Archive for Muslims

Autumnal Equinox and Religious Myth

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, culture, faith, humanity, life, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2010 by chouck017894

At the time of the Autumnal Equinox, September 22/23, when the days and nights are of equal length around planet Earth, the Sun is passing through part of the ecliptic corresponding to the dominance of constellation Libra, the symbol of balance.  The name by which constellation Libra was known among prehistory cultures reveal that the symbol of balance was associated with attaining favorable consideration from a higher source.  For example, the Coptic name for the constellation we know as Libra was Lambadia, which translates loosely as “station of propitiation,” implying the time to appease or resolve differences, to gain heaven’s good will.  The Arabic name for this constellation is Al Zubena, meaning “redemption” or “purchase,” implying that what one extracts from life must eventually be paid for.

The autumnal equinox occurring within the dominance of constellation Libra also carried a subtle reminder to the people of the ancient world regarding the double nature that is embodied in all life—the blend of spirit and matter, male and female, the positive and negative—the polarity that defines individuality.  The understanding that the constellation symbol offered was that life is most constructively lived by establishing a working balance between extremes.  To do otherwise was to bring with it a sinking of life’s ultimate purpose—the advancement into refined energy continuation. 

The widespread understanding associated with the group of stars which define constellation Libra was to live so the heavens would become favorably inclined.  This equinox period happens to be the general period of various religious commemorations.  In conjunction with the sign of the Balance the Jews celebrate Yom Kippur, day of atonement, the holiest Jewish holiday celebrated on the tenth day of Tishri; fasting and prayer for atonement of sins are prescribed.  Succoth (or Sukkoth),  which commemorates the alleged temporary shelter of the Israelites in the wilderness, is a harvest festival celebrated for nine days beginning on the eve of the 15th day of Tishri.  Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that precedes these observances, is a solemn occasion celebrated on the first and second day of Tishri (a month in the Babylonian, Persian and Jewish calendars corresponding to late September/early October).

In regard to the New Year being observed in autumn by orthodox Jews, the tradition is due to Canaanite influence.   Geography and climate conditions in the Canaanite region were such that summers were long and dry.  When autumn approached, the move toward rainy conditions was signaled by morning mists that drifted in from the valleys.  In Genesis 2, these regional autumn conditions are mirrored as circumstances in which Creation was initiated.  Hence, the first of Tishri is observed as the true New Year’s day by orthodox Jews.

In Christian belief Jesus serves in the capacity as conciliator, meaning the one who reconciles humankind’s sins so that the necessary balance  for evolutionary realization may be restored.  Unfortunately this interpretation has been presented in such a way that the evolved factor that is to be striven for (personified as Christ) is said to assume responsibility for everyone’s failure to seek balance, which only encourages the notion that individuals can sidestep personal responsibility for their actions. 

The Christian storyline was fashioned upon extremely ancient zodiac representations (figures associated with constellations, which are known to us through the zodiac, can be traced back at least 12,000 years).  There are three near-by constellations to Libra that provided interrelated inspiration for story elements in the alleged life events of the key characters in the myths of several  pre-Christian religions.  These story elements are also suspiciously prominent in Christian literature and they were drawn from constellations Crux (Cross), Lupus (the Victim-beast), and Corona Borealis (the Crown).   In the Romanized passion-play account based this ancient wisdom Christianity received its most dramatic illustration of spiritual triumph over physical dominance.  The representation of Libra as the Scales of Balance—the only inanimate figure in zodiac representation–depicts  what is basically a cross-form in itself.  It should be noted that in ancient cultures the cross symbol represented this plane of matter upon which spirit is temporarily nailed.  The event of the autumnal equinox during Libra dominance was consequently interpreted in Pagan cultures to correspond to man’s spirit-in-matter incarnation which is in search of necessary stability. 

Throughout the much maligned Pagan cultures, physical life was understood to position man at the threshold of higher potential where he is to take up the higher transformational powers of love, compassion, truth, mercy and justice.  The ancient ones believed that these transformational powers exist only potentially in this material-matter dimension of energy, and they develop only in accordance to one’s personal pursuit and reverence of wisdom earned in this matter-life experience.   The ancient Pagans understood that it is the regard that one experiences in this matter plane for those transformational powers that brings balance to spirit so it may proceed into elevated existence.  This is echoed in modern religious practice. 

The connection of the autumnal equinox with Muslim tradition is not as transparently associated to celestial movements as in Judaic-Christian traditions.  Nevertheless, the stipulation of atonement was, one might say, recycled from Jewish and Christian influence and incorporated as a period for Muslim  penitence.  Due to the more equatorial location in which Mohammad lived the seasons were not strongly pronounced, and for that reason the observance of Ramadan is not recognized as having been based on a noticeable seasonal change.  But Mohammad is said to have fled from Mecca at the height of summer, and arrived at Yathrib (present day Medina) on September 20—time of the autumnal equinox—which coincided with the Jewish day of atonement.  The word Ramadan is derived from an Arabic root, rhm, or “ar-ramad,” which denoted intense heat—an autumnal condition.  There were three Jewish tribes at the Yathrib oasis, and it was during the association with these tribes that Mohammad fine-tuned most of his faith’s concepts—there is but one God, for example.

