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Source: (consider it) Thread: The origin of Islamic extremism
Steve Langton
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Islamic extremism stems from ... CONSTANTINE!

Now going to read Steve's post to see if I'm right.

Made me smile!

I don't think Islamic extremism 'stems from Constantine' in any simple way. More it is another example of the bad way of linking religion and state which goes back beyond Constantine as well. The relationship with Constantine lies in (at least) two areas

1) When Muhammad came along, it was about 200 years after Constantine so the primary Christian example to influence him was the actually-not-so-Christian state church. The Quran includes at least one chapter related to a military operation against the Byzantines, ie Constantine's successors.

On the one hand this makes it understandable that Muhammad made the choices he did, and we Christians need to accept the past role of Christians in this (though also noting that this wasn't Christianity as Jesus taught it). On the other hand, I feel that if Muhammad had been a true prophet and really, as he claimed, correcting and improving Christianity, I'd be a lot more impressed by him if he had gone back to Jesus' position on religion/state relations instead of following the 'Constantinian' example which makes war and violence in the name of the faith pretty much inevitable....

2) The other aspect is that Islam has been much affected by the military opposition of 'Christendom' especially in the Crusades - which in a sense I think IS still see themselves as fighting - but also in European colonisation of Muslim countries all over the world. Christians need to be concerned about that and recognise the part of Christendom in forming Muslim thinking.

I think it was Eutychus who reacted to a mention of 'Christendom' with 'not again' or words to that effect - but seriously, in this case the involvement of Christendom as an opponent of Islam and forming their attitudes to the 'Christian' West is pretty undeniable.

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Steve Langton
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I seriously want to know what other interpretations there are, why there is disagreement, etc.

Well, yes. Of course you do. But if you have access to a computer, you also have access to enough information to inform yourself as to how wrong you are and how other people saying "but there are other interpretations" are really saying "how can you not know there are other interpretations?"

For example, how many Sufi suicide bombers have you read about?

Seriously: if you don't know about the difference between Sunni and Shia and Sufi and Yazidi and Druze, or Arab and Persian and Berber, then you need to do that asap. This is a starting point. It's not your end point.

You are I think a bit exaggerating my position. I do indeed have a computer and I do use it. I just used it to check that my memory about Sufism was right and that actually they were more likely to be victims of suicide bombers than perpetrators. And because I have studied the stuff quite a bit, seems I was right....

I also used it to follow your link; being well into Christian non-conformity I was not too surprised by the variety of Islamic sects it revealed. But it also of course revealed that most of these are very minor and not very significant to the current discussion. The majority Sunni/Shia seem to be essentially teaching what I am critiquing.

It's not so much a case of "how can (I) not know there are other interpretations?" I'm well aware of there being other interpretations!!!! After all I rather much belong to what many would see as an 'other interpretation' of Christianity myself! My objection was to people who, instead of producing solid issues to discuss, just make airy vague comments about 'other interpretations' and act as if merely by saying that they've somehow proved me wrong. Such an approach is not a legitimate argument.

I know there are variants of Islam which teach peace - so far I've yet to come across such a variant which convinces me they've a sufficient argument to counter the rather obvious and fundamental historic fact of Muhammad's own choice to establish an Islamic state and fight wars to establish and maintain it, or to counter the obvious interpretation of the Quran texts which support Muhammad doing so.

It's not just "Are there other interpretations?" - it's also are they in fact credible interpretations or questionably stretched and strained interpretations. Merely that they exist doesn't make them right or even serious.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
You are I think a bit exaggerating my position. I do indeed have a computer and I do use it. I just used it to check that my memory about Sufism was right and that actually they were more likely to be victims of suicide bombers than perpetrators. And because I have studied the stuff quite a bit, seems I was right....

I also used it to follow your link; being well into Christian non-conformity I was not too surprised by the variety of Islamic sects it revealed. But it also of course revealed that most of these are very minor and not very significant to the current discussion. The majority Sunni/Shia seem to be essentially teaching what I am critiquing.

Right, so all those other Muslims don't count for the purposes of your argument. How convenient.

quote:
It's not so much a case of "how can (I) not know there are other interpretations?" I'm well aware of there being other interpretations!!!! After all I rather much belong to what many would see as an 'other interpretation' of Christianity myself! My objection was to people who, instead of producing solid issues to discuss, just make airy vague comments about 'other interpretations' and act as if merely by saying that they've somehow proved me wrong. Such an approach is not a legitimate argument.

I know there are variants of Islam which teach peace - so far I've yet to come across such a variant which convinces me they've a sufficient argument to counter the rather obvious and fundamental historic fact of Muhammad's own choice to establish an Islamic state and fight wars to establish and maintain it, or to counter the obvious interpretation of the Quran texts which support Muhammad doing so.

I suspect almost every other person on this board is bored of trying to persuade you that the things you believe are not objective facts but just opinions you've derived from a limited exposure to Islam and Islamic teaching.

Even the points you make above are disputed by scholars.

From the Oxford Islamic Studies website:

quote:
Although the original Islamic sources (the Qurʿān and the ḥadīths) have very little to say on matters of government and the state, the first issue to confront the Muslim community immediately after the death of its formative leader, the Prophet Muḥammad, in 632 CE was in fact the problem of government and how to select a successor, khalīfah (caliph), to the Prophet. From the start, therefore, Muslims had to innovate and to improvise with regard to the form and nature of government.

Islam is indeed a religion of collective morals, but it contains little that is specifically political—that is, the original Islamic sources rarely convey much on how to form states, run governments, and manage organizations. If the rulers of the historical Islamic states were also spiritual leaders of their communities, this was not because Islam required the imām (religious leader) to be also a political ruler, but because—on the contrary—Islam had spread in regions where the modes of production tended to be control-based and where the state had always played a crucial economic and social role. The “monopoly” of a certain religion had always been one of the state 's usual instruments for ensuring ideological hegemony, and the historical Islamic state was heir to this tradition.

etc and so on


So there is at least one scholar who thinks your obvious conclusions are utter bunk.

quote:
It's not just "Are there other interpretations?" - it's also are they in fact credible interpretations or questionably stretched and strained interpretations. Merely that they exist doesn't make them right or even serious.
Just because you've thought of them doesn't make them "right or even serious" either.

