A new approach to Theology

The other day I read about a study (published about a month ago), which made me feel that today, more than ever, the importance of building strong and intelligent Islamic institutions, headed by a strong and intelligent Islamic leadership of scientists and scholars, is fundamental in facing contemporary challenges, both within the Islamic Ummah (nation), and external to it. This study found that:

‘European school books present a distorted image of Islam and Muslims, using stereotypes that breed mistrust of the faith and its people, …

This slanted view reflects “cultural racism,” concluded Germany’s Georg Eckert Institute for textbook research, which analysed 27 volumes used in classrooms in Britain, France, Austria, Spain and Germany. The report, which was presented at the foreign ministry in Berlin, was billed as the first of its kind in Europe. “Islam is always presented as an outdated system of rules which has not changed since its golden age,” Susan Krohnert-Othman, the institute’s project director, told reporters.’

and, more importantly (my emphasis):

‘The researchers called on schools to present information on reforms advocated by Muslim clerics and intellectuals as well as the modernisation process within the religion.’

So, scholars of the west view Islam ”as an outdated system of rules which has not changed since its golden age”. And if scholars think that way, one cannot blame anyone except oneself for the materialists and religion-phobes attitude towards religion and its followers.

Therefore, from this e-podium, I propose something our intelligent and socio-politically aware scholars, from the late Imam Khomeini (qs) (who in my view, was the first modernizer of this religion of his generation), to Martyr Muhammad Baqir Al Sadr, to our esteemed scholar and Marja’ Seyyed Kamal Al Haydari, have been advocating and dedicating their lives towards (and in the case of Al Sadr, were martyred in the process). They revolutionized Islamic thinking, revitalized interest in religion, and helped pave the way for scholars like Murtadha Mutahhari and Dr Ali Shariati to spread their genius to the masses.

Firstly, scholars (and their students) of theology and theosophy, should explain religious doctrines (Divine unity, Prophethood, Imamate, etc), both to their followers and be prepared to answer challenges and questions from outside of the religious seminaries.

The importance of correct inference (Istidlal) should be emphesized in the seminaries. There exists 3 ways to provide evidence: scientific (istidlal ‘ilmi), rational (istidlal ‘aqli/burhani), and scripture (istidlal naqli). Therefore the theologian/theosopher should understand the subject matter at hand, so that he/she can apply the correct method of providing evidence.

You see, this is where the materialists started confusing the two (knowingly or un-knowingly). They request evidence for a subject using the wrong methodology. They fail to understand (again knowingly or un-knowingly) that you cannot use the empirical scientific method to prove the existence of a non-material being. Just like you can’t use scripture to prove evolution or any other scientific theory. You have to specify the subject matter before deciding which method is suitable to establish the proofs.

One law established in the materialist school of thought, within their concept of logic, is that any subject that cannot be proven empirically (ie in the external visible material world) is not even worth addressing, or to prove its truth or falsehood is pointless. They calim the first question when dealing with the concept of a god, is not whether such a concept exists or not, but the question should be whether this concept has a meaning or whether it is nonsensical. And they believe that all concepts pertaining to religion have no meaning at all and are nonsensical, so it is pointless to investigate their truth or falsehood. So we ask them, what is the method to establish whether a concept has meaning or not? They say: a concept has meaning if you are able to establish the subjective reality of that concept by seeing whether the truth or falsehood of the concept changes the subjective reality of it. So for them, the existence or non-existence of God is the same, since there is no change in the subjective reality in either case.  So based on that, to the materialists the external reality equals matter, and it is the responsibility of the theologian to provide evidence that in fact this is not so, and reality does not equal (just) matter. This has to be established before debate can continue.

The importance of the theologian to be aware of the current scientific trends and contemporary problems, socio-political, economical, etc., is essential to keeping the religion up-to-date. Along with that, he should be aware of the limits of science, the limits of the intellect and the rational method, and the limits of scripture, and to avoid mixing the methods and subject matters. To the above example of materialists, the same must be said about those who have not understood the power of the rational argument and have limited themselves to scripture. When you ask them: is God One? They say: we don’t know, the scripture available to us says He is One, and that is our proof! They failed to understand that this is a rational subject matter and hence can only be investigated by the rational argument. Hence, the one who is knowledgeable in the sciences (in the general sense of the word) of his time, is immune from any source of confusion. And it is his utmost responsibility to spread his knowledge by all means available to him.

