Thursday, July 17, 2008


Following on from my last post, and Frobisher's comment on it, I was reminded of one of those things that I've been meaning to blog about for some time.

A while back, I visited an old friend of mine who now lives in one of the Home Counties. He teaches religious education. Indeed, he is the head of the department. He tells me RE these days is a deeply interesting subject, encouraging the kids to think long and hard about the questions that it raises, to confront and challenge their own and other peoples' assumptions, to take arguments to bits, etc.

However, I was utterly shocked to learn that nowadays, in every textbook produced in the UK, any time Muhammed is mentioned, the letters PBUH are added after the name. (Sometimes in brackets.) It stands for Peace Be Upon Him, which is what devout Muslims say any time they utter The Name.

I have no issue with them choosing to do that, but I think it is seriously misguided, perhaps even gravely misguided, to kowtow to Muslim sensitivities by obliging everyone to carry out this act of reverence.
We don't do it for other religions. I was brought up Catholic, and in the Catholic tradition - as it is expressed in central lowland Scotland, at least - you are expected to bow your head any time you say or hear the name Jesus. (Holidays in South America are understandably not very popular with Scottish Catholics.) If schools are obliged to add PBUH after every mention of Mo, why shouldn't everyone have to follow the Catholic practice of bowing every time they hear or say the name of the Big J?

If followers of Islam expect everyone else in this country to enforce their tokens of reverence, why should Buddhists not do the same? They always refer to "Our Lord Buddha", so wouldn't it be reasonable for them to expect everyone else to say that too, or at least a variant on it (Lord Buddha, for example)?
And what about those of the Jewish faith? They are prohibited from speaking the name of god. Shouldn't we also observe that rule and never say Yahweh? (With or without the aspirated "h".) Admittedly, it's not a word that comes up often in conversation, at least not in mine, but all the same ... Perhaps in textbooks it should be written Y****h.

These religions seem to accept that it is inappropriate for them to seek to impose their religious practices, observances and small acts of piety on people who do not share their faith. Catholics (and possibly Anglicans) genuflect in their churches, but they don't really expect non-believers or those of other faiths - even other Christian faiths - to do the same.

Why do followers of Islam seem to think they can call the shots, and demand that we all follow their religious observances? More shockingly, why do the institutions of this country let them call the shots in this way, and actually go along with their demands? Freedom to practice one's religion is fine, but when you step outside of your own freedom and start encroaching upon the freedom of others by seeking to control their behaviour, you are on very dodgy ground indeed.

Is it any wonder Islam is growing in the UK? They wholeheartedly embrace an ethos of bullying people into doing what they want. How could that fail to appeal to weak-minded, disempowered, poor urban youth?

Be a bully, get your own way, gain respect. Unearned.
If you saw it in an email, you'd assume that it was spam.

Choose Islam.

Choose a faith.

Choose a set of rules.

Choose a fucking big stick for hitting people who disagree with you. Choose to be told what to eat, when to eat, how to pray, who to associate with, where to holiday, who to marry. Choose halal meat, no alcohol, homophobia, misogyny, and wilful ignorance. Choose to give your money to people who'll help you destroy the country that gave you the money in the first place along with the freedom to spend it. Choose to demand respect without earning it. Choose to disrespect everyone who doesn't agree with you. Choose robes. Choose beards. Choose little white knitted hats. Choose to dress like you live in a desert, even though you were born and raised in Leyton, Berwick or Halifax and the nearest you've ever been to sand was a school trip to Southend. Choose what the women in your life should wear. Choose sheets as clothes. Choose to hide the love of your life under a sheet because you're so fucking insecure you can't bear the thought of any other man seeing her face. Choose domestic abuse. Choose sheets that will cover it up. Choose bombs. Choose hate. Choose limitations on your freedom. Choose to undermine the freedom of others. Choose to give up your autonomy. Choose not to think for yourself. Choose not to think. Choose to feel. Choose to have your feelings dictated by someone else. Choose to be told what to do by old men seething with pathetic envy. Choose to interrupt your life several times every day for prayer. Choose to limit your consumption of literature to a single book in a language you can't read. Choose to accept everything you are told about what that book says, as long as it confirms your own prejudices. Choose not to worry about any of the complex things in life. Choose laziness. Choose not to choose. Choose voluntary brainwashing. Choose cognitive dissonance. Choose to limit your horizons. Choose suicide bombing. Choose an afterlife of virgins.

Choose Islam.

(With apologies to Irvine Welsh.)


Frobisher said...

Well written post Qenny. It does seem the louder you shout the more you get heard. I really hope this country doesn't end up like the Lebanon with us all at each others throats.

I believe multi racial societies can be successful, but not multi-faith. Just watched a fascinating prog. on TV about Roman Emperor Hadrian - seems like nothing has changed over the centuries!

Qenny said...

I'm a bit dismayed at the lack of comments. I think I might have scared people off, or convinced my usual readers that I'm some goose-stepping Enoch Powell loving dickhead. I do hope not.

I think even multi-faith societies can work, provided there is a bit of give and take on all sides. However, there is a problem, and it touches on something that first struck me back when I was doing a degree in Philosophy and thinking about stuff like this quite a lot. When you try to get some agreement between relativists and absolutists, the absolutists will always win and end up enforcing their way of thinking. The relativists will, by definition, capitulate at every step of the way, and the absolutists will never be happy at anything short of complete victory - they will brook no compromise. That is the very battle that we are seeing being fought here. A liberal majority is being subjugated to the wishes of an absolutist minority.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I do wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts on this issue, Qenny. I think it's sad that the shouting minority seem to get everything they want, and I don't just mean those who follow Islam. It's happening with all sorts of subjects and with frightening regularity.
It's taking advantage of the ridiculously over-politically correct, and those money-grabbing, greedy inconsiderate sods who couldn't care less as long as they make some financial gain.
Religion and greed - Aren't they the cause wars?

P.S. You didn't scare me off - This is my first first. Sorry for being so lax.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

There should be an 'of' between 'cause wars?' in that last sentence.

Nick said...

Apologies mister, my first visit for a few weeks. Mea culpa.

I totally agree. It may not be 'politically correct' to say something as bold as you have there, but you're one hundred percent right. Although, with a little tweaking, you could also apply the sentiment of your post to a certain popular religion figure-headed by a scruffy guy on a stick. Only two weeks ago my fella got set upon at Elephant & Castle whilst waiting for a bus by one of the God-Squad and accused of being a 'sodomite'.

Though when he text me to tell me this, my reply consisted of one sentence...

"Butcha ARE Blanche, ya ARE!"

Qenny said...

idv: hear, hear!

nick: no worries I've been a bad blogger, hardly posting anything ever. and you're quite right about the scruffy guy on the stick, although it would take a bit of tweaking. Mind you, the followers of the scruffy guy on the stick don't seem to want to blow us all up. with the possible exception of medical professionals involved in providing terminations. And although they might want us 'mos dead, they know it's against their own rules to make us that way. thankfully.

Anonymous said...

Great blog! me old school mate. JW St Thomas's