Sunday, May 20, 2007

Jasser Asks Us To Fight Islamism Carefully & With Some Nuance

M. Zhudi Jasser, former U.S. Naval Officer and now President of American Islamic Forum For Democracy, has authored an article distinguishing between the wheat and chaff of Islam as well as mapping how Islam will be brought into the 21st century through ijtihad. It is a very nuanced and important piece, with words of warning and advice for those of us who would support and amplify the voice and words of "moderate Muslims" that Mr. Jasser represents:

Most of the attention, scholarship, and punditry in the United States given towards Islam and Muslims since 9-11 have focused upon problems with comparatively little attention toward solutions. Understandably motivated by a need to improve security and understand the enemy, American curiosity about Islam, Islamism, and militant Islamism continues to grow. Yet, comparatively American Muslims have offered few solutions except for the few rare voices of Muslim moderation (anti-Islamism) across America, Canada, and Europe.

At times there is only a binary choice in the public ether between the voices who say that “Islam is the problem” and the tired voices of the Islamists who provide endless apologetics, denial, victimization, and every deflection possible short of responsibility or actual ideological solutions for a counter-jihad and reformation. Certainly, the Islamists, no matter how peaceful, who look at the world through the lens of political Islam are at the core of the ideological problem. They knowingly and unknowingly feed the enemy’s central political construct of society—political Islam. Yet, we so need to separate political Islam (Islamism) from the spiritual faith of Islam as a faith. Is it easier said than done?

An anti-Islamist devout Muslim like myself - and so many others who believe we are in the majority - can only shout in the wilderness for so long, before there becomes a need to begin to address some of the most difficult but central questions, which many Muslims ignore either out of pride, self-righteousness, or impatience. Whether many pious Muslims acknowledge it or not, non-Muslims who believe that ‘the religion of Islam is the problem’ are growing in numbers. I can either dismiss their arguments as “Islamophobic” as so many do, including the Islamists, or I can begin to address some of the central issues raised positively in the spirit of understanding, logic, and most importantly in the spirit of American security.

We need the anti-Islamist Muslims

Most should understand that strategically, identifying ‘Islam as the problem,’ immediately alienates upwards of one quarter of the world’s population and dismisses our most powerful weapon against the militant Islamists—the mantle of religion and the pulpit of moderate Muslims who can retake our faith from the Islamists. The majority voices in the middle, the non-Islamist and anti-Islamist Muslims who understand the problem, have to be on the frontlines. They cannot be on the frontlines in an ideological battle being waged, which demonizes the morality of the faith of Islam and its founder, the Prophet Mohammed. We cannot win this war only on the battlefield. Political Islam has a viral recurrence in the form of an infection which needs a Muslim counter-jihad in order to purge it. Thus, we cannot win this ideological war without the leadership of Muslim anti-Islamists. The radical and political ideologies of Islamism, Wahhabism, Salafism, Al Qaedism, Jihadism, and Caliphism, to name a few, cannot be defeated without anti-Islamist, anti-Wahhabi, anti-Salafist, anti-Al Qaedist, anti-Jihadist, and anti-Caliphist devout Muslims.

So often, attempts by anti-Islamist Muslims to claim that our faith has been hijacked or our faith has been twisted are dismissed by non-Muslims. They simply take common interpretations of Wahhabis and say rather that, ‘it is the anti-Islamist Muslim who is deluded and who is misrepresenting the faith of Islam”. They use the citations of the militants from our Holy Qur’an’s scripture and from many authentic and questionable Hadith (discussions of the Prophet Mohammed) to marginalize moderate Muslims and claim that they have no theological framework from which to claim legitimacy.

The question remains-- who or what defines Islam, and under what authority? Islam has no clergy and is represented only by a book, the Holy Qur’an (what Muslims believe in Arabic, is the communication from God to Muslims). Islam’s naysayers by accepting radical interpretations of scripture are thus handing the militants the mantle of religion with hardly the benefit of the doubt or patience toward long term opportunities for reform by anti-Islamist Muslims within the general Muslim population.

