Islam – an untold story

Think a documentary of this sort is hard to judge outside the scope of an audience that inlcudes muslims who could be offended.

so in that respect if such fears are unavoidable then an attempt to touch upon some of the unanswered questions about the origins of the Koran is a respectably intentioned endeavour under an academic capacity.

whether you can realistically expect any discussion to remain immune from the possible political implications and capital that could fuel the very real and violent conflicts that stem from such differences is another matter…probably not.

but its sort of been achieved in academic discourse about christianity but again theres an endless list of differences in circumstances that have allowed such discourse to be more acceptable to its audience : the questions are being asked by the home population themselves,protestantism has essentially ushered a more secular,questioning culture in the West whereas Islam bears more resemblance to the early Catholic approach in its scholarly enquiries (ie topdown and not challenging the fundamental precept – but there are other similarities with Protestantism which is why a Reformation is slower to catalyse),that such debate within the christian domain has a longer history,has been self generated and ultimately does not pose an opportunity for any other culture/religion to stake a claim over some major political/territorial dispute

and so on

so u get the gist…its politically a very difficult to keep a discussion about islam apolitical and yet subject to it to a forensic western microscope.

and who wants to pretend that there wouldnt be some western political gain in trying to appeal to a more western influenced “moderate” muslim by possibly just nudging them along a potential reformation in current state of islam.all about winning heart and minds,right,

sometimes that has to start to by planting the seeds of doubt.but not thru covert 1950s style CIA backed insurgency,that worked when you wanted to defeat an existing democracy.

this time from a populist point of view the West really is trying to usher in a democracy to overcome a hegemony..bit of a new idea? (well with a few western herbs and spices of course : not gaza style hamas ruled democracy)

and to do that theyve had to go back to the drawing board.because this is a bigger clash than between countries and its unprecedented in scale of area ,numbers and the sophistication of the populations  involved.

in all of that there is prob no believable prospect of actually being able to steer the course of events with any certainty but that doesnt stop it from chipping away with the new Imperial arsenal of modern times : media and mass information.

so there you have it .  in a not very small way a documentary like this is in fact part of a passively convenient course of subversion of islamic extremism and you can bet yer baddum dallur those extremists will be the first ones to see it that way.

and that doesnt make such a claim wrong or paranoid..depending on how you choose the authority that sanctions the airing of such a programme and its governing body and those that have a say in it are all effectively complicit in saying that for whatever reason ….the airing of such a programme is convenient on multiple levels of motivation…pick your one.

Something's Up...

so…back to tom holland.

in light of all that and given my particular persuasions I think it was an interesting exploration…but its lack of concrete evidence of ,well anything,and in fact its main finding being exactly that-the lack of evidence of anything at all..begs the question.what is the point of raising the opportunity of such speculation.

he gave a polite nod to voices on all sides of the debate and vaguely admits to having his own potentially flawed “preconceptions” and his own contrasting christian upbringing.

but beyond the absence of evidence for the source of the Koran – one is faced with numerous speculative hypotheses and he seems to have subtly suggested that lack of evidence is effectively equivalent to a cover up.that there could be some 60 yr masterplan about how to concoct a new religion for the purposes of governing an empire

all rationalistically possible and maybe easy to believe in a modern world where conspiracies and counter conspiracies abound.

but examples such as an ancient mosque not pointing in the direction of mecca…which in the middle of the desert 1300 years ago..may not have been a simple task anyway…and to then exprapolate that prayers were knowingly not directed towards Mecca and furthermore to imply that this demonstrates that islam is based on a myth that was being forged and evolved at the time is easy to take apart.

The reference to a second holy place other than Jerusalem for Arabs alone ie Bakka having no clearly identified location does not prove or disprove anything but for its proponents it shows that such a place at least existed and at that stage could not be entirely fictitious.

