A quick question from Jochen following Jeremiah's last article, and then Mohammad responds in detail to Jeremiah's all too short answer to my question.
From Jochen Katz Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam Subject: Re: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Muslim Book Part 2 (2/2) Date: Fri Sep 20 16:33:55 EDT 1996 Organization: None In article <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremiah McAuliffe) writes: | You did not address my concerns, nor did you refute them, nor did you | defend your book as an argument against Islam per se. What is "Islam per se" ? And who is authorized to decide that? [whether in "Islam" or in "Islam per se"] Warm regards, Jochen Katz P.S.: For more details and why this is an important question following up on Jeremiah's arguments, see his article.
From email@example.com (Jeremiah McAuliffe) Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam Subject: Re: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Muslim Book Part 2 (2/2) Date: Sat Sep 21 15:59:53 EDT 1996 Organization: CityNet, Inc. Jochen Katz wrote: >What is "Islam per se" ? Islam1: "submission to the will of God" Islam2: "religious tradition(s) based upon the Qur'an and sunnah of Muhammad" >And who is authorized to decide that? >[whether in "Islam" or in "Islam per se"] The first one? God. The second? Consensus of the believers. or at least, this is my understanding..... Jeremiah McAuliffefirstname.lastname@example.org
From Mohammad Noorul Islam
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam Subject: Re: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Muslim Book Part 2 (2/2) Date: Sun Sep 22 11:21:55 EDT 1996 Organization: Johns Hopkins University Message-Id: <email@example.com> Allow me to jump in. Mr. McAuliffe has a very interesting set of views. I feel compelled to share my thoughts on them. We will start with an answer that Mr. McAuliffe gave to two questions by Jochen Katz. I will reproduce the dialogue and follow it with my opinion of those. JK: What is "Islam per se"? JM: Islam 1: "submission to the will of God" Islam 2: "religious tradition(s) based upon the Qur'an and sunnah of Muhammad" It is common among many to use the English equivalent of the word "Islam" and purport it to be the complete yet concise description of the religion itself. Pithy as the answer looks, it leaves the more serious questions unanswered. "submission to the will of God" is more akin to defeatism than it is to Islam. Islam is not about abject surrender of spirit and body to some wishy washy "will of God". On another level, we would all be Muslims per Jeremiah's definition, for what else do we do except submit to the will of God. Do we even have a choice in that regard? Submission to the will of God is meaningless if it isn't clear what the will of God is. And even more fundamental than this, is the question: what IS God? So before we decide to submit ourselves to the will of God, it is imperative upon us to acknowledge His existence. Therefore the most basic tenet of Islam is "tawheed": a rough and incomplete translation would be "monotheism", and very strict monotheism at that. The next question is about the will of God, and that's where the ground gets a little difficult to tread. Most Muslims would list Muhammad's "risalah" (messengership) and "nubuwwah" (prophethood) as the second foundational doctrine. Indeed the Muslim profession of faith i.e. the "kalimah al tayyibah" is the profession of existence and oneness of God and the divine messengership of Muhammad. This might well be the most important concept after tawheed for people who lived with Muhammad. For if Muhammad was the messenger of God, whatever words he ascribed to God, had to be God's word. And therefore the belief in the divineness of the Qur'an, and the complete and absolute truth of that book followed immediately from a belief in Muhammad's risalah. Could the message of God be false? But we don't have Muhammad with us but we know about Muhammad through what? through the Qur'an. That the Qur'an is the absolute, eternal and immutable word of God gets us to the belief in Muhammad's prophethood. Belief in the aforementioned attributes of the Qur'an directly leads us to the belief in the risalah of Muhammad, but the converse is not true. Indeed there are, and have been sects who have ascribed prophethood to Muhammad yet have had doubts about the Qur'an's completeness. My understanding is that such sects are non-Muslims. In a way, the concepts mentioned in the last two paragraphs are more important ones than simple monotheism, which is not exactly an equivalent of "tawheed" for the latter encompasses much more than the former. Deists, some Jews, some Unitarian Christians are all monotheists, but they are not (and I couldn't be more emphatic about it) Muslims. Belief in the Qur'an and the aforementioned attributes thereof, is the cornerstone of Islam and distinguishes it from other creeds and opinions. It is my opinion that anyone who disagrees with even one statement within the Qur'an cannot call herself a Muslim. Once the belief in Allah and the Qur'an etc. is established with certainty, and only when that's the case, the question of submission arises. The four pillars after aqeedah (salat, Siam, zakah, and Hajj) are in a sense furoo' and absolutely meaningless if the underlying aqeedah is not sound. They are ways to "submit to the will of God" and have meaning after the "will of God" is clearly understood and defined. One can fail (as opposed to "refuse") to submit and yet be a Muslim (albeit a bad one), but one can submit all they want without the underlying faith and they will not be Muslim. This is my understanding of what Islam is all about. Now to the Islam2 that ties in well with what Mr.McAuliffe wrote in this post. Mr.McAuliffe says that the believing community is the judge of what constitutes Islam2. I smell "ijmaa'" somewhere. If this is ijmaa' for Jeremiah, then I would politely