Because yearly dates are constructed on a lunar calendar, Muslim religious observances come earlier each year by about eleven days, so the observance is not recognized as having been influenced by the event that in the past took place at the time of the autumnal equinox.  Ramadan is the period in which Muslims fast for the sake of Allah, and ask for forgiveness for past sins and attempt  to purify themselves through good deeds and self-restraint. The professed reason for the atonement observance is given as in honor of the time in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to Mohammad.

Related posts:

  • Spring Equinox and Religious Myths, March 2010
  • Summer Solstice and Religious Myths, May 2010
  • Myths Built Around Winter Solstice, November 2009

 

Freedom of Faith & the UN

Posted in Atheist, belief, culture, faith, history, humanity, life, politics, random, religion, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 25, 2009 by chouck017894

Freedom of faith—the awareness that every being in Creation has their own link to the Creative Source—is not an ideology favored by persons hungry for worldly power. Unlike the United States where freedom of faith and of speech was set down as two of the cornerstones of democracy, many other regions of the world have not been blessed with such an intelligent approach to government.

After World War II, as nations sought intelligent means of cooperation among nations, the ideals that had led the United States into the world’s major power became the model upon which the United Nations was established in 1948.  Freedom of speech and faith was recognized as the premium means of encouraging understanding and tolerance among nations.  Thus these principles of man’s equal rights became enshrined as a universal Declaration of Human Rights to which every member nation must set their sign of approval.  And guided by that Declaration the United Nations has continued to function as the forum where promotion of peace and human rights have been honored and upheld.

But there is an upcoming annual attempt by some member nations to slyly undermine those noble principles which they declared to have accepted.  The cover for that annual move to curb religious freedom bears the innocuous sounding title The Defamation of Religion Resolution.  Buried beneath that headstone, however, is the intent to silence the words or actions that are judged to be detrimental to a particular religion—and that religion just happens to be Islam.  In other words, the true purpose of that annual proposal is the attempt to silence anyone who might hold a differing faith, or no faith at all. 

The driving force behind that annual move to savage the UN Declaration of Human Rights is none other than the Organization of Islamic Conference composed of 57 countries with a heavy Muslim majority.  Their objective, when analyzed, is hardly a peaceful one.  It is clearly, as Leonard A. Leo, chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom observed, a deceitful attempt to “create a global blasphemy law.”

Certainly the Muslim proposed Resolution is not concerned with genuine religious freedom; it is concerned totally with protecting their own  man-conceived religious practices.  Tolerance, charity and love are not exactly the strong points of Islam, as is indicated by their repressive governments where anyone deemed as offensive or who dares to speak out against a favored sect or religious practice is punished severely—even with death.

Questioning the Quran and its contradictions, for example, is enough to allow gross violations of human rights.  There are “blasphemy laws” in Pakistan, as an illustration, that are routinely used against Christians and other minorities as reason for arrests and inhumane treatment.  If the UN ever voted in favor of the deceptive Defamation of Religion Resolution, the world would then find the blasphemy laws held up as justification for selectively restricting religious speech of minority communities.  It is then but a tiny step toward selectively curtailing civil dissent and  muzzling any criticism of the political structure in power.

Echoes Through History

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, faith, history, humanity, Middle Ages,, politics, random, religion with tags , , , , on August 9, 2009 by chouck017894

Over the passage of time, history has a way of duplicating events—not exactly the repetition of events but giving forth variations on a plot line with a different setting.

We would hardly think, for example, that recent events in the United States today would have anything in common with the militaristic religiosity that propelled the Crusades of the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries which brought needless distress to Europe and the Near East.  At that time the western powers (hard-line church politics) cast covetous eyes toward Jerusalem, ostensibly as a point of pilgrimage to the alleged tomb of Jesus.  But the Muslim brand of spiritual understanding, although giving recognition to Jesus, did not relish the idea of foreigners overrunning their territory and digging around for a legendary but unconfirmed burial site.  So the Caliph, al-Hakim, called “the mad” in western cultures, barred further pilgrimage passage through the territory.  Christians were whipped up by the pope and priests to wax indignant, hateful and belligerent (as right-wingers in the U.S. are today), and the barring of access to Jerusalem was assessed by the church and Europeans as “persecution.”

Around the year 1090 profound religious fervor permeated all sections of the European population, the Muslim nations were arming themselves, and countries such as France and Germany were impoverished.  Thus in 1095 Pope Urban II exhorted Christendom to take up arms and march to take Jerusalem by force, and the stage was set for seven bloody Crusades stretching over three centuries.

The motivation for the Crusades was always claimed to be religious, of course, but the results just happened to bring wealth and prestige to the church.  This tended to disenchant many gentle Christians who believed that enriching spiritual understanding was supposed to be the foremost function of the church.

As unalike as these time-separated scenarios may seem to be, there are many incidents of today that parallel the Crusade times—not the least of which is the boisterous religiosity that has increasingly infected the governing of the USA through the last few decades.  Add to this that today the Near East region is disenchanted with foreigners overrunning their territory in pursuit of oil to satisfy the high priests of commercialism.

Like the propaganda-inspired Dark Ages crusades where only the high politicos of the Catholic Church gained materially, today the only ones that really gain anything from the bloody and costly intrusion upon  foreign nations are the high priests of corporate commerce.  Let us hope that their lust for material accumulation does not last for over three centuries as did the Crusades.