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)
One of the main arguments against the Qur’anic historicity has ‘traditionally’ (orientalism-ally speaking) meant that for a long while the earliest extant copy of the Qur’an was Uthmanic. And this was wrapped up (negatively) in the supposed ‘politics’ of the Uthmanic time period or thereafter. The claims, therefore, were that the Qur’an we currently possessed did not correspond to the one from the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, the Qur’anic manuscript found in Birmingham has revised that old fossil of a critique.
I have already posted this video and discussed the range of arguments about the age of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), here. This post (below), however, focusses on a very interesting discussion that took place during the question and answer session regarding the centrality of hadiths in the Islamic tradition. Continue reading
On Paul Willilams’ site, Blogging Theology, there was a conversation in the comments section of one post about the veracity of the (early) hadith tradition (which was very interesting) begun by a chap named Graham: