Thursday, April 10, 2014

521: Islamic philosophy and the death penalty for the atheist

In  my previous lecture I said: “The situation is thus: The function of the Prophet is to reveal the religious law (shari‘a) while the Imam unveils gradually to his disciples the inner meaning of the revelation through the ta’wil, which is going back to the original meaning of the Quran.

But there is more than just the explanation of meaning of words and statements. Man can’t be stopped to think past beliefs, question beliefs.”

And here I was referring to the developments in Arabic culture and philosophy from 750 to 1258 CE under the Abbasis Caliphate.

I said, “Man can’t be stopped to think past beliefs, question beliefs.” He better should, when he lives today in the following 13 countries:

Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The reason is, that in those countries you’ll have to face the death penalty, if you dare to question the sense or nonsense of religion or just make known, that you are an atheist, but christian or liberal muslim will do too.

These countries happens to be part of Arabic culture or dominated by a religion which originated from Arabic culture. But let me be fair.

Criticism of religious faith or even academic study of the origins of religions is frequently treated as a crime and can be equated to the capital offense of blasphemy, it asserted.

In Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Malta and Poland where blasphemy laws allow for jail sentences up to three years on charges of offending a religion or believers.

In these and all other EU countries, with the exception of the Netherlands and Belgium which the report classed as "free and equal," there was systemic discrimination across society favoring religions and religious believers.

I intended to speak about how Plato and Aristotle were translated into Arabic and what impact it had on Islamic philosophy, but this morning it was in the news , that Saudi-Arabia had just passed a law that equated atheism with terrorisme and thence to be punished with a death penalty.

I have to address this issue, because in Arabic culture religion and philosophy are so closely intertwined. Around 750 we see the introduction of Greek thinking in Arabic culture.

History gave us a series of great names:
Al-Kindı (c. 801 – c. 873) 
Al-Farabı ( 870 - 950 )  
Avicenna ( 980 - 1037 ) 
Al-Ghazalı ( 1058 -1111 ) 
Ibn Bajja ( died 1139 ) 
Ibn Tufayl ( c.1105 – 1185)
Averroes ( 1126 - 1198)
Suhrawardi ( 1155–1191)
Ibn  Arabı ( 1165–1240)

Mulla  Sadra  ( 1571-1640 )

With the exception of Mulla Sadra, which can be explained,  all happened between 800 and 1200. After that a big silence. 

What happened? Religion took over and it became the dominant factor in politics. Everyone who questioned religious principles, questioned the state and who questions the state deserves a death penalty.

We are used to look at history as a long series of eminent individuals , who contributed to this or that in science and philosophy. This is not how Arab culture is structured. That consists of religious communities, Shi’ites, Sunnits, Alawites, Salfists etc.

The unbound reason of Greek  philosophy, which would grant primacy to reason over revelation, was attacked by al-Ghazali ( 1058 -1111 ) 

and then by a host of lesser figures, leading  to the hard blow dealt by Ibn Taymiyyain his “Refutation of the Rationalists”.

This meant the end of any independent and individualistic scientific and intellectual development in Arabic culture and explains 

why Arabs do not  think of politics as the relationship between individuals and the state, but mainly as the balance of power among communities, based on religious ideologies.

And this also explains to us why neither the War in Iraq, nor the Arabic Spring has brought democracy and Human Rights to the Arabic world. Everything gets bogged down in tribal fights along the lines of religious factions.

