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Theme Changer

 Topic: Is Islamic Reform Possible

 (Read 5360 times)
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  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     OP - July 03, 2017, 12:24 PM

    This is the text of the talk I gave yesterday at Conway Hall.

    Is Islamic reform possible?

    The question “Is Islamic reform possible?” pre-supposes that reform is necessary. For the purpose of this talk I will assume it is since that would be a whole other debate. However many Muslims would say it is not.

    Even many liberal and progressive Muslims insist Islam is perfect and it is only Muslims themselves that need to be reformed. It is Muslims who are misguided and hold erroneous interpretations - the Qur’an is the perfect word of God. It can never be wrong.

    They argue extremists like al-Qaeda and ISIS are not “true” Muslims and are only using Islam for their own power & political ends. They dismiss countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran or Afghanistan as not following Islam correctly & they go to great lengths to come up with all sorts of apologetics to distance Islam from real-life practices of Muslim countries and groups around the world.

    Yet it has to be asked if Islam is perfect and has absolutely nothing to do with the actions of extremists like ISIS or regimes like Saudi Arabia - then why is it that these Muslims have so grossly misunderstood their religion? When one points out actions such as execution of apostates and gays they tell us this is completely against Islam and Islam is very clear about it. Then why don’t these groups and regimes realise they are going completely against Islam. Don’t they realise the terrible mistake they are making when it is all so clear and obvious? The truth is that it is not as clear and obvious as they claim.

    If it is true that they have completely misunderstood Islam - what does that say about Islam & the Qur’an - the clear book kitabun mubeen - the final and complete revelation to man? If the message has been so badly misunderstood by so many Muslims what does that say about the message?

    My view is that the Qur’an is not perfect and I believe it’s time we Muslims admitted that the Quran and Sunna can indeed lend itself to very harsh and violent - yet perfectly valid interpretations. The solution is not to try and twist the texts to come up with a counter-interpretation but to simply accept the fact that the Quran is not perfect. It is not infallible. It can be wrong.

    Muslim reformers, such as there have been throughout Islamic History have never challenged this idea that the Qur’an is perfect. In fact the usual word for reformer in the context of Islam does not actually mean reform - the word used is mujaddid which means “renewer”. Reform in the Islamic context means calls to return to “true, pure and unadulterated” Islam of the Qur'an & Sunna. Their “reforms” have been about halting change rather than bringing about change. Many puritanical groups have arisen throughout Islamic History such as the al-Muwahideen, almurabiteen, and the Khawarij - all with the same aim of bringing Islam back to its pure unadulterated roots. As such the Wahhabis and Salafis of today can be seen in this tradition of tajdeed - renewing Islam and ridding it of corruptions and innovations. Most if not all Muslim reformers have been restricted within this paradigm.

    Even Liberal and Progressive Muslims of today who seek to bring about a more peaceful and inclusive form of Islam never claim they are reforming Islam. Instead they claim they are bringing Islam back to it’s true message. They accept the same starting point of a perfect divine Qur’an and so instead of simply rejecting problematic verses they are forced into absurd linguistic gymnastics in order to claim that God’s perfect word never actually said what it appears to have said - and what 1400 years of scholarship believed it said. Liberal & progressive arguments depend on tenuous nuanced readings of the Qur’an and forcing new meanings out of ancient words. They scrape the barrel of the ancient texts to find something that will support a more progressive view.

    But by playing this game within the rules of a perfect divine Qur’an they only hand victory to the traditionalists and fundamentalists because it is the traditionalists who have by far the greater evidence to support their views. Any theological workarounds a liberal can come up with can be easily countered by traditionalists with a vast array of Qur’an and hadith at their disposal.

    Now I’m not saying the traditionalist and fundamentalists represent the true Islam, because in my view there is no such thing as “True Islam”. Islam is not and never has been a single homogenous entity. Of course many Muslims argue that there is a True Islam, but that is because they believe the Qur’an is perfect and is the carefully planned work of an Omniscient and Omnipotent God. They are compelled to defend it's integrity and consistency against all reason.

    Ironically many far-right anti-Muslim bigots also insist there is only one “True Islam” and they say it is the Islam of ISIS and the extremists. They want to convince everyone - including Muslims themselves - that moderate forms of Islam are wrong and that real Islam is the terrorists' version. Muslims who deny this are practicing Taqiyya or are ignorant. They do this because they want to justify their hatred & violence towards Muslims.

    But those of us who take the view that the Qur’an is the rather less carefully planned work of a human mind, should not make the mistake of expecting a perfectly consistent and non-contradictory message over 23 years from a 7th century human being reacting to events as they happened. There are certainly interpretations that can be argued to be closer to what Muhammad brought in 7th century Arabia. But one cannot claim they all constitute a single consistent view. When liberal and progressive Muslims accuse the Salafis of being selective in how they interpret Islam, choosing to overlook the more peaceful and tolerant verses, they are right. But what they forget to mention is that they are just as selective when they choose to overlook the more harsh and rigid verses.

    What Muhammad did and said varied at different points over the 23 years of his prophethood. His message changed shape and direction as events did and with the need to please and attract differing tribes and individuals. From the early days in Mecca to the position of power he found himself in Madina. The Qur’an contains contradictions, ambiguity and vagueness leaving the door open to a multitude of interpretations.

    Some argue that the principle of abrogation means that the more peaceful and conciliatory verses are no-longer valid. This is a favourite argument of the far-right anti-Muslim bigots who again want to insist that more liberal versions of Islam are wrong and “true Islam” is the violent forms. However the doctrine of abrogation is largely a creation of later scholars who were compelled to reconcile the contradictions in the Qur'an - which of course cannot exist since it is the perfect word of God. They took their cue from 2 similar but rather ambiguous verses in the Qur’an. For example verse 106 of al-Baqara says:

    “Any revelation We cause to be abrogated or forgotten, We replace with something better or similar.”

    They used this to argue that any verses that contradicted each other could be explained by the later one abrogating the earlier one which usually meant Medinan verses abrogating Meccan ones. However they didn’t agree on which verses abrogate which since there is not always agreement on when verses were revealed or even the reasons they were revealed (asbabunuzul). Some scholars even went as far to argue that a verse that was revealed in Mecca was then revealed again in Medina in order to make it fit their view.

    Many modern Muslims reject the whole idea of abrogation which of course gives them a little more scope to argue that early peaceful and conciliatory verses are in fact more valid than later violent ones since the violent ones are tied to the specific context of Muhammad’s struggle with the Meccan while the earlier ones are of a universal and general in nature. This was the argument of the Sudanese scholar Mahmoud Taha and his student Abdullahi Al-Naeem.

    Mahmoud TaHa was executed for apostasy in Sudan which shows how dangerous and difficult it is for liberal & Progressive Muslims to challenge the status quo.

    Even when they are listened to they cannot decisively defeat the fundamentalists using scriptural arguments as long as they concede the Qur’an perfect. Because the harsh literalist interpretations of the fundamentalists will always have the greater weight of classical scholarship on their side. Their hands will never be free to simply pick and choose using reason, since God’s divine words trumps flawed human reason every time.

    The belief that the Qur’an is the perfect word of God shuts down all argument and sidelines human reason & conscience. There can be no stronger motivation than "God said it". One can’t argue with God. Few Muslims have the courage to challenge the idea that the Qur’an is God’s word. Those that do are immediately labelled apostates and they are either executed or forced to leave Islam thereby silencing all dissent from within Islam.

    However contrary to popular belief all the Arabs at the time of Muhammad did not swoon at the words of the Qur’an believing it to be of divine origin. The Qur’an itself testifies that many Arabs rejected the Qur’an’s claim to being the word of God. Muhammad was accused of being a soothsayer and a poet. He was accused of recounting nothing but myths and fairytales and it took a long and violent struggle to win over Arabia - not an intellectual one.

