Thursday, September 24, 2015

Can Islam, Given Its Violent Past, Become a Religion of Peace?

Can Islam Be Reformed?

Yes, we know that some Muslims call Islam the religion of peace. And it is a fact that there are probably as many versions of Islam as Christianity, which has thousands of contrary varieties.

And (like its predecessors, Judaism and Christianity) some versions of Islam are more humanistic, but others are
horrifically destructive,
intolerant, and evil.
The latter at present having millions of adherents following the letter of the Qur'an and the Hadiths-- ISIS, HAMAS, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Al Quida, ad nauseum.

And back at the start, Muhammad (c.b.u.h.) ordered 500 to 800 hundred Jewish male prisoners beheaded and then sold their women and children into slavery. Not a good beginning for someone claiming to be the final prophet of God!

Then shortly after Muhammad's death the horrific persecution and bloodletting between Shia and Sunni began. Later in 680 CE occurred the terrible battle at Karbala (now in Iraq).

Then the Islamic jihad swept up through Byzantium into eastern Europe, and eastward all the way to India and westward across Africa and up into western Europe. Why didn't the two wings of this angel of death meet in modern day France?

(Yes, I know that many orthodox Muslims claim that Islam never was a colonizing/conquering religion. But if that is true, how did million of Muslim soldiers get from Medina to France and Austria? That's thousands of miles.)

Why didn't medieval Europe become Muslim?

Because jihad conquerors were finally stopped at Tours, France and Vienna, Austria by the equally vicious Christian forces, and so forth; history has gashed into the present. Millions of dead.

But—the cosmos help us!—let’s cut to the chase.

What about now, this moment, in time?

Can Islam be improved?

Can Islam--the Religion of so much killing for 1,300 years--can that worldview be reformed into a religion of peace?

And if it can, how? And what would be the first steps to do so?

Let's look at its older sister religion, Christianity. Has it been able to transition from the "Jesus Wars"* toward peace and justice?

Traditionally for 1,800 years, Christianity committed the bloodletting of millions of people, and committed nearly constant persecution and acts of intolerance. But then very gradually in some places hopeful changes occurred.

There was the pietistic movement in Germany in the 1700's, John Wesley’s God's love movement in Britain and America, the Brethren Anabaptists opposition to war, the Quakers' emphasis upon equality, and the Unitarian-Universalists rejection of Original Sin and predestinarian damnation of the 19th century.

From those groups and other new beginnings came peace societies, abolition against slavery, women’s rights, prison reform, etc. What great hope!

Is it not possible then, that Islam, despite its own immoral past, could also rethink itself into a hopeful movement of human rights, justice, and peace?

Because after all not all Christians were (or are now) fixated on creedal Christianity's horrific beliefs like the famous American Christian Th.D who wrote that infants at conception are "sinners from conception, guilty and vile worms" and another who wrote, infants at conception are "in essence, evil" and "devil worshipers." Not all Christians think that God ordains every evil and has foreordained most humans to Hell.

Can Muslims reject one of their 6 central tenets: that of Fate/Predestination, too?

from Declaration of Faith (Shahadah)
"Belief in Fate – Everything that happens is the will of Allah and is preordained. Acceptance of fate is an essential element in submitting to the will of Allah"

According to the famous Muslim scholar Al-Ghazali,

"Love is to sense a need of the is therefore impossible that Allah should love."

What do you think?

Can active Muslims reject this central tenet of Islam?

In the past Christianity tried to change, to get rid of such determinism. But then about 30-40 years ago or so, the huge doctrinal theology returned with a vengeance turning mild ethically-centered Christianity back to the intolerant fatalistic religion of Augustinian-Calvinism.

Since Islam and creedal Christianity are almost identical on fate/determinism/predestination, and so many other similar beliefs and behaviors as Augustinian-Calvinism, such as war, intolerance, injustice, and inequality, and since so many Muslims are turning back to the past's fundamentalistic Islam...

Can this all be reversed?

What do you think?

Here we are.

(My own background experience with Islam: I've traveled through Palestine, stayed with a Muslim family in Nablus, dialogued with Muslims from various contrary branches of the religion for almost 50 years; my wife and I have supported reconciliation, development, and interaction in the Middle East amongst Muslims and others, etc.

