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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Necessity of Blasphemy - 1

I try to understand the phenomenon constituting of violence, power, truth and justice in the daily happenings. Blasphemy is must for progress of the civilization. Ideas behind traditions must be challenged to know if they are true and relevant — and if we cannot challenge an idea, we cannot know validity of following the traditions in the society. Today, I want to publish without fear or favour and look at the world without the filter of 'faith'.

USA administered Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Soviet suppression through Gulag, Hitler's cruelty in the Holocaust, Islamic persecution of Bahai faith, Ahmadiyya community and non Muslims, discrimination in hindus on the basis of caste, Israel's action against Palestine, South African apartheid with root of racism, fight of Christianity against evolution theory and countless other struggles shows the dark side of the world in last 60 years only.

They are the recent events existing in the minds of last generation. They are still not tampered enough or vanished out by the propagandist of religion or patriotism. Milan Kundera was spot on in observing this: The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. It's a pity though that argument doesn't cut it - we have to wait for inhumanity to reach its crescendo (Spanish Inquisition, Slavery, Holocaust, Apartheid, Guantanamo) before the scales fall from people's eyes and they recognise the error in their dogma.

There can be no democracy without secularism, since only under secularism can one free oneself from religious or sectarian mentalities, and as a consequence think and choose with one's mind. What is happening is that extremist leaders who have absolutely no clue about solving the country’s problems are promising a heaven that they cannot deliver, on condition that a certain section of the country is either eliminated or pushed into the ghettos.

Any statement or work of art may be good or bad, the essential test is whether they are worth seeing or not and the authority to decide lies with the viewers and not with any self proclaimed leaders of the society, state or religion. Its not one cause which makes one a terrorist but ones method which makes one a terrorist.

The plea that nobody should offend the conservative elements’ sensibilities should be thoroughly discussed. Up to a point the argument is valid, then its used to drag down backwards to the society where power dictates. There is a ridiculous 'respect' demanded by religious people for their unsupportable superstitious beliefs.

Take the Burqa case only. Societies having people with diverse religious backgrounds are bound together partly by informal chance relations between strangers – people being able to acknowledge each other in the street or being able pass the time of day. The anonymity of the burqa takes the uniqueness of face away from the woman. That is my greatest objection to it. Burqa is a symbol of submission in the eyes of progressive religion (progressive on the basis of emergence of people who questioned authority of religion over an individual);

Women's choice should be governed by their own will. And the right of choice comes through free and rational thinking. And a person avoiding rationalism due to belief in an unquestioned faith is harmful for society, be it christian or any other religion. And don’t justify anything because its written in the religious books thousand year ago. The rational education given to you has led for this ability to question own’s logic, experience and prevailing circumstances. A decision should not be governed by the blind faith and ideological enslavement to a society, state or religion of the birth and upbringing.

I don’t see this as a ban but the freedom of woman to overcome a barrier thrown by a stone age society; We all owe Europe for its secular notion and rational thinking. And they had history of bitter fight with church and life of many good people were ruined along the way in order to define for human rights, equality, freedom and other cherished values of European enlightenment. And, That's why these value are precious; The organic growth and spreading of European secularism happened through out the world due to its universal appeal. I will end this part of essay with a dialogue from the movie Agora : You don’t question what you believe, or cannot. I must.

11 comments:

  1. Liked -
    "Societies having people with diverse religious backgrounds are bound together partly by informal chance relations between strangers – people being able to acknowledge each other in the street or being able pass the time of day. The anonymity of the burqa takes the uniqueness of face away from the woman. That is my greatest objection to it."

    wonderful and thought provoking post.

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  2. A very good read...

    Yes we should question before believing blindly. We should question our norms, traditions, etc... only then will be understand how things have been distorted by vested interests over the ages.

    Ironically... our legions of 'sons of the soils' go up in arms and declare that they will 'uphold' our ancient culture and traditions' no matter what. The 'ancient culture and tradition' mentioned here... are the ones that have been distorted beyond recognition by vested interests through the ages...

    P.S. Well... in Europe the burqa and cartoons... are rolled out once diversionary topics are required. This is done to create a certain mindset...

    Not all women who don the burqa are forced to do so... it is a cultural thing. But then the Western world do not want to know it... or choose to ignore...

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  3. Akash, I am happy to provoke your thoughts. Let you should also provoke others :)

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  4. Roshmi, I have met few of the RSS local guys and they are bloody unaware of our history and culture. We are running towards a society where even those who need to shed their archaic norms should not be provoked.

    What Indians think of Europe, it is due to their encounter with them through English rule, education and missionaries. Similary, European engagement with Islamic world has brutal history. Secularism is opposite to the idea of political Islam. As I said here before, "There can be no democracy without secularism, since only under secularism can one free oneself from religious or sectarian mentalities". The uneducation and deep religiosity prevailing in Muslim world fail them to engage with the main stream society. Not all women who don the burqa are forced to do so, its very valid point. But, we are moving towards society that goes for more interaction in opposite genders at public place. And, gender discrimination in Muslim is more in Islamic countries than secular countries of east. It is the culture of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhism, Confucis and Taoist that is present with Islam in secular countries. So relative openness in these neighbouring religion has bended Islamic practices to become more lenient towards woman.Such practices invokes prostrate submission or ‘surrender’ as a maxim to its adherents, and demands deference and respect from nonbelievers into the bargain.

