God and Nonsense


Reverently burgled from I Am your God

God and Islam


Reverently burgled from I Am your God

Where Did My Morning Coffee Come From?


I wonder if the fanatical anti-Islamist Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, the nasty Dutch madman, Geert Wilders or the Muslim-hating Christopher Hitchens ever think about the origins of their morning cup of coffee?

There is an apocryphal tale which tells of an Arab named Khalid who was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. This tale was first written in the 17th century so it is more likely that the Ethiopian ancestors of today’s Oromo people were the first to discover and recognize the energizing effect of the coffee bean plant.

The spread of coffee was started simultaneously with the spread of Islam. The first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to Yemen where the Sufis drank it to stay awake all night to pray on special occasions.

Mocha or Mokha  is a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen and was the major coffee trading port. It has given its name to a favoured style of coffee.

By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice. Venetian merchants introduced coffee-drinking to the wealthy in Venice, charging them heavily for the beverage.

Coffee became more widely accepted after controversy over whether it was acceptable for Catholics to consume was settled in its favour by Pope Clement VIII in 1600, despite appeals to ban the drink. Indeed in 1674 an English “Women’s Petition Against Coffee” declared:

…the Excessive Use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE [...] has [...] Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age.

The first coffee shop, outside of the Ottoman Empire was opened in Venice in 1645.

Largely through the efforts of the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, coffee became available in England no later than the 16th century according to a 1583 account. A Turk named Pasqua Rosee, the servant of Daniel Edwards, a trader in Turkish goods, opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London.

The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee. The American “Java” seems to go back to the original Arabic.

So, Cory Bernardi, your morning coffee is a Muslim invention.

It’s Not Religion


not_religion1

To balance the apparent recent anti-Catholic leanings of the archive, here is a comment on the other two major desert religions.

Thanks for pointing me in the direction of “atheist cartoons”, Mike.

Sunday Morning Live; The Chasers



The archive’s Sunday entertainment spot

Or Saturday Night Live if you live in the Western Hemisphere

Religion can be a dangerous topic in comedy.

This may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I’m quite sure everyone will find at least one laugh here.

Is Turkey Changing Islam?


I have not written on Islam for some time. There seemed to be little change happening.

Suddenly, today, a news item on the BBC Online News changes everything.

Turkey has been in the news for moving back towards allowing women to wear head scarves in educational institutions and I admit I have been taking a “Oh Dear, the Imams are taking back their authority!” That seems to be the case, but in an unexpected manner.

I have rearranged some of the points in the published article but this is essentially what was contained within that report.

From the BBC;

Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam – and a controversial and radical modernisation of the religion. The country’s powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.

The Hadith is a collection of thousands of sayings reputed to come from the Prophet Muhammad. As such, it is the principal guide for Muslims in interpreting the Koran and the source of the vast majority of Islamic law, or Sharia.

But the Turkish state has come to see the Hadith as having an often negative influence on a society it is in a hurry to modernise, and believes it responsible for obscuring the original values of Islam. It says that a significant number of the sayings were never uttered by Muhammad, and even some that were need now to be reinterpreted.

‘Reformation’

Commentators say the very theology of Islam is being reinterpreted in order to effect a radical renewal of the religion. Its supporters say the spirit of logic and reason inherent in Islam at its foundation 1,400 years ago are being rediscovered. Some believe it could represent the beginning of a reformation in the religion.

Prof Mehmet Gormez an Hadith expert with the Department of Religious Affairs said that, “Some messages ban women from travelling without their husband’s permission… But this isn’t a religious ban. It came about because it simply wasn’t safe for a woman to travel alone

Turkish officials have been reticent about the revision of the Hadith until now, aware of the controversy it is likely to cause among traditionalist Muslims, but they have spoken to the BBC about the project, and their ambitious aims for it. The forensic examination of the Hadiths has taken place in Ankara University’s School of Theology.

An adviser to the project, Felix Koerner, says some of the sayings – also known individually as “hadiths” – can be shown to have been invented hundreds of years after the Prophet Muhammad died, to serve the purposes of contemporary society. “Unfortunately you can even justify through alleged hadiths, the Muslim – or pseudo-Muslim – practice of female genital mutilation,” he says. “You can find messages which say ‘that is what the Prophet ordered us to do’. But you can show historically how they came into being, as influences from other cultures, that were then projected onto Islamic tradition.”

