Sunday, October 26

what is religious tolerance?

My grandfather used to work in this city -Duisburg, a town close to Essen, a former industrial center, in the middle of Germany. What did he do? Well, he was responsible for iron-ore import for Thyssen and other companies, yes, also during WW2. Somehow he managed to keep his integrity, never joined the Nazi-party. He survived the massive "carpet" bombing of this city by the Allies, only to get into a car accident in the early 60's, lost his leg and died of incurable infections.
OK, that was a long preamble. Bloggers don't like that usually. But I had to attempt it this way. My point is, they are building the largest mosque in Germany, right in the center of what was once the "industrial-heartland" of this country. The thing is huge. Maybe it is the largest mosque in Europe yet.
So yes, I do have objections, otherwise I wouldn't mention it. The population there is 90% Christian, denomination 60% Catholics. (I don't particular care for Catholics, just so you know...). In any case, even though I don't have anything per say against mosques, I do though have a problem with "injecting" religion where traditionally faith was carried otherwise. The dimensions of a "Duisburg mosque project" would for example never be possible in a Muslim Arab country. Imagine a cathedral built, funded by Christians in Iran, or even Dubai! So there is a double standard here, and I don't like it. Muslims whining all over Europe to archive equal rights to follow their faith, build mosques and all, while denying "equal opportunities" in their homelands.
I am sorry to push this issue once again, but the Koran says, that all other religions will be tolerated only as long as the "nonbeliever" pays a price, namely monetary bribes to stay alive. All other nonconforming "infidels" will be killed if they can't be converted. It is as simple as that. Read the Koran (I have three different translations) and you can prove me wrong (if you can).
OK, I am ready to receive an avalanche of stabs from Arabic and Muslim friends. But you know, bottom line, I just want to see equality and a fair appeasement between religious orientations, in all countries!
The "Duisburg project" in this light, was a wrong move, just an accentuating of differences, and not the building of community.

(just a small afterthought: All Muslim countries around the globe have never achieved to be a secular society, except for Saddam Hussein 's Iraq. Now that the man got hanged, killed by the rope, with US conformity, spectacular videos, western style - Sunnis and Shiites will fight each other forever - a continuous tragedy in the making. )

29 comments:

ANNA-LYS said...

I am not a muslim, neither a catolic

I am

Religions is almost always grounds for war and alienations. In hard times, humans have a tendency to find religions and their creations on earth as targets or scapegoats for other problems in life, as for example finance crisis. To me it seems important to not fall into those wholes ... especially not now!

DCup said...

I'd never thought of the double standard. You make a good point. I do not like religion because of its ability to divide and control people.

Zee said...

I am glad to hear that

you are!

Anna-lys. If it wasn't for people like you, things would come to a screeching halt. After all, "lys" means light - at least in Norwegian.
So you are the "Anna of light".
That's a fine name for you I would say!

Zee said...

dCup
I have a thing about spirituality that is deep rooted, and sometimes it crosses over into what is called "religion". But it is not "organized" religion I am talking about, dogma from churches and such, antiquated procedures to control the peasant by force.
Yes, there was once a time where Christianity was not a matter of choice or conviction. That religion happened to be "state implemented" on all levels of society. But things evolved and changed.
What has not changed, is the Muslim faith. The practice there is that the law of the state is the same as the law dictated by the beliefs of named religion. A separation of "church and country (or state)" is simply not possible.
It goes against the grain of all that Mohamed taught.
Islam in my view has to "reinvent" itself in order to be part of the whole schabang of religious threads. If they don't - they will dry out like a camel too far to reach the oasis.

ANNA-LYS said...

Thank You, dear Zee
I was prepared to be
crushed due to my comment :-)

ANNA-LYS said...

(( klem ))

Seraphine said...

i think that's the strength of a free society- that people can build things like a grand mosque, or a cathedral or a temple. it's a free exchange of ideas, and the choice to incorporate the best ideas into the culture.
also: how can there be tolerance, if tolerance isn't tested?
so the world changes. extreme views often flare, burn brightly, for a generation or two, then they moderate and become more temporate.
i believe in the basic goodness of people, over time. unfortunately, more wars happen over religion than any other cause. it's sad.

