Tuesday, March 25, 2014

516: Why would Islamic Philosophy trouble you?

In  my  previous lecture I said : “I can’t help it, but words like “Islam” or “Islamic” carry rather unpleasant connotations for me.”

Everyone of you knows that just a single unwelcome remark or picture about Islam has lead to massive riots in certain countries and all kinds of fatwas and death threads towards the person(s) responsible for it.

So, what is the trouble with these people or with Islamic philosophy, especially in the light of the extensive quote in my previous lecture, which more than a thousand years ago already emphasized “REASON” as the core of Islamic thinking?

Dr. Abdelwahab M. Elmessiri  from Ain Shams University in Cairo wrote in 1997 on the pages of the www. muslimphilosophy.com website about one of the Islamic discourses:

(One is) a populist salvationist “messianic” discourse. This is the discourse of the overwhelming majority of the Muslim masses that have instinctively realized that the processes of modernization, secularization, and globalization do the umma (Muslim community) no good and bring no real reform. 

These masses have observed that these processes are in essence nothing but processes of Westernization, that rob the umma of its religious and cultural heritage, giving it nothing in return, and that have only led to further colonial hegemony and class polarization within society. 

Adhering and clinging to Islam, which they know well, the masses encapsulate themselves within their Islamic heritage, cry for help, and hope for salvation from Allah. But they are incapable of contributing new ideas or organizing political movements. 

Such a discourse frequently expresses itself in the form of spontaneous and, at times, violent acts of protest against all forms of radical Westernization and colonial invasion.
- end quote -

The core of the problem is the thread of Westernization. But what does that mean? The introduction of standards of our prosperous and high tech, highly educated Western societies?

I don’t think so. The roots of Westernization go way back into history. About 55 A.D. wrote the apostle, Paul to the Galatians: “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.” (Gal. 3:23)

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)

This was according the American-British historian Larry Siedentop in is resent book “Inventing the Individual” the fist time in human history, that homo sapiens comes to the conclusion that we all are equal.

As Paul says, before we were kept under the law, which may be traditions, tribal rules, social inequality rules and so on, and now we are all equal in Christ Jesus.

Tho christianity wasn’t exactly the religion itself that took this idea of individuality to the letter (All christians are equal, but some christians are more equal :-), yet this concept of individuality developed through the centuries in Europe.

It developed from “all equal for God” into the more secular concept of “all equal for the law”. In the long run, this led to the rule of law and fundamental rights, rights that people “by nature 'have, simply because they are humans. 

The equality of all human beings involves the "invention of the individual”. That equality means namely that your value does not depend on your gender (male or female), ethnicity (jew or gentile) or social status (slave or free).

I know this equality is not yet reality anywhere on this globe, but at some places it is at least more real than in other places and in any case it is already real on paper in the articles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. 

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

And this invention of the individual is the fundamental “threat” to all cultures, some of which even never came to the idea of human equality. 

And calling it Westernization doesn’t justify at all , that you may think that you have the right to kill those who don’t share your religion, or throw homosexuals from the highest building, or that a society has to consist of castes, and so on…

This however is only modern history. When Arab philosophy reached full development in the 9th century there existed no Westernization, which explains why al-Razi could assume that reason is the basis of Islamic philosophy.

