12-05-2012, 08:15 AM
You can see how much of refutation still has to be done.
Religion & Ethics: Content from Across the ABC
The power of the woman and the truth of Islam
What is Islam - this disturbing, radical excess that represents the East to the West, and the West to the East? Let me begin with the relationship of Islam to Judaism and Christianity, the two other religions of the book.
The header quote is an ad hominem. If ABC in this case is the well known news network then they should be worried.
Muslims have a legitimate grievance here.
As the religion of genealogy, of the succession of generations, Judaism is the patriarchal religion par excellence. In Christianity, when the Son dies on the cross, the Father also dies (as Hegel maintained) - which is to say, the patriarchal order as such dies. Hence, the advent of the Holy Spirit introduces a post-paternal/familial community.
This is a take on trinity. Unfortunately the author tries to draw real conclusions from a fictitious doctrine.
In contrast to both Judaism and Christianity, Islam excludes God from the domain of the patriarchal logic. Allah is not a father, not even a symbolic one. Rather, God is one - he is neither born nor does he give birth to creatures.
It is gratifying that some of the Islamic tenets have been communicated and have gotten across.
This is why there is no place for a Holy Family in Islam. This is why Islam so emphasizes the fact that Muhammad himself was an orphan. This is why, in Islam, God intervenes precisely at the moments of the suspension or failure of the paternal function (when the mother or the child are abandoned by the biological father). This is also why Islam represented such a problem for Freud: his entire theory of religion is based on the connection between God and "the father."
(1) The author has problems of distraction. If Freud could not prove Islam wrong that is no argument against Islam.
(2) The emphasis in presentation of Islam is, if it is at all there because balance is a hall mark of Islam, on the fact that beloved Prophet (PBUH) was unlettered. Unfortunately the author is piqued at the fact that the Prophet (PBUH) happened to be an orphan - as if he had something to do with it. Western negative way of looking at the things has brought the things to a rather low pass where people do not even realize that they might be hitting below the belt.
But even more importantly, it is this that inscribes politics into the very heart of Islam, since the "genealogical desert" makes it impossible to ground a community in the structures of parenthood or other blood-ties. As Fethi Benslama puts it, "the desert between God and Father is the place where the political institutes itself."
The author, and the author quoted by him, are seeing an specter. Islam maintains family and it is still doing that. The west has destroyed family and the consequences are for all to see. It is this devaluation of family that has enabled these two gentlemen to base their hypothesis on such a shaky ground.
In Islam, it is no longer possible to ground a community in the mode of Totem and Taboo, through the murder of the father and the ensuing guilt which brings brothers together - hence Islam's unexpected actuality.
A vacuous claim. Islam did define Ummah in an early stage.
This problem is at the heart of the Muslim "community of believers" - the Umma - and accounts for the overlapping of the religious and the political (the community should be grounded directly in God's word), ...
The author is overwhelmed because of the western mindset of separating the Church and state. He finds it difficult to swallow that an integrated concept of society is a possibility. All advancement should come from the west - isn't it?
... as well as for the fact that Islam is at its best when it grounds the formation of a community "out of nowhere," in the genealogical desert, as a kind of egalitarian revolutionary fraternity.
Author is so baffled by the fact that Ummah has come out of no where. This is what happens when you spend too much of life thinking that there is no creator. You loose track of creation. You start believing that the things are just there. At least the matter is just there even if it is at the time of Big Bang.
When they do not believe in a creator they also forget that they can not wish away the believers - nor they can impose their wish and values (or lack there of) on others.
No wonder, then, that Islam is so appealing to young men who find themselves deprived of family and social networks.
This is pure jealousy. It wont be surprising if curse too is mixed with it.
As Moustapha Safouan has argued, it is this "orphanic" character of Islam that accounts for its lack of inherent institutionalization:
"The distinctive mark of Islam is that it is a religion which did not institutionalize itself; it did not , like Christianity, equip itself with a Church. The Islamic Church is in fact the Islamic State: it is the state which invented the so called 'highest religious authority' and it is the head of state who appoints the man to occupy that office; it is the state that builds the great mosques, that supervises religious education; it is the state again that creates the universities, exercises censorship in all the fields of culture, and considers itself as the guardian of morality."
Islam is not only organic but it also spiritual. And it is not pure materialism. After destroying the mighty institution of Caliphate the western intelligentsia is deceiving itself by thinking that Islam does not have any ability to build institutions. Here the lesson is for Ummah to make all efforts to protect its institutions and to create new ones. Moustapha Safouan, who is obviously part of the west, is deluded by his experience of the Gulf. In rest of the Asia, and that is where the majority of Muslims population lives - not the Gulf, the situation is opposite to what is implied. In most part of the Islamic world Islam is not under government control - by the Grace of Allah (SWT).
Here we can see how the best and the worst are combined in Islam.
A fallacious statement.
And the author will not realize his mistake unless pointed out.
But first of all thanks for acknowledging that Islam has the best also.
What you consider the worst is of course author's perception and opinion.
Islam is a value system too -t is a complete way of life.
And since it is a value system also it is meaningless to judge it by any other value system.
And one should not forget that the author does not have a value system of his own and hence is not in a position to talk about values. Calamities of disbelief are uncountable. It is strange that atheists should be judging religion.
It is precisely because Islam lacks an inherent principle of institutionalization that it has proven so vulnerable to being co-opted by state power.
As said earlier the premise is wrong - nothing to say of the conclusion.
It is strange that at other places you get to hear that Islam can not produce historical examples of its actual implementation at state level. Perhaps this later accusation has not helped the cause against Islam.
If you try all possible options then may be something will work. Sort of MDT - multi drug therapy against a perceived illness.
Strange thing because diagnosis of illness is not too complicated. It is called Islamophobia.
Therein resides the choice that confronts Islam: direct "politicization" is inscribed into its very nature, and this overlapping of the religious and the political can either be achieved in the guise of the statist co-option, or in the guise of anti-statist collectives.
Best thing will be not to go out on a limb - just in case the twig is unable to take the weight. The phrase anti-statist collective smells of Marxism but more seriously author's argument is zero sum game. He is saying that either you are pro state or anti-state. Deep analysis.
But let me now move to a further key distinction between Judaism (along with its Christian continuation) and Islam. As is apparent from the account of Abraham's two sons, Judaism chooses Abraham as the symbolic father; Islam, on the contrary, opts for the lineage of Hagar, for Abraham as the biological father, thereby maintaining the distance between "the father" and God, and retaining God in the domain of the un-symbolisable.
Never knew that Abraham was symbolic father. It can not be a popular concept even amongst Jewish people. One would have got wind of that. Judaism has not messed up with monotheism to the same level as Christianity and that should be that.
It is pointless to move from one fictitious key distinction between Islam and the other two Abrahamaic religions to another fictitious distinction. Zero plus zero is zero and zero multiplied by zero is also zero.
Retaining God in un-symbolizable is more closer to reality - thankfully. And that is how the things are in Judaism as well as Christianity. It is just monotheism in action - condemnation of idol worship. Look for no conspiracy theory here.
It is nonetheless significant that both Judaism and Islam repress their founding gestures. According to Freud's hypothesis, repression in Judaism stems from the fact that Abraham was not a Jew at all, but an Egyptian - it is thus the founding paternal figure, the one who brings revelation and establishes the covenant with God, that has to come from the outside.
Can the author be really that naive?
Jews are amongst the progeny of Abraham (AS) - they are in the third generation beginning with him. Is the author assuming that no one will read into the article?
In Islam, however, the repression concerns a woman - Hagar, the Egyptian slave who bore Abraham his first son. For although Abraham and Ishmael (the progenitor of all Arabs, according to the myth) are mentioned dozens of times in Qur'an, Hagar is entirely absent, erased from the official history. As such, she continues to haunt Islam, her traces surviving in rituals, like the obligation of the pilgrims to Mecca to run six times between the two hills Safa and Marwah - a kind of neurotic re-enactment of Hagar's desperate search for water for her son in the desert.
Dishonesty has no wings - it flies on its own.
Dear author decide whether Muslims remember Hagar (Bibi Hazra) or not. Only one of the two assertions can be right - not both. And if you can not decide even that then why did you come out of the house?
But along with Hagar, there is in the pre-history of Islam the story of Khadija, the first wife of Muhammad himself, who enabled him to differentiate between truth and falsehood, between angelic messages and those from demons.
This reminds us of another conspiracy theory about a decade and a half earlier. Some one asserted that Einstein's work actually originated in the brain of his wife.
Feminism at its pinnacle.
And here the author is trying the same cheap trick on Islam.
The good thing about conspiracy theory is that one does not have to start with empirical evidence.
Mohammad was, of course, the first to doubt the divine origin of his visions, dismissing them as hallucinations, ...
A person with straight thinking will take it as an evidence of beloved Prophet (PBUH)'s truthfulness. The author does not have time for such subtle things - it messes up with the agenda.
... as signs of madness
We'll give you the English word - perplexity.
... or as outright instances of demonic possession.
Demonis possession is a truth near Islam. For your own purpose you can think of it as an old belief - after all we are considering the things more than a millennium ago.
His first revelation occurred during his Ramadhaan retreat outside Mecca, when the archangel Gabriel appeared to him, calling upon him to "Recite!" (Qara', whence Qur'an).
Mohammad believed he was going mad, and not wishing to spend the rest of his life as Mecca's village idiot, he decided to throw himself from a high rock. But then the vision repeated itself: he heard a voice saying: "O Mohammad! Thou art the apostle of God and I am Gabriel." But even this voice did not reassure him; he returned to his house and, in deep despair, asked Khadija: "Wrap me in a blanket, wrap me up in a blanket." Muhammad told her what had happened to him, and Khadija dutifully gave him comfort.
When, in the course of subsequent visions, Mohammad's doubts persisted, Khadija asked him to tell her when his visitor returned so that they could verify whether it really was Gabriel or a demon. So, when the angel Gabriel next came to Mohammad, Khadija instructed him, "Get up and sit by my left thigh." Mohammad did so, and she said, "Can you see him?" "Yes," he replied. "Now turn round and sit on my right thigh." He did so, and she said, "Can you see him?" When he said that he could, Khadija finally she asked him to move and sit in her lap. After casting aside her veil, she asked, "Can you see him?" And he replied, "No." She then comforted him: "Rejoice and be of good heart, he is an angel and not a Satan."
Good that you got hooked to the story.
Only after Khadija provided him with this proof of the authenticity of his visions was Mohammad cured of his doubts and so could embrace his vocation as God's prophet. The first Muslim, in other words, was Khadija, a woman.
Or the beloved Prophet (PBUH) himself - depending upon the way you look at it.
She represents what Jacques Lacan called the "big Other," the guarantee of Truth of the subject's enunciation, and it is only in the guise of this circular support - through someone who believes in Muhammad himself - that he can believe in his own message and thus be the messenger of Truth.
Again the same conundrum. Is she important or not? The circularity is invented here. And circularity is not bad by itself - if you please. There are virtuous circles - even economists will tell you that.
This is yet a further demonstration of my fundamental contention that belief is never direct: in order for me to believe, somebody else has to believe in me, and what I believe in is this other's belief (in me).
With apologies - a blind band is describing the rainbow.
This should be emphasised: a woman possesses a knowledge about the Truth which precedes even the Prophet's knowledge.
A good observation.
And please spend some time on pondering over the fact that Islam does not exist in vacuum. If you read the Noble Qur'an some painstaking work will reveal how old wisdom is being validated by it. So the instinct that Hazrat Khadija (RA) displayed might induce a consternation in your mind but it is plain wisdom of a pious women. No, no it is not that every woman his this wisdom. They have different wisdom - it is called variety.
What further complicates the scenario is the precise mode of Khadija's intervention, the way she was able to draw the line between truth and falsehood, between divine revelation and demonic possession: by putting forward (interposing) herself, her disclosed body, as the untruth embodied.
