Friday Fundamentals – Religion of Peace

Friday Fundamentals on a Saturday? Yes. Sorry.

I chat a bit with and about Muslims. Major point of discussion is the peaceful nature or otherwise of Islam. Not peaceful moments or movements with Islam and it’s most interesting history but the whole thing – a whole religion of peace.

Gordon Nickel, an exceptionally thoughtful and gentle Christian scholar on somethings Islamic had this to say in regard to this most sticky of questions. I appreciate the unfortunate truth about the arrow of Islamic history and the inconvenient direction it is pointing. Unfortunate for westerners who couldn’t possibly believe that the exotic other was anything other than a benign exotic other. Inconvenient to the same group because history undermines their wishful thinking and to the peace loving Muslims (there are millions of them) in the West who feel their religion is the most misunderstood religion on the planet, or at least with planetary aspirations.

Below is an excerpt from his essay at the National Post in Canada.

Find the whole the whole thing here – it is really worth it.

Conversely, warring Christians who accept the authority of the Gospel must deal with the apparent prohibition of violence in the teachings and life example of Jesus. This discussion has been going on among Christians at least since the Crusades, when critics were heard to say “that it is not in accordance with the Christian religion to shed blood in this way, even that of wicked infidels. For Christ did not act thus.

Within the Christian community, one interpretive option is to read the Hebrew scriptures through the prism of the Gospel. According to the Gospel, Jesus said that he had come not to abrogate the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. Jesus then immediately replaced the law of retaliation with non-resistance, and commanded love for enemies (Matthew 5:17, 38, 39, 44). This way of dealing with difficult materials raises many questions, but it has allowed Christians to pursue pacifism while holding to the authority of the Hebrew scriptures.

Unfortunately, the Islamic principle of abrogation runs in the opposite chronological direction in relation to violence. Because the commands to fight and kill in the Koran are considered by Muslims to be among the recitations made very late in the life of the prophet of Islam — at a time when his conquest of Arabia was almost complete — Muslims scholars have been inclined to read the peaceful texts as subordinate to the later ones.

In other words, Muslims seeking to find a peaceful message in the Koran must fight not only the plain meaning of the Koran’s text and the current fashion for militancy, but also the arrow of Muslim history.

Interpreting the words of Muslim scripture so that they pose no threat to peaceful coexistence with non-believers thus seems a large challenge. In view of the high stakes in the world today, however, it is certainly a challenge worth taking up. Otherwise, Canadian proponents of multiculturalism will have a harder time arguing that traditional Islam is just another peaceful element in Canada’s multicultural quilt.

– Gordon Nickel has a PhD in the earliest commentaries on the Koran and teaches in British Columbia.

‘FIGHT IN THE WAY OF ALLAH THOSE WHO FIGHT YOU’

What follows are selected Koranic references to fighting and killing infidels.

– Baqara (2):190 – “And fight (qaatiloo) in the way of Allah those who fight you.”

– Baqara (2):193 – “Fight them (qaatiloohum), till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s”

– Baqara (2):244 – “So fight (qaatiloo) in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing.”

– Nisaa’ (4):76 – “Those who are believers fight (yuqaatiloona) in the way of Allah, and the unbelievers fight in the idols’ way. So fight (qaatiloo) the friends of Satan; surely the guile of Satan is ever feeble.”

– al-Anfaal (8):39 – “Fight them (qaatiloohum), till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s entirely.”

– al-Taubah (9):12 – “But if they break their oaths after their covenant and thrust at your religion, then fight (qaatiloo) the leaders of unbelief.”

– al-Taubah (9):29 – “Fight (qaatiloo) those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden — such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book — until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.”

– al-Taubah (9):123 – “O believers, fight (qaatiloo) the unbelievers (kuffaar) who are near to you, and let them find in you a harshness (ghilza).”

– Baqara (2):191 – “And slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come upon them”

– Baqara (2):191 – “But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then if they fight you, slay them (aqtuloohum) — such is the recompense of unbelievers.”

– Nisaa’ (4):89 – “then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you find them”

– Nisaa’ (4):91 – “If they withdraw not from you, and offer you peace, and restrain their hands, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come on them; against them we have given you a clear authority.”

– al-Taubah (9):5 – “Then when the sacred months are drawn away, slay (aqtuloo) the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush.”

– Nisaa’ (4):74 – “So let them fight (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah who sell the present life for the world to come; and whosoever fights (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah and is slain, or conquers, we shall bring him a mighty wage.”

– Muhammad (47):4 – “When you meet the unbelievers, smite (darba) their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads.”

Compiled by Gordon Nickel

Friday Fundamentals – Part 1

Offense. Free speech. Sensitivities. Critique. Limits. Respect.

Fine-Line

For source – click image

There is a fine line between causing offense and intentionally causing offense. This fine line is not always recognised. Partly, because the incidental offence and intentional offense can seem very different things. But this is not so in practice and in partcular in practice over time. When you have caused offense once, usually incidentally – you did not mean to though you actual did – and you become aware of it, if you then choose to reiterate your propsotion or position and it causes offense again, you are then causing offense incidentally and intentionally to some degree. Because you are committed to your position and prize that and its free expression over the feelings of another being protected, you are now knowingly offending because you have to and choose to.

