The (religious) textbook wars

Who says the culture wars are over? Russell Shorto (who I had the pleasure of meeting recently in Amsterdam) just … Continued

Who says the culture wars are over?

Russell Shorto (who I had the pleasure of meeting recently in Amsterdam) just wrote a fantastic piece for The New York Times Magazine on the battle over the content of textbooks in Texas. Essentially, according to Shorto’s reporting, a group of Christian conservatives occupies a critical mass of seats on the Texas State Board of Education and votes into the curriculum items they like (the Moral Majority) and excludes items they don’t (Edward Kennedy).

It’s easy to caricature the two prominent sides in this debate.

On one side, generally associated with the “Christian Nation” movement, are those who want copious amounts of religion (which means Christianity) taught in public school classrooms.

On the other side are the church/state separationists who want to keep religion out of the classroom.

The inclusion of religion in textbooks doesn’t have to be a political football. The fact is, religion has been a big part of this nation’s past, plays an important role in its present, and will undoubtedly be a force in its future. As Martin Marty is quoted as saying, “The goal should be natural inclusion. You couldn’t tell the story of the Pilgrims or the Puritans or the Dutch in New York without religion.”

One of the founding fathers of America, Benjamin Franklin, built a hall for the purpose of providing a space for anyone from the diverse religious communities in Philadelphia to speak. He said, “Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.” Thomas Jefferson, had enough respect for Islam and Muslims that he owned a copy of the Qur’an.

Here’s how I see it. The “Christian Nation” movement and Martin Marty have a point that religion must be included in the American narrative. But the very point that makes our story so compelling is lost when we ignore the diversity of people from the four corners of the earth coming together. In my view, there are few things on earth as moving as the American story. I just think that everyone should be able to participate in the aspiration, not just people from one religion.

I think we should even go one step further. Call me a hope and change guy, but I have no problem making the American narrative inspiring. Not only should education about religions be inclusive, but it should be aspirational; we can use education about religion as an opportunity to hold up great American values of religious freedom, religious tolerance, and interfaith cooperation.

Moreover, we need to study the times when America failed to live up to its promise – not as a means for highlighting America’s wrongs, but as a way for the next generation to help America get more right.

Perhaps George Washington encapsulates the best of America in his 1790 letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Rhode Island:

America gives bigotry no sanction, and persecution no assistance.

About

  • Carstonio

    “The ‘Christian Nation’ movement and Martin Marty have a point that religion must be included in the American narrative.”While that’s a valid point, that’s not their goal. They want American culture and government to treat Christianity as the normal or default religion. They would likely object to any textbook that accurately described the quasi-theocratic nature of the Puritan and Pilgrim societies. “On the other side are the church/state separationists who want to keep religion out of the classroom. “No, the goal is to keep proselytizing out of the classroom, which is essential what mandatory school prayer does. The goal is to keep public schools from favoring one religion or group of religions over others.

  • YEAL9

    At least Muslim “virtues” are not being considered!!!!

  • edbyronadams

    The problem with teaching religion in schools, even from the academic viewpoint that leaving out such a powerful motivator of people’s actions gives an incomplete view of history is that every minority religion’s faithful demands that they get control of that particular part of curriculum. In fact, Christianity is the only religion that can be viewed from a negative standpoint since that is the politically correct view of academia. That is certainly the view and the political positions held in my very liberal, very multicultural corner of the world.The “Christian nation” may simply be a reaction to this view coming from the ivory tower.BTW, this comes from a non-Christian. I am a Buddhist and from what I can see on how that is presented in schools, it is mostly a bunch of gobbledygook that is not understood by the teacher or the students.

