More thoughts on the Policy Exchange report


by Sunny
31st January, 2007 at 12:47 pm    

1) I think the actual report is more interesting than the silly headline statements because there is a lot of interesting discussion and polling inside it. It is worth reading without the results of the poll.

2) I fundamentally disagree with their conclusions and solutions. As I said in my CIF article, their central thesis is the Melanie Phillips argument: Islamism is a result of western cultural and moral malaise. I call it the MP argument since that is essentially what all her arguments boils down to. Policy Exchange are simply regurgitating it.

And I’m not convinced Mirza herself believes in this entirely since she is a hardcore Libertarian who should abhor state intervention to promote cultural conservativism or ‘Judeo-Christian values’ as Melanie Phillips would love to. So the solutions are rather muddled; they are only united in their tirade against multi-culturalism.

3) I’m not the biggest fan of multi-culturalism when the government funds interpretation or translation services that let people carry on claiming benefit without learning English, but this argument by the Conservatives is a straw-man. They haven’t actually stated what policies will be changed if they get rid of it as a government policy. I might write an article about this later, but essentially the Tories are beating an abstract term with a stick. It’s funny to watch as they haven’t actually explained what this means in practice. I suspect as yet they don’t know.

4) This obsession with Shariah law (with Muslims and non-Muslims) is possibly the biggest straw-man debate ever and it is really annoying. ‘Chavlims’ and Hizbis are obsessed as if it’s the new Communism without really understanding its context, while everyone is obsessed as if it’s around the corner and they’re gonna be stoned to death next year. Get a grip people!

5) The Blink website has done the crappiest hatchet job in the world. (1) here are the questions & methodology, took me 2 mins to find; (2) almost every media outlet mentioned it was a right-wing thinktank and PE clearly state they have Tory connections; (3) Blink have no right to judge who is or isn’t a Muslim, nor is Mirza claiming to be the voice of British Muslims (even the MCB can’t claim that!); (4) Most policy documents by think-tanks have an agenda and if you want to counter it you have to deconstruct and destroy their arguments not make bad attempts at slinging mud. Sheesh.

6) The interview (below) on Sky is notable by the interviewer’s complete misunderstanding of what he’s discussing (Mirza has to clarify the results twice) and the need to over-sensationalise everything. For instance, the question about the hijab is about giving women the right to choose, not saying they should be forced to wear it.

Given most people get their news and information from the TV I’m not surprised people are so clueless and scared about these issues. G-d help us.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: Current affairs,Media






103 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs


  1. Unity — on 31st January, 2007 at 1:57 pm  

    There are some interesting points in the report, I agree, but looking at the data, much of it seems rather inconclusive and, as ever, there are issues about using loaded questions.

    The question that caught my eye was the ‘This is a bit of Sharia law, do you disagree with’ which is loading the outcome by telling the respondent, up front, that the question is based on their views on Sharia law.

    I think we might have learned more had a neutral question been posed – what do you think of this – without connecting it directly to Sharia law and THEN as the question about whether they’d prefer that to British law. The formulation of the actual question uses more or less guarantees a number of ‘false’ positives because it asks whether the repondent agrees with Sharia law, not simply whether the agree with a particular principle.

  2. Chris Stiles — on 31st January, 2007 at 3:21 pm  

    (the claim that)


    (The claim that) Islamism is a result of western cultural and moral malaise …

    More accurately ‘perception of moral malaise in western culture’.


    who should abhor state intervention to promote cultural conservativism or ‘Judeo-Christian values’

    State intervention does not necessarily follow from the claim that some might be being radicalised by their perception of western culture. So the veracity or otherwise of the one is not predicated on how palatable one might find the other.


    they are only united in their tirade against multi-culturalism.

    Which version of multiculturalism are they against and which version are you for? Because the definition of it usually comes out as anodyne as the average definition of ‘Britishness’ (with some of the same middling words used for both ‘tolerance’ ‘fair play’ etc).

  3. Kismet Hardy — on 31st January, 2007 at 4:20 pm  

    The world is multi-cultural. That’s why it’s broken up into tiny little countries so each culture can have its own bit. That’s why you get things like war of independence and votes, so people in each country can nurture their own culture. Don’t like the one you’re in, go somewhere else. It’s a big place the world

    Plenty of white english people think they deserve sunshine all year round. So they move to Marbella

    It’s why people have passports

  4. Jagdeep — on 31st January, 2007 at 4:22 pm  

    What’s the HTML code to put quotes in red like Chris Stiles does above?

    Also, what’s the meaning of life?

  5. Jagdeep — on 31st January, 2007 at 4:24 pm  

    The trouble is Kismet Hardy, I don’t really know what multiculturalism means these days. It’s like a phrase that is used to mean different things. As an ideal it’s a good thing, as an ideology it’s a bad thing I suppose as all strict ideologies become.

    *scratches head*

  6. Anas — on 31st January, 2007 at 4:35 pm  

    Hey Sunny, given your well known antipathy towards MPACUK I was interesting in hearing what you thought of its five point plan to end terror. I think you’d probably agree with practically all of it.

  7. Anas — on 31st January, 2007 at 4:36 pm  

    Sorry, I was *interested* in hearing

  8. Jagdeep — on 31st January, 2007 at 4:38 pm  

    Zionists were responsible for distracting you when typing ‘interested’ in order to humiliate you Anas.

  9. Jagdeep — on 31st January, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

    That MPACUK poster is freakin’ nuts. Some dude is pointing a gun at a butterfly. WTF?

  10. soru — on 31st January, 2007 at 4:53 pm  

    As I’ve said before, multiculturalism is like taxes: you can argue for a bit more of it, or a bit less of it, and either position doesn’t mean that you want to privatise the NHS or nationalise Tescos.

    Now, if only I could find two people who agreed with each other as to what it was, or which specific policy changes correspond to ‘more’ and ‘less’.

