The Religion of the Cyborg

ImageRecent media coverage of #MuslimRage highlights an important point about Islam in particular, and religion in general. Muslims burning houses over a Facebook picture (incorrectly tagged), killing each other over an amateur youtube clip. Also Muslims preaching their versions of the deen over the internet, from Sufi forums to Al Qaeda recruitment.

And when I was trying to be a Muslim, particularly when accused by Muslims of inventing lies about Allah: I felt a bit insincere, as these accusations reminded me of the fact that I had learnt salat (prayer), Bukhari (narratives of the Prophet), Qur’an, rudamentary Arabic — all via the internet, never through a human being.

I was right to feel insincere: but not because I was a Muslim by virtue of the internet — but because I had not sufficiently conflated the internet with Islam.

The point is that Islam, and religion, is a cyborg: it is the conflation, the commingling of flesh and information, of the body and 0’s and 1’s. This is why the middle class religious man reacts angrily when seeing a blog article he dislikes, and the working class religious man burns down a house. Because he reacts physically, endorphins, adrenalin pulsing through his body, when his 0’s and 1’s are upset, when his 0’s and 1’s are in alignment, when other 0’s and 1’s irritatingly intrude.

Because 0’s and 1’s, the holy text, signs, symbols are fused to his body, to his tribe, to his race, to his DNA. Information and flesh are one: the religious subject is a cyborg.

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