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Monday, October 4, 2004 - 2:13amSanction this postReply
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A fascinating and thoughtful article, Irfan.

Do you think that Nawash understood, to any extent, that his "apology" was questionable in any of the ways you suggest? It seemed stilted and self-conscious to me, but I don't know how much of that resulted from the fact that, apparently, English is not his first language.

And do you think it significant that he omitted, in his listing of terrorist activities, the terrorism against Israel?

Barbara



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Monday, October 4, 2004 - 3:27pmSanction this postReply
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Monday, October 4 - 3:25pmSanction this postReply
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I agree, a very insightful and thoughtful article, one which truly spoke to me, and more relevantly in this philosophical forum, one to made me think.  Thank you for writing it, and for having both the courage of your convictions and a courage for an attack on your convictions.

In memory of Nathan the Wise,

Jeanine Ring  {_}




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Monday, October 4, 2004 - 8:10pmSanction this postReply
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Irfan: Thank you for the article! I wouldn't be so quick to harshly judge an apology. It is something, at least. Sure, I'd prefer a wholesale abandonment of Islam in favor of a philosophy of Reason, but since that isn't happening, I guess I can live with a Muslim telling me he's sorry. Beats dancing in the streets and burning Americans jump to their doom.



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Monday, October 4, 2004 - 10:12pmSanction this postReply
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Irfan,

I think this was a courageous and much-needed apology... if -- in fact -- it was actually written by a real Muslim group, and is not another "Rather-gate" stunt.

However, this apology smuggles in a Trojan Horse premise which is catastrophic:  that Islam is a peaceful religion.  It is not.

As I've said before, in my essay entitled "The Secret Truth About Islam", the peaceful verses in Islam -- the Meccan verses (which were written first) -- are completely nullified, as The Koran clearly specifies that the terrorist Medinan verses (which were written later) always replace the peaceful Meccan verses, when they both give contradictory instructions on the same issue.  As a result, Muslims are only ever left with terrorist choices to obey.

So, no, Islam is not a peaceful religion.  And these "Muslims" who claim so, either 1) don't actually know the religion that they call themselves members of, or 2) are trying a new and more clever tactic to sneak in a public acceptance of what they downright know to be a wholly malicious religion.

(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 10/04, 10:20pm)




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Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - 1:29amSanction this postReply
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> So, no, Islam is not a peaceful religion.  And these "Muslims" who claim so, either 1) don't actually know the religion that they call themselves members of, or 2) are trying a new and more clever tactic to sneak in a public acceptance of what they downright know to be a wholly malicious religion.

I must disagree.  I am not here concerned with the allegedly "terrorist" or "malicious" passages in the Qu'ran (I can find plenty in the Bible, or the Randian corpus).  I think the problem here is a wrongheaded view of religion, on which accords with certain powerful strands of Christianity and Islam, and those secularisms in contrast to them.  Religion qua religion is not about faith-based answers to philsophical questions- this describes the forms of some religions, but not their essence nor all religions.  One can be religious while abandoning elements of a religious heritage incompatible with the experiences, insights, or narratives for which one lives a religious life.  So the number of violent passages in the Qu'ran is not the point.  One understand what is meant when one denounces same statements in Paul's letters as "un-Christian", or when someone attacks Rand's statements on a woman president as contrary to the spirit of her work.  Chris Sciabarra is more Randian in spirit than Rand was in letter, as Schweitzer was more Christian than Paul while confessing he could not find purely altrusitic motives anywhere in the Gospels.  The same is true of Islam, even if fundamentalist reverences for revealed text do tend to make such problems mandatory. 

Indeed, the history of religions has always been like this.  A demythologized Islam would be another example of a long history of liberalizations and syncretisms.  Islam itself began as a synthesis of Pagan imagery, Judaic sense of historical mission, Christian universalist Deity, and Greek active intelligence; the last symbolized by the inclusion of Iskander (Alexander the Great) as one of the prophets prefiguring Mohammed.