Now please ask your western friends to stop criticising Islam for suppression of women.
This is how Khadija's demonstration of truth is achieved through her provocative "monstration" (disclosure), to use Fethi Benslama's term.
You just brought the discourse down. You can delte this sentence with profit.
One thus cannot simply oppose the "good" Islam (reverence of women) and the "bad" Islam (veiled oppressed women).
In the discussion above you have not managed to prove any such thing. It is another matter you promise to prove something in the first half and then you start assuming in the second half that you have already done that. People do read into articles sometime.
And the point is not simply to return to the "repressed feminist origins" of Islam, to renovate Islam in its feminist aspect: these oppressed origins are simultaneously the very origins of the oppression of women. Oppression does not just oppress the origins; oppression has to oppress its own origins.
This mental gymnastic is non-proof.
The key element of the genealogy of Islam is this passage from the woman as the only one who can verify Truth, to the woman who by her nature lacks reason and faith, cheats and lies, provokes men, interposing herself between them and God as a disturbing presence, and who therefore has to be rendered invisible. Woman, in other words, as an ontological scandal, whose public exposure is an affront to God.
Back to ad hominems. Sigh.
It is interesting, against this background, to examine measures like France's prohibition of Muslim girls wearing the veil in schools? The paradox is double here. First, this prohibition prohibits a symbol deemed too-strong-to-be-permissible, a sign of one's identity that disturbs the French principle of egalitarian citizenship - the veil itself, from this republican perspective, is a provocative "monstration."
You are not even blaming the victims - no one can accuse you of that. But out on a limb you certainly have gone.
How does it look: France banned veil because Islam had female followers in its history?
The second paradox is that what France's prohibition prohibits is prohibition itself - and, perhaps, this prohibition is the most oppressive of them all. It prohibits the very feature which constitutes the (socio-institutional) identity of the other: it des-institutionalizes this identity, transforming it into an irrelevant personal idiosyncrasy.
Yes horses are horse and a pony is a pony.
Call French action Islamophobia and get on with life.
Null intellectual exercise does not build any mental muscles. Brain is not a bunch of muscles.
What this act of prohibiting prohibitions creates is the space for the "universal Man" for whom all differences - economic, political, religious, cultural, sexual - are indifferent, a matter of contingent symbolic practices. However, in this space, created by the prohibition of prohibition, while there is no guilt, the absence of guilt is paid for by an unbearable rise of anxiety. The prohibition of prohibitions is a kind of "general equivalent" of all prohibitions: a universal and thereby universalized prohibition, a prohibition of all actual otherness.
Please do not be pleased with yourself for this. It is merely post modernist babble. Post modernist discourse did not yield any result earlier and it will not do now. We'll once again supply you the relevant reality. West has taken steps in last few centuries that have constrained the social, economic, political space of Islam and Muslims. And France is included in the west.
Therein lies the paradox of so-called tolerant multiculturalism: the more it is tolerant, the more it is oppressively homogeneous.
Get to Islam first and then you shall understand multiculturalism. We are multicultural because of Islam.
Martin Amis recently ridiculed Islam as the most boring of all religions, which demands that its believers perform again and again the same stupid rituals and learn by heart the same sacred formulas.
You do have a tendency for ad hominem. Let us give you some credit - this time you borrowed it.
But in fact, it is multicultural tolerance and permissiveness that represent the true boredom.
Your slip is showing. There is a branch of xenophobia called Islamophobia. Do you realize how much energy your brothers are putting into denying that?
But if, following Nietzsche's equation of truth and woman, we transpose the feminine veil into the veil which conceals the ultimate Truth, the true stakes of the Muslim veil become even clearer. Woman is a threat because she stands for the "undecidability" of truth, for a succession of veils beneath which there is no hidden core. Precisely by veiling her, we create the illusion that there is, beneath the veil, the feminine Truth - the horrible truth of lie and deception, of course.