  • aka2

    This is the fundamental right of Americans

  • AKafir

    “Thomas Jefferson, had enough respect for Islam and Muslims that he owned a copy of the Qur’an.”Jefferson owned the Quran because he had to deal with the Barbary Pirates who were Muslims and who had told that they could take Kaafir hostages for ransom because their Allah ordered them to do so. But one cannot get around what Jefferson heard when he went with John Adams to wait upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London in March 1785. When they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, America’s two foremost envoys were informed that “it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.” (It is worth noting that the United States played no part in the Crusades, or in the Catholic reconquista of Andalusia.)Ambassador Abd Al-Rahman did not fail to mention the size of his own commission, if America chose to pay the protection money demanded as an alternative to piracy. So here was an early instance of the “heads I win, tails you lose” dilemma, in which the United States is faced with corrupt regimes, on the one hand, and Islamic militants, on the other—or indeed a collusion between them.****************************Americans will not agree to ransom today any more than they would have agreed back then. As long as Islam divides humanity into Muslims and Kaafirs, Islam will cause conflict and will have to be dealt with as Jefferson dealt with it in his day. I doubt Jefferson had any respect for Islam. He wanted to make sure he understood the ideology of the killers that he was dealing with. A lesson that the leaders of USA should learn from Jefferson.

  • abhab1

    Eboo says”Thomas Jefferson had enough respect for Islam and Muslims that he owned a copy of the Qur’an.”This is an example of the simplistic thinking that is rampart among Muslims. I own a copy of the Quran because I am curious about it just like I am curious about many other things. My owning a copy of that book does not necessarily mean anything. I was curious to find out what made the believers in the Divine source of that book act the way they do. Does that necessarily mean that I respect its teachings or those who practice its teachings?

  • ragostas

    If we want to teach religion at the founding, we should be explaining that 18th century religious evangelicals were the most adamant for separation of church and state — they had seen what state involvement in churches could do and theologically they believed that any state influence corrupted an independent, honest choice for God. As edbyronadams points out, the problem is that the “Christian nation” forces have so often tried to distort that picture and control the content rather than letting history be reported. (The role of the 18th century evangelicals in demanding separation of church and state is discussed in my “Wellspring of Liberty,” but it is interesting that that story has been forgotten (if not suppressed).)

  • arkns

    Again, a fundamental disagreement about the way Islam “teaches”, and the basic Islamic philosophy. It is a philosophy of intolerance and a method of “teaching” where the students are not supposed to ask any questions. Plurality of views, dissension, constructive criticism, these are not tolerated or encouraged in Islam. The thing that really bugs me is that Muslims want all rights in non-Muslim countries, but are loathe to grant any rights in the bastion of Islam such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. They break the commandment–Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you! It is the height of hypocrisy! And Muslims are silent on such policies. I do not see any Muslim protest against their government on the treatment of minorities and the granting of universal human rights such as the right to religion, the right to hold a job, the right to vote, the right to equal representation before law, the right to equal treatment of women, etc. A long way to go indeed! It is time the Islamic religious textbooks are revised to uphold universal and secular values. We are not living in the Middle Ages anymore.

  • AKafir

    @Arkns: “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you!” Islam restricts the “others” in that to Muslims only. There is absolutely nothing in Islam, not one verse in the Koran or one Hadeeth where Kaafirs or non-muslims are to be treated as the “same or equal” to muslims. It is unreasonable on the part of the non-muslims to expect true believing muslims to respect the “Golden Rule”. This is one reason why non-muslims need to understand Islam; they expect that all humans follow the Golden Rule … muslims do not. Sites that claim otherwise quote either fraudulent hadeeth or mistranslated ones. This is the time when the hadeeth in the original arabic give a much better understanding than the lies by people like Eboo.

  • arkns

    Any idiot can write anything in Wikipedia. This yasseryousufi has not leaned this basic fact. It is not monitored for quality control at all.

