Continued from “Shackles of Sharia”
Puppets of Faith: Theory of Communal Strife
A critical appraisal of Islamic faith, Indian polity ‘n more
‘A single people refused to join the common intercourse of mankind,’ so wrote Edward Gibbon about the Jews, and thought that ‘the Jewish religion was admirably fitted for defence’. If the Jews puzzled the medieval world, their religious cousins, the Musalmans, with their accent on separateness, perplex the modern world. What Nehru wrote in ‘The Discovery of India’ seems to prove the parody that is the Muslim Brotherhood.
“When Italy suddenly attacked Turkey in the Tripoli War of 1911, and subsequently, during the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, an astonishing wave of sympathy for Turkey roused Indian Moslems. All Indians felt that sympathy and anxiety but in the case of Moslems this was keener and something almost personal. The last remaining Moslem power was threatened with extinction; the sheet anchor of their faith in the future was being destroyed. Dr. M. A. Ansari led a strong medical mission to Turkey and even the poor subscribed; money came more rapidly than for any proposal for the uplift of the Indian Moslems themselves.”
One might contrast this hackneyed clamor of the Musalmans to the low-key Hindu murmur when Mahendra Choudhary was ousted in a coup in Fiji, and made captive besides. The ready explanation for the universal nature of the Muslim agitation is that in them it is cultivated that Islam in essence is a brotherhood of believers transcending races, cultures, and nations. Laudable though the Islamic precept is, what indeed motivates the Musalmans to be so moved by it needs our understanding?
It is, of course, the Muslim credo that Islam is a body of believers as well as belief, and admittedly, this belief could be sustained only by the collective compulsion of the community to stick to the tenets of its faith. And this practice invariably leads to paranoia of belief, which occasions a collective resistance to change, fearing that might insensibly weaken their faith that sustains that credo.
While religion is meant to mend man’s soul and as human psychology tends his mind-set, it is imperative to probe into the psycho-cultural underpinnings of the Islamic upbringing, for which we have I’m Ok – You’re OK (Avon Books, New York) of Thomas A. Harris, who, after synthesizing the theories of many a psychologist, had come out with a psychological connectivity of the Parent, Child and Adult in human beings in that famous book as under:
“The parent is a huge collection of recordings in the brain of unquestioned or imposed external events perceived by a person in his early years, a period which we have designed roughly as the first five years of life. This is the period before the social birth of the individual, before he leaves home in response to the demands of society and enters school.
While the external events are being recorded as that body of data we call the Parent, there is another recording being made simultaneously [that is of the Child]. This is the recording of the internal events, the responses of the little person to what he sees and hears. In this connection it is important to recall Penfield’s observation that the subject feels again the emotion which the situation originally produced in him and he is aware of the same interpretations, true or false, which he himself gave to the experiences in the first place. This evoked recollection is not the exact photographic or phonographic reproduction of past scenes or events. It is reproduction of what the patient saw and heard and felt and understood.
The Adult is a data-processing computer, which grinds out decisions after computing the information from three sources: the Parent, the Child, and the data, which the Adult has gathered and is gathering. One of the important functions of the Adult is to examine the data in the Parent, to see whether or not it is true and still applicable today, and then to accept it or reject it; and to examine the Child to see whether or not the feelings there are appropriate to the present or are archaic and in response to archaic Parent data. The goal is not to do away with the Parent and the Child but to be free to examine these bodies of data. The Adult, in the words of Emerson, ‘must not be hindered by the goodness, but must examine if it be goodness’; or badness, for that matter.’
The Adult develops later than the Parent and Child and seems to have a difficult time catching up throughout life. The more one knows of the content of Parent and Child (in him) the more easily one can separate Parent and Child from the adult. The more sensitive one is to one’s own Parent and Child, the more separated, autonomous, and strong becomes the Adult.
Ideally the P-A-C circles are separate. In many people, however, the circles overlap. The overlap of the Parent and the Adult would result in a contamination of the latter by the dated, un-examined Parent data which is externalized as true. This is called prejudice. Prejudice develops in early childhood when the door of inquiry is shut on certain subject by the security-giving parents. The little person dares not open it for fear of parental rebuke.