Celloman said...

Zee, You are sounding a little Nazi-esque. It's a building. OK, maybe you're just paranoid. By the way, you're Grandpa was an enabler.

Zee said...

Sera, culture inspires or it kills
These days the "killing spree" is predominant. I like your heartfelt optimism, in what can be described the goodness of the human heart though...

Zee said...

I am not sure I understand what you are saying, Celloman
Hey, what about a mosque at the end of Renyolds Street, the loudspeakers on, ready for praying, worship Allah or plug your ears, the tower will be a fine silhouette, the tower the prayers will be blasted all over the region. Your cello-practice will be misinterpreted and shortchanged a few times a day. Silence is good, but only at your own will.
Look, give me a break - I would never be part of burning a Jew, (or any kind of other human being for that matter) - even though some people are genetically annoying. Does this automatically turn me into a Nazi-flamboyant-actor? I think not!
Jews are as stuck as the Arabs (muslims) are. You know brother, I don't have a solution - if at all, let them fight it out themselves.
I decided that personally I can't make no difference.

susan said...

A very dear friend (a Swede and thus raised as a religious pragmatist) got so involved in her search for ultimate answers she became a Sufi 30 years ago when she met her teacher. I quibbled. There were things I didn't like about Islam in general although I couldn't argue with her personal spiritual development and still don't. What I didn't like were women voluntarily separating themselves for prayer, covering themselves in the name of false modesty to men's questionably base desires, the process of Marielle (?sp) where they couldn't enter the mosque during their menses. There were other things that creeped me out 20 years ago like the fact that the Saudi's were sponsoring American Muslims free trips to and luxurious accomodations in Mecca and Medina for the Haj. Even pre-menopausal women were invited - something very much against Muslim principle for the reasons noted above.

There was also frequent news about huge mosques being planned in unexpected parts of the world and I've seen some of them just on recent visits to Canada and I know they've appeared in Europe and other essentially Christian countries too.

Islam is the youngest of major world religions and there's definitely always been a strong sense of being the bad tempered underdog. No one can disagree that as Islam spread artifacts of great historical significance were destroyed because they didn't fit the precepts.

I'd have to agree with you that they don't have a benevolent history of benign mutual tolerance. My hope is that Sera is correct that the new mosques will become part of a greater natural landscape in the fullness of time. My Sufi friend would certainly agree but I, like you, still quibble.

Aggie said...

I don't like the double standards either. Personally, I wouldn't be letting them build their Mosque's until they let us build our Churches in their countries. Instead, anyone who doesn't think like them are persecuted in those countries. I don't share Sera's optimism in human nature. Rather, history repeats and the Western world will very much regret allowing the (cultural) crossing of borders. As the world faces extremely tough times ahead - what tends to happen as that people entrench into preserving "theirs" rather than the common good of all. I am not Catholic or anti-religion of any kind. People are free to believe what they want to believe ... just don't inflict it on me.
Just a p.s. on Saddam Hussein. Whether you think the War in Iraq was justified (or not - and I personally don't think it was) - I will never forget the poison gas he used on innocent Men, Women and children (Kurds) - and he left them to rot in the streets like rats. He got off light.

Zee said...

Susan
that was an insightful and honest comment. Thank you!
It is interesting that you mentioned Sufism. The Sufi approach to learning the teaching of Islam is a more "gnostic" way. Their intent is to "purify" the heart - before god can enter... They also have a tradition of teachers being guides to aspiring pupils.
All in all, it seems to be a non-aggressive form of Islam.

Zee said...

Aggie I agree with almost all you said. Thanks for posting your thoughts!
About the Kurds - yes it is terrible what Saddam did, and he did many more evil things than that...
But also see the perspective that until today, close to 97,000 source: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ civilians have died since the invasion of the US, and a substantial amount of deaths of soldiers, plus an even greater number of soldiers, lamed, crippled, and so on...
If you look at it this way, Saddams "death toll" to keep Sunnis, Shiites and Kurd's away from killing each other, was not as substantial as the present attempt by Bush.
You know what happened to Yugoslavia once Tito died ...
well, same thing (sort of) is happening in Iraq.

