Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Listening to a Reformist Muslim

The Anchoress blogged I’ve been lucky enough to be able to correspond with a “reformist” Muslim named Ali, who is very careful with his words - which is wise, in my opinion - but also very eager to dialogue. Bear in mind that there is a distinction, naturally, between a “moderate” and a “reformist.”....

Whether he is a moderate or a reformist, at least he is not looking to find a way to kill as many people as he can.
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You must know that Islam has grown up in close proximity with Christianity. In fact, one of the Prophet’s brother in laws was a Christian (and his first wife a Jew)....
Both were People of the Book
There was no such thing as a fatwa while Muhammad was alive. Fatwa came about with the jurists in later centuries and means “non-binding legal opinion.” Each and every Muslim can accept or reject a fatwa based on his or her personal determination.
A lot seem to be accepting every fatwa that is released.
The fact that lay Muslims simply think that a fatwa is God’s word is not because a fatwa is authoritative, but because individual Muslims have conceded their individual autonomy to the scholars.
If you can't think for yourself, you need to be very sure who you decide to let think for you.
This is a very curious phenomenon because the Quran categorically states that “none shall bear the burden of another” (on the day of judgment), to suggest that each one of us is accountable for our own decisions, and that reliance upon any other person’s opinion will not free you from accountability before God. I detail this phenomenon in a post on my
blog: Geneology of Prostration - Muslim silence since 9/11. In other words, the problem isn’t that a person releases a fatwa, it’s that a believer doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to know, that he still has room to make up his own mind. A large part of this has to do with historical conditioning. Jurists have for the longest time controlled the “Islamic” discourse within Islam. In other words, if you want to talk about Islam, you first have to qualify for being a jurist. That’s absurd because the Prophet and the First Caliphs used to have debates in public squares with men *and* women who thought their decisions were absurd and yet were illiterate or country bumpkins. There is no clergy in Islam, yet we’ve created it....
And it may result in the death of a lot of Muslims that did not need to die.
one day as he was sitting with some friends, a Jewish funeral procession passed by. Muhammad stood up in respect.
As he should. Surat al-Baqara, 136 (Qur'an 2:136) says Say ye: "We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them.
When his followers said, “but Muhammad that man is not a Muslim,” Muhammad corrected them and told them to stand. Similarly, on another occassion, there was a Jewish neighbor of his who often reviled him. He used to stand in his window as Muhammad passed by and yell insults. One day Muhammad noted that the insults had stopped. After some days passed Muhammad realized that something was wrong and he went to find out if something was amiss. He discovered that the man was on his death-bed. Muhammad stayed with him until he passed away....

The problem, in my opinion, isn’t that Muhammad was a warrior. In a sense our American Founders were warriors. Napolean with his code, was a warrior. He *was* a warrior and given the time in which he lived, there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that today’s Muslims cannot distinguish between Muhammad’s personal behavior and his behavior as a leader of a community. For example, when Muhammad engaged in war, he didn’t do it just because he was Muhammad, or because he could. He engaged in it because he was the leader of a community and that’s what the circumstances dictated (we can disagree in hindsight with his determinations). Yet today’s Muslims believe that Muhammad pretty much ran a free for all. So when they get upset at something they believe that it’s time to engage in Jihad.
Perhaps it is. Is it not true that Jihad means Struggle, and that it can also apply to the struggle that a man does to conform to God's will? I think they need to worry about the internal Jihad, and not leap so quickly to killing others.
That is patently incorrect, otherwise Muhammad would have engaged in war *prior* to becoming the leader of the community — *which he never did.* In short, Muslims have forgotten that war (jihad) is the exclusive possession of the state. This is why OBL, despite his pietist stance, is actually (under classical islamic law), a heretic.

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