Thursday, September 23, 2010

Byzantine debate

How boring it is to discuss existential questions with someone who believes has all the answers. An old friend paid us a visit yesterday, and I ended up telling him that those questions do not disturb me in the least, on the contrary they are a source of joy for me. I told him that those are questions to be asked not answered and that I am not in the least interested in finding answers because all answers he might have started from asking the wrong questions in the first place. Of course, he could not believe why I would argue with him if he could put me at peace only if I had an open heart and accepted the ultimate truth he "discovered". Yes, discovered, because this guy witnessed an immense metamorphosis that in itself is much more worth looking into than finding how the universe came to be. He was a normal guy, let's say, of course in his own understanding he was bad, immoral, and evil because he used to tease people (imagine how wicked!) drink (alcohol), have extramarital sex, and cheat on girls. The metamorphosis started with him quitting smoking and alcohol, then fasting, then going to the mosque, praying five times a day, and then as I discovered yesterday when I opened the door, not shaking women's hands. He put his hand on his chest and looked at me with a huge smile of shame mixed with all the complexity in the world. Later on, he asked me if that was insulting, I said no, and of course I lied. I also learned that he also tried to grow a Salafi beard but his beard failed him. He could not believe how I could go on with my life, a meaningful one, without having answers to all those big questions, that when I told him that questions matter much more to me than (ready-made) answers, he said that my life is absurd and hence why should I be living? He even seriously said that humans are created to worship God. That brought back an old memory of a nun whom I asked once at school "why did God create us" (the Why question) "was he bored?", and she said "so that we worship him". "Why, I said, does he suffer from any kind of inferiority complex?". I wished then if she had said" yes, he was bored"; that would have at least enriched my creative thinking. Now that guy, said that life is created unfair on purpose so that fairness is restored on the last day!! I did recommend few books but honestly I shouldn't have because I truly believe that some people need to be left at peace. The conversation was triggered by him not shaking my hand (I had planned to kiss him on the cheek). He was interested when I recounted the anecdote of the cat and the man in the room and the ball coming inside from the window (the cat would follow the ball and the man, unlike the cat, would go look where it comes from): the cause effect and the mind limitation theory. But all he could conclude was that he was no cat. It was very peculiar to remark that in such useless debates, it is the non-believer who sounds to be on the defence only because you wouldn't want to have such a debate if it includes right and wrong answers. If your answers are smart enough to be in the form of questions, you are beaten from the start. That's why if Imam Ali was right at any point, it was when he said that famous phrase "never had I debated with an ignorant but been beaten but him". I love those debates to be honest, but I truly wished yesterday if the guy sitting in front of me was ِ Al Ghazali or St. Augustine, or even Mohamad Hussein Fadlallah.

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