Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sigmund Freud on Sura 1:7 and Nabi Musa

After returning to Santa Barbara from my visit to the Freud Museum in London on 09-09-09, I was compelled to read "Moses and Monotheism." This was on the heels of reading Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi's book "Freud's Moses - Judaism Terminable and Interminable" which I had bought at the Freud Museum gift shop. "Moses and Monotheism" was to be Freud's last book. In it he considers the role of Moses in the history of Judaism and the possible causes for the lasting influence that Moses had on his people. This might be considered Freud's commentary on Sura 1:7:

"Let us agree, therefore, that the great man influences his contemporaries in two ways: through his personality and through the idea for which he stands. This idea may lay stress on an old group of wishes in the masses, or point to a new aim for their wishes, or again, lure the masses by other means. Sometimes - and this is surely the more primitive effect - the personality alone exerts its influence, and the idea plays a decidedly subordinate part. Why the great man should rise to significance at all we have no doubt whatever. We know that the great majority of people have a strong need for authority which they can admire, to which they can submit, and which dominates and sometimes even ill-treats them. We have learned from the psychology of the individual whence comes this need of the masses. It is the longing for the father that lives in each of us from his childhood days, for the same father whom the hero of legend boasts of having overcome. And now it begins to dawn on us that all the features with which we furnish the great man are traits of the father, that in this similarity lies the essence, which so far has eluded us, of the great man. The decisiveness of thought, the strength of will, the forcefulness of his deeds, belong to the picture of the father; above all other things, however, the self-reliance and independence of the great man, his divine conviction of doing the right thing, which may pass into ruthlessness. He must be admired, he may be trusted, but one cannot help also being afraid of him. We should have taken a cue from the word itself: who else but the father should in childhood have been the great man?

Without doubt it must have been a tremendous father imago that stooped in the person of Moses to tell the poor Jewish labourers that they were his dear children. And the conception of a unique, eternal, omnipotent God could not have been less overwhelming for them: he who thought them worthy to make a bond with him promised to take care of them if only they remained faithful to his worship. Probably they did not find it easy to separate the image of the man Moses from that of his God, and their instinct was right in this, since Moses might very well have incorporated into the character of his God some of his own traits, such as his irascibility and implacability. And when they killed this great man they only repeated an evil deed which in primeval times had been a law directed against the divine king, and which as we know, derives from a still older prototype." (1939, pp. 139-141).

~ Excerpted from "Moses and Monotheism" by Sigmund Freud.

1 comment:

learn quran online said...

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