This discussion was extracted from awate.com forum. I put it here as I found it interesting and many of my thoughts on religion issues are put there. It is good therefore to compile my thoughts and share it with people. Discussions was held between 08/03/2017 – 11/03/2017.
Comments were written under article titled by “The New Wave of Muslim Preachers”
I am in the company of Emma and Amde when the issue related to religion takes a center stage to refute or rebutt certain credos or dogmas. I get reminded by an anecdot I read years ago. The story goes, an atheist and St. Augustine got in to a heated debate about the existence of God. And as it seems to be the case all the time, one couldn’t convince the other. The atheist said to St. Augustine, ok you tell me then, what was God doing before he created the universe? St. Augustine said, God was preparing hell for those people who ask this kind of questions. My point? My point is that, the forum might as well settle for to agree not to agree.
The nightmare that ever emerged in refute or rebutt of God’s existence was duing the Communism era. Today, Chinese are converting into the non-athiest category at a very high rate. This can help us to learn the impossibility of removing faith from human being. I think to have a faith is natural but to be a religious person is either inherited(for example a child born in a religious family) or decided when you became conscious.
The challenge for the 21thC and beyond is therefore to separate faith, religion and a state. If human being succeeds in separating faith from religion, I think there will not be conflict between religious groups. And if a state is separated from religion, then people will live freely without any imposition.
For example, Trump administration is trying to merge religious dogmas into a state administrative system. He is continuously refering the Bible during his speeches. And his Immigration and Parenthood policies are purely motivated on his own religious beliefs. This is sad to see in modern America. But the more challenge it emerges, people try to justifiy through irrational means to rebutt these challenges.
In France, though he was in state of defeat, François Fillon is a conservative Catholic who has a motive of keeping some traditional values of the French people. And many other countries are coming from some similar motives.
In the Eritrean case, we have Al-Nahda Party, which has tried to merge religion, ethnicity and politics in ONE. The short lived Agazian Movement was also on the same boat but with a different and extreme political agenda.
Now my question is:
Do you think Eritreans are in the state of clearly differentiating religion from state? As French politicians prefer to call it Laïcité” which is different from Secular.
PS: I actually like the notion of Laïcité” than Secular and I am trying to deepen my understanding on their difference. So far what I am understanding is French definition on Secularism, Laique, is different from American definition.
This reminds me some decades ago, my professor Dr Karvanov challenged us if our God can create something he can’t lift. If you try to answered it either way (yes or no) it follows the question why? Can you try either way and answer the question why. Religious inquiry always lead you to a dead end.
His question does not make sense. God does what befits His Majesty……..I know you don’t like to delve in religious discussion…I will list few examples, from the 99 names and attributes of God provided in the Quran, even though His name can/may be unlimited. Now if you frame a question asking if God can be/do the opposite to his names/attributes, basically you are asking if God can seize to be God.
Some Name and Attributes
The Absolute Ruler
The Knower of All
The Hearer of All
The Seer of All
The Loving One
The Majestic One
The Ever Living One
The Everlasting One
The Owner of All
The Equitable One
I am tired on the phrase that says, “…I know you don’t like to delve in religious discussion…”. Many political elites are afraid of such discussions openly yet they are the main actors in creating the havoc and confusion to the society on what really religion is. Saleh Johar has described them well as such:
“Emma: when something is affecting the lives of so many people, including mine, you cannot brush it off because it will lead to controversial debates. As a writer, I have an obligation to observe and expose problems that I see. As far as to what extent the current problems affect out Eritrean struggle, it’s obvious and we all see it. Therefore, what I wrote is not about theology, it’s about an identity that is being abused by so many, including by the riffraff bigoted Eritreans. That is the relevance.
I know Emma likes to discuss on grievances and I don’t know why he doesn’t like it to discuss about religion on matters that are relevant to the current Eritrean situation.
Today, Eritrean Muslims are as divided as Eritrean Christains because of different school of thoughts. And I believe it is one of the major political subject so far untouched. And this is one factor on creating a unified opposition force.
We need therefore to discuss on the politics of Eritrean religions. It is not about theology though theology can help us to navigate on the source of the original problems as Saleh Johar did.
I personally don’t mind it, but I understand where Emma is coming from…trying to build trust, you have to avoid issues that may cause conflicts.
In the 90s I used to regularly visit Hyde Park corner in London, where passionate debates run about politics, religion and anything that you want every Sunday. People knew that spot was for freedom of expression and they did it to their full heart. Those who were sensitive or did not want to hear blasphemy et al, just had to avoid the place. What was interesting, overtime you find some of the opposing individuals forming some form of friendship…well they were there to learn or to save the other….they did care about each other.
In this forum, you have those who are OK with it, the oversensitive types and the reckless 🙂 and many in between. Too much religion dose will undoubtedly cause unitended sparks and may harm the common fight for justice. For that I understand Emma reluctance to theses discussions/debates as they can complicate our politics.
To begin with, welcome back. You are right I am interested to debate on the grievances of our people how ever they grouped, be it religious, political, or social groups to address their grievances. But I do not want to debate on religious philosophy, because it contradicts to the political solutions I am looking. If religion comes as social grievances, then I will try to address as they happen in the Eritrean politics. The solutions must be political solution rather religious solution. The effort I do, if it is anything worthy of solution, I took the grievances of our social groups as personal project. That is all about me.
End of Part II