They have forsaken the Lord (Part 3) – Robert’s Reply

James:
Robert, I think Islam will go a long way to persuade the anti-Islam sentiment in the west (and abroad) by actually demonstrating against violence instead of for it. In this case, I don’t think words are enough. I remember that Arafat would author attacks against Israel and then with the same breath condemn it afterward to show face. I think the actions of the leadership must mirror the ‘peace’ elements of the faith – if they exist (as I am not yet convinced due to the obvious and my own shortcomings).

P.S. I ran across an interesting site called http://thereligionofpeace.com, they make some pretty compelling points (amid the ambiance of the site).

Robert (Muslim):
The amusing thing that I find when such allegations are levied is that after every question and accusation is answered, the return argument goes right back to the beginning.

It starts:
Non-Muslim:  oh I read this or that in the Quran/Hadith therefore, Islam is violent
Muslim:  Well, this is what it actually means based off of context, history, language, etc.
Non-Muslim:  Well OK, what about women, non-Muslims, and of course the age of Aisha
Muslim:  Well, many of these things are cultural and have no root in the teachings of actual Islam
Non-Muslim:  Well where are all the condemnations, fatwas, etc. against these teachings
Muslim:  Here they are (hundreds, thousands, from around the globe)
Non-Muslim:  Well I still believe Islam is violent
Muslim: ????

Repeat…

I don’t know but websites like “thereligionofpeace” and the rest of the “smoking gun” sites in which I am well versed, continue to feed people’s fear, ignorance of Islam, and in some instances prejudice.

Their method is the same:  Isolate Islamic text and history+current events=Muslims must be violent or Islam teaches such

However, what is missed using the same logic:

Isolate Biblical text and Christian History+current events=Christians/Westerners, etc are violent by a landslide  or…

Isolate Biblical text and European History+current events=Europeans/whites are racist and violent or…

Isolate history+current events of inner cities in America+throw in BET=all blacks are criminals, gangsters, pimps, and ho’s

My point:  It’s flawed logic no matter how you twist it and dare I say a hypocritical trap.

If we are going to ask someone what they believe and why and have already decided we are not going to believe what they say before they answer, then what’s the point in asking the question in first place?

James:
Robert, I’m afraid it’s not that simple. I asked you what you thought (about the article) because I wanted some insight into how Muslims, when faced with such allegations, would respond. Your rebuttals appear to be somewhat persuasive on the surface, but I was never one to take anything at face value or first glance. Unfortunately, it takes more than two days of dialog to nullify a lifetime of empirical evidence. The reality of the violent acts of many Muslims around the world is not easy to forget or explain away. Your claim that the perpetrators do not represent true Islam may in fact be true but I’m not convinced as of today. Obviously, Dave Hunt’s points do not represent a comprehensive list of problems that are found in the Quran, Hadith, Mohammed’s legacy or the history of Islam so it is premature for you to assume that you have satiated all concerns in regard to the apparent violence that is associated with Islam’s followers and its texts. I do think that our dialog is fruitful as you have helped demonstrate that there are Muslim apologists that try to defend Islam intellectually rather than physically through terror. Rather than assume your responses should be sufficient to change our sentiment perhaps you should ask us what evidence are we prepared to accept as sufficient to persuade us that Islam is truly a religion of peace.

Secondly, the logic you describe only works because the text (in this case the Quran) provides ample fodder; I would argue that the same is not the case for Christianity. You can surmise the full meaning of any biblical verse by reading its surrounding chapters or related verses, this is commonly referred to as the context. The same cannot be said for the Quran. When asked to explain verses that are plainly controversial,  most Muslim apologists appeal to a context that is not found or supported in the Islamic text, so a lot depends on ‘versions’ of history and the eisegesis of various commentators. In Christianity, we have a concept called “the perspicuity of scripture.” This essentially means that the message the author is trying to convey should be very clear (in most cases) consequently we can take most verses at face value (barring the presence of any literary devices). On the other hand, it seems that most of the time it is incorrect to assume the Quran can be read or taken plainly. This is very inconvenient as I expect most Muslims do not have time to comb through the eisegetical, voluminous, expositions of various commentators. Perhaps this is the reason why the many Muslims miss the ‘true’ meaning of Islam.

Robert (Muslim):
I principally agree with your argument, minus the “apologist” comment.  Just last night I ranted for an hour on my show:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theamericanmuslim about the need for Muslims to not be apologetic and get done what needs to be done.  I have had professors, fellow Muslims, etc. repeat my sentiments, and I have support all almost every continent on the planet, not to trump myself up, but I’m merely saying I’m the real deal.  With this work comes controversy, I have gotten emails from Muslims who have verbally attacked me from the Middle East and one Iranian who didn’t like my comments about their President, yada, yada, yada, I even remarked how it’s almost comical that on one side I have to debate non-Muslims about the essence of what Islam truly is, as well as Muslims, go figure!