The contamination of Adult-Child overlap affects in the form of feelings or archaic experiences which are inappropriately externalized in the present. Two of the most common symptoms of this kind of contamination are delusions and hallucinations. A delusion is grounded in fear. A hallucination is a phenomenon produced by extreme stress, wherein what was once experienced externally - derogation, rejection, and criticism - is again experienced externally even though ‘no one is there’. A recorded experience ‘comes on for real’ and the person ‘hears’ voices that existed in the past reality.
In addition to the contamination there is another functional disorder that explains how we differ: exclusion. Exclusion is manifested by a stereotyped, predictable attitude which is steadfastly maintained as long as possible in the face of any threatening situation. The constant Parent, the constant Adult, and the constant Child all result primarily from defensive exclusion of the two complementary aspects in each case.
And this is a situation in which an excluding Parent can ‘block out’ the child or an Excluding Child can ‘block out’ the Parent. Typical of the Parent - contaminated Adult with a Blocked -Out child is the man who is duty dominated. It is as if, at some point in his childhood, he was so utterly quashed by serious, stern, duty-bound parents that he found the only safe way to proceed through life was to turn his Child off completely.
A more serious difficulty, particularly to society, is presented by the Child -Contaminated adult with a Blocked - Out Parent. This condition develops in the person whose real parents, or those who fulfilled the parental role, were so brutal and terrifying or, in the other extreme, so doltishly indulgent that the only way to preserve life was to ‘shut them off.” or block them out. This is the typical of the psychopath.
The Decommissioned Adult is the psychotic who had a Blocked - Out Adult. His Adult is not functioning, and therefore he is out of touch with reality. His Parent and Child come on straight, frequently in a jumbled mixture of archaic data, a jumbled replay of early experiences that do not make sense now because they did not make sense when they were recorded.”
Thus, considering every human being is a product of his own P-A-C, it would be interesting to study the psyche of the religious mind of the average Musalman. Perhaps, there could be no contradiction in the assumption of an ‘average Musalman’ since Muhammadans tend to be homogenous in the socio-religious sense, irrespective of their race, color, occupation and domiciliation.
‘Most Christians might shrug if asked whether they really believed that Jesus turned water into wine, or raised Lazarus from the dead. Muslims by contrast do not doubt that Allah’s angels helped the Prophet at the Battle of Badr. Allah is a living god to them, as palpable and meaningful as an ideal parent might be.’ - M.J. Akbar in ‘The Shade of Swords’.
This clearly indicates the prevalence of the Decommissioned Adult phenomenon, by and large, in the Musalmans all over. But how come such a large multitude of people, many of them living amidst other religious groups, in contemporary times at that, could be so dogmatic about their religious beliefs? And, that too, in a world which is being driven by modernity backed by information technology! It should be our endeavor to understand this unique Muslim intellectual stagnation in psychological terms by wedding the P-A-C theories of Thomas A. Harris to our Islamic borrowings from Roland E Miller’s Muslim Friends - Their faith and feeling, An introduction to Islam.
The Parent component of Musalmans, so well expostulated by Miller, comprises of Allah the Almighty, Muhammad His Messenger, the ulema, the Muslim clergy, and of course the biological parents or family guardian of an individual.
We have seen in the Quran that the relationship between ‘the God’ and the believer is that of the Master and the servant, which provides for a strict religious parentage. Thus, it is but natural, that the role of ‘the God’ as the Parent in the life of the Musalman is considerable as noticed by Miller thus:
“The entire religious context of Muslim life underlines the Reality of God, and is designed to make and keep Muslims aware of that Reality. From birth to death, and in all that lies between, the Reality of God encompasses Muslim life. Muslim faith and life are marked by an overwhelming sense of God. Muslims are the people who simply believe that God is Real, and really to be feared.