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
From Africa to Zen, R.C. Solomon & K.M. Higgins
The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, P.Adamson & R.Taylor

The Discussion

[13:15] herman Bergson: Thank you .....
[13:16] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.´ ¯¨.¸¸`**   **´ ¸¸.¨¯` H E R MA N ´ ¯¨.¸¸`**   **´ ¸¸.¨¯`
[13:16] Qwark Allen: awesome lecture
[13:16] herman Bergson: Feel free to take the floor,  if you feel to it
[13:16] Merlin: If you have totalitarianism you have no room for the politics our our kind
[13:16] Debbie dB: thanks herman.
[13:16] Bejiita Imako: in other words there will never be peace in those countries since they are "jammed " into this structure
[13:17] Bejiita Imako: no nice development for sure
[13:17] herman Bergson: What is interesting is how different the homo sapiens organizes his society.....based on such diverse principles
[13:18] herman Bergson: And we face the question.....can we say that some principles are better than other?
[13:18] Debbie dB: and why it happens - its purely the leadership direction along the path of time.
[13:18] herman Bergson: Yes Debbie.....
[13:18] Merlin: I still think Oil has something to do with it....
[13:18] herman Bergson: the arab ruler was of divine quality...
[13:18] Bejiita Imako: the oil cause trouble too i guess
[13:19] Merlin: because people get an income from basically doing nothing
[13:19] Merlin: they have not technology, just trade
[13:19] Laila Schuman: i once said to an Arab friend... that I don't understand why Arabs kill Arabs... he did not answer... what you have said today gives me a sad, hopeless kind of feeling about the future
[13:19] Debbie dB: like the stock exchange millionaires?
[13:19] Qwark Allen: well, the most advanced cities in the world are in those countries
[13:19] herman Bergson: The oil was just a lucky thing for the arabs....
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: true, all technology development have basically stopped here in faroe of relious beliefs and rules
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: taking them backwards and not forwards in time
[13:20] Honey  Bee: the oil just happens to be in that corner
[13:20] herman Bergson: I would say Qwark, that is because there the money is....
[13:20] Merlin: Oil has been responsible for huge increase in their population hasnt it?
[13:20] herman Bergson: Not only or just the oil.....
[13:20] Qwark Allen: yes, just to say that they are not like the old nomad tribes, with a camel
[13:20] Debbie dB: Oil is such a blip in historical time - 120 years so far, and only another 50 left - maybe...
[13:21] Honey  Bee: maybe so , increase wealth , food etc then we can expect incerase in population
[13:21] herman Bergson: the fact that  the Wets discovered and developed explosion engines is an important fact
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:21] herman Bergson: if from the begining all was based on electricity, oil would have been worthless
[13:21] Qwark Allen: religion we know its just a way to take control of the poor, of mind and/or economically
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: cause today all need gasoline guzzling cars to get around
[13:22] Honey  Bee: yes it is
[13:22] herman Bergson: Religion is the social bonding thing....
[13:22] Qwark Allen: when people in those countries have access to other reality of information, things change a bit
[13:22] herman Bergson: and threatening with a death penalty if you question that is very effective
[13:22] Honey  Bee: yes people have a need to belong to something and need direction
[13:23] Qwark Allen: oh yes, everyone wants to be very religious
[13:23] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:23] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:23] Qwark Allen: better have the head on top
[13:23] Debbie dB: not me quark ;)))
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:23] Qwark Allen: ehehhe was a joke
[13:23] Debbie dB: ¨°º©©º°¨=^ L A F F S ^=¨°º©©º°¨
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: science and real fact is king
[13:24] herman Bergson: there is another interesting fact about Arabic philosophy/..
[13:24] Qwark Allen: i`ll say laic open societies do better
[13:24] herman Bergson: I said that all scientific development etc died.....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: here you make people believe that blowing each other up make you meet the master
[13:24] Qwark Allen: we have that knowledge already from the 17th century
[13:24] herman Bergson: But that is not entirely true.....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: and thus they just continue
