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iceHorse

Comparing Islamic Values To Western Secular Values

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ParadiseLost - I'd like to point out that disrespecting a person is different than disrespecting an idea. But it does seem that often people of faith identify very strongly with the ideas of their faith, to the point that - in their minds - they start to think that they ARE the ideas of the faith. Scientists disagree with each other's ideas all the time. But that doesn't mean they disrespect each other. As you said, I might disagree with the position of women in Islam, and I might disagree with your opinions about that, but that doesn't mean I disrespect you. correct?

It is ok to me if you disagree about women's rights. People also disagreed with the prophet when he was life about other issues. It is impossible to silence everyone but unfortunately some dictators try to do this instead of increasing Islamic education. 

But there are people who disagree with the position of women in Islam and also do it in a way that disrespects the person. Some people in some countries have lobbied the government successfully to ban women from covering their hair. There is also wide discrimination against women who wear Islamic clothing when it comes to job interviews. The woman may be perfect for the job but just because of her clothing she is ticked off the list. I have heard many stories where women were attacked in western countries because of their clothing, I even know a girl this happened to. Although I must say compared to other countries this is rare in my country. We can come up with reasons such as oh it was some ignorant teenagers but they get their ideas from negative perceptions too. If people are going to discuss these issues in public it is important to ensure that the woman's view is protected and that she will not be prejudiced for how she dresses. I also agree with the same for non Muslims in majority muslim countries. We shouldn't overstep the barriers by saying women who do not cover their hair are loose women or women who cover up are abused oppressed women. It is important to discuss these issues in a setting that is not out of control and has no limits to freedom of speech. 

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Paradise - So how do you know when criticism crosses the line and becomes "hate speech"? Who decides? What person do you trust enough to give that job to? Someone you think has a better sense of morality than you do?

 

For everyone, another value... Do you value loyalty to your country more than loyalty to your Imam (or whoever your Islamic teacher is)?

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For everyone, another value... Do you value loyalty to your country more than loyalty to your Imam (or whoever your Islamic teacher is)?

 

 

I don't have an Imam nor any particular Islamic teacher.  

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Hi Younes,

 

I didn't notice your post earlier, I hope you've been well...

 

We hear a lot about how Muslims throughout Europe are active in trying to change the cultures and values of the countries they've immigrated to. This is the reason I asked the question about loyalty. How would you interpret these activities? For example, in many cases Muslims are trying to introduce blasphemy laws into European cultures. 

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For example, in many cases Muslims are trying to introduce blasphemy laws into European cultures. 

 

Hello,

 

Well, I think it's within their right as long as they do it in a civil manner. That's because the law in many European countries allows just that. 

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Well, I think it's within their right as long as they do it in a civil manner. That's because the law in many European countries allows just that. 

 

Agreed on the legality. So if we go back to the OP, it seems that you're saying that for many immigrants, their religious values are held more closely than the values of the society to which they've immigrated.

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I don't know about Europe or foreigners.  But, what I do know is that here in the U.S. most of the Christians you talk to are going to tell you that their loyalty is to their religion first and their country somewhere later.  Personally I will be upfront I have no love lost for the U.S.  My values are Allah (swt), and Islam, then family, friends, my community, and then my state and then my region.  If I had to choose a loyalty as far as nationality my loyalty will remain to Dixie not to the U.S. 

 

And since it is brought up I can also tell you as far as changing culture if you mean allowing laws that protect the individual group then yea probably.  We saw something similar in the U.S. It was called the Civil Rights movement.  That is all that the Muslim community is trying to do is create laws that protect them.  I know I have seen time after time where some right wing fanatic has attacked some Muslim or vandalized some Masjid.  Now I don't know how the reverts in Europe deal with it but I know that down here in the southern U.S. the former rednecks who reverted to Islam wait such an opportunity.  I think too many of these so called Christians are allowed to get away with terrorizing the Muslim foreigners.  I know that the Qur'an teaches that it is better to forgive but I have to be honest and honestly if some nutjob comes after me or my home or my family they going to find themselves face to face with someone that ain't backing down.