Admittedly, this view of Islam would likely make few Moslems comfortable, but I speak for myself only, and as a liberal and semi-philosophical polytheist who might be willing to accept syncretism and diversity within Islam that an Islamic monotheist might not.  But my view, at least, is that Islam belongs to who can take up its history as their narrative- yes, liberal and secular Moslems are going to be ignoring passages in the Qu'ran- but so do reform Jews, Unitarian-Universalists, and liberal Christians with regard to their sacred texts.  My ex-girlfriend is a Norse Heathen, but that does not means she goes about impaling people on trees with spears.  Religion is an individual or collective, chosen or inherited, commitment to live within a certain poetry.  It inevitably involves a selective abstraction of the essential experiences of a spiritual path and the discarding of precepts seen unnessecary to that experience in the light of change, new experience, and reason.  That may not be view of the "religions of the book", I confess, but it does demand tolerance, and respect for the more liberal forms of those religions, which I feel no compromise in giving.

I do not think the essentials of Islam- the oneness of God, the finality of Mohammed's revelation, the five pillars, etc.- are "malicious" or "terrorist", any more than the New Testament in a terrorist document because of the bloody sieges of then-Constantinople and Jerusalem.  Admittedly, I do not find spiritual passion in Islam myself, (excepting certain Persian influences on Islamic culture) but I have known many charitable, intelligent, and rational people who have.

Peace, Shalom, As-Salaam;
Blessed be,
and
Good Premises,

Jeanine Ring  {))(*)((}

"we fight the fire/while we're feeding the flame"




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Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - 5:20amSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Jennifer Iannolo on 10/05, 5:22am)




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Post 6

Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - 5:21amSanction this postReply
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There is a stark difference between launching a Jihad to kill in the name of God and claiming that a woman should not want to be President.  To assert that some of Rand's statements are "terrorist" and "malicious" borders on the ridiculous.

The main problem with religion is that it does, in fact, provide faith-based answers to philosophical questions, and thus absolves one of having to explain or define rationally one's motivation for killing, for condemning -- God wants it that way.

You may not be concerned with the violent passages of the Koran, but the people jumping from the 80th floor of the World Trade Center sure as hell were.

(Edited by Jennifer Iannolo on 10/05, 5:25am)




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Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - 9:51amSanction this postReply
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Jennifer,

Great point.  And clearly made... you didn't attempt to mystify and "legitimize" your point with William F. Buckley-esque language. 

Those who attempt to validate religion for the circular pseudo-reason that "it is religion, and is therefore valid and untouchable, no matter how destructive" are fools... and worse than fools, by advocating the revered tolerance of obviously malignant entities, they themselves constitute part of that malignancy.  No society can be truly viable for long, when it allows any of its cows to be sacred. 

Contrary to so-called "enlightened" beliefs, there is such a thing as a bad culture, and true Islam is the best example we have.  Believing otherwise is to continually hold open a fresh and deep wound on the body of human civilization for infections to enter, delightfully unchallenged, when the natural, rational process would be to cease interference in the body's natural healing process, so that it can thereafter remain only selectively permeable to outside entities seeking entrance.

(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 10/05, 9:54am)




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Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - 10:05amSanction this postReply
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Jeanine,

And also -- as I've pointed out exhaustively before -- the New Testament cannot be called a "terrorist document" because none of The Bible is written as an instruction manual, in present-tense communication directly to the reader.  No, the entire Bible is written in past tense, as a "historical" account of events that supposedly took place. 

The story of Joshua's bloody and Islam-style assault on Jericho was written as a historical account in the distant past, and no violence is commanded of anyone who reads the story now. 

You see, a true "terrorist manual" is written in present-tense communication, directly to the reader.  And The Koran is written in precisely that way.  The Koran commands the reader that he or she must -- now -- terrorize and infiltrate and butcher all non-Muslims, or even "bad" Muslims.  This is why so many people who know of The Koran, say that it "lives", because of its tense.  True terrorist documents that exist today, are always written in this tense:  "You must... do this; you must... do that". 

Pick up a copy of The Koran and The Bible and read for yourself, the clear difference between the two. 




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Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - 3:12pmSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:49pm)




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Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - 3:15pmSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:50pm)

(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:50pm)




Post 11

Sunday, October 10, 2004 - 10:10pmSanction this postReply
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Irfan,

1) I'm not sure at this moment in time how it is known which verses are Meccan and Medinan, but I will definitely attempt to find out.  It does stand to reason, however, that in my eyes, when you consider the biographical information on Mohammad, that the peaceful verses should have been written in Mecca and the terrorist ones in Medina. 