They live like people who are standing in the Presence of God. The ordinary Muslim sense of God may be defined as an attitude of deep respect rather than emotional extravagance. Their attitude towards the Almighty is deferential rather than presumptuous, austere rather than excited, devout rather than passionate. Behind that attitude of restraint lies the Muslim understanding of the utter greatness of God.
The Islamic emphasis on God’s transcendent power produces attitudes of awe, respectful fear and solemn praise among believers. Most Muslims are not very interested in attempting to probe further into the transcendent mystery of God’s being. It is a deep sea, venture not into it, said Muhammad, when asked about the decree of predestination. Thus Muslims prefer to bear witness to His greatness and mystery. A Muslim who is alive to God is alive to the praise of God and His power.
Since the Muslims cherish an overwhelming sense of God, it is natural to speak of the fear of God. This does not imply fear in the sense of being afraid, although the emotion cannot be eliminated. It means a rather holy fear, a combination of profound awe and overwhelming respect that maintains the awareness of God in a seemingly godless world. “they only are the (true) believers whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned…(8.2). Perhaps at no time do Muslims feel this emotion more deeply than when they attend the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Finally it is the obedient service to God. The glory of humanity is to be the servants of God. Do not aspire to be more than that, for in being a servant of God you have achieved the highest thing. It’s enough to be faithful servants of God. Muslims do not wish to be less than that, nor more than that. The frame of reference for their obedience is the Law of God, for God the Master has prescribed a way of life, the path, the clear road that believers should tread.”
Millar continues his account of the Mohammedan mind-set thus - “The Muslims believe the God had chosen and called Muhammad to be the final and Universal guide for humanity as confirmed by the Quran:
“And those who believe and do good works, and believe in that which is revealed unto Muhammad… He riddeth them of their ill-deeds and improve their state.”(47:2)
“‘He (Allah) it is who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion… Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” (48.29)
“Since Quran calls Muhammad a noble pattern… for all who hope in God (33.21) to follow him, and to imitate him, is to be authentically on the path of God and it is every devout Muslim’s personal goal.”
“And make our calling down of blessing on him a key, and by it open to us, O Lord, the veil of acceptance, and accept, by the blessing of my Beloved… the litanies and vocations which I now recite, and my love and magnifying of Thyself.”
Further, as Miller found out, the respect for Muhammad’s role and character amongst the believers is so profound that it makes possible the saying: “To understand Islam is to understand Muhammad.”
“The affection for Muhammad is expressed in various ways - by the remembering of whatever he said and did (Hadith), by the celebration of his birthday (milad al-nabi), by the stories of his exploits that are recited in public and in homes (mawluds), but above all by the calling down of blessing upon the Prophet and his family (tasliya). You may have noticed an unusual phenomenon that takes place in Muslim groups whenever the name of Muhammad is mentioned. A sound ripples through the audience, the recitation of the Arabic phrase salla llahu ala n-nabi, that is, “May God bless the Prophet!” When Muhammad’s name appears in print in English-language publications, four letters, pbuh, are added in parentheses behind his name. The letters stand for “Peace be upon him!” The calling down of God’s blessing upon the Prophet is not only an act of due reverence, but it is also an action that brings great personal merit.”
Thus as neither age withers nor custom stale the appeal of Muhammad to the Musalmans, the hadith remains the sacrosanct parent to a Muslim child, the data of which is but the recollections of Muhammad’s followers of his actions and utterances. A few of them as quoted by Miller in his ‘Muslim Friends’ read thus:
“Ibn ‘Umar reported God’s Messenger as saying, ‘Islam is based on five things: the testimony that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, the observance of the prayer, the payment of zakat, the pilgrimage, and the fast during Ramadan.
Al-‘Abbas b. Abd al-Muttalib reported God’s messenger as saying - ‘He who is well- pleased with God as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as messenger will experience the savour of faith.
Ubada b. as-Samit said: I heard God’s messenger say, ‘If anyone testifies that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is God’s messenger, God will keep him from going to hell.
