Faith in religion and Muslims

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Orlando Huaman

As a man believes, so he will act. A believe is a lever that, once pulled, moves almost everything in a person’s life. Example, if I believe I can write an article about the title above, I just go ahead, get my tools and do it.

Believes, once believed, they became part of the very  apparatus of your mind, determining your desires, fears, expectations, and subsequent behaviour. The fact that religion beliefs have a great influence in human life says nothing at all about their validity. And their validity can only be proved by facts.  Nothing is more sacred than the facts.

What is faith? Is it something other than belief? The Hebrew term ‘emuna (verb  ‘mn)  is alternately translated as  “to have faith,” “to believe,” or “to trust.”

The Septuagint , the Greek translation  of the Hebrew Bible retains the same meaning  in the term pisteuein and this Greek equivalent is adopted  in the New Testament. Hebrew 11:1 defines faith as:  “the assurance of thing hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Read in the right way, this passage seems to render faith entirely self-justifying; perhaps the very fact that one believes in something which has not yet come  to pass  (“things hoped for”) or for which one does not have evidence  (“things not seen’) constitute evidence for its actuality (“assurance”). 

Of course, anyone is free to redefine the term  “faith”  however he sees fit  and thereby bring it into conformity  with some rational or mystical idea. Paul Tillich, in his Dynamics of Faith says: faith  as “ an act of knowledge that has a low degree of evidence.” Therefore, faith is likely to be  the  product of a culture that has elevated belief, in the absence of evidence, to the highest place in the hierarchy of human virtues. Ignorance is the true coinage of this realm. 

What is evidence? Evidence is simply an account of the causal linkage  between states of the world and our belief about them. You just cannot say:  “I believe in God because it makes me feel good”, but you can say “I believe  there is an oak in my yard because I can see it”  One need only linger over the meaning of the word “BECAUSE” (Middle English “by” + “cause”) to see the problem here. “Because”  suggest a causal connection  between a proposition ‘s  being true and a person ‘s believing that it is.

But faith is an impostor. This can be readily seen in the way that all the extraordinary phenomena of the religious life –a statue of the Virgin weeps, a child casts his crutches to the ground—are seized upon by the faithful as confirmation of their faith.

There is no way around the fact that we crave justification for our core beliefs, and believe them only because we think such justification is, at the very least in the offing. 

Let us say, the  truth of a given doctrine  is the very object of their faith. The faithful, in fact, hold truth  in the highest esteem, for faith in a doctrine is faith in its truth.

The faithful have never been indifferent to the truth; and yet, the PRINCIPLE of faith leaves them unequipped  to distinguish truth from falsity in matters that most concern them.

So, what is religion faith? Faith, Is the belief in historical and metaphysical propositions without sufficient EVIDENCE. Read this carefully: when a religion proposition  is thin or non-existent  or there is compelling evidence  against it, people invoke FAITH.

Otherwise, they simple cite the reasons  for their belief (e.g.” The New testament confirms the Old Testament prophecy,”  “I saw the face of Jesus in the window,”  “We prayed and our daughter cancer went into remission”) People of faith naturally recognize the primacy of reasons and resort to reasoning whenever they possible can. FAITH is simply the licence they give themselves to keep believing  when REASON fail.

Faith is the mortar that fills the cracks in the evidence and the gaps in the logic, and thus it is faith that keeps the whole terrible edifice of religion certainty still looming dangerously over our world. Religion persuades otherwise intelligent men and women to not think, or to think badly about questions of civilizational importance.

THE PROBLEM WITH ISLAM

There a good beliefs and there are bad ones—and it should now be obvious to everyone that Muslins have more than their share of the latter. Of course, like every religion, Islam, has had its moments in contributing  to a variety of  nascent sciences  at a time when European Christians  were luxuriating  in the most abysmal ignorance.

We are at war with Islam.  Let us hear what Osama  bin Laden  have to say about it. “ We declare jihad against the U.S. government because the U.S. government …has committed acts that extremely unjust, hideous, and criminal whether directly or through its support of the Israeli occupation of (Palestine)…For this and other acts of aggression and injustice, we have declared jihad against the U.S. because in our religion it is our duty to make jihad so that God’s word is the one exalted to the height so that we drive the Americans away from all Muslim countries.” (this excerpt from the book Holy War- Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. By Peter L. Bergen. Pg. 19)  So here you are, the words of a top Muslim who masterminded the collapse of the Trade World Centre twin towers, in NYC, on September 11, 2001.

It may not serve our immediate foreign policy objectives for our political leaders to openly acknowledge this fact, but it is unambiguously so. It is not merely that we are at war with an otherwise peaceful religion that has been “hijacked” by extremists.

We are at war with precisely the vision of life  that is prescribed  to all Muslims in the Koran and further elaborated in the literature of the hadith, which recounts the sayings and actions of the Prophet. Muslims have learned to ignore most of their canon, just as most Christians have learned to do.

When we talk about “fundamentalist Muslins, it is in the Western sense of the word.—in that even “moderate” approach to Islam generally consider the Koran to be the literal and inerrant word of the true God.

The world , from the point of view of Islam,  is divided into the  “House of Islam” and the ”House of War”. Islam is undeniable a religion of conquest. The only future devout Muslim can envisage—as Muslims—is one in which  all infidels have been converted to Islam, subjugated, or killed. The tenet of Islam simply do not admit of anything but a temporary sharing of power with the “enemies of God.”

What is jihad? It is generally rendered in English as “holy war”—war against infidels and apostates – is a central feature of the faith. There is no such thing as war “in defence of Islam”. On the contrary, the duty of jihad is an unambiguous  call to world conquest.

