Thursday, July 26, 2007

Towards a More Enlightened Islam:

My position, as a non-believer, on Islam is that I have no problem with it. I just want it, like Christianity, to reform and enlighten. I think Islam needs first a Luther, second a Locke, and third a Voltaire. I therefore support interpretations of the Koran most compatible with liberal democratic principles.

Eugene Volokh has a great post on how Islam presently is teetering on whether to understand their religion in a way more compatible with liberal democratic norms or whether to continue traditional illiberal understandings. Islam, basically, is where Christianity was 300 and some odd years ago.

The question is how best to encourage Islam to so reform and enlighten. Francis Fukuyama argued such was inevitable, at least in terms of how Islam would approach government (who knows whether he was right?). Using the sword to foster the process, as Iraq illustrates, may well be counter productive to that end.

I do hold out hope that Islam can reform and enlighten and I remain unconvinced that, unlike Christianity, it can't.

Why? Conservative Christians take umbrage at the notion that Christian fundamentalism is anything like Muslim fundamentalism. And they have a point. Except for the most extreme Reconstructionists, few evangelicals or Catholics argue that the state should punish the citizen for leaving the Christian religion or otherwise not worshipping in the proper manner.

But the rub is: "Christian Commonwealths" used to. Before Christianity reformed and enlightened, they were not entirely unlike Islam is today in their understanding of Church and State.

Check out the 1641 Massachusets Body of Liberties to see just how different the Christian religion was before the Enlightenment. Christian Reconstructionists might seem, to our 21 Century sentiments, kooks. But what they advocate is the way Christian Commonwealths used to operate pre-Founding. Where they err is when they try to confute the pre-Founding colonial orders with what when down between 1776-1789.

Gary North is the only Reconstructionist who understands the US Constitution is an anti-theocratic document.

The Massachusetts legal code was typical of the pre-Founding era view of "just" laws:

94. Capitall Laws.


Deut. 13. 6, 10.

Deut. 17. 2, 6.

Ex. 22. 20.

If any man after legall conviction shall have or worship any other god, but the lord god, he shall be put to death.


Ex. 22. 18.

Lev. 20. 27.

Dut. 18. 10.

If any man or woeman be a witch, (that is hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit,) They shall be put to death.


Lev. 24. 15, 16.

If any person shall Blaspheme the name of god, the father, Sonne or Holie Ghost, with direct, expresse, presumptuous or high handed blasphemie, or shall curse god in the like manner, he shall be put to death.

The Founding Fathers, as men of the Enlightenment, were religious liberals and completely at odds with the way all colonies except Rhode Island dealt with religion and government in their founding colonial charters of earlier generations.

When I mentioned this on the threads at Volokh, a commenter replied with the following:

Of the Enlightenment and being "enlightened," the primary progenitors of classical liberal political institutions, such as John Locke (checks and balances, private property, consent of the governed) and Montesquieu (separation of powers), were decided advocates of Christianity specifically and religion in general. That obviously doesn't mean they advocated theocracy or were provincial and narrow in their outlook, much to the contrary.

I've never studied Montesquieu's religion in detail (I think he converted to Catholicism on his deathbed?) and there is great debate over just how "Christian" Locke was. Most cautious experts conclude he was, like Milton and Newton, a closeted Arian heretic (whether Arians are "real Christian" is as debatable a proposition as whether Mormons are Christian).

Our key Founders (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton, and a few others) were essentially slightly evolved Lockeans. They advocated "religion" in general and thought Christianity might have an advantage over other religions, not because such was the exclusive way to God, but because Jesus' moral teachings were the best the world had seen. Their approach to religion was essentially civic: Religion was good because of its utilitarian effect -- the way it promoted morality; most, perhaps all religions, including non-Judeo-Christian ones, were valid because they all promoted virtue (they explicitly included Islam as a "sound" religion). Yet, Christianity might be "better" (whenever they talked of Christianity's advantage they invariably used comparative terms like "best" or "better," implying other religions can still be "sound" or "valid,") but only because of the superiority of Jesus' moral teachings, not because of His claim as the second person in the Trinity (which the key Founders tended to disbelieve) or as the only valid path to God (ditto).

That said, they believed the rights of conscience were unalienable. And men of whatever religion (or no religion) equally possessed such unalienable rights of conscience.

Whether states could promote the Christian religion depended on whether such qualified as coerced religious conscience which the Founders believed always violated natural right -- or the Declaration of Independence.

