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 Topic: Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?

 (Read 9980 times)
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  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     OP - February 25, 2013, 11:13 AM


    Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?


    Every religion is rooted in irrational beliefs.

    One way of looking at religion is as a kind of simplified philosophy and spirituality for the masses, who actually have a need to be superstitious to a degree for the sake of collective emotional stability.

    So although as ex-Muslims we primarily criticize traditional Islam, the truth is that when you get down to it, there is no religion that can completely pass muster as far as rational scrutiny goes.

    Nevertheless, there are a few reasons why the Islamic tradition is more resistant to change and the creation of a secular liberal breathing space for adherents than many other religious traditions appear to be.  


    (1) Islam has historically had an expansionist and political dimension.

    It was formulated at a time of war and is completely embroiled in the Arab imperialistic ambitions of the time.

    While there is war and brutality in the Old Testament, there is no call for global war - the conflicts are quite local. In effect Islam became a kind of meta-tribalism when it was formulated.

    Also, orthodox Islam explicitly sees no distinction between the sacred and the secular: social spheres have to be patterned according to sacred dictates.

    Contrast this with Christianity, in which Jesus reportedly tells his followers to render unto Caesar his due, and unto God his due.

    (2) Islam sees its core text, the Quran, as being, more or less, God incarnate.

    What Jesus is to Christianity, the Quran is to Islam.

    Jesus is the logos in Christianity, the Word-made-flesh, whereas in Islam, it is the Quran that is the logos, the Word-made-flesh.

    This is problematic because it means that Muslims have a hard time accepting that parts of the Quran are highly situated in very specific temporal contexts. Add to this the idea that Islam believes it is the final religion and the Quran is therefore the final text for all time and all places, and you can see that the seeds of literalism are sown right into the orthodox, classical tradition itself.

    By contrast the idea of an eternally infallible text is not found in Christianity (the Bible is considered inspired, but still the work of human minds) or in the Indian / Asian religions.

    (3) Islam has somehow gotten saddled with this arrogant claim of Muhammad being not only the final prophet, but also the best human being to have ever existed in human history.

    This is in contrast to the prophets of Israel in the Old Testament, who are seen as being basically human beings dealing with the challenges of life and existence as best as they could.

    My impression of Muhammad as a man is that he seems to have started off as a humble and honest merchant, but the second half of his life shows that some major transformation took place: he behaved no differently from an average Arab warlord of that era (not that I am judging it by modern-day ethical standards -- just observing), and it looks like the military conquests, multiple wives and influx of concubines and slaves just went to his head.

    Many people have pointed out the differences between the conciliatory Meccan and more aggressive Medinan suras of the Quran.

    (4) Unlike Hinduism or Buddhism or other Eastern religions, it can be reduced to a single man and a single scripture.

    The same is true for Christianity as well of course, and Judaism to a lesser extent. This kind of reductionism encourages a religion to be a more closed system and discourages diversity and pluralism.

    (5) The traditional Sunni orthodoxy is anti-innovation to the core, and all new ideas are considered as the devil's handiwork and to be approached as cautiously as possible.

    This has caused Islam to stagnate remarkably and has prevented its growth or evolution in any meaningful way. Here even Christianity and Judaism are different from Islam and have shown some fairly strong progressive and innovative movements through the ages (most recently, witness the rise of Emergent Christianity under which even evangelicals are taking a post-modern turn, and Process Theology inspired by Alfred North Whitehead, a contemporary of Bertrand Russell).

    (6) Every orthodoxy needs a heterodoxy to keep it from stagnating too much, and every heterodoxy needs an orthodoxy to keep it from becoming reckless.

    This is true not just for religion but also for science and for virtually every human endeavor.

    Whether we are conservative or liberal, the future terrifies us even as it beckons us, and it is just natural to want to regress to the comforts of what is stable and known no matter how stale it has become.

    But the Sunni Islamic tradition has exaggerated this fear of the unknown to such monumental proportions that it has squashed freedom of expression and thus every single heterodox movement. The only "heterodoxy" that has survived is the Shi'ites, and they only differ with the Sunnis on doctrinal issues that don't have much of a bearing as far as social realities go.

    (7) Islam is, to my mind, the only religion in the world with developed orthodox doctrines on how to treat unbelievers and apostates, and convinced of its universalizing mission which can even be implemented by coercion.

