Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent


Is the Prophet a Founding Father?

posted by Admin

In America and in Egypt, should a majority religion inspire political life? How will Islam play a role in the struggles for democracy happening now in Egypt and other parts of the Muslim world?
All societies present an entangled mesh of values, with many contradictions that never get sorted out. In America, religion is a particularly tangled strand, and despite the Founding Fathers’ clear intention to provide freedom of religion and the separation of church and state, some Americans insist on re-arguing the point continuously. In their vehemence they contradict another typical value that they hold, an irrational worship of the Constitution. But that’s how society is meant to be when people elect to be free.
The case of Egypt, as it convulses toward becoming a democracy, is similar and at the same time radically different. The sad truth is that a tiny sliver of the rich, privileged, and Westernized — the very people the West thinks are “just like us” — deserve to be overthrown. They took unconscionable advantage of their privileges, imposing repression on the bottom 90% of society. No one seems to dispute that it’s time for Egypt to play catch up with the rest of the world and its long trend toward democracy.
Yet this raises the bugaboo of the Islamist factions, the religious conservatives who see the U.S. as a sworn enemy of their faith. The West was burned by the Iranian revolution and its steady drive toward anti-Western belligerence, along with its support for terrorism and the chimera of a world where every country bows to the Prophet Muhammad. A leading expert of the Arab world, Bernard Lewis, years ago predicted that if popular uprisings succeeded in toppling the dictatorships that span from the top of Africa throughout the Middle East, the new governments would be dominated by religious fundamentalism. It was a dark prophecy, and it remains the most feared prospect as viewed by the U.S. We called for elections in Palestine, only to punish the Palestinians when they chose Hamas as their ruling party. We fled Lebanon in the midst of religious strife. We stood by helplessly as Iran moved in the wrong direction, and now many see the Shiite clerics gaining a strong hold in Iraq, hiding discreetly behind the scene.
This is a long preamble to saying that Muhammad cannot be kept out of Arab politics. The Westward-looking elites in the Arab world are secular — even Saddam was secular — but they hold power by brutal means. Ironically, it was the economic rise of Egypt and Tunisia in recent years that has largely fueled the discontent in the streets, for suddenly, as in India, the poorest people see a glimmer of hope for achieving dignity and economic progress. Even so, religion will be a big part of the mix. On one side, Egypt watchers tell us that the Muslim Brotherhood won’t take over the country; one is reminded of Iraq watchers who assured the neocons that invading Iraq wouldn’t lead to religious strife, given how secular that country was.
The root that runs deepest in every Arab country is Islam, and one of the ideals of the faith is that everything in life — art, politics, law, and daily habits — must revolve around God’s strict rules. Having written a book about the Prophet, my immersion into Islam showed me, with regret, that their is a fine line between what the religious conservatives want, which is religious totalism, and what the Taliban delivered in Afghanistan, which is religious totalitarianism. I have no predictions about Egypt, which was founded by Nasser as a modern secular state on the basis of Arab nationalism. We can only stand by and see how the entangled mesh of values in Egypt unravels. The worst of one system may give way to the worst of its opposite — let’s hope not.
Published in the Washington Post/On Faith

Deepak Chopra on Intent.com
deepakchopra.com
Follow Deepak on Twitter



Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
Seema

posted February 7, 2011 at 7:21 am


Islam is a natural religion just as the others are. Why so much speculation about it? It is no longer new but since when did it or its followers become terrorist? Since George Bush? … because he and Blair ‘wanted’ to term it so. Isn’t this reason enough for the anti-American stand? What goes around, comes around … You suck the wealth of the Muslim nations, then give them poverty, then term them terrorists and expect to be lauded for it … then write ‘very intelligent’ articles like these… Come of age!



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

"I am the master of my fate": A New Take on Free Will
Back when schoolchildren regularly read uplifting poetry, there was a famous Victorian poem that affirmed the human birthright of free will. It was "Invictus," by W. E. Henley and began: Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For

posted 11:27:37am Oct. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Memo to Neuroscience: “We Are Not Brain Puppets”
The notion that human beings walk, talk, think, and do things because our brains control us is a fringe idea, easily refuted with a few moment’s thought and rarely taken seriously. But it got a boost from an Op-ed piece in the New York Times last week under the title, “Are We Really Conscious?

posted 2:29:43pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

A Science of Miracles--No Longer Optional? (Part 2)
For most people, miracles are something left behind in childhood. They require innocent belief, not adult rationality. The camp of vocal skeptics and atheists provide a crossroads, in fact, where one way leads to irrationality, the other to rationality, as if this definitively defines where the trut

posted 1:17:47pm Oct. 13, 2014 | read full post »

A Science of Miracles—No Longer Optional?
In its ambition to explain every aspect of the natural world, modern science has sidestepped very few problems. Some mysteries are so difficult that they defy the scientific method. It’s hard to conceive of experiments that will tell us what happened before time and space emerged, for example. But

posted 10:36:20am Oct. 06, 2014 | read full post »

Can Sam Harris Wake Us Up? (Part 2)
Most of us recognized ourselves in the mirror this morning.  The person looking back at us has a familiar name, a family, a job.  He (or she) carries around a long menu of likes and dislikes, along with a personal history from the moment we emerged from the womb. It would amaze the vast majority o

posted 11:38:22am Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.