Ubad b. as-Samit reported God’s messenger as saying, ‘Five times of prayer have been prescribed by God. If anyone performs the ablution for them well, observers them at their proper time, and perfectly performs the bowing and showing of submissiveness during them, he had a covenant from God to forgive him; but if anyone does not do so, he has no covenant. If he wills He may forgive him, but if He wills not, He may punish him.
Malik b.Anas…reported God’s messenger as saying, “As long as you hold fast to two things which I have left among you, you will not go astray: God’s Book and His messenger’s sunna.
Jabir reported God’s messenger as saying. “To proceed: The best discourse is God’s Book, the best guidance is that given by Muhammad, and the worst things are those which are novelties…
Al-Miqdam b. Madikarib reported God’s messenger as saying, I have indeed been brought the Quran and something like it along with it; yet the time is coming when a man replete on his couch will say, “Keep to this Quran; what you find in it to be permissible treat as permissible, and what you find in it to be prohibited treat as prohibited. But what God’s messenger had prohibited is like what God has prohibited…”
However, contrast the above with the following quote in Martin Lings biography about Muhammad’s conversation with Mu’adh on the eve of the latter’s departure to Yemen as a judge:
“How will you decide when a question arises?” He replied: “According to the Book of Allah,” “And if you do not find the answer in the Book of Allah?” “Then according to the sunna of the Messenger of Allah.” “And if you do not find the answer neither in the sunna nor in the Book?” “Then I shall come to a decision according to my own opinion without hesitation.” Then Muhammad slapped Mu’adh on the chest with his hand saying, “Praise be to Allah Who has led the messenger of the Messenger of Allah to an answer that pleased him.”
The Mu’adh model of individualistic intellectualism might have played its role in the early stages of Islamic evolution, but as Miller noted, “As time passed, however, free and independent reasoning seemed to many Muslims to be a source of confusion and even threatening. It is pious obedience, not rational argumentation that is the Muslim way; after all, it was said the sin of the devil was that he had argued with God instead of obeying him! So as to avoid the possibility of Islam sinking into individual anarchism Muslim ethos got wedded to the hadith.”
Herein lay the dichotomy of the Musalmans, as hadith, after all, is the record of the life and times of Muhammad, by no means an autobiographical account of his, but at best attributed to him by his followers, or at worst invented by the enamoured. Thus are caught the Musalmans between the Islamic deep sea of hadithian hearsay and the devil of blind belief. It is one of the many ironies of Islam that its believers should sink into a collective anachronism trying to avoid individual anarchism.
It is another matter though, that the Musalmans fail to appreciate the logic of change, even though the Quran maintains that revelations are subject to amendments:
“Such of our revelations as We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, we bring (in place) one better or the like thereof. Knowest though not that Allah is Able to all things?”
And abrogate Allah did, his original revelation to Muhammad about drink and dice. Verse 219. II reveals: “They question about strong drink and games of chance. Say: In both is great sin, and (some) utility for men; but the sin of them is greater than their usefulness.”
However, the amendment contained in 90.V reads thus: “O ye who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed.”
Incidentally, Allah’s original revelation about the punishment to lewd women reads thus in 15. IV:
“As for those of your women who are guilty of lewdness, call to witness four of you against them. And if they testify (to the truth of the allegation) then confine them to the houses until death take them or (until) Allah appoint for them a way (through new revelation)”
But, seemingly to address Ayesha’s predicament, when she strayed in the desert, and bought back to Muhammad by Safwan, the revelation (19. XXIV) has it that:
“Lo! those who love that slander should be spread concerning those who believe, theirs will be a painful punishment in the world and the Hereafter. Allah knoweth. Ye know not.”
So, that being the case, the sharia would have the woman accused of adultery stoned to death when Allah seemed to have willed to the contrary.
Be that as it may, when Allah, the All-Knower, the Seer and the Wise, with the experience of having given the Torah and the Gospel earlier to his prophets, still admits in the Quran that there is scope for improvement for Him even, isn’t it strange that the Musalmans should swear that the hadith is the be all and end all of all the worldly wisdom, divine as well as mundane, for all times to come! And, indeed, of life itself! Isn’t such a creed something like being more Christian than the Christ? Well, it’s for the Musalmans to think about that.
