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BS: Moslem viewpoint

beardedbruce 13 Dec 07 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Obie 13 Dec 07 - 03:50 PM
artbrooks 13 Dec 07 - 04:07 PM
beardedbruce 13 Dec 07 - 04:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Dec 07 - 05:33 PM
Bee 13 Dec 07 - 06:06 PM
Bee 13 Dec 07 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,Obie 13 Dec 07 - 07:50 PM
GUEST,Obie 13 Dec 07 - 08:03 PM
Sorcha 13 Dec 07 - 08:51 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Dec 07 - 09:35 PM
GUEST,Obie 13 Dec 07 - 11:03 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Dec 07 - 11:46 PM
GUEST,Obie 14 Dec 07 - 08:38 AM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Dec 07 - 11:34 AM
Bee 14 Dec 07 - 01:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Dec 07 - 02:23 PM
Bonzo3legs 14 Dec 07 - 02:36 PM
GUEST,Obie 14 Dec 07 - 03:26 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Dec 07 - 03:48 PM

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Subject: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 02:26 PM

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Muslim Dirty Laundry

When I wrote an article for this website a few months ago called On Muslim Antisemitism, a Muslim friend of mine remarked, "What you say is true, but why do you have to air our dirty laundry?"

I stared at her in disbelief. Did she really think that the world was unaware of our dirty laundry?

The sad truth is that too many people think it's the only kind of laundry Muslims have.

And one of the reasons for this is because mainstream Muslims aren't talking openly about the problem.

My wife was at a dinner party last week and someone asked about the English woman in the Sudan who, at the urging of her Muslim students, named the class teddy bear Muhammad and received jail time and death threats for her efforts.

My wife's friend asked: "Does Islam really say that she should be punished?"

"I don't want to talk about it," my wife responded.

I understand why my wife took a pass. Mainstream Muslims are tired of being put on the defensive, of only being asked about their religion in relation to violence or the oppression of women, as if that's all that Islam has ever or could ever produce.

But her friend still wanted an answer to her question. And if my wife wasn't going to provide one, then she would have to find someone who would.

In this case, it was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote an OpEd in The New York Times effectively stating that Islam requires Muslims to severely punish teachers who name teddy bears Muhammad (Sudan), rape victims who are accused of being in the presence of a man who is not a family member (Saudi Arabia) and female writers who criticize Islam (India).


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is right on two important points. The first is that all of these punishments are appalling and brutal. The second is that moderate Muslims should be louder about these matters. There are some things that are true even if Ayaan Hirsi Ali believes them.

And once moderate Muslims are louder, not in the form of angry indignation but as eloquent articulators of the depth and meaning of their faith, then people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali will suddenly find themselves consigned to the place where they should have been all along: the margins, where they can froth at the mouth all they want.

Hirsi Ali and people like her are widely-read because they offer a theory of the problem: they tell the world a convincing story of why Muslims keep popping up on the front pages of newspapers in negative articles. Hirsi Ali's theory, and the theory of other Islamophobes, is that Muslims have dirty laundry because the body and soul of Islam are dirty.

Hirsi Ali ends her Times OpEd with a subtle but scathing indictment of Islam – that it is a tradition opposed to conscience and compassion. "When a "moderate" Muslim's sense of compassion and conscience collides with matters prescribed by Allah, he should choose compassion," she writes.

I wonder if my wife's dinner part friend thinks that's true. As far as I know, it's the only theory that she's heard.

A lesson for mainstream Muslims: Whenever you don't offer a theory of the problem, someone else will. When there is a vacuum of information about a hot topic and you don't fill it, other people will aggressively move in.

Too many mainstream Muslims believe they have only two options in the face of the current discourse on Islam: angry indignation or stony silence.

I believe there is a third way. It is what University of Michigan Professor Sherman Jackson, one of America's leading scholars of Islam, calls 'Islamic literacy'.

Here is how someone literate in Islam, Muslim or not, might have responded to Ayaan Hirsi Ali's contention that Islam and compassionate conscience are mutually exclusive. First, by saying that there should be no excuses made for those who sought the punishments in any of the three cases she named. They were indeed brutal, and as such, were in conflict with the core ethos of Islam – compassion and mercy, which are enshrined both in the Muslim tradition and in the human conscience.