This is where the importance of ijtihad (in the branches of the doctrines of religion) becomes evident. Just like we have ijtihad in the branches of jurisprudence, we need to keep the doctrines alive and fresh with the changing challenges of our era. And this is done by making sure the laws governing these doctrines are up-to-date and in line with the changing trends of our generation.

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Islam-Bashing Bigots Train Counterterrorism Agents

"Kill them…including the children."

‘That’s how to solve the threat of militant Muslims?

This quote is from what one official involved in homeland security said was the theme of a speech by Walid Shoebat at an anti-terrorism training in Las Vegas in October 2010.’ Chip Berlet, Huffington Post

Embodiment of western neo-marxist ideology

Usually I don’t give any airtime to alcoholic warmongers (especially when they are promoting their ‘intellectual’ garbage), but this expose in the guardian has some gems, too good to ignore, reflecting the true nature of everything that’s wrong with the west, their distorted view of reality and complete moral bankruptcy.

Here are the gems (my emphasis in red) :

‘…Hitchens argues, is that “Islamofascism” is hellbent on destroying our civilisation, and unless you fancy being bombed back into pre-Enlightenment times, you should bloody well be out there on the barricades, fighting the good fight beside him. Anyone who disagrees is either stupid, cowardly, naive or too lazy to have bothered updating their political faculties “since Woodstock”…’

‘…With hindsight, there was an early clue to his appetite for combat in the ferocity of Hitchens’ support for the Falklands Royal Naval task force, shared by few on the left. “I couldn’t possibly see the UK defeated by those insanitary riffraff!” he exclaims. “This was a diabolical liberty.”But Islamic fundamentalism presented a more promisingly meaty foe than a tinpot Argentine dictator, and ever since the 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie, Hitchens says, “I knew there would be some huge intrusion into the heart of civilisation from barbarism.

‘…And so chief among Hitchens’ emotions by the end of the day on 11 September was “exhilaration. Because I thought, now we have a very clearly drawn confrontation between everything I hate and everything I love. There is something exhilarating about that. Because, OK, now I know what I’m doing.” Just as his father had felt during the second world war? “Yes, exactly,” he agrees.’

“Do I ask myself,” he replies, “do I think our civilization is superior to theirs? Yes, I do. Do I think it’s worth fighting for? Most certainly.”

“Guantánamo slightly threatened at one point to change my attitude towards capital punishment. I thought it would have been good if some of those people could have been taken out and shot. Yeah, put up against a wall. Lincoln would have done it. Of course, I would have been against it if they had. But that’s how I felt.

‘…Where’s the point in engaging in a battle of ideas if you have no interest in being persuasive? “That seems like an invitation to soften the tone and be more agreeable.” Doesn’t he want to win the battle? “Sure.” Why, then, did he tell an interviewer in 2001: “I don’t really care whether people agree with me”? He looks momentarily surprised. “Oh, that’s too bald. What I mean is that I’m not going to soften a case in order to make it more presentable. When I’ve flung down the pen, I want to be sure that I’ve made the strongest possible case I can make – and also,” he adds tellingly, “really had fun doing it.

“Well, I’ve done better than I thought I would. I’ve made more money than I ever thought I would. I’ve got more readers than I ever thought I would, and more esteem.” He now earns “several hundred thousand dollars a year” – but claims his wealth hasn’t influenced his opinions at all.’

‘Does he think wealth ever affects people’s opinions?Well, yes, I’m a Marxist, after all.” So why would his own opinions be mysteriously immune to his bank balance? “Well, because I can’t trace any connection.” Doesn’t he find that unusual? He pauses to consider. “Well, no, because I think that comes in with inherited wealth.”

‘It seems to me so evidently the case that Hitchens is an alcoholic that to say much more feels unnecessary. But for the record, he trots out all the usual self-serving, defensive evasions: “For me, an alcoholic is someone who can’t hold his drink” or, “I’m not dependent, but I’d prefer not to be without it. The longest he has ever been was a dry weekend “in ****** Libya”, and he claims he drinks only to make other people less boring..”

And the islamophobe’s most despised historical figure?  Imam Khomeini (rA).

Neda and Marwa: a Tale of Two Murdered Women

One Becomes an Icon, the Other is Unmentioned, By WALID EL HOUR, Counterpunch :

”Neda’s death became an icon of the Iranian opposition and a symbol for millions of people of the injustice of the Iranian regime and the defiance of the protesters. Neda’s death was put in context. It was taken from the personal realm of the death of an individual to the public realm of the just cause of a whole society.

