Sunday, March 09, 2008

Council of Ex-Muslims

I wrote the letter below to salute Ms. Namazie's “Council of Ex-Muslims:
Dear Maryam,

To begin, I would like to congratulate you on your courageous endeavor to establish an organization that will hopefully fill the absence of virtual fraternity of Islam with secular solidarity. If the “Council of Ex-Muslims” will give hope someone, it is primarily as a result of the organizational power that overcomes the limitations of individual struggles.

In his "Philosophy of History” Hegel properly defines the distinctive feature of Islam: “The worship of the One is the only final aim of Mahometanism, and subjectivity has this worship for the sole occupation of its activity, combined with the design to subjugate secular existence to the One.” This is where the stubborn resistance of Islam outbreaks as a misleading symptom in the body of bourgeois modernism: The spiritual vapor that claims dominance on behalf of its supreme universality in the material world now finds itself squashed in the universal engine that melts all that is solid in the air. Unfortunately, this engine is not capable to vaporize the absolute vapor. What renders Islam and its universal spirituality political, as related with the power struggle for decision making on this-worldly affairs is exactly this incompetence of liberal world order. Just like the protagonist of Terry Gilliam’s magnificent movie “Brazil”, who suddenly finds himself as an enemy of the state on the course of his quest to find the girl of his dreams in the depths of bureaucracy, Islam has detected its imaginary political expression in the midst of liberal capitalism where the politics is relentlessly being vaporized.

This is the reason why I previously proposed Atheism within the shortcomings of neo-liberal order as a genuine solution to retard the rise of the fundamentalist enthusiasm among working-class Muslims. Demands for a more strict practice of secularism is like my bizarre habit that I carry out when I have to get up early and have little time to sleep: I always set up my environment and sleeping position as uncomfortable as possible to discourage the enjoyment of sleeping. But as the verification of Lacanian interpretation of the act of awakening, I always end up inventing the most horrifying nightmares to repress the disturbance of the external effects and enable myself to sleep for a little more.

Therefore, rigorously secularist projects are doomed to seduce the fundamentalism in the consciousness of working class Muslims. Secularism is the archenemy of the religion that hunts for the total domination of its spirituality (which knows no social bond other than the worship to God) over material world. I find it very remarkable how intellectuals often miss the connotation of the Islamic concept of “jihad”: It is not simply warfare against infidels but at the same time the struggle to expand the spiritual battlefield on which believers and infidels will exchange blows till the Judgment Day. Even the concept of sin is not exempt from the will of God: “If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people: But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases” (16:93). Its symptomatic intolerance is more vindictive towards everything that ridicules its spiritual universality: especially towards bourgeois modernism which has compelled man “to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

I think secularism is a "passage to the act” for the fundamentalism of Islam. It resolves the anxiety among working class Muslims and provokes courage for act of militant Islamism. For instance, prohibition of religious symbols from public sphere invites Muslims to attach themselves with closed circuit of fundamentalist communities.

On the other hand, in an incredibly ironical fashion Atheism is almost complementary with Islam: Atheism as an inverted spirituality due to its intact form that is still mediated with the absence of God is the perfect adversary of Islam. (No regrets! I frequently rant and rave about my indomitable Atheism as a reflective political stance). Spiritual battlefield is only maintainable with the existence of identically devout foes eager to clash their ideas. Maybe, in this vein, we might persuade some of the Muslims of working class oppressed both by Muslim leaders and bourgeois modernism:

“Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you're so clever and classless and free,
But you're still fucking peasents as far as I can see,
A working class hero is something to be”

I think genuine remedy of religious fanaticism and the ground for an authentic and unmediated solidarity is socialism: the real political emancipation which has the capacity to dispel the battleground of abstract ideas… I hope you would not take offense to my well-intentioned criticism. My criticism also comprises my affirmation. I always have doubts about agreements without contradictions.

3 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

I'm sending this to a friend from Saudi Arabia, who has strong interest in this subject.

Nadia A. said...

I like you way you write, it is very in-depth. This article is also really appropriate as intellectuals in Turkey are looking to revise/remove hadiths, I heard. But I feel like this phrase about atheism is a bit misleading:

"Spiritual battlefield is only maintainable with the existence of identically devout foes eager to clash their ideas. Maybe, in this vein, we might persuade some of the Muslims of working class oppressed both by Muslim leaders and bourgeois modernism"

I feel like this doesn't fully take in account the current situation, and tinges with an idea of us being locked in a vacuum that is unaffected by other forces. Right now, as the west (largely America) is actually in Muslim countries, and actively condone and threaten other Muslim-dominated countries that aren't their bed-fellows, Muslims are able to see the hypocrisy of Bush drinking tea in Saudi Arabia while criticizing Iran's lack of human rights in between sips. So I think the larger force here, that affects that push for atheism, is a thick layer of American-dominated economics. I think the reasons why America chastises Iran and ignores the issues in Bangladesh are obvious to many Muslims (of other countries), and adding a splash of atheism/secularism to that mixture may further dilute what atheism/secularism is trying to push for. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, working for the American Enterprise Institute, (who is frequently seen as being tied issues with Maryam, both denouncing an existence of "islamophobia...") is a piece of what the larger picture looks like.

I really like your writing, and I'm going to add you to my blog roll :)

Nadia A. said...

I like you way you write, it is very in-depth. This article is also really appropriate as intellectuals in Turkey are looking to revise/remove hadiths, I heard. But I feel like this phrase about atheism is a bit misleading:

"Spiritual battlefield is only maintainable with the existence of identically devout foes eager to clash their ideas. Maybe, in this vein, we might persuade some of the Muslims of working class oppressed both by Muslim leaders and bourgeois modernism"

I feel like this doesn't fully take in account the current situation, and tinges with an idea of us being locked in a vacuum that is unaffected by other forces. Right now, as the west (largely America) is actually in Muslim countries, and actively condone and threaten other Muslim-dominated countries that aren't their bed-fellows, Muslims are able to see the hypocrisy of Bush drinking tea in Saudi Arabia while criticizing Iran's lack of human rights in between sips. So I think the larger force here, that affects that push for atheism, is a thick layer of American-dominated economics. I think the reasons why America chastises Iran and ignores the issues in Bangladesh are obvious to many Muslims (of other countries), and adding a splash of atheism/secularism to that mixture may further dilute what atheism/secularism is trying to push for. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, working for the American Enterprise Institute, (who is frequently seen as being tied issues with Maryam, both denouncing an existence of "islamophobia...") is a piece of what the larger picture looks like.

I really like your writing, and I'm going to add you to my blog roll :)