in religion from a poet’s viewpoint
Sunday, 6 April, 2008, 01:30 AM Doha Time
By Sarmad Qazi
IF a religion cannot offer human beings free thinking and freedom, there is no
benefit in continuing to be part of it, Syrian poet Adonis said yesterday.
Born Ali Ahmed Said, Adonis, who is considered to be one of the Arab world’s
greatest living poets, made the points while delivering the keynote address at
the ‘Innovation in Islam’ conference.
“What can emanate from a faith where people are made to believe that everything
has been said and no more inquisitiveness or reasoning is required. A society
that ceases to think freely is an antipode to existence,” he said.
“Islam today is nothing but similar to Christian theology except with a turban.
Muslims can either continue the concept of one Umma (Nation) – which has been
failing – or they can join the concept of humanism, that liberates them from
the rules of fiqh and allows total equality for all citizens,” remarked Adonis.
“Innovations cannot be made in a religion. Only human intellect makes it
possible,” he said, and “that can only come when Muslims start to question and
reason again. The religion and politics must be separated.”
Earlier, Adonis set up the premises with a brief history of Islamic practices,
where according to him, religion became a political tool, allowing people
behind to get rid of the opponents.
“Look at the Arab history, intellectual dealing, religious text, upheavals and
all the events until the end of the first half of the Hijri century, during
which four Rightly-Guided Caliphs were murdered – one supposedly poisoned. Then
Baghdad declines and falls in 1228, gets taken over by Ottomans, followed by
another takeover by Western civilisation that continues to be the case until
today,” he said.
“During this time, while we should have learned from the age of Renaissance –
allowing for more vision and adaptations – we went back to traditions and the
result is a current Islamic fundamentalism, that people say lays a siege on
human culture. Its like allowing the people to ‘look’ but not ‘join’,” he said.
Adonis, also drew great parallels between religious text and poetry, calling
the former “a text that was said once and forever”, while the latter “an
innovative process, allowing the poet to present new words and relations
between man and the universe”.
innovation in poetic terms means to reject the preconceived notions, while
essence of innovation in religious terms means not to reject the sacred text.
The text can be explained and interpreted but not questioned,” he said.
“The truth in
poetry is relative and innovation in it changes with time, whereas religion
never changes. That makes religion an answer, while poetry a question – thus
the incompatibility. One requires submission, dictation and faith, the other
requires reasoning and exploring. Two completely different ways of looking at
the world,” he added.