Thursday, 2 October 2008

To TT, AF et al.

The end of Ramadhan is marked, in Indonesia, with a mass exodus to visit families and ritually beg their forgiveness for anything and everything they might have done or said over the past year. Everyone says, Minal aidin wal faizin mohon maaf lahir batin, to everyone else. An erstwhile colleague sent a mass email in those terms together with an English version asking forgiveness for anything done or not done, deliberate or otherwise which may have caused offence or hurt in any way and reciprocating forgiveness on his part.
Sorry but I no longer buy into this catch all forgiveness lark. If I have done or said or omitted to do or say anything which has hurt or offended you in any way please tell me about it. Then I can choose whether to confirm or retract whatever I may have done, said or not done nor said. If I have been unreasonable and I know what I have done then I can try to make amends and not repeat the error. Seeking a blank cheque sort of forgiveness is pointless since I will go on making the same mistakes. And there are some things which it is absolutely right to risk being offensive or hurtful about. And I will not apologise for saying what I believe to be true.
At four thirty every morning the bloke in the mosque says ‘Asalaamu alaikum’[1] and then proceeds to shatter everyone’s peace for half an hour.
On Eid-ul-Fitr everyone begs everyone else's forgiveness and then proceeds to raise pandemonium with fireworks, drums and takbiraat for 36 hours. This year I managed to escape the worst of it by hiding in the middle of a golf course.
I do not forgive stupidity but try to fight it. Please forgive any offence since none is intended, but so, with the greatest respect, should you.
Sorry, I am in a furious mood about this time of year. It comes of being subjected to too much noise and being kept awake all month. In non-Muslim countries Ramadhan is much more spiritual and Eid far more joyous. At least there they have noise pollution legislation. I will never forgive the drums nor loudspeakers nor fireworks. They are hellish innovations.

Friday, 3 October 2008
To AF

AF also failed to see anything spiritual about the mass slaughter at Eid-ul-Adha. She thought that TT was just offering some well-meaning platitudes, though.
Of course, at eid-ul-adha in non-Muslim countries the slaughter is nicely hidden away: More ‘spiritual’ by not having to think about it. What I meant by being more spiritual was that it is impossible to pray or contemplate where there is a lot of noise going on. At least in Scotland if you want to wake up in the early hours and make the blood go from your bum to your head on the prayer mat you can do so in peace.
I often used to worry how I would cope with going on hajj – both with the crowds (the sight of a huge number of people in one place is scary not inspiring) and with the slaughter. I cannot help thinking that Islam is the most insipid and dangerous virus that has infected the minds of humanity. Except that there are lots of other doctrinal viruses which have, in their time, been virulent and could be again if given a clear field.
I can never understand the love of noise. Why is it that when the BBC World Service want to invoke a mental image of a ‘third world’ country they play a tape of traffic with motor horns going off? Why do we have to put up with cacophony in the shopping malls*? It has nothing to do with poverty. Why do people want to make their own lives so unnecessarily stressful? It has the same logic as someone setting fire to a paper tube of dried weeds and voluntarily sucking in the smoke. Totally bizarre.
Is there something hard-wired into our species which makes us so ghastly? Is it possible we could evolve into a benign organism?
*(c) HSBC** Cacophonic Workshop
**Hellishly Satanic Broadcasting Corporation