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Moral relativism: its essence in a drop October 15, 2007

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Uncategorized.
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It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last ten years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality. It is time for the law to recognise this.

Jack Straw, UK Justice Secretary

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1. Bravvooo! - October 17, 2007

250,000 years too late, Homo Sapiens!

Nevertheless nothing is more noble than acknowledging your ignorance when the light of reason prevails and redeeming yourself by striving to change things for the better.

Do unto others as you’d like to be done unto. That’s the only absolute moral value that no human will contend. Everything else appears to be relative to different societies, different sects of a religion or even within the same religion at different times.

2. Jamal - October 18, 2007

I applaud Jack Straw. Hatred toward someone on the basis of an innate characteristic is unacceptable.

3. Taleb Haqq - October 18, 2007

Hatred towards someone’s actions should be allowed, teaching people right from wrong should be allowed. Jamal, what is this innate characteristic though? Homosexuality? Where did you get this from that it is “innate”? Saying it is so certainly doesn’t make it so.

4. Bravvooo! - October 18, 2007

Taleb you have a point but hatred should be justified in reasonable terms. I think that would be a fair thing to say.

However you can’t be at a stage where you are still wondering whether homosexuality is innate or not and decide it’s wrong anyway.

5. khabir - October 19, 2007

I must say I agree with Taleb.

Just because same-sex attractions are deep-seated doesn’t mean we have to define ourselves by them. Just because the feelings are strong doesn’t mean we have to give into them.

If you feel strongly that you want to kill someone, does that make it right? And does having that feeling make you a murderer? No, it does not. It is the same with same-sex attractions.

Feelings and attractions are controllable, brothers. And I daresay learning to control them often brings far greater benefits to everyone – the individual and society – than indulging them.

6. Bravvooo! - October 20, 2007

Khabir:

You judge a morality of an action against a standard. As you said the strength of conviction has no bearing on whether that feeling is right or wrong. Thus you can not compare or contrast between murder and SSA at that level. Your example was correctly worded by highly misleading.

It is quite obvious that feelings are controllable. We all do that on a daily basis and that’s why people get over a bereavement or exercise prudence in judgement when dealing with those less disciplined than themselves…etc. Our main beef here is whether that kind of control is appropriate for people’s most private thoughts: sexuality.

Unless someone invents a clear argument to show how homosexuality, in principle, is harmful to oneself or to society we should refrain from suffocating each other on private matters.

It’s one thing to suggest that limiting sexual behaviour is beneificial. To that I agree. The question is in what way would refraining from sexual activity benefit those who know nothing but homosexual tendencies? You’ll end up with a frustrated and emotionally deprived individual. Sure that’s determination, but is it necessary.

Your suggestions are of help to bisexuals. In that case they can suppress their homosexuality and pursue a ‘normal’ heterosexual lifestyle. If you happen to be strictly homosexual then please don’t kid yourself. Life’s too short for that kind of false piety.

7. khabir - October 21, 2007

Bravoo, Bravoo. How to respond, brother?

In comparing homosexual feelings to murderous feelings I was not arguing about morality. The comparison was made to refute your idea that homosexuality is an innate condition. All feelings and attractions can be controlled, brother. You said it yourself. And therefore to DEFINE yourself based on transient feelings – to say that you are innately one thing or another based on things you feel, things that can be controlled and altered – just doesn’t make sense. That is the point I am trying to make.

Now let’s look at why someone would intentionally reject their ssa. I’m not sure you will ever understand my point on this, but I will try to make it anyway.

Brother, I once thought as you did. I lived as a gay man, I thought of myself as homosexual, I embraced that lifestyle for several years. I divided the world into gay, straight and bisexual people. I was gay, strictly gay, never attracted to women.

But several things changed how I looked at this. Basically I “hit bottom” with the lifestyle. I reached a point where I had to admit I was living a lie, despite how strong my ssa seemed to be inside me. This change in thinking eventually led to a complete lifestyle change. I began learning how to control my ssa. And once I did, lo and behold, it took several years, but I began to have feelings for and relationships with women. I attribute this change to reawakened faith in Allah (swt) and His Messenger (pbuh).

I am not the only person to have experienced this. There are many examples, not only within Islam, but within other faiths and non-denominational groups as well.

