A better way

While agreeing in general with the message of Mr. Kazemzadeh's “Some do's and don'ts” of democracy, I have to disagree with him when he states that, 'The purpose of the story of Abraham is blind obedience is good and of divine nature; questioning and skepticism are bad. Follow the leader and do not question the wisdom of the leader.”

Though I agree that many have used this story to try and justify their own claims to blind obedience I feel that it is worth mentioning another story about Abraham in the Quran (2:260) in which he asks God to show him how he gives life to the dead. In the story Allah asks Abraham. 'Do you not then have faith?' to which Abraham responds, 'Yes, but I ask to satisfy my heart.'

Most of us know the rest of the story of how Allah tells Abraham to take four birds that are familiar to him and place pieces of each bird on four separate hills. Abraham is then told to summon the birds and each will return to him, demonstrating the power of Allah.

The implications of this story are often ignored by commentators who are promoting blind obedience. But if one of the most important prophets of Allah could have the freedom to express the questions in his heart and God had the patience and tolerance to answer his questions, then how are we to behave? What lessons of tolerance and freedom of expression can we raise from this story when our leaders ask us for their obedience?

I agree with Mr. Kazemzadeh that blind obedience is a bad thing, but let us not throw religion out the door because certain people have used people's ignorance and a selective view of the religious views promoted by the ruling and clerical establishment throughout the centuries to perpetuate their own form of dictatorship.

I agree that we should strive to find the true ethos that takes us towards a tolerant and pluralistic society, but I wouldn't assume that it can't be found in religion or Islam. For every Khomeini and Khamenei there is a Rumi and Shariati, who can show us a better way.

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