    Even after Islam there were Muslims who rejected the Qur’an’s claim to be inimitable. For example Al-Jaʿd ibn Dirham, tutor to the Umayyad Caliph Marwan, said "The Qur'an's eloquence is not a miracle and people can do the like of it and better." The Mu'tazilite scholar Abu Musa said "People are able to produce the like of the Qurʾān as regards eloquence, and composition and rhetorical beauty." The Sunni scholar Abu al-Qushairy said: "We do not claim that everything in the Qurʾān is in the highest rank of eloquence." Ibn al-Rawandi a Mu'tazilite scholar - who was accused of being a Zindiq (heretic) - said "Indeed the Qurʾān is not the speech of a wise god. In it are contradictions and mistakes and passages that are in the realms of the absurd."

    During the Islamic Golden Age this movement of dissent grew and was labelled al-Zanadiqa (The Heretics) by its opponents. But it nevertheless boasted some great scholars & poets in its ranks including the Muslim physician al-Razi, the poets Omar al-Khayyam & Abu Ala’ al Ma’arri (whose statue was destroyed by ISIS fighters when they took his home town of Ma’arrat al-Nu’maan near Aleppo in Syria). All these scholars and poets openly questioned the view that the Qur’an was of divine origin and it’s ironic that for a period at least during the Islamic Golden Age such bold expression was tolerated to a greater extent than it is today.

     Al-Razi was particularly scathing about the Qur’an saying:

    “You claim that the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Koran. You say: 'Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one.' Indeed, we shall produce a thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better meter. … By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: 'Produce something like it'‽”

    However with the rise of Europe during the Renaissance came the decline & stagnation in the Islamic world and what little free-thought had existed during the Islamic Golden Age came to an end. The doors of ijtihad were closed and scholars no longer braved new frontiers. Instead they concentrated on preserving and imitating the past.

    Today however there are signs that there is a new awakening of free-thought despite the rise & alarming spread of Islamic neoconservatism - in fact it may be in part a reaction to such regressive movements that are in such stark contrast to reason and reality in the 21st century and are a never ending source of cognitive dissonance for many rational and educated Muslims.

    For example the modern Iranian scholar Abdul Karim Soroush writes:

    “According to the traditional account, the Prophet was only an instrument; he merely conveyed a message passed to him by Jibril. In my view, however, the Prophet played a pivotal role in the production of the Koran… Like a poet, the Prophet feels that he is captured by an external force. But in fact the Prophet himself is the creator and the producer. The question whether the inspiration comes from outside or from inside is really not relevant, because at the level of revelation there is no difference between outside and inside. The inspiration comes from the Self of the Prophet.”

    In Iraq the scholar Ahmad Al-Qabbanji states quite openly in his lectures that the Qur’an is not perfect nor flawless and has compared it to human texts which he highlights passages that are superior to passages of the Qur’an. (For this who speak Arabic you can find plenty of his lectures on Youtube.)

    The Moroccan scholar Saeed Nasheed published a book in Arabic last year titled: Modernity & the Qur’an - in it he says:

    “The Qur’an is not the speech of God, just as the loaf of bread is not the work of the farmer. God produced the raw material, which was inspiration, just as the farmer produces the raw material, which is wheat. But it is the baker who turns the wheat or flour into bread according to his own unique way, artistic expertise and creative ability. Thus it is the Prophet who was responsible for interpreting the inspiration and turning it into actual phrases and words according to his own unique view.”

    My own view is perhaps even more radical. I am both Agnostic & Muslim. I don’t know if God exists or not - though I do believe in “something” - something I cannot define nor quantify but I call it God. I enjoy many aspects of the Islamic traditions that I have been brought up in and practiced for over 50 years of my life. However when I went through a period of doubts and became convinced that the Qur'an was not the perfect word of God but very much the product of a human being from the 7th century - I left Islam for a while. I thought I had no choice. I had always been led to believe that if you don’t believe in the divinity and perfection of the Qur’an you can’t be a Muslim. But I never felt entirely comfortable identifying as an Ex-Muslim and still found myself attending prayers and Islamic events with my family and friends.

    All the things that I had loved and drew comfort from during my 50 years as a practicing Muslm were still there. I still enjoyed prayer and connecting with that something beyond this material existence I call God and I was surprised to find that having doubts as to whether there was anyone actually listening didn’t take away the comfort, hope and relief I gained from sharing my thoughts and feelings. I still enjoyed the verses and hadith I had always loved and treasured. Seeing the Qur'an as fallible didn't change all that. So why should I be forced to leave Islam? Particularly when Islam so badly needs voices of dissent and change from within. And when Muslims - including loved ones - are being bullied and oppressed by religious authorities who rely on our silent compliance.

    So yes I am a Muslim who believes the Qur'an is not the word of God. Plain and simple. Like all human books it contains good and bad. It is inextricably tied to its context and environment. I openly and unashamedly pick and choose the good parts and reject the bad parts based on my conscience, human reason and our 21st century context.

    I see no reason to abide by the definition of the very fundamentalist authorities I oppose and who are the cause of our problems and I propose a new definition for a Muslim. One who is freely able to place reason above revelation. Who does not have to apologise for picking and choosing - for “cherry picking” as our detractors like to scoff at. Selecting the good and leaving the bad according to human reason is the eminently rational and reasonable thing to do. It is the “All or Nothing” approach that is irrational and leads to the suppression of one’s humanity.

    Why should being honest & admitting what is patently obvious mean you can’t be a Muslim? Why should we have to keep on defending (or dishonestly wriggle out of) passages that are simply wrong. Let’s reject them and move on. It really is as simple as that.

    Though of course the journey getting to that point is not simple. Embracing doubt while retaining faith is not an easy process but it is possible and enlightening. Doubt can accommodate faith, but crucially it eliminates extremism. Fanaticism cannot occupy the same space as doubt and reason. As Voltaire said: “Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a absurd one.”

    Perhaps the irony is that most Muslims already pick and choose - the only difference is that I’m simply proposing they do this openly and unashamedly without the ridiculously tenuous and disingenuous apologetics that are ultimately self-defeating.

    I will give you an example from verse 34 of Surat al Nisa which in microcosm reflects the dilemma Muslims face and how belief in a perfect Qur’an prevents us from reform. The verse says:

    “As for those women from whom you fear rebellion (first) admonish them (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) hit them.” (4:34)

    This has been the cause of endless problems & cognitive dissonance for rational and liberal Muslims in this day and age where humanity has evolved beyond such a barbaric mentality and where the relationships and roles of men and women have changed drastically from 7th century Arabia.

    However the insistence on a perfect divine Qur’an has meant that Muslims must earthier defend wife beating against their very conscience and rational mind - or they are forced to invent dishonest and ridiculous apologetics to try to make the verse mean something completely different. Apologetics which fool none but a tiny minority of Muslims who have retreated to an ivory tower of the absurd - a make-believe land where up means down and left means right and anything can be as you wish it to be.

    Muslims are as yet unable to simply say “The Qur’an wrong.” - They can’t say this because of the insistence that the Qur’an is perfect and infallible.

    Reform can only come once we get over this hurdle of an infallible Qur’an. It is not infallible. It is not perfect and it is not the word of God. That doesn’t mean it is all bad. There are many beautiful and mystical verses such as ayatuNur, Ayatul Kursi, verses about giving charity, helping others, seeking comfort and strength from prayer, helping the poor, good behaviour and character, honesty, personal responsibility, kindness, humbleness and so on…

    But there are also verses about eternal torture in Hell, chopping hands off thieves, flogging fornicators, and keeping slaves. As for Hadith I won’t even go there as they have already begun to be seriously doubted and jettisoned by many Muslims, due some of cruel, barbaric as well as absurd and comical nature of their content.

    It’s time we Muslims realise that recognising the human origins of the Qur’an does not mean we have to lose comfort and solace Islam gives us. It means we will have the dual benefit of eradicating extremism while preserving that which is worthwhile.

    To those who say that is impossible to combine faith with doubt & skepticism I would say firstly I myself have reached that point. Secondly why should such a pragmatic realism be harder than the massive efforts most believers put into struggling with cognitive dissonance?