  11. Galloise Blonde — on 31st January, 2007 at 5:01 pm  

    My hunch is, it’s

    Let’s have a go:

    Blockquote

  12. Galloise Blonde — on 31st January, 2007 at 5:02 pm  

    It’s blockquote to do the indented and red thing. But I screwed up the tags when I attempted to demonstrate so I gain no points for HTML knowledge :-(

  13. Jagdeep — on 31st January, 2007 at 5:04 pm  

    Thanks GB *hugs*

    Let me try.

    Galloise Blonde is cool

  14. Jagdeep — on 31st January, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

    Yes!

    No more second rate italics it’s

    red higlights

    all the way from me now!

  15. Kismet Hardy — on 31st January, 2007 at 5:25 pm  

    Jagdeep re: scratches head

    May I recommend Headrin?

  16. sonia — on 31st January, 2007 at 6:11 pm  

    jagdeep you know in post no. 5 you’re on to something pretty profound there…

  17. Sid — on 31st January, 2007 at 7:18 pm  

    Yeah, I thought so too Sonia. That Jagdeep, he’s dead clever, init. Multiculturalism, like the Abrahamic faiths, has ossified into rigid, inflexible ideology. Great ideals, bad ideology.

  18. Nick — on 31st January, 2007 at 9:26 pm  

    KISMET – The world is multi-cultural. That’s why it’s broken up into tiny little countries so each culture can have its own bit. That’s why you get things like war of independence and votes, so people in each country can nurture their own culture. Don’t like the one you’re in, go somewhere else. It’s a big place the world.

    And there you have it. A few things (because I’m slightly nervous about this post) – what’s racism? To me it’s thinking a person of another race is inferior. Mild cases result in discrimination, extreme in extermination. So… i hope I’m not racist cos I don’t think like that but…

    The US works because it draws in immigrants under the auspices of its ideology. Ie, it is a country without a race, but with an idea (ok ok I know it killed the native Americans).

    The Uk’s trouble is that it’s not the US. I know we (the white folk) are all mongrels, but essentially we are the same white Christian tribe that settled here over the past 2000 years or so. Over the past 50 years massive immigration has occurred and “multiculturalism” has been imposed by a ruling elite on a people who, broadly speaking, where reasonably happy with their own culture thank you.

    Despite the ignorance and prejudice that does exist in British society, I think the comparative “welcome” that the British people have given to immigrants has gone largely unremarked upon. But now we have hit the tipping point, I fear, where the indigenous population react in a knee jerk way to the values imposed upon them not by the immigrants but their own rulers. I get the impression from both Tories and Labour that they are like a driver who has suddenly lost control of the car – they reaping what they have sowed. Today’s “beheading” headlines say it all.

    Multicularlism is dead. But what will it be replaced by? British culture has been sneered at for so long could our rulers really now re-discover it? Would they have the cheek?

  19. Bert Preast — on 31st January, 2007 at 9:54 pm  

    “The Uk’s trouble is that it’s not the US. I know we (the white folk) are all mongrels, but essentially we are the same white Christian tribe that settled here over the past 2000 years or so.”

    Not so. The English are over 60% Briton, and the Welsh, Scots and Irish over 80%. The oldest skeleton discovered to date is over 9,000 years old, the Cheddar Man. And he turned out to be half from Sweden. And after all this time, some of his descendents still live in Cheddar, which is rather cool I think. So mongrels yes, but christians most certainly not.

  20. Bert Preast — on 31st January, 2007 at 9:59 pm  

    Anas #6, from your poster:

    “MPAC is a pro democracy pressure group, with the sole aim of promoting muslim’s interests and countering institutional islamophobia”

    Forgive me if I don’t trust ‘em much, eh?

  21. ZinZin — on 31st January, 2007 at 10:04 pm  

    Bert
    Anas can’t help himself he sees Islamophobia everywhere.
    Shame really, i do like the fella. He just needs to get laid.

  22. Bert Preast — on 31st January, 2007 at 10:07 pm  

    But it’s the most vile islamophobia that prevents his blessed relief!

    Chin up Anas, drunks get the same brush off. :(

  23. Bert Preast — on 31st January, 2007 at 10:26 pm  

    “I’m not the biggest fan of multi-culturalism when the government funds interpretation or translation services that let people carry on claiming benefit without learning English, but this argument by the Conservatives is a straw-man. They haven’t actually stated what policies will be changed if they get rid of it as a government policy. I might write an article about this later”

    Sunny, this badly needs an article. In Spain we get jack shit translated for us – don’t speak Spanish? Tough, pay for a translator yourself. And nobody complains. It’s fundamental to my mind that immigrants are expected to learn the native language, and not expect the natives to pay for everything to be transalted for them. That will only annoy the natives.

  24. Bert Preast — on 31st January, 2007 at 10:33 pm  

    Are the differences in thinking between muslim age groups a result of multiculturalism in the UK? It seems to me this is a worldwide shift over the last 20 years.

  25. Sunny — on 1st February, 2007 at 12:01 am  

    But now we have hit the tipping point, I fear, where the indigenous population react in a knee jerk way to the values imposed upon them not by the immigrants but their own rulers.

    To a certain extent Nick I feel this is a straw-man argument too. The knee-jerk reaction to immigration has been here since the day the first people got off the boat over 50 years ago. They were claiming Britain was too full for these people at that time.

    Secondly, I’m not sure what values are being imposed on the rest of society. If you can give me examples of how we’re imposing our values on some person living in Gloucestershire I’d be grateful. Isn’t the problem that people are allowed to celebrate their own culture within their own space without interaction?

    Getting rid of multi-culturalism may even mean more enforced interaction between racial and cultural groups. I wonder how people will react then. Heheh.

  26. Bert Preast — on 1st February, 2007 at 12:04 am  

    “Getting rid of multi-culturalism may even mean more enforced interaction between racial and cultural groups. I wonder how people will react then. Heheh”

    That’s what beer is for.