[ 14. September 2016, 10:50: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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mr cheesy
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And, wadderyouknow, here is another scholar who argues that Islam should be separated from the state:

quote:
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naʿim argues that the coercive enforcement of shariʿa by the state betrays the Qurʿan’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, shariʿa should be freed from the control of the state. State policies or legislation must be based on civic reasons accessible to citizens of all religions. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Naʿim maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce shariʿa. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an “Islamic state” is based on European ideas of state and law, and not shariʿa or the Islamic tradition.
link to book blurb

[ 14. September 2016, 10:57: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:

I also used it to follow your link; being well into Christian non-conformity I was not too surprised by the variety of Islamic sects it revealed. But it also of course revealed that most of these are very minor and not very significant to the current discussion. The majority Sunni/Shia seem to be essentially teaching what I am critiquing.

The problem is that even 'Sunni' and 'Shia' are blanket terms that are about as useful a descriptive label as 'Orthodox', there are numerous schools within each form of the faith. For a number of reasons (including geo-politics) the more conservative forms have gained ascendance in the post-War era, which has tended to lead to a narrowing of the dialogue over exactly how the actions of Muhammed should be contextualised.
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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
My objection was to people who, instead of producing solid issues to discuss, just make airy vague comments about 'other interpretations' and act as if merely by saying that they've somehow proved me wrong. Such an approach is not a legitimate argument.

The number of experts on Islamic jurisprudence on a Christian website is going to be low, so most of us don't know enough to directly refute you.

On the other hand, we do know enough to know that we don't know; and we also seem to know as much as you do. That strongly implies that if we don't know enough, you don't know enough either.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I also used it to follow your link; being well into Christian non-conformity I was not too surprised by the variety of Islamic sects it revealed. But it also of course revealed that most of these are very minor and not very significant to the current discussion. The majority Sunni/Shia seem to be essentially teaching what I am critiquing.

Which also can't be lumped into a single (or even two) "teaching". A Sunni from Turkey likely believes in a very different form of Islam than a Saudi Sunni. You might as well be talking about the teachings of "Protestantism". Yes, there are some commonalities but the differences are more notable, particularly to the practitioners of different Protestant sects.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Crœsos
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The other problem of labeling as 'extremist' anyone using the state to pursue an agenda is essentially defining all governments as 'extremist'. (e.g. the U.S. Army is a bunch of American extremists because of their willingness to use violence at the behest of their state.) I'm doubtful such a broad definition is all that useful.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Islamic extremism stems from ... CONSTANTINE!

Now going to read Steve's post to see if I'm right.

Made me smile!

I don't think Islamic extremism 'stems from Constantine' in any simple way. More it is another example of the bad way of linking religion and state which goes back beyond Constantine as well. The relationship with Constantine lies in (at least) two areas

1) When Muhammad came along, it was about 200 years after Constantine so the primary Christian example to influence him was the actually-not-so-Christian state church. The Quran includes at least one chapter related to a military operation against the Byzantines, ie Constantine's successors.

On the one hand this makes it understandable that Muhammad made the choices he did, and we Christians need to accept the past role of Christians in this (though also noting that this wasn't Christianity as Jesus taught it). On the other hand, I feel that if Muhammad had been a true prophet and really, as he claimed, correcting and improving Christianity, I'd be a lot more impressed by him if he had gone back to Jesus' position on religion/state relations instead of following the 'Constantinian' example which makes war and violence in the name of the faith pretty much inevitable....

2) The other aspect is that Islam has been much affected by the military opposition of 'Christendom' especially in the Crusades - which in a sense I think IS still see themselves as fighting - but also in European colonisation of Muslim countries all over the world. Christians need to be concerned about that and recognise the part of Christendom in forming Muslim thinking.

I think it was Eutychus who reacted to a mention of 'Christendom' with 'not again' or words to that effect - but seriously, in this case the involvement of Christendom as an opponent of Islam and forming their attitudes to the 'Christian' West is pretty undeniable.

Can't disagree at all Steve! Islam formed in reaction to the catastrophic failure to institutionalize Jesus.

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Love wins

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
by Eutychus;
quote:
The obvious answer is that you prosecute violent extremism regardless of religious practice, and leave alone religious practice that isn't violent.
That is a good secular answer for a pluralist state. It's pretty useless in helping us to understand where the violence came from and how we can prevent it arising to begin with. And one of the lacks in your whole response there is any significant distinctively Christian view....
If your response to violence emerging from, among other things, religious difference is to announce that everybody must convert to Anabaptism forthwith, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

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quetzalcoatl
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Worth pointing out also that Islamism is not simply religious, but also political. Therefore you have to calculate the political forces at work in the rise of AQ and IS.

These include - the sidelining of the Sunni tribes, as Iran exerts more influence; the failure of a previous generation of secular leaders, who tended to persecute Islamists; anti-Western feelings, produced partly by invasion, bombing, and so on; the appeal to alienated youth around the world.

In other words, taking it back to the Qu'ran is too simplistic, and leaves out a huge amount of stuff. It's like blaming the IRA on the Reformation.

In fact, deradicalization will be a catastrophe if it simply talks about religion.

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no path

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quetzalcoatl
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And yes, echoes of previous colonization.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:

--Were the American revolutionaries traitors to England?

Yes. Clearly and objectively yes.
quote:

Were the people in America who stayed loyal to England traitors to America?

No. Also clearly and objectively.

