Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Islam: Tolerant or Violent

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Islam: Tolerant or Violent

    On these boards, I have read many articles regarding tolerance in Islam. From the disgustingly ignorant statements of Christian evangelists to sensible discussion. We can add this excellent analysis to our list. John Esposito is a leading academic in Islamic studies, author of “The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?” Here he provides some insights into ‘the place of tolerance in Islam’ – answering the question – is Islam violent?

    Achtung

    ps. For those who say self-reflection needs to take place in the Muslim world - well here is a piece of it. And yah, i know its long...
    ---------------------------------
    Struggle in Islam

    A Response to "The Place of Tolerance in Islam "

    By John L. Esposito
    The Boston Review http://bostonreview.mit.edu/BR27.1/esposito.html

    In the aftermath of September 11, Americans have had to face some hard
    questions: about global terrorism, the Muslim world, and our own country.
    "Is Islam more militant than other religions?" "Does the Qur'an condone
    violence and terrorism directed against non-believers?" "Is there a clash of
    civilizations between the West and the Muslim World?"

    Khaled Abou El Fadl's brilliantly incisive article raises and addresses many
    of these fundamental issues. He describes with particular force a religious
    struggle for the soul of Islam between "puritanism" and modern Islam. The
    political side of this struggle is that a minority of extremists, who are
    dangerous and fanatical and thus predominate in media coverage, struggle
    against a majority which is often divided along a spectrum ranging from
    conservative to reformist. The situation is complicated by the nature of
    many Muslim governments—the Islamic authoritarian regimes, which limit
    dissent and rely on their military and security forces to stay in power.
    Failed states—politically and economically—and repression make for an
    explosive combination.

    Of course religious revival and associated political conflict are not
    confined to the Islamic world. In recent years we have witnessed a global
    religious resurgence encompassing all major world religions. Personal piety
    has often been accompanied by political action in Israel, India, Sri Lanka,
    America, and much of the Muslim world. The majority of Islamic movements
    ("Islamic fundamentalists") have operated within their societies. But a
    minority have turned to violence and terrorism to overthrow regimes and
    impose their vision of an Islamic state. Like all religious extremists,
    militant Muslims exploit religion through selective reading and
    interpretation of sacred texts, history, and doctrine. Osama bin Laden and
    al-Qaeda appeal to grievances that exist among many mainstream Arabs and
    Muslims, from foreign policy issues like Palestine, the American presence in
    the Gulf, and the Russian presence in Chechnya, to domestic complaints
    against repressive and corrupt governments and failed economies. However,
    they transform Islam's norms and values—about good governance, social
    justice, and the requirement to defend Islam when under siege—into a call to
    arms, in order to legitimate the use of violence, warfare, and terrorism.
    Their theology or ideology divides the world into mutually exclusive
    categories: the world of belief and that of unbelief, the land of Islam and
    that of warfare, the forces of good and the forces of evil. Those who are
    not with them, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, are the enemy; they are to be
    fought and destroyed in a war with no limits, no proportionality of goal or
    means.

    The situation has been compounded by governments that have created and
    support a compliant religious establishment. Some religious leaders are seen
    as "lackeys" of the government, while many other ulama or religious scholars
    are seen as possessing a worldview and skills that are medieval and out of
    touch with the realities of modern Muslim life. They contribute to a
    worldview that is anti-reformist at best or one that promotes a militant
    exclusivist Islam and vision of the world. The spread of Wahhabi or Salafi
    Islam is a reflection of this problem.

    Abou El Fadl represents a visible critical mass of Muslim intellectuals,
    laity, and clergy (ulama), men and women from Egypt to Indonesia. They
    emphasize the importance of reading texts within the historical and social
    contexts in which they were written. Distinguishing between universal
    principles and laws and texts that address specific time-bound issues, they
    explore major issues of modern reform: democratization, civil society,
    pluralism and tolerance, the status of minorities and women. The dialectic
    of change in the struggle between Puritanism and modern Islamic reform can
    be clearly seen in the debates over democracy and jihad.