  27. Amir — on 1st February, 2007 at 5:25 am  

    Oh dear… [tisk, tisk]

    Norman Geras repented over his support for the Iraq War.

    Now YOU repent for your support of multiculturalism and mass immigration.

    Stop damaging my country. Leave us alone. Stop interfering in our affairs.

    Shame on you.

  28. Amir — on 1st February, 2007 at 5:34 am  

    What THE FUDGE have you done to my country?

    Friggin’ multiculturalists.

    Repent, repent, repent.

  29. Amir — on 1st February, 2007 at 5:41 am  

    Sunny,

    If you have any decency whatsoever, make an official apology to the British people.

    If those pro-war idiots a la Johann Hari can do it, why not you?

  30. Amir — on 1st February, 2007 at 5:44 am  

    JAGDEEP ROCKS!!!

    CHRIS STILES KICKS ARSE!!!

    Go get em’ guys.

  31. Sid — on 1st February, 2007 at 8:43 am  


    Norman Geras repented over his support for the Iraq War.

    Now YOU repent for your support of multiculturalism and mass immigration.

    Why don’t you tell how you have come to equate the Iraq war with multiculturalism? Because the jury is still out. Still, we’re all ears on how “multiculturalism and mass immigration” has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, close to a trillion dollars in arms expenditure, a vicious and bloody civil war and the loss of stability in the Middle East.

  32. Nick — on 1st February, 2007 at 8:54 am  

    Sunny/ Bert. As for the Christian thing, I didn’t mean that in a BNP way – I was just being slapdash.

    My point was multiculturalism has taken a number of forms. One is the arrival of millions of people who do not share the culture of the people they have come to live among. The other is the enforcement of acceptance whereby any complaint is described as racism.

    I’m not endorsing this, but my mum, who grew up in Tottenham, used to find this quite intimidating – particularly the sight of women in saris and veils. She used to say – they come here, but why can’t they try to fit in? She was NOT saying they should go home or making any of the usual racist remarks. She would say, if I came and lived in their country I would try to fit in, why don’t they try? This was the 1970s and was a visceral reaction to immigration, yet her concerns would probably be dismissed as typical working class racism. It was not.

    Incidentally, I accept that many groups HAVE fitted in – an Indian girlfriend of mine certainly didn’t go out with me in a sari! – but some communities have integrated, despite multiculturalism – better than others. With Muslims it seems to have increased a feeling of difference. This is not sustainable.

    One thing more. Why has the UK got all its current problems when the US, with presumably a considerable Muslim population, does not? Could it be that Americans are encouraged to believe in America, rather than their former identity? And no, I’ve never heard someone describe themselves as a Muslim-American…

  33. bananabrain — on 1st February, 2007 at 9:40 am  

    Multiculturalism, like the Abrahamic faiths, has ossified into rigid, inflexible ideology.

    excuse *me*, sid, but this is a simplistic rhetorical generalisation of the worst kind and exactly the sort of thing that causes polarisation. of course i would hardly bother denying that there is a significant proportion of believers who are part of the problem but you can hardly accuse, say, the entire C of E of this. i might also point at such examples as ali eteraz himself; i would blush to be included in such company but frankly i would be quite offended if you considered my beliefs as “rigid, inflexible ideology”.

    religions are *NOT* monolithic, any more than multiculturalism is.

    and frankly, the word judeo-christian is utterly, *utterly*, *UTTERLY* misleading. it is such a lazy concept i am appalled when it is constantly brought up by people who have no knowledge of what the “judeo” bit involves. now i know mel phillips is certainly not ignorant of judaism, but if she did indeed use the phrase “judeo-christian” she is either ignorant of the fact tha judaism has far more in common with islam than christianity, or she’s attempting to make some kind of damfool “you guys and us against the nutty muslims” argument, which is exactly the sort of thinking which enables damfool israelis to kid themselves that there isn’t a downside to american conservative christian support for every damfool stupid thing they do.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  34. bananabrain — on 1st February, 2007 at 9:53 am  

    and furthermore:

    Islamism is a result of western cultural and moral malaise.

    no it isn’t. it is the result of a collective outsourcing of islamic education to the people with the biggest agenda and the deepest pockets, namely the state-supported wahhabi ideologues of saudi arabia, who have more in common with al-qa’ida than they do with the normative islamic culture of the UK’s muslims.

    on the other hand, the *failure to confront* the cultural challenge of islamism most certainly *is*, at least in part, down to no small proportion of malaise, accidie and ennui in western society, which i put down to the fact that several generations of the intelligentsia have thought that religion was stupid and morals were synonymous with repression – in particular the “me, me, me” attitude of the baby boomers. there are other reasons, including post-imperial guilt, the development of cultural relativism, postmodernism and no small amount of principled ethical stands (not that those are a bad thing) but the combination has put us in an invidious position compared to those fired up with a religious conviction of their own rightness and moral superiority. as my rabbi says, it is hard to be passionate about being moderate, but we’re going to try anyway.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  35. Nick — on 1st February, 2007 at 9:54 am  

    “but if she did indeed use the phrase “judeo-christian” she is either ignorant of the fact tha judaism has far more in common with islam than christianity”

    uh… well that’s news to me too… I mean, what’s the Old Testament then? Chopped liver?

    Was Jesus a Muslim…? Was he proclaimed King of the Muslims? Er…

  36. Chairwoman — on 1st February, 2007 at 10:35 am  

    Nick – Dietry Laws, Modesty, Circumcision, G-d being one not three. All the bits that Christianity has dropped. Er…

  37. soru — on 1st February, 2007 at 11:35 am  

    ‘Still, we’re all ears on how “multiculturalism and mass immigration” has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, close to a trillion dollars in arms expenditure, a vicious and bloody civil war and the loss of stability in the Middle East. ‘

    I could see that things might look that way from the point of view of a occupant of 1920s Palestine.

