Parallel Universes

April 6, 2007

The biggest difference between a Muslim and non-Muslim is their Weltanschauung. It is so utterly different and in the case of the Muslim, so engrossing and all-encompassing that it becomes a veil between him and the rest of humanity. I don’t mean that in a negative sense. Muslims simply do not realize what it’s truly like living in a world of meaning and metaphor that precludes the commandments of God. It is this differing world view that separates a believer from a non-believer; the greatest hurdle for true understanding between the two. That is one of the reasons why Sunni fiqh designed for western societies must scale not only the mountain of internal historical consistency in the face of modernity but also the mountain of establishing legal guidelines in conversation with people who cannot fathom an entire society still built around God.

It is foolish to think however that either is on the verge of collapse. Huntington was on to something [even though I don’t think he got it all right]. I am a true believer in Richard Bulliet’s view that a civilization of Islamo-Christian co-existence is only a matter of time. However, I also see an ocean of considerable ignorance that animates discourses in both universes. On the whole, whether we will continue to antagonize each other or not is a choice that lies in our very own hands.

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10 Responses to “Parallel Universes”

  1. Ali Jaffery Says:

    I think you hit it on the button.

    Our problems (and maybe successes) originate from the general understanding or perception we hold. For too long religious thought has been all about religious people and not people in general as well as religious people.

    Religion itself has been transformed from a duty into a right. If Muslim legal thought begins to understand that I’m very sure it will have a positive impact on our wider “world view”.

  2. nadia Says:

    Thought-provoking post molvi sahb.

    “It is this differing world view that separates a believer from a non-believer; the greatest hurdle for true understanding between the two.”

    Is this a hurdle that can realistically be overcome if both parties hold true to their own belief systems? More importantly is it fair to expect the believer and/or the non-believer (by that i assume non-muslims, with faith or otherwise) to be prepared to compromise their respective weltanshauungs in an effort to reach mutual understanding; and by definition this would mean compromising on the essence of belief/non-belief values.

  3. molvi Says:

    When I say hurdle, I mean acknowledging the differences (and they are vast) and saying, ‘you know what, we’re not the same at all. but atleast you’re not a baby eating gargoyle! lets have some hummus and mango juice and make fun of our leaders’

  4. sophister Says:

    Acknowledging differences is all fine and dandy, but I guess what your saying is focus on the commonalities. The problem with that is those values and that morality is in a constant state of flux. An example: currently the age for statutory rape is 16, generally. This means, if you have sex with someone under 16, consent or no consent, you will be found to have committed an offense. In a few years this age will probably move down – it is a judgment call, and that is basically it. This is a small example, but I believe this flux is the basis of our differences, and it will pretty much always exist as long as it is (another example), economically non-feasible to kill another human being.

  5. sophister Says:

    Acknowledging differences is all fine and dandy but I guess what your saying is focus on the commonalities. The problem with that is those values and that morality is in a constant state of flux. An example: currently the age for statutory rape is 16, generally. This means, if you have sex with someone under 16, consent or no consent, you will be found to have committed an offense. In a few years this age will probably move down – it is a judgment call, and that is basically it. This is a small example, but I believe this flux is the basis of our differences, and it will pretty much always exist as long as it is (another example), economically non-feasible to kill another human being.

  6. molvi Says:

    You make solid points.

    However, the biggest problem I see today is the skewed sense of self both ‘civilizations’ ascribe to. The West’s perception of itself amongst world cultures is brutally racist and consistently imperialist. Cultural imperialist even, with the advent of the spread of corporate culture (see habit of japanese people and their shift from having breakfast at tea houses to sitting on chairs and having breakfast at McDonalds). The West is sees itself as superior and acts like it.

    The Muslim world on the other had can’t come to terms with the fact they suck at almost everything. Plus, they’re in such a terrible state of identity crisis that they act irrationally(that is, un-islamically) when they are confronted by problems. Hence, we see that the common mode of discourse in the Muslim world is that of an evil western empire that is out to get them and we can only be worth anything if we act like westerners and respond in the same profane framework of thought.

    The point is this. The Muslim world has forgotten what they did well and now, they feel so inferior to the material progress of the west that they are acting like big babies. The west is in the midst of a cultural onslaught where it is just a big bully who is getting whatever the want.

    Of course, we havent even gotten to the Chinese empire, which I have been finding lately, to be arguably the best empire we’ve ever seen.

  7. sophister Says:

    Come on man, you have not talked “big things” in a while. Talk big things damnit!

  8. Zhilaal Says:

    Just visited your blog first time Molvi Sahab, and I have to say I love it. Your points are short, punchy and entirely true. alhamdulillah.

    On the topic, you are right of course. Islam is a religion that provides answers and not questions and in this situation if we Muslims look into our amazing deen the answer is there. So, a good Muslim will always be a co-operative Muslim, an asset to his society.

    ‘The Muslim world on the other had can’t come to terms with the fact they suck at almost everything. Plus, they’re in such a terrible state of identity crisis that they act irrationally(that is, un-islamically) when they are confronted by problems. Hence, we see that the common mode of discourse in the Muslim world is that of an evil western empire that is out to get them and we can only be worth anything if we act like westerners and respond in the same profane framework of thought.’

    You are right about the identity crisis and we must understand that all things West are not evil. The good infrastructure, welfare, education, technological advances should all be emulated, Islam seeks advancement for its followers. We simply draw the line at the un-Islamic practices which, I always find, are never helpful towards intellectual and cultural progress anyway.

    Instead the Muslims are doing the opposite, taking up the obscene fashions, junk food addictions, superficiality and useless past-times espoused by these societies whilst completely ignoring their fastidiousness, organisation, integrity in dealings. It is exasperating.

    An example of Muslims working how they should be is the booming market in Islamic Finance and riba-free banking. People like Mufti Taqi Usmani were proactive, not compromising their deen and inviting others to mould their way around it, resulting in great success.

    http://www.shadeofrahmah.blogspot.com


  9. […] 8, 2007 Parallel Universes Posted by mtakbar under Islam   This is an interesting website though it doesnt seem that it has been active for a while.  This post is on point on the current […]


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