The process of theological renewal and interpretation in the light of modern day thought—ijtihad—as it is known in Islam is in many ways hundreds of years behind Western enlightenment today arrested around the 15th century. This process can either be facilitated by non-Muslims or hindered by the belief that it is impossible. There is quite a bit to be said for the value of a necessary critical facilitation (nudging) of Muslim reform (as opposed to blind uncritical apologetics). But there is also a fine line between useful criticism of Muslims and especially of political Islam and the less than helpful alienation of all Muslims through criticism of the faith of Islam in general. Most of the same arguments targeting Islam can similarly be made against Muslims and their interpretations while just not blaming Islam as a faith, which needs to be part of the solution.

Too nuanced for practicality? Not necessarily when our most critical allies within the Muslim faith are those that are strong enough to love their faith enough to wake-up and want to take it back from the Islamists and their barbarians like Al Qaeda.

Political Islam (Islamism), not Islam, is incompatible with Americanism and pluralism

Like most believers of any of the major world religions whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, I, as a Muslim believe that Islam carries the same messages of humanitarianism and compassion shared by the religions of the God of Abraham and deserves an equal place at the table of world religions and is not in conflict with our American Constitutional government. Some Muslims may behave, interpret, and express ideologies which are not from God but contrarily evil and from Satan, but they are still Muslim. I cannot deny that. We have no church to excommunicate them.

However, we also should remember that every God-fearing Muslim believes that the religion of Islam as a faith comes from God in the same way as Judaism and Christianity. The identification of ‘Islam as the problem’ is arguable from a pedantic standpoint since it is hard to disagree with the fact that “Islam is as Muslims do and say.” But academically, when dealing with the faith of one-quarter of the world, and with its history, a central morality of individual Islam (the personal character of most Muslims) has generally demonstrated synergy with Judaism and Christianity. It is just that in the past few centuries, political religious movements, which exploit the personal faith for political oppression and often fascism, have controlled the leadership.

It is important to be academic about this assessment and not assume that what appears to be the silence of the majority of Muslims equates to agreement with the Islamist leadership who exerts a stranglehold over the community. We are doing our national counterterrorism efforts and Muslims a disservice if we assume that the ‘lowest hanging fruit,’ which comprise all currently Islamist organizations (CAIR, MPAC, or ISNA - to name a few) and their proportionally limited membership speak for all American Muslims. Their silence on the need for reformation and the need for Muslims to lead an anti-Islamist effort from within our faith community represents their own Islamist agenda of the members and donors but does not represent the general Muslim population.

In debate, it can become easy to lose the focus of the argument when resorting to criticism based on identity rather than on ideology. For example, so many Islamists locally and nationally resort to attempting to demonize me as an individual rather than deal with my anti-Islamist ideas as a Muslim and as an American. Our Islamist enemy dreams about uniting all Muslims under one nation—the transnational Muslim ummah. To declare our ideological battle against Islam is to hand them the easiest tool toward that unification (ummah-tization) strategy for which they dream and to dismiss our most potent weapon against the jihadists—anti-Islamist Muslims who can lead a counter-jihad from within the Islamic community. Only anti-Islamists Muslims can de-ummahtize the Muslim community and articulate an Islam, which inspires morality but leaves national politics to the governments of our nations.

A shared moral tradition

For many non-Muslims engaged in the debate to accept the fact that Islam is not the problem, it stands to reason that they must first feel that Islam as practiced and held by Muslims fits into the predominant moral framework of American spirituality and values of the God of Abraham (a Judeo-Christian-Islamic morality, if you will). This is evidenced by the moral behaviors of the vast majority of Muslims in America and around the world. This morality certainly comes from God and for Muslims the faith of Islam is the source of it no different than Judaism or Christianity is for Jews and Christians.