    And as someone who was born & brought up in the UK I am surrounded by plenty of examples of secular Christians, Jews, Hindus and others who pray in church or temple, christen their children, have religious weddings, attend festivals & services. Who draw comfort and identity from their faith - yet can still embrace doubt and maintain a healthy skepticism. Muslims are not a different species. They are human beings like everyone else and have the same capacities and possibilities as everyone else and I consider it racist to think otherwise.

    As for those who say we are better off without religion - perhaps that right - but regardless of what one thinks about religion the fact is it has and continues to provide a great many people with meaning, comfort and motivation in a world that is often confusing, cruel and full of conflict. The fact that all these religions are man-made does not negate their effectiveness as a vehicle to ease the anxiety of life & to reach out to the unknown.

    Recognising the Qur'an's human nature does not have to mean the end of Islam, but it will mean the end of unreasonable defence of tenets that belong to an earlier stage of human evolution. It will mean freeing human reason and conscience and allow Islam to evolve as humans evolve. It will mean the end of religion poking its nose into every facet of our lives by self-appointed moral busybodies. It will free us to make our own decisions and life choices and leave judgment to God not man. Religion is between you and God. Believe as you wish but do not impose it on others.

    Muslims must take the bold & essential step of challenging the belief that Qur’an is infallible. It is an essential step, because once you stop protecting ideas on the basis that “God said it”, you create a level playing field where good ideas can battle it out with bad ideas on an equal footing - without some being protected on the false basis that “God said it.” It allows reason to be the deciding factor for whether something is accepted or rejected, rather than: “Because it’s written!” No more searching for tenuous interpretations or changing the meaning of words into something else, just so we can avoid the problematic and uncomfortable meanings.

    As long as we refuse to appreciate that the Qur’an is human-authored, we will be forced to continue playing the game within the traditional paradigm that the fundamentalists are best at. We will disarm ourselves of the only weapon that can defeat them – reason. Only when we recognise that the Qur’an and Sunna are fallible can we free Islam from the prison of dogma we placed it in.

    Islam is far more than the Qur’an and Sunna. Like any major religion, it is the amassed wisdom, practice, cultures and beliefs of millions of believers in different parts of the world over many centuries. Religion at its most fundamental a way of seeking comfort, solace, strength and meaning in a harsh world where man finds himself alone and vulnerable - an aid to help us get by - a way to reach out to the heavens. But it must never be allowed to replace reason and humanity.

    It is the fundamentalists who are destroying Islam by stripping it of the very things that has made religion relevant to human beings. They want to reduce Islam to a blind following of ancient texts and strip away any semblance of progress, human reason and humanity. They want to take us back 1,400 years to a harsh and barbaric context and place that has no place in the 21st century.

    Accepting that the Qur’an is fallible will not destroy Islam. It will destroy the fundamentalists. For the rest of us it will free us and free our reason so we can take what is useful and reject what is not.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #1 - July 03, 2017, 02:33 PM

    Thanks, I am happy to see this here. I am sure you had a good reception, I can't see how anything is left out.

    Don't let Hitler have the street.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #2 - July 03, 2017, 02:37 PM

    Yes thanks it was met well and we had a long question and answer session  afterwards that went on so long we took it to a local cafe to continue.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #3 - July 03, 2017, 02:45 PM

    This is the text of the talk I gave yesterday at Conway Hall.

    Is Islamic reform possible?................

    that is a first step  and a very good step ., Though bit late  still i am glad to see that bold step in public and as  Muslim. ., it should have been done 10 years ago., 

    but  Mr.  Hassan  your hater yeezevee is asking  for Video... Video link please

    with best wishes
    yeezevee

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #4 - July 03, 2017, 04:33 PM

    Yes thanks it was met well and we had a long question and answer session  afterwards that went on so long we took it to a local cafe to continue.


    That's a good omen. Gives me some hope!

    Don't let Hitler have the street.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #5 - July 03, 2017, 05:36 PM

    جاه يبارك فيك يا شيخ

    I'm happy to hear it was well received.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #6 - July 03, 2017, 06:03 PM

    There is little cause for hope.

    But then again, this is the case for probably the majority of human endeavor, if only we were honest with ourselves.

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #7 - July 03, 2017, 09:38 PM

    I enjoyed reading that, but there's something I can't wrap my head around.

    Is it possible, Islamically speaking, to state that the Quran has faults and is not the word of God, and yet still be a Muslim? I don't think it is, but I might be wrong.

    I like the calls for an Islamic reform, but when I really do think about it, I'm not sure if it is compatible with the teachings of Islam.

    Please can you make this clear for me? Thanks.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #8 - July 03, 2017, 10:18 PM

    Hmm  asbie misplacing a word  let me replace that  
    There is little cause for hope.

    But then again, this is the case for probably the majority of human endeavor, if only we were honest with ourselves.

    asbie  wrong  word.. using wrong word ...let me replace and read that again..

    "There is  great  cause  for hope.". And in these present times Hassan's way is the only direction that Muslims must give a thought and live being  a proud Muslim among other faiths .,   off course  the game is  different  in Muslim Majority nations .

    indeed there is great hope in that approach dear asbie .,  Those who are into faith  irrespective of faith (FROM ALL FAITHS) must consider doubting the ancient/medieval  saying/writing/scriptures(whatever)  stories and the rituals attached to those faiths .

    Islam is no exception to that rule.,

    So Hassan being open into the public, freedom  to question his  faith sayings including Quran  yet be a Muslim,   live his  life within the parameters of Golden rule  is ONLY THE WAY IN THESE TIMES,  where 1000s of  well educated sharks  (includes  me and you) attacking Islam from all directions and millions of fools from other faiths attacking Muslim folks for no good reason except their names are tagged with Islam by birth for no fault of theirs but because their parents,/ancestors  were born into or converted into Islam...

    with best wishes
    yeezevee

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #9 - July 04, 2017, 12:35 AM

    I enjoyed reading that, but there's something I can't wrap my head around.

    Is it possible, Islamically speaking, to state that the Quran has faults and is not the word of God, and yet still be a Muslim? I don't think it is, but I might be wrong.

    I like the calls for an Islamic reform, but when I really do think about it, I'm not sure if it is compatible with the teachings of Islam.

    Please can you make this clear for me? Thanks.


    It is compatible. People are disregarding the teachings of Islam all the time and still calling themselves observant Muslims. 

    Don't let Hitler have the street.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #10 - July 04, 2017, 03:12 AM

    Hmm  asbie misplacing a word  let me replace that  asbie  wrong  word.. using wrong word ...let me replace and read that again..

    "There is  great  cause  for hope.". And in these present times Hassan's way is the only direction that Muslims must give a thought and live being  a proud Muslim among other faiths .,   off course  the game is  different  in Muslim Majority nations .

    indeed there is great hope in that approach dear asbie .,  Those who are into faith  irrespective of faith (FROM ALL FAITHS) must consider doubting the ancient/medieval  saying/writing/scriptures(whatever)  stories and the rituals attached to those faiths .

    Islam is no exception to that rule.,

    So Hassan being open into the public, freedom  to question his  faith sayings including Quran  yet be a Muslim,   live his  life within the parameters of Golden rule  is ONLY THE WAY IN THESE TIMES,  where 1000s of  well educated sharks  (includes  me and you) attacking Islam from all directions and millions of fools from other faiths attacking Muslim folks for no good reason except their names are tagged with Islam by birth for no fault of theirs but because their parents,/ancestors  were born into or converted into Islam...

    with best wishes
    yeezevee


    And yet back in the real world humankind rushes headlong into unreasoned suffering on many fronts. I do believe that Hassan's initial instincts were correct. Humans aren't really swayed by rational arguments. Denial, cognitive dissonance, even self-destruction are the ways that mark out most of our kind. Just as long as our conception of things is not shaken, these are small prices to pay for the great majority of us and seem like they always will be.

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #11 - July 04, 2017, 10:07 AM

    جاه يبارك فيك يا شيخ

    I'm happy to hear it was well received.