On July 1st Marwa El Sherbini, an Egyptian researcher living in Germany, was stabbed to death 18 times inside a courtroom in the city of Dresden, in front of her 3-year-old son. She had won a verdict against a German man of Russian descent who had verbally assaulted her because of her veil. Her husband, who rushed in to save her when she was attacked in the courtroom, was shot by the police. Marwa’s death was not reported by any Western news media until protests in Egypt erupted after her burial. The reporting that followed focused on the protests; the murder was presented as the act of a “lone wolf,” thus depriving it of its context and its social meaning.

The “lone wolf” who stabbed Marwa 18 times inside the courtroom is the product of the society he lives in. If anything, the murder of Marwa should raise the discussion about the latent (perhaps not so latent anymore) racism against Muslims that has been growing in European societies in the last few decades, and noticeably so since the mid-90s.

What is significant to note is that in Neda’s case the media accused the Iranian regime as the authority responsible for the context in which the crime was committed rather than looking for the person who actually shot her. The accused is the establishment or the institution rather than the individual shooter. However, in the case of Marwa’s murder the media were persistent in stressing on the individuality of the murderer, calling him a “lone wolf”, implying that he is a social outcast who holds no ties to the society he lives in. The murderer was given a name “Alex W.” and the institution, the society, and the establishment he lives in were taken away from the picture.

While Neda’s death enjoyed wide arrays of interpretations and readings in context, Marwa’s death was deprived of its context and was presented as a personal tragedy, featuring a madman and his victim. Meanwhile Europe keeps shifting to the right at an accelerating pace, and cultural stereotypes, failure to integrate (read: social and political alienation), miscommunication, and a growing financial crisis only nourish this trajectory and support the populist and chauvinistic discourse of various newborn and resurrected right wing parties.”


A Response to “Jihad at the Heart of Islam”

This is a response from Eng. Abdolali Bazargan to an interview between Minister Robertson and CNN, dated Tuesday November 26, 2002.

”Please allow me to wish you a merry Christmas and to extend my best wishes for your success in propagating the objectives of that model human being, Jesus Christ, Son of Mary.

Last month I heard your speech, critical of Islam, and your follow up television interview with CNN anchorman. For me as an Iranian Muslim it is with wonder and sorrow that I ask, why in an age when the believers in God and his holy prophets should be united and kind to each other and protect one another against injustice and corruption, by mental and physical cooperation, an important Christian personality says things about Islam and the Qur’an that are miles from the truth. Of course, such attacks against Islam have been taking place for a long time in the American public media and unfortunately very few speakers have the fairness to distinguish between a true religion and the practices of those who claim to follow that religion. And if it were not for lack of statements in your interview indicating that you yourself are at a juncture in understanding and are perplexed and bewildered that if Islam is a savage religion why then there are millions of peace-loving Muslims, I would have accepted your words as with the rest of the other taunting comments toward Islam and the Qur’an and would have ignore them with sorrow and indifference. But your claim that you are not against Islam and that you have many Muslim friends encouraged me to show you, with reliance on the Qur’an, that your concept of the Qur’an is not correct. I would like to invite you, due to your distinguished religious position and the responsibility that you bear toward God in following the style of Jesus Christ, at the minimum, to read the Qur’an once without prejudgment so that you will be able to see that not only the Qur’an is not in contradiction with the real teachings of Jesus Christ with respect to peace and friendship, but that it is the certifier of and is complimentary to such teachings. Unfortunately, lack of opportunity to directly communicate with you had so far prevented me from doing so, but today which is the birthday of Jesus Christ, because of his prosperity and blessed being, I decided to write some elucidations for you and I hope that God will provide the opportunity for me to send this to you.

1) The axiom of your speech which the CNN reporter had made into a title was, “Jihad at the Heart of Islam.” Forgoing the fact that no such phrase has ever been used in the Qur’an, the meaning of Jihad, contrary to what contemporarily is translated is not violence and terrorism. The meaning of Jihad in the Qur’an is the use of the ultimate exertion and struggle while accepting difficulties and hardship in order to attain the objective, in which case defending one’s people and custom against the aggressors is one of the meanings of the word Jihad. The other meaning of Jihad according to the Qur’an is cultural struggle by the way of the Qur’an as guidance for human beings (25:52). The other and the most important meaning of Jihad is control and harness of the self which the prophet has called Jihad-e Akbar or the Great Jihad.”

