Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Did you ever wonder about theology as a grown-up pursuit? I often have; the very notion of so-called ‘revealed’ religions being tinkered with down the generations to come up with ever more convoluted ways of interpreting the ‘literal word’ of supposedly perfect gods. Aside from the ‘perfect’ bit there’s a problem right there with that plural. The big three revere jehovah, the unimaginative ‘god’ and of course the boss of islam, ‘allan’. (As entirely abstract concepts none of these imaginary beings or beliefs deserves to begin with a capital letter – a small protest, but mine own.) But if they all believe in a single perfect creator, as they seem to do, who somehow passed onto his publicists on Earth his exact design for the way his creations should live their lives then I’d suggest theology has much to answer for; Chinese Whispers passing as serious study… and in the process multiplying one creator into several and one ‘revealed’ message into thousands of contradictory rules.
Wait – that’s almost as if the study of religion actually creates the gods, in direct contradiction of the orthodoxy. Best get smoking some more of that good shit, guys. And following that simple chain of thought I can now reveal the bleeding obvious, that the extended study of something most children get beyond as soon as they have to earn a living is indicative, not of any higher calling but of an inability to enter into mature debate about human nature. Much, in fact, as those eternal students of Marx can never accept the evidence that he was wrong on just about everything. How long before the world’s islamic ‘scholars’ tell us that “Of course, REAL islam has never been tried, actually.”
I have often mused thus, so listening on the drive home to Beyond Belief on Radio 4 I welcomed the opportunity to become enlightened about the only religion in whose name thousands are currently engaged in killing and maiming and declaring global annihilation of unbelievers. No, not the Rastas – although you’d be forgiven for being misled, what with all that chat about the mind-warping drugs – but the religion of, wait for it, peas. Several participants engaged in discussion about the koran and the hadiths and their importance to aslan. Well, bugger me if the thing I learned most of all is that – you guessed it – it is all made up!
It turns out that the koran (the literal word of allah) cannot be understood without reference to the hadiths (the verbatim ramblings of mohammed) but there’s a twist or two. You see, not all muslims believe the koran is the literal word of allan and not all the hadiths are thought to be authentic, some being created on the whims of various propagandists as and when required in order to interpret the koran in whatever way the authors wanted. Good hadiths and bad hadiths… and ‘maybe’ the literal word of a non-existent being. But it’s all okay, they have a rigorous ‘scientific’ method of telling truth from lies. Yes, it turns out that the true mohammedan hadiths have irrefutable provenance; since the days of mo’ they have been passed down by word of mouth from imam to imam, although quite what David Bowie’s missus has to do with it is anybody’s guess.
So that’s all settled. Or rather it isn’t. See, the peaceful muslims are adhering to the exact same religion as the murderous ones and how they behave is merely down to which version they choose to take from the shelf. An Abu Dhabi first edition from 1929, for instance, might instruct you to look out for your elderly neighbour while the 1943 Mecca Press third reprint is quite clear you should behead all those who live in odd-numbered houses. And do you bomb or love-bomb your host country? It’s a tricky little conundrum isn’t it? And there is no point in asking a muslim because they haven’t a clue either, yet all of them are convinced that their current interpretation is the correct one...until they change their mind. Oh, did I mention that is okay too?
Meanwhile the infidels David Cameron, Barack Obama and all the western leaders are terrified of upsetting the currently good muslims in case they shuffle over to the dark side. They all say they want to work with islam, to understand it, to reach out to its disaffected and strive to defend the best traditions of the faith. Best of luck with that, I say, but until the penny drops, how about reaching out to the disaffected and abandoned millions of your non-muslim citizens whose eyes were de-scaled long ago and can see perfectly clearly what you so wish to deny?