This medieval mind
These words from the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah al-Sheikh, are the perfect key to comprehend Middle Eastern issues: “We must understand these [Iranians] are not Muslims. They are the son of the Magi and their hostility toward Muslims is an old one, especially with the People of the Tradition [Sunnis],” (BBC, Sept. 6).
The Magi were the clergy of Zoroastrianism, a religion that once dominated Iran, during the times before Islam.
Can you see what a deep conditioning for hostility this is?
Iran’s religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, on Sept. 5, accused the Saudis of “murdering” pilgrims caught up in a stampede at last year’s Hajj.
This is how the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia answered him!
Why, in the entire Middle East, as well as Pakistan, do Sunni and Shiite militants bomb each other’s mosques? Why are there Talibans, al-Qaedas and ISILs? Why are there Hezbollahs?
Do you know what Boko Haram means? It means “education is wrong, illicit.”
Why is it that in the Middle East, sects do not remain as “beliefs” but they come to form conflicting political identities causing bloody fights?
Why are the most problematic regions in the world Muslim communities?
There are many reasons for this but, in my opinion, the most important one is to be caught up with old knowledge, old fatwas, and the old interpretation of beliefs; in other words, to be experiencing medieval times in the 21st century.
They use modern tools and vehicles, such as trains, automobiles and computers. They are particular masters of modern weapons. But the system of values guiding feelings and behaviors still belong to the Dark Ages.
Our ex-president Abdullah Gül also said this: “The Islamic world is experiencing now what Europe experienced in the Middle Ages,” (Sept. 22, 2013).
This is so because the fatwa and doctrine books that were written with the medieval mentality and system of values are read, regarded and explained as the everlasting interpretation of religion, as religion itself… Thus, in this way, minds are closed to modern developments achieved by humanity in knowledge and values.
From this point of view, while translating books today that were written in those times, we should not forget they are actually “historic” pieces.
Al-Ghazali is absolutely a great thinker but can his advice of “do not go for long-distance commercial trips” be valid today? No, not at all…
Just as important as knowledge is the advancement in the field of “values.” In medieval Europe, streams of blood were shed in religious and sectarian conflicts. The concepts that led the continent to advancement in the field of values are equality, freedom of religion and conscience and the freedom to believe and not believe. Of course, it is the philosophy of law, separation of powers and, as an outcome of all of these, the democratic and secular legal system that aids in this.
Behind these concepts, there are libraries full of books on the new knowledge and philosophies that have sent the Dark Ages to history.
Well, when this scientific mentality is lacking, the number of academic publications from the entire population of the world’s 1 billion Muslims is behind France alone.
When philosophical concepts such as “equality, freedom, rule of law” in the field of values are not instilled into minds and souls, then this happens: The Islamic world is now going through what Europe experienced in the Middle Ages, with poverty, sectarian fights, cruelty and massacres, migrations and bloody organizations which make people their robots.
Those who feel the agony of this should encourage Muslims not to engage in wars of belief and identity or political fights, but in modern science and democratic law.