Daily Archives: November 4, 2008

The basics of Islam’s outward boundaries

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The first question Islam likes to answer is: what freedom offers the One God to the faithful, when does He demand obedience. Then comes the question if one may leave the faith. Establishing the outward boundaries of faith is not yet an answer to the main question: what is faith according to Islam. It is, however, a question of concern to many people nowadays.

The practice of some Islamic countries doesn’t always offer believers these liberties at all time. In Algeria or Morocco it is allowed to leave Islam, if one abstains from propagating the new creed. In Egypt, however, it is not allowed. Who leaves Islam, may encounter difficulties, the other way round, the case of leaving Christianity, equally. Believers of small religious communities like the Baha’i are not everywhere welcome at universities, nor can they always obtain a passport or other official document. In several Islamic countries religion is mentioned in the passport and the Baha’i creed is not everywhere officially permitted. There are Islamic countries where residents without religion cannot apply for official documents or admittance to institutions either, even in those countries where members of the various religious communities hold a proportionate number of seats in the national parliament. The situation differs per country and it would be unjust to suggest that no freedom of religion exists in any Islamic country meaning that one is allowed to change religion and has access tot government positions or important documents and institutions.

However, that which the Qur’an says about change of religion, is the main rule in Islam. And it may very well differ from the present legal situation in existing states. Even the verdicts of the prophet pbuh should fit in the Qur’anic framework, according to Islam. They do so, but his sayings treat the diverse situations that he had to deal with and they still function as exemplary to the believers. The prophet’s sayings explain practical situation into more detail. Very well, what does the Qur’an say on leaving the faith:

… But hold not to the ties (marriage contract) of unbelieving women: ask for what ye have spent on their dowers, and let the (unbelievers) ask for what they have spent. Such is the command of Allah: He judges between you. And Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. And if any of your wives deserts you to the unbelievers, and ye have your turn, then pay to those whose wives have deserted the equivalent of what they had spent and fear Allah, in Whom ye believe. Q:60:10,11

And those who accept Faith subsequently and emigrate and fight for the Faith in your company, they are of you. But kindred by blood have prior rights against each other in the Book of Allah. Verily Allah is well-acquainted with all things. Q:8:75

O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell, an evil refuge indeed. They swear by Allah that they said nothing, but indeed they uttered blasphemy, and they uttered it after accepting islam: and they meditated a plot which they were unable to carry out: this revenge of theirs was only return for the bounty with which Allah and His Messenger had enriched them! If they repent, it will be best for them; but if they turn back, Allah (not me and you) will punish them with a grievous chastisement in this life and in the Hereafter: they shall have none on earth to protect or help them. Q:9:73,74

Those who believe, then reject Faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject Faith and go on increasing in unbelief, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them on the Way. To the hypocrites give the good tidings (so do not kill them) that there is for them a grievous chastisement. Those who take for friends unbelievers rather than believers: is it honour they seek among them? Nay, all honour is with Allah. Already has He sent you in the Book, that when ye hear the Message of Allah held in defiance and ridicule, ye are not to sit with them (this is not equal to killing them) unless they turn to a different theme: if ye did, ye would be like them. For Allah (not you and me) will collect the hypocrites and those who defy Faith all in Hell. Q:4:137-140

How shall Allah guide those who reject Faith after they accepted it and bore witness that the Messenger was true and that Clear Signs had come unto them? But Allah guides not a people unjust. Of such the reward is that on them (rests) the curse (this is not a death sentence) of Allah, of His Angels, and of all mankind, in that will they dwell; nor will their punishment be lightened, nor respite be their (lot); except for those that repent after that. And make amends; for verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. But those who reject Faith after they accepted it and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith never will their repentance be accepted: for they are those who have gone astray. As to those who reject Faith, and die rejecting, never would be accepted from any such as much gold as the earth contains, though they should offer it for ransom. For such is (in store) a chastisement grievous and they will find no helpers. Q:3:86-91

