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Islam’s Reformation

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I recently had an e-mail exchange with a reader who said that the problem facing the world today is Islam. Not radical Islam, not Islamic terrorists, but Islam itself.

He pointed out, correctly, that much of the most violent behavior is justified by either the Koran or the Hadith (a collection of sayings and deeds attributed to Muhammad). His main thesis was that Islam is not a peaceful religion, it is a violent one, and thus cannot be accomodated; it must be opposed.

Even if you believe this, there are lots of reasons not to act on that belief – not making instant enemies of the world’s 1 billion Muslims, for example. I know moderate Muslims, so they do exist. Even “battle of civilizations” proponents should want such Muslims on their side, simply because it makes the battle more winnable.

But that’s not the point of this article. What I’m reaching for here is historical context. I do not pretend to be a religious scholar, but this is what I see unfolding in Islam today.

Most major religions are born out of conflict and tribulation. Judaism arose from the beliefs of the wandering tribes of Israel; Christianity arose from the torture-death of a Jewish heretic and rabblerouser; Islam arose among the warring nomadic tribes of the Middle East. The notable exception to that rule is Buddhism – which is also, not coincidentally, the most peaceful of the major religions.

Thus Jewish scripture is full of stories of conquering land, slaughtering enemies, condoning polygamy and slavery, and horrific punishments for violation of minor religious laws. Christianity, being an offshoot of Judaism, adopted those same stories, renaming them the Old Testament. And despite the New Testament being a modification or even wholesale replacement for the Old, the Old Testament is still cited on such matters as homosexuality and adultery, as well as when invoking the awesome power of God and the penalties for defying him.

Islam, too, contains a contradictory mix of violence and peacemaking, a product of the tribal culture it sprang from, as well as the practical realities that Muhammad straddled the secular/sectarian line. He founded a major religion, but he was also heavily involved in efforts to unite the tribes and turn their violent energies outward, into a conquering force that swept the region. It’s no coincidence that the Koran is more forgiving and peaceful than the Hadith. The challenge is to separate the words of Muhammad the prophet from the words of Muhammad the general and tribal nationalist.

Admittedly, it’s more complicated than that. The Koran and the Hadith are somewhat similar to the Jewish Torah and Talmud. One is the core religious text; the other is a collection of explanations and traditions. But in the case of the Hadith, the authenticity of many sayings is suspect, and as a result there are many different Hadiths. Reconciling them will be a major challenge. But the main point is that the Hadiths are less authoritative than the Koran.

From those usually violent beginnings, most religions seem to undergo a predictable growth arc – from persecuted sect to evangelical expansion to established religion that persecutes its own sects in turn. At some point there is a schism among believers, which is either settled — violently, for the most part — or results in a split, such as the Protestant/Catholic split in Christianity or the Sunni/Shiite split in Islam.

But at some point a religion has to reconcile its violent, expansionistic origins with the reality of being part of the establishment. And that means repudiating the more extreme aspects of their origins. Hence no mainstream Christian denomination follows Jewish dietary law, even though Jesus was a devout Jew. No Jew or Christian thinks slavery is divinely approved, even though the Old Testament had no problem with it. Most of Leviticus has been discarded wholesale.

In addition, most religions discover that religion and secular power don’t mix well, nor does intolerance and enforced orthodoxy. So over time most religions get out of the governing business, and allow all believers to follow their conscience. Christianity managed that trick just a couple of centuries ago – and still hasn’t shaken the impulse entirely.

Such growth didn’t happen easily, and it didn’t happen overnight. It takes a long time for a religion to mature. It’s no coincidence that the oldest major Western religion, Judaism, is also the least evangelical and most tolerant; Jews resolved their major schism thousands of years ago. Christianity is younger, and resolved its contradictions just a few hundred years ago, although the effects linger in certain quarters.

Islam is the youngest of the three. I submit that what we are seeing today is Islam passing through the same painful adolescence that both Judaism and Christianity endured centuries ago.

Let’s look at the timeline. Christianity was born in the 1st century. The Reformation came 1,500 years later, and took a century of warfare to resolve – and was preceded by centuries of religious warfare, expansion and persecution, including the Crusades.

Islam was founded in the 7th Century. And now, 1,500 years later, it is at the same stage of development as Christianity was 600 years ago.