The American Revolution is a poor example in what I think you are trying to demonstrate.
The Americans were not subjugated.
It was not a populist revolt.
Britain showed willingness to work with the colonists.

It is a good example of how interest blinds.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Worth pointing out also that Islamism is not simply religious, but also political. Therefore you have to calculate the political forces at work in the rise of AQ and IS.

And those have roots in the way the West has dealt with the Middle East since WWI.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Worth pointing out also that Islamism is not simply religious, but also political. Therefore you have to calculate the political forces at work in the rise of AQ and IS.

And those have roots in the way the West has dealt with the Middle East since WWI.
That's part of it. You can also factor in the insane rule of the secularists, who imprisoned, tortured and executed Islamists, and also the rise of Iran, which is tilting the Middle East off its old axis. Oh, the West helped in that, of course.

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no path

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Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Worth pointing out also that Islamism is not simply religious, but also political. Therefore you have to calculate the political forces at work in the rise of AQ and IS.

And those have roots in the way the West has dealt with the Middle East since WWI.
Way before that: The Roman Republic occupied much of the Eastern Mediterranean a century before Christ was born. Some people just don't remember that "Never get involved in a land war in Asia" is a sound strategy and that they aren't in a game of Risk(tm). In the Battle of Carrhae (near the Turkey/Syria border, of all places) Rome suffered one of its worst defeats.

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(Paul Sinha, BBC)

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quetzalcoatl
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You could write a history of AQ and IS simply from the point of view of the Sunni tribes, feeling very threatened by the rise of Iran, and the Shia militias, also Hezbollah.

But in Iraq, they were convinced to turn against AQ, and in fact, defeated them.

I would think that one of the big problems in Syria, if there is a cease-fire, is how to placate the tribes and sheikhs, and give them some security and political standing. Otherwise, there will be another IS.

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no path

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
The Roman Republic occupied much of the Eastern Mediterranean a century before Christ was born.

And 7 centuries before Mohammed when Arabs were an obscure small tribe. It was the Achaemenid Persians and Parthians that were the trouble then, the former Zorastrians and the latter probably some mix of Zorastrian, Greek cult and other stuff. While modern Iranians might see some some continuity with the Sasanian empire I don't think the Achaemenids or Parthians would get much of a look-in and it was all pre-Islamic.

All those empires gave as good as they got to the Romans, if ancient history was a guide then Iranians would be nursing grievances against Mongolians more than anyone, although perhaps the Arabs would come a close second but there are more recent events to cement that hatred.

It was the Americans that were most recently unhelpful in colluding with the brutally repressive last Shah, which created the environment for the Iranian revolution.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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quetzalcoatl
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Yes, if you were a conspiratorist, you could argue that Western intelligence is in the pay of Iran. They espoused the 1953 coup, and helped the Shah, thus leading to the radicalization of much of Iran. Then they invaded Iraq, Iran's chief opponent, helped Iraq into a state of collapse, result! The Quds rule.

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no path

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mdijon
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Except there was the bit before the invasion of Iraq where they helped Saddam out with satellite imagery of Iranian targets that he could drop chemical weapons on.

It's a funny accident that Iran is Shia. I think the story is that although there were both Sunni and Shia overlords of pre/peri-Islamic Iran the Shia appealed more to the local population and it stuck.

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ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
It's a funny accident that Iran is Shia. I think the story is that although there were both Sunni and Shia overlords of pre/peri-Islamic Iran the Shia appealed more to the local population and it stuck.

My recollection is that as a territory conquered by the Arabs becoming Shia allowed them to be Islamic, whilst differentiating them from the (generally) Sunni Arabs.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
My recollection is that as a territory conquered by the Arabs becoming Shia allowed them to be Islamic, whilst differentiating them from the (generally) Sunni Arabs.

Checking with the source of all knowledge: Persia was Sunni until the Safavid dynasty, who had previously been a Sunni religious order but gradually became a Shia group, conquered/ reunified it in about 1501 under Ismail I.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
My recollection is that as a territory conquered by the Arabs becoming Shia allowed them to be Islamic, whilst differentiating them from the (generally) Sunni Arabs.

Checking with the source of all knowledge: Persia was Sunni until the Safavid dynasty, who had previously been a Sunni religious order but gradually became a Shia group, conquered/ reunified it in about 1501 under Ismail I.
With all due respect to your good lady wife/ Orac/ Wikipedia (delete as appropriate) I think that there were ebbs and flows and that the Iranians/ Persians were always attracted to Islamic 'heterodoxy'. This is a good account of the complexities involved.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Steve Langton
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by mr cheesy;
quote:
quote:
Even the points you make above are disputed by scholars. From the Oxford Islamic Studies website: quote: Although the original Islamic sources (the Qurʿān and the ḥadīths) have very little to say on matters of government and the state, the first issue to confront the Muslim community immediately after the death of its formative leader, the Prophet Muḥammad, in 632 CE was in fact the problem of government and how to select a successor, khalīfah (caliph), to the Prophet. From the start, therefore, Muslims had to innovate and to improvise with regard to the form and nature of government. Islam is indeed a religion of collective morals, but it contains little that is specifically political—that is, the original Islamic sources rarely convey much on how to form states, run governments, and manage organizations. If the rulers of the historical Islamic states were also spiritual leaders of their communities, this was not because Islam required the imām (religious leader) to be also a political ruler, but because—on the contrary—Islam had spread in regions where the modes of production tended to be control-based and where the state had always played a crucial economic and social role. The “monopoly” of a certain religion had always been one of the state 's usual instruments for ensuring ideological hegemony, and the historical Islamic state was heir to this tradition. etc and so on
So there is at least one scholar who thinks your obvious conclusions are utter bunk.
Actually no, there is one scholar saying pretty much what I said myself. Just he's spelling out some of the complexities which I avoided to make the basic point.