It may be that Allah will establish friendship between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies, for Allah has power; and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. Allah only forbids you, with regards to those who fight you for Faith, and drive you out of your homes and support in driving you out, from turning to them it is such as turn to them that do wrong. Q:60:7-9

… But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and take no friends or helpers from their ranks: except for those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty, or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you or fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and send you peace, then Allah hath opened no way for you. Others you will find that wish to be secure from you as well as that of their people: everytime they are sent back to temptation, they succomb thereto: if they withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands, seize them and slay them wherever ye get them: in their case We have provided you with a clear argument against them. Q:4:89-91

O ye who believe! eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities, but let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good-will; nor kill yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!  If any do that in rancour and injustice, soon shall We cast him into the Fire: and easy it is for Allah. Q:4:29,30

Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, We have given his heir authority (to demand Qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped. Q:17:33

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief in the land is: execution, or crucifixion or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Q:5:33,34

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong. But indeed if any do help and defend himself after a wrong to him, against such there is no cause of blame. The blame is only against those who oppress men with wrong-doing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a chastisement grievous. But indeed if any show patience and forgive, they would truly be an affair of great resolution. Q:42:40-43

Non-Muslims like to say: whoever leaves Islam, may, no must, be killed by the islamic community. Who may be killed though? The person who killed, or persecuted and drove out the believers physically. Verbal attack on the believers or plain conversion to another creed is most certainly no reason to kill a person! Indeed the person can sincerely return to the true faith and this chance must always be offered. This shows itself the more obviously from the verse on women leaving for the non-believers. Retribution is allowed. However, we must retaliate at an equal footing. If someone is killed in the street, we are not allowed to kill a peaceful innocent soul from the adversary community. What’s more, retaliation may be a punishment other than capital; a convict’s expulsion is also an option. The Only who eventually will settle with those who left the Faith, is Allah Most High Himself.

Which traditions according the sayings of Prophet Muhammad saws, also called ahadith, exist on the topic of leaving the Faith?

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The very first basics of freedom or obedience in Islam

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The best illustration of these two issues Islam deals with, obedience versus freedom, can we find in the following Qur’anic verses:

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah) never will it be accepted of him and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost Q:3:85

O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust. Q:5:51

on the one hand…

Those who believe (in the Qur’an) and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, and who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. Q:2:62 & 5:69

To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed and follow not their vain desires diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee, to each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single People, but (His Plan is) to test you in what He hath given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues the goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute. Q:5:48

And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except in the best way, unless it be with those of them who do wrong but say ‘We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; our God and your God is One; and it is to Him We submit (in Islam). Q:29:46

The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will); nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account. So if the dispute with thee, say: ‘I have submitted my whole self to Allah and so have those who follow me.’ And say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned: ‘Do ye submit yourselves?’ If they do, they are in right guidance, but if they turn back, thy duty is to convey the Message; and in Allah’s sight are His servants. Q:3:19,20

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects Tagut (any idol) and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. Q:2:256

Those … who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation Q:42:38

on the other hand.

In my opinion these are the most difficult and least understood and appreciated passages of Islam. These verses also give us the essentials of what faith is about and where to boundaries to other creeds are. So on the one hand it is good to know dogmas, build a community around a revelation, however, a stereotype preference for a certain community seems not necessarily to be expressed. The revelation come to Muhammad pbuh is true, but that does not mean that another, older revelation has become immediate untruth. Or that communities still following older revelations do the wrong thing, even though they do not follow the Sunnah, the prophet’s tradition. Verses 2:62 and 5:69 neither say what are precisely faithful people. Islamic believers are prescribed to establish their own communities where prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah is guarded and passed on. However, others also believing in God, are not necessarily wrong.

