Posted: 04 Aug 2013 12:47 PM PDT
Many years ago I met a Sufi master whose profound understanding of Islam truly impressed me.
But before I continue with this story, let me state that almost all the Muslims with whom I have had close friendships have either been Sufis - or were gravitating towards a mystical interpretation of Islam. The mystical approach is experiential and private; whereas ritualistic religion is regulated by public behavior and therefore tends to be tribalistic in nature.
I find it impossible to have an intelligent conversation with fundamentalists of any persuasion - whether Muslim, Christian or whatever. This is because fundamentalism is antagonistic to intelligence. Wherever violence erupts over religious differences, fundamentalism is invariably the root cause. Brawn and brute force override brain and heart when independent thinking is suppressed.
Looking up the word "fundamentalism" in my trusty digital dictionary, I found this concise summary:
"Islamic fundamentalism appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries as a reaction to the disintegration of Islamic political and economic power, asserting that Islam is central to both state and society and advocating strict adherence to the Koran (Qur'an) and to Islamic law (sharia), supported if need be by jihad or holy war."
There you have it. Fundamentalism is basically an outward manifestation of ego insecurity. An entire tribe or nation can suffer from ego insecurity and seek refuge in hardline dogmatism and fanaticism. You could say it's a pathological condition and, as such, can be quite easily cured - once the hidden hand behind the reactionary forces is revealed and surgically amputated.
In every case you will find that the chief puppetmaster isn't even a believer. He cynically exploits the gullibility of the mindless mob and manipulates its collective pain-body through control of the mass media and law enforcement.
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