Sri Lanka, Tsunami and the mystery of God.- A response to Farida Majid

Mohammad Asghar

The following statement of Ms. Farida Majid in Mukto-Mona forum has drawn my attention.

�The striking similarity between the "secularists" (I put it in quotes to indicate certain anti-religionists, not because I am not a practicing secularist myself) and the fundamentalists lies always in their remarkable tendency toward a literal, unambiguous understanding of religion and God. Neither faction can bear to leave such a monumental natural disaster to the realm of unexplainable mysteries of Nature, even though we know most (may not be all) of the science of its making. We still need to discover its manifold future implications through explorations in all fields of science.�


She told us �the secularists� (I have put the word �secularists� within quotation marks to make clear that I really believe in �secularism�) that neither we nor the religious people should take God�s words literally and unambiguously. Her advice also applies to the Muslims and to their fundamentalists.  

I would request her to clarify what she meant by her above referenced statement together providing answers to my following inquisitive questions: 

The word �literal� means: In accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of a word or words; not figurative or metaphorical etc.  

Based on the above dictionary meaning of the word �literal,� is Ms. Majid telling us that we should not take the words of the Quran and the hadiths of the Islamic faith to mean what they appear to most of us to really mean?  

The Quran says: �He has created man from a sperm-drop; and behold! this same (man) becomes an open disputer!� (Quran; 16:4). 

What are we supposed to understand from the above verse of the Quran, if we are not to take its words �literally�?  

Does not the word �sperm� mean: a male reproductive cell; semen? 

Will it be wrong for us to understand that Allah creates all humans just with a sperm from men, and that in this creation process of His, women play no real role, except for bearing in their bellies what Allah has planted in them?  

How He extracts a drop of sperm from a man�s body? How He puts it in the women�s ovaries for the purpose of �creating� children?  

By the way, I think many of us already know what had caused the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, thanks to the scientists of mostly Western origin. What we need now is to find the best ways that would protect us from the oceanic waves in future.  

So far as tsunamis are concerned, scientists have already unearthed the �mysteries� that cause them. They have also invented the tools that help us monitor the tsunamis in the oceans. Together with perfecting our knowledge of the causes that trigger them, we must now deploy those tools so that they can forewarn us before the tsunamis hit our lands in future. 

I hope that the world leaders, especially of those countries, which are located on the rims of the Indian Ocean, will take lessons from the recent tsunamis, and adopt measures that are going to save many lives in days to come.  

If they fail to do what they are required to do to protect most lives and properties of their own people, we should blame them, not the Nature, for it would continue to play its role not only in our own time, but also in future. 


Mohammad Asghar

January 22, 2005

Also check:  the response of Mehul Kamdar in our forum to Farida Majid.