During Muhammad's life you had a de facto Islamic state which didn't need a great deal of formalised 'politics' because of the living presence of the prophet and the revelations of the Quran to guide things. A somewhat similar though not identical situation existed in the early days of Mormonism and its prophet Joseph Smith.... But you certainly had the basic realities of an Islamic state established by war and continuing to use warfare to establish and defend itself.

After Muhammad's death and his removal as a unifying factor, there was a need to formalise and also a risk - almost a certainty - that there was likely to be division if people had different opinions of where Muhammad would have wanted things to go next, and/or if they had different opinions about the succession - as unfortunately they did.

And yes of course there would be lots of improvisation to keep that de facto Islamic state going. This was to be expected - it's the regular dynamics of such a situation.

And that brings us to the last sentence

quote:
The “monopoly” of a certain religion had always been one of the state 's usual instruments for ensuring ideological hegemony, and the historical Islamic state was heir to this tradition.
A near perfect statement of 'Constantinianism'! Indeed that is basically what the whole business is about, from long before Constantine down through Henry VIII and so on, and in all manner of other religions besides Christianity.

And unfortunately by his steps of establishing, albeit at first somewhat informally, a standard style state with warfare etc., and by not establishing the kind of alternative view of state-and-religion relationships found in the NT, Muhammad had pretty much guaranteed that the state he founded would simply fall into that 'tradition'.

Why do you think this makes my views "utter bunk"??

It essentially is my view just from a slightly different viewpoint!

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Steve Langton
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by quetzalcoatl;

quote:
Worth pointing out also that Islamism is not simply religious, but also political.
Why is that somehow "utter bunk" when I say it?? (sorry quetzalcoatl - I know you weren't responsible for that one...). Or simply, this is what I've been saying all along - that from Muhammad's setting up an Islamic state rather than a different relation between his religion and the surrounding world, Islam IS political and you need to consider that to deal with the problems we currently face.

Also by q;
quote:
In other words, taking it back to the Qu'ran is too simplistic, and leaves out a huge amount of stuff. It's like blaming the IRA on the Reformation.
I never said there were no other factors; there very much are - but the basic situation Muhammad set up, and the Quran's support of it, are still an extremely important part of the mix.

And while the IRA are not to be directly blamed on the Reformation, it is certainly true that the religious split added a great deal of heat to the other issues of an Ireland colonised and oppressed by England/Great Britain. And that heat has persisted to the present so far as I've been keeping an eye on NI, and is not yet attenuated enough for safety.

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Steve Langton
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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
by Eutychus;
quote:
The obvious answer is that you prosecute violent extremism regardless of religious practice, and leave alone religious practice that isn't violent.
That is a good secular answer for a pluralist state. It's pretty useless in helping us to understand where the violence came from and how we can prevent it arising to begin with. And one of the lacks in your whole response there is any significant distinctively Christian view....
If your response to violence emerging from, among other things, religious difference is to announce that everybody must convert to Anabaptism forthwith, you are part of the problem, not the solution.
If you think about it, everyone converting to Anabaptism forthwith would be quite a good solution - no more war or persecution!!

But I'm not that simplistic or that optimistic. But Christians realising a bit quicker than is currently the case that they do have from Jesus a better way to do religion/state relationships would surely be helpful. And presenting Islam (and the West!) with a different example must surely be better than leaving Islam still confronting what looks to them like the 'Christendom' that used to 'crusade' against them, and too much of the West tending to confirm that view of it....

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Steve Langton
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
And, wadderyouknow, here is another scholar who argues that Islam should be separated from the state:

quote:
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naʿim argues that the coercive enforcement of shariʿa by the state betrays the Qurʿan’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, shariʿa should be freed from the control of the state. State policies or legislation must be based on civic reasons accessible to citizens of all religions. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Naʿim maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce shariʿa. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an “Islamic state” is based on European ideas of state and law, and not shariʿa or the Islamic tradition.
link to book blurb
Now that's more like it!! And having just checked there's a Kindle edition, can't wait to add it to my stock and read it. I will be particularly interested in how he treats the issue that;

quote:
the coercive enforcement of shariʿa by the state betrays the Qurʿan’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam.

My current view is that basically yes, there is the teaching in the Quran of how there should be no coercion. The problem is, on the face of it, Muhammad robbed that aspect of most of its force by his own actions in (sorry about the repetition) setting up an Islamic 'kingdom of this world' state and using warfare and execution of opponents on behalf of that state. We will see....
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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
The problem is, on the face of it...

The problem is indeed on the face of it. You have a superficial view of Islam and what you have written about your superficial view probably far outstrips the word count of what you've read Muslims saying about their Islam. Go read and listen, then form a view.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
With all due respect to your good lady wife/ Orac/ Wikipedia (delete as appropriate) I think that there were ebbs and flows and that the Iranians/ Persians were always attracted to Islamic 'heterodoxy'. This is a good account of the complexities involved.

With all due additional respect I'm more with Orac on this. That review really put me off with the sentence
quote:
In contrast to Zoroastrianism, Islam did not regard women as the property of men
Also I don't think attraction to heterodoxy really sounds convincing given that for the first few hundred years I don't think it's clear who was going to be regarded as orthodox. The split was very early and orthodox depends on the winners, who weren't established at that point.

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Steve Langton
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
The problem is, on the face of it...

The problem is indeed on the face of it. You have a superficial view of Islam and what you have written about your superficial view probably far outstrips the word count of what you've read Muslims saying about their Islam. Go read and listen, then form a view.
Given how voraciously a hyperlexic Aspie like me can read, that sounds unlikely. You will note that having been pointed to a book with a promising different view, I'm about to spend my money on it and read it (and I'm wondering whether the person who found the book will actually be doing that himself, or whether it just served his purposes to use the blurb to get at me....)