2) I do not disagree that most Muslims may be ignorant of the whole Meccan/Medinan verse distinctions, nor which take priority... however, I do remain convinced that someone as well-versed and formally trained in the Koran as Osama bin Laden would be very familiar with the distinctions, and which verses take precedence.

3) Actually, as we speak, I am in the process of locating precisely which verse(s) does spell out the abrogation of earlier verses by later ones...

4) Finally, although you say that the Old Testament is much more violent in its prescriptions than is the Koran, let me post just one example from the most savage account (note that it is a historical account, and not actually a prescription at all) of the Old Testament, in the Book of Joshua... in Joshua 8:24-28, to be exact:

When the army of Israel had finished slaughtering all the men outside the city, they went back and finished off everyone left inside.   So the entire population of Ai, twelve thousand in all, was wiped out that day.  For Joshua kept his spear pointed toward Ai until the last person was dead.  Only the cattle and the loot were not destroyed, for the armies of Israel kept these for themselves.  (The Lord had told Joshua they could.)  So Ai became a desolate mound of refuse, as it still is today.
Now, vicious as this is, note the style of writing... and notice the tense.  It is written as a historical account... and not, as you claim, a prescription.   In fact, all of The Bible is written as account, and not prescription... the only prescriptions you ever read of in The Bible are historical accounts of prescriptions given by "The Lord"... but at that time in history.

However, if you do want to read the tone of what an actual prescription looks like, read this actual passage, from the Koran itself, in Surah 4:89:

Those who reject Islam must be killed.  If they turn back (from Islam), take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you find them...
And also read this passage from the Koran, in Surah 47:4:

So, when you meet those who disbelieve, smite (their) necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly on them (i.e., take them as captives).
Notice the difference in tone, and in tense?  Whereas The Bible presents not a prescription to the reader, but a historical account of ancient violent events, The Koran is actually presenting a prescription, directly to the reader at the time of reading, to commit violence and acts of murder. 

There is a major difference.




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Monday, October 11, 2004 - 3:06pmSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:51pm)




Post 13

Monday, October 11, 2004 - 10:02pmSanction this postReply
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Irfan,

You said:
I don't see how Muhammad's biography helps you. Why would Muhammad's teaching have been any different at Mecca than at Medina?
Well, of course it helps you to know Muhammad's biography...  And logically, if Muhammad first tried a peaceful approach while in Mecca, and was violently driven out because of this, and he then made his way to Medina, the effects of that trauma would not be recorded until after he had to flee to Medina, to recoup his strength and rebuild...

In other words, we should logically expect that his Meccan writings would reflect his then-peaceful attitude, and his Medinan writings would reflect his later, traumatized and wrathful new attitude towards his enemies, after regrouping.  And that's what you see.

You then say:
There are definitely no verses that tell you to "abrogate Meccan in deference to Medinian verses."
Really?  Well, take a look at this, from Surah 2:106:
Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it.  Know you not that Allah is able to do all things?

Why would you forget something, unless it came before something else?  In other words, since Muhammad first wrote verses in Mecca and then in Medina... Shouldn't it be the contradictory Meccan verses which are forgotten, in favor of those written in Medina?

To carry it further, the former professor of Islamic Studies at Al-Azhar University, Mark Gabriel, points out -- in his book, Islam and the Jews (on page 47) that:
You can still read the words, "There is no compulsion in religion", in the Quran, but they no longer have authority.  This verse has been mansookh (canceled) by revelations that came later.
Gabriel then asks the question of the reader (on page 48):
Now you should be asking yourself, Do all Muslims interpret the Quran this way?  Do all Muslims accept that a contradiction in the Quran is solved by using the newest revelation?

This principle is known in Arabic as nasikh.  It means that Allah led Muhammad in a progressive revelation.

Nasikh is widely accepted in Islam.  The two largest sects in Islam, Sunni and Shia, accept this principle.  I learned it at my Muslim high school.  I also studied it at Al-Azhar University in Quranic commentary class.  I taught it at the mosque where I preached.


And here's something that I think is very interesting, that he then says:

Many copies of the Quran have a table that shows whether a Surah is from Mecca or Medina in order to help readers know which is a newer revelation.