Compassion and mercy are the two most repeated qualities of God in Islam, best illustrated by the most common Muslim prayer, "Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim" – In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the most Merciful. As they are qualities of God, they are attributes that Muslims are required to emulate.

Compassion and mercy are also enshrined in the first lesson that classical Muslim scholars would teach their students, what came to be known as the Tradition of Primacy in Islam: "If you are merciful to those on Earth, then He who is in Heaven will be merciful to you."
Islam, like other traditions, has internal contradictions. The Qur'an and Muslim law say different things in different places. That is precisely why compassion and mercy play such an important role in Muslim interpretation and practice. When in doubt about how to deal with a particular situation, a Muslim should always be guided by compassion and mercy.

Compassion and mercy are given to human beings by God – they are the content of our conscience. Dr. Umar Abdallah, the most senior scholar in Western Islam, writes in one of the most important essays in contemporary Islam that mercy is the central quality that God "stamped" on His creation.

Fazlur Rahman, amongst the most widely-respected Muslim scholars of the twentieth century (and Dr. Umar's intellectual mentor), wrote that the single most important term in the Qur'an is "taqwa", which translates roughly as "God-consciousness" or "inner torch" or "conscience."

Khaled Abou El Fadl, one of America's most important scholars of Islamic thought and law, believes that people are required to bring their God-given compassion to the reading of the text of the Qur'an. "The text will morally enrich the reader, but only if the reader will morally enrich the text.," he writes in a remarkable essay called The Place of Tolerance in Islam.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, the most prominent Muslim scholar and preacher in the West, wrote in a piece for this website, "Unfortunately, millions of Muslims all over the globe are humiliated and betrayed by the ignorance and lack of basic humanity that a small minority of Muslims too often exhibits."

He continued, "True religion – as well as the highest secular values – demands we … attempt to understand each other, recognize our real differences, and display mutual respect."
That is a statement of both liberation and guidance for mainstream Muslims. Muslims who speak only of brutality and severity and punishment are not just betraying mainstream Muslims, they are violating our tradition. They do not speak for us. We are not required to defend them.

To mainstream Muslims everywhere: When we act and speak with compassion and conviction and knowledge, even about our 'dirty laundry', we are following the straight path of our faith, educating those with genuine questions about Islam, marginalizing people with destructive agendas, and doing our part to build a world based on understanding and respect.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: GUEST,Obie
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 03:50 PM

Your comments are very insightful, Bruce. Many so-called Christians would demand belief in every literate word of the Bible, but of course the contradictions are very apparent to anyone with any degree of objectivity. Most, or at least many thinking Christians have rejected a literate translation of the Bible. It is wonderful to think that some Muslims could be as objective about the literate interpretation of the Qur'an. If the silent majorities of these different religions would speak up and be heard perhaps peace could really be achieved.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: artbrooks
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 04:07 PM

Bruce, have you any comments of your own? Do you agree or disagree?


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 04:28 PM

I think this is a very good article, from today's Washington Post.
( Sorry about the lack of attribution:
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/eboo_patel/2007/12/ayaan_hirsi_ali_and_muslim_dir.html )

I have waited too long to hear this and I hope that others join in in taking back their religion.

Until the mainstream of Islam try to control their own extremists, there can only be a state of war between them ( the extremists) and the non-Islamic world.


Same goes for other religious extremists, of course. ALL of them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 05:33 PM

"Most, or at least many thinking Christians have rejected a literate translation of the Bible."

"A literal translation" please.

And it's pretty evidently "most" rather than "many", on a global level, if not perhaps in certain countries and certain religious groups, taking "rejected a literal translation" as meaning that the writings are to be understood and interpreted as a whole.

And essentially the same way of treating the Quran has been the predominent tradition among Islamic scholars for most of Islamic history, as indicated in that article.

Unfortunately an intolerant and fanatical literalist movement has sprung up in the last few decades, with powerful backers, and this has has set out to sweep all that away and to achieve a purified and reformed Islam. And this has a genuine appeal for many confused people, as such movements often do, since there is always much that does need reforming.

Something rather similar happened in Christian Europe a few centuries ago. In the light of what happened then, involving a century and more of genocidal internecine war, I can understand why moderate Moslems might be nervous about confronting their "Reformers" too directly, and setting off something analogous.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: Bee
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 06:06 PM

An interesting post, Bruce.

