I’ve come across a very well written article about what has been happening in Pakistan, so I thought that I’d share it with you because it has provoked a few thoughts in my own mind, so perhaps you might find the same.
The author is Nick Cohen and he writes in the Guardian …
The Islamist murders first of Salmaan Taseer and then of Shahbaz Bhatti show that what tiny scruples blood-soaked men possessed vanished long ago. The best way to describe the terror which is reducing Pakistani liberals to silence is to enumerate what the assassins did not allege. They did not say that Taseer and Bhatti must die because they were apostates – or, to put that “crime” in plain language, because they were adults who decided they no longer believed in the Muslim god. Taseer had not renounced Islam. Bhatti could not renounce it as he was the bravest Christian in Pakistan, who campaigned for equal rights for persecuted minorities with the dignity and physical courage of a modern Martin Luther King.
Salmaan Taseer’s daughter, Shehrbano, wrote a heartbreaking piece for the Guardian in which she despaired of a “spineless” Pakistani elite that was too frightened to praise her father or condemn his murderers.
The world may pay a price for the monumental blunder of treating religious ideologies – which are beliefs that men and women ought to be free to accept or reject – as if they were ethnicities, which no man or woman can change. Not the smallest reason why the Arab revolution is such an optimistic event is that al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood have been left as gawping bystanders. Their isolation cannot last. Eventually, if Arab states move towards democracy, there will be a confrontation with political Islam. Arab liberals, like Pakistani liberals, will search the net for guidance. They will discover that far from offering strategies that might help, timorous western liberals have convinced themselves that it is “racist” to criticise raging fanatics who no longer even bother to pretend that they are anything other than liberalism’s mortal enemies.
To read the full article, click here (I recommend you do, its food for thought).
OK then, so what thoughts has all this provoked in me? Well, I ponder the idea that perhaps I should also search my own heart and ask if perhaps I’ve been too critical of individuals, and yet at the same time, have not been critical enough of the belief system itself. Perhaps I’ve also made the mistake of attacking Islam by pointing out the foul deeds of some extremists, and so imply that is the only real concern. Such a stance leaves most moderate decent Muslims agreeing with me and thinking that they are OK, its just those extreme nutters over there.
OK then, lets put that right here and now with a couple of bullet points :-
- There is no Allah, there is not one jot of evidence that such a supernatural entity exists
- The Qur’an is just a historical document written by humans, there is nothing special about it, it is just paper and ink
- Muhammad may have claimed to be a prophet, but he was not, there is not one iota of evidence to support the claim that he was.
I could perhaps point at various atrocities or human rights violations (there are lots), but that’s not the heart of the matter, but is instead only a symptom of the core issue. The fundamental ill is a commitment by individuals to a belief that is simply not true, not grounded in reality, nor based upon any evidence at all, it is a humanly manufactured cultural tradition, and nothing more. Many who are adherents are indeed decent honourable humans, nor because of this belief system, but rather despite it. The true harm is that many succumb to it and allow the belief to consume their thinking to such a degree that it inhibits and suppresses or even obliterates normal human decency and ethics.
So what next? Well, I shall no longer just point at the atrocities, I will also step forward and be critical of the superstitious nonsense itself. I suspect that many of you are already there and are miles ahead of me on this one, so please do pause for a moment so that I may catch up.