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Hi Hamza, I have some further questions

Reader comment on item: Hamza Yusuf Fails My "Test"

Submitted by Archimedes (Canada), Apr 16, 2007 at 13:21

Hi Hamza, next time you visit here I'd be interested in a little expansion on your statement that you failed the test. Is it on fine, picky little points points like wanting to trash the U.S. Constitution and set up a Sharia state under an islamic Caliph, or on really huge issues like closing down food services during Ramadan or allowing female soccer players to compete while wearing a hijab? :-)

I also have a suggestion for you. Although I am not a muslim I would fail on one point -- I believe that the pronouncement of "takfir" is not only acceptable, but necessary in some cases. As I understand it, this term indicates the declaration that someone is no longer a muslim in good standing. It strikes me as perfectly good sense to be able to do so, and to wield this as a (moral, not military) weapon in keeping people from going astray and defaming the name of one's religion.

Discernement is the root of all wisdom. Yes, even discrimination. That is, healthy discrimination -- the kind that discriminates between good and evil, between harmless and harmful men, between those who fight under ideologies of hatred and dominance and those who fight for truth and justice. Discrimination, of this variety, is good. And takfir is, ultimately, a tool whose purpose is discrimination. Tools may be used for evil, and they may be used for good.

I'm afraid that takfir has gotten a bad name because of being wielded badly ... by extremists (such as you appear, at the moment to be, although I can't say whether you are in the habit of using this tool). Some really good candidates for takfir might be, for example, folks like Bin Laden. But we could make a huge list along the same lines; but you get the picture, I'm sure. The helpful aspect of a plan like this is that it enables us all to get past meaningless generalities in our condemnation of "terrorism".

Seems even the Terrorists condemn terrorism these days, and the fine-sounding pronouncements dressed in vague and wholesome-sounding language appear to mean nothing... ...but to condemn terrorists BY NAME -- now that would have some impact. If the Taliban and Al Qaeda leadership were NAMED...first by outspoken Islamic thinkers in the west, like yourself, and then by scholars in Al Azhar and elsewhere...as apostates, takfir, even murtad (i.e., in extreme cases of people who, like Osama, have brought great trouble against the "ummah", and is causing a great anti-islamic surge around the world by his actions)...now THAT would have a real effect (assuming that the appropriate actions follow, of course). It might even bring those who call themselves moderates into better repute in our society.

Who knows -- if it becomes a widespread movement to separate islam from evil men, around which muslim moderates can rally (there seems to be a bit of a dearth of moderate islamic "flags" these days) there may be more than a ghost of a chance of reforming Islam and hoping for Islam to grow up and live at peace in the pluralistic world of tomorrow. If, by this tool, you and your coreligionists are miraculously able to excise the cancer of extremism, you may well save Islam from itself, and you might become heros of history by averting the worldwide disaster that looms because these fanatics have such a broad base of support.

By its nature, a takfir pronouncement by a respected Islamic scholar, especially if widely supported by other scholars requires actions to be taken. And, as you well know, actions speak much louder than words. And then, regardless of whether you pass or fail Pipes' "test" you might have a chance of demonstrating that you do not wish harm on innocent people, and are not simply cloaking a supremacist, islamic imperialistic, agenda ... as currently appears to be the case.

Submitting....

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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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