Most often, we hear the worst kind of messages about Islam, and none of the good ones. And yet most of us (in Canada, at least) live peacefully with Muslims in our own communities, as friends, neighbours and co-workers, and only rarely does the religion interfere with our relationships.

When it does, I personally have found it is often an echo from that other Abrahamic religion, Christianity, that highlights the issue. The Koran's mixed messages about the status of women are remarkably similar to those of the Bible, on the one hand praising them, on the other, demonising them or subjugating them to men.

A mild example is the wearing of the Hijab by women. It does not bother most people that Islamic women often (but not always) wear a headscarf. I remember, as most Canadians over the age of fifty would, when a woman would feel ashamed if her head was uncovered in a Protestant church. Ministers would even preach on it. However, in practice, some Muslims go to extremes. I take no joy from seeing an eleven year old Muslim Canadian girl sobbing her way off the sports field because her head scarf has been deemed a safety hazard in that particular sport. It frustrates me to no end that neither her family nor the safety experts are able to give on such an issue. But it frustrates me even more that a symbolic bit of cloth is given a status that can mean life or death to women in some parts of the world, and restrictions on their activities in more moderate parts of the world.

No deity (if such existed, which I doubt) worth worshipping would intend that women be punished for the sake of a flimsy cloth. Neither, having created women in the first place, would such a deity be offended by the sight of a woman's uncovered head. There is no sense in it, and if the God you worship makes no sense, something is very wrong.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: Bee
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 06:16 PM

This is interesting - a nasty incident of anti-Semitism in New York and a good deed by a young Muslim in aid of a Jewish man.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/12/subway.attack/index.html


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: GUEST,Obie
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 07:50 PM

"literal" indeed McGrath although "literate" may be also be true because who can really understand what's written there? :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: GUEST,Obie
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 08:03 PM

A man in Ontario is charged with the murder of his daughter, supposedly because she did not conform to his dress code views. Her brother is also charged with obstructing justice in her death. If only all religions could trash their obscene beliefs and dogma what a better world it would be!


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: Sorcha
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 08:51 PM

Amen.

Means 'so be it' in Hebrew.

Ban religion, I say, BAN it.

At least keep governments and people out of it!

(tongue in cheek here)


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 09:35 PM

Bearded Bruce, I read your post, with the story of the Canadian immigrant who murdered his daughter for not conforming to his particular Islamic beliefs in my mind. I am afraid that the British problem (young Muslims developing violent extremist beliefs) will surface here as well.

I have seen nothing from moderate Muslims here in Canada- and they are here, I have worked with some- condemning that zealot's horrible act.
The action of the girl's brother in trying to obstruct justice points up the need for moderates to speak out and to act to prevent their children from taking up views which cannot in any way be tolerated in Canada or any free society.
I know that there is a risk of retribution- as British author Salman Rushdie and the teacher in the Sudan found out- but moderates acting in concert with the support of the leader of their mosque should keep the risk to an acceptable level.

This is not to say that 'christians' in Canada are free of restrictive and oppressive views, although killing is not condoned. We know several Hutterite young men and women who have left their colony and are trying to make their own way in Canadian society. These young people have been rejected not only by the colony but their parents as well, a pitiful outcome of their search for freedom. No member of the colony is allowed to speak to them or contact them in any way. The young people of a colony receive no education past junior high level, which severely restricts their opportunities if they leave the colony. It is a difficult path. I have heard them lament sadly the loss of all family contact.
The Hutterites are a good and productive people, but they are a non-voting isolate which will never be fully integrated into Canadian society.

Recently, a leader of a branch of Mormonism in the States which practiced polygamy was sentenced for child abuse- there is a similar branch in British Columbia whose polygamous practice also involves very young 'marriage', but their colonies are tolerated by Canadian authorities.

