Entries Tagged 'Opinion' ↓

Is “climate change” a religious issue?

Last Sunday, Compass asked a number of religious leaders and one Muslim identity to discuss their thoughts on the coming federal election.

Geraldine Doogue
Imam Ali, what do you believe are the major moral issues to be addressed in this campaign?

Imam Afroz Ali
The issue of climate change is a moral issue. I think I’m quoting Al Gore there. That it’s not a political matter. It’s a moral matter. And we need to return to understanding what the environment is. What is the environment? Why does it exist? Do we use it until the last drop of water on earth? Is that how it is? Is there a cross generational responsibility?

It’s interesting to note that the other religious representatives made similar points. And recently the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils were calling on the government to:

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Let Nalliah speak

The greatest enemy of absurdity is its own voice. It is essential therefore that those with extreme and absurd views be encouraged to speak them as often as possible. Rather than seek to stifle their voice or to remove a platform for their views, one should be provided:

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Another prescient example of this is Danny Nalliah, pastor of the fringe church “Catch the Fire Ministries“. Nalliah has previously been alleged to have expressed the desire for God to burn down mosques. For this and other comments Nalliah was taken to VCAT by the Islamic Council of Victoria for inciting religious hatred. The ICV action was a failure both legally and in the wider court of public opinion. It allowed Nalliah to portray himself as the victim of a secretive religion which was furiously trying to avoid scrutiny as it infiltrated the nation. Money, sympathy and support flooded into Catch the Fire Ministries and Nalliah became a celebrity in the Evangelical community. The federal treasurer Peter Costello appeared on stage with Nalliah and embraced him, as did the then deputy Prime Minister John Anderson.

The case was finally settled earlier this year, with a points victory to Nalliah. This has allowed him the confidence to discover his voice once more and to bless us with the profound insights that can come to those whom God speaks to directly.

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To Mufti or Not? Lessons from Australia

Several years ago, as I was touring Istanbul, I took to performing my daily prayers at the Blue Mosque. During several visits I noticed an expensive dark blue Mercedes saloon, parked ostentatiously in the gardens of the masjid, and guarded by a machine gun armed solider. When I asked him who the car belonged to he replied, “Allahhu akbar”, raised his hands to his ears, and pointed to the imam coming down the steps. Clearly there were both threats and blandishments in ascending the minbar at Turkey’s most famous mosque.

In the old city, our hotel sat adjacent to a madrassa where young children were taught Qur’an and Tajweed by a group of very kindly old sheikhs. After Fajr, one of the boys would take turns to lead the Salat and afterwards he would recite a long chapter of the Qur’an until the sun came up.The other boys would fall asleep at the back; the Sheikhs always pretended not to notice. Unlike the Blue Mosque, the madrassa, an engine room for Islam, was sinking into genteel poverty and survived on public charity alone. It was the target of periodic police harassment, as were the scholars who tutored for free.

In the West, Turkey is seen as the secular blueprint for modernizing the Muslim world. But rather than secularizing Islam, the Turkish state has appropriated it and desecrated religious worship by replacing it with an elaborate theatre of the absurd. This has required the creation of a compliant priestly class from amongst the Muslims, atop of which sits the Mufti. Many European democracies are now considering the institution of a chief mufti alongside other measures to regulate Islam.

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The high human cost of India’s “respect” for women

My attention was drawn to the speech by Congress party presidential hopeful, Pratabha Patil who said:

Women have always been respected in the Indian culture. The purdah system was introduced to protect them from the Muslim invaders. However, times have changed. India is now independent and hence, the systems should also change.

This is simply untrue. One can understand Patil’s desire to harden her electoral numbers, no politician has ever failed by vilifying Muslims, and it taps into the Hindu nationalist agenda that the BJP and the RSS have been peddling for some time. It has also gained a mainstream audience through its most eloquent exponent, VS Naipaul.

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Internet Filtering: An Exercise in Pointlessness

It has always been obvious that although the government had been successful in outlawing a number of printed publications, the fact that each of these could be downloaded from multiple places on the internet made the bans more or less redundant. So it is not surprising that the Daily Telegraph is reporting today that the federal government intends to take its war against “hate literature” to the internet.

THE Federal Government is considering “screening” technology to stop terrorist groups from recruiting vulnerable young members in Australia over the internet.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock told The Daily Telegraph yesterday the software plan – still in its infancy – was just one option in the escalating online war against terrorists.

“At the moment the internet is the biggest problem in this war and we are only going after people we can get our hands on, but that is changing,” Mr Ruddock said.

“We are looking at ways and means of using technology that detects hate publications and removes them.

“To do it effectively we will need the help of law enforcement agencies in the US and Europe.”

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Bad Australian Exports

Although the Australian Muslim community has a booming cottage industry in stupid ideas, we are usually forced to import the bigger ones from overseas. Islamism, jihadiism, super-salafiism and, of course, Anthony Robbins-style motivational schtick are four such examples of dodgy things we’ve brought into our community from elsewhere because we were unable to produce them locally. However, the cultural cringe may be over with the news that British Muslims have expressed an initial interest in importing one of our own stupid ideas and making it available in the United Kingdom. Yes, after apparently witnessing the miserable failure of our own confected mufti project, British Muslims want one too.