    Hope you are keeping well habibi  far away hug
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #12 - July 04, 2017, 01:34 PM

    It is compatible. People are disregarding the teachings of Islam all the time and still calling themselves observant Muslims. 

     

    I understand Muslims tend to pick and choose and try and find an interpretation for particular verses, but the question is does Islam allow you to reform the word of God? Can you still, in theory, be a Muslim if you believe the word of God is not his word, or not perfect?

    If so, then great. If not, which is what Manus believe, the problems arise.

    Also, does anyone know if Islam is the only major religion which claims that it's main source (Qur'an) is the perfect word of God? Or that their central figure (like Muhammad) are perfect? Or that they are the final revelation? I'm not even trying to be sarcastic, genuine questions so I can expand my knowledge.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #13 - July 04, 2017, 02:57 PM

    Just finished Tom Holland's book accompanied by Hoyland's 'Seeing Islam As Others Saw It'.   The work of historical deconstruction of the Islamic traditions of Koranic and Hadithic perfection is still in it's early stages, but the evidence strongly suggests that both Koran and Hadith (goes without saying) were the work of many hands (Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian as well as 'Muslim') over a period of around 200 years.  The contradictions reflect the inter-connection of religion and secular power in that period (late antiquity).  Political power was legitimated primarily by religious sanction and authority.  This was true for the Byzantine and Sassanian Emperors and the Arab arrivistes who took away their empires learned that lesson very well.

    Just as the demands of political control led the victorious Arabs to live separately and eventually impose Arabic as the language of law, commerce and government (replacing Greek) they also needed a separate religious revelation - a characteristic mark of the new ruling elite.   As political and military tides ebbed and flowed and circumstances evolved - Koranic and Mohamedan texts were manufactured to address new circumstances as they arose.   It didn't happen in Mecca either - Mesopotamia mostly.

    Any faith that requires silent submission and unquestioning acceptance will either eventually decline and disappear or else impose itself by fear and intimidation.  I welcome your wise words, I share your general perspective on living with the co-existence of reason, questioning and faith.  I think you have opened the door a crack, but there's much more to ventilate.   How about a similarly honest discussion on the perfect man himself?   Likely an enlightened Gassanian or Lakhmid warlord who seized an opportunity to wrestle power from the hated condescending Byzantines and Sassanians.   Hoyland recounts some raised infidel eyebrows in his day because messengers of God were expected to be men of peace rather than practitioners of war!

  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #14 - July 04, 2017, 04:12 PM

    If it is true that they have completely misunderstood Islam - what does that say about Islam & the Qur’an - the clear book kitabun mubeen - the final and complete revelation to man? If the message has been so badly misunderstood by so many Muslims what does that say about the message?

    My view is that the Qur’an is not perfect and I believe it’s time we Muslims admitted that the Quran and Sunna can indeed lend itself to very harsh and violent - yet perfectly valid interpretations. The solution is not to try and twist the texts to come up with a counter-interpretation but to simply accept the fact that the Quran is not perfect. It is not infallible. It can be wrong.

    ...

    Even Liberal and Progressive Muslims of today who seek to bring about a more peaceful and inclusive form of Islam never claim they are reforming Islam. Instead they claim they are bringing Islam back to it’s true message. They accept the same starting point of a perfect divine Qur’an and so instead of simply rejecting problematic verses they are forced into absurd linguistic gymnastics in order to claim that God’s perfect word never actually said what it appears to have said - and what 1400 years of scholarship believed it said. Liberal & progressive arguments depend on tenuous nuanced readings of the Qur’an and forcing new meanings out of ancient words. They scrape the barrel of the ancient texts to find something that will support a more progressive view.

    But by playing this game within the rules of a perfect divine Qur’an they only hand victory to the traditionalists and fundamentalists because it is the traditionalists who have by far the greater evidence to support their views. Any theological workarounds a liberal can come up with can be easily countered by traditionalists with a vast array of Qur’an and hadith at their disposal.

    Now I’m not saying the traditionalist and fundamentalists represent the true Islam, because in my view there is no such thing as “True Islam”. Islam is not and never has been a single homogenous entity. Of course many Muslims argue that there is a True Islam, but that is because they believe the Qur’an is perfect and is the carefully planned work of an Omniscient and Omnipotent God. They are compelled to defend it's integrity and consistency against all reason.

    ...

    Even when they are listened to they cannot decisively defeat the fundamentalists using scriptural arguments as long as they concede the Qur’an perfect. Because the harsh literalist interpretations of the fundamentalists will always have the greater weight of classical scholarship on their side. Their hands will never be free to simply pick and choose using reason, since God’s divine words trumps flawed human reason every time.

    The belief that the Qur’an is the perfect word of God shuts down all argument and sidelines human reason & conscience. There can be no stronger motivation than "God said it". One can’t argue with God. Few Muslims have the courage to challenge the idea that the Qur’an is God’s word. Those that do are immediately labelled apostates and they are either executed or forced to leave Islam thereby silencing all dissent from within Islam.

    ...

    Perhaps the irony is that most Muslims already pick and choose - the only difference is that I’m simply proposing they do this openly and unashamedly without the ridiculously tenuous and disingenuous apologetics that are ultimately self-defeating.


    The problem is that Muslims aren't willing to have a discussion in good faith, or at least not enough of them are to have a non-negligible impact.

    Muslims defer to authority figures, who tell them that the problems of the Muslim world arise from a lack of knowledge of "true" Islam, yet they and those who they defer to fail to articulate the knowledge that they have which remedies these problems, and dismiss those who raise the problems as lacking in knowledge or having an agenda against Muslims, or wanting to pursue their heart's desires.

    When you point out to Muslims that they already choose/reject Islamic practices according to their heart's desire, they chalk it up to them not being good true Muslims (like their authority figures), and state that if everyone was a good Muslim, then the Muslim world wouldn't have the problems that it does.

    It's frustrating, and feels like an exercise in futility.

    "Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well."
    - Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #15 - July 04, 2017, 04:29 PM

    Just finished Tom Holland's book accompanied by Hoyland's 'Seeing Islam As Others Saw It'.   The work of historical deconstruction of the Islamic traditions of Koranic and Hadithic perfection is still in it's early stages, but the evidence strongly suggests that both Koran and Hadith (goes without saying) were the work of many hands (Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian as well as 'Muslim') over a period of around 200 years.  The contradictions reflect the inter-connection of religion and secular power in that period (late antiquity).  Political power was legitimated primarily by religious sanction and authority.  This was true for the Byzantine and Sassanian Emperors and the Arab arrivistes who took away their empires learned that lesson very well.

    Just as the demands of political control led the victorious Arabs to live separately and eventually impose Arabic as the language of law, commerce and government (replacing Greek) they also needed a separate religious revelation - a characteristic mark of the new ruling elite.   As political and military tides ebbed and flowed and circumstances evolved - Koranic and Mohamedan texts were manufactured to address new circumstances as they arose.   It didn't happen in Mecca either - Mesopotamia mostly.

    Any faith that requires silent submission and unquestioning acceptance will either eventually decline and disappear or else impose itself by fear and intimidation.  I welcome your wise words, I share your general perspective on living with the co-existence of reason, questioning and faith.  I think you have opened the door a crack, but there's much more to ventilate.   How about a similarly honest discussion on the perfect man himself?   Likely an enlightened Gassanian or Lakhmid warlord who seized an opportunity to wrestle power from the hated condescending Byzantines and Sassanians.   Hoyland recounts some raised infidel eyebrows in his day because messengers of God were expected to be men of peace rather than practitioners of war!


    I believe placing the Qur'an back into the human and fallible realm is part of that deconstruction of Muhammad himself. One can't be done without undermining the other. So yes I take your point well. The  largely mythical figure of Muhammad must be stripped of this absurd sanctity and perfection that has grown around someone who as you rightly say was probably nothing more than a warlord. A man of his time. A charismatic figure no doubt. But a flawed human being nevertheless.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #16 - July 04, 2017, 04:36 PM

    The problem is that Muslims aren't willing to have a discussion in good faith, or at least not enough of them are to have a non-negligible impact.