Through these texts a way is opened to a tolerant, even secular society, where people may form groups along lines of religion, without creating second rate groups with less rights. In a secular system religion has no formal political or legal institutions of power, however, religion is allowed to exercise influence and even power on the stage of politics. To mention a big example now. There is for instance only one political system in the secularist democratic societies of western culture that acknowledges capital punishment, namely that of the USA. In this same fashion it is equally thinkable that an Islamic system does not apply capital punishment. This is because, primarily speaking, Shariah offers the option of choice. A Muslim can, generally speaking, recognize himself in a pluriform system without loosing him or herself.

For now the relationship between Muslims and other people have been described, however, this relationship has another character than that with the basically most important authority figure the believer knows: the only God and creator. Precisely this necessity to wear more than one hat makes quite a lot of people loose the right track.

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First thoughts on the Qur’an

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In how far do general thoughts on faith apply to the faith of which I like to share thoughts with the reader, namely my own: Islam. Islam literally means peaceful submission and surrender: willing obedience to God and His rule. The Qur’an is the main scripture of Islam and is left to us by the Arabian prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, after completion in 632 AD. However, Islam is not named after him, the name refers to a state of mind: glad submission to the one God. It’s mission is completion and correction of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, in order to provide the faithful with a clear and consistent idea of who God is, the history of His messengers and of previous believers, the future of mankind in the afterlife and the psychological dimensions of faith and disbelief. The main issue of the Qur’an deals with the tension between freedom of faith and expression for both the individual and religious community versus divine sanctioning on obedience and truthfulness in faith and expression. Is it possible to combine a proper truthful faith with freedom to make one’s own choices? Is there only one way to this truthful faith or are there any acceptable alternatives? Is it ‘allowed’ to switch between religions or leave the faith altogether and who has any say in this? Also today faithful communities are struggling to find a proper answer to satisfy both answers within the community, but also with other communities of different creeds as an important background, as the Islamic umma is by no means walking alone in this world. The Qur’an is, unlike the Bible, not written as one chronological story, but as a compilation of verdicts and narrations compressed in rhyming sentences and short sayings which may be read without specific order, but not entirely independently, as the compilation as a whole is a complete set of rules and regulations. Some verses, also named ayat, signs, apply to specific situations that may only then be valid, others are better understood in combination with others. For a good understanding it is necessary to regularly read Qur’an as a whole. Another aspect is the use of time and people. Sometimes Qur’an refers to different time periods and different individual persons or groups of people in one verse, at other places every reader may feel spoken to, even when it may very well be the case that only the prophet Muhammad is referred to. An example is the People of the Book. Sometimes learned people in general are meant, sometimes Jews and Christians only and as a community, sometimes the followers of the three monotheistic religions, also Islam. The Qur’an is, in my opinion, a self explanatory text, however, if it were that easy, not so much was going on about it and not many shelves with commentaries had been filled… the human factor is important and sometimes spoils much of the fun here.

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Conflict zone: the laws of nature as part of religious belief

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From now we approach the issue from a religious point of view. There is a certain tension between the choice for the best solution to which even God finds Himself bound and God’s Omnipotence. Is it thinkable that even the best solution is only a choice for the Creator? We have growing knowledge of what the earth must have looked like several millions of years ago and acknowledge change in species of plants and animals and change in layers of stone and relief. Continents have shifted and weather conditions have changed. Remote stars have exploded millions of light years ago and two weeks ago space agencies have witnessed their supernovas. Therefore on the longer term we see the universe change, usually gradually, sometimes dramatically immediate. On the short term, however, we see a stable well structured natural and human environment. Each individual has its characteristics and variations within the species may and do exist, however, within the species very little difference and change occurs. Species feed from each other and need certain conditions in weather, soil, water presence and temperature. Whoever observes nature, notices a delicate balance between the many different living creatures, the elements they need for survival namely water, air, fire, earth and each other, and in the bigger environment the celestial bodies, light and darkness. As far as we know, these elementary basics behind nature have not changed. Celestial bodies move in the universe and certain forces, we now know to be magnetic and electrical fields, keep them apart and bind others to their orbit. These forces prevent those on their surface from being thrown off. Some of the celestial bodies cast light and others don’t, but they enjoy the benefits of this light.

