Still a few bugs in the system
Posted by aogThursday, 12 February 2004 at 20:11 TrackBack Ping URL

I’ve been out of the loop so I missed the big todo about the deaths during this year’s Islamic Haj. Some have viewed this as evidence of a “death cult”, although I think that’s be a bit too strong.

There’s an instrinsic problem with belief systems that postulate a life after death that’s superior to the current one. There is a strong tendency to prefer the after-life. Consider what would happen if, through some act, a young child could suddenly become an adult. We can see the results of children trying to be adults. The Christian and Islamic versions of after-life can reasonably be considered a “post-adult” form of existence. Why wait?

Christianity has a number of mechanisms to discourage such premature self-promotion. While matyrs are praised, it’s really the act of faith rather than dieing per se that’s honored. They are honored because they held faith despite death, not because they achieved it.

One problem that persists, though, is an indifference to death. This hasn’t been a problem for Christianity for a while, but I think we are seeing it in Islam with respect to the level of effort made by the Saudi Entity to handle the crowds during the Haj. Because the deaths are not viewed as a problem, no effort is made to prevent the cause of the deaths. I don’t believe that the officials plan on getting pilgrims killed, but simply don’t see the point of spending much effort to avoid it, as the dead are better off anyway.

It seems like a bug in the design to me, one that’s going to cost Islam a high price.