How much deviation from Canadian society is permissible? I am afraid that 'multiculturalism' is a carpet that may hide scorpions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: GUEST,Obie
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 11:03 PM

One way to stamp out dogma is, of course, through education. Secular education should be required for all children with no religious interference at all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 11:46 PM

Schooling is fragmented in Canada, esp. in western Canada. In Alberta, Hutterite schooling, although supposedly to provincial level, is held within the colony and teachers must not dispute Hutterite practices.
Of course in Canada, Catholic schools are separate, non-catholic children are met only outside of the school framework except for competitive athletics.
Moreover, private and charter schools are very popular; they range from fundamentalist evangelical to secular. More and more children are seen in the uniforms of their schools which receive provincial funds here in Alberta at the level of public schools. Moreover, home schooling is permitted; the student must take provincial exams but a high standard is not enforced.
Jewish and muslim schools are available, although the moderates use the public system.

Even the most secular of the private schools tend to promote Protestant belief.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: GUEST,Obie
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 08:38 AM

In Nova Scotia the public school system is the only one although some private (elitist?) schools exist in places like Halifax. There is a reluctance to observe major Christian holidays such as Easter and Christmas in order not to offend non-christians. However there is some backlash when non-christians demand that they be allowed to carry their religious traditions to school. Racism is still a problem area where cultures and colours clash. In this environment young children mixing together may be able to overcome the bigotry of their parents. That at least is my hope!


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 11:34 AM

There is a reluctance to observe major Christian holidays such as Easter and Christmas in order not to offend non-christians.

I doubt very much if that actually has anything to do with that kind of thing. In a column in today's Guardian Alexander Chancellor comes to the same conclusion:

"If, as recent surveys have shown, an overwhelming majority of British families would like schools to put on a traditional nativity play at Christmas, why is it that only one in five schools are doing it this year?

"The usual reason given by schools for not doing it is that they fear offending people of non-Christian faiths. But these are still a very small minority. And furthermore, the vast majority of them would take no offence. Why should they? Can one imagine settling in a Muslim country and kicking up a fuss over it celebrating the end of Ramadan? Except in a handful of schools, where most of the pupils are Muslim, the excuse is clearly phoney. There has to be another explanation, and this can only be squeamishness on the part of the teachers themselves.

"What makes them so resistant to putting on a nativity play? They could argue rightly - though they don't - that only a tiny percentage of the population goes to church any more. But even that wouldn't be much of an argument because more than 70% of adult Britons still identify themselves as Christian, whether they actually believe in anything or not.And this must mean that they feel attached to a cultural tradition that includes things such as church weddings and funerals, Christmas carols and nativity plays.

"My presumption is that too many teachers are hostile to Christianity not so much for what it teaches as for what it stands for - namely, an outdated culture that knows nothing of 'multiculturalism' or 'relevance' or any of the other things that excite them."


It seems to me that when people with another agenda use imagined objections by religious minorities as a way of justifying this kind of thing they are in fact potentially generating antagonism against members of these minorities. It is a very irresponsible thing to do.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: Bee
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 01:58 PM

McGrath, I think that's putting a lot of imagined teacher agenda to work. In fact the article states 'the usual reason' given, and then goes on to decide the schools (read teachers) are lying, ridiculous in face of the fact that teachers generally constitute a fairly representative sample of a given population - at least, they do here in NS.

There's no good reason for schools to put on religious celebrations: Sunday schools can do that. And in fact, Obie somewhat misrepresents Nova Scotia schools, in that many still celebrate the secular side of Christmas, with decorations and trees and crafts, sensible given most of their students will celebrate Christmas. A nativity play would be over the top, and in fact, I can't remember a school in this province ever doing such a thing - and that's going back to the 1950s.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 02:23 PM

Does not Nova Scotia have separate schools for Catholic children?
In Alberta the public and catholic schools are separate, taxpayers supporting the system of their choice.
From what Obie said, it does seem that Nova Scotia has a less fragmented system, but charter and private schools have become important in Alberta.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 02:36 PM

Why would a nativity play be over the top? That is nonsense.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: GUEST,Obie
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 03:26 PM

Catholic, Protestant,and all others attend the same schools. There is however, different schools for English and French. I did not say that Christmas was not celebrated; only that there was a reluctance to do so.
Sorry for any misunderstanding.


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Subject: RE: BS: Moslem viewpoint
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Dec 07 - 03:48 PM

Nova Scotia - well, that's in another country, maybe the traditions in your schools are different.

But the suggestion that parents belonging to minority religions - Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs etc - do in fact object to Nativity plays and Christmas celebrations in schools is not sustainable. And making out that they do, in order to justify a decision to discontinue such traditions, is to invite people to blame them for such changes.


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