     In other words identity politics are built right into the orthodox Islamic tradition. This makes the radical politicization of Islam even more problematic and endangers all those who dare to question the received wisdom.

    Christianity is also a universalizing, prosyletizing religion, but its imperialistic ambitions (a) were not really based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth who was nonviolent (see also the comment above about rendering unto Caesar his due and rendering unto God his); and (b) have largely been surrendered in today's context.

    ( 8 ) There is hardly a female voice to be found in Islam.

    Christianity still has the figure of the Virgin Mary and even Mary Magdalene in the non-canonical Gospels, as well as numerous female Christian saints. Christ definitely had a feminine side and used to take female disciples, which was revolutionary for his era. Some of the Hindu scriptures are partially authored by women, and likewise for Buddhism. Both Hinduism and Buddhism have Tantric schools that elevate women to the status of goddesses and also certain very spiritual schools of thought according to which experience is supposed to trump intellectual dogmas which has allowed them to evolve.

    In fact, and I was surprised to find this, even a highly masculinist and patriarchal religion like Judaism recognizes female prophets, while Islam explicitly does not. There is a matriarchal theme underlying some of the Old Testament. Judaism recognized Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah and Esther, etc. as having been proper messengers of God in their own right.

    There is no doubt that there are individuals in the Islamic tradition who spoke for women's rights -- Ibn Rushd was perhaps one of the first feminists and Ibn Arabi had female spiritual teachers and wrote highly of women -- but by and large women are described in very derogatory terms by the Islamic orthodoxy, reflecting the culture of Abbasid-era Iraq in which this orthodoxy was formulated.

    In sum, orthodox Islam is a highly masculinist, patriarchal religion founded for men by men, which is a serious problem as  it excludes the voice of half of humanity.


    Once again, virtually every religion in the world contains its fair share of problems. However, these are some of the reasons why I feel Islam is especially resistant to change.




  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #1 - February 25, 2013, 01:08 PM

    It claims to be the perfect and complete guidance and the last and final revelation. Moderating some of its misogynism, homophobia, hatred and violence would render the religion imperfect, and rightly so.

    Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #2 - February 25, 2013, 02:02 PM

    Don't go dissing Mohammed like that. He walked to where the sun sets... It's a swamp...

    Don't see anyone here walking that far...
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #3 - February 25, 2013, 02:36 PM

    ... Many people have pointed out the differences between the aggressive Meccan and more conciliatory Medinan suras of the Quran....


    Good read. But have you got that the wrong way round? I thought the Meccan suras were conciliatory while the Medinan suras were aggressive.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #4 - February 25, 2013, 06:58 PM

    Good read. But have you got that the wrong way round? I thought the Meccan suras were conciliatory while the Medinan suras were aggressive.


    Thanks yes that was a typo. Corrected now.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #5 - February 26, 2013, 03:22 AM

    Good read.

    Few points that I would like to add;

    - Islam actually was the first among the Abrahamic religions to have a major revisionist campaign called "mu'tazilites' that started around 8th century. This pre dated all reformation movements in  Judaism and Christianity. Unfortunately mu'tazilite school was squashed rather ferociously with further orthodoxy as rule. This resulted in almost complete abolition of "ijtihad" and thought process of people like Ghazali (Algazel) to prevail. It was worsened by ideology of ibn taymiyyah that enshrined political struggle and violence with every day politics.

    - I agree with Quran being the "Jesus" or "logos" of Islam resulting in resistance to change. However, Islam we see today has shaped over centuries. Quran basically deals with life of 7th century Bedouins dealing with day to day feuds etc with some basic universal idioms well known to the people of that time. Muhammad never even tried to get Quran into an organized shape that can look like a book, far cry from a text for non arabic speaking audience. He never told anyone to write his own sayings (hadith), integral part of Islam today to understand Quran.
    With in 50 years of Muahmmad's death Islamic rulers were at loss how to rule now sprawling state because they had rules or traditions to rule a city (madina).

    - Resistance to change has originated basically from sense of denial. Explosion of scientific/industrial revolution in West pushed Muslims into denial. You can imagine a religion started , right away conquered huge swaths of land and grew bigger than the two large empires of the time. This gave a sense of self righteousness and true religion to its believers. Now suddenly everything started going wrong, denial was bound to set in. This brings a sense of insecurity and any change is considered a threat. Apostasy to be punished with death ... just imagine the extent of insecurity even from an individual.