The delay to seeing Mohammed’s name on a coin 60 years after the prophets death furthermore could be quite consistent with islamic ideas against idolatry and a coming round of the idea that it may give political capital not by propping up a weakly bound set of values into a religion but simply that uptil then power had not been contested so it was not an instinctive necessity to start stamping Mohammeds name on coins to appeal to western ideas about religious authority which after all is actually a precept that fundamentally assmues that religion is intentionally a tool of the state..could it not be that islam was not under the same pressure to hegemonise in exactly the same way?

and the fact that the early christian and jewish sujects were vague about islams exact message and identity…well of course they would be…theyre werent  muslim…or arab

the laissez faire approach of the early muslim conquerors is usully interperted ( and consistent with the Koran) as displaying respect for the commonalities between the three monotheist religions and their right to worship ..this was unprecedented because you never before had a major religion been created (divinely or otherwise) out of a desire to settle scholastic disputes in the preceding ones…so by definition it was not meant to be directly antagonistic to these other religions (and some may argue that historically in fact it was anatgonisitc but holland has used the evidence of cooperation and pragmatism as evdence of a lack of its own identity…again..a bit tenuous without something more concrete)

how does he square up the idea that these early conquerors had no clear idea about their own religion with the fact that he states that on conquering constantinople they went stright to a holy jewish site to do their prayers…clearly they believed in something and had a good idea of where to go to express that belief…covert jewish conspiracy plan against the christians?divide and conquer?why not just more similar theologically and thats that?but he uses it as evidence of some ambiguity in their beliefs just because the conquered subjects didnt get it…well of course they didnt…it was a new religion of alien Arabs weirdly similar to their own and weirdly tolerant of their own practices..you can see why they might not have taken it seriously at first.even people in this day and age dont always understand how to balance the similarity and differnences

business as usual for the jews and christians was a key allowance stated explicitly in the Koran and is consistent with the way Constantinople was conquered and ruled.

so in short i come back to the beginning…that the lack of evidence of anything is notable,that islam didnt leave the same tell tale signs of its origins and influence in the earliest days of its empire that a comparison with the Roman Empire would ask…but there are still so many differences in the way that power and religion were used much more intentionally by the Christian state than the Muslim one that it seems arbitrary and typically one dimensional to apply the only western lens you know when looking for clues that are based on the very precept that Islam is being driven by the same human motivations as Christianity and any other major religion.assunptions that then drive the self fulfilled conclusion that is  consistent with such an interpretation but based primarily on lack of evidence rather than presence of it one way or another.

but it wont touch the mindset of those who start from the precept that the two  religions come from very different cultures and motivations- arguably one very much a tool of the state to subjugate,the other motivated by the principles of simplicity and inclusivity thru individual submission to one not submission through the state to the trinity because- they would argue -islam was always closer to protestanism in spirit in that it procured a personal and private reflective relationship (thru prayers 5 times a day,the month of fasting and the pilgrimage )with God with no mandatory conduit of the state such as the Catholic Church,only in fact,the conduit of the Koran and those who stake their claims to being trained in its interpretation (the disputable islamic clergy whose lack of explicit legitimacy is precisely where the heart of the present problems lie).

but the mosques were ultimately more democratically run institutions that only suffered the external trapping of trying to emulate the the outward grandeur of the famous christian cathedrals for the sake of statement to the other world religions not to impress its own central position within the faith.

and as we have seen it would be difficult to affirmatively counter that opinion

holland wondered whether a religion could be moulded to suit an empires needs.

that may be all  very logical and consistent from a concerted rational and atheist approach which is after all,the scientifically valid one.

but a scientific approach still needs to explain what could possibly bring together a disparate,fractitious and tribal people to give them the solidarity to overcome two of the mightiest empires in human history and consign them to the past.

When all spirits seem transitory and encounters fleeting and dream-like that very quickly even the subject doubts their existence and before the sun has even risen all that is left is the sand in the desert that quietly brushes away all trace of the lives,the words,the ideas shared and then dispersed the only thing that remains is believing in the one.

 

Before Sunrise

 

rambling man

Found myself browsng thru a blog reminiscing about the techstep phase of drumnbass in the late 90s.

Think that sound encapsulates the double edged sword about innovations in “uk bass” music that are still driving the changes today.

They start typically with a sound that has a (relatively) broad appeal.