Now, bring political Islam into this mix, and one is left with many questions. Is Islam compatible with democracy? Can Muslims separate mosque and state? Can Muslims be anti-theocratic? Can Muslim behavior and thought today be consistent with modernity while so many current Muslim legal constructs enacted in the name of sharia law seem not to be? How do Muslims reconcile their history of an empire ruled by a Muslim Caliphate, an empire which had varying rules for its citizens based upon faith with today’s more pluralistic universal laws of American society blind to one faith? How do Muslims reconcile the plight of women’s rights in ‘Muslim’ societies with their faith and the West? Those are just a few of the questions so many thoughtful writers have tried to answer since 9-11.

Before embarking upon a discussion of any of those questions, which can fill texts, a more fundamental question remains concerning the central principles of any Muslim’s faith. Is the foundation of Islam as felt and practiced within each Muslim a moral one?

From a counterterrorism assessment, formulating a threat assessment of the ideologies at play are very necessary. Before blanketing the faith of Islam as a threat to Americanism (religious pluralism), Americans first need to be able to separate Islam from Islamism and Islam from what some Muslims do.

Americans will find that for most Muslims generally - as it is for Jews or Christians or any God fearing individual - the central defining principles of faith are not dictated by the specific interpretations of God’s laws (sharia for Muslims) or to any single one of the interpretations of various passages of the Qur’an peaceful or otherwise. As a Muslim, my faith as I see it and as it has been taught to me in its most devotional expression is simply-- my personal relationship with a moral God—the God of Abraham. The stronger and more personal is that relationship, the more pious an individual may be. Thus piety is not measured by others or by outward actions or expressed beliefs, but rather piety is dependent upon the intensity and purity of that internal relationship with God.

The essence of the nucleus of the primary cell of Islam as an organism of faith is a human being’s manifestations and choices for goodness over evil which includes love, honesty, compassion, empathy, courage, integrity, humility, character, behavior, self-control, creativity, discipline, and gratitude to name a few of the faith defining human principles most faiths share. When our families taught us about faith and God, most of the time was spent on these principles. To most Muslims, the countervailing ‘evil’ choices to these positive human characteristics come from Satan and not from God. The existence of evil and its acts only demonstrates that God has given humanity free will. Without the existence of evil, humans would not have choice or free will. Often evil will exploit religion to defeat that which is good.

It is this inherent human tendency toward good and away from evil, which is the central notion of Islam as it is for Judaism and Christianity. From this then arises a spiritual life with a deep personal relationship and communication with God as seen in all of the faiths recognizing the God of Abraham.

From this spirituality, this goodness, then arises the character, which an individual carries to life and to our theological texts and their derived interpretations. While the body of laws available today may not all contain a modernized interpretation, it can certainly be modernized if the Muslims doing the modernizing are of sound moral conviction and integrity and education. It is the corruption, tribalism, and ignorance of so many in the Muslim world, which has poisoned any moves towards enlightenment. But this conflict between good and evil is one, which will be won by the righteous when pious Muslims who fear God, and respect universal humanitarian principles are empowered to stand up to evil under the moral courage of the inspired principles of the God of Abraham.

My family always taught me that a Muslim will not miraculously find his or her character within the pages of the Qur’an or Hadith. But rather, a Muslim’s interpretation of our holy text is through the lens of one’s established moral character, which is developed on a personal human level from within the soul and conscience not a textual one.

Our own moral compass and its inherent principles are a lens for life which is produced in an early stage of youth and adolescence that sets the tone for how we interpret life and religion. While the details of religion can inspire and direct this compass, life’s core direction toward good is formed and maintained internally between an individual’s soul and God early on. Suicide bombers, jihadists, and other militant Islamists are evil at their core and just turn to the language of Islam found in the Qur’an or the Hadith to justify their barbarism, coercion, and doctrine of the ends justifying the means and of political Islam. Granted, this is much easier to do with the ready availability around the world of radical and medieval interpretations so desperately in need of 21st Century enlightened pluralistic re-interpretations.