Natural phenomena and the apparent rules they listen to may be a stimulant to religious beliefs among people and sometimes most emphatically not. However, the rules and systematic order in empirical nature are perhaps among the main issues of conflict between believers and non-believers of religion, but also among religious believers. To some believers laws of nature are a profane effort to belittle God’s Omnipotence. To others these laws are part of God’s delicate and immense creative genus. Atheists have a big problem with this first group; the idea of an omnipotent creator not bound to the laws of nature, is to them a sign of ignorant popular belief meant to frustrate or smother any empirical research. Research and development may be skipped as unnecessary in this approach. The idea that God alone creates when, how, whatever He wishes indeed answers any how to-questions with an easy skipping the how to’s.

How contradictory, however, is trying to answer questions about a creator within the framework of natural possibilities and the law of nature? When we think about God being omnipotent within the absolutely possible, it is not so contradictory. It is obvious that going back in time is not possible, division by zero neither so and that God exists within the existing. God cannot be in the non-existent. It is also obvious that the balance of nature is a consequence of practical possibility. Animals need to protect themselves from natural enemies and possess therefore certain colors, qualities or capabilities. The bigger question behind this is: why does the animal have an enemy, why is there a universe at all? This is a question that religious scriptures like to answer. For this reason, as said above, it is very appealing to combine the easier answer to the how to-question of how God’s might works in the universe, namely God creates whatever when and why He wishes with a traditional prophetic scripture explaining why we all were created. It is a very easy way out and never wrong to use these answers, this is why religious scholars for long used them in both popular works for ordinary followers and elaborate studies among their peers. But the answer is a shallow one and not satisfactory to more inquisitive minds, as the concept of unlimited divine omnipotence clashes with basic impossibilities as those mentioned above. Besides and last but not least, traditional scriptures differ between not only main religions but also between schools of thought within religions. How do we come to terms with that, if at all.

Especially in modern days, with empirical scientific knowledge having grown so extensive, it is necessary to now and then consider natural boundaries to divine omnipotence. However, ancient and medieval philosophers as Aristoteles and Ibn Rushd considered the laws of nature, not yet with this name, as an essential part of the universe. They believed in intermediary forces by which God works in His creation according the rules of the truly possible. It is therefore not possible that God works and resides in the non-existing, of course God resides in the existing, nor that He can create the existent from the non-existent and vice versa. If God is eternal, so must be the universe: an ever changing yet well-structured, fully obedient creation by the eternal God without first beginning. Like God Himself, matter and moving forces were always there.

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Empirical or logical truth

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We don’t know what God looks like and don’t even know for sure if God exists and how He works in the universe. For this reason people say: every person his or her own truth. Empirical evidence for religious ideas is missing here. However, deduction makes clear that there should be one answer to the question what the divine power looks like, how it works. Maybe one day people will get the possibility to also observe God and gain empirical evidence.

Gathering empirical evidence is not possible for abstract concepts like numbers and time. They are universal standards that are unable to create or live for themselves, they are no creatures. But through deduction and arithmetics it is possible to distinguish even from odd, early and late or find the answer to two minus one. It is not possible to imagine another answer to these logical questions, so absolute logical truth exists.

There is a discussion, however, about alternatives to empirical truths. Is it possible to imagine miracles, in other words alternatives to the scientific fact that water boils when its temperature reaches 100 degrees Celsius or that every object can only fall down and never up or sideways? More scientific minds do not allow exceptions to scientific facts and will say that such an exception violates the absolute truth of the laws of nature. Some religious minds, however, say that God will make exceptions whenever He wills and some religious minds don’t even recognize the laws of nature, as they cannot dictate the Omnipotence of God. God is creator of these laws and can easily get rid of them. Is logical, absolute truth to be applied to the laws of nature? Gods Will cannot make three plus four nine, allow time to go back and drop objects upwards. Divine Allmight means that God can create anything within the limits of the absolutely possible.