I simply expressed the reasonable opinion that given Muhammad's rather indisputable acts, the author will have set himself quite a task. I actually hope he succeeds; but I'm not holding my breath.....

Are you, mdijon, seriously disputing that Muhammad set up an Islamic state and fought wars on its behalf? Is anyone else on the Ship seriously disputing that? If so, evidence please - but there will need to be a lot of it to disprove just the Muslim sources I've read - e.g., English convert Pickthall's intro to his English translation of the Quran.

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mdijon
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I, mdijon, am seriously disputing that that's a profoundly inferential point in a coherent argument.

Tell me about your great reading of Islamic scholars again when you've got beyond the "about to buy" stage.

[ 15. September 2016, 10:34: Message edited by: mdijon ]

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ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Actually no, there is one scholar saying pretty much what I said myself. Just he's spelling out some of the complexities which I avoided to make the basic point.

Bullshit. You said that there was only one possible way to understand Muhammad and that was in terms of Constantinian-style state-building. That link is clearly making the argument that the state-building was clearly influenced by the Koran and Hadith, but as they don't actually say very much about it that there was a whole load of improvising going on from the earliest days.

That is absolutely not what you said at any point and in fact the absolute opposite of what you said, namely that there was only one way to read the Koran and only one way to understand Muhammad.

You are clearly unable to understand that there is another way to conceive of Islamic legal history as it relates to the understanding of Islamic theology and you seem singularly unable to distinguish cause from effect and vice versa.

quote:
During Muhammad's life you had a de facto Islamic state which didn't need a great deal of formalised 'politics' because of the living presence of the prophet and the revelations of the Quran to guide things. A somewhat similar though not identical situation existed in the early days of Mormonism and its prophet Joseph Smith.... But you certainly had the basic realities of an Islamic state established by war and continuing to use warfare to establish and defend itself.
That is very clearly not what the link says at all. Indeed it makes it very clear that Islamic state building after Muhammad involved a lot of creative interpretation of the scriptures and was influenced by a lot of other stuff.

As it says:

quote:
Given the limited nature of political stipulations in the Qurʿān and the ḥadīths, Muslims have had to borrow and to improvise in developing their political systems. These systems, however, have been inspired by sharīʿah (Islamic law), as represented in the Qurʿān and the sunnah; by Arabian tribal traditions; and by the political heritage of the lands Muslims conquered, especially the Persian and Byzantine traditions.
You keep stating that it is a fact that there is only one way to read Muhammad and then when I show you that scholars say that the Islamic states were the way they were due to a range of factors (ie not just a "plain" reading of the Koran) you then change the argument saying that is what you said all along.

The fact is that Muhammad's words in the Koran were open to a whole load of interpretations with regard to violence - leading some to say that it is a religion of peace and others to go down the route of extreme violence.

You are the one saying that violence is the only possible reasonable reading of the Koran, I've provided you with an overview of the wide variety of views on the subject and showing how the basics in the Koran have been interpreted in different ways. Views that you've previously claimed are not "right or even serious".

ISTM that this link, on its own, shows that you're talking utter bollocks and that there are clearly serious views which disagree profoundly with your understanding of the Koran, and that you're in absolutely no position to pronounce what is right or wrong on the subject.

quote:
Why do you think this makes my views "utter bunk"??

It essentially is my view just from a slightly different viewpoint!

You could only make that statement if you'd not actually bothered to read the hundreds of closely argued words I've provided for you to consider. Written by experts on the subject.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
The problem is indeed on the face of it. You have a superficial view of Islam and what you have written about your superficial view probably far outstrips the word count of what you've read Muslims saying about their Islam. Go read and listen, then form a view.

Given how voraciously a hyperlexic Aspie like me can read, that sounds unlikely.
I'm sorry, are you saying here that you cannot possibly have a superficial view on something because you have Aspergers and read books?

If you seriously think that then ISTM that you are foolish.

quote:
You will note that having been pointed to a book with a promising different view, I'm about to spend my money on it and read it (and I'm wondering whether the person who found the book will actually be doing that himself, or whether it just served his purposes to use the blurb to get at me....)

My friend, (a) I have met lots of Muslims and I know for certain that Islamic Jurisprudence is complex (b) I know for a fact that many Muslims practice non-violence (c) I know many intelligent Muslims take opposing views on many things, including how to interpret the Koran and (d) I know - far more than you appear to - that there is an enormous amount about Islam that I don't know and therefore I would be extremely cautious about claiming things about it that a short google search can prove are categorically untrue.

[ 15. September 2016, 11:28: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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quetzalcoatl
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It is laughable to argue that one knows anything about Islamic anything, on the basis of having read some books. Far better, in my opinion, to live among Muslims, talk with them, interact with them, find out how they view peace and war. Even then, you would still have a partial view. Islam is not monolithic, but then is any religion?

Islamist extremism has many 'origins', and to ascribe it to just one, is a kind of intellectual suicide.

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no path

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Steve Langton
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by mr cheesy;
quote:
You keep stating that it is a fact that there is only one way to read Muhammad and then when I show you that scholars say that the Islamic states were the way they were due to a range of factors (ie not just a "plain" reading of the Koran) you then change the argument saying that is what you said all along.

The fact is that Muhammad's words in the Koran were open to a whole load of interpretations with regard to violence - leading some to say that it is a religion of peace and others to go down the route of extreme violence.

You are the one saying that violence is the only possible reasonable reading of the Koran,

1) There are only so many ways you can 'read' a man who raises an army to conquer the city of his birth and make it for all practical purposes an "Islamic state". And does/orders/leads a lot of military actions on the way. And to call that 'peaceable' is a considerable stretch of the English language or any other....

