Worthwhile Reads: An answer for everything

Worthwhile Reads: An answer for everything July 14, 2012

Blogger Sober Second Look has another piece you should read:

The conservative brands of Islam that I came to know intimately all had one thing in common: they gave you knowledge of everything. Everything in this world that mattered, anyway, as well as a glimpse of the next.

Whatever question you might have, there was a plausible-sounding, coherent answer for. Often, a fairly straightforward answer. All you had to do was to ask an imam, a shaykh, or a person known for their Islamic knowledge.Any question at all. Ritual questions. Legal questions. Ethical questions. Practical questions. Theological questions. Eschatological questions. Questions about how Islamic beliefs stack up against other religions. Historical questions. Psychological questions. And so on.

The world made sense, because we learned how to slot every question, every experience, every situation or thing that we encountered or read or heard about into its “correct” place in the scheme of things. And because we could do that, we gained a feeling of control over our lives. And, sad to say, over the lives of others.

It really is interesting how similar the attractions of fundamentalism are across religions. Uncanny, really. Because I’ve often thought of fundamentalist Christianity in the same terms – it offers answers to all the big questions, answers that are simple and easy to understand, and a way of making sense of the world that dispensed with uncertainty. And for many, that is very attractive.


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