Studying Islam
#11
(09-20-2014, 04:34 PM)ecclesiastes Wrote:
(09-20-2014, 04:15 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: I've heard that to understand Islam today one must study the works of Qutb The Shadow of the Koran (30+ volumes, so good luck!), wherein he tries to establish what sort of politics the koran implies.

That is only necessary if you want to know the Muslim Brotherhood's understanding of Islam. Sayyid Qutb was an Islamist, and is really not representative of modern Islam. He was even declared heretical by some leading Islamic scholars after his death.

I'm well aware he was condemned as a heretic on his lifetime. But the next generation did like him.
He's very influential in Iran also.
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#12
(09-20-2014, 04:45 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: I'm well aware he was condemned as a heretic on his lifetime. But the next generation did like him.
He's very influential in Iran also.

No doubt he is influential. But he represents a certain faction of Islamist thought. Not of Islam as a whole. Though plenty of Muslims may like his writings today, plenty of Muslims today also do not identify with the Muslim Brotherhood or Qutb's ideology. That is all I wanted to point out.
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#13
Thanks for posting this. Lately I have had a desire to understand the Muslim religion as well. I talk to various Catholics who seem to think that Islam is quite similar to Catholicism and they claim that most of the Muslims they have talked to are rather nice. They also say that what is going on in the Middle East is not Muslims but radical Islam. To some extent I understand what they are trying to say, but I think most of it is rather ignorance about the truth from Islam and the Muslim religion.

I have been wanting to read the sources of Muslim such as the Koran and also to read Robert Spencer's book Not Peace but a Sword. I also want to read the history of the Crusades and any other thing which will help me to everything in context.
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#14
I commend Louis Massignon to your attention. He was a noted French Orientalist scholar and priest of the Melkite Church, who engaged Islam and Arab culture on their own terms, while rooted firmly within the Faith. He has been called a "Catholic Muslim" due to the depth of his studies, and was among the pioneering generation of Western scholars to examine the rich tradition of Sufi mysticism. His work on Mansur al-Hallaj was groundbreaking, and from reading Massignon, you gain an appreciation of a heroic man who pushed Islam to its limits and willingly embraced martyrdom as a heretic, accepting execution as a means to follow Christ "in the supreme confession of the cross."

I have spoken with a Sufi Muslim who told me that al-Hallaj went too far and that he must have become a crypto-Christian. Perhaps, but perhaps al-Hallaj, through the operation of divine grace, managed to come to knowledge of God's essence, in the person of the Son, while Islam ordinarily can never penetrate the divine essence. It is, as it claims, a sort of primordial religion, prior to Judaism or Christianity, in that it lacks a supernatural character beyond what it borrows. The Muslim's knowledge of God amounts to little more than that of ancient Greek monotheist philosophers, who knew of God through the exercise of natural reason, but who were deprived of the revelation needed to know God.
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#15
(09-20-2014, 05:46 PM)Cyriacus Wrote: I commend Louis Massignon to your attention.

Thank you very much for this recommendation! His works seem very interesting indeed, as is his life. (And he two main influences in his own Catholic life were J.K. Huysmans and Blessed Charles de Foucauld, two people I've always been fascinated by.) I'll definitely be reading more by/about him.
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#16
(09-20-2014, 05:46 PM)ArturoOrtiz Wrote: Thanks for posting this. Lately I have had a desire to understand the Muslim religion as well. I talk to various Catholics who seem to think that Islam is quite similar to Catholicism and they claim that most of the Muslims they have talked to are rather nice. They also say that what is going on in the Middle East is not Muslims but radical Islam. To some extent I understand what they are trying to say, but I think most of it is rather ignorance about the truth from Islam and the Muslim religion.

It is and it isn't. I would recommend you do not just read the Qur'an, but also read traditional commentaries or Muslim works on the Qur'an, to show you how the Qur'an was read by Muslims. There is no "Islamic Magisterium", and so there is a wide variety of interpretations of Islam, many of which do not go too well with Islamism.

As for understanding what is happening in the Middle East, I think you would need to understand more than Islam. A lot of what is happening in the Middle East now is the direct response to the actions of Western powers in the region, particularly after WWII. I'm not arguing that Islam has no role in this at all, but it is really a lot more complicated than "Islam is evil".
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#17
Well, just like simply stating “Islam is evil” can be perceived as mere polemics, characterizing any criticism of the religion itself and Muslims in general as a mere collection of such categorical pronouncements is equally dishonest.