 

With that ramble out of the way I will also say that part of the problem is the fanatics in Islam who want to talk about the evil of the west.  Such talking does not help anyone.  Those that do things which are deliberately inciting of the non-Muslim populace should be held to the same account as those who are inciting the Muslim population like the Florida pastor.  However, what I wonder is why the western media does not cover the stories like the Imams and Muslims speaking out against terrorists groups? 

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Agreed on the legality. So if we go back to the OP, it seems that you're saying that for many immigrants, their religious values are held more closely than the values of the society to which they've immigrated.

 

Yes, in the case of many Muslims immigrants, that is the case.

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Paradise - So how do you know when criticism crosses the line and becomes "hate speech"? Who decides? What person do you trust enough to give that job to? Someone you think has a better sense of morality than you do?

That is the point IceHorse - everyone disagrees on what that line is. There is no consensus in the world on it. So I believe if we are to start a society from scratch we need to include all members within that society in the discussion on what that line is. Also the situation differs depending on who lives in a country.Even in secular countries there is a mixture of opinion on such issues. Why would you think that Muslims are any different. We are not a homogenous group of robots. We hold different opinions on the way to organise society even though we hold many common values amongst each other such as respect for Allah and respect for His prophets peace be upon them all. 

 

 

For everyone, another value... Do you value loyalty to your country more than loyalty to your Imam (or whoever your Islamic teacher is)?

My loyalty is to Allah firstly. It always will be. 

 

Yes Muslim immigrants want to change the values in some countries they move too. But let not make this an immigrant problem. There are many people who were born in their country and grow up a Muslim. They are not immigrants. There are also people like me who convert to Islam later in life. I am not an immigrant in my own country. We have every much right as anyone else to speak about our values and lobby the government to respect our values and make policy related to us. Other groups do stuff like this all the time so why can't Muslims?

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Brilliant questions and really useful answers.

We get to see the problem very quickly:

Free speech is ok - as long as you don't humiliate Muhammad.

You need to respect my culture but I will not respect yours.

 

If I ask questions about Islam here on the forum I get banned - because I ask critical questions.

Muslims - if I generalise here for a moment - have a problem with this "being questioned". It is about submission and obedience. That is why the dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims is so difficult.

This is a forum using 21st century technology as a platform to enable 21st century humans to communicate with each other. I see people tip-toeing around the problems, trying to be nice and careful, trying oh so hard not to offend anyone. Why?

If I am being an idiot, then I would expect and appreciate people telling me that I am an idiot - as long as they also tell me why they think I am an idiot and what I can change to stop being perceived as being an idiot. The principle of constructive criticism as opposed to censorship.

 

THAT is one of the values I am missing. I see here the skewed propaganda-mix people are being fed about "The West". And sheer ignorance when it comes to biological reality.

Why can't Muslims concentrate on the constructive values and dismiss the destructive ones?

If women and men are equal before god shouldn't they also be equal before humans? Should women have the same rights as men even if their strengths lie in different areas?

Should all religions get used to accepting evolution? Accepting reality is a value!

Should all religions accept the role of spiritual comforter instead of demanding a voice when it comes to education and legal rights?

How do we know right from wrong if we base our decisions today on texts which are 6000 years or more old?

I agree with the question: what is the line? What is the line between living in the real world and allowing spiritual intervention at the same time? How can humans in the 21st century decide on this line and get it right for everyone?

Interesting times.

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If women and men are equal before god shouldn't they also be equal before humans?

 

Here is where you are being an 'idiot' ... well you did ask.

 

Your assumption is that because there is some popular opinion in Western society that likes to maintain that women and men are equal that such is true ... but a quick look at Western society immediately confirms such is patently not the case.

 

So where does this claim that men and women are equal originate?  

 

I know, it sounds nice and cosy ... every one is really happy ... really ... if we all pretend to play the game.

 

Muslims are not into playing games for the industrial might of Western society.

 

You argument is that because we all should play happily in the sandpit designed by Western business no one is allowed to challenge the inherent grotesque thinking that pervades Western society.

