Monday, June 19, 2006

Clash of Civilizations?

I always read those accusations and opinions, that we face a clash of civilization, between the western ideals and the islamic tribal religion. Those commentators (interestingly many of them hardliner christians) speak of Islam as if it were the viles religion on earth. It is truly a strong religion and sometimes very dogmatic, just like the Christian belief was in the medieval ages. It is not as soft and non-expressive as Buddhism or Taoism, but it is also not pure evil.
There are many interesting and insightful Sure' in Qu'ran:

"If you kill one innocent man, it is that you kill all of mankind. If you save one man, it is that you help all of mankind."

And ultimately the question of the "greatest Jihad", the Jihad to calm your own anger to beat your own self into rational and peaceful thought.

The upper statement about men was perhaps one of the best quotes I heard today and it came straight from the best TV-Series about Terrorism I have seen thus far: Sleeper Cell (on Showtime)

In my opinion, the main character (Dawin Al-Saayed) sumarised the struggle and the hatred in the Middle East best and showed the misunderstanding we have about it and perhaps the only feasible solution to it:

"It is a struggle in Islam itself!"

Yes, indeed, it is a struggle in Islam and only time and patience will bring about a change, like it was at least foreshadowed in the series. A moderate cleric interpreting the Qu'ran in a way that fits to a spiritual instead of a physical religion. The same transition we have seen in Christian thought at the end of the Crusades.

This also leads me to another favorite figure that perfectly illustrates this transition: G'kar from Babylon 5.
He also quotes something very similar to the Qu'ran, the Holy Book of Ji'quan. I think the similarity is not by chance or coincidence, but rather intended by the witty JMS.
In the beginning of the series, G'kar used the Holy Book as a source to justify his doings and his righteous anger against the oppressive Centauri, but after he saw the face of the enemy, understood that they were also "men of god", he changed.
Instead of justifying his causes with the Holy Book, he rather consulted it for advice how to behave. It is a big difference, because the first approach easily takes quotes out of context, because you have an opinion before searching, while in the latter approach you look for the opinion.

Perhaps Islam has to find this difference and Imams have to learn to search for answers, rather than to proclaim the answers and look for some weak quotes.

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