no meat of Pork), of Hindic Peoples (no meat of Beef), of Budhists (no meat of animal), and of Discordians (no Hot Dog Buns).

IV - A Discordian shall Partake of No Hot Dog Buns, for Such was the Solace of Our Goddess when She was Confronted with the Original Snub.

V - A Discordian is Prohibited of Believing What he Reads.

IT IS SO WRITTEN! SO BE IT. HAIL DISCORDIA! PROSECUTORS WILL BE TRANSGRESSICUTED.


You can find copies of the Principia Discordia online; I highly recommend reading it. For me, it really boils down to two principles:
00001) Seeing the world as a chaotic mess with more synchronicity than meaning.
00002) Accepting that 00001 is something to be happy about.
Supreme Master Chief Road WarriorPoet Taffin, M.D.taffin on September 2nd, 2002 11:19 am (UTC)
Re: God is a woman and she's insane
you had me hooked from the subject line. God is a woman, and just like mortal women, she's totally insane.

by the way, don't forget to eat that hot dog with your left hand, lest you unconsciously support Islamic beliefs.