    I do not see chance of reformation in Islam.With time difference between the followers and the rest of the world will continue to increase due to rapid change in social/scientific advancement.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #6 - February 26, 2013, 03:29 AM

    <3 Another wicked article.

    Quote
    Christianity still has the figure of the Virgin Mary and even Mary Magdalene in the non-canonical Gospels, as well as numerous female Christian saints. Christ definitely had a feminine side and used to take female disciples, which was revolutionary for his era


    Regarding the women in Christianity thing, I watched a doco a while ago (don't remember the name), where the host (I think he was a priest..),  was on a journey to find lost gospels that were written by women. His theory is that those gospels were destroyed to keep Christianity male dominated. Thought that was very interesting yes

    Quote from: ZooBear 

    • Surah Al-Fil: In an epic game of Angry Birds, Allah uses birds (that drop pebbles) to destroy an army riding elephants whose intentions were to destroy the Kaaba. No one has beaten the high score.

  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #7 - March 04, 2013, 11:03 PM

    I'm not sure how I missed this. This is extremely insightful.

    "Just because it wasn't intentional doesn't mean it's not art."
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #8 - March 05, 2013, 12:09 AM

    I think the most fascinating thing to me is, the 'West' is conquering Islamic countries by culture, not by religion. Such as, Music, clothes, technology, chain restaurants, companies, television. What has the Islamic world contributed to the Western world recently? Perhaps food and architecture, anyone? The virgin woman craze morality craze isn't quite catching on. whistling2

    My point is, Islam is so intertwined with culture, politics, law and even language, all being seen as 'divine' and unchangeable. Unlike Christianity, which can easily adapt in any culture. Christians don't necessarily, ask to change your name, or dress-code, or what you eat, what you drink, the company you keep, change your language, etc. etc.
     
    (Latin was the Bible's official language at one time and that's dead) etc. etc.

    ***~Church is where bad people go to hide~***
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #9 - March 05, 2013, 12:21 AM

    One of the sad but interesting things about the decline of Islamic influence is that it fits right in to the narrative of the religious hardliners. Traditional Islamic literature about the End of Times paints a picture that is not unlike what we see in the world today. This is part of its appeal.

    The ahadith talk about a time when the nations of the world will gather against the Muslim Ummah. They talk about a time when Islam will be viewed as strange. They prophesize an era in which Muslims will follow the examples of non-Muslims so much so that if they were to go down a lizard’s hole (ie down a path of destruction), Muslims would follow them. They talk about Allah becoming a distant memory and a time when children will only remember faint things about religion from their parents and grandparents. They talk about a time when keeping ones faith will be like holding on to a hot coal.

    That sort of rhetoric fits right into the hands of the religious propagandists. It is how they manage to recruit new followers. “Don’t be deceived by the life of this world,” the Qur’an says, “Surely the promise of Allah is true.” People who have faith in that sort of thing will see the current state of the Muslim world not as a sign of the failure of Islam, but as a sign of their need to cling to it even stronger.

    "Just because it wasn't intentional doesn't mean it's not art."
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #10 - March 05, 2013, 12:26 AM

    My theory is, Muhammad's influence was hard to catch on during his time. (Hence the killing and conquering of tribes and apostates) That it wouldn't surprise me that his prophecy is more of a reflection of what has happening at his time in anticipation of his message not spreading. The Quran spends a lot of time suspiciously talking about disbelievers. Also Religions have come and gone throughout history, it takes thousands of years but there is an inevitable rotation. Such as the Greek Gods, and Egyptian Gods, plus many many other sub religions that were wiped out by Christianity, or Islam. It's less of a prophecy to me and more of a natural cycle of things.

    Also, Islam is self destroying itself, it was only because of 9/11 that Islam became such a concern to the Western world no one gave a #$@ before. 

    ***~Church is where bad people go to hide~***
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #11 - March 05, 2013, 12:36 AM

    One of the sad but interesting things about the decline of Islamic influence is that it fits right in to the narrative of the religious hardliners. Traditional Islamic literature about the End of Times paints a picture that is not unlike what we see in the world today. This is part of its appeal.

    The ahadith talk about a time when the nations of the world will gather against the Muslim Ummah. They talk about a time when Islam will be viewed as strange. They prophesize an era in which Muslims will follow the examples of non-Muslims so much so that if they were to go down a lizard’s hole (ie down a path of destruction), Muslims would follow them. They talk about Allah becoming a distant memory and a time when children will only remember faint things about religion from their parents and grandparents. They talk about a time when keeping ones faith will be like holding on to a hot coal.

