Fundamentalism

Me: I was thinking on what you said about fundamentalism the other day. Can it be said that fundamentalism is not exclusive to the-religion-that-must-not-be-named but that it is part of the problem?

Aati: No, I don't think it specifically is part of the problem of the fundamentalism. You and I, and Hirsi, all have a common limitation: when we think about religious fundamentalism, we tend to think about the religion we were most intimately exposed to. There is no instrinsic difference in 'quality' or nature between a Christian fundamentalist, Jewish fundamentalist, Hindu fundamentalist or Muslim fundamentalist. They all consider themselves soldiers of their respective gods.

Religion or any belief system that is rigid and refuses to be tempered or accomodate differences, is part of the problem and no attempts at solution can be made without addressing it. Historically where certain governments made atheism part of their national policy and needed to establish power and loyalty by destroying older centers of power, they aggressively attacked religion, imprisoned devotees, and snatched away the right to religious freedom. So there IS such a thing as a militant Atheist, and the weapons are the same as other fundamentalists. You don't see it often because the conditions favoring its appearance don't occur often. There are fundamentalist Jews in Israel, but they are a minority elsewhere, and minorities don't often antagonize. Christian fundamentalism is a phenomenon West was already used to and which it dealt with. This recent rise of fundamentalism is new to the West, otherwise, in our part of the world, things like honor killing, religious riots etc are nothing new.

Me: There is no intrinsic difference between fundamentalists of various religions, but the respective religion nevertheless plays a part in the expression of that fundamentalism. So, we have established that the fundamentalist attitude precedes the religion it uses as its means of expression. But if fundamentalism is using a religion, it is because that religion contains those elements (like every other religion) that make it vulnerable to be a weapon of fundamentalism, and if we are to fight fundamentalism, we would have to attack that religion as well.

Aati: Yes, I agree. But if we attack it simply for what it is, we'll lose sight of the actual problem. So it would have to be attacked on its intolerance, etc, to forcibly reduce that and favor more tolerant versions, like in Christianity. Hirsi thinks Christians are free to leave their faith, but not because of Christianity -- it's the environment that has silenced or curbed bible-thumping witch-burning extremists.

Me: I can't argue with that.

Comments

karachikhatmal said…
always a pleasure reading your words. and we're all lucky that you agree to be aati's medium cuz he/she always has great things to say
Butters said…
Good post, especially this part: "There is no intrinsic difference between fundamentalists of various religions, but the respective religion nevertheless plays a part in the expression of that fundamentalism."

However, it might be beneficial to clarify the concept of 'fundamentalism'. I find the word vague so I don't use it; and though I intuit what you're saying, it might help the cause of clarity to identify the key elements of fundamentalism. Being a soldier for one's faith doesn't count, since not only is that also vague, it's also not necessarily bad.

It might help us in understanding Islamic 'fundamentalism' to consider the ways in which Islam is unique. Islam is more political than any other religion, and has been more concerned with social justice than spiritual salvation. Thus, Islamic 'fundamentalism' has tended to manifest in calls for the implementation of a particular political or legal system (Shariah, Khilafah).

Christianity is in a unique situation, because Jesus himself did not make any explicit moral or political proclamations (he was too brilliant for that). Thus, Christian fundamentalists have taken the prejudices of Paul, as well as the Old Testament, and produced this completely non-Jesus-related 'religion' that has chosen to be obsessed with abortion and homosexuality in order to have something to be obsessed with. I guess the explanation behind this must be historical and not theological.

Judaism is nationalistic and tied in with the unique role of the Jewish people in particular, especially in relation to particular places (Jerusalem, and Israel in general). Zionism and racism against Arabs in that region can be understood partly in light of this.

(That was a bit of an unsolicited rambly lecture sort of thing, sorry :P )
Anonymous said…
Awais u shud write a post on how met Ati....:)