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Posts Tagged ‘fundamentalism’

Camel driver: “Can’t you just get up from this fundamentalist mess and go?”

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What is Art ? It is the mirror to life.
Primitive art thus has certain characteristics that mirror the culture of the artist. In May or June 1907, Picasso experienced a “revelation” while viewing African art at the ethnographic museum at Palais du Trocadéro. Picasso’s discovery of African art influenced the style of his painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (begun in May 1907 and reworked in July of that year.) In the early 20th century African artifacts were being brought back to Paris museums in consequence of the expansion of the French empire into Africa. The press was abuzz with exaggerated stories of cannibalism and exotic tales about the African kingdom of Dahomey. It was in this climate of African interest that Picasso would look towards African artifacts as inspiration for some of his work and it makes no difference that he was an outsider reinventing artistic impulses of his life and the times into art. It is recognizable and and the life of a nameless primitive artist is interpreted according to canons of art. Whereas in the hands of Joseph Conrad the African interest would focus altogether on the mistreatment of Africans in the Belgian Congo. Heart of Darkness is a literary work of exceptional quality that can transcend the narrow boundaries of time and place to be equally at home in another time and place. Francis Coppola set it in Vietnam with equal success and called it Apocalypse now.
Art as the mirror of life. This is what Art can achieve. It gives life thousand faces and the mirror is telling the truth each time. Only that the beholder need to remember the emphasis is laid in each case differently. Truth is absolute and only God can define what it is. So let us not assume to know what it is.
When Patriarch Jacob wrestled with angel or saw a ladder reaching heavewards we need to accept Truth is set in a certain form that does not vitiate the narrative or the underlying veracity. Does it touch some familiar chord in you? If you have in your life wrestled with good impulses with all the might and sought a blessing from the Highest the story of Jacob cannot remain alien to you. It does not mean if you succeeded or not. The Scriptures holds up the mirror to your life so as to elicit certain feelings in you. When you respond to it in a positive manner the Word has achieved its purpose.
According to Moslem tradition Prophet Mohammad was carried at night by a fabled beast Al-Buraq to the presence of Angel Gabriel. We need to remember that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction simply because we have no way of knowing Truth in its perfection. Art as I said earlier gives Truth a human tongue. It is thus we get the best out of the Word. For that matter how is that we have the Hand of Fatima in many versions ranging from Egyptian, Hebrew and Christian traditions? It is life given a certain symbol naming it as good omen or charm and so on. It is to be treated as such and not make undue fuss over it. Instead some silly fellows want to impose their own nonsense as truth. They pose as the Watch and Ward staff for God. Among Jews and Moslems alike there are those who want to make worshippers think in the way they think. What makes them think they know the truth? Wahhabism would try hard to make Islam ‘pure’ but would require plenty of money to stuff down the throats to make it digestable! In sacred and secular art also you find such misguided fellows. Shakespeare had been bowdlerized by some and yet Shakespeare lives on preeminent above such ignoble souls.
For me art must serve life. When we see Truth in its perfection words of human artifice shall fail since we ourselves shall be part of that Absolute quality.
benny

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Syyed Qutb (1906- 1966)
He is regarded as the father of modern fundamentalism and described by his (Arab) biographer as “the most famous personality of the Muslim world in the second half of the 20th century”. Born in Egypt and his stay in the USA clarified his Islam roots,- and for all his anarcho-Islamic position, he dared to think his own thoughts and died in prison for his unflinching stance and he died by hanging for plotting to overthrow the government.
Qutb, is being increasingly cited as the figure who has most influenced late bin-Laden, the al-Qaida leader. Yet outside the Muslim world, he remains virtually unknown. Associate professor of history at Creighton University, John Calvert, states that “the Al Qaeda threat” has “monopolized and distorted our understanding” of Qutb’s “real contribution to contemporary Islamism.” Every prophet might as well place a rider about his life and works with this caveat,’ save me from my disciples!’ Likewise man whose only credentials is his thoughts may put them in words lest he should be misinterpreted. Even so he requires such a caveat. Qutb in his work Fi Zalal al-Koran (In the Shadow of the Koran), a commentary on the Koran in 30 volumes which began to appear in 1952 has been vilified for espousing a pernicious doctrine for which the blame lies elsewhere. What is his work? In writing already certain paraphrasing has undergone from what he had in mind, but for which think how clear the Quran would be to render any commentary as superfluous? Syyed Qutb suffers for this reason and his doctrinal position is an exposition of the explanation of Islam scholars who have already claimed their position as uncontestable. Is this what the blessed prophet had in mind? Your guess is as good as mine.
benny