    Muslims defer to authority figures, who tell them that the problems of the Muslim world arise from a lack of knowledge of "true" Islam, yet they and those who they defer to fail to articulate the knowledge that they have which remedies these problems, and dismiss those who raise the problems as lacking in knowledge or having an agenda against Muslims, or wanting to pursue their heart's desires.

    When you point out to Muslims that they already choose/reject Islamic practices according to their heart's desire, they chalk it up to them not being good true Muslims (like their authority figures), and state that if everyone was a good Muslim, then the Muslim world wouldn't have the problems that it does.

    It's frustrating, and feels like an exercise in futility.


    It does feel like an exercise in futility at times. But nothing was ever achieved by not trying. I don't presume to know if things will change. But I'll do my best to try to bring about change. If I fail, so be it. I'm happy to have on my headstone that I tried.

    As Gandhi said:

    "Nothing you do matters. But it matters that you do it."
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #17 - July 04, 2017, 05:24 PM

    What you've said about the Qur'an and Muhammad are blasphemy and heresy, and I don't think that's really a viable starting point for reform.

    I think you either have to first convince Muslims to adopt secularism/pluralism (to the point where they would tolerate such ideas), or start with soft (albeit disingenuous) reforms. Like for instance, you could argue that practices/laws from early Islam are obsolete because they were intended for the context of 6th/7th century Arabia, and that the law of democratic societies is more suitable for fulfilling the objectives of the Shari'ah today.

    "Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well."
    - Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #18 - July 04, 2017, 05:41 PM

    exercise in futility.


    *Ding ding ding*

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #19 - July 04, 2017, 05:47 PM

    I think you either have to first convince Muslims to adopt secularism/pluralism (to the point where they would tolerate such ideas), or start with soft (albeit disingenuous) reforms. Like for instance, you could argue that practices/laws from early Islam are obsolete because they were intended for the context of 6th/7th century Arabia, and that the law of democratic societies is more suitable for fulfilling the objectives of the Shari'ah today.


    Combine the above with bouts of violent reactionism, and you've more or less summed up the last century or so of political history in the Islamic world. Basically, this shit takes time and is messy.

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #20 - July 04, 2017, 06:51 PM

    What you've said about the Qur'an and Muhammad are blasphemy and heresy, and I don't think that's really a viable starting point for reform.

    I think you either have to first convince Muslims to adopt secularism/pluralism (to the point where they would tolerate such ideas), or start with soft (albeit disingenuous) reforms. Like for instance, you could argue that practices/laws from early Islam are obsolete because they were intended for the context of 6th/7th century Arabia, and that the law of democratic societies is more suitable for fulfilling the objectives of the Shari'ah today.


    That's probably the more practical and pragmatic approach but it feels dishonest. I'd rather live my life being true to myself. That's more important to me than anything else. What will be will be.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #21 - July 04, 2017, 06:54 PM

    I enjoyed reading that, but there's something I can't wrap my head around.

    Is it possible, Islamically speaking, to state that the Quran has faults and is not the word of God, and yet still be a Muslim? I don't think it is, but I might be wrong.

    I like the calls for an Islamic reform, but when I really do think about it, I'm not sure if it is compatible with the teachings of Islam.

    Please can you make this clear for me? Thanks.


    What I'm proposing contradicts traditional Islamic views. Time will tell whether it is possible for Muslims to make that shift.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #22 - July 04, 2017, 07:21 PM

    Given that there are still violent verses in the new testament, yet the problem of violence in Christianity is less significant (though still apparent) than the violence in Islam, do you think that there are still other ways, despite reform, that can be applied to reduce Islamic extremism?

    This could include better background check for immigrants,
    Surveillance of mosques,
    The government helping the actual moderates out with funding and exposure,
    The establishment of an individual with a Pope-like role in Islam, to help provide objectivity,
    *Methods to help integrate those from other cultures,
    The push for the end of political correctness, etc.

    I guess reform is the one that would have the most critical effect, but how far do you think the problems in Islam today can be solved through the use of these other methods?

    *That's not to say people can't bring their own culture to our countries, but when their values clash with ours, I believe we should take action to ensure they do not pose a threat to our own civilisation. Especially when they come from countries with no history of human rights.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #23 - July 04, 2017, 08:43 PM

    I don't want to comment about police issues.

    But as for Christianity there are differences and similarities  with Islam. The Bible was also regarded as infallible - or rather "inerrant" but the fact that it was seen as the result of "inspired authors" rather than the literal words of God gave Christians a little more wriggle room. But the crucial factor was the enlightenment where reason became dominant. Nowadays - apart from Christian fundamentalists - most Christians are able to combine their faith with a healthy skepticism. No one questions someone who says they are Christian while they also reject the idea that the Bible is inerrant or perfect. There are Agnostic priests and gays priests - heck there are even Atheist priests.

    Doubt and faith can coexist. (Certainty and doubt cannot coexist which is good because it excludes extremism)

    I see no reason why Muslims can't do the same.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #24 - July 04, 2017, 09:15 PM

    In a strange way, we're in exciting times. I want to live long enough to see if these changes are implemented.
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #25 - July 04, 2017, 10:34 PM

    Given that there are still violent verses in the new testament, yet the problem of violence in Christianity is less significant (though still apparent) than the violence in Islam, do you think that there are still other ways, despite reform, that can be applied to reduce Islamic extremism?

    This could include better background check for immigrants,
    Surveillance of mosques,
    The government helping the actual moderates out with funding and exposure,
    The establishment of an individual with a Pope-like role in Islam, to help provide objectivity,
    *Methods to help integrate those from other cultures,
    The push for the end of political correctness, etc.

    No. The first three things are done already, and they make Muslims more distrustful.

    Besides, what do security/anti-terror efforts have to do with improving Islam as a religion?

    "Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well."
    - Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #26 - July 05, 2017, 02:05 PM

    Quote
    Given that there are still violent verses in the new testament, yet the problem of violence in Christianity is less significant (though still apparent) than the violence in Islam, do you think that there are still other ways, despite reform, that can be applied to reduce Islamic extremism?

    1).  This could include better background check for immigrants,

    2). Surveillance of mosques,

    3).  The government helping the actual moderates out with funding and exposure,
    The establishment of an individual with a Pope-like role in Islam, to help provide objectivity,

    4). *Methods to help integrate those from other cultures,

    5).  The push for the end of political correctness, etc.

      
    No. The first three things are done already, and they make Muslims more distrustful.

    Besides, what do security/anti-terror efforts have to do with improving Islam as a religion?



    olweasel  has a point and a right question dear SubbyX.,  it is very important question and the Question is

    what do security/anti-terror efforts have to do with improving Islam as a religion?

    Quote
    I guess reform is the one that would have the most critical effect, but how far do you think the problems in Islam today can be solved through the use of these other methods?

    Let me  repeat what is there in the Hassan's OP  and and  give you again  simplest reform that will have STRONGEST effect on Muslims with faith and on Muslim baboons and  on Muslim robots ..

     let me paste  that and write all this in simplest form .. With this I can assure you, Islam can be reformed so faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar  that no Muslim will be able to use  quran/hadith /sunnah to carry out any  political or   non-political criminal activities

    This is the text of the talk I gave yesterday at Conway Hall.

    Is Islamic reform possible?

    The question “Is Islamic reform possible?” pre-supposes that reform is necessary. For the purpose of this talk I will assume it is since that would be a whole other debate. However many Muslims would say it is not.

    Even many liberal and progressive Muslims insist Islam is perfect and it is only Muslims themselves that need to be reformed. It is Muslims who are misguided and hold erroneous interpretations - the Qur’an is the perfect word of God. It can never be wrong.

    They argue extremists like al-Qaeda and ISIS are not “true” Muslims and are only using Islam for their own power & political ends. They dismiss countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran or Afghanistan as not following Islam correctly & they go to great lengths to come up with all sorts of apologetics to distance Islam from real-life practices of Muslim countries and groups around the world.

