God Revisted

David Plotz knew religion in ‘bits and pieces’ –he knew a bit of this, he remembered a piece of that, the rest he picked up along the way. Then one day in adulthood he attends a Bar Mitzvah and picks up the Good Book and opens it and reads it and what he reads startles him enough to read more and record what he comes away reading. This record makes for a hystericalseries called Blogging the Bible. Here’s an example:

Moses leads the Israelites into the wilderness—Day 1 of their 40-year trek. They immediately complain that they’re thirsty and the only available water is bitter. We’re a grumbling people, aren’t we? Freedom after 430 years of captivity, and nothing to do but grouse. The Israelites had crabbed to Moses when Pharaoh made them gather their own straw. When the Egyptian army pursued them to the Sea of Reeds, they had griped to Moses that they would rather have stayed in Egypt as slaves than die by the sea. Now they’re fussing that they’re thirsty. God gives Moses a piece of wood that cleans up the water—the world’s first Brita filter.

The whole series is laced with laugh out loud Brita filter moments, yet it never compromises on the serious subtext. How nice if the Quran/hadith/ Prophet Mohammed were explored in this fashion, moreover in my life time. But in my lifetime that might possibly continue to mean fatwah and who in their right mind would be up for that? Even if such an exploration wouldn’t necessarily mean a death sentence, it could never the less spell censure from family and friends. After all most us grow up being drilled with the instructions to obey God, obey elders, obey your parents, obey your teachers, obey Aunty, obey Uncle, obey everyone until obedience and conformity are the only thing one knows to do and feels very ill doing otherwise. In this case ‘thinking for one self’ amounts to which mosque to pray in and ‘individuality’ to which bag to carry with which dress, or music to listen to. Though non-conformity can come with its own headaches and individuality can be carried to extremes in its own right, as long as a herd mentality is encouraged by Mummy-Daddy-Society most will continue to ape the group with which they best identify, or are ‘herded’ into identifying with. But here’s cause to rejoice– a team of reformist Islamic scholars at Ankara University is breaking through the boundaries of what they should and shouldn’t do. They’d like to see Islam reformed and so are working towards reinterpreting the Koran and the foundations of the Sharia Laws.

Turkey is engaged in a bold and profound attempt to rewrite the basis for Islamic sharia law while also officially reinterpreting the Koran for the modern age. The exercise in reforming Islamic jurisprudence, sponsored by the modernising and mildly Islamic government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is being seen as an iconoclastic campaign to establish a 21st century form of Islam, fusing Muslim beliefs and tradition with European and western philosophical methods and principles…Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, described the project as an attempt to make Turkish Sunni Islam “fully compatible with contemporary social and moral values. “They see this not as a revolution, but as a return to the original Islam, away from the excessive conservatism that has stymied all reforms for the last few centuries. It’s somewhat akin to the Christian reformation, although not the same.

rest here