In isolation

For years I have lamented and bemoaned being cut off by language from the life of the mosque. But now, as I learn of the sectarian polemics, tribalism and grotesque conflict which bubbles away under the surface, I am grateful to have been so cut off. What great mercies, despite appearances at the time!

Saved sects

Isn’t it strange that Muslims celebrate so much when a person embraces Islam? Because there seems to be nothing Muslims delight in more than declaring their fellow believers heretics, apostates or adherents of a sect destined for the hellfire, on the basis of assumed beliefs, imagined alliances and a large dose of group think.

Here’s a hint: if you believe you’re a member of The Saved Sect, then guess what, you’re a sect.

Yes we heard you! You alone are true Sunnis. Congratulations! Who cares? Who said you had to call yourself a Sunni? What’s wrong with Muslim, the only label out of the multitude of labels that has any basis?

Sunni sectarianism is as vile as every other kind of sectarianism, with its ever decreasing circles of belonging. It is no different from Wahabi sectarianism which they so deride – and which they declare every other believer to be.

Why celebrate the latest celebrity to allegedly embrace Islam, when you cannot embrace your fellow Muslims on their journey of faith? Who would want a slice of the odious arrogance which characterises our interactions today?

Not me, that’s for sure. If your way is so great, invite to it, don’t chase people away. As for me: too late, I’ve seen it for what it is.

Convertitus

I have a friend afflicted with a particularly virulent strain of Convertitus. Anyone know the best treatment for this insidious condition? I’m minded to just put him in quarantine until it goes away, but his strain of Convertitus is unfortunately manifesting itself in extremely unpleasant ways, with terrible effects on all who come into contact with him. Is there a known cure?

Advertising

I fear that in the not too distant future we will miss our consumerist utopia, lamenting the loss of our febrile freedom to live as we please. Demagogues, despots and the pious disciples of tradition all seem united in the belief that a great war of epic proportions will somehow be the harbinger of our spiritual revival.

So enjoy the promotion of the mundane while you can, I say. Better to be defined by the stuff you owned and the numbing insignificance of your life, than by a hideous slaughter brought about by a people who needed a purpose and place. It is the advertising which sells us fascism as the antidote to our insignificance which we should truly fear.

Be insignificant. It’s better for us all.

Pyramids

Assalamunalaukizum! Are you a gullible beardo looking to replayz your Toyota Corolla wid a Bentley? You are? Then sign up for our Islamic Pyramid Scheme today. Worried Multi-Layered Network Marketting is a scam and haram? Get wid the game boy, LOL! Who seds it was haram man? You aints nothing but a howndog. This is legit man, I gots a Bentley on my drive AND a Mercedes Benz! And whats you gots man? My points exackly. So get with the kool kids man, and signs up for our 100% guaranteed halalalicious Islamidocious get-someone-rich scheme today. You wonts regret it, no diddly way. I is promising you.

New consensus

What we so-called leftie pc liberals recognised in the heady years after the fall of communism and apartheid was that all of humanity has the right to dignity and self-determination; that it is not nice to invade other people’s lands and then characterise the people as terrorists when they rise up against you.
 
For a brief spell we allowed ourselves to acknowledge that great wrongs had been done by our predecessors in bombarding and gassing local tribes from the biplanes across the Middle East and Africa, whom we characterised as mad, uncivilised primitives, resisting the invaders for no other reason than puerile fanaticism.
 
For a few brief years, there seemed to be a consensus that native peoples had a right to resist colonialism; that all nations deserved to be free.
 
But now we are told that we were all wrong. That might is right. That indigenous people no longer have the right to seek self-determination. That all that is wrong with the world is because we have been too weak, that we have not been assertive enough, that we have been too servile in demonstrating to the world that our way is the best. That we are a superior people, who by right should rule the world.
 
And so now all the talk is of taking the fight to all who stand in our way. To resist the resistance. To reassert our dominance and the rightness of our way of life for all, by whatever means possible. The new consensus seeks to remake the world in the image of the worst of us.
 