    Yet it has to be asked if Islam is perfect and has absolutely nothing to do with the actions of extremists like ISIS or regimes like Saudi Arabia - then why is it that these Muslims have so grossly misunderstood their religion? When one points out actions such as execution of apostates and gays they tell us this is completely against Islam and Islam is very clear about it. Then why don’t these groups and regimes realise they are going completely against Islam. Don’t they realise the terrible mistake they are making when it is all so clear and obvious? The truth is that it is not as clear and obvious as they claim.

    If it is true that they have completely misunderstood Islam - what does that say about Islam & the Qur’an - the clear book kitabun mubeen - the final and complete revelation to man? If the message has been so badly misunderstood by so many Muslims what does that say about the message?

    My view is that the Qur’an is not perfect and I believe it’s time we Muslims admitted that the Quran and Sunna can indeed lend itself to very harsh and violent - yet perfectly valid interpretations. The solution is not to try and twist the texts to come up with a counter-interpretation but to simply accept the fact that the Quran is not perfect. It is not infallible. It can be wrong.

    Muslim reformers, such as there have been throughout Islamic History have never challenged this idea that the Qur’an is perfect. In fact the usual word for reformer in the context of Islam does not actually mean reform - the word used is mujaddid which means “renewer”. Reform in the Islamic context means calls to return to “true, pure and unadulterated” Islam of the Qur'an & Sunna. Their “reforms” have been about halting change rather than bringing about change. Many puritanical groups have arisen throughout Islamic History such as the al-Muwahideen, almurabiteen, and the Khawarij - all with the same aim of bringing Islam back to its pure unadulterated roots. As such the Wahhabis and Salafis of today can be seen in this tradition of tajdeed - renewing Islam and ridding it of corruptions and innovations. Most if not all Muslim reformers have been restricted within this paradigm.

    Even Liberal and Progressive Muslims of today who seek to bring about a more peaceful and inclusive form of Islam never claim they are reforming Islam. Instead they claim they are bringing Islam back to it’s true message. They accept the same starting point of a perfect divine Qur’an and so instead of simply rejecting problematic verses they are forced into absurd linguistic gymnastics in order to claim that God’s perfect word never actually said what it appears to have said - and what 1400 years of scholarship believed it said. Liberal & progressive arguments depend on tenuous nuanced readings of the Qur’an and forcing new meanings out of ancient words. They scrape the barrel of the ancient texts to find something that will support a more progressive view.

    But by playing this game within the rules of a perfect divine Qur’an they only hand victory to the traditionalists and fundamentalists because it is the traditionalists who have by far the greater evidence to support their views. Any theological workarounds a liberal can come up with can be easily countered by traditionalists with a vast array of Qur’an and hadith at their disposal.

    Now I’m not saying the traditionalist and fundamentalists represent the true Islam, because in my view there is no such thing as “True Islam”. Islam is not and never has been a single homogenous entity. Of course many Muslims argue that there is a True Islam, but that is because they believe the Qur’an is perfect and is the carefully planned work of an Omniscient and Omnipotent God. They are compelled to defend it's integrity and consistency against all reason.

    Ironically many far-right anti-Muslim bigots also insist there is only one “True Islam” and they say it is the Islam of ISIS and the extremists. They want to convince everyone - including Muslims themselves - that moderate forms of Islam are wrong and that real Islam is the terrorists' version. Muslims who deny this are practicing Taqiyya or are ignorant. They do this because they want to justify their hatred & violence towards Muslims.

    But those of us who take the view that the Qur’an is the rather less carefully planned work of a human mind, should not make the mistake of expecting a perfectly consistent and non-contradictory message over 23 years from a 7th century human being reacting to events as they happened. There are certainly interpretations that can be argued to be closer to what Muhammad brought in 7th century Arabia. But one cannot claim they all constitute a single consistent view. When liberal and progressive Muslims accuse the Salafis of being selective in how they interpret Islam, choosing to overlook the more peaceful and tolerant verses, they are right. But what they forget to mention is that they are just as selective when they choose to overlook the more harsh and rigid verses.

    What Muhammad did and said varied at different points over the 23 years of his prophethood. His message changed shape and direction as events did and with the need to please and attract differing tribes and individuals. From the early days in Mecca to the position of power he found himself in Madina. The Qur’an contains contradictions, ambiguity and vagueness leaving the door open to a multitude of interpretations.

    Some argue that the principle of abrogation means that the more peaceful and conciliatory verses are no-longer valid. This is a favourite argument of the far-right anti-Muslim bigots who again want to insist that more liberal versions of Islam are wrong and “true Islam” is the violent forms. However the doctrine of abrogation is largely a creation of later scholars who were compelled to reconcile the contradictions in the Qur'an - which of course cannot exist since it is the perfect word of God. They took their cue from 2 similar but rather ambiguous verses in the Qur’an. For example verse 106 of al-Baqara says:

    “Any revelation We cause to be abrogated or forgotten, We replace with something better or similar.”

    They used this to argue that any verses that contradicted each other could be explained by the later one abrogating the earlier one which usually meant Medinan verses abrogating Meccan ones. However they didn’t agree on which verses abrogate which since there is not always agreement on when verses were revealed or even the reasons they were revealed (asbabunuzul). Some scholars even went as far to argue that a verse that was revealed in Mecca was then revealed again in Medina in order to make it fit their view.

    Many modern Muslims reject the whole idea of abrogation which of course gives them a little more scope to argue that early peaceful and conciliatory verses are in fact more valid than later violent ones since the violent ones are tied to the specific context of Muhammad’s struggle with the Meccan while the earlier ones are of a universal and general in nature. This was the argument of the Sudanese scholar Mahmoud Taha and his student Abdullahi Al-Naeem.

    Mahmoud TaHa was executed for apostasy in Sudan which shows how dangerous and difficult it is for liberal & Progressive Muslims to challenge the status quo.

    Even when they are listened to they cannot decisively defeat the fundamentalists using scriptural arguments as long as they concede the Qur’an perfect. Because the harsh literalist interpretations of the fundamentalists will always have the greater weight of classical scholarship on their side. Their hands will never be free to simply pick and choose using reason, since God’s divine words trumps flawed human reason every time.

    The belief that the Qur’an is the perfect word of God shuts down all argument and sidelines human reason & conscience. There can be no stronger motivation than "God said it". One can’t argue with God. Few Muslims have the courage to challenge the idea that the Qur’an is God’s word. Those that do are immediately labelled apostates and they are either executed or forced to leave Islam thereby silencing all dissent from within Islam.

    However contrary to popular belief all the Arabs at the time of Muhammad did not swoon at the words of the Qur’an believing it to be of divine origin. The Qur’an itself testifies that many Arabs rejected the Qur’an’s claim to being the word of God. Muhammad was accused of being a soothsayer and a poet. He was accused of recounting nothing but myths and fairytales and it took a long and violent struggle to win over Arabia - not an intellectual one.

    Even after Islam there were Muslims who rejected the Qur’an’s claim to be inimitable. For example Al-Jaʿd ibn Dirham, tutor to the Umayyad Caliph Marwan, said "The Qur'an's eloquence is not a miracle and people can do the like of it and better." The Mu'tazilite scholar Abu Musa said "People are able to produce the like of the Qurʾān as regards eloquence, and composition and rhetorical beauty." The Sunni scholar Abu al-Qushairy said: "We do not claim that everything in the Qurʾān is in the highest rank of eloquence." Ibn al-Rawandi a Mu'tazilite scholar - who was accused of being a Zindiq (heretic) - said "Indeed the Qurʾān is not the speech of a wise god. In it are contradictions and mistakes and passages that are in the realms of the absurd."

