March 30, 2009

Visit Isfahan!

You can explore Isfahan in my photo blog. I will update it every few days with new photo reports of must-see locations.

Its first post is about Flora Garden. Check it out!

March 22, 2009

Try not to be superficial

This essay motivated current post.

Reducing social problems in general and women’s problems in particular to a simple dilemma, i.e. Islam, is the misleading theme repeated by those who fail to comprehend complexity of social phenomena. From their point of view, Islam has been and is a fixed set of rules imposed on society by an external power. Such an argument is flawed at least from two perspectives: it’s neither a fixed set of rules nor imposed by an external power. Few months ago, I explained about former flaw. Now let’s consider the latter.

From a secular point of view, religion is a matter of supply and demand. In other words, any religion that successfully spreads throughout a certain demographic area can not be just an external thing. It should be constructed internally and appropriately to meet some needs of the people. In other words, society itself creates a religion to heal some of its perceived wounds. Then, even if that certain religion is removed from society, as long as the society prefers similar cure to its perceived wounds, it would continue to prescribe very acts endorsed by the outlawed religion. This time, however, such prescriptions would be made under a brand new name.

Let’s be a little more specific. A society may be eager to keep family a solid, unaltered foundation. Honor-killing may be considered, due to various historical reasons, an acceptable way to do so. Hence, the people expect any new religion to support such a well-established mean. That’s why honor-killing enters any new religion the people might choose to practice, and that is exactly why it would remain in the society even if that certain religion gets outlawed. Honor-killing is socially acceptable in some areas for people find it a cure to a perceived wound.

Above view is supported by some evidences, one of which is that people who do not practice a certain religion may share many beliefs with other people in their own society. That is why some people who do not practice any religion still resort to honor-killing; for honor-killing is originally a social issue not a religious one.

From above point, the best way to eliminate social problems is to educate the people, i.e. to make them rational compared to modern norms. That would make them reconsider their demands, which consequently results in a change in what the religion supplies to the society.

In practice, Iranian example may testify to above analysis. Education led many people to demand equal rights for men and women which consequently led some Ayatollahs to find some sort of justifications to reform religious rules. The process continued up to a point that some state rules were changed and some others are expected to change within years.

Religion, one might argue, can play a negative role by inhibiting education process. Yeah, that’s possible and indeed has happened frequently throughout history. In the age of information, however, that can be next to impossible. One just needs to join Global E-Village in order to overcome barriers to his/her education.