And the so-called leftie pc liberal is once more the enemy within, with his rancid platitudes about equality and compassion. He is the anti-patriot and an evil to be vanquished. He is all turn-the-other-cheek, peace and love, and naively internationalist.
 
He must be crushed first, and then the world.

ad-blocker disabled

Dear Publisher,

I have just responded to your plea to turn off the ad-blocker when visiting your website, by disabling it. But I wanted to follow up with the reason I’m using an ad-blocker, in the hope that we can meet in the middle.

I have no real objection to being shown adverts on the websites I visit. I fully understand that publishers need to fund their operations in a financially sustainable fashion.

The problem is this: many advertisements are so memory intensive and poorly optimised for the web, that they cause pages to load slowly, laptop fans to go into overdrive, the hardware to become uncomfortably hot under the palms of our hands and, when mobile, unnecessarily consume data.

The terrible memory management of the Chrome web browser is often the culprit, and it’s true that we could always choose to use a different web browser, but the alternatives have their own set of problems. And so we use an ad-blocker instead.

If publishers would look again at the kinds of adverts they put on their pages, I will certainly look again at using an ad-blocker. If they will stop using intrusive, poorly optimised advertisements that cause my usually cool-running MacBook to turn into a cooker, I’ll permanently turn the ad-blocking software off.

If publishers could find a middle ground between funding their work and providing a reader-centric user experience, I think the number of people using ad-blockers would definitely decrease.

Optimise or die, might be the lesson for the developers behind these adverts.

Your sincerely, etc.

On rejection

If you went out to buy a car and a salesman tried to convince you that the car you were buying was a Tesla Model S, when it was in fact a Ford Mondeo, we’d commend your discernment if you rejected his proposition.

To the casual observer, it might look like you’re turning down the Tesla. But in reality you’re merely rejecting a Ford you were told was a Tesla. In fact it’s good that you’re rejecting the Ford, because it is not the car you wanted. Even so, you might earn a reputation as the man who rejected a Tesla Model S when it was offered to you. And you may even convince yourself that you rejected the Tesla as an inferior car, based on your experience of the Ford you thought was a Tesla.

These adventures of faith and the heart are not dissimilar. You might reject ideas, which you have always been taught are fundamental aspects of your beliefs, which lead you towards a truer reality. You might then arrive at a sounder destination than the one who appears to believe in those ideas without question. You might reject an idea which has no basis and find yourself the true believer. Conversely, you might insist on an idea which has no basis and find yourself a disbeliever unbeknownst.

In these times, people are asked to believe in all sorts of things which are not fundamental beliefs, and which may even be contrary to core beliefs. Their rejection of them may be bad news for these wooly concepts of orthodoxy, but might ultimately be good for us in the long run, if they mean a return to a purer, less obscured faith, uncompromised by cultural and political accretions.

Our tribes

For a people that allegedly stands firm against idolatry, the pervasive cult of celebrity witnessed in our communities is certainly perturbing. Could fame be the worst thing to happen to any of us?

The cult of celebrity frequently leads us down blind avenues. Tragically, we only seem to be able to view issues through the binary prisms of right or wrong, good or bad, love or hate. We don’t do nuance. You’re either with us or you’re against us. We’ll defend our team, come what may, and vanquish the opposition absolutely.

So it is that whenever those who have always hated a person pounce on what was said due to enmity, the real issue is immediately lost and is consequently ignored, by all sides. It happens so often on all manner of issues, from domestic violence and abuse to racism and corruption. In these games of love and hate, real issues are constantly ignored, to our detriment.

And yet outside our own peculiar bubble, these discussions are of no consequence. Whose side you were on, or who you chose to stand with, is irrelevant. So don’t just be mindful of the feelings of those you adore. Also be mindful of the feelings of those we choose to ignore.

The poor and dispossessed are frequently trampled upon by those who can only see the greatness of their leaders. Yes, it is great to make excuses for people, but sometimes our guides need good counsel too. To be reminded: ‘Whatever happened to “I don’t know”?’ To be reminded that they are but human, and that the followings and fan clubs will pass.