Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Fitna: Stuck Between Propagand and Prejudice

Have you seen the movie Fitna? Before reading this, please watch it. Because it is not to be understood just by thoughts but also feelings. Dutch PM Geert Wilders claims to have made it. That makes me wonder what kind of work has he put in it. It seems to be done in half a day with no budget. He just put extreme pieces together that can be easily and freely found on internet and blamed all the actions on the Quran. That is a smart and banal way of affecting people. Actually it might even be considered ‘religious’ in its own unique form, as it aims to give people ideas with simple and weak reasoning. For someone who don't know much about Islam and who is a part of the consumer culture, it can be very comforting and easy to to believe in that kind of propagand.

One thing makes the movie seem "well intended" is that it doesn't reject Islam or hate it (on surface), it just innocently suggests to get rid of the parts of the Quran that encourages violence. But if the movie was sincere, it wouldn't portrait Prophet Mohammed with bomb on the head one more time after all the reaction during cartoon crisis.

If you are Muslim, would you change your mind about your belief and think about changing your holy book when someone who portrays extremists as believers suggests?

Or if you are not Muslim, would it convince you to believe that all Muslims are potential terrorists when you see extremists, dead bodies, and verses following each other?

If there is anyone to blame, it is not this provocative Wilders but Muslims. They should be able to express themselves, explain those verses and convince the world (if needed) that Islam is not a religion of violence. What do those verses quoted in the movie actually mean? Some authorities or even someone who study them should explain them. Otherwise more and more attacks are going to leave bigger stains on Islam, Quran and of course Muslims. And if good ones can't convince the bad ones, they will take over the power and actually change the Quran. Then Islam is going to lose its most important charactersitic that it has been the SAME book for 13 centuries all over the world, not one letter has been changed.

I think the problem lays here: Religion is an important component of life for many people. And every religion has its own language (by that i mean a way of interpretting the world/life) Even different sects in one religion have different aspects on issues. What we are doing is that we are trying to understand someone without knowing her/his language. Let's say someone knows two languages of religions (Christian theology professor on Islam) but still remains as a Christian. Because there comes another important component of religion, faith, that we cannot comprehend with minds. and there is no space for "heart" (where the faith is) in our "modern language" I guess that leads us to beginning of modernity and secularism which proves that we cannot understand the religion just by looking at the religion.

We develop relationships with people whom we share the same language. We might believe in different religions, ideologies, we might belong to different nationalities, countries, but we can stil have a relationship. It is possible because religion and nationality, our two very important identity components, may not be the most important components of our personalities. Having similar interests or sharing another ideology that can fit into those big ones (humanism, for instance) can become more important than others. For different reasons, we can build bridges with ‘others’.

The only thing we need is some common language for the people of different religions and nations that share similar values. That cannot be common ancestor Abraham only, what if we didn't have anything in common historically? And what if as modern people we don't care that much about long time ago on our every day lives? What if some of us are religious and some not?

I guess most of the people want peace and dialogue but not strong enough. They tend to be tricked easily by politicians or any other leaders. Instead of judging each other with big labels like religion, nationality or race, we can try to find some shared common values that will connect us. I know that what all of us want at the end is to feed ourselves, raise our children, be safe and happy basically. That’s the same in every culture and our happiness and safety depend on each other’s happiness and safety.

Extremists are the ones that exist in all ideologies, all religions, all nationalities, not just among Muslims. How about dividing the world as Extremists/Others, instead of Muslims/Others? Then maybe we can think of a way to convert extremists to human beings instead of converting Muslims to a transformed Islam.

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