Via Daniel’s blog comes iMuslim, discussion of current affairs from the perspective of a young Muslim woman. She strikes me as being a very intelligent, quite delightful person, and I would have thought (despite Daniel’s initial doubts) quite obviously genuine. Yet she encapsulates the dilemma of all those, Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, who take a high view of scriptural inspiration. I am not mocking or belittling her, by the way, because the conclusions she comes to are framed generously and in a spirit of sharing rather than evangelising. But as soon as we find ourselves believing that God has written (or dictated) texts which have eternal validity we find ourselves trapped in a situation which I frankly believe blocks what God may be telling this generation — even allowing for the many levels of exegesis according to the variety of traditions out there, which range from the just plain dumb to the very articulate and intelligent. Our passion for certainty drives us into the comforting bosom of fundamentalism of one kind or another. The trouble is once we are safe in that bosom the eyes take on a beatific gaze and fresh thought tends to be filtered out. (Atheists, paradoxically, are not immune from their own variety of fundamentalism.)
That is such a big and to some outrageous statement that all I can do is commend a careful reading of the sites on the right under “faith and philosophy”. No, I am not a Quaker or a Buddhist, but believe they are on the right track in many respects. All our knowledge is relative, provisional and conditional, and all generalisations beginning with “all” are very suspect.
Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.
Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout our entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
We all need to be just a bit pomo, because that really is the way the world is.
See Compass on ABC tonight: Gay Muslims (26 November 2006).