On almost every page, the Koran instruct observant Muslims  to despise non-believers. Anyone who can read passages in the Koran, and still not see a link between Muslims faith and Muslim violence should probably consult a neurologist. Islam more than any other religion  human being have devised has all the making of a thoroughgoing cult of death.

The Koran’s ambiguous prohibition against suicide  appears to be an utter non-issue. Surely there are Muslin jurists who might say that suicide bombing is contrary to the tenets of Islam (where are these jurists, by the way? And that suicide bombers are therefore not martyrs but fresh denizens of hell.

Such a minority opinion, if  it exists, cannot change the fact that suicide  bombings have been rationalized by much of the Muslin word (where they are called “sacred explosions”)      suicide bombings hardly appears to be an aberration of their faith. And is not surprise at all  that those who die in this way are considered martyrs by many of their coreligionists.

The bottom line for the aspiring martyr seem to be this: as long as you are killing infidels or apostates “in defence of Islam” Allah does not care whether you kill yourself in the process or not.

Martyrdom  is the only way a Muslin can bypass the painful litigation  that awaits  us all the Day of Judgment and proceed directly  to paradise. Rather than spend centuries  mouldering in the earth  in anticipation of being resurrected  and subsequently interrogated  by wrathful  angels, the martyr is immediately transported  to Allah’s garden  where a flock of  “dark eyes” virgins awaits him.

Christopher Luxemburg (this is a pseudonym) , a scholar of ancient Semitic languages, has recently argued that a mistranslation is responsible for furnishing the Muslin paradise with “virgins” (Arabic hur) transliterated as “houris”—literally “White ones”) It seems that the passage describing paradise  in the Koran were drawn from earlier  Christian texts that make frequent use of   the Aramaic word  hur, meaning “white raisins”. White raisins, it seems, were a great delicacy in the ancient world.  Imagine the look of a young martyr’s face  when, finding himself in a paradise teeming  with his fellow thugs, his seventy houris (virgins) arrive  as a fistful of raisins.

Now, who are these martyrs?.  S. Atran. “Opinion: Who Wants to Be a Martyr?”  New York Times. May 3, 2003. Concluded; “None were uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded or depressed… They all seems to be entirely normal members of their families.”  In fact, the men who committed the atrocity of September 11 were certainly not “cowards’, but educated people, nor were they lunatics in any ordinary sense.

They were men of faith—perfect faith, as it turns out—and this, it must finally be acknowledged is a terrible thing to be. Sheikh Ikrima  Sabri, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, referring to the Jews says: ”… In as much as you love life, the Muslims loves death and martyrdom”  Sabri, who regularly calls for the destruction of America and all infidel nations, and encourage child suicide bombers (The younger the martyr , the more I respect him.) He spoke these words not in a mosque in the West Bank, but in Cleveland, Ohio. USA.

In a global survey conducted by the Pew  Research Centre  for the People and the Press. The survey included  questions, posed only to Muslims. Results show that there are more than 200 million avowed supporters of terrorism.

A young man born into relative privilege, packs his clothing with explosives and ball bearings and unmake himself  along with a score of children in a discotheque, and his mother is promptly congratulated by hundreds of her neighbours. We must not overlook the fact that a significant percentage of the world’s Muslim believe  that the men that brought down the World Trade Centre  are now seated at the right hand of God, amid “rivers of purest water, and rivers of milk forever fresh, rivers of wine delectable to those that drink it, and rivers of clearest honey” ( Koran 47;15.) This description of paradise was in the mind of a seven-century prophet, in today’s description it would be like saying, paradise is not a garden, but a gleaming city where every soul drives a new Lexus.

 I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity  for so many of us to die for the sake of myth.

It is time we recognized that all reasonable men and women have a common enemy. Our enemy is nothing  other than faith itself.

Thomas Friedman  has declared that Muslim “humiliation” is at the root of Muslim terrorism.. Others have the same diagnosis, and Muslim themselves regularly assert that Western imperialism has offended their dignity, their pride, and their honour. What should we make of this?  Can anyone point to a greater offender  than Islam law itself?.

With respect to Islam, the liberal tendency is to blame  the West for raising the ire of the Muslim world, through centuries of self-serving conquest and meddling, while conservatives  tend to blame other contingent features  of Middle East, Arab, or Muslim history. The problem seems to have located  everywhere except at the core of the Muslim faith. –but faith is precisely what differentiates every Muslin from every infidel.

Without faith, most Muslin grievances against the West  would be impossible even to formulate, much less avenge. Many commentators on the Middle East have suggested that the problem of Muslim terrorism cannot be reduced  to what religious Muslims believe. Zakaria has written that the root of Muslim violence  lie not in Islam but in the recent history of the Arab Middle East.

The ability to pull money straight out of the ground has led Arab governments to be entirely unresponsive to the concern of their people. Therefore, he says  it “is wealth not poverty “

To finish this piece. If a stable peace is ever to be achieved  between Islam and the West. Islam must undergo  a radical transformation . This transformation to be palatable  to Muslims, must also appear to come  from Muslims themselves. It does not seem much of an exaggeration to say that the fate of civilization lies largely in the hands of “moderates” Muslims.

Unless Muslims can reshape their religion into an ideology  that is basically benign—or outgrow it altogether –it is difficult to see how Islam and the West can avoid falling into a continuous state of war and on innumerable fronts.

*Orlando Huaman is a freelance writer from Malololelei.



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