    Multiculturalism is, to a large extent, the extension of British imperial policies of that era:

    1. economic development requires an educated populace

    2. education is expensive

    3. educated immigrants are free

    4. attracting and engaging educated immigrants requires working with, winning the loyalty of, diverse ethnic or religious groups.

    5. The best way to engage with those groups is direct personal contact with their leaders (so the British High Commisioner for Palestine would take tea with the Mufti of Jerusalem, and the leaders of the Zionists).

    6. Nothing can go possibly go wrong as long as everyone is nice and reasonable with each other.

    Now maybe there should be a different word than ‘multiculturalism’ for those perceived similarities of the behaviour of the British Empire in that period and British State now. ‘Livingstonism’ has the right resonance.

    But that’s the sense in which some people use the word ‘multiculturalism’, and whatever word you use, surely everyone can see that there are limitations to how clever a plan it actually is?

    Background reading: One Palestine Complete, Tom Segev.

  38. Ravi Naik — on 1st February, 2007 at 11:49 am  

    >> She was NOT saying they should go home or making any of the usual racist remarks. She would say, if I came and lived in their country I would try to fit in

    Yeah, that is what British are known for: to accept the local customs and integrate wherever they go (or colonise). :)

    >> Nick – Dietry Laws, Modesty, Circumcision, G-d being one not three. All the bits that Christianity has dropped. Er…

    Chairwoman, is halal and kosher considered the same thing between Jewish and Muslim people?

  39. Sid Love — on 1st February, 2007 at 11:55 am  

    I could see that things might look that way from the point of view of a occupant of 1920s Palestine.

    Self-defeating argument unless you’re likening indigenous white Brits to Palestinians. Let me throw back the rhetorical question you made to Tasneem Khalil on another thread:

    “And how many ethno-religious civil wars are being waged in the UK?”

  40. Anas — on 1st February, 2007 at 12:07 pm  

    Chairwoman, is halal and kosher considered the same thing between Jewish and Muslim people?

    I read somewhere that if halal meat wasn’t available, Muslims were permitted to eat Jewish kosher meat. I don’t think that works the other way round.

  41. Chairwoman — on 1st February, 2007 at 12:13 pm  

    Absolutely right, Anas :-)

  42. Sid Love — on 1st February, 2007 at 12:39 pm  

    Why are people adopting the use of ‘G-d’ or ‘G!d’ when ‘God’ or ‘god’ or ‘gawd’ or even ‘Ishwar‘ is perfectly valid? Is there a fatwa I missed which bans people from writing the full word, in case we take our laptops into the toilet with us and defile ourselves?

    Looks like more material for a Guardian podcast.

  43. Chairwoman — on 1st February, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    Sid – It is forbidden for Jews to write the name in full which is why I use G-d, and bananabrain G!d. Recently someone told me that there is a school of thought that says it’s OK to write the whole name on a computer as long as it isn’t printed out.

    I’m not taking the risk of offending him.

  44. sonia — on 1st February, 2007 at 1:06 pm  

    “attracting and engaging educated immigrants requires working with, winning the loyalty of, diverse ethnic or religious groups.”

    hey? how does one figure that? groups? ethnic religious? huh? what’s that got to do with it? international students just about to graduate universities would be more accurate!

    really sometimes we’re so obsessed with the whole ‘Community’ thing

  45. sonia — on 1st February, 2007 at 1:06 pm  

    graduate from universities i meant/.

  46. soru — on 1st February, 2007 at 1:20 pm  

    ‘Self-defeating argument unless you’re likening indigenous white Brits to Palestinians. ‘

    Did you watch that old episode of Star Trek (or some such) where black people were oppressing a white minority and say ‘that is unpossible, white people oppress blacks, not vice versa?’

    Yes, that’s what I meant. Is there something inherently ludicrous about the idea of say, Jade Goody as a 1920s Palestinian olive farmer’s daughter?

    “And how many ethno-religious civil wars are being waged in the UK?”

    One just ended, I have a preference for a new one not starting.

  47. Sid Love — on 1st February, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

    I’m not taking the risk of offending him.

    Don’t you mean H-m?

  48. Jagdeep — on 1st February, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

    Amir, I like you and all that, but I think you probably have a slightly over-excitable view of me or what I think about things.

  49. Sid Love — on 1st February, 2007 at 1:37 pm  

    One just ended, I have a preference for a new one not starting.

    Do you mean the Shilp-Jade wars which resulted in the decimation of large swathes of underclass indigenous East-Angulars?

  50. soru — on 1st February, 2007 at 1:38 pm  

    ‘ international students just about to graduate universities would be more accurate!’

    That’s a fair point, in terms of the modern world. I think that willingness to immigrate as an educated individual is a relatively new thing. If you look at the colonisation of america, it was whole families, or congregations, moving across, and I think it was something similar in the big ethnic movements under imperialism (e.g. freed slaves to Sierra Leone, Tamils to Sri Lanka, Jews to Palestine, and so on).

    That just means that that kind of ethno-economic planning is even more obselete than it appears at first sight.

  51. Jagdeep — on 1st February, 2007 at 1:51 pm  

    It is forbidden for Jews to write the name in full which is why I use G-d, and bananabrain G!d. Recently someone told me that there is a school of thought that says it’s OK to write the whole name on a computer as long as it isn’t printed out.

    Wow! How fascinating.

    My brother is a lawyer and he told me a story he learnt in his contract law class when he was at Uni. The lecturer was a very funny and droll chap, and he told the tale about one of these rather frivolous claims that are brought by eccentric people. He was a militant atheist who sued a church for breach of contract because they could not prove that G-d existed. He made a big fanfare, got himself in the local paper. And then 6 months later he was struck by lightning and killed instantly. True story.