Ever since I first engaged Muslims who were demonstrating against Israel, way back in late 1967 at Long Beach State College, I have pondered the nature of Islam read plenty of tomes about the religion (pro and con), read carefully through the Qur'an (in various translations) 1 1/2 times, and read 4 biographies on Muhammad, etc.)

So I am interested in everyone's view, thinking, questions, observations, and judgments on this, (especially practicing Muslims' perspectives).

Can Islam Become a Religion of Peace?

What do you think?

Leave a thoughtful comment, recommend a book, share an experience from your perspective.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

*Jesus Wars by Phillip Jenkins, a must read for anyone who wants to understand the nature of Christian history


Yekaterina Haussler said...

Forgive me, Daniel, for not reading your entire post. The title made me write this...
Islam has always been a religion of peace. It was (historically) the first religion in the world that gave women independence and a right to divorce their husbands. What we see today done by different groups "In the name of Allah" has nothing in common with original Islam. Just like actions of Kim Davis have little to nothing in common with original messages of Christianity.
Can the followers "come back to the original"? I think those individuals that follow Islam are already there... As for terrorist and "special interest" groups - they have been exploiting the name of this religion in their interest, nothing more. It is important to distinguish between the two.
Thank you.

Daniel Wilcox said...

We totally disagree on this then.

One of the first acts of Muhammad was to behead 500-900 Jewish men prisoners, then Muhammad enslaved the women and children:-( He had come into their town Medina and taken over.

Then he murdered two poets.

Furthermore, he regularly robbed caravans, killed...

And other horrific immoral actions.

He was a cunning political tyrant like Napoleon. Only worse because all of his own selfish actions he contributed to Allah.:-(

But thanks for sharing your view. We are much closer to agreeing on Hemingway.

Muhammad was one of the worst leaders ever.

Yekaterina Haussler said...

Disagreeing with friends is part of the conversation and life flow, so... agree to disagree.
I do notice a pattern in your posts lately, though, and I was curious: does digging through the unfair and "immoral" actions of the "famous people of the past" help you? If so , how?
Thank you.

Daniel Wilcox said...

How differently persons see events!

Here's how Hemingway and Muhammad showed up unexpectedly on my blog, not planned events.

Since leaving the Christian religion 3 years ago, I've been reflecting on what I used to believe. And lately, I've also read of some Christian leaders, again, holding the Hebrew terrorist David up as a role model for men, so I started working on an article on the him.

When I did, suddenly Hemingway's famous statement about a "shit detector" popped into my mind, probably because it is such a dynamic term and because I only finished Mary Hemingway's autobiography last week. So I fit it into the article.

Then when I published the article on David, it came to me to post a Part #2 with a new poem I finished on David as well.

At that point, it occurred to me I could also post two poems I wrote 13 years ago about Hemingway after visiting his mansion in Key West, Florida. It really is right next to the lighthouse and the mortuary.

See how those things came together in a somewhat serendipitous way, though I agree that my posts have been more negative of late.

As for the article on Muhammad, I hadn't even planned any post on him. But there have been so many horrific events lately--Muslims stabbing people, a Muslim murdering an infant and then getting praised by other Muslims. And, locally I attended a speech by a Muslim leader and talked with two afterward.

I had hoped they would offer
hope that Islam is reforming, and that they would be against the terrible actions in the Qur'an and around the world. But instead they seemed to defend
Islam's persecution and denial of religious freedom to humans.

Heck, they even defended the Qur'an passage where it says for a husband to "beat" his wife:-(

And some other people have been defending Islam here in Santa Maria.:-(

Lastly, remember there were the murders by a Muslim jihadist in Tennessee who had recently graduated with an engineering degree from the U.of T. He seems to have been radicalized when he visited Jordan last year.

So much tragedy and death, all because of Muhammad.:-(

So early this morning, when I woke up, this article was forming in my mind. I hurried down stairs and wrote it up.

I hadn't even seen the fact that all three of my last blog posts have been so negative.

I agree its time I get back to lighting one candle, rather than cursing the darkness.