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.