  • aka2

    Sixty-three years ago as Nehru spoke of India’s tryst with destiny, millions of Muslims rejected the Two-Nation theory and made their choice to stay in the motherland. India was their “madare watan” and India it was where they would live and die. When people questioned their integrity and commitment to the nation and suggested they were fifth columnists, they bore the calumny patiently. The ’50s and ’60s were difficult years marred by a sequence of riots where often enough Muslims were at the receiving end. Even the pluralist Nehru’s commitment to a secular politics wasn’t enough to curb the police’s tendency to visit retribution disproportionately on Muslims in the wake of a riot. Misled by the platitudes and promises of the political elite, Muslims remained a community bereft of leaders. But a quarter of a century after partition, attitudes changed. Young Muslim boys and girls left behind the sense of alienation and exclusion that had beleaguered their parents. The partition of Pakistan in 1971 and the foundation of Bangladesh was a landmark event that gave this new generation of Muslims the strength to speak in a more modern, secular voice and to stand up for their rights, their place in the Indian republic. Today, despite sectarian tragedies like the razing of the Babri Masjid or the Gujarat pogrom, the young Muslim is very much part of the system. He has a confident sense of shared citizenship and wants to exercise his rights. What upsets him is the tired rhetoric of “Muslim alienation”, the condescending op-eds encouraging him to merge himself into “mainstream” society, to contribute to Indian’s burgeoning economy which seem to assume that he has spent his life in a backwater or another planet. He is tired of being stereotyped. He is a regular guy, who works for a living, thinks the same thoughts and nurses the same ambitions as the great Indian middle class that the world is justly celebrating. And so like Faiz he wonders: “Iss raah pe jo sab pe guzarti hai who guzri Tanhan pase zindaan kabhi ruswa sare bazaar Garje hain bahut sheikh sar-egosha-e-mimbar Kadke hain bahut ahle hakam bar sare darbar” (I go through all that one goes through while on this path At times alone in jail, sometime defamed in the bazaar The sheikh denounces me from the pulpit And the ruler lashes out at me in his durbar).

  • darkglobe5

    I went to Catholic school as a child, and to their credit they taught us about all the major world religions in a respectful and, as I subsequently learned from my own studies, accurate manner. Although I’m no longer a Catholic (or even a Christian) I’m grateful for this part of my education, as it gave me the information needed to see through the distorted pictures that the many hate-mongers in the world give of various religions. I think this sort of education would be very helpful, but of course there are lobbies (of those very hate mongers) who would protest an accurate portrayal of whatever religion they happen to hate.

  • arkns

    I wish to reach out to both AKA2 and AKafir. Both of you are correct on your respective arguments.Someone earlier accused me of hiding my religious affiliation. It does not matter. What matters is the truth.My gripe with Islam is its inability to treat non-believers with respect and equality before the law. It is not there. This kind of attitude has to change. It has not served Islam well. The time is ripe for Muslims to reject such a paradigm, regardless of what “God” said. Even God must make sense. He holds us to high standards. We should also hold Him to equally high standards. No discrimination please. And no looking down on other people. Saying the Koran is the word of God and saying all these hurtful things do not go together. I tell you, I will willing to forsake God for the sake of man–not the other way around. What good is it if I love an invisible God with whom I can neither speak nor relate in any tangible way if I cannot feel the pain of flesh and blood mortals? It’s a luxury I cannot afford. First, I have to feel the pain of mortals, to develop love and compassion before I engage in tall talks of “loving God”. Such talks ring hollow!AKA@ is right about our need to treat each one with kindness, love, and compassion. I am against Hindu radical parties also. I am dead against any discrimination let alone support the Gujrat riots. I think those responsible should be awarded the death sentence. Having said that, I think the political system in India is corrupt. The parties are bending over backwards to appease Muslim sentiments. That should not be the case at all. India should have strongly secular laws which should be implemented with a firm hand. Those disturbing the peace should dealt with firmly. For example, violent Muslim protests related to India’s decision-making process on Tasleema Nasreen’s application for asylum should have been dealt with firmly, including shoot at sight orders. Who are these hooligans to hold a secular, democratic country at ransom. The choice is clear before Muslims–do you guys wish to live in a free secular and democratic country or are you only interested in furthering your radical Islamic ideas. If the latter, you are free to leave and go settle down in one of those Islamic countries. I think it is fair. Muslims cannot hold the world to ransom with their idiotic ideas from the Koran or the Sharia.

