Re: My questions to RBRK about Islam
- From: "ghandchi" <ionanews@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 13 Mar 2007 00:16:19 -0700
Thank you RBRK. My replies are interspersed.
On Mar 12, 12:34 pm, RBRK <Sar...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
SOME NOTES WERE ADDED TO YOUR COMMENTS AND THEY ARE IN CAPS
"ghandchi" <ionan...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote innews:1173677347.203831.121500@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx:
On Mar 11, 4:49 pm, RBRK <Sar...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
"ghandchi" <ionan...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in
Thank you for accepting to answer my questions about Islam.
Although in my note I wrote that I prefer to do this in Persian,
but it seems like we still need some time before SCI
can work well technically in Persian, so I wait to discuss
changing the language of the dialogue at a later time.
You asked if I was a Muslim. Actually I am *not* religious
although I come from a Shiite Muslim family. If I was
going to choose a religion not by birth but by free
choice, it would be Buddhism. However frankly I am not in
market for any religion including *Buddhism*.
I consider *atheism* another religion and the
following short passage from the book "True Believers"
by Eric Hoffer best expresses my feeling of not being
religious in any sense of the term including atheism.
Eric Hoffer writes:
"... Dostoyevsky puts the following words in Bishop Tihon's
mouth: Outright atheism is more to be respected than worldly
indifference ... the complete atheist stands on the penultimate
step to most perfect faith ... but the indifferent person has no
faith whatever except a bad fear."
" All the true believers [fanatics] of our time-whether
Communist, Nazi, Fascist, Japanese or Catholic-declaimed
volubly (and the Communists still do) [i.e.. 1951] on the
decadence of the Western democracies. The burden of their
talk is that in the democracies people are too soft, too pleasure-
loving and too selfish to die for a nation, a God or a holy cause.
This lack of a readiness to die, we are told, is indicative of an
inner rot- a moral and biological decay. The democracies are
old, corrupt and decadent. They are no match for the virile
congregations of the faithful who are about to inherit the Earth."
THE TRUE BELIEVER by Eric Hoffer, 1951, P.147
Having said all this, I have no problem with people
who ca,, themselves *religious*. It depends on their
religion. For example, I highy respect Krishnamurti
as a person and also I admire his writings. He *always*
considered himself a *religious* person although never
followed any specfic religion including Buddhism.
My following article best describes my view of the
Enough about me.
Now why I wanted to ask you about Islam is that
not only I find you to be very knowledgeable about
Islam and Islamism but I also find you to look at
the issue completely in a different angle from those
I see in Iranian political circles especially the
older generation. I can say regardless of what
political lines the various people have, I think
they all approach Islam completely the same way
the political people viewed it before the revolution.
I see you as one of a few people who have
a different angle about Islam while being also
political. So I think you are the best to answer
my questions which touch both Islam and politics.
How I view the Islam of Islamists is the following which
is an article of mine that I never got a chance
to translate to Persian:
But I think you have a lot more to offer in this
area which I need to learn.
My questions may sound very trivial simple matters
but they are the most mindbuggling for me in practical
politics of Iran.
As you know I have written a lot about pluralism:
But there is a fundamental issue with pluralism in our
society for which I have no solution. Here it is:
My first question:
Iranians are used to monotheism. A lot of Zoroastrians
even pride themselves as being the first monotheistic
religion in the world. This means monism is even more
rooted in our national psyche than Islam. What can
we do to rid ourselves from it?
Thank you again for taking the time to answer me.
Why do you want to get rid of basic belief system of people in
Note that, I am talking God, not religions
Is that because of arab Izlam? I am sure it is.
It is very important to understand that arab Izlam is a political
ideology intermingled with religion.
I personally think that there cannot be more than one God/creator
whose essence is within each one of us. I have my own simple reasons.
2 of them are as follows.
Assuming you believe that Omnipotence is an essential attribute of
God: It is the law of nature/physics that the wills of distinct
powerful persons/entities can & will conflict.
So, only one can exert more power unto the other. Thus there shall
only be one Omnipotent entity for a system to be created & function
perfectly. Thus, it is impossible for there to be two gods otherwise
their wills can & will conflict.
Assuming you believe that God is perfect:
If there were 2 Gods, How can they be both perfect?