    In current debate about political participation, secularists argue for the
    separation of religion and the state. Rejectionists (both moderate and
    militant Muslims) maintain that Islam's forms of governance do not conform
    to democracy. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, a long time ally of the West, says
    that "the democratic system prevalent in the world is not appropriate in
    this region.…The election system has no place in the Islamic creed, which
    calls for a government of advice and consultation and for the shepherd's
    openness to his flock, and holds the ruler fully responsible before his
    people."1 Extremists agree, condemning any form of democracy as haram,
    forbidden, an idolatrous threat to God's rule (divine sovereignty). Their
    unholy wars to topple governments aim to impose an authoritarian "Islamic"
    rule. Conservatives often argue that popular sovereignty contradicts the
    sovereignty of God, with the result that the alternative has often been some
    form of monarchy.

    In contrast to both secularists and rejectionists, Islamic reformers have
    suggested ways to reinterpret key traditional Islamic concepts and
    institutions—consultation (shura) of rulers with those ruled, consensus
    (ijma) of the community, reinterpretation (ijtihad), and the public welfare
    (maslaha). They operate within Islam, and aim to show how Islamic ideas can
    be interpreted to support forms of parliamentary governance, representative
    elections, and religious reform. Just as it was appropriate in the past for
    Muhammad's senior Companions to constitute a consultative assembly (majlis
    al-shura) and to select or elect his successor (caliph) through a process of
    consultation, Muslims should now, according to these reformers, reinterpret
    and extend this notion to the creation of modern forms of political
    participation, parliamentary government, and the direct or indirect election
    of heads of state. The essential point, often missing from popular
    discussion, is that the debate about the virtues of democracy is not simply
    a debate between Islam and western liberalism, but a debate within Islam
    itself.

    Jihad provides a major example of this struggle within Islam. In the late
    twentieth and twenty-first centuries the word jihad has gained remarkable
    currency, becoming more global in its usage. On the one hand, jihad's
    primary religious and spiritual meanings, the "struggle" or effort to follow
    God's path, to lead a good life, became more widespread. On the other hand,
    in response to European colonialism, authoritarian regimes, and other
    contemporary conditions, jihad has been used by resistance, liberation, and
    terrorist movements alike to legitimate their causes and motivate their
    followers. The Afghan Mujahiddin, the Taliban, and the Northern Alliance,
    have all waged jihads in Afghanistan against foreign powers and among
    themselves; Muslims in Kashmir, Chechnya, Daghestan, the southern
    Philippines, Bosnia, and Kosovo have all fashioned their struggles as
    jihads; Hizbollah, HAMAS, and Islamic Jihad Palestine have characterized war
    with Israel as a jihad; the Armed Islamic Group has engaged in a jihad of
    terror against the Algerian government; and Osama bin Laden has waged a
    global jihad against Muslim governments and the West.

    Today, the term jihad has become comprehensive; resistance/liberation
    struggles and militant campaigns, holy and unholy wars, are all declared to
    be jihads. Jihad is waged at home not only against unjust rulers in the
    Muslim world but also against a broad spectrum of civilians. Jihad's scope
    abroad became chillingly clear in the 9/11 attacks, which targeted not only
    the American government but also innocent civilians.

    Terrorists like bin Laden and others go beyond classical Islam's criteria
    for a just jihad and recognize no limits but their own, employing any
    weapons or means. They reject Islamic law's regulations regarding the goals
    and means of a valid jihad—that violence must be proportional and that only
    the necessary amount of force should be used to repel the enemy; that
    innocent civilians should not be targeted; and that jihad must be declared
    by the ruler or head of state. Today, individuals and groups, religious and
    lay, seize the right to declare and legitimate unholy wars in the name of
    Islam.