[13:24] Honey  Bee: i agree Bejiita
[13:24] herman Bergson: Why is Iran developing nuclear power...? THAT is science!
[13:25] Bejiita Imako whispers: all time i hear in news, 100 dead here 200 there BANG BOOOM KABLAM!
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: insane!
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: make me sad
[13:25] herman Bergson: Plz wait Bejiita
[13:25] Qwark Allen: when we separated religion from the state in the 17th century, we have seen a big evolution
[13:25] MerlinMerlin smiles at what Bejiita said
[13:25] herman Bergson: this is de difference between Sunnits and Shi'ites....
[13:26] Debbie dB: well, what is the purpose of life? We have no way of guaging right from wrong in beliefs...
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:26] Qwark Allen: there was no evolution like it in the previous 17 centuries
[13:26] Debbie dB: and the twig in the eye of consumerism is evident.
[13:26] herman Bergson: The Shi'ite philosophy "saved" so to speak the "intellectual sciences"
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: that is a good thing
[13:26] herman Bergson: That explains the position of Mulla Sadra in history....
[13:26] Qwark Allen: where are they from?
[13:27] Qwark Allen: shi itas
[13:27] Qwark Allen: like iran?
[13:27] herman Bergson: it is a faction.....and they live in the area which is called the Shiite Crescend....
[13:27] herman Bergson: rising moon....
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:28] herman Bergson: it refers to the area which is Shite.....beginning in Iran and then going north then left to Lebanon
[13:28] herman Bergson: So with a wide turn around Saudi-Arabia for instance
[13:29] herman Bergson: You might say that Shiites are a bit more intellectual friendly than Sunnits :-)
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:29] Honey  Bee: could it be climate to make some areas violent ? maybe natural toxins in the soil , sand , air ?
[13:29] Qwark Allen: its about shi itas
[13:29] herman Bergson: ahh...the link....
[13:30] herman Bergson: one moment...I referred to a report...
[13:30] herman Bergson:
[13:30] Qwark Allen: i bet countries with shi itas are more advanced technologically then the sunites
[13:30] herman Bergson: As a conclusion the article.....:-)
[13:31] herman Bergson: And may I thank you all again for your participation....
[13:31] Debbie dB: Thanks Prof...
[13:31] herman Bergson: wild guess Qwark...but I am inclined to believe the same ^_^
[13:31] Qwark Allen: ehehhe
[13:31] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ...^_^
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:32] Qwark Allen: i think its easy to guess that one
[13:32] herman Bergson: Well look at Iran....
[[13:32] Debbie dB: see you all soon - got to rush ;)
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: i ve not read so much about how they differ but they are not exactly friends
[13:32] herman Bergson: They are Iranian scientists
[13:32] Qwark Allen: iran is good
[13:33] Qwark Allen: doing a lot new stuff from almost scratch
[13:34] .: Beertje :.: night Lizzy
[13:34] Qwark Allen: thank you herman, was really nice class
[13:34] Bejiita Imako:
[13:34] Merlin: gn Lizzy
[13:34] Qwark Allen: gladd i could come
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: cu on monday then
[13:34] Bejiita Imako:
[13:34] Qwark Allen: yaaay, not sunday?
[13:34] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:34] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:34] herman Bergson: I always appreciate your participation Qwark :-)
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: im dancing on sunday
[13:34] Bejiita Imako:
[13:34] Qwark Allen: ty herman, always like to come
[13:35] Chantal: Thank you Herman, indeed explained a lot
[13:35] herman Bergsonherman Bergson smiles
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: but maybee have time to come in a bit later
[13:35] Qwark Allen: yes was very enlightning
[13:35] Honey  Bee: Good to see you again prof. Bergson
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: it always is
[13:35] Bejiita Imako:
[13:35] herman Bergson: So I answered your expectations Chantal?
[13:35] herman Bergson: My pleasure too Honey:-))
[13:35] Qwark Allen: somehow i think we lost a bit the notion, that the religion powers, are still around
[13:35] Chantal: you always do :)
[13:35] Merlin: Bye everyone who's still here
[13:36] Honey  Bee: bye
[13:36] .: Beertje :.: goodnight Merlin
[13:36] Chantal: Bye everyone

No comments:

Post a Comment