Having gotten disoriented by reality you are turning to philosophy for enlightenment.
Do not tell us later that we did not warn you.
To illustrate this point, recall the 1939 Hollywood melodrama, Beau Geste. In this film, the oldest of three brothers who live with their benevolent aunt, in what seems to be an act of incredible cruelty, steals the priceless diamond necklace which is the pride of the aunt's family, and disappears with it, knowing that his reputation is ruined, that he will be forever known as the ungrateful embezzler of his benefactress. So why did he do it?
At the end of the film, we learn that he did it in order to prevent the embarrassing disclosure that the necklace was a fake: unbeknown to everyone else, he learned some time ago that the aunt had to sell the necklace to a rich maharaja in order to save the family from bankruptcy, and replaced it with a worthless imitation. Just prior to his "theft," he learned that a distant uncle who co-owned the necklace wanted it sold for financial gain. If the necklace were to be sold, the fact that it is a fake would undoubtedly be discovered, so the only way to retain the aunt's and thus the family's honour is to stage its theft.
In other words, the crime of stealing is committed in order to conceal the fact that, ultimately, there is nothing to steal! Therein resides the concealed scandal of Islam: only a woman, the very embodiment of the indiscernability of truth and falsehood, can guarantee Truth. For this reason, she has to remain veiled.
We hope you do not get drowned in your own profundity.
This brings me back to the topic woman and the Orient.
Wait a minute - you were talking of Women and Islam!
getting ambitious by the minute?
The true choice is not the one between Near-Eastern masculine Islam and Far-Eastern feminine spirituality (now so attractive to the West), but between the Far-Eastern elevation of woman into the Mother-Goddess (the generative-and-destructive substance of the world) and the Muslim distrust of woman which, paradoxically, in a negative way demonstrates more directly the subversive-creative power of feminine subjectivity.
First get out of the Euro-centric reference frame - the ball will get started rolling.
There is no point in starting with the assumption that you know better about women - we say it because of the empirical evidence. Western society has destroyed its family as an institution and that is because they have imposed a role on women that they are not assigned.
You destroyed the family institution and then you are imagining that Islam lacks institutionalization.
Let me illustrate this by means of an unexpected reference to a simple work of art. The item numbered PO 24.1999 in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha is a tenth century earthenware circular dish from Iran or Central Asia. It is 43 cm in diameter, and decorated with black writing on white slip is a proverb attributed to Yahya ibn Ziyad reading: "Foolish is the person who misses his chance and afterwards reproaches fate."
Such dishes were meant to solicit an appropriate conversation among the learned men during and after the meal - an ancient and, alas, forgotten art whose last great practitioner was perhaps Immanuel Kant. Such practice is foreign to our fast-food times when we only know business meals ("power lunches"), but not "thinking meals."
Jumping from films to art. You can not hold on to a job.
And, sir, you were ranting about Islam - not the west.
What is message of this dish?
The dish is nearly half a meter in diameter. The best message a dish can give is : Yummy!
So far you have failed to make any point and this sophistry does not help either.
The fear is that you might get the Time Waster of the Day award.
Just reflect on the temporal dimension of using the dish: when, at the beginning of the meals, eaters first perceive the inscription on the edge of the full dish, they dismiss it as a mere platitude, a lesson about chance and the opportunistic ability to seize it, and wait for the "moral" lying concealed beneath the pile of food. Once the dish is empty, however, they see that the hidden message is the bare platitude. They then realize they had missed the truth in the proverb and so return to it; and upon reading it again, they realise that it is not about chance versus fate, but about something much more complex and interesting: how it is in their power to choose their fate.
Thanking you for going into time dimension from spatial dimensions. We were getting bored. But does not help that you fall back into your post modernist platitude. Have you been under pressure to churn out 3000 words or something?
Let us help you here again.
The conundrum is not about chance and fate. In Islam we do not have any chance.
The conundrum is about free will and fate.
And you have got something right about choosing fate.
You choose to go to heaven by accepting Islam.
And the otherway round.
