August 28, 2005

Re-engineering Islam

Nellodee wants to memetically re-engineer Islam:

When I talk to my muslim friends, they always condemn the actions of the terrorists, and then they say "but....". Then they always bring up the history of colonialism and a score sheet of grievances, in as much to say they understand the motivation for these acts, while they do not approve them. I think this is tied to the integral concept of justice in Islam. The Qu'ran is emphatic on justice. What do muslims want from their religion? I think, a hope for justice and a meaningful life.

This is one meme complex we could possibly engineer. We need to strengthen the meme complexes preventing taboo acts, like the killing of children and non-combatants. I don't think the analogy should be anti-virals, chemo or radiation therapy, but gene-therapy. The ailing meme-complex needs to be re-engineered.

And we need to acknowledge that the behavior of the West has been unjust, in order to enlist moderate muslims in our cause. It would be where I would start.

I think that the main problem is the importance Islam (as it is currently culturally transmitted) places on victory.

Compare Judaism and Islam, they are architecturally very similar to each other, and different from Christianity: Both religions are emphatically monotheistic. The Qur'aan (ْقرآن) - Koran and the Miqra' (מקרא) - Bible (notice that the two words share the root q-r-', "read") are similarly revered as the literal word of God. Sharii`ah (شريعة) - Islamic law, is similar to Halakha (הלכה) - Jewish law, both in style and content. Yet, the structures the two religions build are radically different! I think it gives us a hint at what might be done.

Those of us with normal psychologies should be able to understand the attraction of victory. The question is: At what price? And by this I don't mean pain and suffering to the "other"! How much are you willing to sacrifice just to win, when the alternative is to cultivate your garden, build a better life, and find happiness in your children?

I don't think that any admission of guilt (justified or not) on the part of the West will achieve anything. The only thing that will redirect the energy of Islam away from victory is to demonstrate conclusively that that way will give no satisfaction.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at August 28, 2005 11:50 AM | TrackBacks
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I don't think that any admission of guilt (justified or not) on the part of the West will achieve anything.
I don't know how else to emphathise with my friends. We are guilty. We supported tyrants in the ME for 60 years. We set the Shi'ia up for extermination at the end of Gulf I.
I think justice and victory have strong linkage in Islam...perhaps they see them as the same thing.
I think religion is a sort of error correcting code that spreads the benefits of kinship to a wider population. Religion corrects the nasty hobbesian barbarian tendencies to exterminate or impregnate anyone not your kin. It would be good if we could reengineer Islam to be more like Judaism, as far as benevolent memes go. It should be easier if they are closely related. How would you go about reengineering the victory meme complex?

Posted by: nellodee at August 29, 2005 02:14 AM Permalink

And, i don't see how we can show conclusively that that gives no satisfaction. They are satisfied. Look at Gaza. They see that as victory. They killed a thousand Jews and they got Gaza back. To them it is cause and effect--how do you change that?

Posted by: nellodee at August 29, 2005 02:30 AM Permalink

We supported tyrants in the ME for 60 years.

Damned if you do. Damned if you don't. Basically, I agree with you, but in fact, the US has supported tyrants all over the world from time to time, what choice is there? There are no non-tyrannical Arab governments, including "moderate" Jordan, for example. The same can be said for Latin America, and they have similar issues with the US, without coming close to terrorism.

i don't see how we can show conclusively that that gives no satisfaction

Neither do I. But I think that that's what it will take.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at August 29, 2005 08:59 AM Permalink

I would say that Judaism and Islam are VERY different:

Maimonides, who is the leading Jewish scholar was a rationalist. He is not alone in Judaism.

The Torah is not in-created and un-interpretable (the other way round: it is supposed to "speak the languagge of men").

The Judaism is non polygamous (which means that men don´t consider women something to be used and stockpiled).

Judaism is full of colorful cosmovisions: not exactly the same as modern Islam.

Judaism is non-proselitist.

And LAST BUT NOT LEAST: And I suppose Ms. Boxenhorn doesn´t wear a burqua!

Posted by: Kantor at August 30, 2005 09:20 PM Permalink

Judaism is a guilt culture.

Islam is a shame culture.

Guilt cultures empahsise personal responsibility, and can be constructive. Shame cultures deny personal responsibility, and... aren't.

Fix that, and you fix Islam.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at September 1, 2005 07:22 AM Permalink

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