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Muslim to Muslim - people of humble common sense ask ‘why?’

By Bashir Goth - posted Monday, 25 July 2005


They call themselves fundamentalists.

A misnomer and ambiguous description, I say. This is because I know the word fundamental means basic. And anything that is basic seems to me to be easily understandable and closer to common sense. Therefore, I would rather call these people devoid of common sense and deprived of human feelings. These people make a habit of covering themselves with clouds of pomposity; they like to hide behind out-of-context religious jargon; they love to reach out for history and holy texts to run away from taking a responsible position on obvious common sense issues.

Evil for them has 70 layers of skin and they have to peel one after the other to reach the worst of the worst evils that deserves to be condemned. For them good also comes in different hues and different degrees of purity. No good is good enough if it is not pregnant with the seed of its own destruction.

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No wonder humble people of my ilk remain clueless to understand their logic. There is a huge vault between us. It is a divide between people consumed by religious thinking and who see everything through a religious prism and people of humble common sense who see things as they are. A gulf between what I may call people of common sense and people of text sense.

We, the common sense masses, see and judge things and actions as they happen: and when they happen our common sense makes a simple and immediate reaction. We see the London bombings in which dozens of innocent citizens lost their lives and many more wounded and maimed. We condemn them straight away.

To us common sense people, it doesn't matter where the carnage takes place; in Baghdad, Karachi, Bali, Kabul, Mombassa, New York, Tel Aviv, Gaza, Jenin, Madrid, Beirut, Riyadh, Moscow, Belsan or Grozny. Our best parameter is the pain felt by another fellow human being who is, like us, made of flesh and blood.

We see human body parts pulled out from the wreckage of an exploded structure or from under the mangled metal of a vehicle, train or a bus and we reach for our limbs, touch our children and make sure everyone in the household is safe and present. Our humble common sense tells us, “There but for the grace of God go I", and we cry for those who were not as lucky as we are today.

Look, we the humble common sense people are quick to condemn evil and terrorism. For us, our tears come much faster than our thinking, so when we see a bus, a house, a railway, a restaurant and a shopping mall exploded and we see dead bodies of innocent children, mothers, elderly people and people in their prime killed on their way to work, schools, clubs and universities, our humble common sense tells us to condemn it, so we condemn it unequivocally.

But the case is different with our people of the text. They don't see things as we see them happen. While the eyes of the humble people of common sense are outward looking, those of the people of the text are inward and backward looking. We see what is happening in front of us now, but they see what is behind what is happening. This is why we, the common sense people, are a bit ahead of them in our feeling of pain and our condemnation of evil.

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The people of the text don't only see things with their eyes but also perceive them with their unique mindset. Therefore, when a terrorist action takes place they wait for feedback from the text. They say every evil has a root cause and when one understands the root cause, one will understand why evil was committed: hence they never feel obliged to condemn it straight away.

They delve into their texts to find the cause. You see, this makes us, the common sense folks, really mad. For us, evil is just what we see it is, “evil”, and good is just “good”. This is because we see things in simple common sense; our feelings are pure, natural and not tainted by years of canonical readings and our eyes are not blurred by the thick fog of history.

As people of common sense, we view all religions as different roads leading to the same destination. Our brothers, however, see one way only to salvation, their way. Whenever we try to talk to them, we start our statements with "we think, we assume" because we know as erring human beings we cannot be 100 per cent correct. But our brothers always talk in the absolute, in certainty; and when we ask them how they could be so sure, they point their finger to the text.

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About the Author

Bashir Goth is a Somali poet, journalist, professional translator, freelance writer and the first Somali blogger. Bashir is the author of numerous cultural, religious and political articles and advocate of community-development projects, particularly in the fields of education and culture. He is also a social activist and staunch supporter of women’s rights. He is currently working as an editor in a reputable corporation in the UAE. You can find his blog here.

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