Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What does the Koran actually say?

I had (and I am having) a very long debate on Sandmonkey's board about Islam. You can read this debate right here. This debate started when Carmen, a Muslim, said that she should be allowed to marry her Christian boyfriend, as this is sanctioned by the Koran. She then cited verses to supposedly back up her "point." Now, let me backtrack for a second and say that I do not care what Carmen does. I do not know her, will likely never meet her (despite her residing in my fair city), and certainly do not care one way or another when she is a good or a bad Muslim. In fact, I am glad she found love. I also understand why Carmen would like to believe that Islam sanctions her actions. What I do care about is that I believe that 'moderate Muslims' such as Carmen are dangerous. Why do I believe this? The fact remains that her 'logic' about the Koran simply is not logical. I explained this in great detail in the thread on Sandmonkey's board. Anyone who spends time to examine her 'logic' will see that it does not add up. But who will be spending the time to examine this logic? Answer: Islamic fundamentalists. The Islamic fundamentalists will read what Carmen has to say and answer back with verses from the Koran, Sunnah, Hadith, etc etc etc, that shows she simply is mistaken. They will not be persuaded by her logic, and in fact, there were Islamic fundamentalists who got to Sandmonkey's thread before me, and did exactly that. So Carmen will not achieve a victory against the people she supposedly aimed her post at. Instead, the people who will be persuaded by Carmen's logic are those who have not read the Koran, and those who desperately want Islam to be moderate and egalitarian. In short, it is the Western non-Muslims who will be persuaded by Carmen's logic. And yet these people need to know that Islam is NOT an egalitarian faith, given the state of the world today. And so that is why I believe that 'moderates' who are in the vein of Carmen, who are moderate because they deny the obvious existence of texts that dispute the conclusions they want to reach, deny Muhammad's actions and deny Islamic history are a very real problem in the world today. If Islam is to reform, it will not reform by denying the very existence of Koranic/Hadith/Sunnah/Fiqh text, as well as Islamic history. I will quote what I wrote concerning the ONLY way that the religion can reform...
Does the Koran say “Muslims, you are required to turn whatever state you are living in, even if it is a Kafir state, into an Islamic state”? Answer: No, of course not, and I would never said it does. The Koran was written at a time when Muhammad was preaching directly to a specific group of followers. It didn’t quite anticipate a worldwide ummah, where some Muslims would be living in Islamic states, and some would not. But what is considered a legitimate grounds for war under Islam? Answer: That is a very tough question, and one that could fill thousands of pages even attempting an answer. I do not think the Koran or any Islamic documents are clear on this. And this absolutely does leave room for Jihadists to claim there are grounds for a global jihad. It also leaves room for moderates to claim “No! The only jihad should be the jihad to be a better person! The West has NOT acted in aggression against Islam, and in fact, we should be working with the West!” And so yes, there is room for moderates in that respect. But there is also room for jihadists. And even the moderates have to contend with a religion that, if taken literally, is wrong in places, calls for a system of dhimmitude, treats women as second class citizens, does not exactly treat apostates kindly, and of course is not exactly friendly to gays, either. That’s literal Islam. This is not a ‘moderate’ faith. But it also is not necessarily a faith that necessarily calls for a global Jihad. So how can moderation happen? First, moderates have to call an end to global Jihad, which can be accomplished with and without Koranic literalism. Secondly, in order for modern and egalitarian Islamic states to exist, reformers must call an end to Koranic literalism.
How many Muslims are doing this today? Answer: very, very, VERY few. I can think of Irshad Manji and the singer Deeyah. How many others are out there like her? Hardly any. This is a very real problem, and we in the West MUST acknowledge this. UPDATE: My debate with LouLou led me to make this conclusion:
The history of Islam is one of Islamic imperialism, followed by slow decline and defeat. That is the ultimate, broad-brush stroked history of Islam. At the height of the Caliphate, Europe was in the midst of its Middle Ages, and so from a comparative fashion, the Islamic Caliphate was the height of learning and knowledge. Of course, this was also because of the conquest of the Byzantine and Indian Empires, and the resultant scholars who were captured as dhimmis. That is not to say that Muslims did not make their own contributions, but it is important to note that pre-Islamic Arabia was not exactly known for its contributions to the world of science, art, and learning. The Koran, after all, did not magically give Arabian Muslims knowledge of math, science and art out of thin blue sky. Muslims are proud of this history, and they should be. However, they (and by they, I mean the majority, though not all) refuse to acknowledge the very real contributions to their culture from the dhimmis. In short, this history is also the source of the problems. What is the proof that Islam is right? The ultimate proof Muhammad gave was that he won battles. This was the ultimate