Sunday, March 30, 2008

Christianity, Islam and Judaism (no 1)

This is is the first part of speeches, the Dutch Arabist and Professor Hans Jansen at one of the European finest Universities wrote and talked about Islam. For common understanding only...


Muslims have dominated the world and their non-Muslim neighbors for about a thousand years. This happy millennium came visibly to an end when the siege of Vienna was lifted in 1683, when a Polish army chased the Muslim Turks away on September 11 of that year.

Many Muslims resent this loss of domination, and they feel that the present dominant world power occupies this position illegally.
Since Europe is full of politicians and thinkers of various caliber who equally resent being left behind, the emergence of a coalition of resentment is a real possibility. Such a coalition, may I call it Eurabia, is extremely dangerous, perhaps to the Land of the Free, but certainly to the Free World.
There is, however, more to all this. May I take a few minutes of your time to try and explain something that at first sight may seem utterly unrelated to our present problems. As you all know, there are three monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In many aspects these religions are surprisingly similar. There are however, a surprising number of differences as well.

Christianity, as you all know, is a missionary religion. Christianity is a religion that makes universal claims, and most if not all Christians believe that it is their Christian duty to preach the Christian gospel to each and every human being, and to convince literally everybody of the truth of its preaching. Christianity, however, has only limited interest in the legal details of the believers' daily life. Its focus is directed at intention and mentality. It is not a legalistic religion that prescribes and forbids. It lacks precise laws. There is, e.g., no Christian penal or civil code or a Christian law of inheritance.

Judaism, on the contrary, is not a missionary religion. Judaism makes high demands on the daily life of its adherents, it issues hundreds of commands that its followers have to obey. The rabbis, the religious leaders in Judaism, are specialists on Jewish law, and exactly like jurists do in secular law systems, they prescribe or forbid I the members of their congregations a multitude of actions. However, it is indifferent to them whether the rest of humanity obeys their instructions. Their mission is not universal, they do not have to convince the rest of humanity that their legalistic interpretation of monotheism is binding for others, too.

Islam represents the third possibility within monotheism: it is both missionary and legalistic, in that it wants to prescribe in detail how humans should behave. It is unavoidable that this third possibility exists, if it would not exist it should be invented at once. But it makes Islam into something that is different from Judaism or Christianity. There is an Islamic law of inheritance. There are Islamic laws on very nearly everything.

It is difficult to say whether the Christian claims to the universality of its message and the rabbinical insistence on a precise and legalistic approach to human behavior are the strength or the weakness of those respective religious traditions. It is simply a fact of life and history that Christianity preaches to everybody, but there is no Christian detailed code of law that regulates all aspects of human behavior. The synagogue, on the other hand, does not try to convert everybody, but unlike Christianity the synagogue dictates rules that are sharply defined and have to be followed by the elect - but only by them. To some, the problem with Islam is that it does both these things at the same time. Like Christianity, Islam is a missionary religion that wants to bring the Islamic message to the ends of the earth, but at the same time Islam dictates, like Judaism, a set of sharply defined rules that have, in principle, to be obeyed not just by the elect, but by everybody.

Prof. Dr Johannes J.G. Jansen (Amsterdam 1942) holds the Houtsma Chair for Contemporary Islamic Thought in the Department of Arabic, Persian and Turkish at the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands), since May 2003.

Prof. Dr. Jansen taught Arabic and Islamic Studies at Leiden University from 1982 till May 2005. From early 1979 till the summer of 1982 he was director of the Dutch research center in Cairo, the Nederlands Instituut voor Arabische Studiën en Egyptische Archeologie. He also taught at Groningen University (1975-1979) and at Amsterdam University (1982).

He studied in Amsterdam (1960-1964), Cairo (1966-1967) and Leiden (1964-1968). He received degrees from the Theological Faculty of Amsterdam University (Biblical Hebrew and the History of Philosophy, 1961), the Amsterdam University Faculty of Arts (BA, Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic, 1964) and the Leiden Faculty of Arts (MA, Arabic, Turkish, and History of the Middle East). He earned a doctorate at Leiden in 1974.

Uncivilized behavior.

We live in a country where violence is almost accepted as ‘normal’. Especially among those folks who feel every day insulted, offended or in other words: people who think that they have the right to destroy everything, or attack anything they don’t like; in the name of their religion or a misplaced ideology. Attacking out of greed, envy, and ignorance, whatever! We also live in a neighborhood which is trendy, where people like to hang out. But a neighborhood which lacks parking spaces; always a hassle to find a spot. Last week they bumped in my well parked car twice, without leaving a note, and once they went with a metal stick or keys over the car to make as many scratches as they can do. But early this morning I found my car totally caput: windshields were bowed and broken and looked like a phallus symbol on a car. Back window shield was ripped off, so the mirrors. But worse: they used the car to vent their anger on. Trying to do some graffiti on the car with metal sticks or/and keys. Is this: barbarism? Never saw this in my 50 years on earth.

Shockvertising - Extreme Shopping Sprees

At first, these images look like a scene from a horror movie. My first thought was that these photos were of some crazy Disney witch come to life, like those from Snow White or Beauty and the Beast. But then I took a closer look and realized they were of a modern day woman, likely even an attractive one, draped in the latest fashion.
The ad is for a sale at Venue, and it’s actually quite clever. The “Sale Now On” ad implies the deals will be so tremendous, people won’t be able to resist loading up on dresses, jackets, belts, jewelry and bags.
The campaign was shot in three locations: in a stairwell, parking garage and back at the home, still draped in the clothes while seated on a chair.

Made by JWT Singapore

Day Opening - March 30

World's tallest bridge: Vladuc de Millau, Millau, France.