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Big clean up
Muslims and Iranians need healing the scars from having lived in lies for hundreds and thousands of years


April 19, 2006

I have a few times written about the Iranian common prejudice regarding nationality, historical background and so forth. This may well be a real issue that shall be dealt with among the Iranians. However there is a much deeper common prejudice that may be very much unnoticed among the Iranian diaspora though it is definitely a more powerful one within the Iranian culture. And this prejudice has its roots in our religion.

Iranians who live abroad pride themselves to be more secular and open-minded in this regard. And it is quite true, anecdotally if not scientifically proved, that Iranians are not as religious as most other Muslims, though Iran is a country where Sharia is supposed to be the law. Maybe on paper but Sharia is so harsh the Iranian regime doesn't really dare apply it for real. Iranians seem to be less religious than the Turks, all the Arab nations, Pakistanis, and even Muslims in East Asia.

There may be many reasons we can think about. Most Iranians, especially those living abroad, would link this rather openness in Iranian society toward national beliefs, to the fact that Iranians are Iranians, a distinguished, proud, different sort of people! Don't necessarily argue with that now, but there are definitely some reasons behind this differentiation that need some research. The Shia factor may be a cause, but Iraq is mostly Shia and it is quite different than Iran. Probably there are more factors involved.

However, the purpose of this article is not to find out why Iranians are a bit different from most other Muslims, but rather to find out what Islam has made Iranians and other Muslim nations to be like. Islam in itself has many good things, like emphasis on cleanness and discipline in many social matters. It also has some pretty shaky or dodgy aspects that make it a bit worth re-considering, re-thinking, and withholding from lives and minds.

These aspects, shared in Iranian Islam or most other types of Islam, are issues that cannot ever relate to a society we can call an 'enlightened' one. An enlightened man, or an enlightened society, only believes the truth. And the truth is either a proved fact or a relatively acceptable fact, according to understandable human perceptions. A proved fact is that if this article is written by the author then the author must have written some time in the past. And a relatively acceptable fact may be that, as long as there has not been any scientifically acceptable argument that could stand against it, the theory of evolution is a valid one.

Almost all religions are based on myths and all sorts of incredible ideas. Including Islam. It is true that according to Islam a woman in no case can have the same, or anywhere similar rights, as a man. Neither in inheritance, in leadership, in justice, in parenthood, nor in any other social positions. There is no understandable reason for this policy. But probably the biggest issue with Islam that completely clashes with the values of the enlightenment is the promise of heaven, which is not a simple promise but a detailed one with lots of virgins, palaces, even some prohibited enjoyments on earth such as wine.

Applying all these unproven ideas to a society can have no end but in a deep terrible social scar, one that can also take relatively long time to heal. Unproven ideas are and were normal in many societies, but not in a society that believes in the values of the enlightenment, in human freedom and expression, equality in rights, and respect toward individual choices. In societies that are founded on unique and separate religious or national prejudices, values are entirely different. But they are always based on unproven ideas such as the afterlife, or probably the protective and authoritative representation of a living person or idol, not the truth.

And this is the issue that not only causes so much trouble in the rest of the Muslim world, but also in Iran. Muslims and Iranians need healing the scars from having lived in lies for hundreds and thousands of years, as were used to do the Europeans not long ago. Many Islamic countries later at times chose the path of Nationalism, as had Hitler, and many other types of replacements for religious prejudice that had ruled the Muslim world for more than 13 centuries.

But as Europe and most of the rest of the world moved on, Islamic scars defied time and proved themselves to be much harder to get through. And it is understandable. Islam has indeed got a lot of cleaning up to do. And Muslims are rightly struggling to accept to have got it wrong. Don't forget that Christians fought and lost for most of the 17th and 18th century (let alone before it) over religion and even after having done so didn't feel ready to let go having huge social prejudices until having massacred tens of millions of their kind over nationalism, racism and socialism. Muslims haven't been through all this yet.

Let's hope that getting through and beyond this huge step, hopefully soon, toward an enlightened Islamic world will be a rather soft landing, with less agony that the Christian world inflicted upon itself long before.


For letters section
To: Ben Madadi

Ben Madadi




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