Seraphine said...

heartfelt optimism exists because the world hasn't pushed back with it's skinny, evil arms yet this morning.

Celloman said...

If you folks don't want any Mosque's built, stop buying oil. Until then, the richest and most powerful religion will be dominant. Frankly I find the anti-Muslim sentiment in the McCain/Palin ticket and elsewhere distasteful....are religions any worse than Republicans and Democrats? they are probably better, actually.

Zee said...

you are in weird mood, Celloman!
What do you exactly mean by: "...religions are probably better than the Republican and Democratic parties in the US?" Or do I just read you wrong ...

PG said...

when i was younger, I used to relish discussions like these, always coming up with good answers and good arguments in defense of Islam.

but.. well it could be because Im just dead tired, but really I don't find myself fuelled by this post - which surprises me.

perhaps it is the fact that I don't feel the need to defend Islam anymore. honestly, it fends for itself! and no matter what or who it is - you'll never find one person or one thing that is liked and accepted by absolutely everyone. of course, that doesnt mean that some things shouldn't be clarified.

just one thing though "monetary bribes"?
do you mean the tax for living in the country? and I assure you that there are many "infidels" living in muslim countries that are not killed off so I'm not sure where you're getting that from.

anyway i will read this again in the morning, and try to give an intellectual input to this discussion.

Ingrid said...

I agree. I lived in Saudi Arabia and they are one of the biggest funders of 'mosques' or madrassas (religious schools, ie. their particular brand of Islam, the intolerant Wahabi one, not the Shia one which is intellectually much more open, all things being equal). I do have issues with double standard.
But Europe is in fear of speaking out. The grand nephew of Van Gogh did not just get killed, he literally got slaughtered, the guy slit his throat. There is a very strong anti European sentiment whilst there AND benefitting from the social benefits. When in Rome i say and when i was in Saudi, I was respectful of their ways, as frustrating and double standard it was.. I have always adapted myself to whichever country I lived in.. so to build this huge mosque is really a political statement, rather than religious although it probably will/is used to sell it to the 'flock' as both.

Ingrid

Zee said...

Thank you Ingrid as you can tell, this discussion is far from over.

Ingrid said...

pq..I do not see it as an attack on Islam. Just as much as I do not care about some of the behaviour of those 'so called' Christians, there is a difference between criticizing a behaviour, and a religion. I know Islam is a religion of peace, but like Christianity, especially right now in the States, it's hijacked by people for political gains.
So you can dismiss the criticism on its own merit without having to 'defend' your faith..

Ingrid

ANNA-LYS said...

I like Ingrids reflection over politics and religion in US!!!

gfid said...

organized religion is much like pyramid marketing. the goal seems mostly to be to increase 'sales' (converts) which in turn generates more revenue, enables groups to build bigger and flashier 'stores', and gives them more political and financial power. if it were only about practicing a sincere spiritual belief, the trappings would be unneccessary.... unless the admission is made that acquiring wealth and power IS the religion - which seems to me to be the case sometimes. in which case, all pretense of spirituality is false.

while i agree that individuals should be free to practice their faith without discrimination (with the somewhat obvious codicil of basic human rights for practicers and non practicers alike), i have no trust in those that aggressiviely prostheletize, or claim that they are the 'only way'. this applies to all religions, including our home grown north american brand of christianity. to my mind, any and all religious practices that ignore or repress the rights of any other member of society, are dangerous.

Zee said...

so very well spoken, Granny Fiddler!

PG said...

Ingrid:
politics and religion are always getting intertwined - i don't think it can really be helped.
i don't really see the problem with them building a huge mosque in the middle of a european city. i don't see this as double standards at all. if europeans don't want mosques to be built in their cities, then it is their right - but they choose to allow it. but there are many churches built all over the muslim world. saudi does not allow it because it is the country of "the haramain" - mecca and medinah, and so asking to build churches there would be the same as building mosques in the vatican city!
so really, this is not double standards at all. come to kuwait, i assure you you will find many churches, as there is all over the muslim world.