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  5. Yayaver I was thinking about this Burqa thing....
    If we ask, what are the basic things by which a person is identified, the very basic things and here I am not talking about the thoughts and ideologies and all those things. The very basic basis for identification are name and face of any person. Further, the names can be same for many persons, but the nature has given very unique faces to every human being and rarely two faces match exactly....and this is where I think burqa deprives a woman of her identity itself which has been provided by the nature itself ...and very beautifully said in one sentence by you - The anonymity of the burqa takes the uniqueness of face away from the woman.

    And the second thing is about banning burqa...and this is what you have to say -- I don’t see this as a ban but the freedom of woman to overcome a barrier thrown by a stone age society; We all owe Europe for its secular notion and rational thinking.

    I DON'T AGREE WITH YOU HERE

    My thinking is that banning anything is not the solution of the problem (first of all if it is as such a problem), there can be propagation of ideas and thoughts within the community wherein they are made aware of relinquishing the things such as burqa. Now you may ask that I am becoming too theoritical instead of thinking in a practical way, but don't you think that we think of an ideal thing and strive to achieve that.

    And the second thing is that the way it is banned. "By voting." Democracy is a good thing - NO DOUBT.But everywhere democracy and majoritism can't be applied instead we shud nurture the thoughts and ideas less in numbers in any community and society.
    Let me try to explain why I say that. As you yourself must be aware that burqa is not forced on many of women and many of them wear it willingly. So my view is that by banning burqa if even a single women is denied her freedom of wearing what she wishes then that is wrong however democratic it may be.
    Let me give an example - Tomorrow if there is a voting in India itself then all such things as Homosexuality, Atheism (i saw u have joined a community of atheist) will be banned or will be declared as unlawful. Further, the casteism will go on for time immemorial or will be legalised.
    So I want to say here that even though burqa in many oppressive but banning it by way of voting is also another way of oppression by state and majority of people on the minority (I m not talikng about religious minority but minority in numbers) of people.

    Hope I made my point clear.

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  6. Knock! Knock!

    Its over a week...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Akash, first of all sorry for much late reply as was back to home town without any internet connection. I will updated my log like twitter or facebook nect time. Time gap surely breaks the continuity of the debate.

    Ban on burqa is quite tough topic to deal with as it deals with personal choice and social customs of more open society. The more the fundamentalists are challenged – by their owns, in their own
    language – the safer world become. I will ask you another
    But tell me the way how will you approach to the problem of widow remarriage in era before 1856. I see 'Ban on burqa' analogous to widow remarriage. And french or european soil is perfect place for evolution of Islam to more humane and Universal in nature. I don't believe in democracy for taking bold steps as its dependency of seeing people as vote. The justice is much secured in the hands of courts. Still, I will go with ban on burqa. Democracy goes with continual improvement but for taking major steps quantum leap through courts is must.

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  8. Roshmi madam, I was at home for full 10 days without internet connection. It was so good to see someone knocking in my absence. I was not expecting that. Will update my blog on next big eave

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  9. Great!!

    P.S. Nice to know you had a nice, rejuvenating vacation...

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  10. Brilliant article Yayaver. Thought provoking too. Absolutely amazing!!

    I agree, 'There can be no democracy without secularism...'

    And I also feel that a burka ban can be compared to widow remarriage, but I fear a lot of women who have never walked on the road without their faces being hidden, might feel very uncomfortable doing so. I have seen women wanting to but not able to wear jeans, or leave their hair lose, or move from sari to salwar kameez, because they have got so used to one thing... so maybe what is needed is a ban.

    I am never sure about my views on this one, except that I feel the burka deprives a woman of what she must hold most dear, her freedom. Identity too, but if there is no freedom, what use is her identity or anything else :(

    But imagine not knowing how real freedom might feel, not knowing how it would be to be able to make choices and take responsibility for one's own life... Have you read Tarek Fatah's opinions on this? You will agree with him.

    I feel sometimes the scales don't fall from people's eyes even if inhumanity reaches its crescendo - they just refuse to recognise the error in their dogma :\

    There is a ridiculous 'respect' demanded by religious people for their unsupportable superstitious beliefs.

    And I loved the last line!!

    Keep writing such amazing posts.

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  11. Your views are so crystal clear that I am admiring it sincerely. I have read Tarek Fatah's opinion but the problem here arises; How many had listened/read Tarik Fateh?Most of the people watch Zakir Naik of peace TV to know about Islam. People don't want confrontation that their ideas may be wrong. They willingly go for consolation or in the shelther of religion for mental comfort. Its no better than drugs. Marxs was right to claim that religion is opium of masses.

    This issue of gender discrimination is quite high in all religions claiming on faith. Your statement is also truth : I feel sometimes the scales don't fall from people's eyes even if inhumanity reaches its crescendo - they just refuse to recognise the error in their dogma :\

    People denying holocaust are there and shouting it as conspiracy of Jews. Ridiculous denialism...

    I will keep on writing and feel glad that even one of the person reading find it amazing. Thanks for all 4 comments.

    ReplyDelete

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