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Disowning the violent past will help but true change will require the following

Reader comment on item: Erdo─čan: "Turkey Is Not a Country Where Moderate Islam Prevails"
in response to reader comment: Disown Islam's violent past!

Submitted by Sunil (United States), Apr 15, 2009 at 02:31

When civilizations meet disagreements are bound to occur. Mutual respect and equitable laws of interactions are required so disagreements do not cause turmoil. I believe that Muslims are failing on the following fronts:

1. Separation of religion and life: It is no shame that Islam in addition to being a religion is also a social, legal, and economic system. The problem is that the Islamic theory of spirituality is completely intertwined with its economic, social and legal theories (theories of life). This puts enormous burden on the believer as well as non-believer. The non-believer is forced to offer the same respect to the Islamic theories of life as he is expected to offer to the Islamic theory of spirituality. For example, if I criticize Sharia as a piece of junk, it should not be treated as an attack on the five basic pillars of Islam. Similarly, the believer is in trouble. He is obligated to defend an economic principle (which affects everyone) as earnestly as he defends his belief in God (which affects no one else but himself). If done correctly, I will be able to critique Islamic economic principles just freely as I critique Marxism or Capitalism.

2. Separation of church and state: Very closely related to the first point but different. The ruler in an Islamic state should not be required to protect and propagate Islamic theories of spirituality and/or life. In fact, there is no need for him/her to be Islamic. And, there is no need for the state to be Islamic either. If done correctly, common secular ethics shared by lots of religions will be defended by the governments and not a branded version.

3. There is no infidel: You can call forms of worship than yours sins. That is your prerogative. But do not call the others sinners. Don't say in social settings anyways. If done correctly, no Muslim will call a non-Muslim an infidel.

4. Eradicate unequal rules of engagement: If non-Islamic religions cannot be preached in Islamic societies, do not expect the same favor be extended to you in non-Islamic lands. If done correctly, CAIR will not cry foul every time a Muslim is asked to sacrifice even the smallest of his freedoms in America because it does not cry foul when a hundred times bigger violation goes unnoticed in Saudi Arabia.

5. Eradicate rules against apostasy: Most people do not change their religions anyway. A small number that does should not be forced in anyway whatsoever. If a religion needs to be protected with a sword, it is not a very strong religion. If done correctly, Muslims will feel sad when a Muslim converts to another religion, but they will let him do so. Freedom gives more to a society than forced obedience.

6. Eradicate the unequal rules in marriage: Muslim men can marry Jewish/Christian women but not the other way round. This smells of inequality. Let the lovers choose their religion if/when two people of different religions choose to marry. Most modern societies have moved to this protocol. Islamic societies should also change. If done correctly, a Muslim lover will not force the non-Muslim partner to any more than the latter forces the first.

7. Ummah is good but ummah is bad as well: It is natural for a person to feel sympathy toward another who shares his believes. In this sense the insistence on Islamic-ummah is good. But do not carry it too far. Attack on Muslim 10000 miles away is not an attack on every Muslim 10000 miles apart. Palestinian's war against Israel may or may not be justified, but it should not mandate a Muslim in Bangladesh to crack a bomb. Writing an editorial is ok. Making donations to Palestinian kids is noble. But burning a bus 10000 miles away is not ok. If done correctly no Muslim will support another just because they share a common religion/culture. Secular morality should take precedence.

If we can go this far, very little distance will be left to go.

Submitting....

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