Don’t you see? It is possible to deal with ssa in way that does not indulge it, in a way that is consistent with what Allah (swt) has commanded. I am not brainwashed, I am not kidding myself, and masha’allah I am not living with a false sense of piety. The quality of my life now far exceeds that of the life I was living before.

You asked about the harm of living as a homosexual. It is evident to me now, looking back at the life I led, the kind of subtle, self-destructive habits I had developed physically, psychologically and emotionally. But when I was seeing things from your point of view, those were not fully apparent. I couldn’t see them until I broke away. That is why I said you may never understand my point on this.

Most of all brother, please understand that I am not telling you or anyone else how or how not to live. I just want you to see that there is an alternative to letting your ssa define you – and that alternative can bring rewards you can’t even begin to imagine.

Bravoo, you can go on all you want about how society is cruel and out to get you. That’s fine. But don’t ever try to tell me that a) ssa is something people are stuck with and can’t do anything about; and b) your definitions of gay, straight and bisexual lifestyles are compatible with Islam, because they are not. I have lived these things, they are part of my experience and I bear witness.

Lakum deenukum wa liya deen. To you be your way, and to me be mine. (Qur’an 109:6)

8. Bravvooo! - November 11, 2007

Khabir I’m not sure if you’ve confused me with someone else but
a) I’ve never said that ssa is something we can’t do anything about.
On the contrary I asserted that feelings are controllable and that I was protesting the need for such a control not to doubt the ability to twist your brain into any religious fold you fancy.

b) I can not recall ever caliming that my definitions of gay, straight and bisexual are compatible with Islam. Of course they’re not. I’m afraid you’d have to dig out the other person who made these claims and raise that particular issue with them. Good luck though, it’s not easy to convince people that an almighty God really does care who you sleep with. It is unbefitting and unconvincing.

Furthermore if you really believed in that motto (To you be your way, and to me..etc) then we wouldn’t be having this discussion and you wouldn’t admire a holy book that goes to great lengths to persuade humanity that Islam is the right way. Can you spot a contradiction here?

Furthermore if you have doubts that my understanding is impenetrable to your arguments then why bother to begin with?

The reason why we still favour the homosexuality/bisexuality/heterosexuality model is that the transition from homo to hetero is
1. rare
and
2. Invariably related to religious psychological pressure. You attested that your sexual conversion was directly relevant to a rejuvination of faith.

I’ve noticed that you’ve ascribed some very impressive adjectives to the self destructive habits you persued in the past without actually saying what the habits were. Was it promiscuity? You can live a life of heterosexual debauchery as well. Was it emotional instability? The world if full of that. Was it a desire for companionship? Well nowadays you can get married even as a homosexual. Hang on, I hear you say, you can’t get married to a man in Islam. EXACTLY! I scream at this point. This is the source of the misery. This is where it’s all coming from. You are denied any hope of emotional stability and you lose the plot. Sleeping around and getting depressed.

My message to you is that it doesn’t have to be that way either and that has nothing to do with your sexual preferrence. The only exception is if you want to have children. In that case all I can think of is to keep doing what you’re doing and don’t you ever deny your wife a normal sexual relationship should your efforts wane at anypoint. She could do much better by marrying one of the other 97% of men who are perfectly heterosexual instead of acting as a vessel to help some miserable sod to selfishly tick his “marriage is 50% of your deen” box.

9. Bravvooo! - November 12, 2007

I’m on a public server and I honestly don’t know if my reply went through or not so if it didn’t then there’s something else worth pointing out that may or may not fall out of favour with the moderators of this blog.

You wrote

“….I am not the only person to have experienced this. There are many examples, not only within Islam, but within other faiths and non-denominational groups as well.”

Doesn’t that just suggest to you that, since these denominations vary in the basic tenets of their creeds, that maybe what you’ve experienced has nothing to do with your particular faith?

“…Don’t you see? It is possible to deal with ssa in way that does not indulge it, in a way that is consistent with what Allah (swt) has commanded…”

You’ve assumed that I am sexuallly active. You’ll find that a lot of gay muslims, especially those raised amongst conservative families, are not likely to pursue their sexual inclinations for obvious reasons. Technically speaking there is nothing that I am physically doing that violates the rules of Islam. What you must realize, and I extend the invitation to all those who keep writing that “we were promiscuous before our faith awakened” that the discussion on homosexuality is not as simple as giving up casual sex. For me I never was tempted to follow the sexual instinct untill I decided that religion was a superfluous system of misery that I could do well without. Fortunately that came at a time when I was well beyond my sexual prime and don’t feel I need to be active anyway!