The parallels are striking. The 1400s began with the Spanish Inquisition, which eventually led to the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain. Elsewhere there was a brisk business in burning heretics at the stake, notably John Huss and Jerome of Prague, burned for spreading the writings of John Wycliffe.

This led to the rise of the Hussites, which in turn prompted the first inter-Christian Crusade, a 13-year war between the church and the Hussites that the Hussites won.

All this bloodshed merely laid the foundation for the Reformation, which would convulse the entire 16th century in violence and horror. And religious wars also marked the 17th century, notably the Thirty Years’ War that began in 1618.

Christianity emerged from all of this as a more mature religion. Split, of course, between Catholics and Protestants, but with armed force no longer a desirable option for enforcing orthodoxy. Two centuries of war had, quite simply, worn everybody out. They were ready to embrace tolerance if that was the price of peace.

And so it is, I believe, with Islam. We are unfortunate enough to be alive during Islam’s bloody transition from its medieval origins to modernity. The good news is that eventually moderate theology should win the day: the more violent parts of the Koran will be devalued, and any conflict between the Koran and the Hadith will be resolved in favor of the Koran, since the Koran is God’s word and the Hadith is not.

The bad news is that it could take 100 years or more, and the fallout and human cost could be very, very high.

There is reason for optimism. The world is not as backward a place as it was in the 15th century. The West has learned the lessons of religious violence, and can serve as an example and guide for resolving Islam’s internal conflicts. So while the Islamic Reformation is and will be violent, it can be expected to take less time than the Christian Reformation did.

Our job, therefore, is to encourage and support the moderate reformers while opposing and undermining the medievalists. It will take patience, money, intellectual firepower and an acknowledgement that it will proceed in fits and starts. But the entire world will benefit from Islam shedding its medieval past. If ever there was a project well worth undertaking, this is it.

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About Sean Aqui

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Very interesting analysis. However, the Christian right (as I think you allude to) seems to be devolving into intolerance and fanaticism to some degree. In addition, organized relgiion’s political force has always been part of the impetus–where leaders may cynically manipulate the masses to achieve “higher” secular ends. Nevertheless, I think your argument is a good one.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Sean – I’d love to support them but they need to get a little louder so I can identify them.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Sean,

    You suggest, intelligiently, that Islam needs to evolve a separation between mosque and state, between Mohammed the general and tribal leader, and Mohammed the prophet. You suggest that Islam needs to undergo a reformation analogous to that of Christianity in order to move forward.

    You observe that the Qur’an and the Hadith have equal authority in Islam. But you seem to suggest that the Hadith are of less reliability than the Qur’an.

    You attempt to make analogies to Judaism in your piece, and because you go wrong in your analysis of Judaism, you miss a lot of important points that bear on your central thesis.

    Both Judaism and Islam are ways of life, not mere belief systems and superstructures. Neither faith has managed a separation between religion and governance.

    Because I am Jewish, I’m going to concentrate on what I truly understand here – Judaism.

    Jews in America tend to be secular in orientation because that secular orientation is what provides their liberty from Christianity in what is essentially a Christian environment. This is even true of the religious Jews in your country. Do not forget that in your country, the issue is church/state. Generally, Jews in America do not want to be on the side of the church. That leaves the state.

    To drive home the point, I’ll cite the example of a grocer, a religous Jew who went to court suing for the right to run his grocery without restrictions on Sunday because he had to remain closed on Saturday. This took place over 40 years ago, when New York still had a full panoply of “blue laws” (like the laws prohibiing the sale of cars on Sunday in Minnesota) in effect.

    There is no separation between religion and governance in Israel, the only sovereign Jewish state on the planet. The secular Jews buy into the authority of the State. They generally have no use for the rabbis, though this can be a tricky issue. Religious Jews are divided in buying into the State’s authority. The “National Religious” Jews used to buy into the authority whole hogger, arguing that the messianic state would evolove out of the State of Israel when the time was right. Events in the last few years have changed that perspective considerably. Settling in Judea, Samaria and Gaza was something that the National Religious Jews thought extremely important, and as the State and the apparati of the secular government and economy have turned against the settler enterprise, National Religious Jews have bit by bit disengaged their loyalty to the State, even though they do not want to.

