What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wrapping up the Quran

Note: The following post is mildly humorous, slightly serious. The intent is some some honest opinions peppered with a little touch of fun. There is no intend to malign or disrespect any religion or beliefs. If you don't have a sense of humor or open mind - then don't read further. 

A month ago I embarked on a journey to read the Quran. Finally my long tedious journey has concluded this week. I never thought I would face something that was more difficult to read than Twilight. It took me a whole month to endure Twilight as well. To give the Quran credit, the prose and translation is difficult and it is not a quick and easy read. So completing it in a month is pretty sweet. On the other hand Twilight is supposed to be simple rudimentary English and light reading, but it took that long. Yes, I just did compare the Quran and Twilight - and I'm honestly unsure who should be offended God, Stephanie Meyer, Vampires or terrorists.

On a tad bit more serious note, I think the world would be a lot better place if only religious texts were presented in plain comprehensible English. You know, layman's English that is used everyday and easy to understand. I've read the Bhagwat Gita, The Bible, The Analects of Confucius, Tao Te Ching - and they all suffer a common problem - the mission impossible reading comprehension.

Have you ever studied for an exam where the text book was dense, difficult and written in alien English? Have you ever scratched your head in frustration what exactly you were supposed to learn from the chapter? Have you ever felt insecure for understanding zilch and assuming that everyone around you got it? Have you made up bullshit to show off that you understood your textbook and/or the professor? Have you experienced those murderous rages where you destroy objects around you and decide to just wing it for the test? And this bullshitting and murderous rage is precisely the problem we face in our world. It is not religion. It is not God. It is not fanaticism. The religious texts are plain incomprehensible that people are resorting to bullshitting to prove that they actually know and understand. It often boils down to the matter of one person's bullshit over another. Religious violence, terrorism and all that is a result of the murderous rage that ensues when you realize that you just don't get it and conclude to lash out and wing it.

So I have two theories to reduce the amount of religious violence and terrorism in the world
1) Have religious criminals and terrorists shovel snow as punishment instead of prison
2) Convert all religious texts to colloquial comprehensible language

After all the message often boils down to this
- Have faith (in God)
- Be Good
- Do no Evil

(Although the tricky confusion always is in defining what is Good and Evil, finding the black and white in shades of gray and most important figuring out what it means to have faith and understanding what is the nature of God)

Now to rate the religious texts I have read so far. Hands down the best read is The Bible. The Bible trumps over my own religious text the Bhagvad Gita (although Hinduism has a plethora of 'Texts'). The Mahabharata is entertaining, but the Bhagvad Gita is quite dull actually. I like the Bible because it reads like a story. The Old Testament is especially a collection of interesting stories. It would be a pretty neat book in plain English. The New Testament is quite repetitive with the same story being told over again, but has plenty of parables.

The value of the Tao Te Ching is in its poetic flow and philosophical nature. It really has a spiritual surreal nature that appeals to heathens like me who are not religious but spiritual. The Analects of Confucius and Bhagvad Gita also have philosophical value. They are also interesting because they are not preachy. There is no firm order "do this, do that, for God says so". The narrative is conversational. Confucius interacts with students and statesmen, rationally dissecting problems and giving advice for the greater good of the state. On the other hand in the Bhagvad Gita Krishna tries to answer Arjun's questions about life, the world, existence, humanity in general and offer some sort of guidance in the world. So Confucius offers pragmatic solutions to real problems, the Bhagvad Gita gives us a sort of spiritual road map that helps us find our way. Both are tools rather than doctrines and are much easier to digest for a skeptic like me. After all I'm not the kind of person to do something because of faith or God's will but more because I see good reason.

That is why the Quran ranks as the weakest of the religious texts to me so far. It is extremely preachy and difficult to digest for us skeptics. While Sufism has the spirituality of the Tao Te Ching, the Quran in general does not have a mystical spirituality. It is more rigid and doctrinal and focuses on defining Allah (God) and Allah's will. It does not deduce solutions, have engaging conversations or offer solutions, but rather tries to spell out what exactly must be done. It somewhat leaves you feeling that you are being stripped of your free will, that is almost like a violation of our sanctity for us free thinkers and skeptics. The Bible makes it easy to digest this violation by presenting it in stories, parables - a flowing novel of sorts that tells us God's will through the history of man, of Israel and finally Jesus Christ. The Quran even presents these stories in a preachy format.

I was told I would understand and respect Islam more upon reading the Quran. Unfortunately, reading the Quran has made me a bit worry of my own previous faith that Islam is indeed a religion of peace, and there is unfair prejudice against Islam. The Quran does have several references to fighting and encourages to fight. However, in the ambiguous text, complex verses and difficult translation this 'fighting' is ill defined. Now as a spiritual pacifist, I interpret fighting as being strong of faith, standing up for one's morals, integrity and beliefs, refusing to bow down to oppressors, cheaters and tyrants etc. However, I can see a less educated or a less pacifist person could interpret it in a more violent way. In the Gita too Krishna advices Arjun "Don't show love or empathy to your enemies, but take up arms and fight.". But Krishna does not promise lavish rewards, salvation or anything magical to Arjun or those who fight their enemies. The Gita ultimately leaves us responsible for trying to understand morals, try to figure out what is righteous, do what is right in good faith and that we will always bear the consequences of our mistakes and wrong actions. The Quran does not offer these clauses and makes it appear that fighters will always be blessed as long as they do it in the name of Allah. That is why there is a risk of people interpreting these verses negatively.

On the whole I am glad I read it. Another religious book down my belt and now I can easily reference to it in arguments and discuss interpretations. Most importantly, I learned how important it is for the religious texts to have good translators, a thesaurus and a style guide to modern English. Someone ought to take up the task of translating messed up difficult prose to plain English. Also take out the repetitions. I got that God created the world in the first chapter itself. I don't need to be reminded again and again.

And oh - the egg came before the chicken according to the Quran. God created Adam from a drop of sperm. If all of creation came about this way then the sperm came first. Now the egg is the opposite of sperm, but I'm yet to hear of chicken sperm. Also, I think it is a misogynist mistake. Scientifically cell division cannot be induced in a sperm, but can be in an egg. So most likely Adam was created from an egg. My feminist theory is that it was one egg that split to develop two distinct fetuses. So that makes Adam and Eve identical twins. Humanity is the result of original sin and original inbreeding. No wonder we are so messed up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey RTH...

Glad you read this shit as you had promised...i understand your problem...Quran doesn't make any sense on itself, though it claims to be the most complete book...Its neither a book of philosophy nor a book of fables and moral science...Its the living proof of a psychopath's mentality...If you were appalled by the violence in it, I guess the real shock awaits you if and when you read Moo's biography from Sira and Hadiths..It will only then that the disorganized and inconsistent Quran make sense. Stay assured none of those exhortations to violence are pilosophical or symbolic...Mahabharat is a myth, a work of fiction, and hence the passages of war and fighting in Gita can be taken symbolically as Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekananda etc did but Moo was very much a real human and so were his crimes and wars. He was no philosopher nor a poet to write in parables or simile...He was a power hungry tribal warlord suffering from narcissistic personality disorder who used terror as a means to live his dreams..

I suggest you to read *Understanding Muhammad* by Ali Sina to get a deeper insight into Moo's mind and psyche.

Good luck..