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Presentation of alternative religious philosophies

Reader comment on item: "The Battle against Islamism Has Not Yet Started"
in response to reader comment: Some encouraging perspectives that the battle has begun

Submitted by Prashant (United States), Aug 13, 2016 at 10:48

Dear Dr Pipes, In the battle against Islamism, we need to present and preach alternative religious philosophies to Muslims. Some alternative philosophies that come to my mind are given below and I have ordered them by their distance from the current mainstream Islam:

1. Secular/democratic/private Islam: This version of Islam is yet to be created. It would adopt Islam's uncompromising monotheism but deemphasize violence in all its contexts including in the service of God. It will also advocate separation of church and state and will essentially make religion a private affair between a person and his/her God that must primarily be conducted inside the privacy of one's home and heart. This version of Islam will also encourage people to think critically on all sorts of issues.

2. Judaism: Muslims should also consider Jewish philosophy as an alternative to current main stream Islam. Jewish religion shares Islam's uncompromising attitude about monotheism and idolatry but brings in emphasis on education, critical thinking, and self-reflection.

3. Christianity: Christianity further relaxes the monotheistic requirement of Islam and Judaism. But still, somewhat contradictorily, believes in a single God. Most importantly, it brings an extra emphasis on service and love to the religious discourse.

4. Hinduism: Hinduism believes in a supreme God but further drops the ban on idolatry. It encourages people to see the divine presence in every living, non-living and dead thing. Its view of God can sometimes almost be agnostic or atheistic and it encourages people to question God and question each other about God.

5. Buddhism: Further away from Hinduism but related to it is Buddhism. Buddhism does not give a definitive answer to what God is or is not. It emphasizes the concept of good karma and makes worship subservient to good-karma and right-living.

Of course, all of the above religions have their shortcomings which I have not listed here. They also have overlapping doctrines that they share with each other. Similarly, they have closely-related "sister religions" that heavily borrow from each other.

Islamism --whatever it is-- resides inside Islam and Muslims. And before we can end it, Muslims need to be fully aware of --and appreciate-- the entire religious spectrum. Branding everything else as sinful or false is not the right approach and openness and pluralism is vitally important.


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