If you say each is perfect in their own expertise (like God of water
vs. God of fire), then neither one is 100% perfect.
So none must be considered as God, the perfect dude. ;-)
In essence our Persian forefathers prior to arab Izlamic cult had
very good reasons to be monotheists. But they were also more liberal
(or Pluralist) in respecting other religions, cultures or beliefs.
The kings & rulers at the time had to be Pluralists otherwise they
could not control the whole Persian empire. That was until the
Moebeds started interfering with government. ;-)
So, based on your character, & environment, being a monotheist does
not necessarily mean you are not a pluralist. "Live & Let live" comes
So our problem is really not that we believe only in one creator.
Our problem is purely arab Izlam & its idiotic laws that do not
permit individualism, independency in decision making & Personal
progress through Democracy.
Simply put, it is a political arab cult that uses 2nd. & 3rd. hand
religious laws as a tool and it is bent on destruction of
For Money, Power & Sex.- Hide quoted text -
- Show quoted text -
Hello RBRK. Thanks for your note.
So basically you are saying any theism is bound to be
monotheism. Maybe this is why Buddha avoided the
discussion of Brahman altogether, although that was
the main topic of discourse among the Hindu gurus
of his time.
THAT IS WHAT I BELIEVE. A LINE ALWAYS START FROM A POINT.
THE CREATOR IS THAT POINT. ;-)
As far as the meaning of God as *unmoved mover* of Aristotle's
efficient cause, it means exactly what you are saying. And
I agree with Spinoza that *final* causes of Aristotlian philosophy
and most of the Christian and Islamic theology also reduces
to *efficient* cause if one uses *reason*. And again one will
end up with the same result that you note:
I agree with you that this is the bottom line of any notion
of personal God whether in Christian theology or Islamic.
And I do not just mean Ashari view of God, but also
Mu'tazilites' view and that of Al-Ghazzali or even
Sufis like Rumi (Molavi):
Now in my first article that I referred to, my own theory
is that this whole notion of *creator* in Abrahamic religions
is a result of humans living as intelligent tools and
looking at things as a tool maker thinking of everything
this way like *someone* as maker and something
as the *created*. I think this is an anthropocentric
view of the world which is best reflected in the
Abrahamic religions and I think until the primary
role of human beings in the world is as
intelligent tools and not as creative beings,
this kind of worldviews will be abundant among
human beings. I wish I could take the time
to work on this and present my view in details
but this is the bottom line of my world view and
how I view Abrahamic religions vs traditions
like Buddhism. Unfortunately have not had
time more than the article I have written in English
about this which I have not even had time to
translate to Persian:
It is a complex approach to the topic in the
anthropology of religion. This is in line with
what I published 20 some years ago about
anthropological view of intelligent tools
in AI Journal. I just hope in my life time
to find time to work on this :
I really appreciate your comments especially
when you noted that theism at the end means
monotheism. Very accurate observation.
I wonder if Marxism was also theistic, although
it called its God as *matter*. Because it
also was at the end monism. Although
schools like Structuralism are abatements
of its monism:
In contrast, in Abrahamian Tradition,
these discussions are what encompass the
philosophical debates of the whole Middle Ages in Europe.
Even in Modern Western Philosophy of Descartes these
discussions of Omnnipotence and perfection, which
you are noting, are noted in Discourse on Meditation:
And the discussions of Asharia and MotazellA in
our own Islamic tradtions are a different tilt on the
I have written my views about those historical
discussions some time ago as well:
In Modern thinking I have my own views about
discussions of God which I have expressed
in the following articles:
As far as Abrahamic views are concerned, their
counter arguments are best expressed, in my view,
by Bertrand Russell who was once asked that
if he dies and then sees God and finds out that
all the things about Heaven and Hell were true,
what he would do and he replied that he would
tell God why he did not provide enough evidence
for him in his life to be able to verify it:-)
ACTUALLY, I BELIEVE THERE IS NO HEAVEN AND HELL IN AFTER LIFE.
WHEN WE DIE, EVERYTHING ENDS FOR US INDIVIDUALLY BUT OUR WORKS AND DEEDS
WILL BE TRANSFERRED TO THE NEWER GENERATIONS.
