Archive for Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Idol traditions

February 15, 2006


To the editor:

Your Feb. 12 article by Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi on the recent cartoon controversy stated that Muslims oppose representations of Prophet Muhammad "for fear they could lead to idolatry."

Indeed, the Koran has very harsh words for those who engage in idol worship. It warns Muslim males not to marry women who may be idol worshippers or to give their daughters to men who do the same. It says "a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress" and "a believing slave is better than an idolator." (Surah II, 221)

However, idols/statues are an integral part of religious traditions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

London's Financial Times recently carried an interview of M. F. Husain, a world-famous Muslim painter, in which he justified his nude painting of the Hindu goddess Saraswati who, holding a book and a veena (lyre), is considered the symbol of knowledge and music. And in Bamyan, Afghanistan, the Taliban blew up the world's tallest 2000-year Buddha statues saying they were un-Islamic. As far as I know, there has been no Muslim condemnation of Husain, and there was only a mild verbal criticism by a small section of the Muslim community of the terrible destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas.

Surendra Gupta,



Jamesaust 12 years, 4 months ago

I'm still waiting for a re-conquest of Christian North Africa and Asia Minor. Weren't these lands stolen from the "one truth faith" by marauding heretics beginning in the 7th & 8th centuries? Where's the outrage at the desecration of Constantinople?

The author does not appear to understand that the issue is not one of tolerating and respecting others' beliefs but rather one of subjecting others to a single belief -- Islam (which after all means 'submission').

People's around the world today are being subjected to the same intolerance that exists within these Islamic lands already. Just try to be a practising Christian in Iraq; just try to be a missionary in Algeria; just try to convert to Christianity in Saudi Arabia.

Where are those so critical of the Bush Administration's avoidance of international law? Does not the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (and other treates) require all members of the United Nations to respect their citizens' religious beliefs? Where is the thundering criticism of Howard Dean on the subject of Iranian religious oppression? Does Nancy Pelosi even have a position on the gradual eviction of Arab Christians from Palestine?

Bruce Bertsch 12 years, 4 months ago

Uhhh, Iraq had a very large and active Christian population. Saddam's Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz was a Christian. And just where are Palestinian Christians "evicted" to?

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 4 months ago

Iraq has thriving christian and jewish communities and there are many Palestinian christians. Agreed about Saudi Arabia, though. They are the true "islamo-fascists". There is plenty of duplicity to go around on both sides of the political aisle with this issue.

Jamesaust in correct in his basic idea that ANY religion can be justification for uniformity and persecution of the minority. Including christianity.

What is unique about modern christianity is that it has been paired (or dragged kicking and screaming?) with the Enlightment, science, and democracy. These tempering influences have moderated many of the worst instincts of christianity, those same worst instincts now on display by the insane Mohammedans.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 4 months ago

The destruction of the Bamayan buddhas was reason enough to invade Afghanistan and oust the taliban well before September 11, 2001.

The thuggery, the blindness to beauty and history. Mouth-breathers like these religious zealots should be stamped out around the globe.

Jamesaust 12 years, 4 months ago

Iraqi Christians have been especially targeted in recent years. Many have fled the country, especially to Syria (most Iraqi Christians live near the Syrian border in the far northwest). This has been covered extensively in the media. One recent example:,1,694349.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed Here is a map of religous sects in Iraq. Christians are in bright pink. See if you can squint enough to find them: Indeed, many members of Saddam's regime were drawn from Christian groups - one of the few ways Christians could gain protection was to curry favor with those in power.

Palestinian Christians flee to a variety of countries. Lebanon, Jordan, the United States, Britain. In 1995, Bethlehem was over 60% Christian. Today, estimates fall under 20%. Here is one report (although I do not vouch for the group): The rise to power of Hamas in Palestine, a group openly aligned with religious fundamentalists, can only be bad news for native Christians.

Jamesaust 12 years, 4 months ago

I should note:

Some might read these comments as a pro-Christian statement. This is not intended.

I find nothing in Islam - as a religion - that would make it particularly suspect other than my personal religious faith that would cast doubt on it or any other belief. I do find multiple aspects of Islam at large - as a cultural manifestion - as suspect. Islam is however a quite varied religion, as is Christianity, and general statements can be misleading.

I do not find Christianity as a cultural manifestion as being above any of the many limitations of mankind. What IS particular about Christianity (at least as it influences Western countries) is that its current manifestation exists post-Englightenment, which ushered in the existing liberal society in which we live (the scientific method, the pantheon of Founding Fathers - Jefferson, Madison but also Locke and Montesquieu - are essential Enlightenment liberals). I have no real doubt that, freed from the restrictions of liberal society, Christianists would be as dangerous as any Islamicists are today (can you IMAGINE Fred Phelps as President of some failed state and with a nuclear bomb?).

It is this lack of "post-Enlightenment" influence that is most striking about the relationship with Islamicists. This seems to account for why so many of their pronouncements, even those living in Western societies such as the Netherlands or Britain, seem so radically at conflict with the society around them.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.