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Thread: Introduction to Islam

  1. #31

    Default Increase in Number of Canonical Texts

    Main > Q&A > Increase in Number of Canonical Texts


    Quote Originally Posted by Geriatrix View Post
    How can it be said to remain homogenous when there are text added to it over time?
    The core of the canon is the Quran, revealed by God, as well as the authenticated narrations that record the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad (i.e. the Hadith). All the other texts are exegetical and explanatory works. Thousands of first rank Muslim scholars have for centuries further refined and recognised these texts for their value and accuracy, which while remaining true to the core (and to the spirit of the core), the texts succeed to explain, clarify and operationalise the primary loaded sacred texts. There is no doctrinal obligation to regard the extra texts as canonical, but scholarly recognition and consensus have resulted in these texts having de facto canonical status, and scholars agree that to ignore or disregard them would be foolhardy.

    These texts shed light on themes, depth, contexts and connotations, and also provide practical guidelines for application.

    The last decade or so has seen a rise to media prominence of Muslim groups who choose to eschew these texts and even some of the core. Furthermore, the groups have "scholars" who engage in non-academic and unsound exegetical exercises, heavily influenced by their respective geopolitical contexts, as well as by their own fancies and whims. These groups were often victims of western oppression (and in many cases, oppression by their own dictators) and were also often poverty stricken. Due to these factors, and many others, their Islam became coloured by- and started to revolve around concepts such as rebellion, martyrdom, suicide bombing - to the extent of even tainting and twisting the sacred institution of jihad (righteous strife).

    While internal research within the Muslim body has shown that the groups that support this type of radicalism are very few in number (less than 3% of the world's Muslims), and those who actually participate in these types of sins/crimes even fewer, their global impact is nevertheless dramatic.

    Quote Originally Posted by PythonFSi View Post
    err . . . but . . . oh!
    Your response is not unexpected. But I hope that the above explanation sheds some light on the utility of the comprehensive range of respected canonical texts, and the dangers of discarding centuries of work that adhere to the highest academic standards for haphazard reactionary interpretations of (often angry) individuals.
    Last edited by wayfarer; 21-06-2013 at 12:27 PM. Reason: content

  2. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by samr1wp View Post
    OP not sure if you have text on the 5 pillars but i feel that is more important as a base to understanding as well
    Yes, I intend to deal with that in number 6: Islamic Practice.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by wayfarer View Post
    The last decade or so has seen a rise to power of Muslim groups who choose to eschew these texts and even some of the core. Furthermore, they have "scholars" who engage in non-academic and unsound exegetical exercises, heavily influenced by their respective geopolitical contexts, as well as by their own fancies and whims. These groups were often victims of western oppression (and in many cases, oppression by their own dictators) and were also often poverty stricken. Due to these factors, and many others, their Islam became coloured by- and started to revolve around concepts such as rebellion, martyrdom, suicide bombing - to the extent of even tainting and twisting the sacred institution of jihad (righteous strife).
    In light of this, is there some movement within the Islamic community to counter act this? Because from my limited experience, visiting with friends in Fordsburg and such like places(Indian buddies) lot's of Muslim guy's do in fact sympathize with the hardline interpretations. Where would the mainstream differentiate itself from the extremists then? Who decides which interpretation of either the core or commentaries are eschewed?
    That which comes into existence will eventually break apart and pass away

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hoxbig View Post
    What would qualify as major sins? Reason I'm asking is that I met a Muslim chic a few weeks back, and she sent me a few nudes on Friday (don't ask). Is that a forgiveable sin, and if not, under what circumstances would it be forgiveable?
    I must remember this for the next meet

  5. #35
    Super Grandmaster falcon786's Avatar
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    Great thread Wayfarer,subscribed.

    I have found that there is a definite need to clarify Islam to the majority of people that haven't been exposed to it properly except from the mainstream media.The picture painted there is in most cases hardly reminiscent of what the religion is really about IMO.
    Last edited by falcon786; 05-07-2012 at 05:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by falcon786 View Post
    Great thread Wayfarer,subscribed.

    I have found that there is a definite need to clarify Islam to the majority of people that haven't been exposed to it properly expect from the mainstream media.The picture painted there is in most cases hardly reminiscent of what the religion is really about IMO.
    +1

    As always Wayfarers exhaustive knowledge will really help in ironing out some of the more pressing issues.
    Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight - Og Mandino.

  7. #37

    Default Muslim Efforts to Combat Extremism (1)

    Main > Q&A > Muslim Efforts to Combat Extremism (1)


    Quote Originally Posted by Geriatrix View Post
    In light of this, is there some movement within the Islamic community to counter act this?
    This actually introduces us to the next topic on the contents page, which is that of diversity within Islam. I will post on that shortly. I am, however, wary of this degenerating into a politics thread, as the CA sub-forum has shown what filth political zealotry can produce.