  52. Sid Love — on 1st February, 2007 at 1:58 pm  

    Muslim Bengalis use the Hindu term ‘Ishwar’ to refer to Allah (or Being or G!d), which is a piece of syncretism I always liked.

    Catholic Maltese church services still refer to G!d as Allah, which is another piece of syncretism I always liked.

  53. Kismet Hardy — on 1st February, 2007 at 2:00 pm  

    Malteser church? Is the vicar errol brown?

  54. Sid Love — on 1st February, 2007 at 2:03 pm  

    I believe in miracles
    Where you from
    You sexy thing
    I believe in miracles
    Since you came along
    You sexy thing

  55. Kismet Hardy — on 1st February, 2007 at 2:04 pm  

    How about Adam Ant’s real name? Would a religious Ant fan have to write Stuart G!ddard?

    How bout religious Japanese fans of monster movies?
    Would the non-blasphemous way be to refer to their most famous creature as G-dzilla?

    Why single out the O and not the G or the D? Is it because the O looks like a zero and the zero was invented by Muslims?

  56. Kismet Hardy — on 1st February, 2007 at 2:06 pm  

    And don’t get me started on pallindromes

  57. Sid Love — on 1st February, 2007 at 2:09 pm  

    I believe in pallindromes
    Where you from
    You sexy thing

  58. Kismet Hardy — on 1st February, 2007 at 2:29 pm  

    That red italic thing is really sexy

  59. bananabrain — on 1st February, 2007 at 2:51 pm  

    @nick:

    uh… well that’s news to me too… I mean, what’s the Old Testament then? Chopped liver?

    both judaism and islam, unlike christianity, are legal paradigms. they both have an oral tradition (mishnah/gemara/hadith/’ayat) with the status of law interpreting the sacred Text with the object of clarifying what, in any given situation, is the correct action – what is permitted/mutar/kosher/halal, what is forbidden/asur/treif/haraam. both have similar codes of conduct for food preparation (anas, ravi, i responded to this question about halal elsewhere on PP a few weeks ago) conjugal relations, cultic purity, modest dress and a number of different areas. christianity has many of these things, but has nothing comparable to halakhah or shari’ah, because it tries to interpret correct belief first of all (orthodoxy) rather than correct practice (orthopraxy). jewish (and, i have come to agree, islamic) theologies are a combination of the very very simple (G!D Is One) and the very very complex (heaven/hell, afterlife, resurrection, messiahship, eschatology). this is because christianity was basically designed by the graeco-romans and europeans, heavily influenced by greek and gnostic dualism of matter and spirit (and the dogma/kerygma split) while islam and judaism also embrace many more holistic eastern ideas about a complete behavioural model and the unification of body, mind and spirit.

    sid – laptops in the toilet is one problem. i use the spelling i use because i am trying to use the english language to indicate a concept that cannot be adequately represented using the english language. it is my own custom. there is nothing intrinsically holy about the english word “god” or even the name “God” because it does not mean the same thing as “G!D”. the hyphenated spelling “G-d” is merely a traditional anglo-jewish fudge, or a misapplication of the halakhic concept of “putting a fence around the Law”. people are free to use whatever word they like – i use one that indicates my attitude. i would be far more concerned if people started using transliterations of actual Divine Names (the recent u2 album has been a particular offender, here) because there is a distinct risk of people attempting to pronounce them, which is the spiritual equivalent not so much of putting your finger in a socket, but in a nuclear reactor. i find that sort of thing about as welcome as i do racist epithets. you may also notice i go out of my way to avoid gendered pronouns (e.g. “Him”) because it perpetuates the “Big Beard In The Sky” stereotype which has found its natural concomitant in the “Big Tits In The Earth” propounded by the sillier sort of neo-pagan. i really like “Ishwar”, actually. Al-Lah goes without saying. what about “Bhagwan”?

    Is there something inherently ludicrous about the idea of say, Jade Goody as a 1920s Palestinian olive farmer’s daughter?

    indeed – all the palestinians i know of are invariably articulate, politically engaged and have a very strong sense of right and wrong. but i fear we are descending into bathos.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  60. Chairwoman — on 1st February, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

    bananabrain – who would have thought that the teaching at Hasmo, where the G-d was obligatory, could have been so misinformed.

  61. Jagdeep — on 1st February, 2007 at 3:10 pm  

    Loving all this Jewish stuff from bananabrain. In Sikhism G-d has many names:

    Vahe Guru — (Great Guru/Master — spoken with love and awe)

    Sat Naam — (The True Name)

    Karta Purakh — (Creator Being)

    Akaal Puraakh — (Timeless/Eternal Being)

    Onkar — (Variation of the mystic monosyllable ‘Om’ word of the Hindu Upanishads)

    Informally, God is described by Sikhs as:

    MahaRaj — (Great King)

    Naam —- (Means simply, ‘Name’, as in his/her Name is ‘Name’, everything, all things, all names)

    Sachaay Padhsah — (The True Ruler)

    Also in scriptures God is described in many more subtle and various ways, in terms of human relations as father, mother, brother, relation, friend, beloved, husband.

  62. Sid Love — on 1st February, 2007 at 3:27 pm  

    Bananabrain, I was eating a banana while reading your excellent post and made a conscious deciision to hyphenate each mastication with a “!” so as not to imply that I was eating your brain.

    I find these interpretaive legalities, which good enough in intention, to be more useful in killing the Spirit, as Jesus was known to have said, than being deferential to Ishwar.

    Wahhabies, your favourite Muslim subtypes, are sticklers for hyper-literal interprtations of the law.

  63. bananabrain — on 1st February, 2007 at 3:34 pm  

    cw auntie,

    well, that’s hasmo for you. they’ve got a procedure, so they follow it. actually, there are quite a few hasmo guys i know who are extremely creative thinkers; but that was after they discovered there was a real world and their hasmo reflexes were useful for it as well; a bit like my own habs-boy reflexes, if i have a sudden need to be instantly rude, arrogant and dismissive…

    jagdeep – how wonderful! what a great set of names. i particularly like Naam, Sat Naam and Vahe Guru. really, really really. i should start using them.

