Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Science vs. Religion, a Musing

It's an age-old cliche: science vs religion. Faith vs reason. As though the two are opposites; as though neither can live while the other survives (to quote Harry Potter tongue-in-cheek). As though they are locked at each other's throats in an eternal battle to the death. One will vanquish the other eventually, and for now the victor seems to be science. I mean, it's obvious, right? Religion is fast becoming irrelevant in the developing world for several different reasons.

First of all, no more fear of the unknown. People know why things happen now, without having to use God as an excuse. God is now considered to be a 'safety net'; a vain attempt to ward off the threat of looming death into something more friendly. Self-delusion, wasted hope, whatever you want to call it: in their opinion, that's religion. They want to see themselves as people who can depend on themselves, not on some foreign unseen deity in the sky.

Then there is the problem that people have with the whole 'organized religion' thing. Churchmen, sheikhs, rabbis; they are all seen as clinging to traditions of the past (whether the traditions are good or bad). Our century is all about shaking up institutions and religion is being treated no differently.

Finally, most people aren't choosing their religion anyway. They take the convenient way out - following their parents' beliefs, mostly without any real conviction. Religious holidays have become empty rituals to be followed half-heartedly, for example; church every Sunday, or the mosque every Friday - even Islam's five daily prayers - has become a drag. Because who's going to go for something they haven't been motivated for, haven't chosen, in the first place?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hero of the Day: Marie Nemani

This is an article I came across on Reza Aslan's website (who deserves a Hero of the Day of his own, actually) by 13-year-old Muslim Australian Marie Nemani. She puts together a coherent, compelling and passionate argument proving the point that a Muslim can be an excellent member of any international community regardless of his nationality or race.

It's an argument that needs to be aired more and more in these days of accusations and finger-pointing towards Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries. Yes, a Muslim can be a good Australian, a good American, a good German or Indonesian or Pakistani or whatever. Because Islam is not "just" for anyone. It is not a racial or nationalistic creed.

It is a truly international religion.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why I'm Not Threatened By Science

So why am I, a religious person, not threatened by the looming scepter of science-come-to-steal-God? Or rather, why am I STILL a religious person?

I think it's because I'm Muslim. Let me explain.

In Islam you are ORDERED to seek knowledge, from the cradle to the grave. The bases of many sciences and arts - algebra; optics; the guitar -are of Muslim origin. Go here to find out more about Muslims' inventions: http://www.1001inventions.com

So knowledge is no threat to me. How so? Let's take the example of evolution first, and how it has unbalanced Christianity. (Meaning no offense to any particular religion, incidentally; this is just detailing the wider topic of just why religion has been rejected today.)

Now, the Church rejects the theory of evolution for many different reasons, mostly because it doesn't mesh with the way the Bible describes creation happened. First light, then the plants, then the animals (I'm not listing literally, I don't know the sequence by heart).

Evolution - modern scientific discovery - comes along and tips the Biblical account onto its head.

What does the Church do?

a) Embrace: this runs counter to its own teachings
b) Bluster: this means nothing except to those doing the blustering
c) Ignore.

Needless to say, c) is the preferred route.

But what would Islam do? Or what do I, as a Muslim, do?

First of all, never mind whether or not the theory of evolution is true. Arguing about it will send you down the proverbial rabbit hole (I've tried it) so unless you're a molecular biologist or the like and that stuff directly interests you, I prefer to take another stance.

I think that we have no right to outline and put down in concrete exactly how God created the world. He could have created it any way He wanted to, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge. I don't have a problem believing in the theory of evolution because I think that in the end, evolution itself proves the existence of God by violating one of the laws of physics:

The Beginning.

Something cannot come out of nothing.

Therefore, the nothing must have come out of something. The action of the Big Bang must have been caused by... something.

What is this something, how is this something, who is this something?

I believe it is God.

In the end, if God does exist, and He created this universe, and He created us, then learning about this universe and the nature of our own souls can hold no threat for us or our faith or our eternal souls, as long as we keep the essential thing in mind:

That everything has always come into being with a purpose.

A good piece dealing with the same topic:

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Year in Islamophobia...

Here is a timeline, a quick look at Islamophobia in America this year. (Yes, I'm being lazy about updating my blog without actually writing anything :)


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hero Of The Day: Lesley Hazleton

So I'm going to be starting a series. Links to Youtube videos, basically, ('cos I don't know how to put the actual whole video, like, INTO the post yet, if you know what I mean) of people who deserve one way or another to be honored. Looked at. Shouted-out. However you want to put it.

Feel free to submit whatever Hero you feel should be given the heart-felt and longed-for honor of being put on my website. Animals, vegetables and minerals may qualify. Justin Bieber, Robert Pattinson and/or Kristen Stewart need not apply. (Unless they've done something enormous to deserve such an honor and the reforming of my view towards them. Which, ahem, would need to be BIG.)

Now, presenting our First Hero of the Dayyy.... (I don't get to announce stuff like this very often, let me have my fun!)

LESLEYYYYY HAZLETON!!! (which you already know if you've been half-awake, as that is pointed to very clearly in my subject line itself. Ha.)

She is an author, an agnostic Jew who gave a 10-minute talk about the Qur'an a while ago that was heartfelt, enlightening, and very true. She refers to herself as "an accidental theologist" (not very informative, but I liked the way that sounds :)

Here is the video that has qualified her for this honor.

Her blog:

So, cheers to Ms. Hazleton! Stay tuned :)