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"Islam, Muslims and the 21st century world"
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 10-04-2004 14:29    Post subject: "Islam, Muslims and the 21st century world" Reply with quote

Now, I was brought up as a muslim (altho i probably now fall into that nebulous category of people who are labelled "agnostic").
I am a British citizen and a londoner who has lived in the UK for 14 years now and I lived the 1st part of my life in the Middle East.
However in much the same way that a Jewish person will still label themselves as such, despite maybe being atheist (for example) , I still identify myself as a "muslim" and with the muslim community in Britain - to some degree. my name (and to some degree, my appearence) identify me to most people as a muslim and so i continue to use the term, tho loosely.
Islamic, as well as british culture has had a lasting effect on me and I am happy with both.

My reason for starting this thread is (sort of) as follows:
I'd just like to start a debate about what people really think about Islam - and Muslims in particular.
Recently in the UK we had the comments of Mr Kilroy-silk which caused quite a controversy (although that was directed at arabs rrather than muslims per se). Talking to a few people I know, it seemed that they did share some of his views (and, I admit, they may have reason to). However, it was interesting, in an analogue of Kilroy's own sentiments, whether those views constituted what they thought of Muslims or arabs. When I probed the issue there seemed to be a little confusion on this matter. A few turned out not be sure whether they were referring to arabs (which include christians - in large numbers in countries like lebanon and syria) or just muslims, or what they deemed "islamic extremists" or "orthodox muslims".

Other developments of late have been the Muslim Council of Britain and its sending a message to all mosques in the UK to co-operate with the authorities in isolating terrorist elements in the muslim community.
Many ive spoken to regard this as a self serving attempt at improving "islam's image" in the UK, which has suffered drastically of late, and that the muslim community has not done enough to stamp out this phenomenon whilst being quick to blame the media for its image's decline without taking direct action itself.
I admit, there could be a point to make here.

If u r living in the UK, u'll know how sensitive this topic is right now (although this sensitivity is not limited to the UK, that im sure of).

Ive often also had discussions with many pple i know who are muslims themselves. whilst almost all of them cite the media and recent international terrorist events as the catalyst for the tensions, many also admit that some muslims themselves (supposedly non-extremist ones) arent doing the rest of them a favour. My direct experiences (especially with the student Hisbut Tahrir group in London) have convinced me of this to some degree.

We are living in an age of political Correctness in endemic proportions. People in the civilised world are quick to point out that "Islam is a religion of peace" and that "extremists are a world apart from most muslims". other ostensible comments include "oh im not islamophobic, I have many muslim friends" etc.
No one wants to look like a bigot or a racist as these terms denote ignorance and closed-mindedness in our enlightened 21st century global McVillage.
But as I have seen with alot of these people, beneath that calm surface there is serious concern as well as xenophobia (I even heard an argument made about muslims being a community unto themselves in Britain and not making an effort to do as romans do - sound familiar? lol)


Well, I think the Political Corrrectness is getting in the way of the debate - big time.
theres no point in admonishing people for their views. just labelling them as racist will not help - and is IMHO, very unfair. one needs to conduct a dialogue. often these people have reasonable grounds for believing what they do (even if theyr reluctant to admit these beliefs) whilst some others do so due due to misinformation or, dare i say it, ignorance of islam and muslims.

that said, people with a detailed knowledge of islam, have argued (quite well) that Islam, Its teachings, and the way of life of most muslims, is in direct conflict with the western world and the positivist vision of 21st century globalisation.
whilst i hope these arguments are not prophetic, i have a nagging feeling that they could well be.



so how about a debate then?
what do you really think of islam and muslims? do islam, and muslims, as a cultural force in the world have nothing to offer except their contributions in the middle ages to science and philosophy etc? is all we are getting now political tension, global terrorism etc?
do u know any orthodox muslims? are u aware of their lifestyle and the "why" and "how" of their beliefs? whats the difference between orthodox and moderate islam? is there such a distinction? does "orthodox" correlate with "extremist"?
................etc etc

no one will hold anything against u or label u as bigoted or racist (at least not me). im just interested in peoples views - whatever they are. anyway, im sur - from what i have seen - that most people on here are very informed in their views and excercise moderation and solid reasoning in forming them.

finally, this is neither a pro- nor anti- islamic thread. im not interested in defending islam at all. nor in attacking it. i do believe that people worrued about islam and its effect on global issues hav a case to make. as well as muslims who are equally worried about their place and image in this world.


