Friday, March 30, 2007

Upbringing & Brainwashing

Upbringing, and brainwashing, are they but sides to the same coin?

There's a quotation by Prophet Mohammad that says: "No babe is born but upon Fitra* (nuetral). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist." (Sahih Muslim,
Book 033, Number 6426)

Also: "Each child is born in a state of "Fitrah*", then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian, the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring. Have you noticed any that were born mutilated?" (Collected by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)

* "Fitra", meaning neutrality, naturality, had been interpreted within Muslim schools as the Islamic faith. So, each child is born a Muslim, untill the parents "brain wash him."

Growing under the roof of those interpretations, it is easy not to question the term. Same goes for a country's weather conditions. If it is excissivly hot and dry, people simply avoid the sun, stay in, and turn up the air conditioner. Yet, the minute people step outside their religious and cultural context, the issue of brainwashing surfaces.

For example, when conservative Muslim parents take their children abroad, they are constantly in fear of the other culture altering their children. They grow extra concious of who their children hang out with, what language they are using, where do they go, what do they watch/read, and how keen are they in practicing the religion (prayers, Quraan, etc.) To them, any change in their children's pattern (even if it were due to progression of age, and entry to teenage-hood) is a stage of danger innwhich they are being brainwashed. But by who?

It is one of two things, really.

Either that we are in a time of war, and brainwashing is a weapon used by one party to over power the other. So, the issue is not finding the truth, or following the faith, but simply a struggle of political powers. (objectively speaking: no party is good when it comes to politics.)

Or that the truth exclusively belongs the the Muslims, and they are the ones who are still neutral and unaltered. Meaning, the entire non-muslim world is a bunch of brainwashed, mesmerized people, who are living a big lie, and are going to hell because of their bad parents who also had bad parents who had a truly bad figure in history which caused a chain reaction of disturbed upbringing...

1 comment:

Marahm said...

Yes, parents are the ones who turn a child into a Jew, Christian, polytheist, or even Muslim, but that raises an interesting experimental possibility.

What would happen if a child were to be brought up without any system of religious thought? I don't mean atheism. What if a parent were to teach a child that God is up there, and that, "Surely, we are from God, and to God we shall return."?

What if the family lived in a multi-cultural, secular society where each neighbor practiced a different faith, and all neighbors acknowledged the paths of all others as legitimate?

Here is another experimental scenario: What if all the sacred texts of the world were to vanish?

Ira Progoff, PhD, who studied with Carl Jung in the 1950s and who developed the Intensive Journal system for evoking creative ability (, says in his book At a Journal Workshop, on p.2, "I used to lie awake wondering what the human race would do if all its sacred scriptures were destroyed. Finally one night the answer was given to me. It came as a simple practical statement spoken in everyday tones. We would, the voice said, simply draw new spiritual scriptures from the same great source out of which the old ones came."

He continues, "In that moment I became aware of how vast and self-replenishing are the resources of the human spirit. The fires of Hitler could burn the sacred books, but they could not destroy the abiding depths out of which those scriptures had emerged. I heard also the words of the Polish rabbi chanting as he was being burned alive: 'Green grass lives longer than Nebuchadnezzar.' God's smallest creations will outlast the power of tyrants. And this is because, as Walt Whitman knew, the simple leaves of grass come from the same infinite, re-creative source as the depths of the human spirit, from which the wisdom and the strength of civilization also come."