  • YEAL9

    Wikipedia’s articles actually appear to very well researched and written. Check the references given in each article to verify the veracity of the information. Added checking can be done by reviewing the same topic posted on on-line encyclopedias, with many of these being free to all those with library cards. Go to your local library’s website and look for reference sites like the Power Library. And there is always Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines to get up to date information on current events which are also reviewed in many Wikipedia articles.

  • yasseryousufi

    ARKNS, Akafir and AKA2 (same hindu with different id’s) do I give you nightmares even when Im not around?

  • arkns

    Yeal9:I am sorry but I do not agree with you. Wikipedia is not monitored for quality control. It is not the Encyclopedia. The Wikipedia items quoted by mullahs here are slanted to give the picture that only Muslims are persecuted in Myanmar. Totally false. If Muslims are persecuted, so are other minorities and anyone else (such as Burmese students and Buddhist monks) who the military junta considers as a threat. There is nothing particular about the persecution of Muslims. In that sense, the particular Wikipedia item quoted was totally inaccurate.

  • aka2

    the Golden Rule … is ISLAM. It stands for PEACE, LOVE & EQUALITY. It depends on how you view this world ? Eg:equality – Is Man equal to Womon – YES & NOIt boils down to one point. Are you Broad minded and inclusive of others (or) Narrow minded and selfish.

  • arkns

    Some of the mullahs here have not woken up to the fact that it is the Christians and the Jews who are really giving them the shaft. That is a fact regardless of what religion I belong to. What poor logic. I guess there is no hope for these idiots. But I love to celebrate when mullahs are arrested and awarded a life sentence in prison. The latest is this subway bomb plotter in New York. I think Guantanamo would be just fine for these characters.

  • arkns

    AKA2:I am very broad-minded. You can discern that from my posts. But I do not tolerate nonsense. When dealing with terrorists, I can make Bush and Cheney look like Mother Teresa. That does not mean I am against Muslims. I am against bad behaviour. Muslims have to conform to secular laws of the land where they live. If they can’t, they should leave and settle down in Islamic countries where their views find support. Nobody is forcing you to live in secular democracies and demand sharia-type intolerance. Violence will not be tolerated. If I were in the Justice or Police Department in one of these countries where Muslims protest against cartoons or against someone seeking asylum from their intolerance, I will issue shoot at sight orders. My tolerance does NOT translate into a tolerance for nonsense.

  • aka2

    I like your good intentions & respect them from the bottom of my heart. You could have rather asked a more fundamental question. Why do you love your prophets so much?Because they have guided us towards humanity. They guided us towards love of human beings, animals & plant kingdom, establishing peace & tranquility. They also taught us thet God loves its creation 99 times more than the mother loves her offspring. Although it hard for us nurture 1 or 2 children. God showers his bounty on every single member of his creation on the earth, under water & in the air. Just imagine You & Me, are like dust particle in the whole universe. Had God not loved us, we would all have been dead by now.Loving God ofcourse leads to loving Humanity & Loving humanity pleases God.

  • arkns

    AKA2:Thank you. Everyone loves their Prophets believe me. We have ours too. Many of them. And we love them. But here is the important difference. My concept of Prophet is very different from yours. Please answer this quiz:1. You (a Muslim) and I (a Hindu kafir) are walking down the road and we run into Prophet Mohammed. Upon meeting us, who would He love more? (a) you (b) me (c) you and me equally (d) you or me depending upon how He sees our heart in which case He could love a Kafir more if the Kafir’s heart was better than a Muslims.The only correct answer for me at least (and I would hold our Prophets to it also) is (d). In other words, Prophet Mohammed would NOT love you more just because you are a Muslim. He may love me more if I am a better person than you are (which He can see). Prophets, according to our concept, are not salesmen. They are not here to sell anything, collect a large following, conquer, convert, or busy making a name for themselves. Some of these practices are taught in business schools. Other practices such as forceful conversion and conquering kafirs are found in Islamic history. These should have nothing to do with the life of a spiritual Master. I hold our spiritual Masters to very high principles of Universality. Any bias and He/She is out.