Besides, it is beyond belief that the Musalmans should believe that the All-Knowing Allah could have suffered from selective amnesia when he was fashioning the straight path for them. After all, what does His modifying some ayats or rescinding the others suggest? Above all, how could have He erred in such a vital matter of man’s rebirth, on which He changed tack in the Quran! First of all, there is this ayat, 55.20, in an early Mecca Surah, Ta Ha -
“Thereof We created you, and thereunto We return you, and thence We bring you forth a second time.”
What was this revelation if not about ‘rebirth’ that the God had done away with later on in Quran, and for what purpose?
Why, was not the Quranic foundation for a permanent Paradise, on which the edifice of the Islamic martyrdom was built, meant to serve the cause of Allah and His Messenger alike in their fight for the Kabah? After all, it’s the desire to reach the ‘Hereafter’, and remain there forever thereafter without a bother, which is the motivating factor of martyrdom in Islam that is besides the tempting black-eyed virgins in their scores. Even otherwise, what sense doth it make for the believers to come down ‘here’ again after having heard the Quran deprecating it in so many chapters and verses? Does it!
If one were to be skeptical about the proposition, then it is all there to see and hear in the pre-recorded audio-video cassettes of the martyrs perpetually aired through the idiot boxes. Whatever, the contradictions in the Quranic ayats cited above are not all encompassing, and it is for the Musalmans to scrutinize their Scripture that is the fulcrum of their faith. However, the ulema as the religious Parent of the Musalman can be seen from Miller’s observations thus:
“In spite of the Islamic theory of equality, clergy not only developed in Islam but in the end their influence became as powerful as that of clergy in religions that maintain a priestly principle.
A traditional Muslim clergyman admires the Quran above everything else and dedicates his life to it, even though more often than not he has to work for very low pay. In terms of its explanation, he has the deepest respect for past authorities. His study of the Quran is therefore more related to what previous generations have believed about it, rather than to its fresh application to the present age. For him the Quran is the solace of Islam and the source of all true knowledge, and he gives equal respect to the traditional doctrines of the faith.
The second group of clergy and scholars may be called progressive teachers. They are those who wish to stress the authority of the Quran over human traditions, to go back to it, to make it a living Book, and to reinterpret it in the light of contemporary needs and conditions. Though these teachers are still in the minority, their number is increasing.
In madrasas that the clergy preside over are attended by the majority of the Muslim children, the topics of study include an introduction to the Muslim faith and practice, worship forms, biography of the Prophet Muhammad, and stories of other heroes of the faith. Madrasas’ purpose is not so much to open the mind as to impress the spirit. They seek to set a tone and to provide some simple rules for being a Muslim.
Though new forms of madrasa education are developing the overall impact of the madrasa experience on Muslim faith and feeling is a powerful one. Above all, what Muslim boys and girls learn is respect for the Sacred Word. Combined with that, they also gain a sense of their identity as Muslims. The effect of this early concentrated exposure to the Quran is to leave a virtually indelible mark on Muslim spiritual consciousness.”
No less, the Muslim parents, as the Parent of the Musalman, play their synchronizing part to the boot in Millar’s picture of the life and times of a Muslim boy thus:
“The Islamic creed, the fivefold call to prayer, the annual fast, the steady mutual exhortation of Muslims, in short, the whole of Islam emphasizes the place of God in human life. Immediately after he was born sacred words would have been breathed into its ear. From the age of five to thirteen he would have attended a religious school to be educated in the Word of God (Quran). As a youth he would have listened to the night lectures of religious leaders that he could have attended during the month of fasting (Ramadan). As adults, he and his wife would have shared in the activities of the community of believers that is dedicated to carrying the will of God, and they would strive to share this vision with their children, against the alternative visions that come to them from modern life.”