The argument is that Islamic tradition has been gradually hijacked by various – often conservative – cultures, seeking to use the religion for various forms of social control. Leaders of the Hadith project say successive generations have embellished the text, attributing their political aims to the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Revolutionary

Turkey is intent on sweeping away that “cultural baggage” and returning to a form of Islam it claims accords with its original values and those of the Prophet.

But this is where the revolutionary nature of the work becomes apparent. Even some sayings accepted as being genuinely spoken by Muhammad have been altered and reinterpreted. Prof Mehmet Gormez, a senior official in the Department of Religious Affairs and an expert on the Hadith, gives a telling example. “There are some messages that ban women from travelling for three days or more without their husband’s permission and they are genuine. “But this isn’t a religious ban. It came about because in the Prophet’s time it simply wasn’t safe for a woman to travel alone like that. But as time has passed, people have made permanent what was only supposed to be a temporary ban for safety reasons.” Prof Gormez points out that in another speech, the Prophet said “he longed for the day when a woman might travel long distances alone”. So, he argues, it is clear what the Prophet’s goal was. Yet, until now, the ban has remained in the text, and helps to restrict the free movement of some Muslim women to this day.

The project justifies such bold interference in the 1,400-year-old content of the Hadith by rigorous academic research.

Original spirit

As part of its aggressive programme of renewal, Turkey has given theological training to 450 women, and appointed them as senior imams called “vaizes”. They have been given the task of explaining the original spirit of Islam to remote communities in Turkey’s vast interior.

One of the vaises, Hulya Koc, looked out over a sea of headscarves at a town meeting in central Turkey and told the women of the equality, justice and human rights guaranteed by an accurate interpretation of the Koran – one guided and confirmed by the revised Hadith. “There’s also violence against women within families, including sexual harassment… This does not exist in Islam… we have to explain that to them.” she said.

She says that, at the moment, Islam is being widely used to justify the violent suppression of women. “There are honour killings,” she explains. “We hear that some women are being killed when they marry the wrong person or run away with someone they love. “There’s also violence against women within families, including sexual harassment by uncles and others. This does not exist in Islam… we have to explain that to them.”

‘New Islam’

According to Fadi Hakura, an expert on Turkey from Chatham House in London, Turkey is doing nothing less than recreating Islam – changing it from a religion whose rules must be obeyed, to one designed to serve the needs of people in a modern secular democracy. He says that to achieve it, the state is fashioning a new Islam. “This is kind of akin to the Christian Reformation,” he says. “Not exactly the same, but if you think, it’s changing the theological foundations of [the] religion. “

Fadi Hakura believes that until now secularist Turkey has been intent on creating a new politics for Islam. Now, he says, “they are trying to fashion a new Islam.” Significantly, the “Ankara School” of theologians working on the new Hadith have been using Western critical techniques and philosophy.

They have also taken an even bolder step – rejecting a long-established rule of Muslim scholars that later (and often more conservative) texts override earlier ones. “You have to see them as a whole,” says Fadi Hakura. “You can’t say, for example, that the verses of violence override the verses of peace. This is used a lot in the Middle East, this kind of ideology.

“I cannot impress enough how fundamental [this change] is.”

I keep thinking of the effects of the Reformation on Christian populations in past centuries!

As an addendum, there was an article in the Washington Post in July 2006 about the beginnings of this matter.

Thoughts on the Evolution of God


“Gene frequencies in a population change over time in response to environmental pressures”

A very fine description and explanation of speciel evolution.

Ideas also change over time according to environmental pressures.

There are no ideas in a vacuum. They are influenced by the past and they are influenced by the present surrounding thoughts and conclusions. Ideas which do not fit into the current intellectual environment eventually disappear, being replaced by ideas which are acceptable within the constraints of the time.

Phlogiston and the flat earth are examples of scientific ideas which disappeared with a change in the prevailing intellectual landscape.

It is interesting to follow the growth of religious thought through the millennia. How some religions grew and then faded. How others succeeded until their followers were defeated in a battle.

Baal was defeated by Jehovah, Hera was married (defeated) by Zeus and in each case kingdoms rose and fell.

In what became the Grecian sphere of influence, the Gods and Goddesses remained recognisably human in their attitudes and habits. Jealous and promiscuous with a fair measure of random nastiness to fit in with observed extreme natural events. Over a thousand years of intercity warfare the Gods and Goddesses waxed and waned, yet they survived in the stories of the region. They spread as far as India under Alexander but returned to their own lands in time to be adopted by the Romans.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the pantheon of their Gods was joined by one who was so powerful his priests decreed that His name could never be spoken. Worshipped by a small and quite insignificant nomadic tribe, this God was able to lead His tribe into a number of victories and so they were able to gain a land of their own. Despite defeats by newer invaders who had larger, better supplied armies and exile from their land their God continued to be worshipped and every time those worshippers found themselves in charge, they attempted to destroy all other Gods.