  • aka2

    ARKNS,We protest because we love our prophets more than our children. You cannot understand because you don,t have one compareable in your religion. Even if you publish cartoons on Prophet Moses (or) Jesus, we will protest against it. But Mossad will start chasing your balls.

  • arkns

    AKA2:This whole concept of resorting to violence because someone drew cartoons of the Prophet is silly. Really silly. And this is something that bugs the hell out of me about Muslims. You cannot break the law because someone exercised his/her right to freedom of expression. This is a basic right in secular democracies. Drawing cartoons and other denigration of religious icons or symbols is in poor taste but permitted in our secular societies. The constitution allows it is the United States, Europe, India, and elsewhere where freedom of expression is cherished. Now when Muslims come and settle down in one of these secular democratic countries, they take the oath of allegiance to the flag of their adopted land and its constitution. If Muslims have a problem obeying the laws of the land, they are free to not emigrate and continue to live in Islamic countries where their sentiments find support. But you cannot have it both ways–settle in countries with a set of laws with which you fundamentally disagree but they resort to violence because those societies don’t see things the way you do. This will not be permitted. You will have to submit your self to the laws of the land where you live. Take the recent Muslim violence in India. These idiots are protesting because the Indian government was considering giving asylum to Tasleema Nasreen who had escaped from Bangladesh where Islamic radicals had issued a fatwa to kill her for saying things against Islam. India is a democratic secular country. We don’t have to pay any heed to such Islamic laws. If I were in the Indian government, I would issue shoot at sight orders to anyone resorting to riots and violence. That is why I keep saying. Even God is not that important to me as living a decent life and contributing to society in some small way. Talks of loving God when I cannot even live life obeying basic civil laws, fitting in society in a meaningful positive manner, is ridiculous. I can never understand how someone can say “Allah hu Akbar” (God is great!) and then slit someone’s throat or set off a bomb. That makes a lot of sense! There is something deeply wrong about any religion that promotes such thinking, that espouses such a philosophy.

  • arkns

    AKA2:And you and I have a fundamental disagreement. You assign the highest importance to loving God and His Prophet. I do not even if I were a Muslim. I would say God and His Prophet can wait. Let me love humanity first because it is impossible to love infinity but not the infinite number of components and all the diversity which make up infinity. It is like saying I love trees but I hate its branches, its leaves, its flowers, and its roots. So I have a serious and fundamental disagreement with Islam. To me all this rigid ways of behavior and its slavish attitude towards God and His Prophet don’t mean a thing unless I can begin to love His creation. Loving God or is Prophet is tall talk. And getting mad at someone who denigrates God or Prophet is stupid because who can subtract from infinity? Infinity minus infinity is also infinity. Infinity can take care of itself. It does not need me to defend itself. The mullah philosophy is indeed very stupid.

  • arkns

    I do not get mad when someone denigrates “my God” (the concept is itself wrong because there is only one God) or “my Prophet” for two reasons:1. Infinity minus Infinity = Infinity[Even if one showers infinite abuse on infinite God, God is still infinite. No one can take anything away from His infinite splendor]. Then, who am I to get mad?2. Infinity divided by Infinity = Infinity[A denigration of any concept of God is a denigration of all Gods because even if there are infinite concepts of God, they are all subsumed into the same single infinite God (infinity cannot be divided). So why bother? Hence:Christ=Moses=Allah=Krishna=Siva=Ganesha=Mullahs and all other radicals out there need to be taught these fundamental equations.