.....anyway, im v sorry to have rambled.
thank u in advance for yr contributions (if any, lol)

P
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Alexius4
Alemdar i Nizam i Djedid
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PostPosted: 10-04-2004 17:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I count myself fortuante I was not in Britain in the aftermath of 9/11 - to be Muslim is one thing, but to be a convert from Christianity seems to a few to be tantamount to treason. I may have gotten off lightly.

I don't actually believe Islam is at odds with the 21st century (by which I take it to mean the ideals and epectations of the liberal, pluralistic West). Classical jurisprudance allows for adaptation to circumstance. The danger is that we allow the West to dictate the pace - peaceful and constructive coexistence is possible and has occurred before - but that does not mean that we must accept the current Western model as the ideal.

We're a weighty civilisation going through a bad patch & we badly need to revive our philosophical and juriprudential schools from their drowsiness - if we can achieve that, we have the makings of a renaissance of our culture on our own terms.

I think we also need to face the fact that we are being attacked because people of all walks of life have been fearing us for a long time. Senseless, as we gain nothing from that fear but endless grief. The sooner we give the shouty young boys a good hard slap and direct them to read rather than open their mouths the better (and indeed I do at every opportunity - but I've only one pair of hands Wink)

Bad time to be Muslim, at the moment, and likely to stay that way for a long time to come. We've dickheads on the inside trying to drag us into a war and impose their ridiculous, illiterate interpretations on us, and dickheads on the outside trying to impose their values upon us because they'll feel happier when we are just like them. We can take refuge in and draw strength from the sense of our own worth, however, and the knowledge that what once was, can be. I sincerely hope my great grand children will enjoy the pleasures of a new Cordoba - sadly, I know I will not live to see it. Worth working towards for their sake, though.
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beakboo1Offline
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PostPosted: 10-04-2004 21:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, I'll be brave and be the first non Muslim to post on this admirable thread. Not that I have a great deal to say, but it may encourage others.
I've worked with Muslim women for years, and I've encountered different kinds of Muslim. Some of them do frighten me, they seem very repressed and fanatical. Most of them however are not scary at all, but rather nice. I think the obviousness of the headscarf does mitagate against total acceptance for many people, I personally find it off-putting, but no more so than the West Indian Christian I work with who wears a beret at all times because of her religion. I honestly think that I'm equally prejudice against all obvious religiosity, regardless of type. (I don't know whether that makes me a well rounded bigot). I like to think my prejudice is purely religious and not cultural, but thinking about that, it is a nonsense, as religion and culture can't really be separated. It's the "I can't do that, it's sinful" mentality that puts me off though.


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TheOriginalCujoOffline
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PostPosted: 10-04-2004 22:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing that really bugs me is the assumption, usualy from western women, that Muslim women are oppressed by having to wear the hijab (sp?). Many, though probably not all, Muslim women choose to wear it as an act of faith. That's not oppression.

Cujo
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 10-04-2004 23:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

i don't actually know any hardcore muslim freaks...nor do i know any hardcore christian freaks. i guess it's because i think that anyone who harbours extreme religious views that impinge on me is a complete wanker, who will be told to fuck off pretty quickly.

i've developed a good relationship with the muslims that are at my cricket club. and i regularly play against muslim guys. however, these blokes are not the kind who would blow themselves up for allah, or whatever. they are ordinary guys like me, up for a laugh. they just dont stick around for a beer afterwards Smile

however, i will admit that when i see what is obviously a muslim person i immediately am wary of them. whether it's a woman in the headscarf, or one of the old blokes in the dress thing and a long beard.

it's just that to me it is out of the ordinary. even though i have been living in london for 2 years, it's still strange to me.

it's the same feeling when i see a lot of black people. in australia you just don't get that, so it was wierd and i felt kind of threatened to see so many black people in parts of london.

the muslims i play cricket with are great guys. they dont preach, or tell us not to drink beer or eat the bacon butties at lunch. we kid around and take the piss out of each other like normal. it's because i am familiar with them.

when i'm on the bus and there's a muslim bloke with his wife and she's all wrapped up, then i do feel a little uneasy.

my view of islam is that it is does harbour fanatical views. it does encourage dickheads to kill. it does oppress people.

it's fucked, i know.

but this view is because of the shit that is on the media, and the fact that i dont know a lot about what being a muslim is all about.

i'm ignorant.
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 10-04-2004 23:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cujo wrote:

One thing that really bugs me is the assumption, usualy from western women, that Muslim women are oppressed by having to wear the hijab (sp?). Many, though probably not all, Muslim women choose to wear it as an act of faith. That's not oppression.

