Monday, December 31, 2012

Joshua writes at the Examined Life tumblr:

"Ahistoricism is a necessary pre-condition for every form of ideological blindness. The more ahistorical, the more fanatical.

‘Ahistoricism’ does not mean merely one’s ignorance of dates, events, and names in history, but the interconnection of those things out of which all our ideas today have evolved.  Ideas never spring from an ahistorical vacuum.  One can know many historical facts and yet have an entirely ahistorical outlook.  One may not know many historical facts and yet may possess a keen sense of historical awareness."

That is an excellent observation, and it is borne out by my own interaction with those leaning towards Islamic fundamentalism. There is a striking lack of appreciation (not necessary knowledge) of how Islamic Sharia originated and developed, and how the doctrines that seem eternal and rigid to current believers, as if handed down in this form by God, are products of scholarly disputes, interpretations, and engagement with the socio-political challenges of the respective historical epochs. Indeed, the more ahistorical, the more fanatical. (Sadakat Kadri's Heaven on Earth is a good place to start.)

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