    They have gradually adopted much of the viewpoint of the Hareidi Jews, the ones you know as Hassidim, or “ultra-Orthodox”. The Hareidim view the State as they would view any other secular state – a foreign entity that should be squeezed for money when and wherever possible, but one that has little if any “legitimacy” as a Jewish institution atempting to further the goals of Judaism.

    The secular elite refuses to accept the religious program and vision for the country and wages cultural war on religious Jews. This country is drifting towards a civil war between the two groups. That is the reality on the ground. If Hamas can keep its guns quiet, and stop the terrorists it so loves, they will get to see a civil war here between their enemies. I think our enenmies will save us from ourselves. But I digress.

    Moving to a separate issue, the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible), known in Hebrew as Torah K’tuv’á – and the Torah sh’ba’ál peh Tosh”ba), what you call the Talmud, have equal authority. One, the Torah K’tuvá is what its title implies – written. Tosh”ba, the Oral Law, by contrast, is derived from the oral instructions of Moses to his brother Aaron, the High Priest, in the day to day running of the religion and the country.

    The Tosh”ba was only reduced to writing after the fall of the Kingdom of Judea and the end of the sovereign Jewish government. But it has equal authority with the written Law.

    From what I’ve been able to discern, Protestant Christianity is a belief system while Catholicism tries to be a complete way of life. I do not know enough of Orthodox Christianity to comment intelligently.

    In order to succeed in being a complete way of life, Catholicism has had to have a certain amount of special State recognition. Where this recognition has been withdrawn or non-existent, it appears that Catholicism is more of a belief system with remnants of a way of life. This is similar to most of the secular Jews in Israel, who sort of follow a belief system with remnants of a complete way of life.

    Because there are so many Islamic countries, there have been a variey of apporaches to this issue.

    Some Isalmic ountries are failed states. Sudan, Bengladesh and Somalia fall into that category. Others are more secular in orientation. Turkey and Pakistan are good examples. They seem to have worked out a good compromise between the authority of the absent Halif, a king (or president) and the imams. But state by state, the apporoach differs.

  • http://chantalstone.blogspot.com chantal stone

    Ruvy…..you said:

    “Both Judaism and Islam are ways of life, not mere belief systems and superstructures. Neither faith has managed a separation between religion and governance.”

    Very true, but Christianity–Catholic and Protestant–is also a way of life, if practiced in the literal sense. You’re going to have secular and orthodox versions of any faith in any modern society. The difference is that Christian societies have been able to separate church and state for the greater good of society.

    Call it enlightenment, call it stupidity, whatever you want, but for the greater good of society, it seems to be necessary.

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    Ruvy, thanks for the lengthy comment. As I said in my piece, I’m no religious scholar, just a lay observer whose main experience is with Christianity. I apologize for the clumsy analogy between the Torah/Talmud and Koran/Hadith.

    As I understand it, the Torah is the original law, while the Talmud deals with the application of that law. Sort of like how U.S. law has grown out of analysis and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

    The Hadiths, by contrast, are not directly drawn from the Koran. They are considered historical context, by which the Koran can be better understood. But since their authenticity and meaning are often unclear or disputed, there are many opportunities for disagreement.

    My main point was that both religions have two potentially conflicting authorities, and eventually those conflicts must be resolved. And in the case of Islam, the Koran is the more authoritative source. Which implies good things for the eventual triumph of moderate Islam.

  • http://human-interface.blogspot.com/ gazelle

    sean. thanks. i agree with the general theme of the article.

    There are book length comparative studies of religions, and the particular kind of development and stages they go through including internal sectarianism, as you also suggest. In particular i remember one comparing judaism and islam’ss development of sects.

    your ending is a good beginning:

    this is it !

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Sean, you wrote,

    “As I understand it, the Torah is the original law, while the Talmud deals with the application of that law. Sort of like how U.S. law has grown out of analysis and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.”

    No. That is a very common misconception. The Torah sh’b’al peh (Talmud) is also original law, but given as oral instruction by Moses to Aaron. That is why it has the same level of authority as the Torah k’tuvá, the written law.

