Islamic beliefs and their memetic sources

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Sun 10 Nov 2002 - 19:45:41 GMT

  • Next message: Van oost Kenneth: "Re: Post-Saddam Iraq?"

    Greetings, Grant,

    Thanks for the summary of the Hamurabi Code. It bears virtually no memetic resemblance to Muslim beliefs. Islamic beliefs are generally descended memetically from Christian, Jewish, and Arab Bedu beliefs. Aisha, Muhammad's wife and quite influential in his intellectual and spiritual life and in the recording of his sayings and practices, was Christian. Jesus and Abraham are among the prophets accepted and deeply honored by Muslims. Some Muslims believe that the kaaba was built by Abraham and his son.

    One of the principles of Islam is 'No revenge; no harm for harm.' Restitution is the preferred way of rectifying a wrong, and there is a monetary equivalence associated with many crimes or types of harm that people can do to each other. A criminal can offer restitution and if accepted by the victim or the victim's family, the crime and its need for punishment is considered satisfied. This is quite different from the
    'eye-for-an-eye' belief that we associate, for example, with Judaic law. I'm not sure where Christianity comes out on this. Can someone fill this in? What does 'turn the other cheek mean", in a criminal context? Perhaps Jeremy can outline this?

    As with many popular religions, practice varies from place to place, and often for the worse. For instance, tribal Bedu law persists in some parts of Arabia, and shows itself most dramatically in things like amputation of a thief's hand. But I would liken this to the KKK lynchings and cross burnings that permeated the US South not too long ago. Dramatic, but exceptional. I have had the fortune to live in several cultures, and have found that Muslim culture generally produces a society in which integrity, modesty, kindness, hospitality, and spirituality are prized. I have also found this true of some branches of Judaic culture, and in a few Christian cultures, e.g. Amish and Mennonite.

    Can you draw any parallels with the Asian cultures you are familiar with?

    There are several sources I can recommend for those interested in finding out more about Islam:

    1. Visit a local mosque (Muslim, not Black Muslim) and introduce yourself to the local imam. 2. Karen Armstrong's ISLAM 3. Isma'il al-Faruqi's THE CULTURAL ATLAS OF ISLAM 4. John Esposito's OXFORD HISTORY OF ISLAM

    and, on fundamentalism, whether, Jewish, Christian or Muslim, Karen Armstrong's superb THE BATTLE FOR GOD

    On Dec. 18, 2002, PBS will broadcast a program on Muhammad and Islam. I have seen some preview material on it, and I think it will be VERY good.

    I can recommend many more sources to anyone interested.

    Islam has been so maliciously portrayed in the US that it is a miracle Americans can understand anything at all about it, or have any curiosity left with which to pursue the matter.

    Best regards, Lawry

    -----Original Message----- From: []On Behalf Of Grant Callaghan Sent: Sunday, November 10, 2002 1:04 PM To: Subject: RE: Post-Saddam Iraq?

    >It is so much easier to make enemies than friends, in life as in
    >international relations. The real measure of a government's proficiency is
    >that ability to make friends.
    While pursuing my interest in the sources of memes I ran across this article about Hamurabi's code. If you remember I broke the line of conflicting memes into the Persian line and the Greco-Roman line. Tell me if this sounds familiar in the memes of the Muslim thought of today.

    1700 BC: Hammurabi's Code

    This Babylonian king came to power in 1750 BC. Under his rule, a code of laws was developed and carved on a huge rock column. The expression "an eye for an eye" has come to symbolize the principle behind Hammurabi's code. It contains 282 clauses regulating a vast array of obligations, professions and rights including commerce, slavery, marriage, theft and debts. The punishments are, by modern standards, barbaric. The punishment for theft was the cutting off of a finger or a hand. A man's lower lip was cut off if he kissed a married woman. Defamation was punished by cutting out the tongue. If a house collapses because the builder did not make it strong enough, killing the owner, the builder was put to death. If the owner's son died, then the builder's son was executed.


    P.S. I was wrong to peg the memes at a mere 2,000 years old. It goes back a lot farther than that. The Muslim memes seem to go back 4,000 years or more.

    _________________________________________________________________ Tired of spam? Get advanced junk mail protection with MSN 8.

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun 10 Nov 2002 - 19:41:02 GMT