Adams and Washington were more likely to believe such "mild" and "equitable" Establishments promoting Christianity didn't violate natural right (but they demanded non-Christians be entitled to some kind of exemption or accommodation from laws that specifically demanded support of a religion in which they didn't believe). Jefferson and Madison were more likely to demand something closer to strict separation, at least when it came to using government funds for religion.

So "just" governments could promote "religion" to the extent that such didn't violate the natural rights of conscience which all men equally possess.

I think the first step in transforming Islam is to get Muslims to recognize that men of all religions have an unalienable natural right of conscience and that just governments recognize such.

I've read the Bible. And little in it suggests that men have an unalienable natural right to liberty of conscience (or to worship as they choose) as the liberal democrats (our key Founders and the philosophers they followed) argued. If the Bible and the Christian religion can be reconciled with liberal democracy, I'm optimistic that Islam can too.


GodlessZone said...

Why a Luther? Luther took the church backwards not forwards. He was reverting to a more pure antireason perspective than that which was in vogue in Catholicism. And he was just as totalitarian. What was the virtue of Luther?

Jonathan said...

Simply because Luther got the ball of Reformation rolling. That's all.

Our Founding Truth said...

What was the virtue of Luther?>>

He lead the break for freedom of the most evil, despotic institution of man, Romanism.

I've read the Bible. And little in it suggests that men have an unalienable natural right to liberty of conscience (or to worship as they choose) as the liberal democrats (our key Founders and the philosophers they followed) argued.>>

Faith is by free will. It's the entire New Testament, as contradistinguished by the Representative Theocracy of Ancient Israel.

If the Bible and the Christian religion can be reconciled with liberal democracy, I'm optimistic that Islam can too.>>

That is impossible since the koran orders a muslim to fight, obey, and submit, which is contrary to Republican principles. If a muslim does not submit, or if they depart islam, they are to die. Read Sura 60-73, you will see a peaceful muslim is not a muslim at all. El ilah(allah), the moon god of the kabah, hates peaceful muslims more than jews or christians. Since we know Mohammed admitting being possessed by Satan on two different occasions, that islam is satanic to the core.

Jesus rocks!

Mohamed said...

The Quran(Koran) Concerning other monotheist faiths:

Not all of them are alike; a party of the people of the Scripture stand for the right, they recite the Verses of God during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer. They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin good and forbid wrong; and they hasten in good works; and they are among the righteous. And whatever good they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for God knows well those who are God fearing. 3:113-115

And there are, certainly, among the people of the Scripture, those who believe in God and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before God. They do not sell the Verses of God for a little price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, God is Swift in account. 3:199

Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve . 2:62

Say: "O people of the Scripture : Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but God, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides God. 3:64

And they say: "None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian." Those are their (vain) desires. Say: "Produce your proof if ye are truthful."Nay,-whoever submits His whole self to God and is a doer of good,- He will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. The Jews say: "The Christians have naught (to stand) upon; and the Christians say: "The Jews have naught (To stand) upon." Yet they study the (same) Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not; but God will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment. 2.111-113

If any do deeds of righteousness,- be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them 4.124

The Quran(Koran) Concerning who we fight or don't:

As for such who do not fight you on account of faith, or drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to deal with them with equity, for God loves those who act equitably. God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards such as fight against you because of faith and drive you forth from your homelands or aid in driving you forth. As for those from among you who turn towards them for alliance, it is they who are wrongdoers. 60:8-9

Permission (to fight) is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged, and verily, God has indeed the power to aid them. Those who have been driven from their homelands in defiance of right for no other reason than their saying, ‘Our Lord is God.’ 22:39-40

The Quran(Koran) Concerning freedom:

2:256 There is no compulsion in religion, for the right way is clearly from the wrong way. Whoever therefore rejects the forces of evil and believes in God, he has taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way, for God is All Hearing and Knowing.

16:82 But if they turn away from you, your only duty is a clear delivery of the Message .

6:107 Yet if God had so willed, they would not have ascribed Divinity to aught besides Him; hence, We have not made you their keeper, nor are you a guardian over them.

4:79-80 Say:'Whatever good betides you is from God and whatever evil betides you is from your own self and that We have sent you to mankind only as a messenger and all sufficing is God as witness. Whoso obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys God. And for those who turn away, We have not sent you as a keeper."

11:28 He (Noah) said "O my people! think over it! If I act upon a clear direction from my Lord who has bestowed on me from Himself the Merciful talent of seeing the right way, a way which you cannot see for yourself, does it follow that we can force you to take the right path when you definitely decline to take it?°

17:53-54 And tell my servants that they should speak in a most kindly manner. Verily, Satan is always ready to stir up discord between men; for verily; Satan is mans foe .... Hence, We have not sent you with power to determine their Faith.

