**Hossein Bagher Zadeh wrote:


[Hossein posted an article about the death of a teen-age boy in Bangladesh in the clash following the demand of inquisitionists for the death of a feminist author Taslima Nasreen deleted for brevity].


**Sam Ghandchi  followed up:


Can anybody tell me if Jesus or Mohammad had treated their worst opponents like the inquisitionists who kill in the name of Christianity and Islam?


**Hossein Bagher Zadeh followed up:


The whole question of killing/execution/capital punishment has gone well out of hand amongst the fundamentalists.  A (knowledgeable) friend of mine was telling me the other day that it is hard to find any record of execution during the early time of "Islamic government" (that of Mohammad or Khalife Ali) - except for cases like the mass killings of Abu Qreizeh people after one of the early battles at the time of the prophet. Otherwise, no record of people being executed for apostasy, mohaarebeh ba khoda, fasaad dar zamin,(repeated) prostitution, homosexuality, (repeated) drunkenness, etc  - even though killing for many of these are somehow sanctioned in Qor'aan.


I am not certain how accurate this is, but surely if they had started killing people mad like they are doing it today, Islam couldn't have lived that long?


**Sam Ghandchi followed up: 


Well, in the historical context your point makes perfect sense too.  The Early Christianity or Early Islam did not have a state elite whose interest was dependent on the power of the state over the mind of its subjects to benefit from such control of people's mind. In fact, states such as Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, or Ancient Persia were the ones who needed such power over the mind of their subjects. Pharaohs were not just heads of state, they also represented Egyptian God(s) on Earth. 


The above is the reason as to why Moses is so savagely treated by Pharaoh, Jesus is so savagely treated by Czar and Mazdak is so savagely treated by Persian King (GhobAd). None of the above had challenged the state with swords. Even Khosro Parviz's reply to Prophet Mohammad's letter is the same way.   Khosro Parviz does not want anyone to claim the mind of his subjects and thus tears down Mohammad's letter, which simply had advised him to accept Islam as a religion.


I believe Inquisition in Europe was synonymous with the role of Christian Church in the state. In a way, by becoming a state religion, Christianity became a religion like the religions of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Persia. It was the legitimacy for the ones who ruled in its name and their rule was based on their religious control of the minds of the people and any challenge to their version of religion meant dethronement from the state, which they would not tolerate.


In fact, in the Protestant countries, there was no inquisition, not because of the ideology of the Protestants, who were actually at times more against science than the Catholics, but it was because the Protestant *clergy* was not able to get control of the state in the Protestant countries. In contrast, even the Jesuits, who were the most educated among the Catholics, and were the ones who supported free will; were at the same time instrumental in re-establishing the terror of the Inquisition, even in Italy, which had had nearly a century of free thought, because of the role of Catholic clergy in the state.


Bertrand Russell notes that Galileo wrote to Kepler wishing they could have a good laugh together at the stupidity of "the mob"; ...the professors of philosophy, who tried to conjure away Jupiter's moons, using "logic-chopping arguments as though they were magical incantations". Galileo, as everyone knows, was condemned by the Inquisition, first privately in 1616, and then publicly in 1633, on the latter occasion, he recanted, and promised never again to maintain that the Earth rotates or revolves. The Inquisition was successful in putting an end to science in Italy, which did not revive for centuries. But it failed to prevent scientists from adopting the heliocentric theory, and did considerable damage to the Church by its stupidity.


Actually improvement of education did not help the eradication of Inquisition. As I noted, the Jesuits were the most educated and did their utmost to improve education. Descartes actually got his education from them. But the Jesuits themselves were the main pillars of Inquisition. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation which challenged the authority of Catholic Church in European States put an end to Inquisition in Europe. 


After the Thirty Year War, people got tired of all these religious justifications of the statesmen to hold into power in the name of religion, as the representatives of God on Earth, and no one would be able to hang somebody for questioning the so-called "fundamentals" of Christianity, as defined by these new Pharaohs who held power and wanted to control the mind of people by making their version of Christianity as the only legitimate one.


It became apparent to Christians themselves that not apostates, but they themselves, did not agree on any fundamentals, and with people starting to think for themselves, the authority of Christian priests, to run the European states, ended. Once people started to think for themselves and speak their minds, the clergy were the last ones to be included in any state apparatus to speak for the mind of the populace. The new Pharaohs died with their Mediaeval version of Christianity.


Religion became the private matter of the individual and not the canon of the inquisitionists to exercise power. This is how science finally found room to grow. The end of inquisition was synonymous with the growth of science.


The innocence of Early Christianity was revived among some of the pious and the ones who were looking for taking hold of people's minds to legitimize their standing in the state power, but to justify their atrocities used science this time. In modern times, the Nazi's used the scientific discoveries of Darwin in the form of Social Darwinism to legitimize their cruelties. For the Communists, apostasy was always deviation from Science with a capital "S". So the content was again another Pharaoh but in a new form. This time science became the thought police.


With the fall of fascism and communism, a new revival of age-old inquisition is happening. I hope this one to be short-lived. Especially the growth and power of democracy in the whole world, and the above experiences of humanity as a whole, are good reasons to believe that this new obscurantist wave will be short-lived. I am not really sure what the cure is today. 


Should we hope for a Reformation and Counter-Reformation to open the road to free thought? As one may view the IRI-vs-MKO controversy in Iran? Should one hope for the rise of new sciences to wake up the minds from these nonsense inquisitions? As one may view works such as David Bohm's scientific writings. Should one hope for the world democracies to bypass the backward states and force them because of their incompetencies to make way to free thought? As the fall of the Soviet empire happened, following its economic bankruptcy.


I am not sure of the answer to the above questions that I have noted above but I am sure the cure is not as much thru education per se. Not simple education, but the strength of a liberal tradition in a society, can help to make this happen, by stimulating self-thought. The cure, as always, is summarized in one word. When people think for themselves and speak their mind, the inquisitionists will lose any legitimacy to represent the silent mind in the state apparatus, whether the state is that of Pharaoh, Mediaeval Papacy, Hitler's Fascism, Stalin's Communism, or others.


Sam Ghandchi

July 4, 1994






* The above article was first posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on  Jul 4, 1994 with under the original subject header of  “Re: 1 Killed in Bangladesh Strike over Feminist Author”.