The shallow end of the swimming pool of religion


In clarification of my post yesterday, I wanted to share with you some observations from a concerned Muslim scholar, Sheikh Dhiya Al-Musawi. You’ll see the video at the bottom. It is not only the Pope who describes the latest interpretation of Islam as a ‘deviant form of religion,’ because Islamic scholars – or at least one of them – are saying the same thing.

They say that religion is like a swimming pool – all the noise comes from the shallow end. When religion is not deeply understood or realised, there is a marked tendency for the followers to be noisy and argumentative. An analysis of the members of the Taliban found that many of them could not read, let alone read the Qu’ran. A similar analysis of the members of ISIS might discover many of them to be illiterate, poorly-studied in the religious texts, and having a child-like comprehension of their religion. No such study has been conducted, so I don’t know, although Husain Haqqani writing today in The Telegraph seems to suggest that poor education plays a role in what he terms ‘the Muslim narrative of grievance.’

The idealism of the new Islamic fascism would seem to attract young men with more imagination than life experience, the type of young men who often respond to the notion of creating a better world without an understanding of the complexities of how that is achieved.

I know a little of this type of person because I’ve had both the pleasure and sometimes the frustration of knowing many hundreds of them over the past forty years. Of course, if they are introduced early on to forms of religion that are wholly life-enhancing, as Vaishnavism is, their early notions can be developed into a deeper understanding, and into sustainable and rewarding spiritual practise. But sometimes not. Sometimes the inherent conditioning within a person so shapes their perception and desire, they turn the ideas of even Vaishnavism into something self-destructive.

Take John, for instance. That’s his real name. White, British, and keen as mustard. He stayed with us for a year then said that he wanted something more exciting from religion, something more adventurous. As we normally do, we wished him well and hoped that he would use the teachings he’d learned to greater good in his life.

Later, we learned that his adventurous spirit had carried him to become a Muslim and join the Mujahideen. He had gone to Afghanistan to fight, and been shot dead on a hill just weeks after his arrival. His parents were devastated, and wanted to know how it had happened that the son they’d waved off to the Hare Krishna temple was now a dead Muslim fighter.

So although the spirit of youthful adventure can lead one to the greatest knowledge, if someone who is vulnerable contacts ‘deviant religion’ it can spell disaster. But don’t listen to me, listen to this sheikh:


1 Comment

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One response to “The shallow end of the swimming pool of religion

  1. AR

    This video was tremendously inspiring. Thank you for sharing! It led me to another video with a Saudi council member, whose dialogue responds directly to your most recent post.

    “Civilizations are measured by their ability to change. We are exactly the other way around. We believe that the measure of success is changeability, and this is a great problem. If societies remained static, civilizations would not develop. Their development is dependent upon their willingness to change.” -Ibrahim Al-Buleihi, Saudi Shura council member

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