Accepting this common Muslim formulation of faith is vital to marginalizing the militancy of current radicalized interpretations most of which are of Salafist derivation and rather expressing a core positively guiding morality for the vast majority of Muslims. It will take Muslims who love their faith to articulate a modern Islam to create an etho, which accepts the radical interpretation as immoral.

Certainly, the ubiquitous jihadist and Caliphist interpretations of Islamic literature and jurisprudence are in need of an overwhelming alternative narrative to the fundamentalist interpretation, which so often dominates the airwaves. We must believe that the predominant Muslim morality as derived from God and exemplified in the life of the Prophet Mohammed and in the vast majority of Muslims is one of good, one of the Golden Rule, of compassion, and of humility.

Once we can accept that most Muslims are moral and believe in a faith with an inviolable moral nucleus, than we can find hope that the seeds of reformation of formal textual interpretations will be planted for freedom and liberty, for free will over coercion, over theocracy and over political Islam.

If most Muslims were immoral, the world would have perished a long time ago. It is Islamism, which deserves our combined energies in critique and ideological deconstruction. Muslims, however, who are anti-Islamist and practicing a modern moral Islam are the key to its defeat.
This is actually the entire article. I could not find a place to cut it because each point Mr. Jasser made was a major one. Do please visit the site, Family Security Matters for its other many fine articles.

I happen to agree with Mr. Jasser's conclusions. It is only when the Koran is reinterpreted to such a degree and by enough scholars of note that a real change in poison we see in Wahhabi Islam will begin to dissapate and its existential threat to the world sent to the pages of history. For my own take on ijtihad and what we as non-muslims need to do to support his efforts, please see here.

13 comments:

jbd said...

The Wssence of Islam

Muhammad told the world that God is God and the Messiah is God’s servant. And Muhammad unequivocally identified Jesus as the Messiah. Thus, Muhammad contradicted Judaism in its absolute rejection of Jesus. And he contradicted Christianity, which, by Muhammad’s time, had officially identified Jesus as the Second and coequal Member of a Holy Trinity of Gods.

Nowadays, however, Muhammad’s confirmation of Jesus as the Messiah isn’t an Islamic teaching Muslims religiously convey to the world. In fact, the most publicly heard Muslims don’t even mention it! Evidently, they consider it an insignificant subject compared to the Koran’s directive to reward evil “…with like evil” (Counsel 42:40) —the teaching they practice with such devotion, outsiders could think it the primary message of Islam.

jbd said...

If possible, PLEASE correct the title of the comment I just posted. It was supposed to read: The Essence of Islam. A terrible oversight on my part.

scott said...

Hmmm, blogger does not seem to allow me to edit. I apologize, but I cannot correct it.

Anonymous said...

Yet, we so need to separate political Islam (Islamism) from the spiritual faith of Islam as a faith. Is it easier said than done?

The author "forgets" to mention that there is no such thing as non-political Islam.

Whether many pious Muslims acknowledge it or not, non-Muslims who believe that ‘the religion of Islam is the problem’ are growing in numbers.

Which should be seen as progress, as that means more non-Muslims are learning the truth.

Most should understand that strategically, identifying ‘Islam as the problem,’ immediately alienates upwards of one quarter of the world’s population

Whether or not one quarter of the world's population is supposedly "alienated" by pointing out that Islam is the problem shouldn't be a reason for people not to speak the truth. And, as we all know, the truth is that Islam is indeed the problem. The fear of alienating people is no excuse to reject what is true.

and dismisses our most powerful weapon against the militant Islamists—the mantle of religion and the pulpit of moderate Muslims who can retake our faith from the Islamists.

But since it is the "Islamists" that are the real, true Muslims who have the faith on their side, and the moderate "Muslims" are merely de facto apostates without the Islamic scriptures on their side, how do the moderate "Muslims" constitute a "powerful weapon"?