    Also in scriptures God is described in many more subtle and various ways, in terms of human relations as father, mother, brother, relation, friend, beloved, husband.

    us too – that’s what the “song of songs” is about. mind you, “relation” – now i’m thinking Sat Auntie or Vahe Uncle. we also have many Names for G!D which are related to the Divine Attribute we are interfacing with, as it were:

    MeLeKh MaLKheI HaMLaKHIM – King above the King of Kings (k.o.k. was what the persian emperor used to call himself, so this is kind of a “call yourself a king?” name)

    EL MaLeI RaHaMIM – Full of Mercy One (also relates to “rehem”, the word for womb; EL ShaDdaY is related to “shadayim”, breasts.)

    EYN SOF – Infinite Endlessness (think Brahman)

    HaY Ha-’OLaMIM – Life of the Worlds

    a particular favourite is Ha-MaQOM: “The Place”.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  64. Kismet Hardy — on 1st February, 2007 at 3:35 pm  

    Oh tell me what you want what you really really really want I wahha I wahha I wahha really really really zig ah zig ah

    c. wahhabie by the spice girls

  65. bananabrain — on 1st February, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

    I find these interpretative legalities, which good enough in intention, to be more useful in killing the Spirit, as Jesus was known to have said, than being deferential to Ishwar.

    there is no doubt that this can indeed be the case – but it can equally well be argued that theological conformity and individual behavioural liberty (i.e. you interpret the Text for yourself according to how you feel at that moment) without legal guidance are equally if not more likely to cause problems.

    Wahhabies, your favourite Muslim subtypes, are sticklers for hyper-literal interpretations of the law.

    well, we have our own wahhabis, you know, but they don’t have their own country. a synagogue is about their limit. we may be hyper-interpreters, but we could not justly be accused of literalism; an examination of jewish approaches to the first chapter of genesis (compared to the way those idiots in the bible belt read it) ought to make that clear: question one being “so, right, if it says ‘there was evening and there was morning, the first day, how was that defined, if the sun and moon hadn’t been Created yet?”

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  66. Jagdeep — on 1st February, 2007 at 3:54 pm  

    EYN SOF – Infinite Endlessness

    Yes it seems similar to Brahman and Sikh concepts of God. You know the one credo that all Sikhs believe regardless of their observance or orthodoxy, as close as it is possible to say that there is a single Sikh conception and basic statement of Sikh beliefs is the Mool Mantra which when I think about it is actually a description of the many names and attributes of God.

  67. Jagdeep — on 1st February, 2007 at 3:56 pm  

    Translated into English:

    One Universal Creator God, whose Name Is Truth, Creative Being Personified, No Fear, No Hatred, Image Of Undying, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent, By Guru’s Grace Chant And Meditate the Name

  68. bananabrain — on 1st February, 2007 at 4:01 pm  

    don’t know about the “personified” bit. and there are definitely some things that, as far as we know, G!D really does hate, like idolatry.

    but it is remarkably similar to our own outlook if a tiny bit more hippy-ish. *wink*

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  69. William — on 1st February, 2007 at 5:44 pm  

    A curious thought occured to me a few weeks ago.

    What if Martians visited the earth or say just hovered above us observing us. Suppose they observed our religious practices. If they only had a superficial knowlege of us could they be forgiven for concluding that both Druids and Muslims worship stones. This may seem daft but think about it!!

  70. Don — on 1st February, 2007 at 6:21 pm  

    William,

    If we are being observed then it is probably through ET’s picking up TV broadcasts. Which may explain why every other sentient being in the universe has decided not to bother making contact.

  71. Chairwoman — on 1st February, 2007 at 6:24 pm  

    Celebrity ET? I’ll get my coat.

  72. Don — on 1st February, 2007 at 6:54 pm  

    I’ve got nothing against ET’s, it’s just those Betelgusians.

  73. Nick — on 1st February, 2007 at 8:28 pm  

    bananabrain – thankyou.

    i think all the GA!!!!!WD stuff is all silly though, like drawing a cartoon of the Pr!!!!!phet – cultic human stuff designed to claim offence and define differnce. I mean, does GOD really give a shit?

  74. Chairwoman — on 1st February, 2007 at 8:41 pm  

    Nobody’s going to take offence Nick, it’s for us to do, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does. At least that’s my take on it.

  75. Sunny — on 1st February, 2007 at 10:14 pm  

    don’t know about the “personified” bit. and there are definitely some things that, as far as we know, G!D really does hate, like idolatry.

    As do Sikhs. In fact my brother led a protest once against some Sikh shop trying to sell idols of Guru Nanak (the founder). Silly people.

  76. Sid — on 1st February, 2007 at 10:25 pm  

    There’s a very line between Bhakti-ism and idolatry.

  77. William — on 1st February, 2007 at 11:20 pm  

    Of course I was connecting Druids with Stonehenge
    and Muslims with the divine meteorite (stone)in the Kaba.

  78. Don — on 1st February, 2007 at 11:24 pm  

    what’s a fine line?

