Sunday, February 19, 2006
Islam: Pretty much setting the standard for "idolatry."
You know, when it comes to the current anger in the Muslim world over the cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad being based on an objection to "idolatry," I'm thinking that argument would be a wee bit more convincing if it wasn't coming from people whose own religion is pretty much built on a foundation of pure and unadulterated idolatry in the first place.
It was only a few days ago that I was half listening to the CBC when I heard a Muslim explain that, in a typical Muslim household, the Koran is normally stored in a high location -- that is, above the heads of everyone to signify its proper place in the hierarchy of ... well, everything. At which point, I realized that, for a religion that is so vocally opposed to the practice of idolatry, those folks are pretty much hip deep in it 24 hours a day, aren't they?
Note well the definition of the word itself: "Worship of idols" or "Blind or excessive devotion to something." And if the Muslim relation to the Koran doesn't just scream "idolatry," I don't know what does.
Now, note well what I'm talking about here. I'm not talking about the general strength of one's religious beliefs, oh, no. If that was all, then one could fairly say that a lot of Christians are in the same boat with their slavish, mindless devotion to the literal innerancy of the Holy Scriptures. But that's just a general worship of the beliefs, or principles, if you will.
Islam quite clearly takes this whole idea one giant leap further by making the physical book itself an object of veneration. I'm sure readers will remember the controversy in the Muslim world regarding accusations that American guards were infuriating Muslim detainees by desecrating the Koran.
And note, again very carefully, those accusations weren't bsaed so much on guards demeaning Muslim religious beliefs, or questioning their devotion. No, it was based on little more than stories of someone desecrating just the physical book, perhaps by flushing it down a toilet. And when a religion elevates the simple physical object of the book itself to that level of devotion and worship, well ... you are pretty well swimming in idolatry at that point, aren't you?
And it's worth seeing how the Christian and Muslim religions differ on that point. Certainly, there are Christians who are equally devout in their religious beliefs in the absolute, literal innerancy of their holy book but, interestingly, those people don't seem to have any problem putting copies of that same book into every hotel room on the planet, in the hope that the occasional person might somehow be indoctrinated by it.
Those Christians can't possibly have any idea what random hotel guests are going to do with that copy of the Bible. They might read it, they might ignore it or they might rip a few pages out of it to prop up that unstable table in the corner of the room. In any case, those Christians seem to be careful about drawing a distinction between their fundamental beliefs and the physical copy of the book that holds those beliefs, and good for them.
Not so with Islam, apparently, when even threats of Koran desecration can drive Muslims into a rage. But, really, when one is that blindly and excessively devoted to a mere physical object, what else is that but idolatry?
Does it get any more ironic than this?