Then, as happens in most historical events, there was a rather unusual set of circumstances. As a consequence of these events, an offshoot of this small religion was adopted by the Romans and so spread throughout Europe and nearby regions. Finally this God was strong enough to squash all other religions in His sphere of influence.

Now it is the dominant religion in the Western World.

But is this still the same God which first appeared in the Middle East some three or four thousand years ago?

Many modern-day believers will automatically reply in the affirmative. Yet let us look at the over-all habits of this ancient Middle Eastern God. He was no lover of any who opposed him. He was rigid in His  expectations of his followers. He had no difficulties in ordering His people to commit genocide, either to take their land or to remove all trace of another God.

Compare this with the God of Love who is worshipped today.

He has evolved as philosophy and ethics and knowledge have evolved. He has not been existing in a vacuum. His attributes have developed as society has developed. He has developed an omnipresence and he has developed “omniknowledge”. He did not know all while he was in the desert. Otherwise He would not have tested Job at the request of a fallen angel. Come to think of it, the Devil and God no longer communicate in the modern world. Another evolution of ideas. Anyway, He would not have tested Job for He would have already known the future.

His present day worshippers will consider that any changes in God are due to our increased knowledge of Him and His attributes. So much so that it has been necessary to create numerous versions (species) of worshippers. Just as the followers of Al’lah have formed a number of species within the worship of Mohammed’s God and the followers of the original incarnation of this God have a number of species. In fact there is a case for arguing that “The People of the Book”, the genera of Jews, Christians and Muslims, all belong to a specific religious Family with its roots found four thousand years ago in Mesopotamia. There are still in existence, some small groups which are possibly descended from the same Order which led to the Family of “People of the Book”. The Zoroastrians of Persia are an example of this. Other species within today’s pantheon such as the Hindu, Voodoo and the pantheism of Africa have different ancestors and may even have arisen from other Orders or even Classes.

The important thing is that each of these religious species has adapted to its philosophical environment and so has succeeded. As that environment changes, with new ideas and ideals, then each will change. Some will be wiped out by invasion, some will lose their relevance. Most, like the ancient Egyptian and Greek Gods, are now extinct.

I guess that what I am trying to say is that I began with a quote about evolution; “Gene frequencies in a population change over time in response to environmental pressures”. I have come to see that it also applies to civilisations and religions.

Mores and Memes in a population change over time in response to ideological pressures.

(Written on a Saturday evening without reference to  my library so some small parts of the above may be refutable. However, I was exploring a general idea from a layman’s POV.)

Study: Iraqis May Experience Sadness When Friends, Relatives Die


July 25, 2007

CHAPEL HILL, NC—A field study released Monday by the University of North Carolina School of Public Health suggests that Iraqi citizens experience sadness and a sense of loss when relatives, spouses, and even friends perish, emotions that have until recently been identified almost exclusively with Westerners.

“We were struck by how an Iraqi reacts to the sight of the bloody or decapitated corpse of a family member in a way not unlike an American, or at the very least a Canadian, would,” said Dr. Jonathan Pryztal, chief author of the study. “In addition to the rage, bloodlust, and hatred we already know to dominate the Iraqi emotional spectrum, it appears that they may have some capacity, however limited, for sadness.”

Though Pryztal was quick to add that more detailed analysis is needed, he said the findings cast some doubt on long-held assumptions about human nature in that region.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, it seems that Iraqis do indeed experience at least minor feelings of grief when a best friend or a grandparent is ripped apart by a car bomb or shot execution style and later unearthed in a shallow mass grave,” Prytzal said. “Last December’s suicide-bomb killing of 71 Shiites in Baghdad, for example, produced unexpected reactions ranging from crumpled, sobbing despair to silent, dazed shock.”

Iraqis have often been observed weeping and wailing in apparent anguish, but the study offers evidence indicating this may not be exclusively an outward expression of anger or a desire for revenge. It also provocatively suggests that this grief can possess an American-like personal quality, and is not simply a tribal lamentation ritual.

Said Pryztal: “When trying to understand the psychology of the Iraqi citizenry after four years of war, think of a small American town roiled by the death of a well-known high school football player.”

