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Who are the "true" Muslims?

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I've never read the Qu'ran and don't know what it actually says. Whose interpretation of it do you think is closer to correct, the "extremists" who carry out acts of violence and want to impose Sharia law by force, or the harmless ones who repudiate terrorism and violence? Because I know that the term "extremist" is often applied to anyone whose views are consistent, I'm inclined to assume that the "extremists" are the ones who are actually following the dogma.

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It is not a matter of correctness, it is matter of what Muslims think they can get away with based on their numbers and relative power within a society.   Three Stages of Jihad is a 20 minute video

This type of change probably has to take more than a single generation... youth rise up and change their fathers' creed. One would have hoped that Islamic terrorism against the West would get Muslims

Happiness, If the question is "who is consistent" with regard to Islam, the terrorists are most consistent. While there are many passages espousing peace, and in the Arabic language, many passages ar

I've never read the Qu'ran and don't know what it actually says. Whose interpretation of it do you think is closer to correct, the "extremists" who carry out acts of violence and want to impose Sharia law by force, or the harmless ones who repudiate terrorism and violence?

As CT2000 says, there are some contradictions already in the text. So, one person can take the sentence that says there should be no compulsion in religious matters, while another can take the calls to war against infidels and consider that to be fundamental.

Theologically Islam is a variant of Christianity... a bit like Mormonism. If you leave out its stance on war and conversion, it takes Judaism and Christianity, and runs with it. It does not regard Jesus as God or son of God, but it shares this with some other early Christian sects. Indeed, Mohammed's critique is echoed by the early Christian sects who said that mono-theism implies that Jesus was not God, criticizing the idea of a "trinity" as a deviation from monotheism.

 

The big difference is that the prophet became a secular ruler [second part of the book / his life], while the early Christians were a subordinate people vis-a-vis their Roman rulers. So, he  used calls to religion to get the hoi-polloi to fight his enemies. Some moderate scholars claim that the wars that Mohammed fought were not primarily religious, but centered on things like raided caravans and geographical territory. The calls to fight the infidels, they say, were a way to motivate people to fight the enemy. 

 

Importantly, it is not just about the Quran. The Hadiths are pretty important too. They're similar to Gospel, since they report on things the prophet said and did.

 

There clearly are violent elements in Islamic scripture as a whole. However, a moderate muslim can take the view that he will discount some parts of the Hadith as not fully reliable, and has to interpret certain parts of the Quran "in context". He could then end up with something that is theologically like Christianity, and having dropped its other baggage. In practice, this is what various Muslim sects did, and this is what a lot of Muslims still do.

Edited by softwareNerd
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God doesn't exist.  So a religion that adopts a moral/ethical stance on a particular issue that is based on the will of God is not being - by definition - objective.  And a non-objective stance is nothing more than whim-worshiping.

 

If any religion happens to take a moral stance that turns out to be reasonable and objective, then it's more a case of "Even the blind squirrel finds an occasional nut."

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Happiness,

If the question is "who is consistent" with regard to Islam, the terrorists are most consistent. While there are many passages espousing peace, and in the Arabic language, many passages are tranquil pose and poetry, the passages instructing aggression, violence, and death to the "infidels" is explicit. Fortunately, there are a great many "inconsistent" Muslims, as there are a great many inconsistent Christians and Jews. Personally, I don't consider hypocrisy the worst character trait. Mohammed was an aggressor-warrior; Jesus Christ was a sacrificial offering. Neither merit the emulation. That both have achieved mythical scope is undeniable and unfortunate.

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It is not a matter of correctness, it is matter of what Muslims think they can get away with based on their numbers and relative power within a society.

 

Three Stages of Jihad is a 20 minute video that puts forth a theory for understanding and reconciling the contradictory stances of Muslims on the subject of peaceful co-existence.

 

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Given the contradictory nature of the book I think what it exactly says is open to wide interpretation. However, the extremists are definitely adhering to certain passages more consistently. Like when it says chop of the heads of non-believers: http://quran.com/8/12

 

There are passages in the Quran stating that later verses abrogate earlier ones when such contradictions exist.  This article explains:

Peace or Jihad?  Abrogation in Islam

 

The Qur'an is unique among sacred scriptures in accepting a doctrine of abrogation in which later pronouncements of the Prophet declare null and void his earlier pronouncements.[9] Four verses in the Qu'ran acknowledge or justify abrogation:

 

   *  When we cancel a message, or throw it into oblivion, we replace it with one better or one 

       similar. Do you not know that God has power over all things?[10]

   *   When we replace a message with another, and God knows best what he reveals, they say: 

       You have made it up. Yet, most of them do not know.[11]

   *   God abrogates or confirms whatsoever he will, for he has with him the Book of the Books.

