Lady Caroline Lamb’s famous epigram elegantly sums up the problem of free thinkers: they are ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ as the Lady declared in one instance.
12.2 | Dangerous Freethinkers
Two ghazals by Marilyn Hacker.
Before I died – beaten black and blue by a lynch mob with a watchman’s stick, an iron rod, fists, kicks and head-butts – and before I committed blasphemy, I was a moderate believer. Now that I’m dead, I’m a nonbeliever. Not an atheist, but a nonbeliever.
Provocative to say the least, the forward thrust of Soroush’s ideas have acquired a robust quality of deconstruction of the Islamic tradition. However, pulling the figurative rug under the feet of his critics has also consisted of proposing an alternative space for faith, knowledge and politics.
The notion of ‘modernity’ has been used to cover a multitude of complex, often very different phenomena over the last two hundred years. It has been applied for such divergent purposes that it has probably become more misleading than helpful, and we should be careful not to regard it as a criterion for distinguishing between positive and negative developments.
On 13 July 1856, Charles Darwin wrote to Sir Joseph Hooker, Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, wondering at ‘what a book a Devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low and horridly cruel works of nature.’
Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni liked school. No, he loved school. The challenge to read and recite, to count and to calculate was fun, but the real sport was to contest the ideas of others, to engage their motives and call into question their goals.