Friday, 15 October 2010

Is Islam A Religion Of Peace (Comments)

With reference to the previous post "Is Islam A Religion Of Peace" the following are just two comments. The first is by my friend Mike Naser Taib and the other is by blogger Syed Akbar Ali:

From MNT:


Nic,

TQ for downloading the Debate. Although, it is well known that no ulama will take part in a debate of that openness coz in the 11th century C.E. they closed the gates of "ijtihad" meaning the application of the mind to the verses of the Qur'an and Ahadith for applying them to particular situations or problems. What surprised me was that all the debaters were bantamweight. They shud have scoured for heavyweights. I would have loved to hear a Chinese Islamic scholar from China defending Islam. The Chinese Muslims of China are, without a shadow of a doubt to my mind, are the true practitioners of the philosophy of Islam in this world of persistent religious conflicts. I think Ms Ayaan Histi Ali, who was caught for cheating in her citizenship application in Holland, was rather shallow and a rabble rouser.

From the days when I was an inquisitive child in RMC until today, I have had no trouble debating with non-Muslim friends. I had serious problems with, in particular, Indian Muslims!!

The article below is interesting and good for continuing enlightenment.


The Meaning of the Koran
By ROBERT WRIGHT

Robert Wright on culture, politics and world affairs.

Test your religious literacy:
Which sacred text says that Jesus is the “word” of God? a) the Gospel of John; b) the Book of Isaiah; c) the Koran.

The correct answer is the Koran. But if you guessed the Gospel of John you get partial credit because its opening passage — “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God” — is an implicit reference to Jesus. In fact, when Muhammad described Jesus as God’s word, he was no doubt aware that he was affirming Christian teaching.

Extra-credit question: Which sacred text has this to say about the Hebrews: God, in his “prescience,” chose “the children of Israel … above all peoples”? I won’t bother to list the choices, since you’ve probably caught onto my game by now; that line, too, is in the Koran.

I highlight these passages in part for the sake of any self-appointed guardians of Judeo-Christian civilization who might still harbor plans to burn the Koran. I want them to be aware of everything that would go up in smoke.

But I should concede that I haven’t told the whole story. Even while calling Jesus the word of God — and “the Messiah” — the Koran denies that he was the son of God or was himself divine. And, though the Koran does call the Jews God’s chosen people, and sings the praises of Moses, and says that Jews and Muslims worship the same God, it also has anti-Jewish, and for that matter anti-Christian, passages.

The regrettable parts of the Koran — the regrettable parts of any religious scripture — don’t have to matter.

This darker side of the Koran, presumably, has already come to the attention of would-be Koran burners and, more broadly, to many of the anti-Muslim Americans whom cynical politicians like Newt Gingrich are trying to harness and multiply. The other side of the Koran — the part that stresses interfaith harmony — is better known in liberal circles.

As for people who are familiar with both sides of the Koran — people who know the whole story — well, there may not be many of them. It’s characteristic of contemporary political discourse that the whole story doesn’t come to the attention of many people.

Thus, there are liberals who say that “jihad” refers to a person’s internal struggle to do what is right. And that’s true. There are conservatives who say “jihad” refers to military struggle. That’s true, too. But few people get the whole picture, which, actually, can be summarized pretty concisely:

The Koran’s exhortations to jihad in the military sense are sometimes brutal in tone but are so hedged by qualifiers that Muhammad clearly doesn’t espouse perpetual war against unbelievers, and is open to peace with them. (Here, for example, is my exegesis of the “sword verse,” the most famous jihadist passage in the Koran.) The formal doctrine of military jihad — which isn’t found in the Koran, and evolved only after Muhammad’s death — does seem to have initially been about endless conquest, but was then subject to so much amendment and re-interpretation as to render it compatible with world peace. Meanwhile, in the hadith — the non-Koranic sayings of the Prophet — the tradition arose that Muhammad had called holy war the “lesser jihad” and said that the “greater jihad” was the struggle against animal impulses within each Muslim’s soul.

