The Power of Fundamentalism – World Religion Essay
Khaled Abou El Fadl is a leading Islamic scholar and authority on fundamentalist culture. He is also a professor of law at UCLA. Abou El Fadl grew up middle class in Kuwait family and then later moved to Egypt. He
was attracted to fundamentalism because of the sense of belonging. Fundamentalism made it easy to see the world as black and white and much easier to understand. It
gets down to a form of intoxication that causes the life of people to tragedy short. Unlike gang members children who turn to fundamentalist think they can change the world. He felt suffocated by the world around him because on one side of him was strong western influence and on the other was a government that was feeding people lies. He says that he would ask his mother every night. “What is the point of this life?”
Abou El Fadl was taught the idea that truth is identifiable and obtainable on this earth. The perfection of God is obtainable on this earth. Intellectuals exist in order to confuse people. History, other then the time of the prophet and his follows is not very well known. However, at the same time most of the young people involved with fundamentalist groups are not well educated. Many in fact have never even read the Qur’an for themselves either because they simply are unable to read or because they are told that only teachers can read Qur’an and that otherwise they are committing acts of the devil.
At the age of 15 he turned his life around from fundamentalism. Humility is what attracted him to other forms of Islam. Instead of concrete answers he was amazed at people would begin a sentence by saying “I think” instead of “God thinks”. He badly beat when he decided to leave this fundamentalist group and also helped him to understand that there is no compassion in the world of fundamentalism. Listening to Bin Laden speak after 911 he was reminded of this beating that he took. There is no understanding or empathy to the rest of the world. No attempt to find a common ground.
Richard J. Mouw is the President of Fuller Theological Seminary. He was raised in a proudly fundamentalist home that was against all forms of popular culture; no cards, drinking, smoking, dancing, or movies for example. As a result this creates a very tight nit group of people that rely on another for entertainment. Mouw describes the fundamentals of fundamentalism as: The Bible is the authority of the word of God. Jesus was not just a great human teacher but he was of God. His death was brought about our salvation. Jesus will come again and an intense interest in bible prophecy.
Mouw began to question his fundamentalist roots when he found himself feeling passionately about the political issues of the 1960s. Equal rights and the Vietnam War were two issues that he found himself at odds with others in the church. Fundamentalists were not interested in doing anything about social justice in the large world. They refused to even get along with other Christians who disagreed on simple issues of doctrine. Mouw was in his 20’s and struggling with having to go to Vietnam, a war that he still disagrees with. People were very critical of him and more or less cut him off. This seemed backwards for Mouw because he felt that the Bible and even the hyms he sang so many times supported the idea of over coming injustice. “Are you willing to yield your racism to God? Are you willing to follow the Gospel even if your government is asking you to do something that apposes it?”
The human appeal of fundamentalist from a Christian perspective is that in our world of much confusion there are simple answers. Most people just want simple things, like they want their children to grow up ok. They hope for them to have a life that has meaning, with values, and promises something for the future. At its best fundamentalism gives something for people to rely on. There is a God in charge of everything and that is good for some people.
Yossi Klein Halevi writes for The Jerusalem Report, The New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times, and has authored two books. Halevi grew up in a holocaust surviving family in Brooklyn, NY. The Holocaust was the background and foreground of his family life. The idea of being a survivor and a victim was very real to him. He believed that Jewish people were hated and would never be accepted by the world.
Halevi moved to Israeli in 1982 where he still lives. He is a committed Zionist but understands that in order for Jerusalem to be a safe place both Palestinians and Israelis must find away to have a larger world view. Halevi also talks about the difference between the survivor and the victim mentality. The survivor understands that the world is hard and that the survivor tries to learn generosity rather than rage. Fundamentalist crave the easy answer. The survivor understands that there are no easy answers. This forces you into a mode of constant empathy. How does the world appear to others? This is obviously much easier when you don’t feel as though your life is constantly threatened.
We can take away from this lecture the idea that fundamentalism is just fundamentally a wrong way of viewing God. How arrogant to think that God really needs the fundamentalist’s efforts or anyone’s effort for that matter! This seems like a flat-out denial of the power of God. Claiming that God is omnipotent and omniscient is to imply that nothing happens in the universe that isn’t happening with the knowledge and consent of God. How could it happen without the knowledge of God? It has to be that way if you accept the omniscience of God. If God doesn’t allow it, how can it happen? Otherwise, God would not be omnipotent. If God allows it, it implies at least knowledge and consent. So why must God require the services of the fundamentalist to ensure that all right in the Universe?