    During the Islamic Golden Age this movement of dissent grew and was labelled al-Zanadiqa (The Heretics) by its opponents. But it nevertheless boasted some great scholars & poets in its ranks including the Muslim physician al-Razi, the poets Omar al-Khayyam & Abu Ala’ al Ma’arri (whose statue was destroyed by ISIS fighters when they took his home town of Ma’arrat al-Nu’maan near Aleppo in Syria). All these scholars and poets openly questioned the view that the Qur’an was of divine origin and it’s ironic that for a period at least during the Islamic Golden Age such bold expression was tolerated to a greater extent than it is today.

     Al-Razi was particularly scathing about the Qur’an saying:

    “You claim that the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Koran. You say: 'Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one.' Indeed, we shall produce a thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better meter. … By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: 'Produce something like it'‽”

    However with the rise of Europe during the Renaissance came the decline & stagnation in the Islamic world and what little free-thought had existed during the Islamic Golden Age came to an end. The doors of ijtihad were closed and scholars no longer braved new frontiers. Instead they concentrated on preserving and imitating the past.

    Today however there are signs that there is a new awakening of free-thought despite the rise & alarming spread of Islamic neoconservatism - in fact it may be in part a reaction to such regressive movements that are in such stark contrast to reason and reality in the 21st century and are a never ending source of cognitive dissonance for many rational and educated Muslims.

    For example the modern Iranian scholar Abdul Karim Soroush writes:

    “According to the traditional account, the Prophet was only an instrument; he merely conveyed a message passed to him by Jibril. In my view, however, the Prophet played a pivotal role in the production of the Koran… Like a poet, the Prophet feels that he is captured by an external force. But in fact the Prophet himself is the creator and the producer. The question whether the inspiration comes from outside or from inside is really not relevant, because at the level of revelation there is no difference between outside and inside. The inspiration comes from the Self of the Prophet.”

    In Iraq the scholar Ahmad Al-Qabbanji states quite openly in his lectures that the Qur’an is not perfect nor flawless and has compared it to human texts which he highlights passages that are superior to passages of the Qur’an. (For this who speak Arabic you can find plenty of his lectures on Youtube.)

    The Moroccan scholar Saeed Nasheed published a book in Arabic last year titled: Modernity & the Qur’an - in it he says:

    “The Qur’an is not the speech of God, just as the loaf of bread is not the work of the farmer. God produced the raw material, which was inspiration, just as the farmer produces the raw material, which is wheat. But it is the baker who turns the wheat or flour into bread according to his own unique way, artistic expertise and creative ability. Thus it is the Prophet who was responsible for interpreting the inspiration and turning it into actual phrases and words according to his own unique view.”

    My own view is perhaps even more radical. I am both Agnostic & Muslim. I don’t know if God exists or not - though I do believe in “something” - something I cannot define nor quantify but I call it God. I enjoy many aspects of the Islamic traditions that I have been brought up in and practiced for over 50 years of my life. However when I went through a period of doubts and became convinced that the Qur'an was not the perfect word of God but very much the product of a human being from the 7th century - I left Islam for a while. I thought I had no choice. I had always been led to believe that if you don’t believe in the divinity and perfection of the Qur’an you can’t be a Muslim. But I never felt entirely comfortable identifying as an Ex-Muslim and still found myself attending prayers and Islamic events with my family and friends.

    All the things that I had loved and drew comfort from during my 50 years as a practicing Muslm were still there. I still enjoyed prayer and connecting with that something beyond this material existence I call God and I was surprised to find that having doubts as to whether there was anyone actually listening didn’t take away the comfort, hope and relief I gained from sharing my thoughts and feelings. I still enjoyed the verses and hadith I had always loved and treasured. Seeing the Qur'an as fallible didn't change all that. So why should I be forced to leave Islam? Particularly when Islam so badly needs voices of dissent and change from within. And when Muslims - including loved ones - are being bullied and oppressed by religious authorities who rely on our silent compliance.

    So yes I am a Muslim who believes the Qur'an is not the word of God. Plain and simple. Like all human books it contains good and bad. It is inextricably tied to its context and environment. I openly and unashamedly pick and choose the good parts and reject the bad parts based on my conscience, human reason and our 21st century context.

    I see no reason to abide by the definition of the very fundamentalist authorities I oppose and who are the cause of our problems and I propose a new definition for a Muslim. One who is freely able to place reason above revelation. Who does not have to apologise for picking and choosing - for “cherry picking” as our detractors like to scoff at. Selecting the good and leaving the bad according to human reason is the eminently rational and reasonable thing to do. It is the “All or Nothing” approach that is irrational and leads to the suppression of one’s humanity.

    Why should being honest & admitting what is patently obvious mean you can’t be a Muslim? Why should we have to keep on defending (or dishonestly wriggle out of) passages that are simply wrong. Let’s reject them and move on. It really is as simple as that.

    Though of course the journey getting to that point is not simple. Embracing doubt while retaining faith is not an easy process but it is possible and enlightening. Doubt can accommodate faith, but crucially it eliminates extremism. Fanaticism cannot occupy the same space as doubt and reason. As Voltaire said: “Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a absurd one.”

    Perhaps the irony is that most Muslims already pick and choose - the only difference is that I’m simply proposing they do this openly and unashamedly without the ridiculously tenuous and disingenuous apologetics that are ultimately self-defeating.

    I will give you an example from verse 34 of Surat al Nisa which in microcosm reflects the dilemma Muslims face and how belief in a perfect Qur’an prevents us from reform. The verse says:

    “As for those women from whom you fear rebellion (first) admonish them (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) hit them.” (4:34)

    This has been the cause of endless problems & cognitive dissonance for rational and liberal Muslims in this day and age where humanity has evolved beyond such a barbaric mentality and where the relationships and roles of men and women have changed drastically from 7th century Arabia.

    However the insistence on a perfect divine Qur’an has meant that Muslims must earthier defend wife beating against their very conscience and rational mind - or they are forced to invent dishonest and ridiculous apologetics to try to make the verse mean something completely different. Apologetics which fool none but a tiny minority of Muslims who have retreated to an ivory tower of the absurd - a make-believe land where up means down and left means right and anything can be as you wish it to be.

    Muslims are as yet unable to simply say “The Qur’an wrong.” - They can’t say this because of the insistence that the Qur’an is perfect and infallible.

    Reform can only come once we get over this hurdle of an infallible Qur’an. It is not infallible. It is not perfect and it is not the word of God. That doesn’t mean it is all bad. There are many beautiful and mystical verses such as ayatuNur, Ayatul Kursi, verses about giving charity, helping others, seeking comfort and strength from prayer, helping the poor, good behaviour and character, honesty, personal responsibility, kindness, humbleness and so on…

    But there are also verses about eternal torture in Hell, chopping hands off thieves, flogging fornicators, and keeping slaves. As for Hadith I won’t even go there as they have already begun to be seriously doubted and jettisoned by many Muslims, due some of cruel, barbaric as well as absurd and comical nature of their content.

    It’s time we Muslims realise that recognising the human origins of the Qur’an does not mean we have to lose comfort and solace Islam gives us. It means we will have the dual benefit of eradicating extremism while preserving that which is worthwhile.

    To those who say that is impossible to combine faith with doubt & skepticism I would say firstly I myself have reached that point. Secondly why should such a pragmatic realism be harder than the massive efforts most believers put into struggling with cognitive dissonance?

    And as someone who was born & brought up in the UK I am surrounded by plenty of examples of secular Christians, Jews, Hindus and others who pray in church or temple, christen their children, have religious weddings, attend festivals & services. Who draw comfort and identity from their faith - yet can still embrace doubt and maintain a healthy skepticism. Muslims are not a different species. They are human beings like everyone else and have the same capacities and possibilities as everyone else and I consider it racist to think otherwise.

    As for those who say we are better off without religion - perhaps that right - but regardless of what one thinks about religion the fact is it has and continues to provide a great many people with meaning, comfort and motivation in a world that is often confusing, cruel and full of conflict. The fact that all these religions are man-made does not negate their effectiveness as a vehicle to ease the anxiety of life & to reach out to the unknown.