In fact, I myself purchased a copy of The Qur'an -- the version translated by Maulana Muhammad Ali -- and in the preface, on page iii, it presents this table that Gabriel talks about, and lists which Surahs were written during the Early, Middle, and Late "Makkan" periods, and which were written "A.H.", in other words, "after (or ante) the flight from Mecca" (which, for the benefit of other SOLO readers, is called the "Hijrah"... and hence, "A.H."). 

It seems pretty clear to me, Irfan.

Gabriel then comments on page 48:

Even Quranic history shows that nasikh is valid.  If there were no nasikh, Muhammad's followers would have just stayed with Mecca ideals.  There would have been no jihad and no Islamic military to conquer land and people all over the world.  Islam would have never left Arabia.

The problem is, if you do not accept nasikh, how are you going to interpret the Quran?  Are you going to just choose the verses you like the best?  And what are you going to do about the example of Muhammad?  He did more than just preach in Mecca.  He went to Medina and declared war on unbelievers.  Are you going to just follow half of his example?


Finally, Gabriel concludes that page by saying:

If anyone denies the continuing revelation of Allah to Muhammad, they are denying Islam itself.  Some Muslims who are not well taught in their faith may not understand nasikh fully, but it is still a foundational principle of Islam.


Even though Islam is not my religion -- nor, as you claim, is it yours any longer -- I feel compelled to ask:  does that comment apply to you, Irfan?


(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 10/11, 10:37pm)




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Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 10:27amSanction this postReply
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A few points: 1) I thought it was the Hadith of Bukari and Muslim that help to identify which verses are the Meccan and which are the Medinan. 2) The doctrine of abrogation is mentioned by many authors. Even if one didnít formally accept this, latter passages would still have the effect of superseding the earlier ones in importance by the effect of order and chronology. 3) Mohammadís life is clearly an example for Muslims. Itís quite relevant how he ruled in Medina. I donít think terror is an inappropriate word to use here.

My claim is somewhat more limited in terms of causality. The religion imposes specific challenges on adherents that make it difficult to establish a long-standing secular, liberal, and peaceful culture. At times these obstacles were overcome in the past. I have my doubts that recidivism can be avoided as long as the religion is practiced.

Christianity, with the many problems it has, doesnít have an example of Jesus ruling. His teachings come after the more harsh Old Testament passages, which allows one to view the earlier as being superseded. The challenges of supernaturalism and anti-reason pervade both religions. But each has some unique challenges - accidental to history in some ways - that pose different problems.

Obviously, as Objectivists, we have chosen not to go down the religious path. Even though we reject religion as a source of knowledge, we must still judge each and distinguish degrees and modes of danger.



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Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 4:47pmSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:51pm)




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Friday, October 15, 2004 - 6:25amSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:52pm)




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Friday, October 15, 2004 - 11:31amSanction this postReply
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Irfan,

All of your objections hinge on your premise that "the distinction between Meccan and Medinan verses is not clear". 

Huh? 

I mean, I see no evidence that it is unclear...  If anything, the distinction that I'm being shown between Meccan and Medinan verses is perfectly clear. 

In my copy of the Qur'an, as I've already stated, in the introduction, on page iii, author Maulana Muhammad Ali clearly presents a listing of which Surahs (verses) are Meccan, and which are Medinan.

How is that unclear?  You keep saying it's unclear, but I see no evidence to support that.  How many Qur'ans would I have to inspect to confirm this, before you would concede that there is a clear distinction, between Meccan and Medinan verses, and which are which?  And if the "real" answer doesn't come from an actual Qur'an, why would you choose to believe any other source?

If, as you say, there is no clear distinction, then yes, that does weaken my point, and my personal validity as an argumentor.  But if, as I've already successfully cited -- with an actual Qur'an -- that there is a clear distinction, my point is very much strengthened, and your counter-argument -- as well as your own personal validity as an argumentor -- is weakened.

And I dare say that one of us is very much weakened as an outcome of this, because the stakes here are so astronomically high:  life and death hangs in the balance, and the true character of a religion with a membership of 1.6 billion people is on trial. 




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Saturday, October 16, 2004 - 2:18pmSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:52pm)




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Saturday, October 16, 2004 - 2:50pmSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Irfan Khawaja on 10/19, 3:53pm)




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