Pope Benedict XVI himself seems to perceive that in Islam there is a major military component, and that there's even irrationality at the root of it: irrationality through voluntarism, as I emphasized earlier: whatever allah in his unpremised freedom (a freedom unbound even by his own nature) is what is right. This could not be further from any rational religion (and, of course, further from the religion of rationality [of the logos] itself), and in such a voluntaristic religion wars, killing, forced “marriages”, etc., can very well be seen as just acts.
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#18
(09-21-2014, 07:38 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Well, just like simply stating “Islam is evil” can be perceived as mere polemics, characterizing any criticism of the religion itself and Muslims in general as a mere collection of such categorical pronouncements is equally dishonest.

Sure. What often irritates me, though, is that people will argue that Islam is *always* violent and out to destroy non-Muslims, and if they somehow don't preach this they are not being real Muslims, or are being dishonest. I would rather let Muslims decide what Islam is. I am not going to tell the Sufis at the mosque around the corner from my house that they have misinterpreted Islam, because I am not a Muslim and therefore I am not the person to make Islamic theological and hermeneutical judgments. Just as I don't want Muslims to tell Catholics (or Protestants, for that matter) that they are not real Christians because of X, Y, or Z. These are theological claims, generally grounded in a particular reading of sacred texts, and belong to an insider discourse.
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#19
(09-21-2014, 02:08 PM)ecclesiastes Wrote:
(09-21-2014, 07:38 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Well, just like simply stating “Islam is evil” can be perceived as mere polemics, characterizing any criticism of the religion itself and Muslims in general as a mere collection of such categorical pronouncements is equally dishonest.

Sure. What often irritates me, though, is that people will argue that Islam is *always* violent and out to destroy non-Muslims, and if they somehow don't preach this they are not being real Muslims, or are being dishonest. I would rather let Muslims decide what Islam is. I am not going to tell the Sufis at the mosque around the corner from my house that they have misinterpreted Islam, because I am not a Muslim and therefore I am not the person to make Islamic theological and hermeneutical judgments. Just as I don't want Muslims to tell Catholics (or Protestants, for that matter) that they are not real Christians because of X, Y, or Z. These are theological claims, generally grounded in a particular reading of sacred texts, and belong to an insider discourse.

Of course I agree that the dogmatic discourse of a religion should be restricted to persons of the religion. But an outsider is perfectly capable of studying what has been considered the orthodox and/or the most popular practices and teachings throughout history of any given religion. And that's the place where an outsider critique of the religion comes from.
Also, let's remember that the restriction you pose runs the other way too: one cannot say then that violent mohammedans are not real muslims.

Aside from conclusions reached explicitly from one's faith, I haven't seen anyone here saying that Muslims are evil and the one's that look nice are not real Muslims: in fact I think what Arturo implied (and what I've argued elsewhere) is that violent Muslims are not deviant: they do have a justification within orthodoxy (peaceful mohammedans also have their justifications in orthodoxy; and that's where an outsider judgement ends: who has the right interpretation to the exclusion of the other is left to the dogmatic theologians).

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#20
Like many other Old Testament prophets, the Qur'an praises David, and sees him as on of the God's messengers to mankind. But it is interesting that Mohammad really loved the Psalms. It is the only text other than the Qur'an he praises in several places in the Qur'an:

Quote:We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma'il, Ishaq, Younus and the Tribes, to Isa, Job, Yunus, Aaron, and Sulayman, and to Dawood We gave the Psalms.
—Qur'an 4:163

Quote:And it is your Lord that knoweth best all beings that are in the heavens and on earth: We did bestow on some prophets more (and other) gifts than on others: and We gave to David (the gift of) the Psalms.
—Qur'an 17:55

Quote:Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Moses): My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth."
—Qur'an 21:105

Sahih al-Bukhari, a collection of sayings (hadith) about Muhammad, has the following:

Quote:Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "The reciting of the Psalms was made easy for David. He used to order that his riding animals be saddled, and would finish reciting the Psalms before they were saddled. And he would never eat except from the earnings of his manual work.
—Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:55:628

And Ibn Kathir writes this in his commentary on Qur'an 38:20 (in praise of David).

Quote:[Muhammad said:] "The most beloved of prayer to God is the prayer of David, and the most beloved of fasting to God is the fasting of David. He used to sleep for half of the night, stand in prayer for a third of the night, then sleep for a sixth of the night, and he used to fast alternate days. He never fled from the battlefield, and he always turned to God, which means that he turned to God with regard to all of his affairs." [...] The birds also used to glorify God's praises with him. If a bird flew by him and heard David chanting the Psalms, it would not go away; instead it would stay hovering in the air, glorifying God along with him. And the lofty mountains would respond to him and echo his glorification of God.
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