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Reply to Ianus#3 Hug a Muslim

Reader comment on item: Shoeless George Bush
in response to reader comment: Some basic remarks

Submitted by Chris G. (United States), Jul 25, 2007 at 17:08

Actually there are other lesser-known pagan religions that killed their apostates in parts of South America, Central America, New Guinea, and areas of Africa. However most of those are long gone since colonization and conquest by Europeans. Christianity itself had a long and bloody period of killing apostates, non-believers, and heretics. The Inquisition was not just in Spain but took place all over Europe and is responsible for the elimination of the last vestiges of pagan religions in Europe. What is left now is nothing but New Age religions made up of bits and pieces of reconstructed elements of the old Pagan religions mixed in with Native American beliefs and purely fabricated beliefs and rituals with no historical basis.

In the more progressive Muslim countries I have never heard of apostates being killed. I knew quite a few apostates in Indonesia as I spent a great deal of time around missionaries there. I never heard them talk about people trying to kill them or anything of that sort although their families weren't too happy about their conversions to Christianity. There is also the issue of whether a person is Muslim just because he was born into the religion. The majority of Muslims never take the shahada (proclamation of faith). They are just assumed to be Muslim. This issue is one that is debated quite a bit by Islamic scholars. A true shariat court errs on the side of mercy.

As for not using the Qu'ran or Hadiths, sure I have. I use them quite a bit but I just haven't in my replies to you as I didn't find a need to do so. I am not hear to defend the Qu'ran. There are some bits in it that I definitely don't agree with. However, even if you and Al-Qaeda were 100% correct in your interpretations of the Qu'ran, I STILL would be trying to use alternative interpretations to push Islam towards a modern and very moderate progressive interpretation that allows Muslims to coexist easily with the West.

However, I have yet to be convinced that Wahhabis are the true Muslims simply because everything I've studied about their methodology of interpretation goes counter to the methodology I have studied amongst traditional scholars of the four Sunni Madhhabs.

Furthermore there are very rich peaceful traditions in Islam in the form of Tasawuuf (Sufism) which has been at the forefront of the pinnacle periods in Islamic history when the arts, philosophy, and sciences were all held in high regard.. Today we see Wahhabis actively attacking Sufism in all forms while trying to convince the rest of the Ummah (Islamic world community) that Sufism is all biddah and has never been historically relevant in Islam. This of coarse completely ignores the great works of Islamic theology by Sufi scholars such as Al-Ghazali who traces back the origins of Sufism to the Sahaba and firmly grounds it within Sunnah while rejecting the more radical extreme practices within Sufism.

Sufism is one of the reasons why Islam was accepted readily by SE Asians in Malaysia and Indonesia. It blended very easily with Buddhist and Hindu philosophies.

As for Islam's attitudes towards freedom of thought, again it just depends on its interpretation. Historically there were periods of great enlightenment in Islamic cultures such as during some of the heights of the Ottoman Empire and during the great period of intellectual and philosophical activity during the reign of the Umayyad dynasty in Al-Andalus (Spain). It was a bloody conquest, but the period following it was part of what helped ignite the renaissance in Europe.

Unfortunately after the Industrial revolution things started going down-hill in the Islamic world due in part by reactions against European colonialism in the Islamic world, but also by a simple fear and extremist reaction to anything made by Europeans. It was at this time that Islamic civilization began to lag far behind Europe and has still never quite recovered aside from a few examples. If you want to see shining examples of what the future of Islam can look like, go look at the city-states of the UAE. Cities like Dubai are quite possibly some of the most modern cities on Earth and are most definitely Western friendly. Trade is the reason.

One of the great things about capitalism is that it provides a massive incentive to not go to war. War is bad for business unless you are in the defense industry or oil industry. It's probably the number one reason why we're all buddy buddy with China and haven't been aggressive with each other. We simply depend on each other too much.

This is the same reason why Jordan now trades with Israel and now has fairly good relations with them. This type of modernity, puts in check Islamic extremism and is a powerful force to promote a modern interpretation of Islam that is both traditional in as many ways as possible, but also compatible with the West. Is it so difficult to understand what I'm trying to promote or are you so blood thirsty and full of fear and hatred that you can not see the possibilities? If you weren't trying to hard to convince yourself that I'm some secret Muslim trying to corrupt you, maybe you would ponder a different future other then war.

As for what I believe, no I'm sorry but I'm not a Muslim. However yes Muslims do believe that Allah is the one and only God and the same God as worshiped by the Jews and Christians. They also believe Mohammed was his last prophet. They just reject the Christian notion of Jesus being God. As a Deist I believe simply in something greater that I, out of convenience, refer to as God and with Muslims, as Allah. Regarding Mohammed, I have no clue whether he was a real prophet or not.

I don't believe in organized religion because human beings are fallible and the written word can be distorted a million times over and interpreted in a million different ways. I can however understand and feel part of the spirituality within a religion, which is why often even Muslims think I am a Muslim. What I am primarily interested in however is how the distortions of religion can be manipulated towards tolerance and their noblest virtues so that they do not become a problem for the rest of mankind. To me, that is much better idea then global genocide of millions.

The Jews in Medina by the way were wiped out (actually most were exiled while the men were executed) because they betrayed the early Muslims who had a peace agreement with them in which they were supposed to have been allies. Its understandable that Mohammed was a bit miffed at them.

As for the rest, I will not debate the Hadiths that I know you base those on (yes I've read them) as it will take me waaay too long to find rulings on their authenticity ( to check for breaks in their chains of transmission and # of narrators) and they are not directly critical to my research. Again I am not here to defend Islam. I am hear to advocate manipulating the religion towards a tolerant moderate nature. Daniel Pipes states that he wants to do the same thing, however his methods involve using military power and coercion which psychologically speaking, simply does not work and would require a world war against Islam and somehow rallying millions of soldiers to our cause. It is simply unrealistic and would mean the end of the United States constitution as we know it.

Chris G.


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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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