  • arkns

    AKA2:No, I don’t mean that at all. I said “if” I am a better person than you are. The question can be reversed. You and I are walking down a road and we meet a Hindu Prophet. Now He finds that you are actually a better person than me. I would fully expect Him to love you more than me. If not, I will drop Him like a hot potato. I will stop following Him. Biases are not allowed in spiritual Masters. They must be totally non-discriminatory. If he has biases just like us, is quick to pick up the sword or the stick in retaliation, how is He different from me?. If He slaps back someone when that fellow slaps him, well I can do that too. No, He must be much stronger than me in unconditional peace, unconditional love, and restraint than I am. (So when they came for Christ the Master and Peter got angry and tried to defend Him with the sword, Christ restrained Peter). That is why Christ is a Master according to the Hindus too.A spiritual Master must be totally unbiased just like our one infinite God. Otherwise, why should I look up to Him? My attitude towards spiritual Masters is “Show me something I cannot do. Otherwise why do I need to follow you?” What is happening these days is simply ridiculous. Islam, as misunderstood by millions of Muslims around the world, has imposed a huge cost on humanity. There is no doubt about this. It is time that the sane among Muslims stand up and say enough is enough. But who is going to bell the cat? The grip of radical mullahs, the inability to raise fundamental doubts about certain passages in the Koran, all these things make reform very difficult. Actually all religious messages are boringly similar. So I never understood this business about a universal God with parochial representatives and their parochial messages. It is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

  • YEAL9

    Did Eboo Patel’s Interfaith Youth Corps work for Obama’s election campaign as we see Eboo is not only on the topic of the week task force but also on Obama’s Faith advisory council?One wonders if the State of Texas will file for an Faith Initiative grant from the Department of Education to help pay for Texas’ Christian-leaning class books?

  • aka2

    Indeed you have asked a very difficult question. Prophet can only answer it. But why do you think I can’t be a better person than you (or) atleast like you.

  • paarsurrey

    Hi friendsThe Religion should be a part of the education of children in Schools; so that they have an idea of Ethics, Morals and the Spiritual progress. There is no harm if the point of view of the Seculars or Humanists or the Atheists is also accommodated in the text books.ThanksI am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

  • YEAL9

    More movements (and another Messiah) in a stream of Islamic sects;”Ahmadiyya (äh mə dē’ yə), a contemporary messianic movement founded (1899) by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1839-1908), b. Qadiyan, the Punjab. His Barahin-i Ahmadiyya, which he began to publish in 1880, was well received by his Islamic community. In 1889, he announced that he had received a divine revelation authorizing him to accept the baya, the allegiance of the faithful; he later also declared himself the Mahdi and the promised Messiah (masih) of Islam (1891). His doctrine, incorporating Indian, Sufi, Islamic, and Western elements, attempted to revitalize Islam in the face of the British raj, Protestant Christianity, and resurgent Hinduism.After his death, his followers elected Mawlana Nur ad-Din as his successor. Nur ad-Din died in 1914, and the community split into two branches. The majority remained in Qadiyan and recognized Ghulam Ahmad as prophet (nabi). The basic belief held by the Qadiyani community was and is that it is the sole embodiment of “True Islam.” The founder’s son, Hadhrat Mirza Bashir ad-Din Mahmud Ahmad (1889-1965), was chosen as Khalifatul-Masih [caliph of the Messiah] by the Qadiyani branch, known today as the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam (jamaat-i ahmadiyya). His half-century of leadership shaped the movement, operating after 1947 out of the city of Rabwah (which they founded and gave a Qur’anically inspired name) in Pakistan and administering a network of schools and hospitals. His successors have been chosen from among Ghulam Ahmad’s descendants; the leader of the movement (since 2003) is Mirza Masroor Ahmad (b. 1950).The other branch, less willing to distinguish itself from mainstream Islam, recognized Ghulam Ahmad as a reformer (mujaddid) and established what came to be known as the ahmadiyya anjuman ishaat-i Islam movement in Lahore, Pakistan, also known as the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement. Both branches engage in energetic missionary activity in Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, and the Indian subcontinent.”from: answers.com