Why do people tend to hear only one side of the story? A common explanation is that the digital age makes it easy to wall yourself off from inconvenient data, to spend your time in ideological “cocoons,” to hang out at blogs where you are part of a choir that gets preached to.

Makes sense to me. But, however big a role the Internet plays, it’s just amplifying something human: a tendency to latch onto evidence consistent with your worldview and ignore or downplay contrary evidence.

This side of human nature is generally labeled a bad thing, and it’s true that it sponsors a lot of bigotry, strife and war. But it actually has its upside. It means that the regrettable parts of the Koran — the regrettable parts of any religious scripture — don’t have to matter.

After all, the adherents of a given religion, like everyone else, focus on things that confirm their attitudes and ignore things that don’t. And they carry that tunnel vision into their own scripture; if there is hatred in their hearts, they’ll fasten onto the hateful parts of scripture, but if there’s not, they won’t. That’s why American Muslims of good will can describe Islam simply as a religion of love. They see the good parts of scripture, and either don’t see the bad or have ways of minimizing it.

So too with people who see in the Bible a loving and infinitely good God. They can maintain that view only by ignoring or downplaying parts of their scripture.

For example, there are those passages where God hands out the death sentence to infidels. In Deuteronomy, the Israelites are told to commit genocide — to destroy nearby peoples who worship the wrong Gods, and to make sure to kill all men, women and children. (“You must not let anything that breathes remain alive.”)

As for the New Testament, there’s that moment when Jesus calls a woman and her daughter “dogs” because they aren’t from Israel. In a way that’s the opposite of anti-Semitism — but not in a good way. And speaking of anti-Semitism, the New Testament, like the Koran, has some unflattering things to say about Jews.

Devoted Bible readers who aren’t hateful ignore or downplay all these passages rather than take them as guidance. They put to good use the tunnel vision that is part of human nature.

All the Abrahamic scriptures have all kinds of meanings — good and bad — and the question is which meanings will be activated and which will be inert. It all depends on what attitude believers bring to the text. So whenever we do things that influence the attitudes of believers, we shape the living meaning of their scriptures. In this sense, it’s actually within the power of non-Muslim Americans to help determine the meaning of the Koran. If we want its meaning to be as benign as possible, I recommend that we not talk about burning it. And if we want imams to fill mosques with messages of brotherly love, I recommend that we not tell them where they can and can’t build their mosques.

Of course, the street runs both ways. Muslims can influence the attitudes of Christians and Jews and hence the meanings of their texts. The less threatening that Muslims seem, the more welcoming Christians and Jews will be, and the more benign Christianity and Judaism will be. (A good first step would be to bring more Americans into contact with some of the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are in fact not threatening.)

You can even imagine a kind of virtuous circle: the less menacing each side seems, the less menacing the other side becomes — which in turn makes the first side less menacing still, and so on; the meaning of the Abrahamic scriptures would, in a real sense, get better and better and better.

Lately, it seems, things have been moving in the opposite direction; the circle has been getting vicious. And it’s in the nature of vicious circles that they’re hard to stop, much less reverse. On the other hand, if, through the concerted effort of people of good will, you do reverse a vicious circle, the very momentum that sustained it can build in the other direction — and at that point the force will be with you.

Postscript: The quotations of the Koran come from Sura 4:171 (where Jesus is called God’s word), and Sura 44:32 (where the “children of Israel” are lauded). I’ve used the Rodwell translation, but the only place the choice of translator matters is the part that says God presciently placed the children of Israel above all others. Other translations say “purposefully,” or “knowingly.” By the way, if you’re curious as to the reason for the Koran’s seeming ambivalence toward Christians and Jews:

By my reading, the Koran is to a large extent the record of Muhammad’s attempt to bring all the area’s Christians, Jews and Arab polytheists into his Abrahamic flock, and it reflects, in turns, both his bitter disappointment at failing to do so and the many theological and ritual overtures he had made along the way. (For a time Muslims celebrated Yom Kippur, and they initially prayed toward Jerusalem, not Mecca.) That the suras aren’t ordered chronologically obscures this underlying logic.