  79. bananabrain — on 2nd February, 2007 at 10:28 am  

    nick –

    we are Commanded not to use Divine Names falsely, “taking it in vain” and all that. so we refer to G!D by paraphrases and paraphrases of paraphrases. obviously the difference between a !! and a — is not all that important, but that is because it’s english, not lashon haqodesh, the “holy tongue”. therefore english words aren’t really Divine Names as we would understand it, merely conceptual signifiers. so i choose to use my own meaningful conceptual signification rather than sticking with what i consider to be a bit of a shite compromise which, moreover, suggests that the english word “God” is somehow holy.

    i do agree with you about “claiming” offence, though – it takes two to tango. we believe G!D Is perfectly capable of coping with whatever we come up with, so getting all steamed up about people making perfectly valid points is not really what we’d do. judaism believes in freedom of choice (without that, sin and repentance would just be ridiculous) and, i would argue, free speech within the “fire-in-a-theatre” framework. our tradition is founded upon debate and argument. abraham argued with G!D about sodom and gomorrah, moses argued with G!D about his mission. the sages famously argued with G!D about whether certain ovens were kosher or not – and G!D Admitted defeat. the opinions of dissenting minorities must be respected and preserved, in case they one day become the majority. but nowadays, G!D doesn’t expect us to expect Divine Intervention.

    as for cartoons of muhammad, protesting about that sort of thing is not our bag. if free speech is the law, then it’s the law. end of story. we are certainly concerned about blasphemy, but even a prophet is still a human being and subject to reasonable criticism. even moses was criticised and vilified without G!D necessarily putting on the Smiting Hat.

    as for “defining difference”, there i will have to defend that. we are all different and i do not think i should have to apologise for that. we are commanded to maintain various forms of social and cultural separation and this is adhered to in varying degrees by our different sects. however, we do not (unlike some) kid ourselves that we are going to turn the UK into a jewish theocracy. that is completely unnecessary in judaism because we do not believe that judaism is superior – just that it is de rigeur for jews, not everyone. hence it’s hard to convert and we don’t evangelise.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  80. sonia — on 2nd February, 2007 at 12:10 pm  

    sid 76. :-)

    i tend to see a fine line between idolatry and lots of things in so-called monotheistic religion.

  81. bananabrain — on 2nd February, 2007 at 12:19 pm  

    sonia – so do i; like near-deification of religious leaders. i don’t approve of that at all.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  82. Sid Love — on 2nd February, 2007 at 12:22 pm  

    sonia

    There’s certainly a lot of Bhakti-ism in monotheistic religions. Some of it certainly translates into idolatry but not explicitly so. Take for example the worship of the “body” of Christ, or venration of the icons and statues, which could be viewed as idolatry but isn’t. Or the veneration of graves of Sufi saints by followers, which many Wahhabis idioticly (?) view as idolatry. W

    What are these things you see as idolatry in monotheistic religions.

  83. Arif — on 2nd February, 2007 at 12:29 pm  

    I don’t know what sonia is getting at, but what I sometimes perceive is worship of our own desires, egos or group, dressed up as faithfulness to God’s will. I consider that idolatry – but that is because of how I have learned from religious texts. To another, I am just dressing up my own desire to oppose the righteous in religious garb.

  84. bananabrain — on 2nd February, 2007 at 12:55 pm  

    the way some ultra-orthodox groups treat their rabbis, as well as the way many non-orthodox groups treat the documentary hypothesis.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  85. sonia — on 2nd February, 2007 at 12:56 pm  

    well it’s the attitude of the people i meet really sid – rather than the ‘things’ in themselves. so say for example over the years ive heard so many people dissing hindus for their style of worship and the symbolism etc. as idolatry. at the end of the day i personally think it there’s a fine line between symbolism and ‘idolatry’ – it depends on the attitude – i don’t think things are ‘idolatrous’ in themselves – but rather it’s how literally people take things. Given that people make such a fuss about ‘idol worshipping’ – as you say – i can’t then see why they don’t realize making a big deal about people’s graves and relics is pretty much the same sort of thing. And what about praying in one direction for mUslims? Do people really literally think God hangs out in one direction? yes no? well they still do it don’t they. so again – it’s about what the point is. if it makes someone feel happy – good for them. if it helps them get some sort of meaning in their lives – good for them. it doesn’t bother me. but i find it amusing that a lot of people do this sort of thing then jump up and down about ‘idolatry’. and then the obsession that seems to be prevalent about the ‘House of God’ – the Kaa’ba. I mean – i get the point about spiritual significance, historical value yes yes all very well and good in themselves. fine again if it makes people feel whatever. but it seems to me from the fuss some people make you’d think they think God really sits in the House or something like that. No offence to anyone – but those attitudes seem to me to be taking things a bit literally. Which if anything – seems to be what the fuss is about idolatry…

    I just think that if monotheistic religion is going to take the piss out of other people engaging in similar sorts of symbolic representation in attempting to ‘commune’ with some concept of God – then they ought not to be so high and mighty about what they’re up to themselves.

  86. Sid Love — on 2nd February, 2007 at 1:38 pm  

    Yes, I agree completely. But Muslims who do venerate graves, the Sufis, for example, never call Hindus idolators. They know that there’s difference between veneration and idolatry.

  87. sonia — on 2nd February, 2007 at 2:06 pm  

    Interesting Sid. I myself don’t know anything about real Sufis apart from this one really interesting bloke we met in Olympos last summer (turkey) ).

  88. Jagdeep — on 2nd February, 2007 at 2:11 pm  

    bananabrain

    What’s all this Kabbala business about then? Is it a genuine Jewish school or is it something you disagree with?

  89. sonia — on 2nd February, 2007 at 2:16 pm  

    “but what I sometimes perceive is worship of our own desires, egos or group, dressed up as faithfulness to God’s will.”

    that’s an interesting point – I would say that ( in my opinion and observation ) that applies to a lot of people who want authority and power and use religion as the mechanism.

    which is of course what makes the study of sociology of religion so fascinating!

  90. Chairwoman — on 2nd February, 2007 at 2:46 pm  

    Kabala’s real, it’s a mystic thing, I know virtually nothing about it. I do however know that Madonna’s sect is not recognised

    I am sure that bb will tell you more as he knows EVERYTHING.

    I do know that when I was a child my grandmother made me wear a red ‘bendel’, which is like the red string that Madonna’s crew wear, to ward off the evil eye (I was considered to have rather nice hair, and Grandma thought that someone would covet it and ill-wish me). But then Grandma tended to be superstitious, my mother said that when she was a child the ‘kishev machor’, a woman who had the ability, among other things, to put curses on people, would sometimes come and call on her mother, who treated her with extreme courtesy, gave her food and money when she left, and then said a prayer of relief.