With respect to armed military Jihad, if you consider the circumstances at the time and place when and where the prophet lived and his responsibilities toward the people and how he had to defend his followers from the non-believers and primitive tribes worshiping idols, who considered monotheism to be against their and their ancestral beliefs, you will judge differently. The appearance of the prophet of Islam took place in an era when ignorance, pillage and plunder, poverty, adultery, infanticide and many other forms of corruption were common.

If being armed and preparing for Jihad and war is absolutely unacceptable then how is it that the followers of Jesus Christ, the holy prophet of God, more than other nations in the world, strive and search, day and night, to produce all kinds of weapons for mass slaughter of human beings and sell such weapons to other countries and produce the largest and best equipped armies of the world!?

2) No verse in the Qur’an places the other-than-believer in a status of compulsion to choose between changing one’s religion and death. All the wars during the time of the prophet have been with polytheists and non-believers or the Jews who had transgressed or had used treachery and had cooperated with enemies of Islam to violate contracts regarding peace and reconciliation for coexistence. The best proof of this fact is Chapter Tobah which takes the harshest stance toward the enemies of Islam. In verse four and seven of this chapter, by making an exception for those non-believers who had not violated their contracts, it shows that the recommended harshness was never because of their polytheism beliefs and has merely addressed contract violations which in those days and tribal environment and culture meant declaring war and hostility. In the Qur’an war overall is prohibited and permission is granted exclusively to those who have been attacked and victimized by the enemy (22:39). Of course the Qur’an has permitted combat but only in the way of God (not for aggression, expansionism or imposition of ideas) and then only with those who fight them and then only to fend off the attackers and without infringing upon the rights of the enemy (2:190).

In the Qur’an it has been stressed that there is no compulsion in religion (2:256). Then according to which verse have you claimed, several times, that the Muslims want to kill us (Christians and Jews)? Can you show a verse, as a sample that only because of opposing beliefs (even polytheism and atheism) for the Muslims to be allowed to bother others?

3) You have mentioned that the Muslims consider the Jews to be descendents of monkeys and pigs. This statement has no universality whatsoever. Just as among any people and followers of any religion there are very good and very bad persons, the Qur’an has rebuked those people of the Book (the Jews) who have strayed from the right path and who have committed debauchery, fornication, libertinism, bribery, aggression, transgression, and injustice, and has compared their profiteering to pigs, their imitations to monkeys and their allegiance to power masters as to servants of the riches. The Qur’an has used these analogies whose personifications and fulfillments remind us of the qualities and attributes of human beings. (5:60)

One cannot understand the judgment of the Qur’an with regards to the Jews solely from a verse that is exclusively about those who have strayed from the right path. For your information and a more comprehensive look I will mention the following points:

3.1) The Qur’an in 16 verses has confirmed and acknowledged the Torah and the Bible [1] and has nominated them guidance, light, sermon and mercy [2]. How is it possible to place the followers of these Books in a state of compulsion to choose between death and changing their religion and customs? The Qur’an has introduced itself as their guardian [3].

3.2) Whereas the name of the prophet of Islam has been mentioned in the Qur’an only four times, the name of Moses has been mentioned 136 times, Abraham 69 times, and Mary and Jesus together have been repeated 70 times. In addition, the names of noble prophets such as Issac, Jacob, Yusuf, Solomon, David, Yunis, etc., have been mentioned repeatedly. According to the Qur’anic orders, the Muslims have no right to allow for the slightest discrimination among the prophets [4], and to selfishly follow the path of separation and disunion. How then is it possible for the Qur’an to commission the Muslims to kill those who the Qur’an says should be supported?

3.3) The Qur’an has stipulated that the people of the Bible have to judge according to what God has sent to them (their own Book) or else they would be outside the bounds of their religion [5], and the Qur’an has ordered the prophet of Islam to tell the people of the Book (Jews and Christians), “You are nothing (not dependent on anything worthy) unless you uphold the Torah and the Bible.” [6]

3.4) God has commissioned the prophet of Islam to tell the people of the Book:

“Say: We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma’il; Issac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to God [not our tribal and racial inclinations] do we bow our will (in Islam).” [7] (3:84)

3.5) Not only because of the above declaration which has been repeated in the Qur’an several times in different languages, but also because the Prophet of Islam had orders to invite the people of the Book to unite with the Muslims around three common axioms: Monotheism, separation from polytheism, rejecting allegiance to the masters of the riches.[8]