Cujo


It would be nice to think that the way the media has portrayed this culture, a portrayal overshadowed by the coverage of war, didn't have much to do with peoples ignorance, but sadly the education isn't really there and "some" people are left to make up their own minds when they see a woman being shot in the street for not wearing one (example being the footage of the Taliban...which for many westerners I'd imagine would have been the first time they'd seen anything like that). Not saying this excuses this misconception, merely explains a possible and understandable reason for it.
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Alexius4
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PostPosted: 11-04-2004 05:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think many people are at once intrigued and appalled by the exotic, and it takes an act of will to suspend judgement. All the more difficult when media go out of their way to portray the idoiocy and callousness of the few as if it were the norm.

Parzival intended this as a thread for non-Muslims to discuss their feelings about Islam, so I'm going to keep a low profile on this thread from now on. Wink
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beakboo1Offline
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PostPosted: 11-04-2004 08:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe that every human is a natural racist, it's part of our psychological make up, like chimps throwing rocks at a strange group of chimps, but the civilised among us fight it down more or less successfully. Of course middle class white liberals like me will always be disturbed by this beast inside us, we're always concious of it because it jars so much with what we want to be.
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PostPosted: 11-04-2004 09:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It's the "I can't do that, it's sinful" mentality


I understand, but I'm more wary of, 'YOU can't do that, it's sinful', spoken by more powerful to less powerful people. Mad

A classic example of this, which has nothing to do with Islam, is the Catholic church's forbidding of contraception. Reliable contraception being the single greatest breakthrough in terms of women's health and infant and maternal mortality, you'd think it would be joyfully embraced by all thinking people, but pious Catholics aren't permitted it. roll eyes (sarcastic)
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StormkhanOffline
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PostPosted: 11-04-2004 10:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

The most desperately sad thing about the current climate in the UK is that the extremist fundamental muslims - who may not be prepared to commit crimes but may incite them - shout louder and are more "publicity savvy" than the run-of-the-mill, everyday kind of muslim. The fanatics are well aware of the public fear of the exotic/unknown and play on it. I'd be very surprised if the so-called Imams (most of whom are "self-proclaimed" leaders or scholars rather than publically acclaimed) who would incite a suicide bomber would do so themelves. This isn't a "muslim thing" ... many raving religious leaders like their followers to do things they themselves seem to avoid, using many different excuses.

Islam, like many other mainstream religions, is generally a reasonable template for social order and stability. The various pros and cons of particular traditions and requirements can (and should) be discussed without violence and a genuine desire to understand.

Regardless of what extremists - of any political or religious views - say, it is possible for many different faiths to coexist in peace since many share fundamental views on what is right and wrong. It does require effort, tolerance and a lack of fear for something you many not understand but can accept as an alternative viewpoint.

The danger is seeing the actions of a homicidal, misled or unbalanced individual as being a representative of the whole. The media in its desperate use of unimaginative and poor shorthand can be partly to blame. The headlines often read "Muslim terrorist suspect ..." but during the 70's IRA bombing campaigns the papers didn't scream "Catholic bombers outrage!"
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Guest
PostPosted: 11-04-2004 10:41    Post subject: Nature, Or Nurture? Kill! Kill! Reply with quote

beakboo wrote:

I believe that every human is a natural racist, it's part of our psychological make up, like chimps throwing rocks at a strange group of chimps, but the civilised among us fight it down more or less successfully.
I don't know about that. I think the jury's still out on whether 'racism' is a nature, or nurture thing. That even applies to tensions and aggression between different groups of chimps.

Apparently, chimps from groups which have had almost no contact with humans and that less need to compete for available resources, partially thanks to enviromental deprivation due to human encroachment, behave very differently from the chimps more commonly observed in regions which have also been subject to ongoing civil wars and conflict over the past several decades.

Rwanda is one of those regions, Jane Goodall's turf. It being 10 years since the genocidal massacres there, there have been several reports on the region, 10 years hence, on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service.

I was listening to a programme, only this morning ( BBC Radio4: From Our Own Correspondent), where the reporter talked to people who had converted to Islam. It was Roman Catholics who had been chopping their fellow Rwandans (often also fellow Roman Catholics), into small pieces and many survivors had been taken in, given refuge and continuing support, by Muslim Rwandans, who seem to have been above the tribal conflict.

