Monday, February 27, 2006
  Jain ritual
I don't know a whole lot about Jainism, but these pictures from one of their rituals/holy days which took place Feb 19 are absolutely gorgeous.

From what I've gathered visiting various websites, Jainism shares concepts with Hinduism and Buddhism. The idea of the world being a circle of birth and rebirth and that attachment to the mundane causes sufferring. Thus the average person strives to remove greed, lust, anger, etc. from his/her heart and strives to treat all with loving kindness. Sort of the same thing that all religions teach with varying emphasis. :)
Salaams B.A.

No, I don't think this emphasis can be determined by current events. Current events of different eras show that people ignore religious teachings no matter what religion. Whether it's Al-Qaeda, the Crusaders and the Inquisition, the Hindu Nationalists on rampage in Muslim Gujurat, from whom we get brutal tales of pregnant women whose bellies were slit open with a machete and their unborn infants murdered, to the Zen Buddhist Samurai who were hardly living up to the non-violent teachings of Buddhim.

I think that if people serioulsy followed any religion or if they followed a secular humanist agenda along Kantian lines such as I was brought up with (do nothing that if the entirety of humanity did it would result in an untenable society and do nothing that you would not want others to do unto you.) then the world would be in a much different place.

The problem is that people ignore their religions (or secular humanist morality) and let their emotions get the better of them.

The other issue you raise is more tricky -- that being the difference between those religions that preach a complete and total abstinence from violence or force of any kind and those that see self-defense as a reasonable justification for violent actions. I see these two formulations as being on a continuum -- with Machiavelli on one end, Christianity and Jainism (and other strictly pacifist religions) on the other, and religions such as Judaism and Islam somewhere in the middle.

I personally believe that Islam and Judaism fall a lot closer to Christianity and Jainism than a lot of people want to believe. For instance, sanctions of self-defense in the Qur'an are tempered with exhortations to mercy and justice (usually within the same verse). The Prophet rebuked a companion who burnt an anthill, forbade the killing of young birds because of the distress to the mother, and commended those who cared well for animals. He counselled that controlling one's anger is the greatest jihad. etc, etc, etc.

On a personal level, I reject strict pacifism. I see it as contrary to the nature of the universe. Animals kill for food. We are animals. Thus I am not a vegetarian. I have HUGE problems with the way mass-production of meat is being handled and buy organic, free range, etc when available, but I don't think that eating meat is unnatural, rather the opposite.

Similarly, if someone is coming to kill me and my family, I will fight back rather than allow it. Even if someone were coming to simply rape me and my kids, I would use violence before I allowed it. I see no evil in this. The evil lies in aggression.

I think, in fact, that this is where the similarity lies. The Jain who sweeps the ant out of the way is avoiding agression against the ant. The Qur'an teaches the same thing -- Allah does not love the aggressor. (2:190)

No, I'm not trying to say they are the same, but they are heading in the same direction -- a world where people are kind to one another and the rest of creation. How to get people to heed that message, well that's whole other question that I wish I had some good answers to.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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