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Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

Asad: Thinking About Religion, Secularism, and Politics

Posted by NT Wrong on November 11, 2008

In October 2008, Harry Kreisler interviewed Talal Asad, “focusing on religion, modernity, and the complex relationships between Islam and the West” (57:02).

Posted in Colonialism, Inter-religious activities, Islam, Video | 3 Comments »

Capitalism, Middle East Invasions, Resource Exploitation, advertised as ‘Civilized Christianity’ versus ‘Terrible Islam’ – 1922

Posted by NT Wrong on October 18, 2008

This is a remarkable cartoon, albeit tragically still in 2008.

From radical leftist cartoonist, Arthur Henry Young (in Michael Cohen, “‘Cartooning Capitalism’: Radical Cartooning and the Making of American Popular Radicalism in the Early Twentieth Century.” IRSH 52 (2007): 35-58, 45).

The violence intrinsic to Capitalism continues unabated, and will do so until it is forcibly overthrown.

(click for a larger picture)

Posted in Capitalism, Islam, Justice, Religion & Society, War | Comments Off on Capitalism, Middle East Invasions, Resource Exploitation, advertised as ‘Civilized Christianity’ versus ‘Terrible Islam’ – 1922

Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid Declares Micky Mouse Must Die!

Posted by NT Wrong on September 17, 2008

Posted in Fundamentalism, Islam, Video | 2 Comments »

Rowan Williams, Muslims, and the Offensive Trinity

Posted by NT Wrong on July 16, 2008

Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams wrote ‘A Common Word for the Common Good’ (a letter to Muslim leaders and scholars) on July 14, 2008. In one part of the letter he explains the Trinity affirms God’s oneness and self-sufficiency while not positing any other beings alongside God (consistent with the teachings of Islam), yet further affirms that the divine life is lived “as three interrelated agencies” (the Christian peculiarity, par excellence). Williams is quite orthodox.

And he doesn’t shy from explicating the Christian distinctives, either. Rowan Williams acknowledges that the doctrine is difficult for, and sometimes offensive to, Muslims. But he notes that this offensiveness provides all the more reason to clarify the peculiarities of the Christian doctrine:

“… ‘God’ is the name of a kind of life, a ‘nature’ or essence – eternal and self-sufficient life, always active, needing nothing. But that life is lived, so Christians have always held, eternally and simultaneously as three interrelated agencies are made known to us in the history of God’s revelation to the Hebrew people and in the life of Jesus and what flows from it. God is at once the source of divine life, the expression of that life and the active power that communicates that life. This takes us at once into consideration of the Trinitarian language used by Christians to speak of God. We recognise that this is difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims; but it is all the more important for the sake of open and careful dialogue that we try to clarify what we do and do not mean by it, and so trust that what follows will be read in this spirit.

In human language, in the light of what our Scripture says, we speak of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, but we do not mean one God with two beings alongside him, or three gods of limited power. So there is indeed one God, the Living and Self-subsistent, associated with no other; but what God is and does is not different from the life which is eternally and simultaneously the threefold pattern of life: source and expression and sharing. Since God’s life is always an intelligent, purposeful and loving life, it is possible to think of each of these dimensions of divine life as, in important ways, like a centre of mind and love, a person; but this does not mean that God ‘contains’ three different individuals, separate from each other as human individuals are.” (p. 4)

But that’s not what you’d understand from the media reports of Rowan Williams’ letter, which have been wilfully (or perhaps ignorantly) inaccurate — much like the general misreporting of his comments on sharia law.

The Telegraph simply states that there is a conflict between the Christian Trinity and the Muslim Allah — the very conflict which Rowan Williams was attempting to challenge or at least nuance:

“Discussing differences between the religions, Dr Williams acknowledges that Christian belief in the Trinity is “difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims”. The Trinity is the Christian doctrine stating God exists as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and conflicts with Islamic teaching that there is one all-powerful God.”
The Telegraph

Rowan Williams’ comments are taken out of all context with the opening line of the Daily Mail’s article, which generalises even more broadly:

“Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday.”
Daily Mail

And of course, the comments by readers of these newspapers misrepresent his comments even further.

