UI – Part 549 – More Concerns as to Reforming Islam
The reformers (see ‘Note’) are seeking a ‘cure’ for Islam, the primary target ‘Radical’ Islam, with an initial focus on ‘Cultural’ Muslims and those that practice some, but not all the rituals of Islam (‘Ritualistic’ Muslims), and they emphasize the need for separation of mosque and State. The government that regulates then is a secular institution of oversight. A nation so governed may find God of no importance whether or not there are allowances for religious liberty. The reformers want religious liberty so that the faith, that of Islam, they continue to practice, can be pursued. Otherwise we have a China or a Russia.
At a WWII conference in Tehran (November, 1943) attended by Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt, two leaders who were not believers, Churchill an agnostic and Stalin an atheist, had a side conversation. From the book, The Last Lion, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, by Manchester and Reid, pg. 783, Churchill “told Stalin, ‘I believe God is on our side. At least I have done my best to make Him a faithful ally,’ Stalin grinned and replied, ‘And the devil is on my side. Because, of course, everyone knows the devil is a Communist and God, no doubt, is a good Christian.’” Churchill further suggested, “the pope might play a role securing the peace. ‘The Pope,’ Stalin replied thoughtfully, ‘the Pope. How many divisions has he?’” Providence, the book noted, may have put these men on earth, but the approach they took to the futures of their nations, “Providence disclosed no plan for success, and offered no guidance or revelation.” Churchill and Stalin guided themselves. This is how secularists are guided.
The Flag of Secularism and Persecution
So how are the reformers to remain Muslim, their god, Allah, a guide, and allow those in charge to decide for all its citizens, without a proper regard for Allah’s Will. Or, under the banner of secularism, are the reformers calling for independent mosques and private schools that teach Islam, modified as they prefer, to exist alongside churches and synagogues, without any concern that Muslims living among other ideologies, from no-god to god-loving, even devil-worshipping, are not to ‘fight’ the non-believer except in their hearts. Or if they do not resist, they then succumb, alter their personal course and become other than Muslim. No physical violence, even if verbal barbs, concerns, questions, challenge their ideology. Are they to suppress or ignore what Allah’s voice expresses to fight as in verse Quran 2.193, (and 8.39), ‘fight them until there is no persecution and religion is only for Allah.’ or 4.76, ‘fight in the way of Allah against the friends of the devil, the infidel,’ and how do you avoid the physical when in verse 9.14, Muslims (from their Imams and teachers referencing the Quran) are told to ‘fight them, chastise (punish) them at your hands (for Allah),’ and so on, many, many times, even using the word ‘kill.’ Can reformers convince Muslims to use these passages only for internal, personal purposes, a jihad within themselves, fighting to maintain their Islam, to endure, in light of earthly persecution?
There is a Muslim sect, the Ahmadi’s, that appear much more tolerant of others; they do not suggest apostasy results in a fatwa of death to those that leave Islam. Yet they are not allowed to practice in Pakistan and vilified by most other Islamic sects, even in free nations as the UK. Are they not a moderate Islamic faction? Are they not reformed in some fashion?, embracing tolerance for one thing.
Believing in a Free Society
In free societies today it is a given that Muslims will be persecuted, by someone or even a group, as will Jews and Christians and Wiccans and atheists, even the vegans and environmentalists, conservatives and liberals. The police will not be present to whisk a blasphemer off to jail, to be questioned, punished, and harmed for speaking out. Whatever someone believes in a free society there will be those that disagree and want to debate, challenge and argue. And in many cases there will be ill-will, even protests leading to fisticuffs? Political Parties, representing voices of the people, secular or otherwise, often find their opponents infidels to their cause. They resist, even seek safe places where hearing opposing views is to be avoided completely. But this is freedom where there is protection of free speech. There will be bias, there will be hatred, and there will be persecution, but mostly words. There will be hear-no, see-no and speak-no evil varieties. There will be fake news and airwaves filled with opinion journalism. If sticks or stones are used then the police are to intervene, not take sides, but to protect all involved. Is that possible, or an objective of the Islamic reformers? Can the herd they are attempting to develop be ideological and not reactionary when others question their Scripture or laws?
Whose Voice is to be Acknowledged?
If Allah remains the supreme ruler, then the Scripture of Islam becomes his voice. Within a framework having a Caliph in charge, Allah’s leading representative on earth, the Quran as the manual, the history and decisions of past leaders, with Muhammad in particular, formulating Islamic Law (Sharia), is there a conflict with reformers objectives that can never be dismissed? Islam, at the upper reaches of the pyramid, from the Theocratic to the Jihadist, only accepts the political, the legal and the military resting under the highest authority, and the black banner of Islam. There is to be no other flag to honor or towards which to salute or show patriotism or pride. The Caliph has an army, not like the Pope who does not. A Caliph can call upon divisions to carry out the Will of Allah, impatient as to awaiting Judgment Day to understand what Allah really intends. Yet the reformers want their herd of Muslims to be patient, to wait for Judgment Day, to endure Their jihad only be an internal struggle. If you have a problem with others, then deal with it, live with it, endure.
I respect the reformers and their objective; it is most appealing; it is a worthy cause. I applaud their courage and campaign.