    Just a simple example. Nowhere is it written how to slaughter a cow so that it will be kosher. This comes from Toráh sh’b’al peh (Talmud). These were oral instructions from Moses to his older brother, the High priest.

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Reuven

  • http://midtopia.blogspot.com Sean Aqui

    Thanks for the explanation. To me, it sounds like the Torah deals with the “why” and the Talmud deals with the “how”, which is why the Talmud is often described as an explanation of the Torah.

    Of course, aren’t there two different versions of the Talmud? And don’t the various flavors of Judaism disagree on the authority of the Talmud? :)

  • canadianguy

    Some random observations:

    -Islam was not peaceful at it’s inception. True. But what the critics of Islam fail to acknowledge is that Muslims view this violence as a war of survival. Muslim history has it that the pagans of Mecca were out for the systematic murder of all Muslims. When Muslims cite this history, it admits to a belief then that the West is out to do what the Pagans did. That is, of course, nonsense…so the REAL question is why is it a convincing message to so many Muslims (granted, not even close to the majority)? Having Jerry Falwell and his ilk spew out hatred simply doesn’t help us out any in this regard.

    -The Christian reformation took place at a time when Europe was isolated. It is questionable if this could happen to the Islamic world when in fact the West is aggressive against parts of the Muslim world, and is in fact thinking about further colonialist ventures.

    -Any honest analysis of contemporary Islamist movements will show one thing: they are anti-colonialist. Unlike the other two Abrahamic faiths, Islam had it’s “golden” age sans reformation. This is a major psychological hurdle to leap over when trying to advocate modernity.

    -Central to the reformation was breaking down the power of the Church. It’s not just rhetoric to say that Islam has no Church, or even an organized clergy. What would the worldly purpose for reformation be? Let’s not kid ourselves…the Christian reformation did not happen because it was the “nice” thing to do.

    The future of the Muslim world will be interesting, to say the least, but I doubt it will follow the same paradigm Christianity followed.

  • NEd

    Ruvy,
    Wasn’t the Talmud developed out of oral tradition and finally put in writing during the Babylonian captivity? I understand the canon is updated or has been updated for centuries.

    Isn’t the Talmud also regarded as the traditions of the elders?

  • Winter

    Good article. I enjoy reading it.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    NEd

    Short answer is no.

    The “Babylonian Captivity” refers to a period of time before the building of the Second Temple.

    The Talmud developed in two stages. It developed here, called the Talmud Yerushálmi, and it devloped further in Babylon after the authors of the Talmud Yeryshálmi were killed by the Romans or fled eastwards to Babylon. This second stage is the Talmud Bavlí. I was in Babyon that the Talmud was completed. Much or the Talmud Yerushálmi has been lost.

  • Ronald Hume

    Sad but it is obvious that none of you have found the truth. Jesus said, “Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened, ask and it will be given to you.” Christ (Messiah) is the truth and in Him alone will you find truth. I suggest search the Scriptures, starting at Genesis and you will see that they testify of him. It’s not religion, more people go to hell as a result of religion than people who do not have religion.

  • gonzo marx

    ah…but Ronald…much of the strife and arguments and wars are over WHICH “scriptures” are to be studied or followed

    and there’s the rub….eh?

    Excelsior!

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/04/07/035211.php Ronald Hume

    Gonzo, the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament are without a doubt the authentic word of God. There is so much irrefutable evidence; people who have gone out of there way to disprove the Bible have ended up being totally convinced it is the Word of the one and only living God. Take the book written by Josh McDowell “Evidence that demands a verdict”. Josh was an Agnostic before he started his investigation with the idea that he would once and for all put an end to the idea that the Bible was the word of God etc. He did a comprehensive investigation and ended up becoming a believer.
    What is the worst thing you could be wrong about? Surely it is eternity. My point is that if a person is prepared to be honest with themselves and not just blindly believe in religion but sincerely seek the truth they will find it.