Also, it should be obvious that one cannot "retake" something one has never possessed.

So often, attempts by anti-Islamist Muslims to claim that our faith has been hijacked or our faith has been twisted are dismissed by non-Muslims.

And rightfully so, because it is simply untrue. Islam has not been hijacked at all, it has only been put into practice by true, devout Muslims.

The question remains-- who or what defines Islam, and under what authority?

Islam was defined 1400 years ago - by Mohammad. This is a matter of truth, not authority. It is not up to anyone to redefine Islam, but rather explain how something can be rightfully categorized as Islam.

Political Islam (Islamism), not Islam, is incompatible with Americanism and pluralism.

Yet, since there is no distinction between political Islam and Islam, this means that Islam itself is incompatible with Americanism and pluralism.

The identification of ‘Islam as the problem’ is arguable from a pedantic standpoint since it is hard to disagree with the fact that “Islam is as Muslims do and say.”

Here the author is wrong, and I suggest the author stay away from such malignant sophistry in the future. Islam is absolutely not defined by what Muslims do and say, rather it is what people do or say which determines whether or not those people are Muslims. Islam is what it is regardless of what people calling themselves Muslims say or do.

scott said...

I disagree. There is the quietest school of shia Islam, a tradition Khomeini tore apart in 1979. And for the last 100 years, Sufi Islam has lived in a secular tradition. Further, you can go here and listen to the interview with Tawfiq Hamid, a man intimately schooled in Wahhabi Islam and who has dedicated his life to alternative interpretations of the Koran.

http://towncommons.blogspot.com/2007/04/tawfiq-hamid-in-depth.html

I will grant you that the true believers in all of Wahhabi Islam are those from whom the terrorists by and large alight. That does not mean that the shades of gray in the Koran that have been given an absolutist interpretation by the Wahhabi sheiks cannot be reinterpreted. And as to Mr. Jasser himself, he has stood rock solid against the likes of CAIR and the Wahhabists who decry him and his message. And he was a member of our Armed Forces. He has earned a tremendous amount of credibility in my book for both.

Further, for what it is worth, I was long time neighbors of Muslims and, indeed, there is shia Muslim in a branch of my family tree. I started my post 9-11 research into Islam from the standpoint that I am intimately familiar with at least several upstanding men and women for whom I felt nothing but comraderie and respect.

As to speaking the truth about Islam, I think you will find no harsher critic then I on my site. And you will find equally harsh criticism of aspects of Islam, though perhaps not as colorful, from Mr. Hamid, Mr. Jasser, and from the Secular Muslim Conference, should you choose to research them.

While I certainly understand your frustration with it all, I think we fail to recognize the possibility of Islam going through its enlightment period and being led by people like Jasser and Hamid only at our own peril.

My suggestion is to leave the same message, the one you have left here, with Mr. Jasser on his site and engage him in argument. My own study of Islam leads me to believe what Mr. Jasser has said is possible, and indeed, I say as much in my own post linked in the last paragraph above.

Thank you for your comments.

billm99uk said...

Thanks for the very interesting article Scott. I might get around to some reasoned argument on this, but in the mean time, here's a few random thoughts you may wish to consider:

As your poster above has already mentioned, Islam was originally devised as both a political and spiritual entity. While the likes of reformers like Hamid and Irshad Manji (just read her last book) can try to change that through ijtihad, human reasoning or anything else, you're at best going up against 900 accumulated years of tradition, Hadith and Sunnah etc. etc.. That's one hell of a rusty wheel to get going again. We need to be prepared for the possibility that they may fail, or, at best take the next 100 years to get there.

My understanding of the Koran (not the greatest, I'll happily admit) is that there's no direct equivalent of Jesus's whole 'Render unto Caesar' speech, so you're always going to be up against it there. And since the Koran is belived by devout Muslims to be the literal word of God rather than just a religious book, Islam simply lacks the 'wiggle room' other religions have.