    Extremists in the form of Kharijites existed since the first century of Islam, springing to prominence during the reign of Ali, the 4th Caliph, where they were militarily and politically opposed. The term neo-Kharijite is often used to classify modern extremists. Extremist deviations from the mainstream seem to have always existed throughout Islamic history, albeit in different shapes and sizes. Often, their disputes with the mainstream were political, rather than doctrinal. While the mainstream Muslim body is extremely diverse (homogeneity comes in specifically in terms of doctrine, and not necessarily in the finer nuances of practice or in political views), some mainstream scholars have rejected these extremists as being outside the fold of Islam, while others have held that they should be considered corrupt (and excessively sinning) Muslims.

    If you have ever tried to research Islam online, you are likely have either landed on some sensationalist hate-site against Muslims, or some equally sensationalist hate-site run by extremist Muslims. On the extremist sites you can expect to see slogans or sayings scrolling across the screen, consisting of one or two statements from canonical texts taken wholly out of context, and several other angry political statements. These groups are politically motivated, and religion is used when they find it expedient to do so. Almost all Muslim governments have instituted anti-extremism and terrorism legislation (including some corrupt middle-eastern regimes, as it gives them pretext to stifle even legitimate opposition). The ordinary Muslim is not normally defensive or reactionary, and scholars have traditionally stuck to teaching the timeless and primordial doctrine and teachings, and operationalising these in a way that is relevant in the modern world. Polemics and exposing deviations were traditionally considered as a branch of the religious sciences - important - but not to the extent of having to take its (sometimes loaded and complex) arguments to the lay Muslim masses.

    This has changed since 9/11, an event which sent shock-waves through the Muslim and non-Muslim world. While some reeled in horror at this heinous crime, many in the 3rd world who had for generations been victims of Western and colonial/neo-colonial oppression and usurpation actually rejoiced. For some in the Muslim world, too, the knee-jerk reaction was to celebrate. Muslim scholars, while understanding this emotionally loaded reaction, also understood the spiritual implications of what is clearly a crime and a sin, and they were quick to condemn terrorism, and admonish their peoples. And so momentum has been growing to challenge this deviation head-on, to the extent that some scholars (such as the Cape Town based Shaykh Yusuf da Costa) have gone so far as to say that the Jihad of the day is the fight against extremism. If you are a Muslim and attend Muslim Afternoon/Sunday School, or go to mosque, you should know all about this Jihad against Wahhabism/extremism. Otherwise, all you are likely to know about Islamic activism is what you glean from IOL, Fox, CNN, etc., and you would probably have a very skewed understanding of the internal movement against extremism, to the extent that you would not even know that it exists.

    The scholarly challenge is that while the masses are exhorted to tolerance, patience and religiously sound action, Muslims in various locations globally interact with aggressors invading, usurping and oppressing them, whether it be in the guise of the US/NATO "war on terror", or Zionist or Soviet aggression, or even persecution by their own corrupt dictators/monarchs. Islam does not prescribe passive acceptance of persecution, and permits self-defense. And while scholars insist on Islamically acceptable action, even non-Muslim psychologists/academics have expressed understanding when it comes to truly desperate people fighting for their land and for the lives of their families (as in the case of Palestinians living as refugees in their own country, kept under constant curfew, demoralised, humiliated, starved and oppressed).

    See also: Muslim Efforts to Combat Extremism (2)
    Last edited by wayfarer; 08-11-2012 at 09:50 PM. Reason: link

  8. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geriatrix View Post
    Because from my limited experience, visiting with friends in Fordsburg and such like places(Indian buddies) lot's of Muslim guy's do in fact sympathize with the hardline interpretations.
    Perhaps the post above would help answer this question too. It may be advantageous to differentiate between having sympathy for those fighting to defend their own lands and peoples (the vast majority of these are mainstream), and the Al-Qaida/Bin Laden types who have extremist doctrine, extremist political philosophy and believe in the language of violence. I am not sure which of these your Fordsburg acquaintances sympathise with, but if it is the latter, I would find it highly problematic. While South Africa's Muslims find themselves in the position of having just exited a period characterised by radical resistance to our country's own forms of oppression (and this would place SA Muslims in a unique geo-political position), SA Muslims are by and large mainstream, and extremists are rare. SA Muslims have been part of the struggle, and they are very much part of the multicultural society of the new SA. While SA Muslims have been recognised as being among the most practicing/devout Muslim minorities in the world, they are also noted as being among the most integrated.

    Where would the mainstream differentiate itself from the extremists then?
    The point is that it is not the mainstream that differentiates itself, but the extremists who deviate - and there are infinite possibilities as to how/where this can happen.

    Who decides which interpretation of either the core or commentaries are eschewed?
    Interpretations arrived at through thoroughly using universal scholarly/academic standards (such as applying Aristotlean logic principles) and based on actual primary (Quran/Hadith) evidence are regarded as valid. Applicability, though, depends on context. The interpretations that do not meet these criteria are eschewed by scholarly consensus.

    There is much room for differing interpretations and tolerance of differing views within mainstream Islam. The same cannot be said of the tiny extremist minority. A famous saying by classical Muslim scholars is that having differing scholarly opinions/dispensations is a form of God's mercy.
    Last edited by wayfarer; 04-08-2012 at 07:53 AM. Reason: improved readability

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrYes View Post
    I have serious issues with sharia law in most muslim countries.
    Yes, me too.