  • arkns

    Ahmadiyyas are peaceful Muslims. Unfortunately, they are persecuted in Pakistan. It seems someone told the Sunnis that they are the only true representatives of Islam. Meanwhile, the real McCoy is still out. All this holy business in Islam, all this rigid viewpoints and ways of living is not amounting to much. Zilch would be nice but the overall effect is really negative, not even zero. I have no problem with nonobservant Muslims. They are pretty nice. It is the devout ones that are scary. It seems that the holier they get, the scarier they get. One can see this when boarding a plane anywhere along with long bearded devout Muslims in skull caps. Their overwhelming piety makes the trip a scary one.There are external laws of science as there are internal laws of the spirit. In the laboratory of the world, sodium plus chloride gives you sodium chloride. In the internal world, a longing heart plus religious practices (that is worth the paper they are written on) should give us a mellow heart. Spiritual practices must lead to an expanded consciousness, a heart that melts in empathy and love for fellow human beings. God and Prophet should lead you to universal love and compassion, not universal bloody-mindedness. I will question any God if the practices He prescribes leads towards hatred and not towards love. Yes, from where I come from even God is answerable. Consider the Buddha who told Ananda, His chief disciple:”Don’t accept something just because I said it. Go out and test what I say and accept it only if the results are positive but reject it if the results are negative”.Thus spake Zarathustra!

  • paarsurrey

    Hi friend arkns”What good is that God who demands my obeisance yet alienates me from humanity?”When did the Creator – God Allah YHWH alienated one from serving humanity?Please elaborateThanksI am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

  • paarsurrey

    Hi friendsOur friend YEAL9 has provided good information about Ahmadiyya. Ahmadiyya is an enlightened movement not only to revitalize Islam but all the Revealed Religions of the world. Since it accepts reason , rationality and revelation as consistent tools of man for life; hence it bridges the gaps between Atheists and Theists also and in this way works for bringing about understanding and peace in the world. Ahmadiyya don’t see any real wedge between Science and Religion; the former being the Work and the later being the Word of the same Creator- God Allah YHWH.I love Jesus and Mary as mentioned in QuranThanksI am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

  • paarsurrey

    Hi friend arknsI have enjoyed your entire post and agree with most of the points; in special the followings:• The holier they get, the scarier they get.RegardsI am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

  • paarsurrey

    Hi friend arkns”What good is that God who demands my obeisance yet alienates me from humanity?”When did the Creator – God Allah YHWH alienated one from serving humanity?Please elaborateThanksI am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

  • arkns

    Dear Paarsurrey:I am neither. I am a Hindu with strong Buddhist leanings. But I wanted to take out who I am out of this blog not because I want to hide my religious identification or because I am somehow not proud to be who I am. I wanted to argue from the point of view of humanity, keeping in mind common human values. I would have failed my religion if I did not meet that criteria. I say humanity first, religion, even God, second. What good is it if I am told to love God and love my religion, but asked to separate myself from teeming humanity? What good is it if I am asked to love a certain God only to find my heart getting harder by the day? What good is it if I am too busy learning my scriptures not to notice the suffering of man, unable to wipe a single tear? What good is that God who demands my obeisance yet alienates me from humanity? Even if such a God exists, I would reject Him without fear.

  • YEAL9

    As noted below by Arkns:”I have no problem with nonobservant Muslims. They are pretty nice. It is the devout ones that are scary. It seems that the holier they get, the scarier they get.”Unfortunately, Eboo Patel is a devout Muslim!!!

