Hi there again,
I’m enjoying this conversation by the way. I think through civilised discourse you can get to understand and appreciate different perspectives.
“O mankind, indeed We have… made you into peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of ALLAH is the most righteous of you. Indeed, ALLAH is Knowing and Acquainted.” (Qur’an 49:13)
1. The Mission: A Very Important Choice
I fully agree with you that “one must first establish the validity of the text as a source of knowledge.” (See point 6, below.) Firstly, what I like about Islam is that our mission is to spread the word about Islam but not to compel anyone to it.
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the deen (way of life, religion). The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut (corruption, evil) and believes in ALLAH has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And ALLAH is Hearing and Knowing.” (Qur’an 2:256)
“So if they argue with you [O Muhammad] , say, “I have submitted myself to ALLAH [in Islam], and [so have] those who follow me.”… “Have you submitted yourselves?”… but if they turn away – *then upon you is only the [duty of] notification*. And ALLAH is Seeing of [His] servants.” (Qur’an 3:20)
This is because the rapport each one of us has (or the lack thereof) with The Creator is something between us (individually) and Him, at the end of the day (i.e. the Last Day – i.e. the Day of Judgement).
In which case, consider the adage: ‘Don’t shoot the Messenger.’
There was a series of conversations on the ‘Why Evolution is True‘ site, on the post about ‘Gary Wills whitewashes the Qur’an‘. The thread I’m referring to is:
“The gist of the Quran is that God will torture for eternity those who reject him or his prophet, or oppose his plans. The same idea appears in the story of Moses. Both, the threat of eternal punishment and the story of Moses are repeated endlessly. I don’t know what’s wrong with people that don’t find the idea of eternal punishment repellent.”
John Lynn Harvey said:
“I believe the Sunni’s are the strictest on the damnation of all non-Muslims. Shia Islam and Sufi Islam are much looser on this.
Roughly one-third of the Koran is concerned with the Last Judgement, which is a much higher percentage than the New or Old Testament.”
MWM (That’s me) said:
“If there were a God who promises those that do good, eternal good and those that do bad, eternal bad that’s His perogative. He’s God. He sets His rules. He’s sent prophets time and again to warn us of a Judgement Day and to guide us to His revealed way. “… And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).” (Qur’an 17:15). Why would He do that unless He cared?
Moreover he’s given us our minds and our will to make up our own minds, which is a bonus; they are aids to help us to that end. “[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving” (Qur’an 67:2). The danger is we anthropormorphise God, which results in us thinking He’s a tyrant. But tyrants are men acting/pretending /thinking they’re like God. They’re not. “And none is comparable to Him.” (Qur’an 112:4) Only God has the right to act the way He does; that’s the definition of being God. And yet His guidance is good for us. “And this is a Book which We have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and be righteous, that ye may receive mercy.” (Qur’an, 6/155) and “The Qur’an as a guide to mankind also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong)…” (Qur’an, 2/185).
“Why are we surprised our children become secular-minded after a secular education?” (See 0:27:54)
And so begins Daniel Haqiqatjou, Director of Religion and Scientism for the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, in his lecture, ‘Decoding the Matrix: Restructuring Muslim Thought for the Modern World’.
“Part of your success as a… student in general in the college system is your ability to internalise certain … conceptual schemes… in the process of analysis [of] different texts… so for example, Islamic studies – as Islam is studied in Western nations, we’re assuming a certain conceptual language and we’re asking… ‘what is Islam?’ ‘what is Islamic?’ ‘how much does Islam respect minority rights?’ ‘how much does Islam respect women rights?’ ‘to what extent does Islam respect freedom, equality, and democracy?’… In asking those questions you’re deploying certain concepts – namely, what is a minority? What is freedom? What is democracy? What is power? What is authority? What is equality? These are the terms that any graduate student will understand intuitively. Those questions, however, are never in question. What’s in question is Islam. What’s in question is the Islamic conceptual universe…
And so my recommendation… is that we need to turn the tables in a sense, that we need to assume, as Muslims devotionally, we need to assume the Qur’anic conceptual landscape and interrogate the modern structures and the modern conceptual landscape in those terms… if we do that and have that kind of prioritisation in mind and exercise a little bit of skepticism and critique, that is going to in shaa Allah help us to live in the modern world succesfully, constructively and peacefully.” (See 0:44:08)
Grace this year’s Season’s greetings with a present called Truth:
Al Muwahideen Al Islam
This post covers a few issues to do with the whole Christmas topic. First, as Muslims, is it OK to partake with the festivities to some capacity?
First off, as humans, we can do whatever we like. We all know this. But there are somethings that are good and are to be encouraged, and others that are bad and to be discouraged. However, as Muslims – that is, to be (good) Muslims – surely, there are certain parameters that govern these moral notions? We are, for instance, judged by Allah (Most High) according to our right conduct and wrong conduct and things inbetween.
So, coming right to it: Can we, as Muslims, partake with the Christmas festivities?
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There is a view of the world that designates ‘culture borrowing’ as the sole explanation as to why a later culture may contain features that mirrors or matches a pre-existing culture. Often this is the most probable or plausible explanation. Let us call this the ‘Negative-Material-Contingent’ explanation of cultural continuity, which utilizes solely secular or empirical evidences, attempting to find patterns and then make general deductions based on the material evidence available. Its blind-side is with the dearth of material evidence its generalisations will become wider and, therefore, more likely to be off-the-mark. Another blind-side is not only its delimitation to material evidence but its insistence to deny any explanation involving ‘genuine’ revelation. Such an explanation will never be factored-in as plausible, because this approach has no measuring tool to assess the veracity of such a truth-claim and its possibilities. (See ‘The Challenge of the Qur’an‘ for an example of an attempt to demonstrate in ‘Open’ secular terms, material evidences for revelation.)
In this video, Mustafa Aykol talks about his book, ‘The Islamic Jesus’, where – amongst other things – he tracks the movement of the Early Jewish-Christian community. This is a must read for anyone interested in a scholarly account of the supposed ‘paradox’ in the (not-so?) surprising affinity from two divergent traditions: a) the up-to-date, historical analysis of that community and b) the normative Islamic presentation of early ‘Jewish-Christianity’, which it calls ‘Islam’ (literally translated as ‘The Revealed Way to Submit to only ALLAH [God]’).
What is the challenge of the Qur’an?
Well, traditionally – that is to say – qur’anically, the challenge was literary or perhaps one of orality, because the culture the Qur’an came into was a time where the poets were esteemed and would hold sparring verbal competitions like modern day spoken word slams and rap battles; spontaneity and immediacy was the order of the day.
However, putting the spontaneity aside to make things easier for the challengers, the Qur’an itself says, a number of times with slight differences of emphases each time, the following:
Ten Surah Challenge: ‘Or do they say, “He invented it”? Say, “Then bring ten surahs like it that have been invented and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful.”‘ (Qur’an 11:13)