But to keep the discussion relevant to our audience you should be able to understand that people like myself do really want to raise the level of the discussion to something more fundamental than a request for sexual emancipation. I am not trying to seek approval to start sleeping around. The way I see it is that the public conscience has been stupified by an indefensible aggression on homosexuality, not as an alternative lifestyle, but as an alternative mindset altogether.

Don’t assume automatically that I am going through what you went through before and that what you recommend is necessarily applicable to anyone else. I did try my best and with all sincerity to “awaken” my faith and that was at a time when I was too young and intellectually immature to know any better. Now that I’ve become exposed to other worldviews there seems to be little to persuade me to turn back. It takes a certaing degree to credulity to accept that you should be what you’re not. If that’s not brainwashing then the term has no useful meaning at all.

10. yuventi - November 13, 2007

Khabir argues, “If you feel strongly that you want to kill someone, does that make it right? … No, it does not. It is the same with same-sex attractions.”

Well, first and foremost, I’m agnostic in this regard. I’m not necessarily espousing any views. But allow me to come on board in terms of making logical distinctions that might be useful. So Khabir, I agree with you that feeling is a lot different from acting. But I believe we must also distinguish two sorts of moral motivations here before adjudicating.

In regards to the desire to kill. The moral motivation behind not acting on said desire would be something along the lines of our duty NOT to violate someone’s right to life — admittedly this is just one approach to this matter. This of course relies on the assumption that violating someone’s right to life is bad. And indeed, there are many ways to justify this assumption. Even without having to resort to religiosity — one can consult the works of philosopher Immanuel Kant on this. So in this sense, said moral conviction can sustain secular pressure. Important to note that I’m not making any judgment here. I’m simply analysing logical trajectory.

Now, in regards to the desire to engage in homosexual encounter. The moral motivation in not engaging in said activity is allegedly in observing the duty NOT to violate the word/command of God. If I’m representing the proposition correctly, then the consequence of holding to this view is in engaging with the moral authority of God — again, this is just one aspect of a whole range of plausible arguments. But since we are employing a theistic context, there isn’t (technically) a problem with this moral conviction. For in the context of religion, the word of God is beyond contestation. Nevertheless, should one employ a secular perspective, then the matter is entirely different. From a secular point of view the notion of ‘the word of God’ is rather vague, and consequently hard to defend. I’m not saying I agree with this, but nevertheless it is important to note that this contention might arise. And arguably, even some theist might argue that reading the ‘word of God’ always involves interpretation. And a theist might also, and further argue that since mankind are bestowed with the gift of rationality, it is only fitting that she uses the gift of rationality in reading/interpreting the word of God. Again, this is plausible counter-argument.

My point is that while in one context one might be able to successfully argue that resisting from killing is similar with resisting from acting on desires is the same, in other context(s) it might not be the case. It might also be said that resisting one’s desire to kill is not similar with resisting one’s desire to act on one’s ‘love’. This, of course, will lead to philosophical debate over the values, and what constitutes love; what love is, and all that jazz. However, for the sake of brevity and relevance, I will not divulge in that matter.

Then again, what is important, in my opinion, is that we are aware of plausibility of a number of contentions that might arise, even in what one might hold firmly in one’s heart and mind. The benefit with this awareness is that we can acknowledge the real challenge: how do we communicate, or perhaps if I may be so bold, how do we compromise this apparent divergence? And I suspect that we do want to communicate and bridge this divergence. Otherwise this forum would not exist. Admittedly, however, one can argue that this forum might as well serve the purpose of rectifying aberrancy. Anyways, …

Cheers,
Yuventius

11. Bravvooo! - November 13, 2007

Yuventius, I don’t know how you manage to analyze the moral basis of each scenario to such detail and yet refrain from taking a definite position on the issue. It is as if no natural conclusions would follow from your line of thought. Is that possible or you trying not to offend either side?

The reason I’m saying this is that religious and secular moral systems are too asymmetrical not to prompt judgement on the validity of each.