  • arkns

    Hi Paarsurrey:If in my pursuit of the religious path, in my prayers to Him, I feel myself more and more alienated from humanity, all my religious practices have come to naught, no? Here, what I mean by “god” is our own concepts of God. No one has seen Him, has heard Him, or has talked to Him. All of us works in the inner chambers of our heard with a certain concept of Him while He is unchanged from His essential nature in that He embodies the whole of His creation. Now in my concept of God, I am further separated from humanity, a question should arise in my heart. I am following all these prescriptions, all these practices for so many years, these should also make me feel closer to my fellow brothers and sisters. If not, I should reject that concept of God. I should not say “Allah hu Akbar” than slit someone’s throat, no? Allah is NOT a Muslim God. Many Muslims, particularly those preaching from the pulpit–the mullahs–seem to have this narrow and immature understanding of who God is. That is why they harbor such intolerance and hatred about infidels while at the same time say they are very holy that they are following the path of Islam. And no Muslim in Islamic countries that the rest of us can see or hear, ever raises their voices against the fundamental mistakes that mullahs make. That was why I said:What good is that God who demands my obeisance yet alienates me from humanity?

  • arkns

    I provide additional explanation and correct some typographical errors in the following:Hi Paarsurrey:If in my pursuit of a religious path, in my prayers to Him, I feel myself more and more alienated from humanity, all my religious practices have come to naught, no? Here, what I mean by “God” is our own concepts of God. No one has seen Him, heard Him, or talked to Him. All of us work in the inner chambers of our heart with our own concepts of Him while He remains unchanged from His true, essential nature. Now, if in adhering to my concept of God, I am further separated from humanity, a question should arise in my heart. I am following all these prescriptions, all these practices for so many years, why are they not drawing me closer to the rest of humanity, to my fellow brothers and sisters? If my religious viewpoint and my practices are alienating me, I should reject that concept of God. If I say “Allah hu Akbar” and than slit someone’s throat or set off a bomb, there is something terribly wrong in my concept of God, in my understanding of religious scriptures. Allah is NOT a Muslim God. Many Muslims, particularly those preaching from the pulpit–the mullahs–seem to have this narrow and immature understanding of who God is. That is why they harbor such intolerance and hatred about infidels while at the same time claim to be true to their religion, their Allah and their Prophet. No Muslim in Islamic countries that the rest of us can see or hear, ever raise their voices against the fundamental mistakes that mullahs make. So we have a society such as Pakistan where criminals who carry out terrorist acts in other countries are actually supported by the masses. The courts allow a airline hijacker or the Mumbai terrorists to go free and there is no remorse, no civil protests. Instead, their heinous acts are condoned by society because after all, they killed infidels. In the meantime, Muslims are praying five times a day and kneeling down in obeisance to Allah. What has all this holiness amounted to?That was why I said:What good is that God who demands my obeisance yet alienates me from humanity?

  • arkns

    My friend Paarsurrey:Absolutely right. But that’s the war cry of mullahs. I think karma is more ruthless than any terrorist. The important difference is that karma is always fair while terrorists are never. One always gets what one deserves. So misinterpretation of scriptures to commit terrorist acts is no defense even if terrorists think that they are justified by their “religious duty” to exact revenge or to fight against some perceived wrong. As far as ruthless karma is concerned, ignorance of God’s law is no defense just as ignorance of laws here on earth is no defense before a judge. And so Pakistan is suffering. The society, the Army, and the ISI that had collectively supported terrorists all along is now paying a heavy price for their karma. No amount of justification based on politics or religion has allowed Pakistan to escape the karmic consequences of supporting terrorism. I am afraid that Muslims will continue to suffer in different parts of the world until and unless they cease and desist from violence and terrorism. As the Dalai Lama says “If you do not wish to suffer, stop doing negative karma”. Ahmed Rashid, the noted Pakistani journalist writes in Descent into Chaos “Pakistan is a country bound together by a common thread–hatred of Hindus and hatred of India”. I have nothing to say.

  • paarsurrey

    Hi friend arkns“If I say “Allah hu Akbar” and then slit someone’s throat or set off a bomb, there is something terribly wrong in my concept of God, in my understanding of religious scriptures.”I would say that the one who does it would suffer for it; God Allah YHWH has not commanded it.It is just like Atheists who uphold reason on one hand; on the other they start ridiculing and derision of others, as if they have finished their stocks of logical arguments.ThanksI am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

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