Yasir said...

Hi,

I stumbled upon this post by accident, please don't mind me commenting. :-)

1 - European countries claim to be secular, most Muslim countries don't. One of the major factors of Muslims arriving in your countries is that they are allowed them to practice their faith. If you hadn't allowed it, they wouldn't have come. They're not some invading horde that came, captured your land and established a new religion. So your argument about "injecting religion" is silly.

2 - Zee, I hope you've also been reading the commentaries to the Qur'an instead of just reading the text and understanding the words whichever way you want. Only able bodied non Muslim men have to pay the jizya; monks, women, children, the old and the destitute are exempted. In return, the Caliphate grants them protection from outside interference, does not call upon them to fight when the country is at war and ensures their upkeep when they are old. They also do not have the pay the Zakaat, a tax, which is obligatory on Muslims.

3 - Susan's statement that Islam doesn't have a "benevolent history of benign mutual tolerance" simply reeks of ignorance. My dear lady, allow me to draw you attention to a few facts:

a - Muslims ruled India for over a thousand years, if Islam did not tolerate Hinduism, how is it that Muslims now constitute just 14% of the Indian population? Did they all become Hindu overnight?

b - Muslims ruled Spain for around 750 years. Where are the Muslims in Spain now? If Muslims were so intolerant than where did the Christians, who overthrew and then persecuted their Muslim rulers into oblivion, come from?

c - Islam has been in Egypt for 1400 years, how does Egypt still have a christian population? Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria and many other Arab countries also have local Christian populations. Until recently there were sizable Jewish populations in both Morocco and Iran. Find me one historically non Muslim country, a single country, that has a local Muslim population (as opposed to an "imported" one).

d - Palestine had been under Muslim rule for around a thousand years, how do Christian and Jewish religious sites still exist? Did you know that the keys to the main entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher have been held in trust by a Muslim family since the 12th century?

f - Numerous Buddhist and Hindu religious sites exist in India and Pakistan, where Muslims have ruled for over a thousand years. Tell me Susan, where is this destruction you talk about? Compare that to the pillage and wanton destruction unleashed upon Baghdad by the Mongol Hordes and than recently by your American troops, to the rape of the holy lands by the crusaders, to the theft of untold treasures by colonial powers and the ruination of the Caucus by the Bolsheviks.

e - Indonesia is probably 99% Muslim, please name the Muslim army that conquered it. The Maldives is 100% Muslim, which army arrived on their shores?

4 - Also Susan, sponsoring pilgrims, in Islam, is a praiseworthy act (in the religious sense) and Muslims have been doing it for centuries, so the Saudis paying for peoples hajj is no big deal. As for your comment about accommodations being "luxurious" then it depends on where you're coming from. If you've lived all your life in a straw hut than I dare say you would find them quite luxurious! Those kinds of statements are used to insinuate that people are being bribed, very disingenuous but quite effective I must say. 20 years ago the best hotel in Medina was probably comparable to a 4 star hotel in London and it was considered to be in a class of it's own! Luxurious accommodations indeed!

5 - Aggie, perhaps Muslims should destroy all the Churches in their lands in retaliation to your proposal. After all, if the Muslims in the west are not allowed Mosques than it's only fair that Christians in Muslim lands not be allowed churches... that's fair according to your own logic by the way. On the other hand Muslims have allowed Churches to exist for 1400 years while the earliest mosque in Germany is what... 100 years old?

Have a good day

Yasir

Zee said...

Yasir-
Muslims will need to adopt to the consciousness of humanity living in the 21st century. Without that shift, building mosques will create no change.

Yasir said...

That mosque is meant for Muslim worshipers and you can say what you want but your first post, as well as many of the subsequent replies, were ignorant at best.

Yasir

Zee said...

It is crystal clear to me Yasir, that the mosque in construction is for worshipers of the Muslim faith.
All the other things I wrote, I stand for. Especially the hypocrisy of double standards within hosting countries of different religions.