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Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Chuch of Allan - The Plain Truth About God

A serialization of the book, The Plain Truth About God.

Chapter 11. Jihad Inc.


After the Prophets death however, the growing population of his followers found that a great many problems of religious and community life were arising. Problems to which there was no specific guidance in the Koran!

Guidance was therefore sought in the “Traditions” as to what the Prophet had said and done. (Or, was reported to have said and done.)

This vast accumulation of genuine, partly genuine, and often quite spurious traditions was digested into the collections of Hadith, six of which are considered the canonical collections.

It is well known to Muslims that much of the Hadith material was spurious. But, for the study of Islam even those traditions, which the community invented and attributed to Muhammad, have their value!

Often as much value as those that may actually have come down from him.

One such rule is provided in the Shariah, which is in the first instance the Koran.

In the second instance comes the Hadith, or “The Traditions,” and the third is “Ijma,” which is the consensus of the community.

The fourth instance relies on Giyas, which is the application of analogical reasoning to the other three sources for the deduction of new rules.

This combination of rules starting with the Shariah combines to form a religion that is supposed to be open to revision. Yet it is structured in such a way as to give adherents a set of guidelines on the method of proper conduct.

Unfortunately, due to the very nature of Islam with the traditions and consensus of the community playing such a vital part, the stagnation of the creed is all but assured.

There is great comfort amongst the faithful in the structured environment of Islam.
It places importance in the observance of daily routine and ritual.

This, combined with the strong family and social ties (tribal) that are encouraged, makes for a religion that is both vital and dynamic in its zealousness, while at the same time fostering a strong inertia and resistance to change from outside sources.

The main obstacle to growth and development in Islam is the overwhelming sense that there is absolutely no need for change. In fact, by its very nature, Islam preaches that it is complete and fully developed as the personal word of God.

This has also been the case in the Christian church and as such we have religions that are stuck in the nineteenth century in the case of Christianity, (both Protestant and Catholic) and the twelfth century in the case of Islam.

Where we have the conflict with most Christian and Muslim fundamentalists is that the answer to these criticisms will always be met with the question; “Well what’s the matter with that?”

In answer to that question we have to remember that in religious terms the path to good living is directed and regulated by the Koran.

On the other hand, when we talk about Shariah law there is no uniform opinion among Muslims on how this law is to be understood or applied.

Traditional authorities, beginning in the time shortly after Muhammad, viewed holy law as the revealed will of God and subordinated politics to holy decree.

Historically however, it was politics (tribal or otherwise) that invariable shaped Islamic law and led to complex discourse on a subject that was contentious on the surface but at its base rather simple.

The religious precepts are pretty straightforward, but the task of explaining them and choosing a method for their application is left in human hands.

This means they are automatically constrained by human limitations.

(Perhaps what Islam needs is a “Reformation” along the same lines as the upheaval of the Catholic Church by Martin Luther.)

On top of this, Muslims became politically divided early in their history with the division into the Shiite and Sunni sects (see below) and that oriented their respective understandings of the law and its applications.

After Muhammad’s death, Islam also got off to a rocky start when warfare was used to spread the faith and three of the first four Caliphs died by violence.

The fourth Caliph, Ali, was a cousin of Muhammad and his followers then tore the community in two by claiming that Ali should have been the first caliph by virtue of his blood ties to Muhammad.

These people came to be known as the Shi’a or Shiite sect while the great majority of the followers of Muhammad, who claim that succession does not rely on blood ties, are known today as the Sunni.

A great many differences exist to this day between these two main sects of Islam, and the distinctions go far deeper than just who should have succeeded Muhammad.

In fact, in the interpretation of the Koran itself, there were already differences between the sects.

There were passages that briefly summarized the things a Muslim should believe. These were too brief however, to be sufficient. And they were also too bare to be satisfying.

Because of this, we find different “creedal statements” circulating amongst the communities of both the Shiite and Sunni’s, as well as amongst the Sufi. (Who are mystical branches of Islam.)

These became the subject of discussion and commentary until in time they grew into different Islamic theologies and a Muslim science of dogmatism.

One result of this was that Islam developed its heretical sects, and so part of the task was to distinguish orthodox belief and practice as opposed to various schools of heretical teaching.

This led to a condition within the faith where almost anyone could at one time or another consider a person of another sect to be a non-believer and heretic.

The similarity between this and the situation between the Catholics and Protestants is not mere coincidence but the result of the schisms that can develop between different groups of even similar beliefs!

As we said, Islam became highly divisive right from its inception when it split into the Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi sects. Add to this the fact that Islam was spread through war and conflict as opposed to the philosophy of “love thy neighbor” that was the foundation of Christianity, and we have a religion that is ripe for dissention and conflict.

On top of the divisiveness amongst the practitioners of Islam, we can see how the faith slides still further with the triumph of fundamentalist interpretations of the Koran in the 11th century.

This resulted in the triggering of major conflicts amongst the population of the region and the gradual decline of Islamic, and then by default, Arab civilization.

Now the word “fundamentalist” was originally used in a broad sense to describe the American Protestant movement of the late nineteenth century in opposition to modernist tendencies in American religious and secular life.

The term itself is derived from a series of works, “The Fundamentals,” which was published in the U.S.A. in 1909.

However, this return to the fundamentals of a religion and a rejection of secularism was soon discovered to be a worldwide phenomenon.

There are today many groups that have organized themselves in such a way as to find alternatives to secularism! There are fundamentalist Jews, fundamentalist Buddhists, fundamentalist Hindus and so on.

However, it’s the Muslim fundamentalists who are most in the Western news.

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://God-101.blogspot.com

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