According to Pryztal, the intensity of the grief does not diminish if the mourner experiences multiple bereavements over time. “If a woman has already lost one child, the subsequent killings of other children will evoke similar responses,” he said. “In the majority of cases we studied, it appeared as though those who lost multiple kids never actually got used to it.”

Though Pryztal expects the results of the study may be of some interest to students of Arab psychology, he did concede that the data may not be entirely accurate because it was gathered directly from Iraqis themselves.

“Almost all the Iraqis we interviewed said the war had ruined their lives because of the incalculable loss of friends and family,” Pryztal said. “But to be totally honest, these types of studies can be skewed rather easily by participant exaggeration.”

Psychologists and anthropologists have thus far largely discounted the study, claiming it has the same bias as a 1971 Stanford University study that concluded that many Vietnamese showed signs of psychological trauma from nearly a quarter century of continuous war in southeast Asia.

“We are, in truth, still a long way from determining if Iraqis are exhibiting actual, U.S.-grade sadness,” Mayo Clinic neuropsychologist Norman Blum said. “At present, we see no reason for the popular press to report on Iraqi emotions as if they are real.”

Pryztal said that his research group would next examine whether children in Sudan prefer playing with toys or serving as guerrilla fighters and killing innocent civilians.

The Onion

(Published in the Archive without alteration or comment. The “Humor” tag was added in a moment of blackness)

Baba Bulleh Shah


In my youth, several centuries ago, I was walking out with a young lady who gave me two books.

That young lady is long gone and those two books are all that remain of that relationship. Yet they have guided my own writing and literaric development for many years.

“Mirrors of the Soul” led me into all the wonderful writings of Kahlil Gibran. Especially his masterwork, “The Prophet”.

Edward Fitzgerald’s translations of “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” opened up an entirely different mindset to me. Nearly a thousand years old, these verses spoke to me with a power I had never before experienced.

Yesterday I was blog-surfing and I was over on eteraz where I found some of the work of another Muslim poet. Baba Bulleh Shah. He was an eighteenth century literary genius from what is now the modern day Pakistan. Apparently his work is not totally approved of by the Islamic right which puts him into much the same category as my old friend Omah.

Here is the sample I found. Now I have to find more of his work.

I am free, my mind is free,
I am neither a sick person nor a physician
Neither a believer nor an infidel
Nor a mullah or syed
In the fourteen spheres I walk in freedom
I can be imprisoned nowhere.

*

Tear down the Mosque, tear down the temple
Tear down every thing in sight
But don’t break anyone’s heart
Because God lives there.

Hamas Militants vow to free BBC’s Johnston


Hamas has pledged to work to free BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who gunmen kidnapped in the Gaza Strip more than three months ago. The vow comes in the wake of Hamas’ bloody seizure of the Gaza Strip.

“We have started taking practical steps to release Alan Johnston,” the Islamic movement’s armed wing said, without giving further details. Sacked Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh has echoed the sentiment, saying in an interview that the military takeover of Gaza by Hamas is good news for the journalist.

“From now on, there will be one legitimate armed force. We will bring discipline and law to Gaza,” Mr Haniyeh said in an interview with France’s Le Figaro newspaper.  “It will thus be easier to gain the liberation of the British journalist Alan Johnston. His kidnappers will listen to us more closely.”

Johnston has been held for 96 days after he was seized from his car as he drove home from work on March 12 in Gaza City. The 45-year-old, one of the few western reporters to be permanently based in Gaza, is by far the longest-detained westerner in the territory.

The Army of Islam has claimed to be holding the veteran newsman and has demanded the release of Islamic militants, particularly Palestinian-born cleric Abu Qatada who is detained in Britain.

Hamas announced it was cutting all ties with the Army of Islam after it claimed the abduction. Hamas officials, including Mr Haniyeh, have repeatedly called for Johnston to be released.

I hope so! Some of the Palestinians are now kidnapping for the sake of kidnapping. Alan Johnston is a friend of the Palestinians, having lived there for a number of years. He is one journalist who presents the Palestinian point of view.

This action brings nothing but the contempt of the world onto the extremist fools who commit this type of affront to civilised behaviour.

Free him!  Free him NOW!

Kahlil Gibran, Religion


While I do not subscribe to a religious belief, I do believe that there is religion for the simple faithful, and there is religiosity for those who need constraints within their lives.

Jesus wanted believers with a simple childlike faith. He growled at those who had made religion a matter of form. I suspect Mohammad (may his God grant him peace) also found his God saying something similar.

