Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gul Bukhari on understanding radicalism

In the Daily Times of Pakistan, Gul Bukhari writes that
People will always be free to believe in what they will but they cannot be allowed to execute their ‘beliefs’ with impunity, with no concept of a state, law by consensus and without punishment because they are accorded, for some unfathomable reason, the pedestal of all moral high ground owing to emotions emanating from a set of beliefs.

She demolishes the usual excuse of "misinterpretation of religion".

It is no longer enough to say, “misinterpretation of religion”. Who are the guardians, the true interpreters of religion? All sects claim authenticity over others. Every sect, or even person, I would say, is authentic in his or her interpretation because, at the end of the day, religion is belief. Belief is so unsubstantial by definition, that another variation of unsubstantiated theory cannot hope to counter, leave alone vanquish it.

If you start with belief, or supposition, how can you possibly then identify the correct or incorrect intention, interpretation, objective, practice or purpose of a belief system, a system unfounded on proof, logic or reason? All the millions of people, or hundreds of sects, who believe they can convince the other, are living in a fool’s paradise and condemned to eternal conflict. One ‘belief’ cannot win over another belief — unless by the sword.

Religion has been allowed to run amok in this country, to freely arouse emotions — and abandon reason and humanity — and is treated as if it were the ultimate, incontrovertible, disprovable, scientific, supreme truth. Not only that, it has, horrifically, been allowed to become the basis of the legal framework of this country. How in the world is mere belief accorded more deference than reason, dialogue and consensus reached judgment?

Is it out of cowardice? Or out of real and eminent danger from a loony, a “young and impressionable mind” that may feel duty bound “to kill me”, in the words of Usama Hasan who has led Friday prayers at Leyton mosque for 20 years in East London. His crime: ascribing to Darwin’s theory of evolution. He was forced to publicly revoke his stance on evolution after thinly veiled suggestions that his ‘apostasy’ might sanction his execution. 

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