2) Not because I've actually changed my views but because I realised there had been a bit of ambiguity in the statement earlier, I have made clear in the current thread that while I know of, knew of, and fully recognise Muhammad's aspirations to peace, I also think that he undermined that by his practical activity in being a war leader establishing/aiming-at an Islamic state in real terms (as in, describing it otherwise is hair-splitting - in everyday terms it is an 'Islamic state'). Or as someone else recently put it;

quote:
The fact is that Muhammad's words in the Koran were open to a whole load of interpretations with regard to violence
That is, Muhammad's teaching is conflicted and contradictory. Again if you read back upthread you will find me stating that in words which pretty much paraphrase the words of mr cheesy's which I just quoted. I also pointed out quite reasonably that because of this ambiguity (again using mr cheesy's words);

quote:
leading some to say that it is a religion of peace and others to go down the route of extreme violence.
Precisely because Muhammad puts both angles and so presents an incoherent view, and because he himself clearly did the 'Islamic state' and the war on its behalf thing himself, it is at least unsurprising that the majority of Muslims through history seem to have chosen the warfare option and too many have "(gone) down the route of extreme violence".

I am not

quote:
the one saying that violence is the only possible reasonable reading of the Koran
I AM the one saying that the conflicted and contradictory readings pretty much guarantee that the violent route will be followed, especially given the rather indisputable action of establishing an Islamic state which (the religious state thing) also causes violence when foisted on the essentially truly peaceable Christian and Buddhist teachings.

As regards;
quote:
scholars say that the Islamic states were the way they were due to a range of factors
Again what's your problem? The basic factor they quote is precisely the one at the root in a different context of the 'Christian' states; and they may be saying that Muhammad's state didn't quite constitute initially a certain kind of state, but as I say it clearly was a 'state or an intended state' in everyday terms. As I said, there are only so many ways you can read a guy raising an army to conquer his home city and set himself up as ruler....

I have not 'changed my argument'; you introduced a scholar using a slightly different technical approach to what he regards as a state, and I recast my point to put it in his terms. That scholar is still as far as I can see agreeing that Muhammad ended up ruling Mecca by force, which is the key point rather than hair-splitting about when it became a 'state'.

quote:
...the Islamic states were the way they were due to a range of factors (ie not just a "plain" reading of the Koran)...
You're slightly mixing cause and effect here. Yes, Muhammad will have set up his Islamic state due to a range of factors including some naivety on his part about the likely consequences of setting up such a state. And yes, further factors will have caused the continuance of what he started. The point remains that he did as a historical fact set up an Islamic state in every way that matters for the current thread, and via the 'plain reading' of the Quran (which you seem to agree with me was in real terms Muhammad's words) purported to have God's support for what he did - a FACT on which the later rulers built.
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Precisely because Muhammad puts both angles and so presents an incoherent view, and because he himself clearly did the 'Islamic state' and the war on its behalf thing himself, it is at least unsurprising that the majority of Muslims through history seem to have chosen the warfare option and too many have "(gone) down the route of extreme violence".

That is utter rubbish. The "majority of Muslims throughout history" have not "chosen the warfare route".

quote:
I AM the one saying that the conflicted and contradictory readings pretty much guarantee that the violent route will be followed, especially given the rather indisputable action of establishing an Islamic state which (the religious state thing) also causes violence when foisted on the essentially truly peaceable Christian and Buddhist teachings.
No, they don't "guarantee that the violent route will be followed" as the long list of different opinions as to how to apply the Koran shows. You're just talking shit.

quote:
You're slightly mixing cause and effect here. Yes, Muhammad will have set up his Islamic state due to a range of factors including some naivety on his part about the likely consequences of setting up such a state. And yes, further factors will have caused the continuance of what he started. The point remains that he did as a historical fact set up an Islamic state in every way that matters for the current thread, and via the 'plain reading' of the Quran (which you seem to agree with me was in real terms Muhammad's words) purported to have God's support for what he did - a FACT on which the later rulers built.
I'm saying nothing of the kind and would not presume to agree with you about something that you clearly know absolutely jack shit about.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Precisely because Muhammad puts both angles and so presents an incoherent view, and because he himself clearly did the 'Islamic state' and the war on its behalf thing himself, it is at least unsurprising that the majority of Muslims through history seem to have chosen the warfare option and too many have "(gone) down the route of extreme violence".

Could you clarify something for me? What's the distinction between "extreme violence" and the ordinary kind violence typically associated with states? I'm kind of working from a Weberian understanding of the state as inherently violent, so the distinction seems useful.

For example, if we compare the initial Islamic conquest of Jerusalem in 638 and its re-taking by Muslim forces during the Second Crusade (both negotiated surrenders after a siege, with no exceptional atrocities afterwards) with the conquest of Jerusalem by the Christian forces of the First Crusade (city taken by storm, followed by a series of massacres considered excessive even by the standards of Mediæval warfare), most people would class the last as much more "extreme" than either of the first two. How do you arrive at the opposite conclusion?

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Steve Langton
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Precisely because Muhammad puts both angles and so presents an incoherent view, and because he himself clearly did the 'Islamic state' and the war on its behalf thing himself, it is at least unsurprising that the majority of Muslims through history seem to have chosen the warfare option and too many have "(gone) down the route of extreme violence".

Could you clarify something for me? What's the distinction between "extreme violence" and the ordinary kind violence typically associated with states? I'm kind of working from a Weberian understanding of the state as inherently violent, so the distinction seems useful.

For example, if we compare the initial Islamic conquest of Jerusalem in 638 and its re-taking by Muslim forces during the Second Crusade (both negotiated surrenders after a siege, with no exceptional atrocities afterwards) with the conquest of Jerusalem by the Christian forces of the First Crusade (city taken by storm, followed by a series of massacres considered excessive even by the standards of Mediæval warfare), most people would class the last as much more "extreme" than either of the first two. How do you arrive at the opposite conclusion?

Actually as an Anabaptist I pretty much agree with you about the violence of states.

