Modern Believers – Modern DoubleThinkers

After the attack of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) forces on Abu Karshula over 3 weeks ago, statements by government officials and supporters took the Sudanese media by storm. Everyone had something to say and no one had anything to tell, newspapers and television were basically filled with rhetoric and slogans, repeated old ones as well as new phrasings of the same repeated old ones.

Two statements were the center of social networks’ attention, and by attention here I mean shock, jokes and laughter. The first was a statement by Dafa’ Allah Hassab Al-Rasool (Hassabo), a controversial conservative parliament member who described the attack as a result of the Sudanese sport authorities’ actions in supporting women football. In Hassabo’s opinion such actions are non-Islamic and therefore must be stopped before they bring more destruction to the country. The second statement was the Qur’an Association’s call for prayer against the “enemies”. Both statements come from a belief that keazan (ruling Islamists in Sudan) have a just cause and a right definition/interpretation of Islam and hence Allah supports them as well as they follow the right way and punishes them if they divert from it, understandable. There are those who rejected such statements because they don’t see Keazan as just, right or even worthy of Allah’s support, understandable. But, the most interesting reactions to me came from those who found the statements funny and absurd.

Here I would like to shortly present the concept of DoubleThink, which I have been fond of observing in my and my surroundings’ behavior since I first read the term in George Orwell’s novel –which I REALLY don’t like- 1984. It is a very simple concept, doublethink as Orwell explains it in the novel is: “The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them”, in more details, to doublethink is “to know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them”. And in my opinion, many of those finding the previously mentioned statements “funny and absurd” are practicing classic doublethink.

Let me explain,

Those are people who define themselves as Muslims, who believe in God’s rewards and wrath,

They BELIEVE in the power of prayer to heal, to bring wealth, to stop harm, they believe it and they do not question it in Hadith and Quran, they practice it within their personal lives even … however when it comes to “serious” stuff, they seem to not find it serious enough, it is now funny and absurd, it is funny and absurd to pray for protection from the SRF because this is “serious”!!!

They BELIEVE in the stories of God’s wrath upon nations told all over Quran, the birds sent by Allah to attack the army of Negus Abraha as it was heading to the Kaaba in Mecca are not questioned, but the same Allah sending the Army of the SRF as a punishment on non-Islamic acts by the government is funny and absurd.

And this is not a very new phenomenon, it had been there during the 90s as the Keazan media used Islamic heritage and stories to back their Jehad against the “heathens” in the south. Stories of angels fighting with the Keazan army in the south like they fought with the Muslim army during Battle of Badr were told in an almost daily base on Sudan TV. A reaction I witnessed many times to such allegations was also; no-questioning towards the Battle of Badr stories, laughter towards the current stories of the angles fighting with the Keazan army.

And yes, one can argue that Keazan are not “good” Muslims hence not worthy of Allah’s support or that bigger “sins” than girls playing football have been committed hence it is absurd to link the attack of the SRF to the women football thing ONLY.
But the fact that these statements revoked LAUGHTER and not only resentment or rejection, LAUGHTER then resentment and rejection and LAUGHTER more than resentment and rejection; makes the possibility of doublethink worth exploring. And the act of doublethink here will be practiced between the two facts of Allah’s wrath and rewards being both logical and illogical. They are logical within Hadith, Quran and old stories, yet illogical in current situations.

From my very personal observations this practice of doublethink seems to be the “modern believers’” technique in balancing two sets of criteria in examining facts:

  • The religious criteria: in which stories are questioned or not questioned based on their source, hence all stories in Quran and Hadith are by definition true and the only thing to examine is how Sahih (proved to be said by prophet Muhammed) is that Hadith and in some very liberal interpretations of Quran how literal or  metaphorical was the story told in Quran,
  • The everyday criteria: in which stories are acceptable when they make sense and other wise funny. These criteria are used for current non-Quranic stories ONLY.

Thanks to a well trained practice of doublethink the modern believer doesn’t see a contradiction in applying these different criteria on two stories with the exact same events and no difference but the dates. The modern believer –and I am mentioning things I personally observed here with no further studies- believes in Jinn because they were mentioned in Quran (believer), but finds it crazy funny when someone says they saw one (modern). The modern believer believes in Istikhara prayer where one asks Allah for guidance in a specific matter and sleeps to wait for a sign from Allah sent in a dream (believer), but hearing a story about a girl who ended a relationship with a guy she’s been with for years due to a bad dream after Istikhara revokes –guess what? Yes- LAUGHTER (modern). The same for Sihr (magic) stories in Quran vs. modern magic, evolution vs. Adam and Eve, Big Bang vs. the Quran version of creation and many other stories vs. theories.

The modern believer -as I explained them- is a very interesting phenomenon of using doublethink to be both a believer as they believe believing should be, and modern as they believe modernity should be. In my opinion this is a very logical result of years of strict rejection to applying critical thinking when it comes to religious matters, and as one needs to think critically to survive and move forward in personal and professional life; religious-doublethink was the only way out. This is a very simplified explanation of how and why religious-doublethink became a phenomenon, but I would LOVE to see more studies conducted on the topic by sociologists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, etc. I really think it is a phenomenon worth studying, how it happened, how it affects one’s analysis skills, the development patterns of the society, so so many aspects to study. But until then … modern believers remain one of my MOST interesting topics of observations, I just love to watch them.