  • gonzo marx

    Ronald..i respecfully disAgree

    there is NO such irrefutable evidence, there is hearsay at best…

    what you consider the New Testament was compiled from many Scriptures and Gospels by Bishop Iraneus in 180Ad in an attempt to create a unified (read:catholic) church

    this was after he had written “the Book of 5 Heresies” in order to refute the claims of others who follwed a different set of criptures than what he espoused…his Book was ratified almost in toto by the Council of NIcea under Constantine…and just about every historical scholar will readily admit this was for purely political purposes of uniting the Roman Empire under a single religion

    you state…
    *My point is that if a person is prepared to be honest with themselves and not just blindly believe in religion but sincerely seek the truth they will find it.*

    and i would suggest you follow your own Advice…

    but might i remind you that much of what you speak of is inherently unKNowable until AFTER the end of physical Life

    i refuse to allow ANY human tell me authoritativly what to believe…and i reject the Concept that ANY human in the course of human history has “known the Mind of God” and thus been able to write “God’s Word”

    to my Way of Thought…any who claim such are either delusional, or trying to take my money

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior!

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/04/07/035211.php Ronald Hume

    Gonzo I accept that you disagree. There is a saying that “A man persuaded against his will is of the same mind still”.
    Taking into account that the Bible which contains 66 books, was written by 40 authors from all walks of life, inspired by the Spirit of God over thousands of years with the central theme that God has a way of salvation to all who are willing to acknowledge their sin, repent and receive His gift of salvation; I’d rather believe that than all the humanistic lies of man.
    Solomon in his book of Proverbs (14:12) puts in plainly “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

  • gonzo marx

    and Ronald ..i also accept that we can harmoniously co-exist and yet disagree…

    but allow me to point out a specific bit of contention right in your own comment…

    you say…
    *Taking into account that the Bible which contains 66 books, was written by 40 authors from all walks of life, inspired by the Spirit of God over thousands of years with the central theme that God has a way of salvation to all who are willing to acknowledge their sin, repent and receive His gift of salvation; I’d rather believe that than all the humanistic lies of man.*

    i am merely stating that many, if not all of those Authors are indulging in the Lies of Men that you speak of…

    not that there is not Wisdom in many of those works

    i merely refute the assumption that they are the “direct word of god”

    i do hope that helps

    Excelsior!

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/04/07/035211.php Ronald Hume

    Gonzo my friend, how can so many different authors from so many walks in life,(philosophers to peasants), living centuries apart conspire to put together such an incredible book. This is not lies of men, it is the living Word of God. Search it and you will see for yourself and hopefully at the end of this physical life I will meet you in the coming Kingdom of God. What joy will fill my heart if you should say Ronald you pointed my footsteps to heaven, you told me of Jesus the WAY. I’m not trying to get you into a religion but rather a personal relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ.
    In conclusio: Romans 1:19-21 (The Message)
    But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives.

  • gonzo marx

    Tonald..as is known historically…it was a single editor (Iraneus) who compiled what you consider the NT…and rejected many other scriptures

    so, while so many had Men had penned so many Stories..so much was channeled through so few hands

    i do Appreciate your thoughtful caring and cosideration, and gladly Accept it in the Spirit in which it is offered

    but to me… gnosis > dogma

    you might find some interesting scriptures here

    the Gospels of Mary and Thomas are especially illuminating in the context of our conversation

    a pleasure and my thanks for the reasoned discourse

    Excelsior!

  • gonzo marx

    Ronald even…my fingers move too fast for my dyslexia at times….my Apologies…

    Excelsior!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo, when you put in a link, I think you need to add in “http://” to the title to make it work. That is what I’ve learned, anyway. Try this link instead, Ronald.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Something came out wrong in my uh “corrective” Gonzo. Just look at the link I provided as oppposed to the one you did.

    Sorry, kid.

  • gonzo marx

    lol…ok..it should be http://www.gnosis.org

    hope that helps…

    Excelsior!

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Ronald, interesting reference–because I didn’t find “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” convincing. Nor is “Mere Christianity” convincing. I remember MC better, and my problem was the jump from believing in God to believing in Jesus. Essentially it went back to the “because the Bible says so” argument.

    Gonzo makes some good points about gnosticism, and about the political nature of the process by which the Christian Bible was collated and assembled. I agree with him that your statement “not just blindly believe in religion but sincerely seek the truth they will find it” is the essence of gnosis, the “heretical” thread of Christianity that was excised during and around Nicea.

  • Steve

    Ronald, Josh McDowell is simple enough for kids, but I would use other resources for adults.

