If it is it doesn't matter

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Question 3

This is a reposting of a series of questions addressed to 'Moderate Muslims and Muslim Reformers." This one question is perhaps the one I am most interested in getting an answer to.

3: What values, ethical or moral principles, philosophical ideas or other concepts in Islam cause you to remain a Muslim, rather than to either join another religion or to become 'a secular good person'?


Blogger LouLou said...


I've been hesitant to comment here for a while because I really don't have the attention-span necessary for long, convoluted debates. You have a lot of questions & have clearly done a lot of research involving a lot of issues & I'm worried that I'll start something & then run out of steam & leave you even more confused.

Let me just make a general comment. You have a clear misunderstanding of what Islam constitutes to Muslims or how societies like ours view religion. Religion for us is not something exalted to be put on a pedestal & looked up to. Religion is the vocabulary of daily life. It is our language. It is the medium through which we express ourselves. From the moment we wake up in the morning we are invoking religion. There is a right way to go to sleep. A right way to wake up. A right way to sneeze. A right way to dress, to eat etc... For every breath we take we have to make a religious case to ourselves & to the society at large.

There is no way to address the Muslim community if you don't know how to express yourself using religious vocab. No one will pay any attention to you.

And so politicians, terrorists, reformers, moderates, extremists, humanitarians, drug-dealers EVERYONE talks religion. Everyone desperately tries to show how Mohamed would have supported their position, how Allah would be proud of what they want to do. They don't do that because they really believe it. They do it because it's the only way they will register on the radar screen. It's realpolitik.

There is a famous case of one of the Caliphs torturing & imprisoning a well-known hadith scholar because he wanted the scholar to manufacture a hadith that would allow him to reconcile with his wife after divorcing her 3 times. The consensus was that a couple can break up & get back together only 3 times - then they can never get back together. And so this ruler put AlShafi'i in jail for 60 days & had him lashed everyday why?Because even as a Caliph he could not face the community without some sort of religious ground - even manufactured religious ground - for what he wished to do.

In this kind of situation talk of reforming Islam is in my opinion pointless. What matters is reforming countries with Muslim majorities. Islam is what Muslims make it. When they become more enlightened, when the political climate improves, when they open up to the world, their versions of Islam will automatically reform. You can't do it the other way around. That's exactly like trying to reform the Arabic language in the hope that adding more Liberal words in the dictionary will lead to the Arabs becoming more Liberal. It makes no sense because the words are already there. It's just that people choose the words that best express how they think so you change ideas not words & not means of expression.

2:18 AM  
Anonymous ali said...

The nature of God and his messenger.

10:24 AM  

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