Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Is there one Islam?
Mike Ghouse, May 2, 2007

The above title appeared in one of the websites " Suicide of the west". I read and responsed (response is updated since then) as follows;

Dear Mark,

I appreciate your comments; there is always another point of view.

While acknowledging the violence that has been part of the world, and recognizing the Muslim part of that piece, I have to share a simple example.

I honor our constitution as one of the best documents on harmonious societies. The laws of our nation are well written and are designed for the purpose of keeping law and order and consequently a peaceful harmonious society. Yet, we have witnessed slavery. The women’s right to vote came about 150 years later, and the civil rights were passed to bring the African Americans into the fold nearly 200 years after our independence. Was our constitution wrong before? Or were the practitioners?

Watch the evening news with some one from Edinburg, Rome or Taipei, and the entire 20 minutes of the local news is crime, rape, murder, arson and other stuff. Would that scare your friend and tempt him to call that the people of your city are criminals? That is all he sees on the news, isn’t he? It is a fact what we see on the TV, but a miniscule truth, not the whole truth. Just like the terrorism story on the TV.

If you look at the ruthless, destruction of life during crusades, inquisitions, the annihilation of Native American cultures and just 60 years ago, the holocaust, would that prompt you to ask, if Christianity was wrong? Was the Bible wrong or was it the individuals?

Would you call the people of Washington bad drivers based on their traffic tickets? Or would you blame the City?

Why don’t we lend the same logic to Islam?

No religion, including Islam preaches hate. It is the dangerous neo-cons in Islam, Christianity, Judaism and other faiths that are the problems not the majority of any people.

Throw me in the Jail for the wrongs I do, and punish me for my crimes, but don’t blame my City, my nation or my religion. We need to bark at the right tree, if we learn to do that, then we have a specific target and can solve the problem. The neo cons (all of them) run with a gun firing every where blindly like maniacs, we have seen the world of destruction listening to them. It is time to listen to the moderates, who want peace for all and believe me, they are a majority, we just need to stroke the spark in them to do the right thing.

I am optimistic, war mongers see the futility in destruction and hope and pray that they understand that we have to create a better world, a world of co-existence; it is a necessity, so all of us can live in peace.


Mike Ghouse

That’s the question on the table for another invaluable Front Page Magazine symposium, this time featuring Mike Ghouse, Robert Spencer, Timothy Furnish, Thomas Haidon and Hans-Peter Raddatz (Ghouse and Haidon are Muslims). The answer, of course, is no. Islam is not monolithic. But as Furnish points out, on one issue there is a predominant Muslim view across time, culture and geography: the meaning of jihad:

And this brings me to the sense in which Islam can be said to be one: at the level of certain doctrines which continually are reified in Islamic history. At a minimum, of course, belief that God spoke to Muhammad as the final prophet to humanity, and that these revelations were later collected into the Qur’an, is something that unites all Muslims. Ditto for the other four pillars of Islam (prayer five times daily; tithing; fasting during Ramadan; and the hajj). But I speak of a constant in Islamic history, one that mystics and generals both have agreed on the importance of, and one that has, for some very influential Islamic thinkers over the years, been ranked as the sixth pillar of Islam: jihad.

Mr. Ghouse and Mr. Haidon will no doubt pull out of the quiver the argument that “jihad means being a good Muslim” but—as Mr. Spencer will no doubt argue better than me—that mainly Sufi understanding of jihad is based on a spurious hadith, or tradition, attributed to Muhammad. Any examination of Islamic over the course of 1,400 years will show that jihad-as-conquest is the normative meaning and is, I would argue, perhaps the most defining feature of Islam going back to the time of Muhammad. The Bin Ladins of the world did not create violent jihad ex nihilo. And even moderate Islamic polities such as the Ottoman Empire declared, and waged, violent jihad against (mainly Christian) states—as recently as World War I!

Until Islam can divest itself of the proclivity to violence, originating in the Qur’an itself and the activities of its founder [emphasis mine]—then all the appeals to, and claims of, “progressive” Islam will remain vacuous.

1 comment:

  1. Mike,

    While I won't contend with your depiction of the discussion over at Suicide of the West, I must object to your characterization of the site itself as "neo-con." In fact, I am adamantly opposed to the neoconservatives and their project of projecting democracy throughout the world by means of American power. I consider it foolishness to believe that Arab Muslim culture can ever be compatible with democratic institutions because such institutions are the concrete expressions of certain values which themselves derive from the cultures that nurture them. And at at the heart of any culture is the "cult," those specific assumptions about the nature of Man and his relationship to God that derive from a civilization's foundational faith. And since I consider that the Muslim conception of Man and his relationship to God is flawed, I find it inconveivable that a culture based on such faulty premises could ever yield the values necessary to sustain democratic institutions.

    So, you see, there is a fundamental disagreement between me and the neocons. While we agree that all persons possess an equal dignity and have a right to be free, we disagree about whether it is at all possible to translate that right into reality.