    Is there a way of creating a standardised version of this law...
    There will always be differences in Shariah application from region to region, and from time to time. This is precisely because multiple valid interpretive possibilities exist. And scholarly bodies within virtually all regions and times have held valid inflections of the Shariah. The perversion comes in when corrupt political powers create their own laws, heavily pollute the Shariah with it, apply it selectively, and then still call it Shariah.

    ...that conforms to a multi religious modern democracy?
    It is not a top down approach, but bottom up. There first has to exist a modern democracy with legitimately elected leaders before the rulers will implement shariah without polluting it. People have to take responsibility to change their own conditions, and they start by changing what is within themselves.

    "Indeed, God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves." (Quran 13:11)


    If not is it worth having altogether?
    The "shariah" of most present-day dictatorships is not shariah at all, and therefore not worth having (it is more like an affliction that persecutes instead of protects disenfranchised groups such as women and the poor...).
    Last edited by wayfarer; 05-07-2012 at 04:45 PM. Reason: content

  10. #40
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    Thanks Wayfarer, insightful answers
    That which comes into existence will eventually break apart and pass away

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by wayfarer View Post
    I am not sure which of these your Fordsburg acquaintances sympathise with, but if it is the latter, I would find it highly problematic.
    Oh, have to point out, it's not my friends who sympathies with them. Jeez no, my friends are cool, just the people you can run into there. You can buy some pro-Bin Ladin stuff in a lot of shops in the Oriental Plaza for instance. Seems to be popular.
    That which comes into existence will eventually break apart and pass away

  12. #42
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    Thanks for this
    I dont usually get involved in religious/political threads, but this one seems worthwhile

  13. #43
    Super Grandmaster Nerfherder's Avatar
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    Q: Some say that Islam would benefit from a Pope (there is a term for this I do not remember), a single leader to kind of guide the faith and have an official stance. Do you think this would be a good thing or do you think that Islam is not that divided ?
    "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof." ~ Christopher Hitchens

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  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by wayfarer View Post
    There will always be differences in Shariah application from region to region, and from time to time. This is precisely because multiple valid interpretive possibilities exist. And scholarly bodies within virtually all regions and times have held valid inflections of the Shariah. The perversion comes in when corrupt political powers create their own laws, heavily pollute the Shariah with it, apply it selectively, and then still call it Shariah.
    I think another problem is where cultural/tribal norms also gets dragged into Islamic societies. It creates the impression that some of the horrific things people do is based on Islam, when in reality it's a tribal custom from a specific area. This happens a lot in Morocco and Algeria, I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerfherder
    Q: Some say that Islam would benefit from a Pope (there is a term for this I do not remember), a single leader to kind of guide the faith and have an official stance. Do you think this would be a good thing or do you think that Islam is not that divided ?
    You're perhaps thinking of Ayatollahs? There are a lot of them, though, so it's not entirely like a Pope.
    "Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."

  15. #45

    Default Role of the Caliph/Khaleefah: 2 of 2

    Main > Q&A > Role of the Caliph/Khaleefah: 1 | 2


    Quote Originally Posted by Nerfherder View Post
    Q: Some say that Islam would benefit from a Pope (there is a term for this I do not remember), a single leader to kind of guide the faith and have an official stance. Do you think this would be a good thing or do you think that Islam is not that divided ?
    Interestingly, you could be referring to the previously-mentioned caliph, or khaleefah. The station is largely political, and nothing like a Pope. The khaleefah will guide and lead Muslims politically, but the faith will always be guided by scholars. According to many scholars, it is religiously sound that the Muslims should strive for a single political leader. This leader is required to be religiously sensitive and to be righteous. Muslims have had a caliphate virtually throughout modern history, up until the abolishment of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900s. Sadly, many of the caliphs were neither knowledgeable about the religion, nor particularly righteous. The first 4 caliphs are notable exceptions, and are ranked amongst the most respected personalities in Islam (all having been immediate companions of Prophet Muhammad).

    Muslims are required to be united, but not necessarily uniform. The fact that there exists 4 schools of thought within mainstream Islamic practice is not problematic, but according to classical scholars, a mercy. The 4 schools of practice have about 75% in common across all 4 schools. There is also a universal recognition of each other's validity amongst the 4 schools of practice. Furthermore, mainstream Muslims have a single creed. Minimal doctrinal differences do exist, but these are so complex that they seem to exist exclusively in the realm of advanced scholarship, and the lay Muslim really has no need to delve that deep.

    Islam is meant to be a diverse and dynamic body, and would continue to be so under a righteous caliph. The Shariah has very wide and organic (to an extent) boundaries, and is by its very nature inclusive. Extremists (and dictators) overstep these boundaries, and draw new exceedingly narrow and rigid boundaries. In so doing, Muslim extremists alienate not only non-Muslims, but also over 90% of the world's Muslims.

    A caliph would not necessarily ban all extreme doctrinal interpretations or practices, but would be obligated to forbid criminal activities such as terrorism (often in the name of Islam) and woman-abuse, etc.

    See also: Role of the Caliph/Khaleefah (1)
    Last edited by wayfarer; 18-02-2016 at 12:17 PM.

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