Thus, we see there is this external force, driven by the power and the fear of Allah, to impinge upon the mind of the Musalmans. Besides, the admiration for and the desire to emulate Muhammad is omnipresent in the mohallas to rule the young Muslim mind, and if anything, in his growing-up as a Musalman, his imagination gets impregnated with the Quranic injunctions in masjids ‘n madrasas. It is this inculcation of belief in the doctrine of Islam within and without the Islamic home that occasions the all-consuming Parent of the Musalmans religious subconscious.
What about the ‘Harris’ recording’ of the internal responses of the little Musalman to this unceasing religious conditioning by the society around?
As the external inputs he would be receiving from the parent subscribe to the environment in which he lives in and interacts with, there should be perfect spiritual harmony in the Child about Islamic religiosity. However, this imposition of religious regimen on the tender ‘freedom loving’ childhood might result in the subconscious resentment against the Islamist Quadruple Parent as named above. This unique fusion between the external inputs that make the Parent, and the internal responses to the same which make the Child, would ensure that the Child in the adult Musalman would be either of ‘righteous consciousness’ type in case of compliance or the one imperiled by ‘guilty subconscious’ sort in case of partially complying / non-complying childhood. And so, as Harris has theorized, the former leads to prejudice and the latter results in delusion.
Nevertheless, it is the ‘Decommissioned Adult’ in the Musalman that shows a total lack of interest in contrary inputs that leaves no opportunity for processing the Parent-Child data for verification of its veracity. This is how, impervious to the realities of their surroundings, the Musalmans would be able to carve out their pan-Islamic Islands in every place they happen to live in. It’s thus; they find themselves out of sync with the national sentiments of their fellow countrymen, preoccupied as they are with their separate identity as Musalmans. It is as if they are simply indifferent to the happenings around that won’t concern Islam. The reality is, not that the Musalmans love their country of birth any less but they love the Muslim Brotherhood more!
Maybe, because of this abnormality in such a religiously conditioned Muslim mind-set, ‘the others’ too cannot be faulted for misconstruing their indifferent, if not hostile, behavior. More often, ‘the others’ tend to conclude that the Musalmans are unpatriotic, if not anti-national and it is this negative perception of ‘the others’ towards them that doubly hurts the Musalmans. But the ‘Decommissioned Adult’ in them would have rendered them incapable of seeing the other side of the emotional coin, and given their inability to adjust or adapt with ‘the others’, the Musalmans, somewhere or the other in the wide world, forever get embroiled in some dispute or controversy, and /or both. And that is good enough a reason for the Musalmans to believe that Islam is in danger, to protect which they feel no compunction to resorting to violence. Oh, in what ways this Islamic self-righteous aggressiveness, which its apologists make light as antics of Muslim frustration, the world has been experiencing to its hurt and dismay!
While ‘the others’ feel skeptical about the out-of-tune archaic Islamic personal laws, the Musalmans view that as poking into their religious nose, and their gut reaction is to retort that their sharia is their business as, in no way, it impinges upon the lives of ‘the others’. After all, social contract is all about making the individual needs subservient to the family good, family good to that of the community welfare, and the community welfare to that of the national interests.
But living in the Quranic wells in the non-Islamic lands, the Muhammadan Decommissioned Adult fails to appreciate all this. Just to cite an example, population control is in the national interest of any over-populous country such as India, but the Decommissioned Adult of the Musalman approaches the issue with his Parent-Child perspective that family planning is un-Islamic, after all.
Likewise, polygamy and talaq, more so the triple-talaq, might well serve the Muslim male interest, but aren’t they inimical to Muslim female well-being?
Well, the Mohammedan Decommissioned Adult of the Musalman, unfortunately for him and his family, and by extension to his community and to the nation in which he lives, is incapable of receiving new Adult data. Instead, he relies on the irrelevant Parent- Child inputs, which, anyway, are obscurantist to say the least. It is these psychological aberrations among the Musalmans, never mind whether madrasa trained or convent educated, that produce Islamist terrorists, who became the scourge of the world, the Muslim world included.
Continued to "Fight for the Souls"
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