Some fundamentalists are smart. Most are just plain dumb. Their knowledge of religion - whichever religion they exploit to express their anger and desire for power - is mostly spotty, and lack awareness of the breadth and diversity of opinions that all religions developed over time.
Most of the dumb fundamentalists think that they know exactly what God wants even though they do not even have first hand knowledge of their holy book- only the selected passages 'appropriately' translated from original languages, unspoken by most fanatics, and re-iterated ad nauseum and spoon fed to them in sermons and indoctrination classes by their manipulative leaders.
To me it is a blessing that most religious fanatics are stupid enough with no ability to prioritize, to plan strategies or even develop a sense of reality. Can you imagine the horror of facing an enemy with the fanaticism of Somali 'Shabaab' organization with the organizational smarts of AIPAC for example?
Even their smart leaders and scholars are sometimes so detached from reality that their ability to effectively guide their followers toward real world solutions becomes severely impaired.
I recall an interesting story, I heard from a source I totally trust, about a pious and very scholarly elder Muslim clergy whose comment after being informed about the scandal of Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was (and I am slightly paraphrasing): "Poor girl. That would ruin her chances of getting married."
While that may sound funny, it is truly sad because that clergy was the guide of many people to implementing and living their religion in a world that he knows very little about its inner workings.
A less funny story is told in this article by Alaa Al-Aswany, and renowned Egyptian writer, that I read in English on the British Independent website. I invite you to read the article from which I selected some paragraphs to present below:
Somalia is in the grip of famine and chaos but officials there are inspecting bras By: Alaa Al-AswanyThe Shabaab movement in Somalia controls large parts of the south and centre of the country, and because officials in this movement embrace the Wahabi ideology they have imposed their views on Somalis by force and have issued strict decrees banning films, plays, dancing at weddings, football matches and all forms of music, even the ring tones on mobile phones. Some days ago these extremists carried out a strange operation: they arrested a Somali woman and whipped her in public because she was wearing a bra. They announced clearly that wearing these bras was unIslamic because it is a form of fraud and deception.
In fact this excessive interest in covering up women's bodies is not confined to the extremists in Somalia. In Sudan the police examine women's clothing with extreme vigilance and arrest any woman who is wearing trousers. They force her to make a public apology for what she has done and then they whip her in public as an example to other women.
Firstly, the extremist view of women is that they are only bodies and instruments for either legitimate pleasure or temptation, as well as factories for producing children. This view strips women of their human nature. Accusing the Somali woman of fraud and deception because she was wearing a bra is the same charge of commercial fraud which the law holds against a merchant who conceals the defects of his goods and make false claims about their qualities in order to sell them at a higher price.
The use of women's naked bodies to market commercial products in the West is merely another application of the idea that women are commodities. Anyone who visits the redlight district in Amsterdam can see for himself how wretched prostitutes, completely naked, are lined up behind glass windows so that passers-by can inspect their charms before agreeing on the price. Isn't that a modern-day slave market, where women's bodies are on sale to anyone willing to pay?
Throughout human history, strictness towards women has usually been a way to conceal political abuses and real crimes. Somalia is a wretched country in the grip of famine and chaos but officials there are distracted from that by inspecting bras. The Sudanese regime is implicated in crimes of murder, torture and raping thousands of innocents in Darfur but that does not stop the regime from putting on trial a woman who insisted on wearing trousers. It is women rather than men who always pay the price for despotism, corruption and religious hypocrisy.
What is really saddening is that the Wahabi extremism which is spreading throughout the world with oil money and which gives Muslims a bad image is as far as can be from the real teachings of Islam. Anyone who reads the history of Islam fairly has to be impressed by the high status it accords to women, because from the time of the Prophet Muhammad until the fall of Andalusia, Muslim women mixed with men, were educated, worked and traded, fought and had financial responsibilities separately from their fathers or husbands. They had the right to choose the husband they loved and the right to divorce if they wanted. Western civilisation gave women these rights many centuries after Islam.Finally, let me say that religious extremism is the other face of political despotism. We cannot get rid of the extremism before we end the despotism.Democracy is the solution.
Please read the full article on the Indeopendent website (below).