An Introduction into the true character of Islam

I’ve not written for a while on my blog owing, not bitterly, to my new job, which requires of me many hours. Moments stolen in the daytime to ponder mean that I’m spending less time speculating on the current political landscape – which as we speak, as I understand it, is centred around a kind of factionalism inside the Liberal Democrat party with the left backing the mansion tax and continued scorn of tuition fees, whilst the right of the party can’t understand the mansion tax, and agree with Clegg on moves to back tuition fees – and rethinking my personal hot potatoes of old.

Islam has been on my mind for example. During a lunch break this week I caught a glimpse of Ali Etaraz’ 7-part series in the Guardian in 2007 regarding a possible sea change in Islam – a spell known as Islamic reformation.

Etaraz is sceptical of the way the term is used – owing much to the Lutherian and Calvinist sea changes within Christianity, which among other things, promulgated against biblical literalism. For him, such a reformation has passed, been and gone. As he notes “[t]he Muslim equivalent of nailing the 95 theses was the desecration of a graveyard and the stoning of a woman for adultery.” He cites Abdul Wahhab (1703–1792) as the forerunner of a Islamic reformation, influenced greatly by Ibn Taymiyya (1263 – 1328) who had broken away from Sunni traditionalism.

In reponse to Taymiyya’s legacy, and by Etaraz’ own admission, “Wahhab was a rebel; his ideology was intolerance, patriarchy and violence. It coloured what kind of ideological direction Muslim dissenters of the future would take.” His further dissemination claims to demonstrate how Islam came to be Islamists own, and why “extremists came to dominate Muslim dissent”. To this, Etaraz issues three things which need to be done

First, reject all juvenile calls for so-called reformations.

Second, consider the necessity of a Sunni pope.

Third, consider the possibility of a liberal literalism (a sort of ideological inverse of extremist literalism).

So it seems that a reform for Etaraz lends itself nicely to extremism, therefore what needs to be salvaged in Islam is a return to better days, as such. Reform always seems to have the ring of democratising, or putting a wet tea towel over hot dogmatising elements, but there is something rather progressive to be drawn from a liberal smattering of literalism, something that sees in it liberal domocracy.

So it’s not quite the reform wing, it’s not fully congruent with the literalist bunch, but a twist in the latter in order to promote modern political method. In this, is Etaraz’ impetus for the making of the Muslim left, which would be inter-religious, but not scornful of non-Muslim allies (a hot topic for Etaraz). This interests me greatly, though it is not without its detractors. Professor Ali A. Allawi giving a lecture at the LSE entitled In Search of Islam’s Civilization put a thorn in the side of a wholesale Islamic liberalism by saying that Islamic civilization cannot be separated from the transcendent, curbing any real appeals to personal autonomy – whether the divine exists or not, it seems extraneous to concern oneself of whether there is more, since Marx’ great quote still works regardless that “[t]he more man puts into God the less he retains in himself….The worker puts his life into the object, but now his life no longer belongs to him but to the object.” In an anti-Fregeian twist, the concept of God does not have to have any physical properties in order for it to be a Cause.

Allawi, in his discussion, does point out another rather important sea-change in Islam since the 1970’s in the middle east, that has shifted from ethical Islam to either a compulsion for corruption, with a capitalist character, or political Islam, which can have dreadful extremes. Despite the differences, Allawi and Etaraz do confirm one thing together: that Islam has a history that is different, better in many ways, more ethically sound, and should be rearticulated in some way. From here on, I shall be taking a look at the character of Islam that many Muslims see as their true legacy, drawing on work by Jim al-Khalili and his look into early Islamic sciences, Mahmoud Taha and the Sudanese rebels, and looking further at a possible Muslim left, and more specifically at how the left should perceive Islam, of its so-called true legacy and the activities of political Islam.


One Response to An Introduction into the true character of Islam

  1. Rainbow Warrior says:

    There are two sides to every story. This is what Arabs and many time the rest of the world is up against.

    Israel has assassinated people even using “car bombs” or even put a bomb under your bed and get you while our sleeping. They do these things in other countries. That is “terrorism”.
    They have been caught a few times but they haven’t been caught for them all.
    They even tried to bomb a mosque in the US. A few were caught in Mexico with bomb making equipment and they had Yes passports from a different country.
    They Steal or forge Passports from other countries so if their agents get caught, another country gets blamed for the attack. They have even stolen passports from embassies.
    So someone gets picked up and they say he was in such and such a country. Well maybe not. Maybe some else with a forged passport was in that other country.

    The sucked the US into Bombing Libya using a Trojan transmitter device.
    They attacked the USS Liberty to get the US to attack Egypt.
    They start wars. Now there’s an act of “terrorism” if ever there was one. One has to wonder how many other times they pulled that one.

    Since Sept. 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. Again scroll down to get to the information.

    The have committed Piracy on the high seas numerous times.
    They have Bombed UN buildings.
    They broke the Ceasefire with Gaza.
    The are war criminals
    They have committed crimes against Humanity and still do.
    They breach UN Resolutions.

    They have tortured people, children included. They lay false charges against them as well. They violate their human rights.

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