IF I AM WRONG, THEN I KNOW WHAT TO TELL GOD. ;-)
:-) Actually we are at the threshold of Intelligent Cosmos
according to Ray Kurzweil and according to him the main
reason for most of the religious consolations of death
regardless of their forms, will lose its reason d'etre
*perhaps* in our life time, because death will be meaningless
within 20 years:
So I basically do not confine myself to the
Abrahamic framework to even view any of
these topics as I have fully explained by
a critique of philosophy of Middle Ages
in my following article about meaning of life:
YOU DO NOT NEED TO CONFINE YOURSELF TO ANY RELIGION OR SECT TO HAVE A
HAPPY, PRODUCTIVE LIFE. YOU HAVE A BRAIN AND IF YOUR BRAIN IS SHARP
ENOUGH TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG AND CARE FOR OTHERS AS YOU
WANT THEM TO CARE FOR YOU (AS LONG AS THEY DON'T INTERFER WITH YOUR LIFE
OR YOUR STANDING IN THE SOCIETY & visa versa), THEN THERE IS NO NEED TO
BELONG TO ANY RELIGION.
Now let me get back to my original question.
You are right that not all monists are enemies
of pluralism and your example of pluralism of
ancient Persian kings and their pluralist
attitude like the attitude of Cyrus the Great
when he entered Babylonia is very ture. And
the example of Iranian mystics and pantheism
is another example when they were very pluralist
in their attitude towards other religions and
not just Abrahamic ones and they respected
Zoroastrianism and Buddhism and I understand
and respect that despit my critique of Sufism:
But all these are, in my opinion, when the monism
is being abated whereas if one was living in
a pluralist framework, these would not be needed.
Let me give an example. Khatami allowed women
to push their scarf back and it was his version
of Islam which was a bit more lenient than
strict Islamists of the rank and files. I think the
same is true of the Islamic Sufis or Pluralist kings.
Not to belittle their value but they are not
fundamentally pluralist in their worldview.
TRUE. THEY WERE NOT, BUT THEY HAD TO ACT LIKE THAT TO KEEP THE MASSES
BOUND BY EACH OTHER. IT TAKES GENERATIONS TO BE PURELY PLURALIST WHEN
EVERYBODY, AND I MEAN EVERYONE, ARE IN SYNC WITH EACH OTHER.
AND THE POSSIBILITY OF IT IS VERY DIM SINCE HUMANS ARE DIFFERENT.
Very true. If you get a chance please read my following article
that I wrote in 1989:
My issue in this discussion is not the worst version of
Islamic monism of today's hardline Islamists.
My issue is the roots of monistic thinking
in our thinking. Let me close this with the following
from William James about pluralism:
"Pragmatically interpreted, pluralism or the doctrine that it is many
means only that sundry parts of reality *may be externally related*.
Everything you can think of, however vast or inclusive, has on the
pluralistic view a genuinely 'external' environment of some sort or
amount. Things are 'with' one another in many ways, but nothing
includes everything, or dominates over everything. The word 'and'
trails along after every sentence. Something always escapes. "Even
not quite" has to be said of the best attempts made anywhere in the
universe at attaining all-inclusiveness. The pluralistic world is
thus more like a federal republic than like an empire or a kingdom.
BUT A CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY WITH A SECULAR INDEPENDENT PARLIMENT CAN DO
THE JOB ALSO. SPECIALLY IN IRAN.
FEDERAL REPUBLIC CANNOT WORK IN OUR SOCIETY AT THIS PERIOD BECAUSE MANY
IRANIANS HAVE NOT REACHED TO THAT POINT OF EXCELLENCE & SELF RESPECT IN
THE SOCIETY. MANY HAVE LOST THEIR IRANIAN "HOVIAT".
WE HAVE MANY TRAITORS, ANTI-IRANIANS, DOSHMAN PARASTS, AND NON-LAW
ABIDING CITIZENS THAT CAN BECOME GREAT AGENTS AGAINST THEIR OWN COUNTRY
FOR FOREIGN POWERS.
JUST LOOK AT RAFSANJANI, KHATAMI & EBRAHIM YAZDI.