The lack of any 'Pope' figure who can give definitive orders about interpretations is always going to mean that individual Muslims can interpret the Koran as they wish. Thus there are always going to be people who interpret, say, the infamous 'Verse of the Sword' literally. Thus any country with a Muslim population may be stuck with some of these radicals anyway.

Islam makes it very difficult for a Muslim to support a non-muslim, even if the Muslim knows the non-Muslim is correct. With the status of non-Muslims under he terms of he Koran as unclean (and literally equivalent to shit as one Mullah in Britain recently pointed out!) a devout Muslim is always going to have a tendency to interpret an attack on a Muslim country as an attack on Islam itself. British Muslims may have been against the Iraq war, but it's also forgotten by many on the left that they were against the invasion of Afghanistan as well. Muslims killing Muslims? No problem! Muslims killing Christians or Jews or Buddhists. Again, no problem! Christians or Jews killing Muslims. WHOAH! We're having none of that!

All that said, it is nice to be reminded that being a Muslim doesn't automatically make you a complete nutcase. Every time I see somone like our olympic boxer Amir Khan or this guy:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/04/nafg04.xml&sSheet
=/news/2006/07/04/ixuknews.html

on TV, trying their best to represent modern Islam in a positive way, I feel rotten for them. I hope the reformers can win this particular fight, but it seems to me that they're a small and beleagoured minority at the moment.

I think Muslims, like Catholics and contraception, often simply ignore aspects of religion that they don't like, whatever the Koran and their Imams say. But this may make them decent human beings only to the extent that they're bad Muslims.

Anyway, take your best shot!

Anonymous said...

Jasser not only argues that we should stop blaming Islam as a whole, he also argues that Islam is what Muslims say and do, thus reducing the meaning of Islam to nothing more than a word without inherent meaning. In other words, what he is actually doing is concealing the nature of Islam. He therefore shows himself as part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.

dr wills said...

I earnestly recommend that everyone read Pastorius's comments in "The Siren Song of a Postmodern Itjihadist", at http://www.mavericknewsnetwork.typepad.com. Jasser is 'nuanced', to say the least: like a snake.

scott said...

With all due respect Dr. Willis, without putting too fine a point on it, I think that comment marks you as an idiot. We can fight a billion people to stamp out Islam, or we can kill about a million and try to bring the rest to our side. Having a difference of opinion as to whether such is possible is one thing. Deligitimitizing the arguments with the label of "snake" is quite another. Please do not come to my site, and simply label Jasser and his ilk as snakes. I get enough of that type of intellectually dishonest sort of argument from the left.

scott said...

Bill: I agree with your argument that any change in Islam will be slow. If the U.S. government gets involved with funding centers of ijtihad with 1/10th the cash Saudi Arabia uses to fund the world wide expansion of Wahhabi Islam, perhaps it can happen sooner then a century. Barring that, it all seems a voice in the wilderness at this point. But as I recall, I visited in the UK not all that long ago where a single man, Karl Marx, labored over his seminal work in lonely vigilance - and 75 years later, his vision was animating a majority of governments in the world. It all starts with just a few individuals.

As to wiggle room, when God spoke the Koran, he thankfully left more then a bit of ambiguity. And as any lawyer worth his or her salt will tell you, there is precious little written in this world in which ambiguity cannot be argued. One of the individuals I cite to earlier in a comment, Hamid, has spent his life mining those ambiguities in Wahhabi interpretation. And the hadiths and sunna, from which the very worst of Wahhabi Islam seems to eminate, are not a part of the Koran to begin with - so they ought to be easier to deal with.

And you may well be right on your last points. Who knows. My only point is, people such as Jasser deserve a chance, and if we do not support them in their effort to the best of our ability, we are doing ourselves a disservice. If, as Dr. Willis seems to be doing, we not only fail to support such people but affirmatively attack them, then we are guilty of very questionable judgment.