3.6) The Qur’an stipulates that:

“…To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If God had so willed, He would have made you a single People, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute;” (5:48)

3.7) Not only the Qur’an has not nullified practicing Torah and Bible, but it has emphasized that:

“If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: but many of them follow a course that is evil.” (5:66)

3.8) The Qur’an has taught the Muslims that:

“Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth.” (7:159)

The Qur’an has glorified the good people of the Book in an unparalleled way. It says,

“Not all of them are alike: of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (for the right); they rehearse the Signs of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration.” (3:113)

“They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: they are in ranks of the righteous.” (3:114)

“Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for God knoweth well those that do right.” (3:115)

In another fair comparison the Qur’an says:

“Among the People of the Book are some who, if entrusted with a hoard of gold, will (readily) pay it back; others, who, if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless thou constantly stoodest demanding, …” (3:75)

As you can see in the above verses, ten attributes : stand (for the right); rehearse the Signs of God all night long, prostrate, believe in God and the Last Day, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works, are in ranks of the righteous, the good that they do…. which are of the highest praise have been considered for them.

In your opinion, is it possible for a Book that has so much praise for the good people of the Book to have commissioned the Muslims to kill them?

3.9) The Qur’an has added,

“Then in their wake, We followed them up with (others of) Our apostles: We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him Compassion and Mercy.” (57:27)

How is it possible for a Book that calls a people to be compassionate and merciful to recommend violence against them?

In another place the Qur’an emphasizes,

“Strongest among men in enmity to the Believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the Believers wilt thou find those who say, “We are Christians”: because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. (5:82)

In your opinion, isn’t there a contradiction between negative judgment about the Qur’an and these recommendations?

3.10) It is good for you to know that in addition to Chapter “Mary” which consists of the story of the life of Zakaria, Yahya, Mary and Jesus Christ, one of the most detailed and lengthy chapters of the Qur’an is about “the Family of Imran” that is the pure and God-loving family of the parents of Mary. Also Chapter “Ya-Sin” which is called the heart of the Qur’an, speaks of the missions of three apostles (representatives of Jesus) for the guidance of the people of Anatolia. Believers have high praise for “Ya-Sin”. With respect to the prophetic mission of Moses for guidance of the children of Israel, there are four chapters allocated to this exclusive matter [9]. In the rest of the Qur’an there are numerous references to the above.

With all these factual evidences, do you still think that the Qur’an has ordered the slaughter of the Jews and the Christians?

Of course one cannot deny that in addition to the above eulogistic verses about positive and beneficent people of the Book, in many verses there are rebukes and reproaches against tyrants and those who have strayed from the right path, just as there are many verses which rebuke hypocrites and unprincipled Muslims. I don’t think you would claim that those whose birth certificates alone identify them as Jews or Christians are honest and pious beings.

In summary, the Qur’an considers all prophets to be teachers of one school and their followers to be students of the same school who, according to their age and academic standing have gathered in different classes, but in reality belong to the same educational establishment.

The Qur’an many times recommends to Muslims to declare to the Jews and Christians that your God and our God is the same and that we are all his servants and we shall return to him.

The Qur’an in two different verses has promised the followers of Moses and Jesus, just as with the followers of Mohammad (peace be upon them all) that:

“Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:62 and 5:69)

Is this your answer and is this the secret of your humiliation toward the Muslims and your being at a loss to understand as to how, in spite of the Qur’an being accused of violence, there are millions of peace-loving Muslims?

Best wishes for the fulfillment of global peace and ultimate brotherhood for true followers of all prophets of God.

————————————————————————————————

[1] (Baqara) 2:41, 89, 91, 97, 89, 101
(Al-i-‘Imran) 3:3, 39, 50, 81
(Nissa) 4:47
(Mai’da) 5:46, 48
(An’am) 6:92
(Hud) 11:37
(Ahqaf) 46:12, 30
(Saff) 61:6

[2] Mai’da) 5:46
(Hud) 11:17

[3] (Mai’da) 48

[4] (Baqara) 2:136, 285
(Al-i-‘Imran) 3:84

[5] (Mai’da) 5:47

[6] (Mai’da) 5:69

[7] (Al-i-‘Imran) 3:84
(Baqara) 2: 136

[8] (Al-i-‘Imran) 64

[9] (Ta-Ha) 20
(Shu’ara) 26
(Naml) 27