November 2013 Archives

Contrast of cultures: Reactions to offence

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A contrast of cultures

Islam has been referred to as "the religion of perpetual offence". It is also characterised by violent over-reaction in response to offence.

Last week a small boutique brewery in Sydney, Brookvale Union Brewery, started using images of Hindu Lord Ganesh and Hindu Goddess Lakshmi on some labels. I have no idea why a brewery would do so but it has provided an opportunity to compare and contrast the reaction of Islam to other cultures with use of religious symbols.

Hindu brewer label.jpg

Example of label which used religious Hindu imagery

The President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, said the company was culturally insensitive and that the label was highly inappropriate. The company said it did not intend to offend and will now be looking at alternative design options.

How civilised! There were no mass riots of Hindus, no death threats and no calls for anyone to be beheaded.

The Desert Of Islamization

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By Daniel Greenfield -- Wars are fought with steel and of words. To fight a thing, we have to understand what we are fighting and why. A blindness in words can kill as effectively as blindness on the battlefield. Words shape our world. In war, they define the nature of the conflict. sahara desert.jpg
That definition can be misleading. Often it's expedient. The real reasons for the last world war had very little to do with democracy. The current war does involve terrorism, but like fascism, it's incidental to the bigger picture. The United States would not have gone to war to ensure open elections in Germany. It hasn't been dragged into the dysfunctional politics and conflicts of the Muslim world because of terrorism. Tyranny and terrorism just sum up what we find least appealing about our enemies. But it's not why they are our enemies. They are our enemies because of territorial expansionism. The Ummah, like the Third Reich, is seeking "breathing room" to leave behind its social and economic problems with a program of regional and eventually world conquest. 

Islam vs Chess (yes, really!)

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In Honour of the World Chess Championship Playoff beginning 9 November.

Allah's Messenger (saws) said: 'He who played chess is like one who dyed his hand with the flesh and blood of swine.' (Sahih Muslim Hadith 5612, Narrated by Buraydah ibn al-Hasib)

 Islam flag.png     VS     Playing chess.jpg

OK, I concede that this particular aspect of Islam may not appear to be the biggest issue facing western democracies. But it does provide an interesting and unusually amusing illustration of some of the different priorities inherent in Islamic thinking.

Some prominent political/cultural clashes have occurred over the chess board. Most famously during the cold war the contest in 1972 between Bobby Fischer (USA) and Boris Spassky (USSR) captivated attention. On 9 November 2013, the World Chess Championship playoff tournament begins between defending champion Viswanathan Anand (India) and challenger Magnus Carlsen (Norway). Anand defended his title in 2012 in a very tight contest against Gelfand, Israel's top player, but this year is the underdog.

Of course most chess is not played at the elite level. It is played at an amateur level in homes, clubs and is very popular in schools. It is said to benefit participants by teaching concentration, focus, planning, strategy and tactics. In older years there is evidence that the brain, like other bodily parts, also abides by the "use it or lose it" principle and medical studies have shown a reduced incidence of dementia amongst chess players.

So why on earth is Islam opposed to chess? What is it about chess which so offends Islam?

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