       [12]

   *   If we pleased, we could take away what we have revealed to you. Then you will not find 

        anyone to plead for it with us.[13]

 

Rather than explain away inconsistencies in passages regulating the Muslim community, many jurists acknowledge the differences but accept that latter verses trump earlier verses.[14] Most scholars divide the Qur'an into verses revealed by Muhammad in Mecca when his community of followers was weak and more inclined to compromise, and those revealed in Medina, where Muhammad's strength grew.

 

 

 

This also helps to support the "Three Stages of Jihad" video that Grames posted.  

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Mohammed was an aggressor-warrior; Jesus Christ was a sacrificial offering. Neither merit the emulation.

True. It's also true that Jesus Christ did not create Christianity, the way Mohammed created Islam.

In fact, the man who created Christianity (or at least ruled over its creation by the group of missionaries he elevated to the status of Church leaders) was the emperor Constantine. It is this group of men who chose the Christian myths and dogma that govern the Church, not Jesus Christ. Jesus was one of many Jewish prophets who have lived and died without leavin any kind of a legacy beyond vague legends created decades after they lived.

And Constantine's purpose was the same as Mohammed's: the unification of people in a geographical area, under his banner. And he was just as aggressive as Mohammed: he viewed and treated Christ as a god of war, which served only one purpose: to help him defeat his enemies, make himself the emperor of a unified Rome, and then help him and his successors rule it.

Yes, Christianity is geared more towards holding an empire than towards conquering one, because by the time Constantine sat down to actually create it, he had already defeated all his rivals and was secure on his throne. But it is a religion that serves the political purposes of a tyrannical ruler, same as Islam.

The reason why it is no longer used that way is because the age of Christianity is gone, and now we have other political ideas holding us together. Time to impose those same ideas on the Arab world. Through force, if necessary.

As for the OPs question: it's the billion or so people who claim to be Muslim. Islam, just like Christianity, can be adapted to the purpose of living in peace among people of other beliefs. It's not that different. Just as devout Christians can live in peace, so can devout Muslims. As long as their devout to the right parts of Islam (but that's equally true for Christians).

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Three things about Islam you may not have known.

1. Islam has not been hijacked.

2. Striving to implement worldwide Shari'a Law is a religious duty.

3. Muslims are allowed to deceive non-Muslims, if it helps Islam. (This section reiterates what Craig24 cited earlier.)



https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=d8c38_46W5c[/media]

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1. Islam has not been hijacked.

There are Islamic scholars who would dispute this. However, for the sake of argument, let's say that proponents of extreme forms of Islam reflect what Mohammed really meant.

Today, most Muslims do not believe in an evangelical calling. So, for the sake of argument, let's say they're simply giving a modern spin to what Mohammed said. Let's assume they're following something they call "Islam", which is at variance to the original intent.

What would be the implications?

In other words, what is the relevance of an objective reading of the original text?

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It would only provide a first hand awareness of what it actually contains.

 

I can't claim to have read but isolated sections of it, mostly to look up citations.

Ibn Warraq's book "Why I am not a Muslim" is one of the two books I've read on Islam. The other was one loaned to me that was written from a Christian's perspective.

Daniel Pipes is another lone voice (and Islamic scholar) that states a similar message.

 

It would be nice if, as Nicky put it, the billion or so people who claim to be Muslim. Islam, just like Christianity, can be adapted to the purpose of living in peace among people of other beliefs.

The reports of incidences from predominantly Muslim enclaves tend to make me highly dubious.

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It would only provide a first hand awareness of what it actually contains.

Sure,  there's a certain historical interest in understanding the original, but the directly relevant factor for the rest of the world is: what is the actual ideology-in-practice of people who call themselves Muslims, It is this ideology that impacts events, and reaches across borders.

