Saturday, 2nd December 2023

Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism on my mind

By Tony Afejuku
26 April 2019   |   3:57 am
There is a crisis of religion. No. There is a crisis of religions. And we do not need to dwell on this; we do not need to express this thought by way of using many metaphors, circumlocutions and imprecise figures of expression and images. Simply, we need clarity as we here submit our attention to…

There is a crisis of religion. No. There is a crisis of religions. And we do not need to dwell on this; we do not need to express this thought by way of using many metaphors, circumlocutions and imprecise figures of expression and images.

Simply, we need clarity as we here submit our attention to the crisis of religions that I would gladly describe as troubling and agonizing to us today. And to do so I have the authority and authorization of those religious fanatics who are torturing and tormenting us physically and psychologically with suicide (or do we say suicidal?) bombings and killings of people and members of religions and faiths different from theirs. Do not doubt me.

The recent Easter blasts in Sri Lanka underscores the wretchedness of humanity which religions champion. Islamic extremists carried out the Sri Lanka murders of Christians as resplendent retaliation for the Christchurch, New Zealand killings of Muslims by a demented Christian and white supremacist.

Of course, even here in our country we have time after time witnessed killings and counter-killings by Muslims and Christians. And I have always wondered to myself: Why do Christianity and Islam have as their theme human wretchedness which they have unleashed on our world? Why have Christianity and Islam given us the incurable tragic sores and ulcers that are our wretched lot today?

A few weeks back, actually, barely two months ago, I was in Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. on the invitation of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA).

In this high-profile American university, writers and scholars of diverse disciplines from different parts of the world converged to tackle troubling topics in the Bible.

The Holy Bible was examined from different perspectives not as a Christian book but as a work deserving of special attention as literature. Religious subjects and topics in the Bible and outside it but comparatively (and un-comparatively) related to it were digested. The “seminar” I partook in focused on “Sacred Troubling Topics in Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Qur’an.”

Jewish scholars, particularly a female Jewish researcher and critic, who chaired the seminar, impressed it upon me that Judaism is their religion as Jews.

The chairwoman, as a Judaist, does not believe that Jesus Christ, a fellow Jew, is a redeemer or the redeemer of our world. At best, Jesus Christ was a messenger of God and will forever remain so in the consciousness of Jews and Judaists whose religion of Judaism is based on the Old Testament “and the Talmud and having as its central point a belief in the one God as transcendent creator of all things and the sources of all righteousness.”

Simply put, to the Jews and Judaists, Jesus Christ was a mere mortal and not “God the Son” as Christians outside the Jewish state proclaim him to be. Thus rather than be “Christianized” the Jews collectively will Judaize Christians and others. Thus must be the reason, I thought, the Middle East would continually witness hot wars that will ever be fiercely blazing in the region where ice-cold feelings will remain at best troubling myths.

Now this huge question, a troubling huge question: Who passionately rule the world as monsters of war, passionate and paranoid monsters of war, Judaists or Christians or Muslims? The Jews are everywhere in the world tasting influence, wealth, power and knowledge despite their small number. And you may exclaim that God must be a Jew! If Christians are not or may not be mad at this thought because their Redeemer, Son of God and Saviour of Mankind, is a Jew, Muslims of the religion of Islam will have none of it.

This is why Islam is intolerant of Judaism and Christianity, and why its adherents are continually challenging everything Judaists and Christians engage in instantaneous explosions.

This clearly may be an exaggeration but why the bombings and bombings everywhere in the Middle East and outside the Middle East? And with all the mighty wealth of the Arabs, why can the Muslims there (and elsewhere) not think of improving and changing our world scientifically, technologically, medically and agriculturally as Judaists and Christians have been doing? Or who will deny that Islam is not shocking us with any idea or knowledge of incomparable excellence? Of course, Islam shocks us with incomparable demonstrations of powerful bombs that instantly choke and kill their victims. But the art and technology and science and mathematics of bombing don’t belong to Islam but to Christianity and Judaism.

This string of remarks cannot but be contentious. And it was to the critics, questioners and pro-intellectuals of inner experience that all religions should give their adherents for the good of the world and humanity. If all religions truly embrace syncreticism and adopt syn-crisis in their practices and demonstrations, their adherents would be more tolerant of one another, and truly be appalled at the absurdity of the human condition.

In this wise, they will truly aim at gaining universal appeal without winning or gaining converts with force – as Hinduism tends to demonstrate through its historical and universal respect for all living beings. Indians, who are the owners of Hinduism, abstain from the killing and eating of meat, of animals, of all creatures, to demonstrate their moral love for all things and beings created by God.

Hindus kill fellow humans in self-defence against Muslims who invaded their land and tried to convert them to Islam by force of arms.

The wars in most parts of India and Asia today have their origin in the war agents of the invading foreign religion and its adherents. This thinking may be peevishly absurd – irrespective of the historical circumstances that compelled it.

One major point of contention which was really troubling related to the point of a revolutionary Muslim Scholar, Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle, who in his book Homosexuality in IsIam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims, postulates that “Homosexuality [is not] categorically forbidden.”

Furthermore, any Islamic work or reports from Hadith that “denounce homosexuality are of dubious authenticity.” Indeed, there are no verses in the Qur’an that “unambiguously condemn homosexuality.” Is this an attempt to demonize Islam and the Qur’an? To answer this question, let us go to the Bible and Christianity.

Is the Bible not equally a “holy” book that dwells on the subject of the destruction of sexual organs? Does the Bible not dwell on or luxuriate in the subject of transgender or transsexuals? Is Joseph the Dreamer not an example of a transgender contrary to the claim of Christianity? Indeed, was/is Joseph a woman or a man? If he was a man, was he, pretty, beautiful Joseph not a eunuch in charge of the harem of his masters? Clearly, to answer these troubling questions one way or the other would mean that one would be demonizing the Bible. And what can we say about arguments and questions relating to the Bible as a book of religion that champions slavery, and un-homophobic and xenophobic inclinations? By the way, was Joseph not sold into slavery?

What the claims and counter-claims, what the argument and counter-arguments tended to make explicit and underscore was/is that the drama of human existence today is traceable to the Bible and Qur’an. That man today is what he is in our world is traceable to these two “holy” books which are more or less historical and literary works which speak to us of our human condition of torment, agony and humour. Some scholars even contend that our two famous books of Christianity and Islam are books of jokes – in several respects. But many persons will disagree with these utterances. That is expected and is as it should be in our thoughts of thoughts and minds of different schools of mind and thought.

I left Georgetown University with rich, unforgettable memories of sumptuousness that will remain sumptuous in the scenes of my mind.