It could, of course, be that some British Muslims are suffering from a particular form of Munchausen by Proxy (common even here) that compels them to seek increasingly audacious solutions to problems that don’t really exist. Or maybe it is a defensive move because they fear that it is only a matter of time before our Mufti of Australia, Ashmore Island, Cartier Island, Christmas Islands, Cocas Islands, North Keeling Island, Coral Sea Islands, Thousand Island, Heard Island, McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island, Phillip Island, Coode Island, Australian territories in Antarctica, and New Zealand has his role expanded slightly to become Mufti of the Commonwealth?

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Policy Review: How the West Really Lost God

Did Western European Christians stop having children because they became secularised, or did they become secularised because they stopped having children? In the Hoover Institution’s Policy Review Mary Eberstadt looks for an answer.

And therein lies a real defect with the conventional story line about how and why religion collapsed in Western Europe. For what has not been explained, but rather assumed throughout that chain of argument, is why the causal relationship between belief and practice should always run that way instead of the other, at least some of the time. It is as if recent intellectual history had lined up all the right puzzle pieces — modernity, belief and disbelief, technology, shrinking and absent families — only to press them together in a way that looks whole from a distance but leaves something critical out.

This essay is a preliminary attempt to supply that missing piece. It moves the human family from the periphery to the center of this debate over secularization — and not as a theoretical exercise, but rather because compelling empirical evidence suggests an alternative account of what Nietzsche’s madman really saw in the “tombs” (read, the churches and cathedrals) of Europe.

In brief, it is not only possible but highly plausible that many Western European Christians did not just stop having children and families because they became secular. At least some of the time, the record suggests, they also became secular because they stopped having children and families. If this way of augmenting the conventional explanation for the collapse of faith in Europe is correct, then certain things, including some radical things, follow from it.

Siege mentality?

In a department store yesterday, a sales assistant was helping me with a product; he needed to check the price and when he got back to me, he went to ring through the transaction. In the interim, a woman had gone to the counter, products on hand ready to buy.

Technically I was there first and because of that, I was served first. Surprisingly, she didn’t move a single inch at the small counter, making the transaction extremely difficult. I finally asked her, politely, if she could please move a bit so that I could complete my purchase.

Heavily and slowly, she moved, but not without giving me what I can only term a look of pure and utter hatred. I was a little surprised and, although I felt slightly sick from her look, not being an overly shy type I was about to ask her what the problem was. But I didn’t. I thought it may create unnecessary fuss, and really, part of me didn’t want to know. If it escalated, it would ruin my mood and my day.

Instead, I finished the transaction and shook off the incident immediately. Past experience has taught me it’s the only way to not let it weigh on my mind.

But I didn’t completely forget it.

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Turkish Presidents and the Veil

The thought of their head of state being married to a woman who wears the dreaded hijab appears too much for some Turks to handle. As al-Ahram put it:

Secularist Turks regard having a head-scarfed first lady in the presidential palace as a violation of the secular state.

And the military is so distressed that they are even hinting at a coup if elections were to ever deliver such a result. It’s a strange case of secularism versus democracy with the Turkish military and some section of the community clearly on the side of secularism. .

This ideology, often called Kemalism after its supposed founder, has created an authoritarian state that, in its fanatical opposition to religious symbols, has veered into the absurd. For example, as Gul Gunver, a Turkish professor, reminds us, the daughter of the presidential candidate wears a wig over her hijab in order to be allowed to attend university.

Anyway, Tariq Nelson has uncovered some photos of an earlier Turkish president and his wife. The photos are over the fold, however I must warn any Turkish secularist readers that these photos may cause severe cognitive dissonance in some people.

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Halal Certification for Financial Products

Halal certification for food can, at times, be something of a rort. There is well-known principle in fiqh (jurisprudence) that states that the ‘asl (basis) of all things outside of matters of worship is that they are permissible. In other words, the starting assumption when faced with these issues is that they are allowed. This has, to some extent and at various times, been inverted by some of the commercial organisations offering halal certification.

Of course, this is hardly surprising given there is a strong incentive for such companies to, firstly, convince manufacturers that unless they are explicitly certified as halal, there products will be forbidden to Muslims; and, secondly, the legitimacy of their certification depends, to some extent, on Muslims themselves believing that such products are forbidden to them. A more efficient alternative might be to teach Muslims enough of the rules of fiqh in order to be able to assess most products for themselves.

In any case, as Muslim communities develop there is one area where Muslims could also do with halal certification: finance. Like food products, there are many financial products on offer in the market — different types of insurance, leasing structures, managed funds, etc. — but very little information on what is and what is not permissible. I have noticed that there are a number of broad assumptions about the impermissibility of particular types of transaction and product without any detailed understanding or analysis. However, it is quite possible that there are many products and transactions we consider, by default, to be haram but are actually permissible or permissible with some conditions.

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