Update: A later article by George Pitcher in The Telegraph is more judicious:

“… if you look at what Dr Williams said, over an extended and deep letter that lasts for 17 dense pages, you will notice two things. The “offence” to Muslims relates only to the doctrine of the Trinity, the most complex piece of Christian theology. Muslims worship a single unity in Allah. For some of them to be offended by this piece of Christian doctrine is hardly controversial … Christians who attack Dr Williams for trying to reach a mutual understanding with Muslims might dwell on how they would react if Muslims condemned their leaders for trying to engage in dialogue.”
The Telegraph

Posted in God, Inter-religious activities, Islam, Religion & Society | 2 Comments »

Burke Lecture 2008: The Challenge of Islamophobia

Posted by NT Wrong on July 4, 2008

On May 5, 2008, Khaled Abou El Fadl examined how preconceptions of the ‘oriental’ Islamic have determined the way in which invading American soldiers have abused, tortured and raped Iraqi civilians. He delivers the 2008 Burke Lecture, provided here on YouTube by the video’s rightful owners, University of California Television (58:30):

Happy 4th of July! Remember, do what we say, or we’ll bring democracy to your country.

Posted in Inter-religious activities, Islam, Justice, Politics, Religion & Society, Video | 3 Comments »

Sir Salman Rushdie on Adapting to Muslim Sensitivities

Posted by NT Wrong on June 28, 2008

I have always enjoyed Salman Rushdie’s books. My personal favourite, for quirky reasons — it appealed to me in many ways — is “The Moor’s Last Sigh”. I got it at a book-signing at which the author signed books and didn’t appear (he was hiding from certain Muslim nutjobs).

“When people ask me how the West should adapt to Muslim sensitivities, I always say — the question is the wrong way round. The West should go on being itself. There is nothing wrong with the things that for hundreds of years have been acceptable — satire, irreverence, ridicule, even quite rude commentary — why the hell not?”
Sir Salman Rushdie

Posted in Inter-religious activities, Islam, Religion & Society | 4 Comments »

Sir Salman Rushdie & Satanic Verses

Posted by NT Wrong on June 27, 2008

With the conferment of a knighthood on Sir Salman Rushdie on Wednesday June 25, 2008, it is time to remember the ‘satanic verses’ – which Muhammad claimed Satan originally tempted him to place in the Qur’an.

As the story goes, Allāt, al-‘Uzzā and Manāt were three Arabian goddesses, who were worshipped at Mecca before Muhammad took over. In an incident referred to as ‘the Gharaniq incident’, Muhammad wrote in one of the suras in his Qur’an (the 53rd; Al-Najm) that these goddesses could provide intercession. He was adopting the old monotheistic trick – rather than dismiss the other gods, it’s better to simply assimilate them into your new religion. But he later had a change of heart and claimed that these words had been inspired by Shaitan (Satan).

The so-called “satanic verses” follow the words “Have you thought of Allāt and al-‘Uzzā and Manāt the third, the other?” in vv. 19-20:

tilk al-gharaniq al-‘ula wa inna shafa’ata-hunna la-turtaja
(“these are exalted birds whose intercession is to be desired”).

Why did Muhammad later claim these verses were inspired by Shaitan? The conclusion on that seems to be that his monotheism was heightened later on in his life, and so the “satanic verses” needed to be erased. And they were erased. They don’t appear in copies of the Qur’an today. The story is most likely to be historically true, given the criterion of embarassment which would prevent a Muslim from inventing such a maligning story about Muhammad, and the inexplicability of a non-Muslim inventing the peculiarities of such a story.

