Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Amman Message

Wikipedia is a dangerous thing. Navigate to it to find out a quick fact, and before you know it, you're completely engrossed in a very large article on something completely unrelated. Like what happened to me yesterday.

Here's a link I found out yesterday, perhaps a year or so too late:

The Amman Message

From the Introduction:

It [The Amman Message] sought to declare what Islam is and what it is not, and what actions represent it and what actions do not. Its goal was to clarify to the modern world the true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam.

A worthy goal indeed!

One of the things about Islam is that its largely decentralized. We don't have a pope, and we really don't have a central body regulating religious activities of Muslims around the world.

Typically, governments and private or non-profit organizations fill the void, of their own volition, to keep things organized, but it's not mandated. Despite all the hoo-haa about Islam being a polity, and it being the antithesis of secularism, and therefore, automatically incompatible with anything "civilized", at the root of it, it's all very personal... and yet impersonal.

A standing principle of the spiritual gnostics has been: nothing is personal in the universe, except your relationship with God.

And this perhaps has been Islam's bane in the modern world. People could pick up tattered, neglected old books, and where nationalism had previously failed to deliver, they hit where the heart is soft: faith. The despots told the people do this, and God will love you, and the people loved the despots.

And so perhaps things like the Amman Message are slowly arising. Standards bodies, that define terms, good practices, and fundamental concepts. Much like the IEEE standards or the RFC internet standards. These are the protocols, the concepts. Now implement them as you wish.

(I'm very sorry for the geek reference. I had to do it.)

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has an advantage I think that most of the other Muslim countries don't have.
  1. It's relatively unimportant, so there's not much Western meddling going on.
  2. It's king was educated in the West, but with deep roots in the Middle East.
  3. And the pox that is the United States's war on terror in Iraq has meant millenia's worth of handed down knowledge and wisdom, embodied in rare, skilled professionals in trades we no longer know about, like calligraphy and traditional Islamic scholarship, are making their way there to make a new life.
Last I heard, they were undergoing slow democratic reforms in Jordan. Here's to wishing them the best.


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I write essays in my spare time on things that are important to me. The ones that I feel are any good, or make any sense, I put them up here. :)