If you use secular humanistic principles you can instantly determine whether homosexuality or murder are moral actions or not. Moreover any independent observer, using the same principles is likely to come to similar conclusions. Thus the system is both consistent and reproducible.

The religious system of morality introduces a third party whose moral values need to be projected on to the individual before he/she may judge whether an action is moral or not. That is not necessarily a bad thing as if those third party moral codes were consistent we would have no problems with testing the morality of any given action.

However the divine moral code is more complex and not particularly consistent. Thus, although anyone could tell you what God would think of theft or murder, no one can say for sure what his views would be on giving prayers without consulting a religious text (note time restrictions e.g on giving prayers between dawna and full sunrise). Thus that moral code is neither independently reproducible nor consistent.

In either case, and using either system, you should still be able to determine which action is moral and which is not. How can you possibly stay neutral on the issue?

12. Tommy Goldrick - November 20, 2007

Right guys! I cannot understand the purpose of this website at all.
Nothing in this world is absolute in its nature. All good and bad is relative and highly conditioned to the situation at hand.

As for homosexuality, the 90% of the human race (that is hetrosexuals) would never understand. I find it highly amussing for them to think it’s not innate and somehow people acquire it; for that only justifies their own homosexual urges from time to time that they try to get rid of. It’s the same with homosexuals, they can have hetrosexual urges but try to understand they are Homosexual by birth. No, second option exists, trust me they are who they are, the way they are. The question of them not embarking on their homosexuality and looking for life partners stands in total parallel and equal to hetrosexuals not having partners. Just think living like that. To understand something try to get a feel of what it may be like before raising and forming opinions.

If something has not been popular doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

13. Bravvooo! - November 24, 2007

Tommy I really don’t know if people reject homosexuality because they are uncomfortable with their own urges. It maybe that they just find it strange and unfathomable.

You’re right when you mentioned the word “trust”. Unless you’re willing to accept that homosexuals are honest about their feelings there is no way forward.

That becomes a real obstacle when some among us, in a desperate attempt to appease the heterosexual mjority with their various doctrines, choose to invert their psychology than to understand it and explain it to others. I think they’ve lost their way and want others to join in the lurch.

14. Bravvooo! - January 12, 2008

This is a recent article on morality from a psychological perspective..very educational:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html?ref=science

15. Owais - June 3, 2008

My comment got a bit mangled above, Mod can you delete previous comment please?

Salam ‘alaykum,

“250,000 years too late, Homo Sapiens!”

It’s a bit presumptuous don’t you think Bravoo? Maybe in 50 years time people will look back at us and think what barbaric savages we were! What if in the future peadophiles are given freedom for sexual relationship between an adult and child? And it is accepted by society – does that mean we in the year 2008 were immoral or does it mean that the society in the future have corrupt morals?

Moral relativism based on whatever the current social trend is, just doesn’t sit right with me, the logical conclusion is nihilism.

“Do unto others as you’d like to be done unto. That’s the only absolute moral value that no human will contend”

What if you want done unto to you sadistic s&m? Who judges what are absolute correct moral values and why should we follow them? You might have a moral code and a man in Brazil has a completely different one, both not rooted in any religion just formed from their individual experiences in the world, neither can argue he is morally superior than the other. Rationally thinking, one man cannot and does not have moral authority over another.

In the end religious moral authority made sense to me, because the moral authority is greater than man. Not that all practitioners of a religion or religious leaders act morally, but our basis of morals should be rooted in a religion; moral authority God. Fundamentalist atheism is a modern trend, lets see how long it lasts and what effects it has on civilisation. John Gray comments: “It is a funny sort of humanism that condemns an impulse that is peculiarly human”.

16. Bravvooo! - June 29, 2008

Owais,

Let us worry about “ourselves in 50 years time”, 50 years later. Shall we deal with the present as it stands?

The fact of the matter is that human beings, irrespective of their superstitious tendencies, seem to agree that virtues such as generosity, loyalty, bravery…etc are commendable. There is no society on Earth in which cowardice is praised and lying is encouraged. What drives our common sense is mere experience. Any society which does not force itself to cooperate with each other would have withered and ceased to exist. No need for belief in the unbelievable.

How do we decide on where we stand on Paedophilia?
Dialectics: appeal to reason, argumentation…etc. Nowadays you’d have to convince me, as a rataional being, that violating a helpless little kid, without the concept or capacity to understand that you are abusing them for your own self gratification, is justifiable. Can you do that today? No you can’t. Will this trend continue? Unlikely. Why? We seem to have evolved our moral codes along the lines of Humanism and individual emancipation from the chains of tyranny.