    My favorite Christian apologist is Ravi Zacharias, from an Indian Hindu Priesthood family originally, so he has some fascinating insights into the so-called “East vs. West Thinking” debate.

  • Josh

    G.K. Chesterton is another pretty good apologist. I’m not saying that any one person can explain it all, but he does a pretty good job.

    That being said, I tend to agree with Gonzo and the “gnosis” argument. Despite the ban, gnosis doesn’t really disagree with the spirit of the Roman Catholic point of view.

  • gonzo marx

    ok…just a few things for those Interested to think upon…

    why would something need an “apologist”?

    and Josh, i do think we are communicating to some extent, but might i suggest that much of the teachings that the RC church…founded by Iraneus…have called “heretical” are in opposition to much of what most would consider the “spirit” of RC faith…and in definate conflict with Church dogma

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior!

  • Steve

    gonzo, ‘apologist’ is related to the NT Greek word ‘apologia’ which means ‘to give an answer for’, not used in the modern sense of ‘apologise’ which is essentially ‘say you are sorry’.

    I’ve been looking into some stuff re. Gnosticism, and it appears an increasing number of modern scholars are suggesting that Gnosticism is actually a separate religion that drew on other religions including Christianity, and is not another form of Christianity.

  • gonzo marx

    Steve…

    there are MANY version of gnostics…

    including christian ones

    try http://www.gnosis.org for excellent info, translations of the Nag Hammadi texts…

    and even audio lectures from an American Christian Gnostic Bishop!

    enjoy

    also keep in mind that the founder of the christian church (Iraneus) wrote “the Book of 5 Heresies” specifically to combat other forms of Christianity for purely political purposes…he also is the one who is credited with compiling the NT which was later ratified in Nicea under Constantine

    once you get a feel for the motivations behind these events…the choices of material contained in the NT becomes much more clear

    Excelsior!

  • Steve

    My point was, Christianity had to exist FIRST, before Gnosticism could incorporate elements of Christianity into it. So the notion that Christianity came from Gnosticism is false. Therefore, the Christian faith of the NT is true, Gnosticism just stole some elemets from it later. I think you’ve got things backwards.

  • gonzo marx

    Steve…you seem to lack a knowledge of the history involved…

    the first christian sects WERE gnostic….

    there are many who think that Yeshua himself was a gnostic, hence his teachings in the way he did….which was very different than that used by Jewish teachers at the time

    what you and i are discussing is the very essence of what the ocnflict was around 180AD when Iraneus created what you think of as “christianity” by fiat…

    in existance in the Vatican Library to this very day are not only copies of “the book of 5 heresies”…but various letters from Iraneus to other “bishops” stating it was ok to Lie about what they knew in order to quell the “heretics”

    i do NOT speak about this to shake or belittle your Beliefs or Faith

    but rather to expand your Thought and Knowledge

    how does this tie into the original Topic?

    glad you asked…

    much of what Steve and i are speaking about is the exact same Issue between the Quran and the other texts utilized by various sects of Islam

    basically…which “scriptures” are vlaued and studied….why…and who said so….and why

    these Questions should interest ANY “pilgrim” who seeks to understand the Works and the Lessons held within….and the historical perspective of those writing’s Origins and codifications as well as selections and editing lend towards the shapings of not only political structures, but inherent dogma as well…

    example: if Saul of Tarsus’ work had NOT been added to the NT, but the Gospels of Mary and (Coptic) Thomas had…

    how different would the Church view of women had been over the last 1800 years?

    just some Thoughts

    Excelsior!

  • Mahendra Mathur

    I agree that the violent parts of the Quran should be devalued. I might add the parts which are sexist should also be devalued. What follows are examples of violence and sexism in Quran that could be made optional or deleted.
    Surah 2.190. And fight in the Way of Allâh those who fight you, but transgress not the limits. Truly, Allâh likes not the transgressors. [This Verse is the first one that was revealed in connection with Jihâd, but it was supplemented by another (V.9:36)]. 191. And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-al-Harâm (the sanctuary at Makkah), unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. 192. But if they cease, then Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. 193. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allâh) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allâh (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zâlimûn (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)
    33:50] 50. O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makka) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;- this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;- in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful

  • Connie

    You may find the following symposium of interest in this discussion.

    Symposium: A New Koran?