 

If you really want to 'understand' Muslims read the Qur'an ... then you might direct you questions at qualified Islamic teachers of which there are now many in the West.  But I suspect such is not what you want to do.  What you want is to maintain your own illogical beliefs and blame others when they point out what is glaring obvious to those that can see through the charade that is suppose to be the world.

 

If you want some answers ... drop the philosophizing ... and do some research so that you wont ask rather silly questions.

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johnford -

 

You made a connection there that I didn't quite follow...

 

How is it that equal rights for women plays into the West's games of industrial might?

 

Second, 

 

 

You argument is that because we all should play happily in the sandpit designed by Western business no one is allowed to challenge the inherent grotesque thinking that pervades Western society.

 

This statement of yours is simply factually wrong on several counts. You're conflating and misquoting at the least.

 

==

 

Moving to a new value, let's say that the Caliphate returned. Would you johnford legalize slavery? It's okay in the Quran. Now let's say, hypothetically that this last question of mine makes people angry. First off, it's not my intent to do that. But the reason I bring it up to you johnford is because you imply that women's rights is some sort of whacky new idea. (To me it seems morally and ethically natural and logical.) So if you think women's rights is a whacky idea, I'm not sure by what logic you get to that belief. If it's because of Islamic scripture, then the slavery question should hold equal weight. Correct? Or am i missing something?

Edited by iceHorse

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Here is where you are being an 'idiot' ... well you did ask.

 

Your assumption is that because there is some popular opinion in Western society that likes to maintain that women and men are equal that such is true ... but a quick look at Western society immediately confirms such is patently not the case.

 

So where does this claim that men and women are equal originate?  

 

I know, it sounds nice and cosy ... every one is really happy ... really ... if we all pretend to play the game.

 

Muslims are not into playing games for the industrial might of Western society.

 

You argument is that because we all should play happily in the sandpit designed by Western business no one is allowed to challenge the inherent grotesque thinking that pervades Western society.

 

If you really want to 'understand' Muslims read the Qur'an ... then you might direct you questions at qualified Islamic teachers of which there are now many in the West.  But I suspect such is not what you want to do.  What you want is to maintain your own illogical beliefs and blame others when they point out what is glaring obvious to those that can see through the charade that is suppose to be the world.

 

If you want some answers ... drop the philosophizing ... and do some research so that you wont ask rather silly questions.

Sorry, but treating women - 50% of the human population -  as lesser beings is not what I call a game. If you call this a game, well so be it! I find that sad.

 

I brought the example of men and women being seen as equals before the god of Islam. In case you are not so fluent when it comes to the Koran, I am taking some examples, such as

"As for those who lead a righteous life, male or female, while believing, they enter Paradise; without the slightest injustice." (4:124)

“He it is who did create you from a single soul, and therefrom did make his mate that he might take rest in her." (7:189)

“And of His signs is this: He created for you helpmeets from yourselves that you might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy” (30:21)

"Their Lord responded to them: "I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female - you are equal to one another" (3:195)

 

While these are translations and are quoted out of context I think they paint the picture that men and women can indeed be treated equally, even if the Koran itself contradicts itself in other passages. That's where my statement comes in which asks why you can't dismiss the destructive parts.

 

You then go and title one of the most fundamental human rights a "popular opinion in Western society". Should women stay at home and remain uneducated in your eyes? Should women be human incubators and solely an outlet of male sexual urges? Does a woman need to ask a man's permission to leave the house? Is that what you desire? Should a woman be treated as a 2nd class citizen with restricted rights because she's missing something between her legs? Come on! This male chauvinist thinking was abandoned decades ago! It is not just an opinion but an integral part of the modern human intellect.

 

You are petrified of cultures other than your own and your inferiority complex is clouding your rational thinking. That's why you cling to absurd notions which are mere propaganda.

 

All you have is this childish suggestion of reading a single old book which I seem to know better than you do, as though that would explain something.

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You are petrified of cultures other than your own and your inferiority complex is clouding your rational thinking.

 

That is the problem ... you conflation 'intellect' with 'rationalism'.

 

It may appear to you that I am simply clinging to antiquated ways but the truth is that as yet I have not seen a 'better' way presented by you 'rationalists' ... despite your huffing and puffing you are addicted to the rationalistic drug of choice doing the rounds at the moment ... popularism without thinking. 