This message has touches on the very core of the Muslim experience overlooked by Western Christians. In the Nazi concentration camps, the "living dead," the prisoners who had lost the will to live and just went through motions, were called "Muslims" (the irony of it being that most of them were Jews!). This naming expresses the Western cliche about Muslims as passively surrendered to divinely ordained fate (and then, of course, we are reminded that "Islam" means "surrender").
Do not tell us that you discovered the core of Islam 1433 years after its finalization. What were the crusades?
And that Muslim joke is macabre.
But a close reading of Yahya ibn Ziyad's proverb - which is ultimately not a proverb at all, but a crucial philosophical insight - quickly shatters this cliche: we place the blame on fate when we miss a chance - but which chance? The chance not simply to act freely and seize the opportunities presented to us, but the chance to choose what we perceive as our fate, to choose a different fate.
Lapsing into philosophy again. This time you got to say aye if you need any help.
In the suburb of Doha, there is a camp for immigrant workers - the lowest among them on the social scale come from Nepal. They are only free to visit the city centre on Fridays. However, on Fridays, entry into a shopping mall is prohibited to single men - officially, to maintain the family spirit in the malls; but this, of course, is only an excuse. The true reason is to prevent immigrant workers from mingling with wealthier shoppers (immigrant workers are alone in Qatar, they are not allowed or cannot afford to bring their families with them).
Good that you are rotating about Doha. There is Dubai and Sharjah. And Abu Dhabi.
Thank you - we were getting bored with New York and Paris and London.
By the way what has this got to to with the topic of the article? We did not know it was about rich people's follies.
Let us then step down from the archaeological and art-historical heights into ordinary life. Let us imagine a group of poor Nepali workers resting on the grass south of the central souk in Doha on a Friday, eating a modest meal of hummus and bread on our dish. Upon finishing the meal, they confront the words of Yahya ibn Ziyad and engage in a conversation - and one of them says: "But what if this applies also to us? What if it is not our fate to live here as outcasts? What if, instead of bemoaning our fate, we should seize the chance and change this fate?"
Please do get down from your high pedestal by all means you are replacing Muslim women by Nepalese male.
And from Islam you have jumped to Gulf.
And why should we not take a step further ...
Like bungy jumping? Go ahead. Hope there are no crocs in the water and the rope does not snap.
... and - back to the scene of Nepali workers eating from a plate - imagine a woman (also an immigrant worker, say, whose job is to clean rooms in a hotel) who serves them food on our plate? What if she has wisely chosen this dish to remind men of the truth that her own subordination is also not fate - or, rather, that it is a fate which can be changed?
The fate that west has changed for themselves was done at the cost of the same people whose fate you are trying to change.
You started with the Islam and women perfidy and now it is Muslim, Arabs to be more precise, versus poor perfidy.
We can see how, although Islam constantly receives bad press in the West for the way it treats women, there is a unique potential concealed beneath the patriarchal surface.
And then you connect the two disconnected things.
You do need simplifications at every step.
West got scared of Islam. It started crusades. Then too it to intellectual level. This is called orientalism - the invented reality about Islam. And you believe that invented reality and then you give the bad press.
Please wake up now.
You and your people are coming to the Gulf, Muslim region, for jobs. You do not have the past political and physical superiority because of military power.
This, then, is the message of the item numbered PO 24.1999 in the Museum of Islamic Art.
Silly attempt at connecting the things. Give up sir, you are not up to it. And if the Shaikhs in the Gulf get the wind of this article then no Biryani in Doha for you.
Insofar as we tend to oppose East and West as fate and freedom, ...
It is faith and materialism to be more precise.
Islam stands for a third position which undermines this binary opposition:
It was silly of you to assume that all positions are binary.
... neither subordination to blind fate nor freedom to do what one wants - both of which presuppose an abstract external opposition between the two terms - but a deeper freedom to choose our fate.
You sound vaguely in support of Islam. Thank you.
Slavoj Zizek is the International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London, and one of the world's most influential public intellectuals. His latest book is Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism.
Dear tax payers of UK .....
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