Then Comes Sin
What about sin? Not mentioned as yet in this blog series on the reform of Islam is the subject of sin. Living in an area surrounded by sin, sinners or temptations, is anathema to the Islamist. Dr. Tawfik Hamid sees beauty as the nectar of freedom, a beauty that can awaken the heart and soul to see hope and joy in life. He wants that for all Muslims. Is he a reformer as well as a heretic? Inherent in the beauty he rightly sees and enjoys are pleasantries that are a problem for the Islamist hierarchy, such as dancing, music, art, and wine. Temptations cannot be eliminated or eradicated, even though Muslim scholars and Imam’s try and insist their flock avoid, to the extent of creating societies devoid of opportunities. Yet that is as the Red Masque of Death, the barrier cannot keep the plague of sin out forever. Thus pluralism, living among those who are sinners, heretics and infidels, neighbors, even if they claim they are Muslim, is the result.
The reformer seeks permission to allow the Muslim, even the Muslim who chooses to discover more about his religion, ideology and faith, to be exposed to sin and live with love in their heart among sinners. Is that possible? There is reason Christians can do so. They acknowledge their sinful nature. Jesus took it from there.
So what is the greatest obstacle. From “The Greatest Obstacle to Islamic Reform” it is Love, love of neighbor, unconditional love as God loves you. Such love includes loving the sinner, not the sin.
The Aura Effect
As a side thought. A loving Christian has an aura. Others notice. A non-christian notices and may even ask why the person is so compassionate, kind and caring to all. There is no air of self-righteousness or superiority. There is no proselytization. They are as they are. But if asked why, they will tell you, “Because I am a Christian, I love God and am thankful for the gospel, what Christ has done for me as a sinner.” Enough said. And for Christians gathering with Christians there is a common enjoyment, as friends, a common bond. But beware, Christians are not appeasers. They will defend themselves as persons. They may be verbally attacked; Christ informed his followers to expect as much, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). There is no call to fight, to cause war against those who persecute. In Matthew 10:22 followers are informed, “you will be hated…” because of Christ and believing. But Christians are called upon to endure, to continue on. It appears this is similar to what the reformers are asking of the ‘cultural’ and ‘ritualistic.’
It is the Gospel of Christ that makes known to everyone that Christ died for our sins, my sins, your sins, and the sins of all mankind. Yes, someone sacrificed for you, took the punishment we all deserve for our transgressions, gave their life so you (and me, your family and your peers, even your neighbor) will be saved. That is the essence of Christianity. We are made right anew in God’s eyes, aware also that we are sinners, inherently. Yet we seek to change. We may not be as successful, perfectly pure, as we should, but we are trying, thankful, grateful for God’s gracious free gift. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was Buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (1Corinthians 15:3-4).
Who else possibly loves us that much?
There was an Ahmadi Muslim. He was smart, memorized the Quran, knew much about the Bible, could quote it, and was able to challenge many Christians. He defended his faith, lived as a moderate. In his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi describes his dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity, complete with friendships, investigations, and supernatural dreams along the way. He should be an inspiration to the Muslim reformers, as well as the cultural and ritualistic Muslims. They should read his book and learn more about his life. It may be more similar to their own than they might realize. Nabeel offers a moderate Muslim three alternatives, Apathy, Apostasy or Radicalization. These are choices for a moderate Muslim who decides to dig deeper and have a full understanding of their ideology and identity with Islam. He was concerned with radicalization, and in his own experience was faced with difficult decisions. So too the reformers are faced with difficult decisions.
Nabeel wanted to see a new Islam, as he called it a ‘reimagining.’ It’s violent nature cannot be tolerated. “Unless Islam is reimagined and emphasis is drawn away from (the) fundamental foundations, Paris and San Bernardino may be the new normal. Sadly, it is not likely that Islam will be reimagined soon, so we have to answer to jihad as best we can,” from his book, Answering Jihad (pg. 148).
I encourage Muslims and non-Muslims, everyone, in light of the events taking place in the world today, the problems caused by the immigrating Syrians and other Muslims, the ongoing civil war between Sunni and Shiites, and the growth of pockets, communities of Muslims within many areas of the free world, to understand Islam, Muslims too, and help find a way to alter their course and correct their thinking so we may find greater joy and hope and less fear and despair. And so we can also all live side-by-side.
I also encourage the reformers to continue and pray their voices are heard worldwide by all Muslims. I pray also for their safety. But I pray too they have an opportunity to read the Bible and seek answers to concerns they have, which to their surprise they may well discover exists in the pages and writing inspired by God.
Grace and Peace
Other related blogs to read.
Apathy, Apostasy or Radicalization – https://understand-islam.com/2016/12/29/apostasy-apathy-radicalism/
Tell Me About Yourself – https://understand-islam.com/2016/12/14/tell-me-about-yourself/
Secular Muslims – Moderate Muslims – https://understand-islam.com/2016/06/08/secular-muslims-moderate-muslims/
Islamaphobia – The Real Truth – https://understand-islam.com/2016/07/27/islamophobia-the-real-truth/
Similarities between Islam and Liberalism – https://understand-islam.com/2018/08/08/ui-part-515-similarities-between-islam-and-liberalism/
Note: The reformers included Raheel Raza, Dr. Tawfik Hamid, Dr. Elham Manea, Dr. M.Zuhdi Jasser, and Professor Salim Mansur. The date of the presentation was August 6, 2018. The location, Aspen, CO. What was truly ironic; my wife and I, on the way to hear the presenters, met another women. Upon noting my wife wearing a cross she stated, “I am a Christian too.” Here were a group of Christians going to hear Muslim reformers at a Jewish Cultural Center. Upsetting to the organizers was a refusal on the part of the Aspen Institute, a cultural force, to add their name to the event. They were not being asked for funding, just support. The Aspen Institute has had a liberal bias over the years and the wonder was if their refusal was due to an affinity for Islam as it is, to include the religious radicals and even jihadists. Have they bought into Muslims as victims, as they have so many other minority groups? The answer, I feel, is due more to a lack of understanding Islam.