"To the impartial eye, the world not only seems an unlikely one-off phenomenon, but a constant strain on reason. If reason exists, that is, if a neutral reason exists. So speaks the voice from within. So speaks Joker's voice." - Jostein Gaarder

Monday, April 28, 2008

Is Islamic culture stronger than Barbie?

"Promoting figures like Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter and the uncontrolled import of CDs of video games and films should alarm all the country's officials," Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi was quoted as saying by the student ISNA news agency.

"We need to find substitutes to ward off this onslaught, which aims at children and young people whose personality is in the process of being formed," he added.

Dori Najafabadi's comments came in a letter to an Iranian vice president, urging measures to protect "Islamic culture and revolutionary values".
This was not how I intended to get back to the blogsphere after my long hiatus, but statements like these truly infuriate me.
What is really alarming, and what is a real crisis is what hides behind this pronounced anti-western sentiments Muslims [Or at least those who speak for them] seem to be competing over. I think it hides a serious inferiority complex, one that people seem in complete self-denial about.

Is there any other explanation to all the fuss we get whenever there's a westerner who converts into Islam? Is it that we think it makes our case stronger? Is it that we think they ARE better than us, and their recognition raises us a little bit more? Is there any other explanation for why we keep quoting those western journalists with such vigor [For a wider perspective on this, you might want to read Rime's post]? Why is it that an American reporter who knows close to nil about the region, is always more authoritative a source [To us, that is. Depending which side of the divide you're on, you will have your own list of journalists.] than any local reporter, or even an expat journalist who might happen to know the region [Yes, standards of academic research and reporting are higher, most of the time. But, that is not the reason why we love them so much, if it was, we wouldn't have been so selective about WHO we listen to].

It just seems that those who are most critical of and most aggressive towards the "decaying west" appear to be, at the end of the day, the most desperate for its approval, at least subconsciously.

But, doesn't it make sense? Isn't it the simple law of Identity. Whenever a component of your Identity is in danger [or is perceived to be in danger], you magnify it until it eats up all other parts of your identity. And the poorer your perception of your identity gets, the less confidence you have in it. And the less confidence you have, the more aggressive, defensive and eventually a defeatist, that you become.

And all these Salfis/Wahabis/etc... who present their magical banner of "Islam is the Solution", in the form of letting go of all these "western" influences that we have been misguided to think of as civilization, or at least a collective development for the human race, shut out the rest of the world and go back to the "real Islam". Then and only then will we be victorious again. Then and only then will Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo be back as the centers of human cultures.
The bitter irony of it, is that the main characteristic of that Islamic Empire they pine so much for, in its Golden age, was how confident it was in its own identity, and thus, how open, tolerant and receptive it was towards other cultures.

Only a crisis of confidence in one's identity, produces such a feeling of inferiority, and that of intimidation towards the "west". And this, I believe, has been a major obstacle that kept us stalled at the same spot [if not moving backwards] for nearly 700 years to date. The only real collective attempt to overcome this chronic condition was the Arab renaissance. Unfortunately, it was nipped in the bud.

P.S.: Just to preempt any comments about the subject. Having said that, it doesn't mean I am blind to the role the "west" played in us reaching this low, but since everyone seems to be well on top of their game in pointing the injustice and cruelty inflicted on us [And there has been plenty], I thought maybe "some" self-criticism was in order.

When I started writing, and before it developed into a full blown boring essay, I was only gonna say this:

"النائب العام الإيراني يطالب بحماية الثقافة الإسلامية من دمية الـ"باربي
كس اختها لهي الثقافة, أو الدين, أو القيم, أو... اللي رح تهدمها لعبة باربي. وبس.