Questions for Islam
Having finished “Inside the Jihad” (see this post) and seeing inside the minds and philosophies of al Qaeda and other groups better than I had before, I have several questions for understanding. Given that I have had a number of hits from across the Moslem world, (Egypt, Malaysia, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and a lot from Iran of all places), I thought I’d throw this out to the readership to see what responses come in.
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1) I have heard, and Nasiri (the “Jihad” author) confirmed that music, especially in worship, is tahout and blasphemous. Why? If Allah is the Creator, and music is one of the most beautiful and spiritual of human activities, why is it considered evil by many Moslems?
2) “Inside the Jihad” often refers to the mujahedeen aversion to anyone they consider an ‘innovator.’ One of the criticisms of Islam is that it is stuck in the tenth century philosophically. I do not understand why innovation and progress are tahout. Granted, the Koran is viewed as the complete and uncorrupted Word of Allah, but why does that mean that humanity must remain in a tenth century mindset? In Christianity, we view Scripture as from God and inerrant in the original manuscripts, yet we see God as infusing His creative spirit into ours when Adam was made a living being, and thus creativity and innovation are hardwired into us and the Bible serves as a framework to guide that innovation while still encouraging it. How and why is that view not consistent with Islam? The history of ancient Arabia, Assyria and Persia are full of amazing advances, and these continued for a while after Mohammed’s life, but they began to die out and the culture seemed to stagnate, and this philosophy that innovation is tahout seems to support this observation. Where did it come from?
3) Nasiri also explains in his book that what drives the global jihad is a complex mixture of things, but the common thread is that Moslems are upset at the pervasive, invasive presence of the West into the world of Islam. Our use of Moselm lands, influence on their governments, the innovation and individualism we have introduced into their culture, etc. (Of this, the Israel problem is just a small part.) So, my question is, if the West pulled out, and left the Islamic world alone (not isolated them, but let them be as he indicated they want to be), would that end the global jihad? Would al Qaeda be content to stay in the Moslem world and leave us alone? Or, is it too late and we are now in a bitter fight to the death of one culture or the other?
4) The previous question leads to another series of follow up questions because it isn’t that simple.
a. There are high populations of Moslems in the Western nations. Are they willing to assimilate into our culture or return home to theirs if we retreat into ours? If not, then there is a real problem of a gross double standard.
b. Similarly, one of the biggest problems philosophically between the West and Islam is that of human rights. We, generally speaking, seek to protect and fight for folks who are abused, and so it is a problem for us to sit by and not say anything when we see women being oppressed and abused by the practice of sharia law. (I do not yet understand enough about sharia to state categorically that the philosophy and practice are identical.) I readily admit the West has a spotty record recording consistency in fighting for human rights, especially in places like Darfur. That said, we don’t like that it happens, even if we do not intervene. How can we resolve in a reasonable manner the human rights issues we see in practice in Islamic cultures (women’s rights, religious freedom, etc.)?
c. Finally for today’s post, there is the issue of evangelism. Both Christianity and Islam have their own versions of evangelism—commands to share and expand the spheres of influence of their respective faiths. Setting aside for now the difference in methodology, if our cultures each retreat into our own boundaries as I propose in the second question, how will the internal pressure to evangelize the other culture be dealt with? In the West, we have such diversity of opinion that there is plenty of room for Christian evangelism within our own culture, and there is a surprising amount of diversity within Islam as to who truly follows the faith and who is tahout, so it seems there are issues for each culture to work out before moving into the other’s ‘territory.’ However, given the exclusivity claims of each religion, the cross-evangelistic conflict is inevitable. From an Islamic perspective, how can this be resolved (other than Christianity rolling over and surrendering to Islam)? Can we agree to disagree? Can we agree to peaceful, yet persuasive dialogue? If not, what options are open to our respective viewpoints and the real living human beings that represent those viewpoints?
These are real questions I would love to understand, so I would very much like to hear from a variety of Moslem voices, given that there is a real diversity. It would help if, in your responses, you also shared from which sect or philosophical viewpoint you are coming, as each group seems to believe they are the true voice of Islam. I’m not interested in debating that particular issue, but I do want to understand why each viewpoint interprets things the way they do.