 

To illustrate, consider the hypothetical case where the original of an ideology was fairly innocuous, but current-day followers have interpreted it to be violent. These people would be a threat, regardless of the original ideology. It is their actual ideology that matters, not what they ought to read into the teachings of the original. 

 

Analogously, if some politician says he is a Rand supporter, but he has interpreted her ideas in all the wrong ways, would he deserve support from an Objectivist? If another politician supports a move toward individual rights, while he mouths some bromides about the virtue of altruism, should he be shunned?

 

Too often, when I hear people argue that Islam's original version is truly violent, it sounds like they also want to claim that most Muslims follow the original version; but, how does this follow? Where is the connecting syllogism between the two?

 

I think the bottom line is that people who follow this line of thinking view Muslims much more monothically than is warranted by reality. It's analogous to saying Objectivists are conservatives. It is an easy view to hold, because it groups more existents under a single concept; but, it is a false view. And, being a false view, it obscures potential solutions.

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Perhaps it is time for me to re-read Ibn Warraq's book.

 

It is rare in one's life that one has an opportunity to show on what side of an important life and death issue one stands -  the Rushdie affair and the rise of Islam are two such issues and this book is my stand. (This book was published in 1995)

 

Written by a man born into a Muslim family, he recounts learning to read the Koran in Arabic without understanding a word of it, before learning to read or write the nation language - a common experience for thousands of Muslim children. Presumably a relatively small portion of those living in the Middle East.

 

The Preface continued further referenced:

The most infuriating and nauseating aspect of the Rushdie affair was the spate of articles and books written by Western apologists for Islam -  journalists, scholars, fellow travelers, converts (some from communism) - who claimed to be speaking for Muslims. This is surely condescension of the worst kind, and it is untrue: these authors do not speak for all Muslims. Many courageous individuals from the Muslim world supported and continue to support Rushdie. The Egyptian journal, Rose al-Youssef even published extracts from the Satanic Verses in January 1994. The present work attempts to sow a drop of doubt in an ocean of dogmatic certainty by taking an uncompromising and critical look at almost all the fundamental tenets of Islam.

 

Religion is a form of primitive philosophy. Philosophy is a power from which no man may abstain. One other dot, wont to connect, is the small percentage of intellectuals actually required to implement change in a culture1 (Objectivism included.)

 

Analogously, if some politician says he is a Rand supporter, but he has interpreted her ideas in all the wrong ways, would he deserve support from an Objectivist? If another politician supports a move toward individual rights, while he mouths some bromides about the virtue of altruism, should he be shunned?

 

Too often, when I hear people argue that Islam's original version is truly violent, it sounds like they also want to claim that most Muslims follow the original version; but, how does this follow? Where is the connecting syllogism between the two?

Two excellent concretes to begin with. It would be the connecting syllogism1 that would need further clarification on my behalf.

 

Edited: Removed, Added.

Edited by dream_weaver
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It is pretty common that ancient books have multiple authors and editors. It is convenient to imagine a "Homer" even if we aren't sure the whole work was by one person, or suspect that the work has been edited heavily and we have lost the original.

Most Christians know that the bible is not a single book, but a collection put together centuries after Christ. Whole books and gospels were kept out, and the rest was edited. Any layman reading the Koran will immediately recognize that it does not have a single author. The dis-organization in certain parts, and the repetitions make this clear even on a cursory reading. In other words, the Koran we have today was clearly not from the prophet Mohammed, but was attributed to him. (Some would attribute it to God himself, but we know that ain't how it happened.)

Suppose a modern Muslim can come to accept this much: that the text of the Koran has been mediated by authors, compilers and editors from centuries ago. That's all it takes to play it deuces wild. That's sufficient basis to allow a modern Muslim to pick and choose too, just as modern Christians do. Fundamentalist Christians who deny evolution implicitly understand this; that once you treat the book as a human-mediated text, it is a slippery slope to all sorts of modern interpretations.

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It would be nice if, as Nicky put it, the billion or so people who claim to be Muslim. Islam, just like Christianity, can be adapted to the purpose of living in peace among people of other beliefs.

The reports of incidences from predominantly Muslim enclaves tend to make me highly dubious.

