Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

This is just an idea for an Evokation, and as I already have a big one under development, I'm quite happy to see someone take this and make it their own.

Here's the deal: the biggest single problem in some areas of the world is that one particular group has a monopoly on 'the truth' and are able to maintain that monopoly by restricting access to information. In places like Afghanistan, where few people have access to education, religious authority is claimed by people who are free to interpret The Koran as they see fit. In fact, Taliban actually means 'students' in reference to the organisations' powerbase in the religious schools of the region. The schools, known as 'madrassas,' apparently teach a very restrictive interpretation of Islam that most modern muslims would be uncomfortable with.

It's a bit like the situation in medieval Europe where a corrupt and intolerant church pursued it's own agenda, claiming moral authority to do so. The difference is that even though different interpretations exist, there is no equivalent of the Gutenberg press, because nobody can read.

But in the modern world, we do have computers and interactive programming, and media files. We also have intiatives such as "A Common Word," sponsored by King Abdullah of Jordan and endorsed by most of the world's leading Islamic scholars. The aim of this initiative is to remind people the world over that Judasim, Christianity and Islam all have one common message at the centre - compassion, love and respect for others:

Indeed, the most fundamental common ground between Islam and Christianity, and the best basis for future dialogue and
understanding, is the
love of God and the love of the neighbor.

Never before have Muslims delivered this kind of definitive consensus statement
Christianity. Rather than engage in polemic, the signatories have
adopted the
traditional and mainstream Islamic position of respecting the
scripture and calling Christians to be more, not less, faithful to

So, imagine yourself meeting the people behind The Tafsir Project and collaborating with them to create a multi-media foundation course in Islam for beginners. Leading scholars from all over the muslim world introduce their favourite lessons, and you create visuals to go with them and add translated commentary.

Then you load the wh*** thing onto a hundred thousand (or a million) XO laptops, or ruggedised mobile phones, and any other suitable device you can come up with. These laptops are then distributed throughout Afghanistan, not just to schools but to individuals. Pretty soon everyone has a talking Koran at home, telling them God's message and God's will, and everyone becomes a student of Islam.

I would hope that those calling themselves Taliban would have no choice but to study harder and faster than everyone else, and start acting as their religion tells them to. In time, the Taliban would become respected members of the community - the true custodians of law and order.

It's worth a try, no?

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