suggest to him that we need more than a dictionary to understand theological jargon. Majority of the believers can be (and indeed are, as demonstrated quite often on SRI) ignorant of the contents of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Ijmaa' has always meant the consensus of scholars who are knowledgable about the Qur'an and Sunnah. Therefore the opinion of a thousand Jeremiah McAuliffe's isn't worth a penny against the opinion of a Ibn Hajar or a Jalaluddin for the latter spent all their lives in the acquisition of religious knowledge as opposed to having read a solitary book by Faruqi or someone else. Ijmaa' is not one-man-one vote system, for then we could have referenda to decide religious matters. That, you would acknowledge is not the case. > Saleeb, your book is an argument against certain forms of Islam, not > Islam per se. It is, in that case, a book I might support. Your book > is an argument for an overhaul and upgrading of our religious > education. And here to educate all Muslims is Jeremiah McAuliffe PhD: the rennaissance man of Islam! > Muslim intellectual work and theology has been asleep for 400 years > as symbolized by the phrase "closing the doors to ijtihad". I assume > you are familiar with that phrase. For some "ijtihad" has come to mean manufacturing religious rulings according to one's whim, or what is considered politically correct. How ignorantly Jeremiah throws around the word "ijtihad", as if it is some euphemism for amending religion at will. Ijtihad, Mr.McAuliffe is the application of analogical reasoning BASED ON THE QUR'AN AND SUNNAH, to decide matters on which the former are unclear. If a religious ruling exists for a situation, then it is no ijtihad to change it because it is not "kosher". Ijtihad, by any stretch of imagination, doesn't mean some sort of an evolutionary process; it is a way to deal with NEW situations that arise with changing times. The ruling on the permissibility of photographs, for example, is ijtihad. > You have based your understanding > of Islam on what you hear from contemporary Muslims and a few > selective readings and interpretations. The man who has no voice can say the rest of the world is deaf. It is Mr.McAuliffe whose reading is selective, picking up scattered minority opinions of obscure "scholars". It is he who has been talking too much with contemporary Muslims, showing a singular unfamiliarity with Islamic literature. And when he laments the collective ignorance of Muslims for not knowing about the Ukl/Uraina tradition, I do hope he includes himself for he had no inkling of that tradition until his attention was drawn to it. It is ironic that Jeremiah is so decries the lack of knowledge among his co-religionists and in the same breath discredits those who were well-versed in religious tradition. I say this because I have met and sat with people who were properly schooled in religion. Let alone not knowing about a tradition, they would tell you who the narrators are, the whole chains of transmission together with the relative credibility of each link in that chain. It is these kinds of people who wrote the classics of Islamic literature, and it is their rulings that we consider Islam, and criticize as Islam. Until Mr.McAuliffe attains that level of knowledge (starting with a course in Arabic) he should think twice before so conveniently dismissing our criticism. > broad cross-section of Muslims, if you had really read Faruqi, > you would know this (such as his book on tawhid-- excellent). I think Abdul Saleeb is from Egypt, and I am from Pakistan. Who do you think has talked to a broader cross-section of Muslims? You, living in the United States of America? But then again, didn't you just a few lines before separated Islam from the practice of "contemporary Muslims". I really think you are very confused about your religion. Might I suggest that you spend time reading a bit more? > FBI-CIA. I think they have unresolved psycho-social problems > that are being expressed by means of religion.... Whoever doesn't agree with Jeremiah McAuliffe PhD has a psychological or a social problem. Try reading Fazlur Rahman. I have a feeling that you would like Hossein Nasr too. > In fact, I'll go farther than that: imho, there are fundamental, > foundational errors in our contemporary approach to both Qur'an and > sunnah. Well it depends. Religion is not science you see. Hermeneutics in this case are to be based on the religious tradition, not science. But if you give some concrete examples of this, I will be interested in hearing them. > would seem, ALL of the Muslims on sri, are not even familiar with the > foundational texts of our tradition. Pretty normal. When I was > Catholic I knew a lot who had never read the Bible, much less the > Vatican II documents...... The above description might apply to you and a majority of Muslims, it certainly doesn't apply to EVERYONE on SRI. And see my above comments on this matter. > sisters, that we need new ijtihad..... big time. Our absurd Medieval You are advertising ijtehad like they are advertising Bill Clinton on TV these days. > (Gospel of Barnabas? I am embarrassed for us everytime I see it > being sold or mentioned.... Thank Ahmed Deedat for that. > it is an issue of HOW to > read the Bible-- I disagree with the way both you and Muslims > approach the Bible.....) You can find sporadic jewels in the haystack. Here is one. > It is fast becoming a cliche among Muslim converts: the best > religion, the worst adherents--- "if I had met Muslims before > accepting Islam I would not have become Muslim"..... we are not > known for our piety. You haven't met enough Muslims then. I have met some gems of men and women who were Muslims. I think it is fashionable among new converts to bring out this "great religion worst adherents" line. It is a generalization unfair to the millions among Muslims who are also great human beings. Mohammad Noorul Islam
Overview on the debate
Answering Islam Home Page