  91. Jagdeep — on 2nd February, 2007 at 2:49 pm  

    Wow you guys believe in the Evil Eye thing too? So do we. I had a piece of string tied on my wrist when I was a kid as well because of all that stuff. I’s called ‘Nazaar’ or something like that, the evil eye. Your grandmother sounds like any number of superstitious Indian aunties you see everywhere. Every family has one.

  92. bananabrain — on 2nd February, 2007 at 3:58 pm  

    *bows to chairwoman auntie, blushing* – ach, no i don’t. stop it.

    kabbalah. hmmm. well, i have been a student of this myself for some time. in fact it is kabbalah, or “hokhmat nistar” (hidden knowledge) as it is also called (“kabbalah” meaning “received tradition”) that is responsible for my being as religious as i am nowadays. all that mad stuff we jews have to do – it is nistar that provides the substructure that makes it all actually make sense. it is fearfully clever stuff. in my experience, without a knowledge of the kabbalistic side of what is going on, it is sometimes extremely hard to understand the point of some of the weirder customs and traditions. once you do know what is supposed to be going on, it is kind of life-changing and has indeed changed mine.

    basically, it is a really big subject and one which would take a multitude of lifetimes to cover, to say nothing of the huge number of books that are available nowadays. in fact, i’m writing one myself; can’t tell you what on (and wish i could finish the bloody thing, four years in) but the main thing is how to tell the good stuff from the bad and the horrible – like madonna’s “kabbalah centre” lot, who are nothing but a bunch of money-grubbing charlatans in the opinion of all who know anything about the subject.

    kabbalah is our mysticism. it is our tantra and our yoga. it is our qi gong and our tao. it is our kung fu, our sufism, our zen, our meditative, visionary and prophetic tradition. it is our shamanism. it is our new age, too unfortunately, as well as a prime driver of some of the looniest of our fundamentalist nationalists, not just the chasidim, but many of the most unpleasant settler rabbis. it is also an integral part of judaism. people who say you can do kabbalah without judaism (e.g. madonna’s lot) are kidding themselves.

    it is also very complicated. for those who are interested, i can provide some links but the best place i have found for most non-jews (and some jews) to start is here: http://www.ecauldron.com/kabbalah.php

    if you would like to discuss this in a more appropriate setting, i encourage you to step over to my office on the judaism board at http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/judaism.html
    where i moderate.

    and, yes, red strings and the evil eye – this is on the superstitious end of the spectrum but is extremely common these days. if you’re sephardi, like me, we mention the “‘ayeen ha-r’a” a lot in prayer – but then, kabbalah never got the bad name for us that it did in europe…

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  93. sabinaahmed — on 2nd February, 2007 at 4:54 pm  

    Re 91

    Talking of “nazar” or the evil eye, I waas very surprised to see this tradition in Egypt and Turkey. They have the shape of an eye painted either on a turquise or a blue stone, and they are hung in shops and homes and tied around the wrists of children. In Turkey they are available in all sizes, but all on blue background. People give them to you as a gesture of good will.
    It is funny how some traditions are found around the world.May be the mankind has more in common than they realisee.

  94. Sid Love — on 2nd February, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

    Then there’s the tradition of mothers pretending to spit on their child, so as to give the impression that s/he is ugly to ward off the evil eye. I thought this was a uniquely Bengali tradition but then I saw the Greek momma do it in the film ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’.

  95. El Cid — on 2nd February, 2007 at 5:34 pm  

    The Hand of Fatimah: You’ll find it all over Morocco too.

  96. Katy — on 2nd February, 2007 at 5:56 pm  

    Jews spit three times to ward off the evil eye, as seen in that famous Jewish biopic “Fiddler on the Roof”. My grandmother used to do it.

    (It isn’t really spitting though these days. You just say “p-p-p”. You don’t actually spit stuff out.)

  97. Chairwoman — on 2nd February, 2007 at 6:00 pm  

    Greeks do the eye thing too! I was told it’s the eye of Y-u Kn-w W-o, but I have nothing to back this up.

  98. Chairwoman — on 2nd February, 2007 at 6:04 pm  

    We also have the hand, not always with the eye it’s called a ‘Hamsa’.

    This is getting weirder by the minute.

  99. Ravi Naik — on 2nd February, 2007 at 6:19 pm  

    >> Then there’s the tradition of mothers pretending to spit on their child, so as to give the impression that s/he is ugly to ward off the evil eye. I thought this was a uniquely Bengali tradition but then I saw the Greek momma do it in the film ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’.

    The Chinese try to protect themselves from the evil eye, so better not compliment your chinese friend’s baby. :)

  100. William — on 2nd February, 2007 at 7:46 pm  

    Sonia *85

    ” i personally think it there’s a fine line between symbolism and ‘idolatry’ – it depends on the attitude”

    I agree it depends on ones inner intention and motive.

    Talking of Kabbalah, BB what is meant by the concept of Kether. Once a long time ago I was taken to what I was told was a meditation class. It turned out to be Kabbalah where we did tree of life meditations that were complex visualisations called path workings or something. Only went for a few weeks. Just went back to doing my oh so simple Buddhist meditations.

  101. Chairwoman — on 2nd February, 2007 at 7:59 pm  

    William – bb’s religious and won’t be back before Monday

  102. William — on 2nd February, 2007 at 8:06 pm  

    Chairwoman

    Thanks for telling me.

  103. bananabrain — on 5th February, 2007 at 9:51 am  

    william,

    take a look here:

    http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/index.html

    it’s a very big question. perhaps one of the big questions. remember the sefirot are not G!D, but rather an “interface”.

    “ten and not nine, ten and not eleven.”

    – sefer yetzirah, the “book of creation”

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.