I think you can gather from my previous posts that I have no problem whatsoever with directly challenging Wahhabists and the like. But if that is all we do, I think our chances of success are far less then if we at least try to coopt the majority of Muslims - the bad ones, and give 'em somewhere to hang their ideological hats. I am all for sending the good Wahhabists back to Saudia Arabia on the next slow boat.

Anonymous said...

If the U.S. government gets involved with funding centers of ijtihad with 1/10th the cash Saudi Arabia uses to fund the world wide expansion of Wahhabi Islam, perhaps it can happen sooner then a century.

But the gates of ijtihad are closed, and have been for centuries.

But as I recall, I visited in the UK not all that long ago where a single man, Karl Marx, labored over his seminal work in lonely vigilance - and 75 years later, his vision was animating a majority of governments in the world.

Then again, to my knowledge Marx didn't have to worry about his work conforming to an existing category, unlike Islamic reformers, who have to present compelling arguments that their changed Islam is still Islam.

As to wiggle room, when [Allah] spoke the Koran, he thankfully left more then a bit of ambiguity.

One should not rely on the reader of the Quran to find ambiguities to defend his lack of adherence to its commandments, rather one should read the Quran and see what readings make sense for someone who wants to devote himself to adhering to the will of Allah.

As for contradictions in the Quran, they do exist, but the earlier (relatively peaceful) Meccan suras are abrogated by the not so peaceful Medinan suras.

And the hadiths and sunna, from which the very worst of Wahhabi Islam seems to eminate, are not a part of the Koran to begin with - so they ought to be easier to deal with.

The Quran poses more than enough problems on its own.

My only point is, people such as Jasser deserve a chance,

Jasser can be easily dismissed when he reveals that a premise of his is that "Islam is as Muslims do and say." If he can make a convincing argument in favour of Islamic reform without nominalism, then he might be worth listening to, but as long as he cannot refrain from nominalism, then he's just yet another sophist engaging in Islam apologism.

and if we do not support them in their effort to the best of our ability, we are doing ourselves a disservice.

The implication being that what happens to Islam is of our concern. The question is, why should it be?

Instead of hoping (in vain) for Islam to be reformed, what we need to do is to ensure that we are in a position where what happens withing Islam is of no concern or consequence to us. That, of course, means removing Islam from the West.

billm99uk said...

Jasser can be easily dismissed when he reveals that a premise of his is that "Islam is as Muslims do and say." If he can make a convincing argument in favour of Islamic reform without nominalism, then he might be worth listening to, but as long as he cannot refrain from nominalism, then he's just yet another sophist engaging in Islam apologism.

Actually, I think I prefer it when Muslims argue that "Islam is as Muslims do any say". I get annoyed, for example, when apologists counter the obvious statement that historically Islam has largely been spread by the sword with the Koranic quote that "there is no compulsion in religion". What's the point in that if Muslims have happily driven a coach and horses through it over the centuries? That's the kind of sophistry that gets my goat ;)

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think I prefer it when Muslims argue that "Islam is as Muslims do any say".

There is a difference between what Muslims do and say and what Islam is. Not everything that Muslims say and do is related to the practice of Islam, and Islam isn't defined by what Muslims say and do. The question is what the teachings of Islam say, and whether Muslims follow it.

I get annoyed, for example, when apologists counter the obvious statement that historically Islam has largely been spread by the sword with the Koranic quote that "there is no compulsion in religion".

Well, that quote has been abrogated (by sura 9:5, if memory serves me), and so it doesn't apply anymore. It is typical (and dishonest) of Islam apologists to quote the abrogated, peaceful Meccan suras to put Islam in a more favourable light (the same apologists may then object to the relevance of quoting the Quran when this is countered by the non-abrogated Medinan suras).

What's the point in that if Muslims have happily driven a coach and horses through it over the centuries?

If Bill is trying to suggest that the Muslims have somehow therefore ignored a commandment of their religion, then he is wrong, as explained above.

 

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