“Perhaps a sin that humbles you is better than a good deed that makes you arrogant.” -Sheikh Hamza Yusuf
This morning I was browsing and came across the above quote. I then did a web search on Yusuf and found that he is a Muslim scholar. His quote struck me as very wise indeed, and not in keeping with the popular perception of Islam. I searched around a bit and found other bits of Muslim wisdom. I realized that my knowledge of the religion is poor when compared to others. Clearly I have some reading to do.
And yet, although I don’t know as much about Islam as I should, I have a suspicion that Islam has much in common with most of the world’s mainstream religions. They all seem to have the same basic issue:
Tradition and belief in a Holy Book doesn’t allow the devoted to jettison outdated material and abandon ideas that are out of step with the modern world — prohibitions against contraception, beliefs in creationism, oppression and/or hatred of outsiders (women, gays, other races and faiths, etc. etc.) and may others.
In order to avert Collapse (name your poison: Ecological, Environmental, Economic, Political, etc.) humanity will need to turn away from fundamentalism and embrace change and growth. Holy books must be edited and revised, and all of the vengeance and hate expunged. Sadly, to my knowledge there is only one quickly-becoming-mainstream religion that believes each individual should create his or her own personal Holy Book, and that no single one is any better or worse than any other. The sad thing is, I bet most of my readers have no idea which religion that is.
Islam gets lots of bad press, but then all of the mainstream religions do. Critics of religion always point to distasteful passages that the average believer tries to ignore. If believers had the courage to evolve and grow, to expand their understanding, to edit out things that just don’t make sense anymore — kind of the way Thomas Jefferson did when he produced his now-famous Bible — imagine the respect they would garner from critics and non-believers. Imagine the effects on the world we live in.
What if, for example, a powerful religious leader removed Leviticus 20:13 from his official version of the Bible (the passage saying the punishment for homosexuality is death)? What effect might that have, not only on the leader’s flock, but on the world?
If the object has been to worship books, the mainstream religions have done an excellent job. But if there is a God or Gods, I suspect He/She/They have entirely something else in mind.