So today I saw the movie Angels and Demons, which was surprisingly good considering I didn't really like the Da Vinci Code. Anyway a quote at the end of the movie really struck me: "Religion is flawed because man is flawed." This was said to Tom Hanks by a cardinal.
This of course is applicable to all religions. The minute a human interacts with someone sacred, our negative human characteristics also interact with it. The Qur'an is the perfect example. Reza Aslan once wrote that anyone looking for gender inequality in the Qur'an will find it, and anyone looking for gender equality will find it. So for the past 2000 odd years we've had old Arab men interpreting the Qur'an. I wonder what they were looking for: gender inequality or gender equality? Were they looking for a social system that would treat everyone equally, or one that would value them above others? Were they looking for a strict God that would punish more than reward or one that would be kind? Which type of God would have benefited them more?
Most Muslims don't think about these things, but I feel it is important to consider human nature, especially the nature of the imams and sheikhs who for centuries have been telling us what Islam is.
A lot of Muslims like to copy the Prophet, but they pick and choose. They copy his beard and his dress, but they don't copy his behavior. These same men beat their wives and are unkind to animals and the environment. Don't think that dressing and looking like the Prophet is enough. I think copying his behavior and his compassion towards other people is a little more important. The Prophet was known for never having beat any of his wives. How many Muslim men today do not believe in beating their wives?
An author once wrote that the difference between the way orthodox Muslims and Sufi Muslims see God. Orthodox Muslims see God as a strict father who does not love us but is responsible for us; God is also very unforgiving. Sufis see God as a kind loving father who wants us to be happy, and teaches us lessons that can be harsh; God knows we will make mistakes and forgives us. This really touched me. I feel that most Muslims today see God as distant and unloving. But is this what the Qur'an is telling us? God repeatedly says he is all-forgiving, all-compassionate. So why do we obsess about every little thing and make religion harder than it has to be? In this process we are driving many people away from Islam, and also many people away from happiness. God did not tell us NOT to enjoy life. God did not mention that the rest of humanity has to live like the Prophet and his companions, as if we still live in the desert of 7th century Arabia. Would God want us to suffer unnecessarily? There are many Muslims (too many in my opinion) that say if you aren't constantly suffering, you're not a good Muslim. Of course religion is challenging and you should constantly challenge yourself to do more. But that doesn't mean that you should always be in pain.
Anyway back to the topic of the post. Angels and Demons is a good movie, I recommend it to everyone :D.