    At the same time, Islamic scholars and religious leaders across the Muslim
    world—such as the Islamic Research Council at al-Azhar University, regarded
    by many as the highest moral authority in Islam—have made strong,
    authoritative declarations against bin Laden's initiatives: "Islam provides
    clear rules and ethical norms that forbid the killing of non-combatants, as
    well as women, children, and the elderly, and also forbids the pursuit of
    the enemy in defeat, the execution of those who surrender, the infliction of
    harm on prisoners of war, and the destruction of property that is not being
    used in the hostilities."2

    As in the modern reform processes in Judaism and Christianity, questions of
    leadership and the authority of the past (tradition) are critical to both
    debates. Whose Islam? Who leads and decides? Is it rulers, the vast majority
    of whom are unelected kings, military, and former military? Or elected prime
    ministers and parliaments? Is it the ulama or clergy, who continue to see
    themselves as the primary interpreters of Islam, although many are ill
    prepared to respond creatively to modern realities? Or is it modern,
    educated, Islamically oriented intellectuals like Abou El Fadl and others?
    Lacking an effective leadership, will other Osama bin Ladens fill the
    vacuum?

    Moreover, there is the question: "What Islam?" Is Islamic reform simply a
    returning to the past and restoring past doctrines and laws, or is it a
    reformation or reformulation of basic Islamic ideas to meet the demands of
    modern life? Some call for an Islamic state based upon the re-implementation
    of classical formulations of Islamic laws. Others argue the need to
    reinterpret and reformulate law in light of the new realities of
    contemporary society.

    As we pick up the pieces and move forward, Muslims face critical choices. If
    Western powers need to rethink and reassess their foreign policies and their
    support for authoritarian regimes, mainstream Muslims worldwide will need to
    address more aggressively the threat to Islam from religious extremists. The
    struggle for reform faces formidable obstacles: the conservatism of many
    (though not all) ulama; the traditional training of religious scholars and
    leaders; and the power of more puritanical, exclusivist Wahhabi or Salafi
    brands of Islam. To overcome these obstacles, this jihad for openness and
    renewal will need to move forward rapidly on religious, intellectual,
    spiritual, and moral fronts, and to embrace a wide-ranging process of
    reinterpretation (ijtihad) and reform.<

    #2
    Achtung, self-reflection will be when the Islamic world opens itself to full examination by the internal and external forces. An essay by an MIT Puerto Rican guy is not what is considered self reflection but a slap in the face of Islam that he needs to remind Muslims what is wrong with them.

    Comment


      #3
      thats a bit of an ignorant statement, let me ask you a question

      how do you know this Puerto Rican guy (who happens to be an esteemed Doctor) is not a Muslim himself? Or did you just assume that he wasn't?

      There are many Muslims engaged in self-reflection - they have been for years. Take a course in Islamic studies, at any university, and you'll see. Esposito talks about categories of reform and self-reflection employed by Muslims:

      "In contrast to both secularists and rejectionists, Islamic reformers have
      suggested ways to reinterpret key traditional Islamic concepts and
      institutions—consultation (shura) of rulers with those ruled, consensus
      (ijma) of the community, reinterpretation (ijtihad), and the public welfare
      (maslaha). They operate within Islam, and aim to show how Islamic ideas can
      be interpreted to support forms of parliamentary governance, representative
      elections, and religious reform. Just as it was appropriate in the past for
      Muhammad's senior Companions to constitute a consultative assembly (majlis
      al-shura) and to select or elect his successor (caliph) through a process of
      consultation, Muslims should now, according to these reformers, reinterpret
      and extend this notion to the creation of modern forms of political
      participation, parliamentary government, and the direct or indirect election
      of heads of state. The essential point, often missing from popular
      discussion, is that the debate about the virtues of democracy is not simply
      a debate between Islam and western liberalism, but a debate within Islam
      itself."

      In the future, I suggest reading the article before passing judgement. And don't assume that just because someones name is not an Islamic one - they are not a Muslim. Islam transcends the discriminatory boundaries of race and culture - its all encompassing. We can have Muslims by the name of John, as well as the name of Abdul.

      Achtung

      Comment


        #4
        Fascinating. Although i doubt an Islamic reformation is anywhere near. It appears that in most of the Islamic countries, everytime someone tries do something the new within Islam, takes steps to reform it, they end up getting burned badly, either by the ulema or just individual lunatics. I mean look at Pakistan, we see examples of this everyday. Blasphemy law is one such example which succesfully limits our religious freedom. How can anyone reflect on Islam, if every little thing is considered blasphemy which carries the penelty of Death. With this in mind,how are we going to find a place in the modern world?

        Comment

        Working...
        X