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Absolute truth is more than an abstract exercise

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‘Everybody their own truth’ is seen as ultimate truth, but how about absolute truth: is it logically possible? Reading ‘Incoherence of the Incoherence’ written by the islamic philosopher Averroes, Ibn Rushd, brings absolute truth nearer to us as a more conceivable concept. It is true, that minus multiplied by minus, results in a positive. This is not merely a mathematical agreement to make arithmatics easier, the linguistic approach may display its true meaning. Saying ‘our neighbor never didn’t have a dog’ means that our neighbor always had a dog. This is a simple example. Truth says something about possibility. Is a certain phenomenon possible? It is not possible to divide a number by zero. Vice versa, multiply a real number by zero and then expect another real number other than zero as an answer. Possible? What do you think. Another example. Two plus three is five. Not four, not ten. Numbers are absolute eternal standards, they are not produced items with limited life span.

A more difficult next step would be considering existence versus non-existence. Do we ever consider what it really means: non-existence. Is it possible to create non-existence. It is possible to create a void, an empty whole, but this is not the same as not existing. Non-existence is the absolute nothing and such is not possible in combination with existence, because matter, space and form stand in the way as concrete, really existing phenomena. It is possible to change a fire into air, but not into entirely nothingness. Creation and non-existence do not match, creation and change of form and matter, however, do very well. Creation of empty nothingness means dissapearance of matter and form and this implies that these latter two have to move somewhere else. This somewhere else means an existing place or a new shape.

Averroes’ main opponent, the theologian Al Ghazali, believes that God’s will is enough to create non-existence and new existence alike and also that His will was enough to create the universe from nothing. His line of thinking has been followed by the majority of the Islamic world, however, also in the Christian world has he contemporary followers of his line of thinking. Modern thinkers consider the possibility of a ‘big bang’ as first creation of the universe by a Force that maybe called God. Other modern thinkers contemplate a possible intelligent design by a Maker that consciously and deliberately develops new species and landscapes, or even new galaxies. Al Ghazali saw no limit to Divine power, however, Ibn Rushd believed in absolute possibility versus absolute impossibility. Divine Omnipotence to Ibn Rushd does not mean creating the impossible, but abstaining from the impossible and being able to create everything that is possible.

The second issue is time. Creationist believers think that God in His Omnipotence creates within time. Time can be abolished and re-created by His will and time was created when the universe was created. However, is it possible to create the universe from the non-existing? Who would do that? An existing force: God. This means that absolute nothingness is impossible. If God is eternal and limitless, it is inconceivable that God should have originated from something or somewhere. God cannot exist in the non-existing of course, creation in the non-existing is equally contradictory. It’s a jolly idea, nothing further. In order to understand, it is better to consider the universe. Is the universe just our heavens and earths with their galaxies? What if there is another universe bordering ‘our’ universe, or that ours was preceded by an older one and will be followed by another universe. And a heavenly trash can for everything that has been destroyed by our Lord. This does not solve the main issue, namely that all this belongs to the same divine creation. Therefore it is impossible to conceive non-existence as a creation, as the difficulty of matter will stand in its way. For there will always be God left and the other parts of His creation. Considering all this, it is possible to conceive a destruction of the universe when it is preceded or followed by creation of something else. On a limited level it is possible to imagine non-existence. Time in all this is an objective standard and integrated eternal part of existence. Time measures the lives, temporary existences and movements of individual items in creation and it is no creation by itself, according to Ibn Rushd.