proof of the “truth” of Islam. (angels supposedly helped Muhammad and the Muslims fight these battles) And so, when Muslims lose battles, and when their civilization declines and falls…one of three reasons must be attributed to it. a) Muslims lost because they are not “Islamic” enough, and not worthy of winning. (thus, more fundamentalism is the answer) b) Muslims lost because they were vanquished by supernatural forces. (aka, Jews and Christians really are “apes and pigs,” or subhuman, or superhuman, and the like) c) Muslims lost because they were not prepared in battle, didn’t have the right skills to win, the other side was more prepared, etc etc etc. (the last reason is rational) But the problem with accepting the LAST reason as a reason for defeat is that this also partially revokes the foundation of Islam, which was “proven” correct through Muhammad’s victory in battle. Thus, admitting defeat is not really an option. Of course, for some people, it is an option. Sandmonkey, or instance, is fine with accepting Israel and admitting the existence of reality. But please note that the rise of the forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” all sorts of blood libels, and Hitler-esque lies about the Jews started when Jews started becoming successful in what was then Palestine. Decades prior to the State of Israel becoming a reality, Jews were making the desert bloom. And Hajj Amin Al Husseini (the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Arafat’s mentor) was not happy. So he worked with the Nazis in order to elliminate the Jews. Link about this. It should be noted that the PLO hence has its roots in not only Nazism, but also a mufti who was most certainly NOT secular. I also wanted to note that the Ba’ath party too has Nazi foundations. Actually, the “secular” pan-Arabist movements has very extensive ties to Nazism. I do not know if you are aware of this, but it is a historical fact. This is partly why I am probably one of the few Jews who prefers Hamas to Fatah, as Hamas is openly genocidal, while Fatah pretends to be “moderate,” but really is a (literally) Nazi organization with roots in the Third Reich. In short, the problem here is accepting defeat, more than anything. The problem is Arab pride. But Islam as a religion is one that reinforces Arab pride, as it is an Arabian religion that is steeped in the Bedouin culture. And of course, another huge problem is hypocrisy. Islamic expansionism and imperialism is totally cool…but when the West defeats Islam, it is seen as a sort of abomination…with no similar indictment for what Muslims had done in prior years throughout history and even today. (this is more of a leftist problem, but many Western Muslims use this as their excuse for their anger) And so, there is this yearning for a past that never quite was, and for the humiliation of the kafir and mushrikeen that ironically helped to create the very Islamic Caliphate that is being hailed as the height of world civilization. Does Islamism play into this all as part of the problem? Absolutely. Have ’secular’ Arabs also been causing problems? Yes, but you have to look at why they are espousing what they are espousing, and the roots of their discontent. These roots are in Arab Pride, and the roots of this are in Islamic history, the roots of THAT being in the Bedouin culture. And so what is necessary to change all this? Will changing a book be enough? I agree with you, LouLou, absolutely not. The roots of the problem here are much, much, greater. But it’s clear that that little book, the Koran, is also feeding into the problem. Of course, there could be two kinds of Muslims… One type of Muslim live his life by the sword and values tribalism and conquest. For such a Muslim, the “proof” of Islam being correct is seen in the conquests of Muhammad. For this type of Muslim, any sort of defeat cannot ever be accepted, and Islamic terrorism naturally will be the “cure” for what is plaguing his society. The Koran, if literally taken, does justify these thoughts, but the problem is not with the Koran, but that mentality to begin with. Another type of Muslim does not value violence as a normative matter (simply in the values such a person was raised with), and hence doesn’t see the “proof” of Islam being correct in Muhammad’s victory in battle. Rather, the “proof” would be from when Muhammad made extra dates appear for a little girl, and whatnot. These people will still go out of their way to find peaceful interpretations of Islam, because they are peaceful by nature. However, it is my contention that the religion of Islam is not peaceful by nature, and that it requires work to actually get to these interpretations. It is rather these people who are peaceful by nature. This explains why there actually are peaceful Muslims out there. (I don’t deny that and never did!) In short, LouLou, thinking about it, I think you have a point that the overall problem is Arab culture, not the religion of Islam. However, as I noted, Islam, being an Arabian religion, feeds into this culture. Why, however, are so many young Muslims turning to extremism? I think the answer is Arab oil money. Who is funding many of these mosques? Answer: Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is funding mosques and schools and imparting their harsh Bedouin culture upon generations of young Muslims, across the world. The ultimate way to de-radicalize Muslims is to take away the money supply for their radicalism. This means finding alternative energy sources and not relying on oil as we do.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this long debate I have had with Craig and LouLou. Cheers, Red Tulips


BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Watch this, if you want to know what the Koran really says.

Lexcen said...

Very well said. You hit the nail on the head when you identify fundamentalism as the problem. Moderation is only when somebody ignores certain "fundamentals" of
their religion.

ratherdashing said...

Speaking of our gal Irshad Manji; she is running a segment on inter-faith marriages in celebration of St. Valentines Day. She links an imam and professor from San Diego State University.

He's willing to officiate a wedding ceremony between Christian and Muslim.

Red Tulips said...


While the statements of that imam sound great, he does come up against a faith that is simply not egalitarian. This imam admit right here that he is seeking to reform the faith:

In our day, since Qur'anic Islam (as opposed to the Islam of the male jurists) must acknowledge the radical notion that women are equals of men, that women have legal rights, and that those rights include placing conditions on the marriage (what you and I would term a 'pre-nuptial agreement').

This at least is acknowledging that his opinion is a huge departure from the traditional practices of Islam and he is seeking to reform Islam in a way that is not looking at Koranic/Sunnah literalism.

Fine. But at least there is an acknowledgement that this is reform of practices, rather than the way it always has been.

Red Tulips said...

Actually let me edit myself.

I think this imam Irshad Manji brought on sounds great, peace, love, all that.

But he is pretending a few things...

1) The Hadith/Sunnah can simply be overturned, no problem.

2) He is ignoring the many places in the Koran where women are treated as second class citizens. Women must cover themselves up, their testimony is not equal to a man, they don't have divorce rights, the men only can marry multiple women (not the other way around)...

Need I go on? The point is clear.

Koranic Islam is not friendly to women. And so I applaud what the imam is saying, but frankly, he is simply not following the Koran. And yet, upon reading what he wrote, he is wrongly claiming that the Koran is egalitarian, and it merely is the "interpretation."

I wonder if he actually expects Islamic fundies to buy this.

ratherdashing said...

I wonder if he actually expects Islamic fundies to buy this.

He can't expect the 'fundies' to agree. They are the folks he is trying to side-step. I say let him officiate the marriages. We then will have married couples who have a stake in the interfaith system. I'm telling you, love is going to play a role in bringing this literally-interpreted version of Islam to a halt.

The Raccoon said...

ratherdashing - interesting choice of words; "fundies" and "buying". The fundies are extremely well funded. And they are buying a lot of things, minds and support and armies among them. Can you name one Muslim reformist that can possible take on the Wahabbi oil ticks?

Religious law is absolutely irrelevant to the matter. There are no right and wrong laws - only laws you can enforce and laws you cannot. The Saudis can pull a million raving barbarians with AKs out of their arse whenever they feel like it... what compelling arguments can the reformists use to counter than? Especially when their arguments have no basis in the Quran or Sunna?

Russet Shadows said...

I'm going to take a different tack on the Muslim-Christian marriage thing: both sides are being unfaithful to their faiths. The Muslim for obvious reasons, but the Christian as well. Paul cautions Christians to not be "unequally yoked" when it comes to marriage specifically! Unequal yoking means that both man and woman have the same faith at the least and the same commitment to that faith. She may have found love, but she didn't find honesty -- not in herself, nor in her man. I wish I could say that all will be well, but starting a voyage like that with self-deception on both sides is an ill omen, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Equal yoking does not exclusively mean faith. It means...almost literally what is said. That you and your partner both compliment each other and one does not steer the other, as a strong ox steers a weak one. The faith thing is an assumption.