UI – Part 429 – Seeking the Muslim Martin Luther
History provides a picture of a change impacting Catholic adherents, an alteration to the landscape in Europe in the fifteen hundreds, which is referred to as the Reformation. It is also the beginning to the period called the ‘Enlightenment.’ This Reformation began the protestant Christian body of believers. A German priest found objectionable the role man, as a priest, played as an intermediary between humans and God. In addition he found indulgences, payment for forgiveness, wrong. Man could not pay, or even earn God’s favor. From his interpretation of the biblical texts he proclaimed that relationships with God were one-on-one. From Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The need for a confessional to spill the stories of your transgressions was not necessary. Prayer and atoning oneself is sufficient. A Priest, in vestments or otherwise, was not the one to provide forgiveness. Christ did that for everyone, as “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek (Arab or gentile); for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:12-13)
Martin Luther took on the Catholic Church, its leadership and its structure. He taught that the Bible is the one source, the only one, of divinely revealed knowledge. It is knowledge from God. He was condemned by the Church and feared for his life. Yet the reform began, in part also due to the invention of the printing press giving access to the Bible to many to read and see for themselves the words of Jesus. The Protestant movement began, freed from the role of humans in telling them what the Bible said, how they were to act, the means to obtain (and pay for) forgiveness, and to receive blessings from the Lord.
Believing in Christ, acceptance of the Resurrection, is what makes a Christian a Christian. It is Christ’s righteousness in them. He wrote, “faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law.” Obedience in God and doing what is right, what is humane, is a gift from God for those who believe in Christ’s saving grace. War is not in the heart and soul of those who have been born, or reborn, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
An Islamic Reformation
For the Muslim a leader such as Martin Luther, and even Martin Luther King who called for and made people aware of civil rights, and human rights, universal human rights for all, regardless of color or creed, as Christ did and as noted in Romans 2:11, “For God shows no partiality,” has not emerged. We are ALL equal in God’s eyes. But as yet no leader has emerged in the Muslim world that has instilled in followers a personal sense of freedom to do what they are called upon to do, or be, as God instructs. They are told and controlled and policed and punished by man. Or if there have been those who have tried, they have been condemned to death for heresy, blasphemy or apostasy. The Muslim world is replete with Caiphases who are ready to exterminate any who threaten their authority, position and stature.
Impossible in the Muslim majority nations, but potentially feasible in the western, more progressive and modern, nations, a leader, a moderate Muslim that can grow an army of followers to spread the word and find peace through tolerance, acceptance of non-Muslims, of other religions, of the Jew and Christian, may rise up. But you know they will be harassed, considered Islamophobic, racist or bigoted towards fundamental Islamic discourse. Organizations as the Assembly of Muslim Jurists will hold a convention for hundreds of Imams and put forth a fatwa to target this leader who is defying the Quran, the teachings of Islam and their definition of ‘true Islam’ and strike him down. Only through success and large numbers of supporters can such a voice be made louder and more widespread. As his legions grow, with social media and other modern communications techniques, and this leader seeking and calling for peace in a pluralistic world by Muslims everywhere, a hand out to shake the hand of and embrace of the non-Muslim, others may rise up to find respect and acceptance which can lead to change in the Muslim majority areas. Many may have to die believing and sharing with Muslims they can be peaceful in a world of different viewpoints, persuasions and faiths. And not only can they be, but they must be to make a better place here on earth for all. It is not about All for Allah, but about all for each other and for the world. Freedom cannot be anathma for Islam. It must be accepted.
Human beings in Muslim nations policing each other, incarcerating and punishing them for how they dress or grow and paint their finger nails, style their hair, have tattoos or attend mixed parties, have a beer, drive a vehicle, walk a dog (the dog is the one killed), or wear T-shirts with western symbols, all in the name of Allah, are not believers. That is not their thinking. They feel they are carrying out Allah’s Will. But, they are authoritarians and control freaks. They have no right, I feel, to make such judgments. And lest we not forget the greater crimes they act upon that call for death, sometimes via stoning. Crimes for adultery, not being a virgin at the time of marriage, gay or lesbian, or discovering another faith more fulfilling, apostasy, have the overseers, self appointed or assigned, killing fellow Muslims. Who can guide the minds, the hearts and souls of the Muslim world to change, to reform, to be tolerant of others, and respect others for what they believe, to include where they believe, their houses of worship?
I have my hopes, but my doubts, in all honesty, are much greater that such a person can ever succeed out of the more devout base of Muslims. They exist, but can they reform the Sunni, Shiite schools of thinking to form new centers and teach love, kindness, self-control, forgiveness, faithfulness, gentleness, joy, peace, and patience? Can they succeed or can they survive the wrath and punishment by the fundamentalists that would refer to reformers, moderates, as heretics, hypocrites or apostates, calling for their heads (death, including death by beheading). As the Catholic Church still exists, but along with it the Protestant assemblies, of which there are many, can there be the fundamental Islamists and the reformed Islamists side-by-side without a sword on the ready to behead each other? As the Reformation caused the protestant faction of Christians to grow, the Catholics felt there was a competitor, the Catholic church modified some of its ways, mitigating its authoritarian political role to maintain its base. Barriers were raised between Catholic and Protestant but never was there a Biblical directive to fight, for there to be combat or engage in war, between the two. That is, unfortunately, not the case in Islam. There are over 100 verses that call upon Muslims to fight, to engage in war, against any manner of non-believer, doubter, heretic or hypocrite.
Grace and Peace