A quick heads up for a fantastic series of programmes running on Radio 4 at the moment, called Humphrys in Search of God. It’s a series of interviews with John Humphrys talking to a variety of religious leaders. The first one was with the Archbishop of Canterbury and was good, but not incredibly inspiring (probably because I’ve thought about the issues and heard the arguments before since I come from a Christian background and culture). I found the second one incredibly thought-provoking, though, with Professor Tariq Ramadan, a ‘leading Muslim academic’. It drove home to me that I know an astonishingly small amount about the Muslim faith.
The element that most appealed was when Tariq Ramadan talked about the need to act in the world. The question that Humphrys put was about how you deal with the amount of suffering there is in the world. The Archbishop of Canturbury and Tariq Ramadan both talked about having to accept that you don’t know what the greater meaning is, but the Archbishop of Canturbury put a lot of emphasis on the suffering being the downside of the free will that God grants us. Tariq Ramadan’s emphasis was, instead, on the Muslim’s requirement to act to improve the situation and do good. I found myself thinking that this approach is brilliant, but also allows an insight into suicide bombers. Bear with me here. If your faith teaches you to act, and you believe that something is right in the eyes of God, then you act. And that’s what suicide bombers believe. I don’t think that extreme is a necessary result of the basic (very positive) belief, it’s just a really unfortunate extension of it.
Just a very naive thought, perhaps (and not, I think, one that excuses their actions).