 

But if you do really want to flex you 'rational' muscle you might note that there is no such thing as 'equality' ... nothing is 'equal' ... if everything was the same there would be nothing different that then could be equated with 'equal' ...

 

The fact that you 'think' women should be 'equal' with men is simply absurd.    

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How is it that equal rights for women plays into the West's games of industrial might?

 

It's all a subterfuge to get you to think that 'rights' are really very rational along with the 'rationality' of the stock market and the 'rationality' of drone strikes on innocent families in far away places will somehow protect Americans ...  in other words, if you really think about 'rights' ... it is anything but rational.  

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johnford - 

 

Sorry, I'm not buying that. You yourself are using your intellect and your logic to engage in this conversation. 

 

Specifically, I can tell you that I do NOT think the stock market is rational, but I do think equal rights for women is rational. Those two concepts have only the most slight and incidental relationship to each other. Using them in a comparison of "rationality" is just a bad use of logic.

 

Now this earlier bit:

 

 

It may appear to you that I am simply clinging to antiquated ways but the truth is that as yet I have not seen a 'better' way presented by you 'rationalists' ... despite your huffing and puffing you are addicted to the rationalistic drug of choice doing the rounds at the moment ... popularism without thinking. 

 

Can you define how you're using these terms? For instance "rationalist". Are you making the philosophical claim that some of these posts have come from a 100% pure rationalist philosophy? I'd say that the evidence is that in this thread, everyone who has contributed (including you!), is a rationalist to some degree. Also, how do you make the leap from rationalism to popularism? Those two approaches don't seem well-aligned at all???

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John made a factual point that you are failing to address. Women are not equal to men, they are different.  If I say 2+2=4 This means that if you add two plus two it is the same as four.  Just like if I say that ab=c this means that the value of a times b is equal to c ie that they are the exact same.  In this respect women are not equal to men.   Islam believes in something called equity, not equality.  And lets be honest if the majority of society believed that women were equal you would not see half naked women advertising that which the major businesses wishes to sell but you would see men and women.  This is not the case despite the fact that much of the buying power in the western world today rests with the women. 

 

Now if you are referring to the headdress then I would agree that no one should be forced to wear it as that defeats the purpose to begin with.  I do believe, however, that a woman has that particular right if she so desires.  Now as far as men oppressing women, this may very well be happening by individuals that practice Islam but this does not mean it is something that is part of Islam.  Muhammad (saw) did not oppress nor believe in oppression.  I even remember reading a hadeeth where he helped his wife clean. 

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Well the head dress topic is a detour, but briefly I'll say that whenever I hear Muslims defend things like burkas, they ALWAYS say it's an Islamic thing. I never hear them say it's a cultural thing.

 

Back to the OP, another value would be "critical thinking". On the one hand it seems that the Quran instructs Muslims to learn and experiment and explore. On the other hand, the Quran mostly sets down strict, dogmatic rules which are examples of the opposite of critical thinking. In other words when the Quran lays out a rule, that rule is NOT allowed to be analyzed from a critical thinking perspective.

 

So how does the value of critical thinking fit into the broader Islamic set of values? (And again, I acknowledge that much of what I just said of Islam can also be said of other religions.) And also, just in case, this question isn't meant to attack Islam, it's meant to gain a deeper understanding of what I currently see as a mixed message.

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Here's another question about values...

 

How about valuing the arts? (painting, dancing, music, sculpture, and so on...)

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You yourself are using your intellect and your logic to engage in this conversation.

 

... of course I am ... but there is a difference ... I am not promoting my own agenda ... I am directing you to the flaws in you own arguments ... but in doing so I am not subscribing to a rationalist agenda.

 

You don't think the stock market is 'rational' yet you think equal rights are 'rational' ... yet I would point out both have the same origin ... social construction ... and this construction comes about through a consensus largely determined by media bosses like Murdoch and his minnows who happily jump on the passing parade thinking it is somehow real.

 

Rationalism ... the 'ism' word ... has nothing to do with using ones intellect ... to think ... which is an rational act.  