When you say:

“You can surmise the full meaning of any biblical verse by reading its surrounding chapters or related verses, this is commonly referred to as the context. The same cannot be said for the Quran. When asked to explain verses that are plainly controversial,  most Muslim apologists appeal to a context that is not found or supported in the Islamic text, so a lot depends on ‘versions’ of history and the eisegesis of various commentators. In Christianity, we have a concept called “the perspicuity of scripture.” This essentially means that the message the author is trying to convey should be very clear (in most cases) consequently we can take most verses at face value (barring the presence of any literary devices). On the other hand, it seems that most of the time it is incorrect to assume the Quran can be read or taken plainly.”

I most certainly disagree on several points.  I understand as a Christian it’s natural for you to put your scripture on a higher level, I have been there done that.  But where I disagree is that Christianity in it’s modern context of the last several centuries is only understood in the English “western” concept and by it’s design is made to look easy.  So when you make comments about the scripture I most assuredly disagree not just as a Muslim, but also as a student pursuing his degree in Early Christianity and NT.  What you will find once you dig, is that the modern context is overly simplified once you get to the original texts, history, and languages.  The same has always been true of the Tanakh any Rabbi would assert that.  So my arguments about the text and context of the Quran actually are identical to the previous texts.  The problem is the Quran hasn’t been “whitewashed” for lack of a better word to make it doctrinal or dogmatically easy to read.  It exists in it’s original form without revision.  Now if one were to start reading original texts (well those that survive) of the Bible, the contexual arguments would be exactly the same.  You say that in order to understand context in the Quran one must look to other sources, I completely disagree.  In fact I am one of the Muslims who hardly ever look at Hadith for example to amplify a verse outside of clarifying more in depth.  In fact I quoted Quran specifically to address “controversial” text.  It isn’t Muslims who have the problem explaining, it’s non-Muslims that have the problem understanding the nature of the Islamic text.  We don’t just read one verse and say “ahah this is Islam” in fact the Quran says so of itself that the only way to truly understand the book is to contextualize in only after reading the entire book itself.  This is where Muslim and non-Muslim alike fail.  You cannot extract a verse or even several out of the Quran to get the essence of the book, it just doesn’t work like that.

3:7 He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves – and these are the essence of the divine writ – as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer – albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.

The context of the book is firmly rooted in the book itself.  The Hadith are merely designed to show application.

Salvation:  Belief in the One God of Abraham (saw) and work righteousness.
Life after Death:  On the day of Judgment we will all be raised again and rewarded for what we did in this life good or bad.
Nature of God:  Beneficent, Supreme, Most Merciful, and Oft turning to Mercy of course there are the 99 names or attributes of God, you can google that
non-Muslims:  Will have their reward with God as well, Jew, Christians, Sabians, etc. any who believe in God in the last day will go to paradise.
Peace:  Is better than war and is the first option in all things
War: Only in self defense against oppression and persecution
Rules of War:  Never kill the innocent under any circumstances, stop fighting when hostilities cease, never start a war, and never transgress these limits
Women:  Equal to men in every regard, only differing in nature, and physical attributes

I could go on and on and this is all scripture in the Quran ask and I can point you to it.

Furthermore, context is relative to the text in question.  You simply can’t apply the same standard of reasoning from one text to another.  Especially if you don’t consider the nature and make-up of the text.  The Bible more or less is written lateral.  This happened, then this, then that.  The Quran isn’t.  So to apply the same scriptural method to both books is just wrong.  If I were to read the Vedas for example and applied my scriptural understanding of the Quran or the Bible to a Hindu text, I would most likely get all readings wrong too.

The truth of the matter is there are fundamentals to Islam that almost all Muslims agree that many of the refuters never mention, because many don’t know.  You have Aqeeda, Tawheed, and the Pillars.  All that other stuff that makes for good debate really has no bearing on the faith of the Muslim.  Sort of like how many Christians fundamental belief is in John 3:16 or Romans 10:9 and all the other things like the role of women in the church are secondary in nature.

The real question is where do we go from here?  What’s the actual point?  As you said so yourself, by what measure will you accept or deny?  I don’t expect or even believe that my words will change anything in the short term, however my words should at least be an opinion to reflect, that is obviously in direct opposition to you and others predisposed beliefs.  One thing is for certain on a more personal level, from your interaction with me, you know that I obviously don’t advocate that which you believe Islam does.  You have interacted with me in person and now in the email in depth.  I’m on record on my blog and my show, and I’m beginning to move forward with speaking engagements and who knows what else.  So by living the example of what I believe and teach.  That leaves a fundamental question:  If Islam is what you or others say it is, but I’m a devout Sunni Muslim, then why such a stark contrast in ideas from what you consider “true Islam”?  There must be something to what I’m saying especially with the broad Muslim support I enjoy here and abroad (even in Nigeria) go figure, or we are all just blowing smoke and you and other non-Muslims are actually right.

May God lead us to the true answers…

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