    That sort of rhetoric fits right into the hands of the religious propagandists. It is how they manage to recruit new followers. “Don’t be deceived by the life of this world,” the Qur’an says, “Surely the promise of Allah is true.” People who have faith in that sort of thing will see the current state of the Muslim world not as a sign of the failure of Islam, but as a sign of their need to cling to it even stronger.


    ^ I've realized this too. But it's like a catch 22, to prove the prophecy, Islam has to be a faint memory, as soon it starts happening, groups turn up to strengthen the faith of the ummah. And like you say, they use these ahadith to back up their claims.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #12 - March 05, 2013, 12:40 AM

    My theory is, Muhammad's influence was hard to catch on during his time. (Hence the killing and conquering of tribes and apostates) That it wouldn't surprise me that his prophecy is more of a reflection of what has happening at his time in anticipation of his message not spreading. The Quran spends a lot of time suspiciously talking about disbelievers. Also Religions have come and gone throughout history, it takes thousands of years but there is an inevitable rotation. Such as the Greek Gods, and Egyptian Gods, plus many many other sub religions that were wiped out by Christianity, or Islam. It's less of a prophecy to me and more of a natural cycle of things.

    Also, Islam is self destroying itself, it was only because of 9/11 that Islam became such a concern to the Western world no one gave a #$@ before. 


    Well, it is a little more interesting than that IMO. There are ahadith that talk about the conquests that the Muslims were going to have and the greatness that the Islamic world would reach, followed by ahadith that discuss the decline before the Day of Judgment that I described in my earlier post.

    Of course there are many questions as to the authenticity of these ahadith, as well as considerations of things like self-fulfilling prophesies and the general dooms-day vibe that Muhammad had going on, but when you look at these things from the perspective of the true believer, they are unfortunately not the incentive to abandon Islam that one might think. Instead, they can be seen as a sort of confirmation and a cause to dive in even deeper.

    "Just because it wasn't intentional doesn't mean it's not art."
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #13 - March 05, 2013, 12:49 AM

    I've always marvelled at the genuis behind these doomsday hadiths. They are excellent at keeping the gullible to remain attached to Islam. Do think the writers inticipated that Islam would be found out therefore this was put in place to make the task difficult.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #14 - March 05, 2013, 12:58 AM

    ^Exactly. Especially among the more hardline, traditional crew. It is not simply that these people are backwards (although many of them simply are). It is that they believe that by sticking to the parts of Islam that even they think are backwards, they will attain salvation. “You have to hold on to those hot coals. You can’t go down that lizard hole. You can not innovate because every innovation is a deviation.  Islam started as something strange and it will return to being something strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”

    "Just because it wasn't intentional doesn't mean it's not art."
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #15 - March 05, 2013, 01:05 AM

    these hadiths i know will come up when I eventually publically renounce Islam. I can hear my family now saying 'oh all of this is meant to happen blah di blah'. 'Why cant you see its all coming true'. What is the most effective way to counter these assertions. If I say it was a lucky guess they counter with your denying it on purpose. If I say they clearly manufactured these to keep the gullible in line, they will ask for proof.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #16 - March 05, 2013, 01:07 AM

    Recently, I've been thinking that the Islamic empire must have learnt from the mistakes of the past religious empires, so when the Abbasid empire was developing all the rules and doctrines of orthodox Islam, some thought must have gone into it.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #17 - March 05, 2013, 01:15 AM

    ye in the 300 year period of hadith been developed, this could well be the case. It would not have been that difficult to manufacture and those opposing this could easily be disposed of.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #18 - March 05, 2013, 01:20 AM

    these hadiths i know will come up when I eventually publically renounce Islam. I can hear my family now saying 'oh all of this is meant to happen blah di blah'. 'Why cant you see its all coming true'. What is the most effective way to counter these assertions. If I say it was a lucky guess they counter with your denying it on purpose. If I say they clearly manufactured these to keep the gullible in line, they will ask for proof.


    It kinda goes back to what I was saying to SAM earlier.

    You really mean to tell me that leading people astray and making them doubt their faith so that he can torture them eternally is Allah’s grand plan? If Allah really did create us for his worship, then he failed by designing us in a way that most of us would end up not worshipping him.