The Discussion

[13:24] Merlin: Phew
[13:24] Gemma Allen: right
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:25] .: Beertje :.: wow
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: thats some stuff
[13:25] Nectanebus: Well, I'm sure there's more to Westernization than individuality, but it's one viewpoint to take.
[13:25] Gemma Allen: sad history
[13:25] herman Bergson: Take your time to digest it :-)
[13:25] Gemma Allen: you are treating this as a philosophy then as opposed to a relligion?
[13:25] .: Beertje :.: *burbs*..oops sorry
[13:26] Gemma Allen: i missed the first class on it
[13:26] Gemma Allen: i think
[13:26] herman Bergson: True Nectanebus.....
[13:26] .: Beertje :.: are those muslems afraid of western religions?
[13:27] Gemma Allen: I think it is more the culture
[13:27] Gemma Allen: western culture
[13:27] herman Bergson: I think the point is that human equality threatens a lot of hierarchical power structures in certain societies
[13:27] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:27] Gemma Allen: oh wow
[13:27] Nectanebus: I think it's more the erodation of moral values by gradual Americanization of the globe
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: they try to protect their culture by destroying all other different ones basically
[13:27] vladimir Hoxley: But if Christianity is the source of individualism, what is particular about Islam that reacts to it compared to Hinduism, Buddhism etc?
[13:28] Gemma Allen: i dont even think Paul believed what he was saying
[13:28] Gemma Allen: I have always looked on him as anti woman
[13:28] herman Bergson: And that Nectanebus is something which I dont agree with :-)
[13:28] Kimmy Jannings: why america
[13:29] herman Bergson: If you study the philosophy of ethics there is no erodation of moral thinking at all
[13:29] Nectanebus: please extrapolate a little there, I'm not sure I follow...
[13:29] herman Bergson: What is erodating our culture is the dominance of economics...
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: that i can agree with
[13:29] Gemma Allen: capitalism maybe
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: money is more worth then a life today
[13:30] herman Bergson: Human rights aren’t the highest good  even in our society..
[13:30] herman Bergson: Profit is....
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: thats insane
[13:30] Nectanebus: Right, and you're saying capitalism isn't the modus operandi of american culture?
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: the more money the more value u have as person it seems today
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: nuts
[13:30] herman Bergson: That is why we exploit people in Bangladesh to make our clothes
[13:30] vladimir Hoxley: I agree Herman - the marketization of all value, see recent book by Michael Sandel
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: you cant set value on a person
[13:30] Merlin: I think America is very materialistic
[13:30] Kimmy Jannings: money always rules
[13:31] Merlin: money can mean life or death in usa
[13:31] herman Bergson: Indeed Vladimir....people should read Sandel !!!!!
[13:31] Gemma Allen: true merlin
[13:31] Gemma Allen: but dont recognize it as such
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes Merlin..... and even your death might be good money....when you have a life insurance
[13:31] Gemma AllenGemma Allen GIGGLES!!
[13:31] Gemma Allen: ...LOL...
[13:32] Merlin: hmm
[13:32] Gemma Allen: not for the insured
[13:32] Merlin: I am thinking about health cover
[13:32] herman Bergson: that is the point Gemma...
[13:32] Merlin: medical treatment
[13:33] Gemma Allen: I think it is sad that there is so much disparity in the muslim culture
[13:33] herman Bergson: AIDS patients bought high life insurances and sold them then for big money to others based n the idea that that person would cash a huge profit from the death of the AIDS patient
[13:33] Gemma Allen: It is a good philosophy in many ways
[13:33] vladimir Hoxley: Still not sure what is particular about Islam that is reacting to modernism
[13:33] herman Bergson: That is very true Gemma.....
[13:34] Gemma Allen: I dont think a lot of aids patients did that tho because they had no money to pay after paying for their treatment
[13:34] herman Bergson: I would say the male based power structures of arabic culture
[13:34] Kimmy Jannings: which is totally wrong
[13:34] Kimmy Jannings: lol
[13:34] vladimir Hoxley: So it is the threat of feminism rather than the enlightenment?
[13:34] .: Beertje :.: woman are worth less than a pig there
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: indeed, in saudia arabia women are treated worse then trash
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: really sad
[13:35] Kimmy Jannings: in the west us girls are in control lol
[13:35] herman Bergson: it is the threat of human equality...independent of gender
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: i dont get it
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: but its all about power and control i guess as usual
[13:35] herman Bergson: Just as the Declaration of Human Rights state