In this case I was quoting somebody else in a context where much was being made of the difference (though nominal as I see it) between what Islamic states mostly do and what organisations like IS do. I was thinking in terms of the contrast perhaps between a relatively civilised Western 'Just War' concept and the comparatively extreme stuff we see from IS. But as you should know from other posts on threads we've both been on, I regard 'Just War' as a bit illusory anyway!

The Jerusalem massacre was indeed particularly bad; and a strong example of why Christians should follow Jesus on religion/state relations rather than the idea that you can have a religious state such as stages 'crusades'.

But yes, I was being a bit loose there....

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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You know, this getting caught up in ancient, founding history of Islam (and would be for any other religion) as setting up the current violence done in the name of Islam is wrong. This is about misuse of religion to provide something to identify with, in the context of destroyed for failed states, where national identification and even ethnic identification isn't possible.

You can misuse football team loyalty and have extreme behaviour. Just because Islam is the identified uniting force behind the extremism doesn't mean that it is the root cause. You need to look at the actual roots of the thing, which is no real hope, disintegrated countries and states, corrupt leadership, and yes, our direct contribution to the destruction of nascent nations, alliance with despots for economic gain and exploitation of their resources. Mohammed's wars of conquest have about as much to do with this as Paul's journeys in Acts have to do with the founding America (which in the opinion of some of my ancestors was founded by terrorists who burnt their farm, shot a few of them, and made them flee).

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Actually as an Anabaptist I pretty much agree with you about the violence of states.

In this case I was quoting somebody else in a context where much was being made of the difference (though nominal as I see it) between what Islamic states mostly do and what organisations like IS do.

Why specifically Islamic states? Is the Russian bombing campaign in Syria (to pick one example) notably less extreme than the Syrian government's own bombing campaign (conducted with Russian support)?

And I'm still not clear on what you're arguing regarding the proper role Christians and the state. Is it that Christians should never concern themselves with the doings of the governments under which they live, even in democratic systems where such is expected of them? Or is it that if everyone adopts your particular form of Christianity there will be a "withering away of the state" (that sounds vaguely familiar) to be followed by some anarcho-utopian paradise? Considering the persistence of the state compared with other forms of human organization, this seems a bit naïve.

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Steve Langton
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by mr cheesy;
quote:
That is utter rubbish. The "majority of Muslims throughout history" have not "chosen the warfare route".
Not suggesting the majority of Muslims throughout history have constantly been at actual war; just that they have accepted the basic idea implied by Muhammad's actual practice of war, and the Islamic state which like most states does depend on the possibility of war.

also by mr cheesy;
quote:
No, they don't "guarantee that the violent route will be followed" as the long list of different opinions as to how to apply the Koran shows. You're just talking shit.
We're back to that non-argument about all the 'different opinions/interpretations'. It's still a non-argument so how can I realistically respond? Can you give me a concrete example of a credible not obviously strained argument which explains how to get round the facts of Muhammad's own violent actions?

quote:
I'm saying nothing of the kind and would not presume to agree with you about something that you clearly know absolutely jack shit about.
That seems to refer to my comment that you appear to agree with me that the Quran was Muhammad's words. I based that comment on your own reference to "Muhammad's words in the Koran".

Assuming I'm right what you're referring to, whose words do you then think the Quran is?

For info, my opinion is Muhammad's words and opinions in fact, but sincerely believed by him to be God's words.

And I note that you don't seem to be responding to the rest of that paragraph which is in the present context perhaps more important, being about the historical facts of Muhammad's actions, than the opinion of either of us on the origins of the Quran

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Actually as an Anabaptist I pretty much agree with you about the violence of states.

Then you do not get it. It is not state or religion, but people. If the world were naught but Anabaptist anarchists, there would be war, rape, murder, etc. Religion is sometime the excuse, but people are the cause.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Steve Langton
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
I, mdijon, am seriously disputing that that's a profoundly inferential point in a coherent argument.

Tell me about your great reading of Islamic scholars again when you've got beyond the "about to buy" stage.

1) No 'great reading of Islamic scholars' - just simply literally quite a bit more such reading than you were implying. And I submit, BTW, a great deal more reading than one Muhammad seems to have given the NT before (a) producing a seriously distorted version of Jesus, and (b) completely ignoring Jesus' much better ideas on religion/state relations. Which in turn doesn't give me much confidence in either Muhammad or a Quran which appears to reflect that ignorance of Jesus....

2) As regards;
quote:
I, mdijon, am seriously disputing that that's a profoundly inferential point in a coherent argument.
WOW!

I ask a simple question and I get that instead of an actual answer. OK, I'm not necessarily expecting a simple yes or no, but what would be so wrong in you either
1) Affirming that you don't believe Muhammad essentially established an Islamic state by warfare; and perhaps explaining why in that denial you would apparently be disagreeing with not far short of the whole world....
2) Affirming that you do in fact believe Muhammad established a de facto Islamic state by de facto warfare as pretty much everyone else believes; and
3) Regardless of what exact kind of logical argument you think I'm making, explaining why those acts by Muhammad are apparently to you irrelevant to the problems the world now faces from the religion he founded; I think most ordinary people would think this issue quite important, especially as the violent extremist Muslims are essentially quoting the example of that conduct to justify their violent acts....

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Actually as an Anabaptist I pretty much agree with you about the violence of states.

Then you do not get it. It is not state or religion, but people. If the world were naught but Anabaptist anarchists, there would be war, rape, murder, etc. Religion is sometime the excuse, but people are the cause.
No, actually I do very much get it. It's part of the whole "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" thing that indeed people do all the war, rape, murder etc. I know perfectly well that states are not strictly persons (though they often are nominally so for legal convenience).

I was responding in a limited context to Croesos and in the terms of the question he asked it seemed proper to agree with him about the violence of states in general. I could expand on it considerably to make clear how I think the states as structures and the people in the states interact. Basically the way people set up states creates certain particular temptations to particular sins which by the size and power of states can have very wide-reaching and drastic effects compared to most acts by individuals without state power to employ and the state as a kind of idol to inspire its citizens.