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The beginnings of human society in the Indian subcontinent for the lack of a writing system can only be restricted to archaeological evidences. What artifacts we have, predominantly deal with fertility symbols, which are not unique to this subcontinent: for example Mother or Earth Goddess is common to many other cultures. There were datable artifacts in Mesopotamia to cite one example prior to those of Indus Valley civilization. Given such similarities where man in primeval past conceived notions of a religious idea on the basis of manifestations of Nature, it is hardly surprising. Cults based on symbols, prayers and rituals, – religious ideas are often characteristic to a region. But these must also account for human migrations by which there are clear evidences of ideas that are pre-Aryan and Aryan sources. In such co-mingling the identity of Aryan or non Aryan elements are somewhat blurred.
The label Aryan means people whose original homeland may have been around Caspian Sea and have spoken Indo-European language. Is religion the sure basis for determining the identity?
If the supporters of Hindu identity settle for this Aryan source as the starting point are they not being arbitrary?
Indian subcontinent is awash with countless waves of human migration each an event in point of time as the continental drift is and when a piece of Eastern Africa became detached from the African continent and attached to the Asia. It happens gradually but in point of time. Tibetan plateau and Himalayas bear proof to it. India as part of the Asian subcontinent and not of Africa has also bearing on the make-up of our national identity. Indian subcontinent straddling between Europe and China is on the crossroads of migratory route, which later on would be known as the Silk route.
Human migrations have impacted original inhabitants as mighty torrents grind the riverbeds in course of time. This would change the shape of the existing terrain. Do they not also bring blessing to the land in their wake?
Civilizations as we see from history first sprung up around rivers. The steady stream of peoples has left their influences on the original inhabitants and such fusion of cultures has all added to give civilization in the Indian subcontinent its own special flavor. As a result we have drawn from mythological sources and traditions that existed in Iran, Greece and Rome. These are like yeast working into the whole lump of dough: it is a fool’s business to apportion contributions of any people apart from what is common in such a give and take. To sum Indian identity based on religious ideas or worship is an error.

This subcontinent has had the Moguls and later the British in power. Each has impressed its own stamp into the Indian consciousness that still reverberates for good or bad in our lives. The demolition of Babri Masjid (1992) is one and the outrage in Kandhammal village in Orissa(2007) against Christians is another example. Are these two strictly a reaction to the foreign rule or do these hide some agenda from some quarters to reimpose those hidebound caste politics of the middle ages? Given such rich diversity of impressions rendering Indian culture a movable palimpsest how shall one make a clear indisputable case for Hindu identity? Certain political parties playing religious card to achieve their own ends cannot be the expression of a national will.
Such a question of identity would not have risen as it is today but for two great momentous events. India came under the alien rule one after the other. But neither the Mogul invaders nor the British came with the sole aim of importing its religion. Wealth, – and power derived from it, is the stuff on which are empires are founded. Islam as well as Christianity owe their roots for other reasons. Of course the power wielded by Moguls and the British provided a climate for growth of the religion practiced by the ruling elite. It was not religion per se but in the manner the British administration worked with the existing caste system and the religion that has given ammunition to some mischief-makers to view national identity in terms of religion. As with any alien rule the British overlords used a divide and rule, the simplest trick, – and as old as shell game to achieve their ends, least concerned with its long-range consequences and it worked.
The Indians saw the secularism of the West as insidious move and their reaction to hold on to orthodoxy and their accustomed ways was natural. Dominant religions have always had their impact on others: Buddhism and later Sikhism were reaction to Hinduism. If Buddhism found the Brahminical hold over Hinduism as intolerable the Sikhs could not stomach the idolatry of Hinduism. Such reactions are natural as Reformation in Europe came as a rejection of corrupt practices in the Catholic Church. Nationalism that took roots was a reaction to the Colonial rule. Within this burgeoning Nationalist movement there were elements, which equated the British with their religion, and also within Hinduism and Islam were attempts at synthesis with Christianity. It is but a natural reaction in the face of a threat from outside but these do not create a national identity. What does then define Indian identity?
2.
‘The peoples of this (Indus Valley) civilization whatever their caste or creed called themselves ‘Bharatvasis.’The word Hindu was used for them only by foreigners…It was the Greeks who used the word Indu for the river Sindhu and its people.’
The Indian identity that distinguishes peoples in the subcontinent must be seen as their shared experience irrespective of religions or faiths; the natural interaction where there is a common ground be it festivals, commerce or exchange of ideas to which none is excluded. Above all tolerance, which is cultivated when each individual has a common interest as the goal that keeps such harmony for the common good. Thus different cultures sharing a common history and goal must be seen as the touchstone for Indian identity say as different from that of Bangladesh or Pakistan. Their goal and our goals are not the same although we have a shared experience.
(Sources of Indian Tradition.volume-1/RN Dandekar-Penguin
Quote from SP Hindu-Our Hindu identity/The Hindu 1997).

benny

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MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATURK (1881  –  1938)
Statesman, founder of modern Turkey.

The sick man of Europe was Turkey with the Ottoman-rule having come to a perpetuation of excesses and rights of a few. In its decline it fought off all attempts from within and the outside threats to set itself right; Kemal Ataturk founded the Turkey’s national party at the end of WWI. And in 1920 a provisional government elected him president of Turkey and gave him a chance to restructure the country and bring it up-to-date. For his reforms he had the cooperation of a large majority of his people.
The founder of modern Turkey won fame as the defender of Galipoli. After the first World War he served as a leader for Turks, who wished to resist Allied plans to divide and subject their country and Greek’s attempt to occupy a part of it. He remade the Turkish army and defeated the Greeks and deposed the Sultan. He made a treaty with the Allies (Lausanne 1923) which recognized the independence of his people. Out of the Ottoman empire, the nation state of Turkey was born. He ruled the state as president for the rest of his life and remoulded it. He westernised the country, replaced the islamic law by western law, emancipated women, abandoned Arabic for the Latin alphabet. He abolished the caliphate. A remarkable man he was.

compiler:benny

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