NATIONALISM IS THE ONLY SOLUTION TO OUR PROBLEM
I have read many of your writings and I think what you
mean by *nationalism* is patriotism. But what *nationalism*
in the strict sense of the term means, is obsolete
and actually this is the main reason that I do not see
much future for Jebhe Melli because they do not
see that in our times of globalization, one should approach
the life of a nation like Iran like Japan and Singapore:
Again I know you do not mean the economic model
of nation states when you use the term. But the
knowledge of our political personalities in this'
area is very little and the terminology is so
misused. I generally ignore it but I just thought
to note here because I know you care to review it
if it is of any value.
As far as monarchy, you and I differ in our views
and I respect *you* to have a monarchist view
just like I respect a *muslim* for having an
Islamic view, although I disagree with their view.
And I thank you for respecting my view. But just
to make a note, I do not disagree with you
about many problems of full democracy in Iran.
I even would be the first one to say that
anarchy will be inevitable for some time.
But I think of it as a price to pay. Again
I am not trying to change your view in this
regard and I see it as to agree to disagree
and what is more important to me is to
respect *you* for having an opposite
view on this key issue of Iranian politics.
This is what I have thought and worked on it and amHowever much may be collected, however, much may report itself as
present at any effective center of consciousness or action, something
else is self-governed and absent and unreduced to unity.
"Monism, on the other hand, insists that when you come down to reality
as such, to the reality of realities, everything is present to
*everything* else in one vast instantaneous co-implicated complete-
ness-nothing can in any sense, functional or substantial, be really
absent from anything else, all things interpenetrate and telescope
together in the great total conflux." (William James, PLURALISTIC
UNIVERSE, Harvard Edition, Page 45, 1977 print).
Now I do not know how in Iranian society we can get this
fundamental shift happening in our basic worldview.
EDUCATION FOR ALL. NOT FOR A FEW
not going to be the one saying that this is not
important. But what else can we do about this?
One thing that I have recently thought is that helping
movements of interest groups (such as women's
movement or youth movement may help the growth
of pluralism). I have not thought much about it
and it is raw but I am trying to look for other ways
in addition to education to ingrain pluralist thinking
For example, true that protestatism in the West was
one of the main reasons for the West but in Iran
I doubt it if any Protestant movement like that
of Aghjari can help such a development. I mean
Baha'i movement was even stronger than any
protestant movement to drop the clergy but
in reality, its institutution is like any clergy
system of any other religion and as we
know Protestants even in U.S. have their
own clergy. although they rose to drop
clergy and replace it with the layman. Of course
one can say that regardless of existence
of clergy, the movements of protestantism
in the West and Baha'i Faith in Iran may
have helped pluralism. I am not sure if this
is true and it may not have anything to do
with the clergy. I just mentioned these
because these are again some raw thoughts
in my mind that I have not had time to work
thru yet but in a discussion may not hurt to share.
So I hope no one will treat them as my
positions. I am just thinking out loud.
I want to ask you a second question about Islam. I will put it under
a separate thread.
Thank you again for your time and attention,
- Sam Ghandchi
BTW, I AM JUST A SIMPLE SOLDIER.
I DO NOT WANT TO BE REGARDED AS A ROSHANFEKR OF OUR TIME.
WE ALL KNOW WHAT THEY DID TO IRAN
TRY NOT TO USE BIG FAT WORDS, PLEASE
I am sorry I do not try to use fat or skinny words.
I am just writing as it comes to me in this
discussion. So pardon me of some are meaningless.
As far as roshanfekr. It means someone who
believes in *intellect*. In other words one who
believes in reasoning and not forcing people.
This is why I think one can even have
Islamic or Christian intellectuals in contrast
to non-intellectuals who see it all by
faith and see no need to reason about
their thoughts. At any rate, I am proud to
be an intellectual (roshanfekr) but I respect
your view of how you like to see yourself.
I do not think it was because we were
intellectuals. Actually our intellectuals
were not that important in our political
movement before the revolution and still
they are not that important either. Outside
Iran, actually in the West, intellectuals are
next to nothing, as far as their importance
in politics is concerned. Politics is very
professionalized. Iranian intellectuals are
mostly futurist today but this is not
true of Iranian political activists. Before
the revolution, our political activists
were mostly *leftist* and still are. Intellectuals
are *not* the same as *political* activists.
Our problem is the viewpoints of our *political* activists.
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