Nor would I deny that religions have their problems, including Anabaptism. The problems that arise when religion and state are linked are however particularly toxic; while correspondingly, separation of religion and state generally means that when religious people do go wrong, the effects are more limited.

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Actually as an Anabaptist I pretty much agree with you about the violence of states.

In this case I was quoting somebody else in a context where much was being made of the difference (though nominal as I see it) between what Islamic states mostly do and what organisations like IS do.

Why specifically Islamic states? Is the Russian bombing campaign in Syria (to pick one example) notably less extreme than the Syrian government's own bombing campaign (conducted with Russian support)?


In this case, context again - the discussion was about the difference between different manifestations of Islam. I actually did originally leave out the word 'Islamic' there but realised that I'd be widening a bit beyond the original context. Anabaptist pacifism isn't exactly happy about any war. Syria is a mess; the only distinction I can see is that Russia may be trying a bit harder to appear civilised than the Syrian government itself.


quote:
And I'm still not clear on what you're arguing regarding the proper role Christians and the state. Is it that Christians should never concern themselves with the doings of the governments under which they live, even in democratic systems where such is expected of them? Or is it that if everyone adopts your particular form of Christianity there will be a "withering away of the state" (that sounds vaguely familiar) to be followed by some anarcho-utopian paradise? Considering the persistence of the state compared with other forms of human organization, this seems a bit naïve.

I don't want to derail this thread into Anabaptism - or no more than is really necessary anyway. But I think if you look at what worries people about even the 'better' Islamic states and Sharia law, I don't want Christianity to be like that and perceived that way. And I don't want Muslims to be looking at 'Christian countries' and seeing a 'crusading' enemy.

And to be honest right now I've run out of concentration to go further, and to be sure I'm putting the case at its best. I'll come back to it tomorrow.

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Just an update; have now got and started to read the "Islam and the Secular State" book.

It is good; it is within inches of sounding like it was written by an Anabaptist.... So much of it is what I agree with that I'm having difficulty understanding why mr cheesy recommended it to me as supposedly reading someone with a different view... mind you it's early days yet, things may change.

My other first reaction is just "Why didn't God reveal this to Muhammad?" I mean, it was hardly a big secret; God had already revealed it through Jesus, even if those pesky Constantinians had managed to mess it up; surely he would have 're-revealed' it to the ultimate prophet, Muhammad, to put right the things that the Constantinians got wrong....

And then, of course, Muhammad wouldn't have made that stupid mistake of gathering an army and conquering Mecca, so that later Islam followed that example and became violent and coercive....

I await with interest how the author reconciles what he's written so far with Muhammad's acts and the Quran which supported those acts....

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A further update on my reading of the "Islam and the Secular State" book....

After that promising beginning, the author goes off into issues of interpretation. And for now it seems to be a bit hazier where he's actually going with that. For now I'm reading on, but thinking I may have to come back and reread to be sure I'm analysing his arguments correctly. It also seems to me that he has a primarily Islamic audience in mind and has, for instance set up a feedback forum which probably wouldn't benefit from Christian input right now. But I'm ploughing on and we'll see where it leads...

Croesos, I've not forgotten your queries in your last post but I have been a bit busy; I'm also in a bit of a PM discussion with a Host about some of the issues as they affect gay concerns. I don't want to give you a quick answer that might just add to confusion.

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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Why specifically Islamic states? Is the Russian bombing campaign in Syria (to pick one example) notably less extreme than the Syrian government's own bombing campaign (conducted with Russian support)?



In this case, context again - the discussion was about the difference between different manifestations of Islam. I actually did originally leave out the word 'Islamic' there but realised that I'd be widening a bit beyond the original context. Anabaptist pacifism isn't exactly happy about any war. Syria is a mess; the only distinction I can see is that Russia may be trying a bit harder to appear civilised than the Syrian government itself.

Your opposition seems to be to the state generally, so we're talking not just about war but also the other forms of state use of violence. This includes most of the ways modern societies discourage or punish internal bad actors. Abolishing the state would create all kinds of problems, none of which you seem to have any realistic solutions to.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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This - from that PM conversation I mentioned - is perhaps a starting point in answering that; the italics is an addition to the original PM...

quote:
Also briefly – and I could expound this at greater length of course – the Anabaptist view in general is not about “How we would run the state”, and we basically don't want to. It's more about how we live as yes “God's holy people”, but with a status in this world almost of 'resident aliens'; it's how we live, peaceably if we can (but 'turning the other cheek' rather than fighting back if the state won't let us live peaceably), among a 'world' (and I may not interpret that quite as you expect) which is likely often to be hostile, and how we do good for our neighbours as much as possible, which certainly includes sharing our views, but should include a fairly conscious effort not to be what Peter calls 'allotriepiskopoi', which roughly translates as “bossy-boots in other people's business”.
What I'm against is not 'the state' but the 'State Church/Christian country' business. I actually do believe Christians can potentially be considerably involved in the state.

BUT in current circumstances I think there's also a bit of a need to 'back off' and put 'clear water' between what we should do now/in-future, and the past where (in the West and its colonies) the state was nominally run by Christians. In the short term this may mean less engagement with the state while we build some credibility for the idea that we don't want to return to the old 'Christian country' way or anything that resembles Islam and 'Sharia'.

I expect states to go on till Judgement Day. I'm trying to change the relationships between state and church back to the NT model.

(Sorry about the long sentences - I read too much Paul!)

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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I expect states to go on till Judgement Day. I'm trying to change the relationships between state and church back to the NT model.

If I recall correctly, the New Testament featured a government (more than one, actually) with a non-Christian state church that alternated between indifference and hostility towards Christians. If that's your goal, IS would seem to fit the bill pretty well.

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