Kahlil Gibran, a child of the multi-religious Lebanon said;

Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,

And that which is neither deed nor reflection, but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul, even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?

Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?

Who can spread his hours before him, saying, “This for God and this for myself; This for my soul, and this other for my body?”

All your hours are wings that beat through space from self to self.

He who wears his morality but as his best garment were better naked.

The wind and the sun will tear no holes in his skin.

And he who defines his conduct by ethics imprisons his song-bird in a cage.

The freest song comes not through bars and wires.

And he to whom worshipping is a window, to open but also to shut, has not yet visited the house of his soul whose windows are from dawn to dawn.

Your daily life is your temple and your religion.

Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.

Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute,

The things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight.

For in revery you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your failures.

And take with you all men:

For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes nor humble yourself lower than their despair.

And if you would know God be not therefore a solver of riddles.

Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children.

And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain.

You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees.

Sheikh Fehmi Naji el-Imam, First Press Reports


“We, the Australian National Imams Council, are proud to announce that Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam is appointed as the Mufti of Australia for a two-year term, Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam will be working with the Council of Islamic Jurisprudence and Research under the umbrella of the Australian National Imams Council for the benefit of the Muslims and the broader Australian community.
“We recognise the great services that Sheikh Tajeddin al-Hilaly has provided over the years and we pray for his good health.”

THE new Mufti of Australia began his first full day in the role with strong and gentle words for the Federal Government.

As a clue to the Sheikh’s thinking, he has in the past, said of the Jews: “We have nothing against the Jews as Jews, but of course we have our opinion about the situation in Palestine.”

This seems to be an acceptance of Jewishness but a rejection of the political situation. If this attitude of moderation continues, it bodes well for the future acceptance of Islam in Australia.

Here two newspaper reports from today, Monday June 11th, 2007.

From “The Age”
“There is no ‘yes sir’ business here,” was Sheikh Fehmi Naji el-Imam’s message to Prime Minister John Howard and the Government in an exclusive interview with The Age. “We always like give and take. We have to apply the Australian fair go.”

The Australian National Imams’ Council replaced Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali with Sheikh Fehmi, imam of Preston Mosque, on Sunday.

Yesterday, Sheikh Fehmi said: “We would like to tell the Federal Government that we are here, the Muslims of Australia, and we belong to this country, and we are part of it. We would like to offer as much as we can to make the country successful in every field and in every way.”

Sheikh Fehmi, who turns 80 this year, sees his task as the same as before he became mufti, just on a larger stage.

He is a frail figure on a walking stick, who finds speaking more effort than he used to, but the twinkle in his eyes is undimmed. He enjoyed sparring with the media at a news conference. “I hope you are healthy — and in a good mood,” were his opening words.

Questioned about his Australian identity, Sheikh Fehmi asked the reporter how old he was — 31. “Then I’m more Australian than you, because I’ve been here more than 55 years,” joked the sheikh, who came to Melbourne from Lebanon in 1951.

He told The Age that official decisions and comments would no longer be “haphazard”. He will work with the jurisprudence committee of the national imams’ board, so decisions will be their deeply considered consensus. “I am one of them, and so is Sheikh Hilali. He is not out completely,” Sheikh Fehmi said.

People who gathered to pray at the Preston Mosque yesterday spoke warmly of Sheikh Fehmi. “He’s a good man, very honest and straightforward,” said a Somali man. “He’s just a simple man like me and you, but he is a scholar and has the knowledge,” said another.

Changing face … the new Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Fehmi Naji el-Imam, right, with Ahmad Allouche of the Islamic Society. Photo: Melanie Dove


From ABC Online News
Speaking at his Melbourne mosque, Sheikh El-Imam tried to avoid questions about his controversial predecessor. The new mufti says his predecessor is a good man and has urged the media to be more accepting of people from other cultures. “As we say there is a freedom of speech in this country – fair enough, let us have freedom of speech,” he said.

He has also blamed the media for labelling Sheikh Al Hilali as controversial and says he wants to see a better relationship with a more accepting media in the future. He says people should also remember Sheikh Al Hilali for his attempts to free Australian Douglas Wood, who was held captive in Iraq.

Sheikh El-Imam says his predecessor has a good side and has been misunderstood. “Maybe sometimes you let your tongue go too far, but still maybe you don’t mean to harm others,” he said.

Sheik Fehmi Naji El-Imam, Australia’s new Mufti


Controversial muslim cleric, Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilali has declined the position of Mufti of Australia and a new mufti has been elected.