[13:36] herman Bergson: I htink so too Bejiita....
[13:36] .: Beertje :.: i think man are afraid to loose their control there
[13:36] Gemma Allen: but in saudi the women live extremely well if married to the right persons
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: and since males are often more rough then women they take advantage of that to push women down in the mud
[13:36] Gemma Allen: but
[13:36] herman Bergson: Just the idea that women are not allowed to drive a car...but it is reality in Saudi Arabia
[13:36] Gemma Allen: still as chattel
[13:36] Gemma Allen: right!!
[13:37] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:37] Kimmy Jannings: omg
[13:37] Gemma Allen: they are arrested if driving
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: yes its so weird
[13:37] Kimmy Jannings: im not going there
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: make s me really sad
[13:37] Gemma Allen: there is a bigg movement
[13:37] Kimmy Jannings: mind u u aint seen me drive
[13:37] Gemma Allen: women drivers
[13:37] vladimir Hoxley: but dont tar all islam with Wahabbism
[13:37] Gemma Allen: protesting
[13:37] herman Bergson: You can if you have no drivers license Kimmy :-))
[13:37] .: Beertje :.: you have to wear a Djlebbah there Kim
[13:37] Gemma Allen: driving all over
[13:37] Gemma Allen: at certain times
[13:37] Merlin: Saudi Arabia are supposed to be a big ally of USA and UK
[13:37] Gemma AllenGemma Allen GIGGLES!!
[13:37] Gemma Allen: ...LOL...
[13:37] Gemma Allen: we know
[13:38] Gemma Allen: they really are too
[13:38] Gemma Allen: sad
[13:38] Merlin: that was true once of Iraq I think
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: its just cause of that damn oil
[13:38] Merlin: and Iran etc etc
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: for their cars
[13:38] Merlin: Pakistan now
[13:38] Kimmy Jannings: its just we are better drivers
[13:38] Gemma Allen: oh in iraq the women were much more free b4 the wars then they are now!!!!!!
[13:38] herman Bergson: But I think you should not evaluate situations from details of certain cultures...
[13:38] Gemma Allen: many highly educated
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: its really complicated this
[13:39] Gemma Allen: very complicated
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: but something must change
[13:39] herman Bergson: You should think about the individuality and equality as an a priori of human existence
[13:39] Gemma Allen: it will
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: hope so for sure
[13:39] Kimmy Jannings: yes women rule
[13:39] Gemma Allen: if you look at the history or women in the usa 100 years ago was a huge battle for recognition
[13:39] Gemma Allen: huge
[13:39] Gemma Allen: women arrested
[13:39] herman Bergson: and this a priori is reached at least to some extend in western democracy...
[13:39] Gemma Allen: for demonstrating
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:40] Nectanebus: equality a priori? That's half of what got us into this mess..
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma....and they WON!
[13:40] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:40] Gemma Allen: but it was not easy
[13:40] .: Beertje :.: it was not until 1950 that woman here in the Netherlands got the right to vote
[13:40] Gemma Allen: and still
[13:40] Merlin: Ive noticed through SL that women in USA seem to be a bit downtrodden compared to UK
[13:40] Gemma Allen: women earn 77 cents for every 1.00 a man makes
[13:40] .: Beertje :.: we are not as modern as we think we are
[13:40] herman Bergson: Equality in the sense of equal rights Nectanabus...
[13:40] Gemma Allen: that is correct!!!
[13:41] Kimmy Jannings: here in the uk we earn the same
[13:41] herman Bergson: And indeed...if you look at all the facts
[13:41] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:41] Gemma Allen: UK women has the same battle
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: inddeed thats also goes here in Sweden, women earn less then male
[13:41] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:41] Gemma Allen: you see
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: even i seem going in right direction still differences
[13:41] Kimmy Jannings: but then i dont know any male midwifes to ask
[13:41] herman Bergson: our ideas are nice, but we ourselves are still rather limited gifted in handling these ideas
[13:41] .: Beertje :.: as if we woman don't need the same money as man do
[13:41] Gemma Allen: eventually I believe the muslim countries will have the same happening
[13:42] Gemma Allen: some already have if they do not go backwards
[13:42] Gemma Allen: Turkey was a great example
[13:42] herman Bergson: I htink so too Gemma....but ut will take some centuries
[13:42] Gemma Allen: but things are changing there not for the best at the present time
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: hmm turkey, one of few places you can safely visit in middle east nowadays
[13:42] vladimir Hoxley: Remember there have been secular muslim states eg Ataturk's Turkey
[13:42] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:43] Kimmy Jannings: its shocking what muslims do to a women’s body down there