Al Ghazali, however, says that time was created when the universe was first created. At first sight it seems possible to invent a time zone for each planet, each galaxy, but that does not solve the issue of creation itself, existence as a whole. If there were more time systems possible in existence, it would be possible to imagine shift of universes in their order of appearance. An old universe could trade places with a future universe. The hereafter could trade places with the present life. This is not possible and it shows why it is not possible to imagine more than one universe or creation. Time and non-existence as a creation by God seems a nice exercise of thought rather than real truth to Ibn Rushd. There is only one universe and it answers to certain natural truths that we nowadays call laws of nature. Time dictates the order of events independently and equally for no matter which item or event in the universe. Like numbers, time ia an absolute eternal standard and not bound to any individual item with limited life span. Is this Divine will?

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Orthodox or liberal faith

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The difference between orthodoxy and liberalism in religion is about the appreciation of freedom and about the choice between your relation with your God on the one hand or with other people and everyday life on the other hand. Liberal religion however, does not necessarily correspond with more freedom, freedom is also an issue for orthodoxy. Orthodox religion emphasizes good knowledge of religious traditions and also obedience to them, because those faithful who sincerely want a relationship with their God, will do what He asks them to do in the ways as prescribed in the religious revelations. It would be arrogant not to do so and arrogance comes from lack of love. The next question is whether the orthodox believer takes the freedom to display his or her love for God to the rest of the world. If only his own wishes matter, this would just be an issue of honesty and self-discipline to fulfill the required rituals and wear or use the prescribed items. Honesty and self-discipline as a sign of humility and sincere love towards God. An orthodox believer will see a hiding of religious worship as an act of hypocrisy and self-deceit, but also as an act of disobedience to the foremost important authority we have: God. After all none of us have seen God and we cannot proof the non-validity of traditions and rules, we are small in the universe and don’t know much, God however is omnipotent and knows best what is good for us. In the orthodox view following traditions and rules is therefore in our best interest. However, the possibility to display orthodox religion is limited by other people and their beliefs. In a pluralistic society this is an issue still non-settled. Which religious practices can be allowed and where? So orthodox believers find themselves restricted in certain freedoms and they have to find emergency clauses in their religious systems that allow them to skip these acts of worship at a certain time and place.

Different is the situation where orthodox religion is mainstream and part of the political and legal system. In this situation it is natural and easy for the faithful to practice worship, sometimes it is even compulsory by law. Orthodox believers, however, do not necessarily disapprove of this compulsory character. They see their political leaders also as leaders in religion who should enforce practice of religious rules on society in order not to disintegrate and protect society and individual people from misbehavior. God after all commands the faithful to make sure His will is carried out as prescribed and let justice this way prevail. The society should be a reflection of Gods plan. Religion has to offer the issue of how to deal with minority thinkers. To what extend can they express themselves, occupy high positions and acquire land and also if it is possible to choose another religion. The attitude to minorities is an important bottle neck for the success of the orthodox religious state, because it is the community’s first display towards the bigger world.

Liberal faith prefers to emphasize the individual and his or her personal, self-developed faith. Traditions and rules still play a role as a historic reference worth to study and a collective asset necessary to bind the members of the community closer. They are considered teachings that form the identity of the individual and the community. But liberal faith does not prescribe strict obedience to rules and tradition. Liberal faith tends to emphasize our not knowing the value of religious sayings, we don’t know how much of them really is of divine provenance and we do know that many communities don’t follow our traditions and rules. In order not to offend those with other ideas, religious worship should not be enforced on people and not be practiced outside the own community. Secularism is therefore more often found among liberal minded societies, however, not exclusively nowadays.

At first sight liberal faith sounds more tolerant and open than orthodoxy, but this may be deceptive. Whether people are open and tolerant is a result of not fearing other ideas and people. Fear may smother broad mindedness in the core. Another factor necessary to keep an open mind is willingness to gain knowledge. Study of any book or profession or travel to other places may develop the mind and this attitude can be found among liberal and orthodox people. The opposite of fear is acceptance of others without loss of own identity and allowing public expression of other people’s ideas and ceremonials is a sign of open mindedness. It is best to admit that not every liberal or secular society possesses this tolerance.

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