Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blogging Against Fossilized Thinking التدوين ضد التفكير المتحجر

Fossilized thinking inflicts people who rigidly adhere to an ideology, be it religious, political or philosophical. Lest anyone misrepresent my post, let me say up front that when it comes to religious fossilized thinking, no religion is immune to fossilized thinking. Fossilized religious thinkers:
  • Consider everyone who does not think like they do an enemy and legitimate target for conquest or elimination.
  • Deform the faith they seek to defend because they are more concerned with process and ritual than with the true content of their faith.
  • Take the spirit out of spirituality.
  • Are happiest when everyone looks dresses and acts exactly like they do; like identical preprogrammed, unthinking automatons.
  • Stifle creativity, ingenuity and critical thought.
  • Foster intolerance and conflict.
  • Will create an intolerably boring world, should they gain the upper hand

Several years ago I told a wise friend that I was considering sending my daughter to the local mosque for weekly religious lessons but was concerned that she will taught by and old shaikh with fossilized ideas. On the contrary, he said, the older shaikhs tend to be more moderate and reasonable, it is the young ones who think they have all the answers that I should be concerned about. And therein lies the problem; it is the large number of young people who seem to be going from green to fossilized that is a source of concern for the future.


Razan said...

I absolutely love this post, that's my favorite post of the year! I am going to translate this to Arabic and post it on my blog if it is ok with you Abu Kareem.

Katia said...

Thank you for that post Abu Kareem!

About a week or two ago I was told by one of those fossilized thinkers (about 25y old), that "I will probably end up in hell because I don't live like jezus would want me too". I'm only five years older than that guy... It says enough, doesn't it?

If I believed in heaven, I'd say that if it's going to filled with them fossilized thinkers, they can have it all to themselves!

Abu Kareem said...

Always nice to hear from you. Of course you can translate it and repost it.

Abu Kareem said...

Thanks for the comment. Yes, that is exactly the type of person I am talking about.

sasa said...

Yes, yes, yes!

You know what, in Britain I've found exactly the same thing. It's the young ones who are the most judgemental, the most self-righteous, the most conservative of them all. They are trying to over-compensate for their hypenated identity. They feel guilty for being partly British. So they grow beards to make themselves feel more Muslim.

And all the while, their parents look at them like - what have we brought into the world.

When did the kids start knowing more about the world than those who've lived here for twice as long.

Yazan said...

How very, very fitting ya Abu Kareem, and how very true.

When I turned 15, my grandfather (a Sheikh, himself), offered to give me religious lessons, and I accepted for a while. When I decided that I didn't want to embrace religion and quit my lessons, he had nothing to say but, "Allah Ywaf2ak". Nowadays, it is not him, allah yerhamu, nor my uncles who look at me differently and whisper around when I enter the room, rather my 20yr old cousins!

Too ironic to be funny really, but it makes me laugh everytime.

abufares said...

Yes Abu Kareem
the new wave of religiosity and conformity didn't go through the natural and logical chain of events. In the last 15 years or so daughters who wore the hijab first and made their mothers feel guilty. Sons preached and taught their fathers to get stiff and forget that there's more to life than working like donkeys and praying like parrots. Wives transformed husbands into dull fossilized zombies. An entire culture is losing color and turning into a black and white meaningless desert soap opera. A synergy between the political institution and an emerging and mutated form of spiteful spirituality lulling the young into a sense of purpose and self-importance. Replacing impractical nationalist sentiments with absurd heavenly dreams, moving us backward in time, deeper in shit.

Dubai Jazz said...

Great post Abu Kareem,

The young are insecure and nervous about the future. They smart enough to realize that with dwindling resources and explosion of population, Syria is going down the abyss road. They are also under the impression that there's little they can do to change things around. A youth in such state of mind is an opportune target for the preachers; it's easy to captivate and reassure them. Hence the copycats of fossilized thinking machines we end up with.

saint said...

