Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Muslims need to open both “I’s”

As a result of a comment I left on iFaqeer’s blog on the Pope’s now infamous comments and the growth of ‘Islamophobia’ he posted an interesting response.

Part of what iFaqeer said is as follows (you can see the full response at iFaqeer)...

“caliibre in my very humble opinion, there's another "I" word that you never hear about that is even more relevant and to most Muslims (or at least it used to be, till very recently), even more authoritative.”…“Ijtihad has, more often than not actually been number 4 on the list of what carries authority in matters Islamic.” The “third source [after the Qur'an, the Hadith] of authority on matters Islamic is none other than IJMA. Ijma is, simply, the majority opinion of the global Muslim community, the Ummah. Or, in a word, democracy.” “The word has the same root, J-M-A, as Jumuah, the day Muslims gather for congregational prayer. Or the word so many Islamist parties and groups around the world, ironically, use in their name: as in Jama'a Islamiyya’…’The [radical] Islamists will never talk about it [Ijma] because their ideology, their views are not in sync with the Ijma, the opinion, the democratic opinion of the global Muslim community, the Ummah’

‘So it is not that Muslims need to come up with something completely new. It is that ALL of us--you, me, Irshad Manji (author and Islamic refusenik), Usama bin Laden (embittered Saudi dissident and world wide terrorist), Daniel Pipes (American neoconservative, columnist, author, counter-terrorism analyst and scholar of Middle Eastern history) need to stop pretending that the Islamists of today represent the traditional understanding of Islam and try to go back and engage with Muslims as they have been and though the Islamists gain ground with every outrage they cause to others or claim against Muslims and start from there.’

I understand iFaqeer’s point and his obvious frustration at the apparent influence on world opinion that the more radical elements of his religious tradition are having, however… I don’t believe its up to the rest of us to solve the problem… that responsibility lays squarely on the shoulders of the greater Islamic community [the Ummah] itself. The current furore over of the shabby (grubby?) teachings of the Australian (Egyptian?) mufti is a great example. Here the Ummah needs to refute his stance and disassociate themselves from his ancient view and Dark Age lifestyle attitudes by having him physically removed from the leadership of their religious establishment. I think religion in itself creates more harm than good, however if some people need it, so be it… HOWEVER, seeing it as a lifestyle and a natural part of civic, educational, political and cultural trends in a modern free society IS JUST NOT ACCEPTABLE for many of us in the ‘free world’.

It is not just conservative Islam by the way, conservative Christian groups are just as distasteful and many of their attitudes, in my humble opinion, are also NOT ACCEPTABLE. As an example this morning I watched Anderson Cooper 360. A segment on “Hell Houses”, (depicting hell for abortionists, gays etc., including a viewing of the crimes), that are run by Christian groups was aired. This segment showed how wacko vicious ‘pious’ religious nutters go about scaring young children out of their wits to force them into religion. One young girl went in (with her dopey mother) expecting to see something about future adult life problems (in her words) and came out devastated and in tears. To my way of thinking the organisers of these activities should be sued for child abuse. The psychological effect on children that this crap induces can screw them up for the rest of their lives. Remember also that fundamentalism always has it roots in mainstream religious teaching (Prof Dawkins). Anyway I digress.

iFaqeer goes on…

”I am not saying the traditional practice and understanding of Islam by my parents' and grandparents' generations is right and appropriate for the 21st century. In fact, I am saying the exact opposite: that we need to go to sources of Islamic authority and engage them and mine them anew for principles and wisdom relevant for this new century.”

On this point I agree with him completely – again I call for Ijtihad - now.He again says…

”And Ijma--inclusive, democratic, decision-making is right up there in the top row of principles, most Muslims used to know and believe in it [Ijma], above the "I" word [Ijtihad) you hear so much about.”

This all sounds great however the Wikipedia says the following: “In reality, ijma referred only to the consensus of traditional Islamic scholars (Arabic ulema) on particular points of Islamic law. Various proponents of liberal movements within Islam criticize the traditional view that ijma' is only a consensus among traditional Islamic scholars (Arabic ulema). They claim that truly democratic consensus should involve the entire community rather than a small and conservative clerical class, especially since there is no hierarchical system in Islam.” (*)

If world religions cannot agree on a common set of 21st century world friendly rules of engagement and how they should deal with internal conflicts and each other (let alone how they deal with secular society) I doubt that any true progress through the ideal of Ijma is possible. This view is particularly relevant in the case of Islam … proof… ongoing unremitting sectarian violence.

By the way:

Quote: “A survey showed yesterday (Nov 12 2004) that many Indonesians support the implementation of strict Islamic law, with nearly 60 percent saying they want adulterers to be whipped and 40 percent backing cutting off a thief's hand.”

Quote: “One in 10 people polled (Indonesians - Sept/Oct 2006) say they support the actions of terrorist Imam Samudra, who's currently on death row for his role in the Bali bombings. Almost one in five back the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah's use of violence to force the creation of an Islamic state.” (**)

You do the maths… 220mil X (85% Muslim pop percentage) x 60% = Y (whippings)
OK… I will help with the easier one in ten calculation… (220mil x 85%)/10 = 18.7 mil.

Just imagine that’s almost equal to the entire population of secular Australia and about 4.67 times the population of Singapore.

CNN – Anderson Cooper 360 Nov 1 2006 (*)**)


iFaqeer said...

Wonderful that you took the discussion, further Calibre! I have to remember to take what I wrote in response to your comment and make a post in itself--keeping your comments in mind. What we need is a conversation--both within and with the world Muslim community.

Anonymous said...

true...both calibre and ifaqeer are doing enourmous good through open discussion.

through such exchange we can all learn the perspectives of other and grow to understand them...and thus grow individuals and societies.