From SAA:

This is an interesting debate between some young people in the United States on the topic 'Is Islam A Religion Of Peace'.

What interests me most is that one of the speakers is Miss Ayaan Hirsi Ali, originally from Ethiopia, the famous author of the now famous book 'Infidel'. Ayaan Hirsi Ali became totally disillusioned with the religion of Islam and that is why you can see her speaking on the side that does NOT agree that Islam is a "religion" of peace.

By the way, it will be difficult for me to partricipate in this debate because I dont see Islam as a "religion." This is the main problem. People see "Islam" as a religion. Religion is an English word, with Christian Biblical connotations. The Quran uses the Arabic word 'deen' to describe Islam. Deen means a 'way of life', not a religion.

What interests me is that Miss Ayaan Hirsi Ali is appearing in public. After she wrote her book "Infidel", she received death threats and went into hiding in the United States.

I communicated with her through e mail once and received a reply 'from an associate'. My point to her was that the whole episode of anger, confusion and hate that besets so much of the Muslim world is because of an almost complete ignorance of the Quran. (My little point about Islam being a 'deen' versus calling it a "religion" is just one tiny example).

Miss Hirsi Ali was disillusioned with the 'religious people' and the "religious practises". Like many millions of people around the world, she has not been given the opportunity to look at Islam as the deen or way of life that it really is. That is an open secret that is found in the Quran.

To conclude, they seem to be conducting themselves intelligently enough. This is New York. How I wish the Muslims can sit down and speak intelligently like this. Somehow that does not seem possible.

My view is that all these speakers here are weighing fish in the market with a 36 inch ruler. Instead of asking for a kilo of fish, they are asking for a foot of ikan tenggiri. Or instead of asking for three metres of cloth to make a dress, they are asking for 750 grams of cloth to make a dress.

They are using the wrong weights and measures for the wrong things.

They all claim to be talking about Islam, but none of them is quoting the Quran at all. This is what I have seen so far in the three videos.

The first (pro Islam) speaker Zeba Khan says that "few things in the Quran are agreed upon. She says that other than these few things, everything else in the Quran is still subject to debate" (or words to that effect). And this young woman claims to speak FOR Islam. Have you heard of the phrase : "With friends like these, we dont need enemies". This is a good example.

How can you talk about Catholicism without referring the Catholic Bible? How can you speak about the United States Constitution without opening and reading from the United States Constitution?

So how can you speak about Islam without opening and reading from the Quran? The answer is very simple : Muslims generally (that is you too my friends) do not know their own Quran. They do not even bother to read and understand a translated version of the Quran - whiuch is so easily available, translated by "respected authorities" like the scholars and such.

Yet they want to go and debate about Islam without even referring anything from the Quran. This includes Miss Ayaan Hirsi Ali who has chosen to reject Islam without knowing what is inside the Quran. None of what she dislikes about the "religion" can be found in the Quran. And nothing of what the other two proponents (Zeba Khan and Maajid) are saying about Islam in these three videos are also from the Quran.

[Surah 22:8] "Among the people there is the one who argues about GOD without knowledge, and without guidance, and without an enlightening scripture"

My fellow Muslims please consider this : if (according to Zeba Khan) the scholars are still arguing about the meanings of what is INSIDE the Quran, then surely they will be throwing chairs and tables at each other and fighting over the meanings of what is found OUTSIDE the Quran? This is what has been going on for the past 1000 years now.

So please think.

[Surah 3:66] You have argued about things you knew; why do you argue about things you do not know? GOD knows, while you do not know.

Now anyone want to join me for one square metre of teh tarik? Or a yard of roti canai ? Please dont say that I am being nonsensical ok. I am using your terms of reference.