AK, I liked that you mentioned the stiffness of the new generation of religious thoughts compared to previous generation and I had the same experience like you regarding my children. It also applies to history not only to generations. The idea is well recognized in some studies about the change in religious thoughts in the Muslims minds and an example is this study, below, about the “Abaya” or Hejab as resemblance of the stiffness, which shed some facts about these phenomena; the conclusion it is not a revival of the past it is a new thing, and I have to emphasize the role of authoritarian state and lack of freedom of expression. It is becoming like the practice by the elephant trainers who hold chain to young elephants and when they grow up a string will do the trick.

Katia said...

Btw, does that mean that we, the ones who refuse to agree with them, are getting old? :p Hell, I just turned 30 and I'm being preached at by 25yr olds. CONSTANTLY. It makes me wonder, what the hell happened in those five years??? Ah, just a stupid thought, but I admit it keeps crossing my mind! Not that there aren't any 35yr olds preaching, because there are many, but somehow I guess I've always been used to them.

Abu Kareem said...

Abu Fares,
The connection between the political establishment and the fossils is a cynical marriage of convenience. Looks like we are getting a good response :)

Glad you enjoyed the post.

Agree that lack of freedom of expression contributes to this phenomenon.

You keep mentioning your 25 year fossil. Dump him!!!

Isobel said...

Fantastic post, Abu Kareem! Loved the Snoopy cartoon - perfect! This is a great campaign!! Weeeeee!! :D

Abu Kareem said...

Thank you. Glad you liked it.

Ral said...

do we have any chance in dealing with those people

KJ said...

I concur. I'm having a hard time with people my age than those who are older. It's easier to tell the imam of the mosque of what I think than tell my friends over a game of cards.

Adding insult to injury, they preach but don't follow.

Nickname said...

The good news, Abu Kareem, is that for every action there is a reaction. The years of increasing religiosity have spawned a response from the secular and the not-so-religious. Those professing no religion in the US has doubled to 16% in the last decade. Projections are that that number will double again in the next decade. Chistians are lamenting the coming "post-Christian" culture in America. Famous Atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Dan Dennet are packing houses wherever they go on their speaking tours.

The youth culture of Iran does not embrace the Islamic revolution like their parents might have.

So it's not a for-sure thing, so long as reasonable people stand up and are heard by those who are not yet committed either way.

Camille said...

Excellent topic you chose Abu Kareem. Much better than Yazan's idea for this week! **

I am not sure I worry ... these things are typical ... the cycle will continue to progress and few years from now you will have a much more liberal generation that had enough with their ultra conservative parents (current generation)

Too bad people do not recognize the beauty of the balanced place in the center ... they keep cycling between too liberal and too conservative.


** Noo, I don't mean what I wrote, Yazzoun is brilliant.

Raphael said...

Dear Abu Kareem,

my name is Raphael, I'm from Germany and travelled to Syria a couple of times and spent about two month in Damascus last Winter.
I'm doing some research about the Middle Eastern blogosphere at the moment and would like to ask you, if you could get in touch with me via email at rthelen [at]

You can also find my blog at wordpress!

Hope to hear from you soon!

So long, happy blogging!


Fantasia Lillith said...

Have you seen Bill Mahr's Religilous?

qunfuz said...

great post, Abu Kareem. I must say in response to Nickname, however, that the recent crop of 'new atheist' writers seem to me just as fossilised, unimaginative and intolerant as their religious opponents. Sasa makes a good point about compensation for hyphenated identities - I think this can be extended beyond British Muslims. Modernist forms of simplistic religion in the M uslim world, in Hindu India, even in the United States, can be seen as a compensation for the loss of old local cultures and diversity, and as a response to disturbing and rapid change. It's a shame that the attempted compensation for lost heterogeneity ends up prescribing another form of homogeneity. My review of Ali Allawi's book touches on this crisis in Islam.

Taste of Beirut said...

great cartoon strip!
I have encountered this thinking a lot in Texas where I have resided for the past 20 years. If the Bible says so then it is the truth, no questions asked.