The broad gap between intention and non intention narrows and the fine line is now in place. Frequently, to those who are offended it as if it is not there at all. The distinctions are of no importance. You had a chance not to offend, perhaps by remaining silent or by changing your position but you didn’t. You failed to comply with anothers needs or demands. You cause offence knowingly (intentionally) because you still hold and re-state your position (incidental effect).

And so we see this tension played out in the world today – propositions portrayed (cartoons), offense caused, and cries of foul play, disrespect, dishonour and death can follow. That trajectory is not guaranteed. Thankfully, most of the offended (in the west)  just feel very hurt and outraged and hope compliance with their needs to become someone elses, even everyone elses priority. Precious few of the offended (in the west) reign death over the populace.

Reposition this last set of statements outside the west to somewhere like the middle east or generally any country where Islamic ideology and religion hold great sway and we see the hurt and outrage expressed much more potently resulting in a thousand ‘deaths’. Like a thousand cuts, each death looks different from another. Harassment, imprisonment, lashes, false or even truthful claims of blasphemy can lead to, you’ve guessed it, actual death. Be it hanging or be it beheading.

The level of moderation called for and displayed here in the west by the offended, should be applauded I guess – it certainly should not be taken for granted. It’s ironic  to see the self described religion of peace calling its faithful not to be violent in the face of offense. I guess it should rebrand itself the ‘religion of peace if things are going our way’. Certainly more honest but less attractive when sloganeering. But these calls for moderation are rarely seen in the Islamic-ish world. Ish is a word we use particularly in London to say kind of. For example, I had a friend who came from a kind of Amish background, so he was in fact Amish-ish. I am using the term Islamic-ish world because I have been educated so many times by thoughtful muslims that those countries where chaos and cruelty seems to rise up so quickly and engulf, swallow and literally destroy minority non muslim people and more recently people groups are not actually Islamic – or even Islamic-ish. “That person was not acting islamic / that group was not acting islamic / that country was not being islamic”. Islam gets to play the get out of jail free card again and again and again and ……

One is always asked to trust and believe that the Islamic vision, the western born or based muslim  desires and plans for, here in the UK for example, will look nothing like it looks in the muslim majority regions of the world. The non muslims here will be treated well, protected by and through Sharia; unlike the experience of non muslims in majority muslim countries. Being asked to trust this is a very big ask indeed. It seems clear that where big groups of muslim people get big power, the less powerful become the almost powerless, sometimes quickly but always certainly, over time.

What occurs in the muslim majority countries will occur here if the conditions allow it. How could it not? The primary condition is numbers. Simply numbers. Numbers and allegiance rule. Numbers and allegiance are ruling in France today – the secular free speech ideology currently reigns but what about tomorrow? Demography dictates destiny. Muslims in a very wonderful way think in spans of centuries. It matters little if the numbers in France are inadequate to influence or force sharia type compliance right now. The hope and intention for muslim leadership is that it will one day. The average muslim may not be so aware of this but it’s so obvious. All religions who draw their offspring immediately into their religion have a vested interest in ensuring the proliferation of offspring. Islam anyone? Roman Catholicism anyone?

As the numbers grow the powerful and abrasive rise and use fear, and force when fear fails, to ensure compliance – firstly within the faith community and then when the numbers are right, throughout the non-faith community.

Wherever the numbers are up, power is sought, held and used. And suffering follows. Proportionate to where one stands in relation to the ideology in power, is the harm that will befall them. Close and safe. Far and dangerous. No protection just punishment.

If you want to know what a western majority muslim country will look like for non muslims 20 years into its emergence – think Pakistan, think even Saudi. Sure it will be so different but it will be so terrible for the infidel. That’s you and me, probably. It’s supposed to be.

I am not trying to scare monger – at least not intentionally. Perhaps it’s incidental. People die everyday due to the emerging or some might say re-emerging Islamic desire to take hold, take power and takeover. Muslims are often the greatest victims in terms of numbers – for not being the right kind of muslim – the super compliant kind or the correct tribal kind. Next, it’s the non muslims – Christians and others. Particulary spiteful is the response to the most vulnerable of minorities,  the apostate – the leaver – of Islam. Now a Christian or a buddhist or an atheist. Now an embarrassment, a disgrace, a dishonour and invariably a death.

When you think about Islam – remember your lovely neighbour, the lovely shopkeeper, the lovely doctor but also remember to think globally and historically. Your lovely neighbour, shopkeeper and doctor will also have to think globally and historically at some stage, whether they want to or not. Someone, a particular type of muslim, is going to make them. Actually, they are currently seeking to make them. The challenges from the world’s most contradictory and conflicted religion are coming to all of us – muslims and infidels. We may just be able to discern this, but so many of our dear muslim friends seem incapable of comprehending that this is even possible. Not with Islam. Couldn’t be. Ce n’est pas possible. Full circle.

Friday Frivolity – laugh but we need to weep

In spite of it being a terrible day for Christians as well as other tiny religions and sects in Iraq, I am posting a Frivolous Friday post.

But much like the picture – the warnings are in place but we still teeter towards complete destruction – ignoring the signs. May the God of all the world have mercy on us all.

This is the scariest sign on the beautiful south west coast of Wales (UK).

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Family & friends in Wales August 2014

The news says that ISIS or the Caliphate are sweeping through the villages with a special offer – Convert or Die! Where does this come from? This has never happened in history before in the middle east – has it? The killing, the beheading, the ruling over, the special offer – where does all this come from? This has never happened in history before in the middle east – has it?