The satanic verses provide a really interesting example of textual and theological development within the Qur’an. This is precisely the reason why Qur’an inerrantists try to deny the truth of the story. For those lamenting the pervasive influence of dogmatic theology on biblical studies, the world of Islamic scholarship is a whole different level of tendentious nonsense.

“Believers in the Prophet’s absolute infallibility deny the possibility of any occurrence inconsistent with that principle. They therefore treated the story as a fabrication and went so far as to excise the two sentences from the Qor’an. Nevertheless the evidence given in well-attested reports and in the interpretations of certain commentators makes it likely that the incident occurred. The two irreproachably pious authors of the Tafsir ol-Jalalayn consider it to have been the occasion of the revelation of verse 51 of sura 22 (ol-Hajj), which they interpret as a sort of divine consolation sent down to relieve the Prophet of the bitter remorse which he felt after his utterance of the two sentences … ”
– ‘Ali Dashti, Twenty-Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, 32

Sura 22.51 probably refers to the original writing of the satanic verses, under what Muhammad would later claim was satanic inspiration, and its subsequent withdrawal later in Muhammad’s life:

“And We did not send before you any apostle or prophet, but when he desired, the Shaitan made a suggestion respecting his desire; but Allah annuls that which is cast”.

The Qur’an, like any other work of a person written over a period of two decades or so, demonstrates the changes and developments in its author’s opinions and ideas.

Posted in Islam, Religion & Society | Comments Off on Sir Salman Rushdie & Satanic Verses

Scientific Miracles in the Qur’an

Posted by NT Wrong on June 10, 2008

Muslim pop-apologists are often keen to say that the Qur’an contains some truly amazing scientific knowledge that has only recently been discovered by scientists. As your average seventh-century Arab couldn’t have known such things by him- or herself, the Muslim apologists go on to argue that this is sure evidence of divine inspiration.

There are quite a few websites that spin this nonsense, and I’ve heard it in about four talks I’ve gone to by Muslims. And I can only remember four talks by Muslims I’ve ever gone to.

Did you realise that the physiological widening of the birth canal was known in the Qur’an?

“From a drop of sperm He created him and proportioned him. Then He eases the way for him.” ( Qur’an, 80:20 )
Miracles of the Qur’an

And did you know the Qur’an always knew about black holes?

“When the stars are extinguished …” ( Qur’an, 77:8 )
Miracles of the Qur’an

Of course, this all takes some fairly imaginative interpretation of the Qur’an, in order to stretch the words until they seem to fit the parlance of modern scientific claims. I’ve always thought it was a little desperate, and while it doesn’t say much about the credibility of the Qur’an one way or the other, it does say something about the credulity of some of its followers. 

But there’s another problem with the whole approach. This ‘Jesus and Mo‘ cartoon makes the point well:

Posted in Fundamentalism, Islam, Science | 7 Comments »

More Freedom of Expression = Hate Crime

Posted by NT Wrong on June 3, 2008

I spotted this on Jim West’s blog.

“Two Christian preachers were stopped from handing out Bible extracts by police because they were in a Muslim area, it was claimed yesterday. They say they were told by a Muslim police community support officer that they could not preach there and that attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity was a hate crime. The community officer is also said to have told the two men: ‘You have been warned. If you come back here and get beat up, well, you have been warned.'”

The right to free speech has been under attack since September 2001, with an increasing amount of ‘anti-terrorist’, ‘state secrecy’, ‘defamation’, and ‘media censorship’ laws. The police will, on top of this, frequently overstep the power given to them. And this is what occurred here. 

If there are Muslims in the United Kingdom who cannot deal with an American Christian missionary giving out bible tracts on an open street corner, I say send them even more Christian missionaries! Keep sending them until they can recite the Four Spiritual Laws by memory!! The thing about free speech is that, given enough of it, you will find you can just ignore the dumb stuff that you’re not interested in. Easy, huh?

Posted in Islam, Justice, Politics, Religion & Society | 5 Comments »