Chapter 7: Existence Is Celebration
Ayatollah Khomeini is exactly behaving like all the religious leaders. It is absolutely irreligious behavior but Ayatollah Khomeini is not the only one responsible for it, he is simply a representative of the whole past history of religions: killing, murder, crusades.fights over strange things.
Christians, Mohammedans and Jews, all three religions have been fighting over a strange idea which can be shared very easily, that Jerusalem is the holy city. So what is wrong? All three religions can enjoy going to Jerusalem. But they have been fighting. Jews have been claiming, “It is our holy city.” And Christians of course were saying, “It is our holy city because Jesus was crucified here.” And Jews are saying it is their holy city because the ancient Jewish temple used to exist in Jerusalem and there is still the great wall where Jews weep, cry - that is their prayer, in front of an ancient wall. You will find hundreds of Jews every day standing in front of the wall or kneeling down in front of the wall. It is their holy city.
And then came the Mohammedans and with a strange fiction they have made it their holy city. The fiction is that Mohammed went to heaven sitting on his horse, and just on way to heaven he stopped for a rest in Jerusalem. Now, I cannot conceive how Jerusalem comes on the way to heaven. It does not exist somewhere in the clouds..
So the rock on which he had rested for a few minutes before ascending to heaven is the holy rock, and because the holy rock is in Jerusalem, Mohammedans have been claiming, “It is our holy city.” And all three religions have been fighting and killing for hundreds and thousands of years. I cannot understand why they all cannot share the holy city - they all can go and worship. But the very claim that it is “ours,” is absolutely non-religious.
A religious person has no possessiveness. These are not religious people, they belong only to pseudo-religious organizations. And they are doing everything wrong in the name of God. That gives a sanctity to their immoral acts.
Ayatollah Khomeini’s death sentence on four persons was absolutely immoral, absolutely unspiritual. And then another ayatollah came and declared that he would give 2.6 million dollars to the person who brings the head of Salman Rushdie to Iran.
I was hoping Salman Rushdie would prove to be a man of integrity - he did not. He has started falling from integrity, from individuality. Today he has requested Ayatollah Khomeini - “I can feel that I have hurt so many people’s religious feelings.” Yesterday, Ayatollah Khomeini said that if Rushdie asks for forgiveness and is ready to receive a penance, then he can save his life. Otherwise there is no way.
This statement is not accurately speaking an apology, but just a recognition that he had unconsciously hurt the feelings of thousands of Mohammedans, and that he would be more careful in the future. But he was not aware that Ayatollah Khomeini is not a sane man. He rejected the statement, and said again on the radio, “Rushdie has not apologized and whatever he has said, we reject it.”