It's hardly surprising that many of these survivors turned from Roman Catholicism to the apparently more merciful, culturally inclusive and peacable Islam.

And so it goes.

...

I live in a land where there are now very many first, second and third generation immigrants from Arabic and Muslim countries living here. Since 9/11 and the 'War In Iraq,' it's unnerving to walk down a street surrounded by people and to know that amongst them might well be somebody who could be thinking of doing you harm, simply because they had identified you as their ideological enemy. An anonymous representative of your nation.

That's not a racial, that's cultural. But, it spins the webs and tendrils of paranoia and fear that extend out to tangle on the very anonimity of people. No longer individuals, but now more simply identifiable by their religion and things like dress and yes, race.

It's bad news, because it simplifies people down into groups, melts humans down into amorphous lumps identifiable only as 'them' and 'us.'

But, please don't blame Nature. Nature rarely talks bollox, nor demands that we believe that that bollox is more important than Life itself.

It's simply unfortunate that a quirk of Nature has brought forth homosapiens, who are no longer able to distinguish between Ideas (that may well be bollox) and Reality.

What's called an 'Evolutionary Dead End.' Sad


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BannikOffline
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PostPosted: 11-04-2004 12:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

beakboo wrote:

I believe that every human is a natural racist, it's part of our psychological make up, like chimps throwing rocks at a strange group of chimps, but the civilised among us fight it down more or less successfully. Of course middle class white liberals like me will always be disturbed by this beast inside us, we're always concious of it because it jars so much with what we want to be.
I'll have to disagree with you here, beak. I can remember when I was a young I didn't fear or hate people that looked different than me. I didn't even think of them as belonging to another "race" but just that they happened to be another type and didn't think much of it. Are you sure your fear/dislike (sorry if those are the wrong words to use) of people of other "races" is not really over their particular cultural expressions, rather than the color of their skin or other physical features? I feel fear when I'm around people who appear violent or are loud, even if they are physically like me.
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beakboo1Offline
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PostPosted: 11-04-2004 14:14    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bannik wrote:

Are you sure your fear/dislike (sorry if those are the wrong words to use) of people of other "races" is not really over their particular cultural expressions, rather than the color of their skin or other physical features? I feel fear when I'm around people who appear violent or are loud, even if they are physically like me.

Absolutely, it has nothing to do with skin colour or accent, and everything to do with being naturally suspicious of a different way of living. I occasionally have to remind myself that their way of looking at the world is just as valid as mine. If we're honest I think we all do.
I worked with a Muslim woman who was really nice, fun of fun and mischief. She told me that many other woman in her community talked about her and judged her as being too liberal. They disaproved of having music in the house Eek Eek That made a big impression on me, the idea that there are people who think all music is sinful horrifies me to my very core.
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PostPosted: 11-04-2004 15:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

beakboo wrote:

They disaproved of having music in the house Eek Eek That made a big impression on me, the idea that there are people who think all music is sinful horrifies me to my very core.
Sounds like the "Wee Free" (Free Kirk, of Scotland) to me!

Wink
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 11-04-2004 15:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

some v interesting comments so far.

just a quick word about islamic law and jurispudence.
this rrelates to muslims living in western countries. there has been some debate amongst scholars regarding the interpretation of the law.

for example sheik al-qaradawi - who has been exiled from his counrty of birth, egypt, due to suspicions that he was involved with the Muslim Brotherhood in his younger days (the MB is the organisation that owned up up to the assassination of President Anwar Al-Sadat of egypt and their ultimate goal is the establishment of a purely Islamic Government in egypt).

qaradawi was educated at Al-Azhar university in Cairo. largely seen as the worlds foremost islamic educational institution.
although "its not what it used to be" according to one individual i know (the egyptian government being at blame here for imposing too many strict constrictions on how students should be taught there)

anyway al-qaradawi and others have stated that with regards to the muslims living in western countries certain "rule-bending" is permissable. for example, there is a hadith (or a quranic verse, im not entirely sure) which states in regards to alcohol that God curses "those who consume it, those in the presence of it and those who handle it".
now u can imagine that this causes problems for u if yr a muslim, say, who is working in a restaurant in a wwestern country. u may not "consume" the alcohol but u are certainly going to be in its "presence" (this also applies to muslims eating at a restaurant too!)and u r most definetely going to "handle" it (ie when serving to customers etc).