By the way, it will be difficult for me to partricipate in this debate because I dont see Islam as a "religion." This is the main problem. People see "Islam" as a religion. Religion is an English word, with Christian Biblical connotations. The Quran uses the Arabic word 'deen' to describe Islam. Deen means a 'way of life', not a religion.

What interests me is that Miss Ayaan Hirsi Ali is appearing in public. After she wrote her book "Infidel", she received death threats and went into hiding in the United States.

I communicated with her through e mail once and received a reply 'from an associate'. My point to her was that the whole episode of anger, confusion and hate that besets so much of the Muslim world is because of an almost complete ignorance of the Quran. (My little point about Islam being a 'deen' versus calling it a "religion" is just one tiny example).

Miss Hirsi Ali was disillusioned with the 'religious people' and the "religious practises". Like many millions of people around the world, she has not been given the opportunity to look at Islam as the deen or way of life that it really is. That is an open secret that is found in the Quran.

To conclude, they seem to be conducting themselves intelligently enough. This is New York. How I wish the Muslims can sit down and speak intelligently like this. Somehow that does not seem possible.

My view is that all these speakers here are weighing fish in the market with a 36 inch ruler. Instead of asking for a kilo of fish, they are asking for a foot of ikan tenggiri. Or instead of asking for three metres of cloth to make a dress, they are asking for 750 grams of cloth to make a dress.

They are using the wrong weights and measures for the wrong things.

They all claim to be talking about Islam, but none of them is quoting the Quran at all. This is what I have seen so far in the three videos.

The first (pro Islam) speaker Zeba Khan says that "few things in the Quran are agreed upon. She says that other than these few things, everything else in the Quran is still subject to debate" (or words to that effect). And this young woman claims to speak FOR Islam. Have you heard of the phrase : "With friends like these, we dont need enemies". This is a good example.

How can you talk about Catholicism without referring the Catholic Bible? How can you speak about the United States Constitution without opening and reading from the United States Constitution?

So how can you speak about Islam without opening and reading from the Quran? The answer is very simple : Muslims generally (that is you too my friends) do not know their own Quran. They do not even bother to read and understand a translated version of the Quran - whiuch is so easily available, translated by "respected authorities" like the scholars and such.

Yet they want to go and debate about Islam without even referring anything from the Quran. This includes Miss Ayaan Hirsi Ali who has chosen to reject Islam without knowing what is inside the Quran. None of what she dislikes about the "religion" can be found in the Quran. And nothing of what the other two proponents (Zeba Khan and Maajid) are saying about Islam in these three videos are also from the Quran.

[Surah 22:8] "Among the people there is the one who argues about GOD without knowledge, and without guidance, and without an enlightening scripture"

My fellow Muslims please consider this : if (according to Zeba Khan) the scholars are still arguing about the meanings of what is INSIDE the Quran, then surely they will be throwing chairs and tables at each other and fighting over the meanings of what is found OUTSIDE the Quran? This is what has been going on for the past 1000 years now.

So please think.

[Surah 3:66] You have argued about things you knew; why do you argue about things you do not know? GOD knows, while you do not know.

Now anyone want to join me for one square metre of teh tarik? Or a yard of roti canai ? Please dont say that I am being nonsensical ok. I am using your terms of reference.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Although it is from last year, I think you may find this book review useful. The author comes from a Muslim perspective and reviews her works. The link is here ... it is good to hear other opinions and ideas.

http://www.alhamdulilah.info/2008/11/defending-our-diin-ayaan-hirsi-ali.html

Hope you find it interesting.

Anonymous said...

Vote yes just to proof the terrorist wrong? You are really .......

Anonymous said...

"STUDY the KORAN , FOUNDER of Muslim, and SURAH = ISLAM" is Bad, confusing and Violent

Anonymous said...

"STUDY the BIBLE & JESUS = CHRISTIAN" is ALL Love and Peaceful