An ABC Online News report states that;

The National Imam’s Council has announced Sheik Fehmi Naji El-Imam as the Mufti of Australia for a two-year term. Imams from across the country were at Melbourne’s Preston Mosque for a meeting of the Council.

The Council said Sheik Al Hilali was appointed first, however he declined the position and proposed Sheikh Fehmi to be appointed Mufti. Sheikh Fehmi, originally from Lebanon, has been the imam at Preston Mosque for 30 years. He is described as a moderate, but he refused to comment on whether he would be less controversial than his predecessor.

“And so we want to have a very nice relationship with everybody around us and everyone else have a nice relationship with us,” he said. “Extend [our] hand to you, you extend [your] hand to us. “Give us a fair go, we’ll give you a fair go and that’s what we want.”

Sheikh Al Hilali refused to comment on why he declined the position as he left the mosque.

Here is an interview transcript with the new Mufti from mid-2005.

Alan Johnston


 Some of you may have noticed the badge I have in my sidebar relating to the kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston. A three year veteran of reporting the Palestinian side of the original Middle Eastern conflict, he was kidnapped by the very people he was reporting on in a sympathetic way. Now there is some good news. Hopefully it will be followed by even better news soon. The BBC reports;

The first video images have appeared of the BBC’s Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped two-and-a-half months ago.

It is the first sign that the BBC reporter is alive.

Mr Johnston says in the video that his captors have treated him well.

“First of all my captors have treated me very well,” he said.

“They’ve fed me well, there’s been no violence towards me, at all and I’m in good health.”

Mr Johnston is shown seated and wearing a red sweatshirt. He is also shown calling for an end to western sanction on the Palestinian Government.

He made a statement about the situation in Palestine.

“In three years here in the Palestinian territories, I’ve witnessed the huge suffering of the Palestinian people and my message is that their suffering is continuing and that it is unacceptable,” he said.

A Gaza-based group calling itself the Army of Islam has posted the video on an Islamist website.

The group has repeated its demand that the British Government free Muslim prisoners, in particular the radical cleric, Abu Qotada.

Mr Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza on March 12 and had not been heard from since.

Palestinian leaders have consistently said they have been working for Mr Johnston’s release.

No Veil?


 I found this on the ABC Online News this morning.

Jordan’s Queen says Islam does not demand veil

Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan says Islam does not require women to wear veils, and has called on Muslim moderates to “make their voices be heard”.

“Islam neither requires one to be practising, nor to dress in one way or another,” the stylish 36-year-old queen told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera during a visit to Rome.

“So imposing the veil on a woman is contrary to the principles of Islam,” said Queen Rania, who is in Rome for the launch of a Group of Seven (G7) program to develop vaccines against diseases that are endemic in poor countries.

“Unfortunately, after all the suspicion weighing on Islam, many people have begun to consider the veil as a political problem, but this is not the case. Wearing the veil is a free personal choice.”

Queen Rania urged “all moderates to stand up and let their voices be heard”.

She added: “Many people are frustrated in the Arab world. Many give in to the anger because they are accused of violence. But instead we should get up, explain who we are and what we believe in. Over the last three years, most victims of terrorism have been Muslim. So there’s not a war between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between extremists and moderates of all the religions,” she said. “What is important is not to live in fear. The most dangerous [thing to do] is to give up and lose hope. The main enemy is not terrorism or extremism, but ignorance.”

AFP

Is this a sign of hope, that the extremists are finally being “outed”? More work needs to be done within Judaism and Christianity (especially Catholic Christianity and American Fundamentalism) to bring about real world-wide change.

Even the modern Catholic Nun no longer “Takes the Veil”, a religious ploy which gave the impression that “Old is Holy” and that the Catholic Church is unchangeable. Of course, the Nun’s Habit was of medieval origin, not of Christ’s time. Just another of those small misdirections which lead an unthinking populace down a slippery slope, away from the Divine Leader’s teaching into the errors and self-seeking of the human fanatics who claim the direct ear of God.

Perhaps soon, within a hundred years or so, we may find, in the modern airconditioned world,  the wearing of “desert” clothing will pass out of religious fashion and into history. For all things do pass and are replaced – eventually.

But then I am a curmudgeonly old atheist who believes the world would be better off without any religion. Ethics and altruism yes, religion, NO!

I’m going to sit in my rocking chair on the porch, watch the rest of the world passing by (going to Hell in a handbasket) and grumble to myself for the rest of today!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,795 other followers