[13:43] Gemma Allen: and so was sadam husseins iraq
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: been there once and loved it, the entire middle east could be a paradise if it wasn’t for all this that happens all around
[13:43] vladimir Hoxley: But Erdogan in Turkey is a reactionary
[13:43] herman Bergson: Egypte claims to be secular too Vladimir....
[13:43] Merlin: aaagh Egypt!
[13:43] herman Bergson: That is their big fight with this Muslim Brotherhood
[13:43] Kimmy Jannings: ive seen it
[13:43] Kimmy Jannings: india is the same
[13:44] vladimir Hoxley: Yes, but unfortunately there seems to be either the choice of islamism or military rukle there herman
[13:44] herman Bergson: India is really complex with its castes system
[13:44] herman Bergson: Indeed Vladimir...
[13:44] Kimmy Jannings: they away part of her bits so she doesn’t have pleasure from sex
[13:44] vladimir Hoxley: We were too optimistic about the Arab Spring
[13:44] vladimir Hoxley: optimistic
[13:44] Gemma Allen: well that is prevalent in many African countries also
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: that i also dont get, why take away a such thing, thats awful to do
[13:45] Merlin: They call it FGM ... often in the news here
[13:45] Gemma Allen: our western enlightenment (ha) cannot understand the cultures that move slowly
[13:45] Merlin: Female Genital Mutilation
[13:45] herman Bergson: circumcision...yes
[13:45] Kimmy Jannings: ive seen it when delivering babies
[13:45] herman Bergson: That is not a specifically muslim rule...
[13:45] Gemma Allen: oh dear
[13:46] Gemma Allen: no
[13:46] Kimmy Jannings: some are really bad
[13:46] vladimir Hoxley: Sorry have to go. Food for thought today Herman on your statement about a priori equality and individualism. Not sure about that but stimulating
[13:46] herman Bergson: also in christian countries and animistic countries it occures
[13:46] Gemma Allen: imagine the pain omg
[13:46] Gemma Allen: OMG!!!
[13:46] herman Bergson: ok Vladimir...
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: ooow yes most sensitive part of your body
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: ooow
[13:47] Kimmy Jannings: they have pain in child birth too
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: byr then vlad
[13:47] Gemma Allen: more pain?
[13:47] Kimmy Jannings: yes
[13:47] vladimir Hoxley: bye
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: can imagine that
[13:47] herman Bergson: the right of the person to his or her own body....
[13:47] .: Beertje :.: ans all in the name of Allah?
[13:48] Gemma Allen: nono
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: sexual pleasure is a natural thing and a horrible thing to be taken from you, i dont get why they do a thing like that
[13:48] Kimmy Jannings: the idea behind some of it is they wont sleep around
[13:48] herman Bergson: no no Beertje ..not only Allah...
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: seems feeling good and be happy is a no no in these cultures
[13:48] Gemma Allen: we sidetracked ot other cultures
[13:48] Gemma Allen: for the men it is
[13:48] herman Bergson: It is a cultural phenomenon not just a religious one...
[13:49] herman Bergson: We dont know where the idea came from....is a mystery...
[13:49] Nectanebus: This thread is too off-topic
[13:49] Gemma Allen: true
[13:49] herman Bergson: But I think we are loosing ourselves in details....
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hmm head spins now
[13:49] Kimmy Jannings: lol
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: advanced stuff indeed
[13:50] herman Bergson: Time to take the thoughts home with you and think it over....
[13:50] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:50] Kimmy Jannings: aww poor bejiita
[13:50] herman Bergson: or re  read them in the blog
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: but i think i have some hang on it at least
[13:50] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: yes the blog is a good thing to re check on
[13:50] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:50] Gemma Allen: to review
[13:50] .: Beertje :.: a lot to think about again
[13:50] herman Bergson: So thank you all for your participation again....
[13:51] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: the only thing i want is for everything and everyone to be equal without wars bombs ect
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: a good world
[13:51] Kimmy Jannings: thank you sir
[13:51] .: Beertje :.: dankjewel Herman
[13:51] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:51] Kimmy Jannings: may i ask if anyone wants something funny
[13:51] Merlin: bye everyone
[13:51] Gemma Allen: Bye, Bye   
[13:51] Gemma Allen: for now
[13:52] Gemma Allen: i think I will be here thursday
[13:52] herman Bergson: Bye Gemma :-))
[13:52] .: Beertje :.: welterusten en tot donderdag
[13:52] herman Bergson: dag dag :-))
[13:53] Kimmy Jannings: sorry if i got carried away
[13:54] herman Bergson smiles
[13:54] herman Bergson: As long as I dont carry you away Kimmy all is well :-)

[13:55] Kimmy Jannings: lol

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