Sunday, September 03, 2006

Islamic fundamentalism

In the Dark fundamentalist scheme the world constantly decays and has constantly to be re-created. The only function of the intellect is to assist that re-creation. It reinterprets the texts; it re-establishes the divine precedent.
So history has to serve theology, law is separated from the idea of equity, and teaching is separated from learning.
This doctrine has its attractions; To a student from the University of Karachi, from perhaps a provincial or peasant background, the old faith comes more easily and is more simple to swallow than any new-fangled academic discipline.

Fundamentalism these days takes root in the universities; and ironically 'deny education' can become the approved educated act for men against women.

How diffeerent this was in the days of Muslim glory; Islam opened itself to the learning of the world. Now fundamentalism provides an intellectual thermostat, set low. It equalizes, comforts, shelters, and preserves. Independant thinking can become a crime.
In this way the faith pervades everything, and it is possible to understand what the fundamentalists mean when they say that Islam is a 'complete way of life'; their Life!

But what is said about Islam is true, and perhaps truer, of other religions--like Hinduism or Buddhism or lesser tribal faiths--that at an early stage in their history were also complete cultures, self-contained and more or less isolated, with institutions, manners, and beliefs making a whole.

But the Islamic fundamentalist nowadays wish is to work back to such a whole, for them a God-given whole, but with the tool of faith alone--belief, religious practices and rituals!

It is like a wish--with intellect suppressed or limited, the historical sense falsified--to work back from the abstract to the concrete, and to set up the tribal walls again!
It is to seek to re-create something like a tribal ora city-state that--except in theological fantasy--never was.

The Koran is not the statute book of a settled golden age; it is the mystical or oracular record of an extended upheaval, widening out from the Prophet to his tribe in Arabia!!
Arabia was full of movement; Islam, with all its Jewish and Christian elements, was always mixed, eclectic, developing. ...

The West, or the universal civilization it leads, is emotionally rejected
. It undermines; it threatens. But at the same time it is needed, for its machines, goods, medicines, warplanes, the remittances from the emigrants, the hospitals that might have a cure for calcium deficiency, the universities that will provide master's degrees in mass media.

All the rejection of the West is contained within the assumption that there will always exist out there a living, creative civilization, oddly neutral, open to all to appeal to. Rejection, therefore, is not absolute rejection. It is also, for the community as a whole, a way of ceasing to strive intellectually.

It is to be parasitic; parasitism is one of the unacknowledged traits of Islamic fundamentalism.

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