Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Islamic Idol Worship

One of the big tenets of Islam is no idol worship. Hell, the loons in the Taliban took that to the extreme of blowing up massive carvings of Buddha that were in cliffs in their territory. You know, blowing up historically significant art created centuries ago is a great way to show you secure in itself your faith is, as well as showing the world how responsible you are. Oy.

But here's the thing. Whether it's railing against others depicting Muhammad in cartoons (or any art), rioting over the accidental burning of the Quran, the genuflecting at the name of the Prophet Muhammad, or the waging of jihad, all too many Muslims have abandoned Islam as a faith by making these things into idols.

Islam, according to most interpretations, dictates that no human images should be created, either statuary or painting, lest they become objects of worship themselves, so there is no Islamic art that celebrates the human form, as Christian art eventually did by the Renaissance. It's a matter of theology whether that's idol worship or just appreciating beauty created by the deity. Don't much care for myself.

By trying force people not to depict the Prophet Muhammad at all, and particularly not in parody, Muslim protesters are saying his image is more important that any commentary anyone might have about Muhammad or Islam. As with the need some have to say "peace be upon him" any time his name is mentioned, this is idol worshipping behavior. You're not honoring the message he brought in creating Islam. You're worshipping the man.

The protests are quite hypocritical, too, considering the outright defamatory depictions of Jews, in particular, in more than a few Muslim curricula, despite the fact that Jews are supposed to be respected as fellow monotheists. Then again, Muslims kill other Muslims all the time, and that's not supposed to happen, either. And I don't mean domestic violence or street crime. I mean sectarian violence over divisions within Islam. 'Course, the usual excuse of religious sectarianism is that the other guy isn't really a Muslim/Christian/whatever.

Afghanistan is more severe than most, but it's not alone in the Muslim world in treating the Quran itself as an object of worship, rather than the message it conveys or the being it exalts. All the same, it's idol worship to treat the book as sacred, and apparently more sacred than the message. Considering the killing over the burning of the Quran in Afghanistan, while the Muslims of the country merrily kill one another over ethnic and religious divisions without protest, and considering that the Quran generally condemns killing, the message is not being observed. But the worship of the object sure is.

Then there's jihad. War to defend Islam is a tenet that goes back to Muhammad himself. Self defense is rather expansively defined so that some consider attacks on anyone they disagree with to be defending Islam. However, that alone isn't the issue when it comes to idol worship. It's the creation of the afterlife myth, and its attendant rewards for martyrs to the faith who kill others in the name of the faith, that creates a sort of death cult worship. These extremists of Islam have stopped practicing Islam and moved into death worship.

As I said in my Ben Roethlisberger post, they'd all be better off dropping the whole religion business and thinking about consequences independently and with reason. Not that it's going to happen anytime soon.

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