What makes you anxious that this trend, as old as history itself, will change so drastically as to allow paedoophiles to prey on children?

What if you want done unto you is sadistic?

We lock you up in a psychiatric ward. The arguement ends there. Before you ask: “what constitues a psychotic derangement”, go and read any text on psychoses.

How can Atheism be fundamentalist when there is no book or dogma to appeal to? Atheism is not even a religion. It can not be fundamentalist. There are Atheist Jews. Buddhists don’t believe in a creator god. It is too narrow a description of anyone to say they’re Atheist to make you come up with any conclusions about them without knowing what they think about politics, science, art…etc

Fundamental Atheism is a complete misnomer.

What is happening nowadays is not a revival of Atheism but a move towards secular Humanism. Remember: without God we have none but each other. Through this notion we have broken the chains of indignity imposed on us by the religious “regulation” on slavery, given women more right than they’ve ever enjoyed, advanced the sciences to such an extent whereby we can cure many of nature’s nasty diseases all while the merciful supernatural agents watched as millions of us rotted in agony untill we’ve learned to pull ourselves by the bootstrap and deliver ourselves from the woes of ignorance and superstition.

17. Bravvooo! - June 29, 2008

Erratum:
Third paragraph (Paedophilia)

Can you do that today? No you can’t. Will the situation change? Unlikely.

18. Bravvooo! - July 1, 2008

Owais:

“…..the logical conclusion is nihilism…”

Nihilism is what you get when you start to doubt if your beloved imaginary friend actually exists. Your whole world then collapses around you and you don’t know what to do with yourself. You see no other purpose in life.

Alternatively, you may want to think more like an adult and take the bull by the horn. Why not wake up to the cold fact that, it is you and you only who really determines what value there is to your life. You may wish to start a family, help the sick, advance science, enjoy and create arts…or you may want to live your life like a bastard. But then what a waste of life would that be. What would be the point of it all?

See, I don’t need to pull any metaphysical punches to prove my point . Can you?

19. Ali - August 5, 2008

The prophet makes no bones about it. Homosexual acts are illegal and the punishment in Islam for penetrative homosexual acts is DEATH. No ifs or buts about it. The punishment for non penetrative homosexual acts is treated the same as fornication. Lashings for the first three breaches and then DEATH on the forth.

If you want to be a muslim you must take the prophets words as the word of GOD. If you don’t, you are not following Islam, therefore are apostates, which also carries the penalty of DEATH.

You muslims that want to reinterprete the Koran and ahadiths etc are worse then infidels. Once we have followed the Koran’s teachings to rid the world of Kafirs, Infidels, Idolitists, etc, then we start on you lot, the phoney muslims that want to twist the Koran to mean what you want.

And yes, there is no crime in Islam of thinking about homosexual acts, or being attracted to the same sex. The crime is in the action, not the thought. Allah does not care if you suffer because you can’t engage in the things you want if he has forbid it. He has forbid it and that is that, end of story. Don’t argue with Allah, or question him or his prophet. They are to be obeyed, not questioned……..that is Islam.

Ali

20. Qusai - September 4, 2008

Salam Ali,

“Once we rid the world of Kafirs, Infidels, Idolitists, etc, then we start on you lot, ….”

Don’t get carried away, we’re not even close to there yet!

For the time being you have to learn to reason your case to earn respect.

You may start by refraining from threatening death to all who disagree with you. You neither have the means nor the right to propose such cruelty. Muslims in the country where I originate from have grown sick of such bullying and the support for extremist groups has waned. You have to learn to use your brain. Allah created it for a good reason. If your counter-arguments are plain and sensible then you will convince everyone you talk to that your position is right and they are wrong.

Threatening violence or death just means you do not have the guts to stand up to scrutiny and your ideology is bankrupt of common sense.

Regards,
Qusai

21. Bravvooo! - September 9, 2008

Ali…

Quite impressive but, at least, seven dark centuries behind and , possibly, completely deranged. The shield against such corruption is not the power of reason but the power of the sword. Otherwise nowadays no human being with an iota of dignity and self respect would readily accept this kind of crap.


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