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Beauty (and evil) are often in the eyes of the beholder

Reader comment on item: Arguing over "Jihad and the Professors"

Submitted by Gary Newman (Israel), Jul 30, 2003 at 05:29

Please excuse me for replying to the above discussion so long after it took place.

Nevertheless, I feel it is important to note that the interpretation of sources such as the Qur'an (Koran) is no different from citing the New or Old Testaments of the Bible, the Talmud, Mishna or the Gmara to support one position or another. Virtually ALL traditional religious sources are full of so many ambiguities -- and even contradictions -- that justification can be found for almost ANY claim if you look long enough.

Perhaps this is the reason why these writings have survived so long -- because their ambiguities have lent themselves to so many different schools of thought over the ages -- thereby enabling them to be revived/reinterpreted in light of those who cite them.

Anyone who justifies his/her actions or convictions on the words of the Qur'an or the Bible usually believes that he/she KNOWS what those words meant, typically because that person purports to understand God's or Allah's true intentions. This is a very small step from claiming that "God/Allah is on our side", and we all know what horrible things have been done in His/Her name.

Similarly, claiming that someone's actions are motivated by some statement in one of the holy scriptures seldom proves very much. It is more convincing, but unfortunately more difficult, to demonstrate the GAIN -- whether psychological, financial, political, or in social status -- that that these actions bring.

Daniel Pipes, I enjoy your statements and encourage you to continue your important campaign.

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