    Recognising the Qur'an's human nature does not have to mean the end of Islam, but it will mean the end of unreasonable defence of tenets that belong to an earlier stage of human evolution. It will mean freeing human reason and conscience and allow Islam to evolve as humans evolve. It will mean the end of religion poking its nose into every facet of our lives by self-appointed moral busybodies. It will free us to make our own decisions and life choices and leave judgment to God not man. Religion is between you and God. Believe as you wish but do not impose it on others.

    Muslims must take the bold & essential step of challenging the belief that Qur’an is infallible. It is an essential step, because once you stop protecting ideas on the basis that “God said it”, you create a level playing field where good ideas can battle it out with bad ideas on an equal footing - without some being protected on the false basis that “God said it.” It allows reason to be the deciding factor for whether something is accepted or rejected, rather than: “Because it’s written!” No more searching for tenuous interpretations or changing the meaning of words into something else, just so we can avoid the problematic and uncomfortable meanings.

    As long as we refuse to appreciate that the Qur’an is human-authored, we will be forced to continue playing the game within the traditional paradigm that the fundamentalists are best at. We will disarm ourselves of the only weapon that can defeat them – reason. Only when we recognise that the Qur’an and Sunna are fallible can we free Islam from the prison of dogma we placed it in.

    Islam is far more than the Qur’an and Sunna. Like any major religion, it is the amassed wisdom, practice, cultures and beliefs of millions of believers in different parts of the world over many centuries. Religion at its most fundamental a way of seeking comfort, solace, strength and meaning in a harsh world where man finds himself alone and vulnerable - an aid to help us get by - a way to reach out to the heavens. But it must never be allowed to replace reason and humanity.

    It is the fundamentalists who are destroying Islam by stripping it of the very things that has made religion relevant to human beings. They want to reduce Islam to a blind following of ancient texts and strip away any semblance of progress, human reason and humanity. They want to take us back 1,400 years to a harsh and barbaric context and place that has no place in the 21st century.

    Accepting that the Qur’an is fallible will not destroy Islam. It will destroy the fundamentalists. For the rest of us it will free us and free our reason so we can take what is useful and reject what is not.  



    Cutting all that Hassan's talk.,let me put them in  few statements .. in short Hassan Radwan  "REJECTIMONY" says

    Quote
    1).  ......My view is that the Qur’an is not perfect and ........

    2).  .............. Quran and Sunna can indeed lend itself to very harsh and violent - yet perfectly valid interpretations. ............

    3). .......... simply accept the fact that the Quran is not perfect. It is not infallible. It can be wrong..................

    4)......Even many liberal and progressive Muslims insist Islam is perfect and it is only Muslims themselves that need to be reformed. It is Muslims who are misguided and hold erroneous interpretations - the Qur’an is the perfect word of God. It can never be wrong....
     
    5).   .........The truth is that it(QURAN)is not as clear and obvious as they claim..........

    6).  ............... Instead of simply rejecting problematic verses (OF QURAN) they (Muslim Intellectuals ) are forced into absurd linguistic gymnastics in order to claim that God’s perfect word never actually said what it appears to have said - and what 1400 years of scholarship believed it said......  


    well I can add more  points from Hassan's rejectomony   talk .,  but those six points to say in short..

    "Quran is  NOT the word of Allah/God "

    That simple statement if every Muslim preacher and every Muslim politician and every non-Muslim  politicians that act as politically correct robots all the time  'SPEAKS OUT LOUDLY DAY IN AND DAY OUT" .,    then  Muslims  can reformed  with-in 10 years   and practise their faith as cultural Muslims  freely anywhere in this universe  and also use some of   the Quran verses freely   in their daily lives without offending any one .
     
    Goodone..goodone.. That guy  was good as person

    with best
    yeezevee

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #27 - July 06, 2017, 10:48 PM

    Here's a French site trying to revive Mu'tazilism: http://mutazilisme.fr

    On twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/MutazilaParis

    Q & A (in French): https://spiralezone.net/2017/02/27/questions-reponses-avec-le-site-de-mutazilisme-fr/amp/
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #28 - July 07, 2017, 01:19 AM


    .https://mobile.twitter.com/MutazilaParis  .........to revive Mu'tazilism........

    dear zeca  it is too late and it is too little in Islamic world.,  

    Even to start with  Mu'tazilism had problems in as early  as  late 9th century and early 10th century with that guy Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari(874–936 CE) a  alleged  descendant  of  alleged Prophet of Islam  "Muhammad's"  companion   Abu Musa al-Ash'ari   who was involved in the early Muslim conquest of Persia.....

    At the tag end  of its life,  Mu'tazilism itself morphed into something else ., So the point is   as long as majority of Islamic world (including revived Mu'tazilites of France or any other part of the globe ) do not accept the fundamental fact of this folder which Hassan Radwan  trying to highlight (Quran is NOT word of Allah/God  even if Allah/God exists).,   Any revival of Islam with any other name or any sect of Islam  will fail.,

    1. Jarudiah; 2. Sulamania; 3. Butriyah; 4. Yaqubiyya; 5. Hanafiyah; 6. Karibiyah; 7. Kamiliyah; 8. Muhammadiyyah; 9. Baqiriyah; 10. Nadisiyah; 11. Sha'iyah; 12. Ammaliyah; 13. Ismailiyah etc..etc....
     


    73. Ahmadiyya:

    etc...etc... sects  of Islam will have problem  in this modern world.  

    And the present Islamic world is full of  One Islam.... one god...... one ummah.... Islam is all the goody goody  truth......Convert to Islam.....revert to Islam...subvert to Islam...... pervert to Islam..... business

    ...........A deceiver is still a deceiver no matter how he wants to conceal the truth. SO
     Scrutinize Islam by yourself and find the truth on your own.......
    ....

    and that is not from me but   a friend messaged me  on a online discussion

    https://www.councilofexmuslims.com/index.php?topic=30531.msg862481#msg862481

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Is Islamic Reform Possible
     Reply #29 - July 07, 2017, 02:27 PM

    Given that there are still violent verses in the new testament, yet the problem of violence in Christianity is less significant (though still apparent) than the violence in Islam, do you think that there are still other ways, despite reform, that can be applied to reduce Islamic extremism?

    This could include better background check for immigrants,
    Surveillance of mosques,
    The government helping the actual moderates out with funding and exposure,
    The establishment of an individual with a Pope-like role in Islam, to help provide objectivity,
    *Methods to help integrate those from other cultures,
    The push for the end of political correctness, etc.

    I guess reform is the one that would have the most critical effect, but how far do you think the problems in Islam today can be solved through the use of these other methods?

    I am not asking this question defensively as the unconventional Christian believer I undoubtedly am, but I honestly want to know where you can find any divine sanction or instruction to violence either by God or Jesus in the NT?   Jesus lost his temper at the temple and overturned the merchant's and money lender's tables - so certainly a bout of bad temper.   Someone else on CEMB quoted Jesus words from Matthew 10.34:36 which are worth quoting because they can at first sight seem to indicate advocating violence:

    "Do not think I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household.   He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.   He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it".

    These words do not advocate violence between family members, but they certainly indicate sharp doctrinal division and that his disciples had to place their love of him above any and all family connections.  The 'sword' is rhetorical.   The words Jesus was speaking to orthodox Judaism of his day were revolutionary and challenging in the extreme.   But at no point did he attempt to use force to defeat his doctrinal opponents.   In fact the last piece of evidence I humbly submit is his arrest prior to crucifixion.  His apostle Peter takes a sword from one of the temple guards sent to arrest Jesus and cuts off his ear.  Jesue orders Peter to desist and submits to his own arrest and eventual crucifixion.

    The gospel of John is a spiritual vision foretelling a violent future for mankind but is not in any was a call to arms to carry the gospel message forward to overcome its opponents.   

    So ... please give me the evidence of NT violent admonition.  I am all ears and eyes.

    *That's not to say people can't bring their own culture to our countries, but when their values clash with ours, I believe we should take action to ensure they do not pose a threat to our own civilisation. Especially when they come from countries with no history of human rights.


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