    So which is it? Did he design us to worship him or did he design us to be tortured? If he designed us to worship him, he clearly failed. If he designed us so that he could torture us, then there is not much that we can do about it anyway.  He wins, we lose. We can’t change that.

    I find it easier to believe he simply didn’t design us at all.

    "Just because it wasn't intentional doesn't mean it's not art."
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #19 - March 05, 2013, 01:39 AM

    Quote
    You really mean to tell me that leading people astray and making them doubt their faith so that he can torture them eternally is Allah’s grand plan? If Allah really did create us for his worship, then he failed by designing us in a way that most of us would end up not worshipping him.

    So which is it? Did he design us to worship him or did he design us to be tortured? If he designed us to worship him, he clearly failed. If he designed us so that he could torture us, then there is not much that we can do about it anyway.  He wins, we lose. We can’t change that.


    thank you. That is very eloquently put. At the end of the day their theology says that God has this master plan, his plan is to take me astray and burn me for all eternity. Who am I to go against this. Atleast it will get them to think about this absurd concept.
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #20 - March 05, 2013, 03:28 AM

    It kinda goes back to what I was saying to SAM earlier.

    You really mean to tell me that leading people astray and making them doubt their faith so that he can torture them eternally is Allah’s grand plan? If Allah really did create us for his worship, then he failed by designing us in a way that most of us would end up not worshipping him.

    Allah says: “And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans, except they should worship Me (Alone).”means to believe in the Oneness of Allah and devote all forms of worship to Him Alone.
    The Greater Sins is to associate anyone or anything with Allah. In Quran says,
    Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.

    So which is it? Did he design us to worship him or did he design us to be tortured? If he designed us to worship him, he clearly failed. If he designed us so that he could torture us, then there is not much that we can do about it anyway.  He wins, we lose. We can’t change that.

    I find it easier to believe he simply didn’t design us at all.


    It was written (design) in Luh Mahfuz before we are born. Actually Allah is not in need of our worship He just want us not to associate (worship) anyone or anything with Him

    Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the path). (al-Baqarah 2:18)
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #21 - March 05, 2013, 03:34 AM

    Ok so you realize you don't make any sense right?

    "Just because it wasn't intentional doesn't mean it's not art."
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #22 - March 05, 2013, 04:07 AM

    Allah didn't say anything. It was a mortal being claiming that Allah said so. If Allah can create everything but needs mortal hands to write down his divine laws, he/she/it it missing something.

    ***~Church is where bad people go to hide~***
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #23 - March 05, 2013, 04:21 AM

    Ok so you realize you don't make any sense right?

    hmmm...can you clarified as to avoid misunderstanding

    Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the path). (al-Baqarah 2:18)
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #24 - March 05, 2013, 04:32 AM

    I believe that you are one of those people who fully understand how wrong they are. I respect your right to be wrong, although I am at a loss to understand why you would want to be.

    "Just because it wasn't intentional doesn't mean it's not art."
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #25 - March 05, 2013, 04:49 AM

    Quote
    I believe that you are one of those people who fully understand how wrong they are. I respect your right to be wrong, although I am at a loss to understand why you would want to be.

     In the Hadith Qudsi, Allah says "I was a Hidden Treasure, I longed to be known so I created creation"...

    Rasullah has said:"He who has known his self has known Allah." And he has also said: "Those of you who know Allah better, better they know themselves."
    Allah says in the Qur'an: Messenger, We have revealed this Book to you. It contains the details of everything. (Surah an-Nahl, 16:89) The following passage of the Qur'an, he comes to know that the only path of perfect guidance is that of knowing himself: O you who believe, you have charge of your own souls. He who errs cannot injure you if you are rightly guided. (al-Ma'idah, 5:105)

     It is the knowledge of self which blooms into the knowledge of God

    Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the path). (al-Baqarah 2:18)
  • Why Is Islam Resistant To Change?
     Reply #26 - March 05, 2013, 07:31 AM

    Quote
    The Most Lovingly Beneficent, The Most Kind and Giving, The Most Gracious, The Infinitely Good, The Most Merciful, The Most Compassionate ..

    (from another thread)

    Isn't this the issue?

    This is a lala land happy ever after god.  All the best Disney films including Shrek happy ever after god, slightly amended to an adult version with 72 virgins, but also Grimmified with a wondrous hell.

    So we are looking at a religion that has basically infantalised everything and allows its adherents to have temper tantrums.

    Now how do you get adults to be adults?

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


    ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
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