Most western Muslims do live in peace with their neighbors. Why do the isolated examples of people who don't make you dubious that it's possible to live in peace and be a Muslim?
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It is pretty common that ancient books have multiple authors and editors. It is convenient to imagine a "Homer" even if we aren't sure the whole work was by one person, or suspect that the work has been edited heavily and we have lost the original.

Most Christians know that the bible is not a single book, but a collection put together centuries after Christ. Whole books and gospels were kept out, and the rest was edited. Any layman reading the Koran will immediately recognize that it does not have a single author. The dis-organization in certain parts, and the repetitions make this clear even on a cursory reading. In other words, the Koran we have today was clearly not from the prophet Mohammed, but was attributed to him. (Some would attribute it to God himself, but we know that ain't how it happened.)

Suppose a modern Muslim can come to accept this much: that the text of the Koran has been mediated by authors, compilers and editors from centuries ago. That's all it takes to play it deuces wild. That's sufficient basis to allow a modern Muslim to pick and choose too, just as modern Christians do. Fundamentalist Christians who deny evolution implicitly understand this; that once you treat the book as a human-mediated text, it is a slippery slope to all sorts of modern interpretations.

The Koran has been mediated by authors, compiler and editors. It leaves open the question of "Which Koran?" Uthman (644-656) tried to implement a single variant, sending it out with orders to destroy the others, and with the thousands of variants that existed, even the Uthman version was affected. Yet, according to Ibn Warraq's book, "all Muslims - not just a group we have called "fundamentalist" - believe the Koran is literally the word of God." It would be instructive to know how many think otherwise.

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Most western Muslims do live in peace with their neighbors. Why do the isolated examples of people who don't make you dubious that it's possible to live in peace and be a Muslim?

Many western Muslims do live in peace with their neighbors. Will they continue to do so when they are 30-40% of the local population, or is Marseille, France and to a lesser extent London, England's stories related to more  'a few bad apples' simply because there are more apples?

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  • 3 months later...

Hundreds of 'No-Go Zones' Across France Are Off-Limits to Non-Muslims

 

There are an estimated 750 no-go zones across France, large, insular neighborhoods where the government has all but surrendered authority to the Muslim community.

Many of these areas are governed by Islamic Sharia law, and the state is unable to provide even basic public aid such as police, fire and ambulance services.

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In Saudi Arabia, a blogger is being lashed every week for something considered blasphemy.

However, here's how some Arab cartoonists responded to the Hebdo attack.

 

We're basically witnessing the middle-east finding its way to identity and also to modernity. The Arab Spring started the next phase in that history, and is already causing some to question whether religious parties are the answer. Recently, the Egyptian President spoke about questioning ideas and teachings that have been held sacred for years even though they don't go back to the start of Islam. [This might seem like a little tweak, but it is far more significant than the Arab league condemning the Hebdo attack.] 

 

Another interesting link, This is about how many Muslims in Iraq reacted to the persecution of Christians by ISIS.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Historically, there have been periods where the teachings have been questioned from within the Muslim communities. In general, the questions and questioners have not been well received. Christianity had its Thomas Aquinas. Earlier attempts to integrate Aristotle's works with the Koran resulted in the rejection of Aristotle.

 

Having something similar to these enclaves on my back porch (Hamtramck, and Dearborn) heightens my concerns when these situations erupt. Hamtramck used to be a popular place to go shop for Polish meats and baked goods. The community has changed over the years, and recently the Muslim community through the political process, implemented the call to prayer being broadcast such that it can be heard throughout the city. The Polish community has all but left the area. On Packzi day, conversations often contain a rueful, I used to go to Hamtramck to pick them up, but not any more.

 

It would be nice to see articles like the ones you linked to coming across Drudge Report and other more frequented news dedicated websites.

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Historically, there have been periods where the teachings have been questioned from within the Muslim communities. In general, the questions and questioners have not been well received. Christianity had its Thomas Aquinas. Earlier attempts to integrate Aristotle's works with the Koran resulted in the rejection of Aristotle.

Nevertheless, the intellectuals of most Muslim sects can probably accept a larger role for reason within a generation or so. A thousand years ago, armed with just a couple of key ideas, the Mu‘tazalites were accepted to a certain degree in some areas. If those little ideas had stuck, Islam would be very different today. Instead they lost the intellectual battle. However, people routinely use reason every day, so what it takes is a key intellectual who can gain traction. There have been other movements too. Some Sufis had a very ecumenical approach, and influenced some break-away sects. The influence of modernity can have an influence because exposure to different ideas motivates people to try integrating those ideas with their own philosophy. So, under western colonialism you see some Muslim scholars hark back to the Mu'tazalite ideas, and read the Koran with fairly modern eyes. With the opening up of the middle-east, this is bound to happen again.