al-qaradawi's interpretation is this. the law holds in general. however, exceptions can be made. u are enocuraged to do yr best to seek employment in places where no alcohol is served, but since this is difficult - or near impossible in a western country - u can be excused for working in a place where yr adherence to this law is put into jepordy but ONLY provided u hav done yr best to seek employment elsewhere first. so if an opportunity to take a job elswhere arises, u should, therefore, take it.

the onus, as should be, is on the individual. there will always be a discrepency between what he/she should do and what he does do effectively. and one must weigh ones decision in ones conscience and be aware that God's judgement on this matter is dependant firstly on "Intention" and then, secondly, on the effective action (sounds a bit like Kant here lol).


this is an interesting example i think. al-qaradawi and others are, here, putting the onus on the individual to act according to their conscience but have simply given them an "interpretational guide" if u will, or push in the right direction. there seems to be an acceptance here that "context is king".

this sound quite refreshing in the sense that an effort has been made not to reform the laws, as such, but to interpret them in light of modern thinking and situations.
it corresponds with a central tenet in islamic law that the rules can be interpretd to suit any situation. the premise being that whilst God's laws are immutable and therefore cannot be reformed or tampered with in human ways, it is this very immutability that makes them universal: i.e. they should be followed by a muslim living in arabia in 800AD as easily as one living on a Mars colony in 2342AD). they stand for all muslims, at all times.

****************

however, there is another side of the coin here. Al-qarradawi's interpretation to suit modern times takes another form. one more unpalatable for western ears. it concerns suicide bombings.

Now, Islamically, suicide is a sin. No doubt about it. However, is "suicide killing" permissible?
yes, sais al-qaradawi. but on certain grounds. these concern 1)intention (2)the "victim" of the act, if u will

regards (1). this is simple. yr intention must be to nullify the "enemy" and not to kill yrself due to despair or any other reason which corresponds to the motives that are usually associated with suicide. the enemy here is seen as anyone with whom u are in a state of holy war. the "war" has to therefore be islamically sanctioned, as such. u cant just do it out of yr own whim.
also, with regards to intention, it is not permissable to have a combination of both. u cannto therefore for example be in despair over yr life and decide to end it whilst at the same time decide that u might as well kill a few "enemies" in the process.
In short if yr going to attempt a suicide killing u must be reluctant to do so and it must be yr ONLY resort in a conflict situation

(2) is more complex. suicide bombings against civilians are not
under any circumstances permissible.
this effectively means that, according to qaradawi, 9/11, the madrid attacks etc were islamically unlawful.also therefore, people who are taking the law into their own hands without being "ordained" as such (ie have no authority, islamically, to do so) are commitiing a fallacy.

the interesting part is when u apply the (2) to israelis. Under Israeli law, any citizen male or femail and able-bodied over the age of 18 (i think thats the age) can be drafted for military duty.
they are therefore technically, soldiers (at least in a potential capacity).
current state in the holy lands is seen as a war. the Israeli occupation of jerusalem and palestinian lands is an attack on Islam and yr effectively in a state of war with ALL israelis over 18 and able-bodied
therefore, attempting a suicide killing on Israeli soldiers or even civilians who match the above categories IS permissable - provided this is a LAST RESORT.

******************


Islamic law can be quite complex at times. Its interpretation is not black and white as i hope u see from above.

however i imagine aspects of what i have detailed above will understandably seem abhorrent to many people.
on the one hand it seems that Islam CAN allow muslims to accomodate their lifestyle and in the west and live in concordance with the laws and ways of life there........but on the other, Islamic law can posit what is seen by many people as abhorrent.

of course, qaradawi is just one example. i think the really interesting issue is WHO exactly should have the authority to make such interpretations. the scholars of islamic law, now more than ever, have a responsibility to guide the "flock" and it seems they should take heed.


religion, like any other aspet of human life, is multi-faceted. Islam, ever since the death of the Prophet has gone in many directions. Sunni/shiite/ismaili etc etc......which sheik/imam's interpretation do u follow?
the understanding of any level-headed muslim is that despite the confusion their conscience is the main compass here. religion is essentially yr relationship with the divine. the concept of God's capacity for forgiveness is also a complex one in Islam. ANd so both an individuals intentions and their awareness of God's forgiveness are central pillars when it comes to deciding on ones actions and whethe they are "Islamic" or not etc.


anyway ive babbled for too long. I hope this example has been somewhat illuminating.

p
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