Then artists within the industry try to hone their identities by essentially picking and “purifying” elements of that sound and maybe adding some improvisations.

I think the purification was good in the early days when it phased out the cheesy chipmunk elements of the music but techstep showed how that went too far and left dnb in a noisy soul-less dead end

not that it wasnt innovative  it was influential in pioneering the next level of extreme distortion of that Reese sub-bassline that is ever present in the grimier forms of dubstep (a similar distillation to that which happened to jungle and may well lead to a similar fate)

the problem was it dragged the breaks of jungle with it so it brought down the whole scene which was based on the fast breaks in the first place – so that was when after about 6-7 years at the forefront -the slower breaks took the lead in the innovations,creativity and ultimately popularity.

people had been dancing to hard beats and fast breaks for a while so that wasnt the problem with the scene – it was the splititng of the breaks with the broader musical elements that turned people away.

in the end it seems genres that die often die due to their extremes but it is the extemes that are then incorporated into a more inclusive package for the next genre that takes the mantle.

after all look at bizarre inc’s schizophrenic playing with knives Quadrant remix

a tune that still sounds really hard,had pounding breaks,a housey piano riff,elements of rap and a massive bass that wouldnt sound out of place now.

and you could see a totally mixed gender and racial crowd dancing to it on top of the pops.both contrived and strangely innocent at the same time.

thats how the artists need for change outweighs the people’s love for all elements in the music.

in the same way that specialisation,whilst arguably streamlining and targetting areas for innovation in many disciplines,can sometimes lose sight of the big picture and the cross disciplinary changes that really change society

so if we apply this logic lets dare a prediction.

right now there are so many sub genres its hard to even guess.my guess is that the extreme distorted bassline of the dubstep sounds and the almost machine gun MC’ing of the grime per se represent the most extreme and new sounds.

the most accessible is the uk funky and dancehall sounds which have a carnival-y soca flavour to them but hark back to a more standard 4-4 time (with the addtion on congas,whistles and bells if necessary…)

this is clearly more danceable thanks to the standard 4-4 than the more experimental dubstep sounds which have possibly even less idenifiable rhythms and repititions to dance in time to than the opposite end of the spectum with Squarepushers drill n bass

But then there’s the identity crisis about the aphex twin.being around so ridiculously early he transcends mere “pioneer” status.he was schizophrenicallly ahead of the game- producing drum n bass effectively in the 80s by the time the hip hop crew picked it up he’d moved onto the subliminal “ambient works vol 2″ which completely fucks up your own certainty about your taste by drawing you into 8 minute pieces comprising just a handful of notes and a generous splattering of silence …or has he tweaked the key and introduced a whole new octave….you can’t even be sure…and yet I know I haven’t heard anything since which has been anything like as minimal audacious or hypnotising.and the remastered vinyl is just re released so I’m bit goofy n excited about it.

But now I’m permanently drawn towards his music even tho I cannot get my head round his drill n bass/ horrorcore/fuckknowswhat tendencies but I’m suckered now having been consumed by the philosophical notion of ” thinking” I could hear something profound in something so outwardly empty and now being in the tortuous position of wondering if I am missing some hidden revelation within his more recent works.after all…how can one man produce such extremes unless he is,as he has proved before,decades ahead of his time,or maybe just an alien actually trying to communicate something very deep to us.

It’s like bloody Damon albarn on the bloody road again having a laugh this time disappearing up a conga chain of arses but more than likely than ever to re emerge out of his own in some fucked up contortion of defiance at big music distributors by simultaneously making stuff up on the go ( jammin) thats basically nothing special ..but lending it some totally celebrity-centric exclusivity statutes in all likelihood to be capitalised on by those same distributors as some limited edition footage that mugs would pay a fortune for…and as a triple whammy earning himself some Paul Simon of Graceland proportions of credibility thru an almost missionary zeal of neo African/mali-an philanthropic intention.

As with.aphex twin it feels he has stepped beyond the issue of whether or not the music is actually any good to some messianic nirvana of abstinence and hair shirts.

It’s late …so this.