I said I’d post in my holidays and now they are over and all I have posted is two memes. Sorry. I’ve had blogger’s block. Not because I haven’t had anything to write about but because I think I’ve had too much to write about and all my thoughts have been too complicated to express succinctly. This is the catch up post. If you can ride out the tumultuous waves of my thoughts here, you can wade out anything! Game?
Ok. So, there is absolutely heaps I have been thinking about lately. Some of it personal, some political. I’ll start with the political cause it’s easier to express. For those of you who hate political debate, know that I’d appreciate your thoughts and ideas anyway and that I do not intend for this to turn into an argument – although you can disagree with me – , it’s a reflection of my thoughts and an expression of ideas. 🙂
In teaching Studies of Religion to Year 12 last term I have been researching Islam. In the syllabus we are to study a person significant to the development of Islam and the impact of their ideas on the religion. We studied Sayyid Qutb.
Qutb is an intellectual who is interesting for many reasons. His ideas have been said to have influenced fundamentalist Islamic groups such as Al Qaeda. Australians may also be aware of recent claims that Qutb has heavily influenced the controversial Sheik Hilali, ex Grand Mufti of Australia. Yet Qutb’s writings contain a desire for morality that I know many Christians would agree with. For example, read the opening introduction to his book Milestones, the manifesto he was executed for writing:
Mankind today is on the brink of a precipice, not because of the danger of complete annihilation which is hanging over its head-this being just a symptom and not the real disease -but because humanity is devoid of those vital values which are necessary not only for its healthy development but also for its real progress. Even the Western world realises that Western civilization is unable to present any healthy values for the guidance of mankind. It knows that it does not possess anything which will satisfy its own conscience and justify its existence.
I do not know a Christian who would disagree with this. Qutb’s assessment of Western society is spot on. We are materialistic and immoral. Qutb is right. He is a very intriguing character. Intriguing but wrong.
Qutb’s soloution to the immorality and materialism of Western society was to establish an Islamic State governed by Sharia Law established through jihad if necessary. Despite many arguments as to what true Islamic jihad may mean, – namely a personal striving in the way of Allah – Qutb’s writings do define jihad in militaristic terms.
Knowing this caused me to think that we are really waging this ‘war on terror’ in precisely the wrong way. Any military attack on an organisation which adheres to Qutb’s philosophy is destined to make fundamentalist Muslims fight harder. It is clear that this is a war of ideologies. If we are to have any impact perhaps we need to develop ideas and philosophy that address the criticisms Qutb had of Western society. But we’ll never do that because we, in the West, love our materialism and immorality too much. So much that we’ll fight to maintain it. And sadly, we fight for the right to choose how we live our lives thinking we are free when really it is these very things that enslave us. Ironic.
What Qutb failed to note was that we are all immoral, East and West alike because this comes from within us not society, and no amount of military might can save us from this. Nothing can save us from this but the intervention of God Himself, not Allah because he offers no assurance of salvation, but Christ and Christ alone. Knowing this raises this question for me: What as Christians should be our response to the Sayyid Qutbs, Sheik Hilalis and Osama bin Ladens of the world? Is it worth engaging in a philosophical or militant battle? Should we simply recognise that this is a spiritual battle and pray? Should we do a combination of these things?
(I was going to go on with other complikated thoughts but I will leave them for later as this post is arduous enough, I’m sure.)