Sunday, July 10, 2005

No Excuses

In the aftermath of the London bombings, one thing that deeply disturbed me – aside from the obvious, was a sentence in Qual3ah’s oxymoronic ‘claim of responsibility’:
"We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all the crusader governments that they will be punished in the same way if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He who warns is excused."
If you warn an entire nation’s population that you intended to indiscriminately murder innocent people, that somehow justifies it? How is it that anyone could ever think that’d make sense?

And although it seems authentic, I don’t particularly care if the author of this claim happens to be connected to the actual bombings or not. It’s not like knowing these are two unrelated groups of psychos would make us feel any better.

When thinking about terrorist groups such as Al’Qaeda, it’s interesting to note how their motives are always intrinsically political rather than religious. This is plainly obvious in the aims cited above – withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The religious mumbo-jumbo in the rest of the claim is only the backdrop for the main message; if you’ll excuse the metaphor – a vehicle used to an end. It could be easily argued (and frequently is) that these terrorist leaders are hijacking Islam to their own political aims, just like they hijack everything else. But still I felt it was important to attempt to understand the message in its original, or at least intended, context.

Simply put, this wasn’t the kind of thing I could let go of - I had to understand where it was coming from. I’ve spent the weekend reading through the Koran in an effort to discover some sort of cultural context, regardless of how distorted it has become. In searching through the Koran and eventually even the Bible (for comparisons), I can’t say I’ve gained any serious theological ground, but I’ve learned a bit just the same.

Want to know which passage in the Koran implies that a warning absolves culpability? There isn’t one. But strangely enough I was able to find quite a few – as long as I wasn’t looking too closely.

There are plenty of passages of that refer to the followers of Muhammad having a responsibility to ‘warn’ nonbelievers that failure to acknowledge the one true God will displease Him, and in the end-times result in His wrath. But let’s face it, that whole diatribe rings familiar with the entire Judeo/Christian ethic as well. The vast majority of the Koran is specifically clear that it will be Allah Himself – not his followers – that will judge man.

But as is so often the case, the vast majority hardly makes up for the small minority. Although much of the Koran’s passages have relatively forthright messages, it’s not surprising that parts of it are more obscure. The Koran’s 54th book, Al-Qamar, contains the sort of passages I’m convinced the psychotic assholes of Al’Queda are abusing to their own ends:
So taste My chastisement and My warning. And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind? And certainly the warning came to Firon's people. They rejected all Our communications, so We overtook them after the manner of a Mighty, Powerful One. [54.39-42]
The entire book reads much like this, repetitions on a theme. While I’m not a theologian or a historian, and I fully acknowledge I lack the expertise to fully evaluate a text so complex as the Koran, I’ll go ahead and continue to submit my meager analysis nonetheless.

My first reaction to reading this passage was one of disgust. It seems the standard sort of ethnic elitism: 'If you don’t follow the Koran, then Allah wants us to sack your cities.' And I imagine that’s exactly the sort of spin the fundamentalists like to put on it, but that’d be taking it out of context.

Unfortunately, it’s extraordinarily easy to take these sorts of passages out of context. The entire book of Al-Qamar is laced with subtle references to other parts of the Koran, and until I’d researched enough to understand them (a little), I was left guessing as to what most of it meant. As ugly as it sounds, the passage above is referring to the warnings Moses gave to the Egyptians prior to the biblical plagues. It’s confusing because it exists completely apart from the actual accounts of Moses, and sandwiched between bunches of doomsday warnings. And the wording is such that it sounds (1) as if it refers solely to the followers of Islam – not all the children of Abraham, and (2) as if the followers of Islam – not God alone – had an active hand in the fate that befell the Pharaoh’s people.


Blogger Dædalux said...

I recognize the folly in trying to understand the madness of such events by looking in the Koran, but on a tangental topic I really would like to comprehend more about modern Islamic culture in general.

If anyone has any insights or could recommend a good book, please let me know.

7/15/2005 12:53 PM  
Blogger TwistedNoggin said...

True Christianity teaches turning the other cheek, free will, and our greatest teacher dined with prostitutes and sat with lepers.
Yet, Power-hungry men used God's name to motivate people to murder others by calling them heritics and to be judgemental and hateful and sometimes even prejudiced.

Same difference. The world is full of hypocrites and of people doing evil things and leading others to do evil things in the name of goodness.

The Bible warns that satan would disguise himself as an angel of light. It's a two-fold win for satan. He makes some people hate "religion" and makes other people follow him into murder and other sins.

You probably wont find understanding of terrorists in the koran any more than you'd find justification for the crusades and inquisition in the bible. One doesn't necisarilty lead to the other.

Some men stand up and say:
"Let us eat nothing but lard and cake in honor of nutrition!"
and some gullible masses looking for an excuse to eat cake say:
"Yes! In honor of nutrition!"
Don't bother looking in a nutrition text book for the answer. It isn't there. It's in mob mentality looking for rationalization for hateful or selfish deeds.

7/20/2005 2:53 PM  

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