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9 responses to “Modern Believers – Modern DoubleThinkers

  1. could Islamic political views replace the critical thinking way in evaluation and analyzing facts and situation .?!!

    All of us know how the rolling regime in Sudan speak out when they face challenges and obsticals , they always use to describe the challenges as its come as a gift from Allah or a punishment from Allah as well ,its believed that this situation will lead to uncertainty strategy and a misunderstanding for people of Sudan in what is really goes on. I agree with this because Islamic views is not based on modern concepts , its a way for spiritual thoughts rather than politics and civil society thoughts , and the NCP regime is usually make use of Islamic views to avoid self- criticism and to transfer the risk into uncontrolled agenda .here its totally clear in what you mentioned in the above valuable article (Doublethink) .

    In conclusion  Sudan will never stand up without a society mind-shift in seeing nation as a holy idea , secular and liberal thoughts is always the better way in managing diversity in societies.  

    • To answer your first question Khalaf, no, at least for the modern believers they obviously don’t see the Islamic views as a possible replacement of critical thinking, at least not in all aspects of life, hence they started practicing doublethinking by applying the values of faith on some aspects and the values of critical thinking on others.
      I totally agree with you on how Keazan made use of that and are still making use of it, but they can’t be blamed after all the “Islamic state” and Islamic values are the core of their ideology. I am honestly most interested in observing how these irregularities within one person’s set of values affect them and how at affects a society with high percentage of such individuals. From my observations till now, in general I agree, this situation is no good and the only way out is with a real “society mind-shift” as you said towards … -well basically- logic.
      Thanx for reading my article, and DoubleThanx for the comment. 🙂

  2. Interesting and thought provoking take on our political crisis…
    As to doublethink … do I detect an assumption that contradiction is wrong or somewhat lesser than consistency? Is possible for human beings to be thoroughly consistent ? Isn’t adopting different frameworks of thought for different contexts part of of life. Do we survive because we modify and adapt our ways?

    • Irregularities within a system –as long as they are not OBJECTIVELY justified- indicate a failure whether they reach the extent of being total contradictions or not. Let me use an example of admitting student to a school, the school must have requirements for accepting students, if a student gets accepted without fulfilling the requirements then somebody is cheating, a huge failure in the system. Now of course the requirements for medicine students differ from those for economic students –different contexts different requirements like you said-. While arguing that believes and ideologies are one system and accepting a statement as believable or not should be handled with the same requirements can bring up the counter argument of religion being more than ideology and it has a so called “spiritual” aspect that makes it “special”, this is a whole other discussion that is not the issue here. It is not the issue because all the examples mentioned in the article are religious, Abu karshula attack being a wrath of Allah is a religious statement just like any other story of the wrath of Allah in Islamic literature and history. Hence for the believers (can also be read Muslims) to accept one story of wrath of Allah and reject another and even find it absurd and funny without giving an objective reason for why one fulfills the requirements and the other doesn’t or not even defining the requirements, and for them to do the same with believing in Istikhara yet find using it in daily matters –again- absurd and funny, this indicates a clear irregularity within their religious belief system, a cheat, a typical practice of doublethink.
      Whether achieving a perfect system with no irregularities and total consistency is possible or not is something we can only know by paying attention to the cheats, not letting ourselves get away with them, and correct them whenever we find them, whatever they are, whatever supports them and no matter how much comfort we find in ignoring them. Human development on the personal or social level is after all an act of such continuous improvement.

  3. I just have to add that the common man doesn’t believe this government is Islamic or Muslim. They can declare what they want but their actions speak loud(er) and clear(er).
    I believe that the laughter is at the expense of the government invoking God and placing themselves in the same context as the Prophet PBUH, his Companions and any true believers.
    My husband quoted this hadith when we were discussing your blog.
    عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال : قال رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم : ” إن الله تعالى طيب لا يقبل إلا طيبا وإن الله أمر المؤمنين بما أمر به المرسلين فقال تعالى :{ يا أيها الرسل كلوا من الطيبات واعملوا صالحا }وقال تعالى :{ يا أيها الذين امنوا كلوا من طيبات ما رزقناكم } ثم ذكر الرجل يطيل السفر أشعث أغبر يمد يديه إلى السماء : يا رب يا رب ومطعمه حرام ومشربه حرام وملبسه حرام وغذي بالحرام فأنى يستجاب له ” رواه مسلم

    • though that can and might be true, it is the intellectual self examination that I ma most interested in, And therefore we should just ask ourselves; if it was a fair and just Islamic and Muslim state and they said one of those things … God is punishing us with the rebels’ attack, the angels were fighting with us, and the smell of musk came out of a grave … would we have believed it, would it be less funny then?
      the answer might be a yes for some and a no for others, both are fine, but what matters the most is the questioning, constant questioning of all our believes, in a search for answers and not excuses, there is just no other way to protect our minds from dogmatism.

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