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The Middle East Forum Debates Moderate Islam

Reader comment on item: The Middle East Forum Debates Moderate Islam

Submitted by Peter F. (Canada), Apr 7, 2014 at 13:56

This is to follow up on your commentary of March 30, 2014 on the subject matter.

Although most of the time I am in full agreement with your analysis and comments, this time I am in total disagreement and shocked with your analogy.

Specifically, I refer to your rationalizing to change Koran 9:29 based on changes to Leviticus 20:13. Where are you getting this information? What you are confusing here are religious facts versus what is now socially acceptable practice. While societal moral standards may have changed , the written and oral laws of Torah have not and will not. The majority of Jews who follow the Torah laws are not willing to "adjust it" based on changing social standards.

To adjust moral standards based on society's au courant norms and practices is a slippery slope. History reminds us that sliding down said slope tends to lead to the moral disintegration of a society and its eventual destruction.. Just look at the history; e.g. where are the Greeks or Romans? Our Western values which are based on the Judeo-Christian ethics, are slowly eroding. The celebration of homosexuality is an example. While I do not advocate the draconian treatment of the past, I certainly disagree with the current approach of celebration and full acceptance. What will be the next barrier to be eliminated from our value system? It looks like euthanasia is the latest fence to fall. We see it already happening in Belgium, and the separatist Quebec party is advocating it in North America.( as a way to boost tourism to Quebec? ). Sounds absurd, but if there is no strong moral case/ stand made against it, in 5-10 years it will be accepted practice for a depressed teenager to demand the right to commit medically assisted suicide,? Will man will make the decision who lives and who dies? What will follow? Where will Mixed Martial Arts fighting lead us to? Shall we return to the coliseum version of combat as entertainment? You may think I am an alarmist; I do not think so because unfortunately history tends to repeat itself.

In conclusion, and to comment on your debate with Raymond Ibrahim, my feeling is that the problem with Islam is that it only has written law, Koran.. In Judaism, we have written law but perhaps most importantly we have the oral law (Talmud). Because of it, the Torah is as meaningful, relevant and as able to provide moral guidance as it did three thousand years ago. Judaism remains the only 'religion' where transmission occurred. in front of 600,000 people from G-d. There is no need to modify it or correct it under the assumption that mankind today knows better and we need to correct G-d's words. The Talmud makes the Torah laws practical and relevant even today While many laws are discussed and debated as to their application, homosexuality is clearly stated to be a problematic behavior. Not the homosexual him or herself mind you. The Torah and Talmud are filled with laws and statutes that physically and metaphysically create the instructions for maximizing human potential. There are scores of other laws that depending on the times become target of the zeitgeist of the era. Our compliance to the law (even when it does not reflect either our personal or collective preferences) is the thing that has kept us whole.

Unfortunately the same principal does not exist in Islam and therefore it allows "flexible" interpretation and justification ( for example, the extremists can kill the infidels in the name of Allah). In comparison, there were in the past and there are today very few Jews in numbers who hold by written law only. They are a totally non functioning representation of the Jewish people. One example of this rigidity without the nuance and guidance of Oral law is that ,those adherents spent the entire Shabbat in darkness instead of celebrating and benefitting from the day of rest. Similarly today there are those same individual Jews who support Iran's plans to destroy the state of Israel. These are examples of what can occur if you do not understand to a full extent. It can lead to extremism. What Islam needs is their version of Talmud. How you create it in 21st century, well I think we need a miracle.

Welcome your feedback.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

You state as a fact that there is no development in Islam, that it is static. That reflects your lack of knowledge.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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