 

Another factor is the incentives of the "second estate". Historically, aristocrats played a role in certain turning points of religious revolutions, because it suited them. [Consider the German princes backing Luther, and Henry VIII's break with Rome.] It is unfortunate that the Saudis, with the most anti-reason school of Sunni Islam, ended up getting so rich on oil. Even if the few top leaders are more modern in their personal thinking, the power of their priests is so high that the rulers have a tiger by the tail. Al Sisi's call to Egyptian intellectuals can be seen in this light: the second-estate trying to argue for a change in philosophy, because they see such a change favoring them. They need the priests to change tack in order to keep the population in line.

 

Having something similar to these enclaves on my back porch (Hamtramck, and Dearborn) ...

I've not been to Hamtramck, but I don't think it is a no-go zone. As for Dearborn, I've been there a few times and have never felt it less safe than a neighborhood of equal wealth. I'd be much more nervous in Chicago's south side.

I think it is a good bet that the so-called "no go zones" that Fox and friends speak of are more akin to bad urban zones in the U.S. The problems tie into poverty and the welfare state, and clanning together around Islam is like clanning together around being black, or Korean or Vietnamese.

 

It would be nice to see articles like the ones you linked to coming across Drudge Report and other more frequented news dedicated websites.

Drudge caters to an audience who seek out a certain spin. So, practically, the only way to get such stories is to diversify news sources.
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Many of the comments on this thread have been insightful, informative, and truthful. I only want to comment on something I heard not long ago in a broadcast interview, comparing the recent events related to Islam, and the regions dominated by Islam, as being in the midst of a war of reformation, similar to the one experienced in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. That one dragged on for quite a while, and the end results were not all that good. Another consideration is that some are using a term, Eur-Arabia, acknowledging the expanding presence of so many Muslims in Europe and Great Britain, many of them finding it difficult to assimilate. One can only hope reason prevails.

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There are a number of parallels with Christian theological development in the Mu‘tazalites article mentioned. In a loose way, they resemble Calvin and Luther's break with Catholicism. The problem of evil also reappears therein. Glimpses of the power of philosophy's role in the culture at large show that it does cut both ways, influencing for the better or worse as reason is embraced or shunned.

 

"Man," held Aristotle, "is the rational animal." "Original sin" added Rand, "is a slap in the face of morality." To embrace reason takes effort (moral), while there are those that hold man as inherently lazy (immoral). These, and other opposed issues are strewn about on the battlefield for man's mind.

 

I did not mean to imply that Hamtramck is a no-go zone. The wealth issue may well play a role. It is a city within a city of Detroit - which in turn borders Dearborn. As a poorer neighborhood in general, it can be unsettling to go there. Being surrounded by Detroit doesn't help this much. Charlie LeDuff, an investigative reporter, wrote a book "Detroit: An American Autopsy". The Nation of Islam played a significant enough role in his reporting on the politics to add to many other things that I've been exposed to intellectually. My concern relates to the direction headed. Perhaps it's still too early to tell. America, after all, is an unprecedented phenomenon.

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... reformation, similar to the one experienced in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. That one dragged on for quite a while, and the end results were not all that good.

This type of change probably has to take more than a single generation... youth rise up and change their fathers' creed. One would have hoped that Islamic terrorism against the West would get Muslims moving, but change happens more when it hits one at home.

 

The Arab Spring has been an important catalyst to re-thinking. ISIS -- by out-doing blatant muslim-on-muslim violence -- is causing a re-think even inside Iran, where the government recently held an anti-terrorism conference [the scope may not sastify a westerner, but it is change that comes from elites fearing they might lose control]. The speech by the Egyptian president is in the same vein. In Pakistan, the army was shaken up recently by the attack on a school. Now, their elites are also trying to draw a line.

 

I'm hopeful that change will happen much quicker than in the Christian reformation. Today, ideas travel rapidly. Also, secular counter-examples (to emulate) abound. 

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