21:107-109 (O Prophet?) 'We have not sent you except to be a mercy to all mankind:" Declare, "Verily, what is revealed to me is this, your God is the only One God, so is it not up to you to bow down to Him?' But if they turn away then say, "I have delivered the Truth in a manner clear to one and all, and I know not whether the promised hour is near or far."

22:67 To every people have We appointed ceremonial rites which they observe; therefore, let them not wrangle over this matter with you, but bid them to turn to your Lord. You indeed are rightly guided. But if they still dispute you in this matter, `God best knows what you do."

24.54. Say: "Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger. but if ye turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him, ye shall be on right guidance. The Messenger's duty is only to preach the clear (Message).

88:21 22; And so, exhort them your task is only to exhort; you cannot compel them to believe.

48:28 He it is Who has sent forth His Messenger with the Guidance and the Religion of Truth, to the end that tie make it prevail over every religion, and none can bear witness to the Truth as God does.

36:16 17 (Three Messengers to their people) Said, "Our Sustainer knows that we have indeed been sent unto you, but we are not bound to more than clearly deliver the Message entrusted to us.'

39:41 Assuredly, We have sent down the Book to you in right form for the good of man. Whoso guided himself by it does so to his own advantage, and whoso turns away from it does so at his own loss. You certainly are not their keeper.

42:6 48 And whoso takes for patrons others besides God, over them does God keep a watch. Mark, you are not a keeper over them. But if they turn aside from you (do not get disheartened), for We have not sent you to be a keeper over them; your task is but to preach ....

64:12 Obey God then and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away (no blame shall attach to our Messenger), for the duty of Our Messenger is just to deliver the message.

67:25 26 And they ask, "When shall the promise be fulfilled if you speak the Truth?" Say, "The knowledge of it is verily with God alone, and verily I am but a plain warner."

The Quran(Koran) concerning justice:

"And among His signs are the creation of the heaven and earth, and the variation in your language and your colors; verily in that are signs for those who know" (30:22).

"Satan seeks only to cast among you enmity and hate"(5:91).

O you who believe! Stand out for justice, as witnesses to God, and even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be rich or poor. An-Nisaa’ 4:134

"O you who believe! Be the maintainers of justice and bearers of witness for God's sake though it be against your own self, parents and relatives" (4:135).

"O you mankind! We have created you from a single pair of male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you know each other. Verily the most honored in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous" (49:13).

O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety and fear God, for God is well acquainted with all that you do. 5:8

And thus We made of you a justly balanced community that you might bear witness to humankind and the Apostle might bear witness over you. 2:143

O you who believe, observe your duty to God with right observance, and die not except in a state of submission (to Him). And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of God, and do not separate, and remember God's favor unto you: how you were enemies and He put love between your hearts so that you became as brothers by His grace: and how you were upon the brink of a fire and He saved you from it. Thus God makes clear His revelations unto you so that you may be guided" (3:102-103).

"The believers are nothing else other than brothers, Thus make peace between your brethren and observe your duty to God that you may haply receive His mercy" (49: 1 0).

The Quran(Koran) Concerning propagation:

Invite (all humankind) to the path of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation and argue with them in the most kindly manner, for, indeed, your Lord knows best as to who strays from His path, and best who are the right-guided. (16:125)

Had your Lord so willed, all those who live on earth would surely have attained faith, will you then compel people, against their will, to believe? 10:99

And We have not sent you, but as mercy to all the worlds. 21:107

The Quran(Koran) Concerning Jesus the messiah:

When the angel said, "Mary, God gives you a good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, -high honoured shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God. He shall speak to men in the cradle, and of age, and righteous he shall be, "lord" said Mary "How shall I have a son, seeing no mortal has touched me? "Even so, he said "God creates what He will". When he decrees a thing He but say to it, "Be", and it is. (Al-Imran 3:45-47)

"Then she brought the child to her folk, carrying him, and they said, "Mary, you have surely committed a monstrous thing. Sister of Aaron, your father was not a wicked man, nor your mother a woman unchaste. Mary pointed to the child; but they said, 'Hoe shall we speak to one who still in the cradle, a little child. And he said, 'Lo, I am God's servant, God has given me the Book and made me a Prophet Blessed He has made me ,wherever/may be; and He has enjoined me to prayer, and to give the alms so long as I live, and likewise to cherish my mother; He has not made me arrogant and wicked. Peace be upon me, the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I am raised up alive. "Maryam 19:29-33)

Islam is peace