 

What I am ... and have ... suggested is that you are not thinking but using the ready off the shelf response to matters which threaten rationalism ... that is, anything that is not necessarily popular at the particular time.  

 

To suggest ... even hint at ... the suggestion that males and females are in fact different in this darkening age is to risk being labelled delusional ... as per Dawkins.  

 

And ... to use my rational intellect ... as I look around I see nothing to suggest that males and females are at all equal ... the differences are glaringly obvious in most case.  

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johnford -

 

I can't help but think you are just playing with words here... The word "equal" has many meanings. Of course I'm not contending that women are - for example - mathematically equal to men. Of course women are obviously different than men.

 

But my contention is that women have equal rights. They are not 1/2 as good at being witnesses. They don't need their husband's approval to do stuff.

 

In any case, I understand that we disagree. Again, I'm trying to understand Islamic values better than I do. 

 

So back to the OP, how about the arts and critical thinking? How do those stack up with Islamic values?

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OK ... that's good ... now you are using your intellect ... you are thinking ...

 

Sorry ... don't necessarily mean to sound patronizing ... but you are actually starting to think of the social layers that get pasted onto such ideas as 'equality', or 'rights' ... which actually skew the real meaning of the substance of which we talk.

 

So the first thing is to get rid of the loaded agenda which inevitable comes attached when we engage with these issue.

 

It now appears your real concern is about sharia law where women require the husband approval to do certain things. The issue here is not 'equality of rights' but a matter of engaging with people who place themselves under sharia law ... something which you don't understand. This is not a subject I am conversant with so I am not going to offer any particular thoughts other than to make the generalized comment that in order to understand why certain things happen in certain communities it is best to be part of that community.

 

As an anthropologist I have done this on a number of occasions ... more particularly with Australian Aborigines and Tibetans ... and it is difficult for one outside the culture to fully appreciate the nuances proceeding underneath the day to day activities of particular peoples. It's a bit like leaning over their shoulder trying to work out what the heck is going on.

 

So, to address your issues, to understand Muslims you have to understand the Qur'an. This is where the cultural roadblocks are set up ... trying to cross the cultural divides without getting run over in the passing traffic ... and by 'passing traffic' I mean taken for granted assumptions that are propagated by public and social media about the 'other'.

 

So, to 'understand' the Qur'an you have to suspend you own upbringing ... something which most people cannot do ... east or west.

 

I have raved on a bit ... sorry ... but to get to your last point ... the Qur'an is about doing what is beautiful ... for in doing what is beautiful you will not transgress the social boundaries that impinging on us all ... essential the Qur'an is about being aware ... aware of oneself and everything else ... and when we are truly aware ... when we have suspended the imposed social and public taken for granted assumptions ... we become truly human. The Qur'an is about what it means to be really human.

Edited by johnford

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johnford -

 

I can't help but think you are just playing with words here... The word "equal" has many meanings. Of course I'm not contending that women are - for example - mathematically equal to men. Of course women are obviously different than men.

 

But my contention is that women have equal rights. They are not 1/2 as good at being witnesses. They don't need their husband's approval to do stuff.

 

In any case, I understand that we disagree. Again, I'm trying to understand Islamic values better than I do. 

 

So back to the OP, how about the arts and critical thinking? How do those stack up with Islamic values?

 

A woman is not half a witness but even my wife has informed me women have trouble remembering things.  This is likely due to the fact that they have a lot going through their minds and in general women seem to think more critically and analytically than men do so some details may be sketchy.  Thus when a women is standing in a case where witnesses are required there should be a second woman there to remind her. 

 

As far as the inheritance, no one is saying that women are less.  Women are highly esteemed in Islam.  We are taught to respect women for who they are as people not for their body.  A man is supposed to, ideally, be the provider and protector.  This is common across the globe.  So when inheritance is passed down it comes more to any male than female because he has to provide for others besides himself.  However, it is also dependent upon the generation of the individual.

 

[at]Stop S 

 

Read this carefully because I am not responding to you again.  You're condescending and then you are trying to tell us what Islam teaches.  The chaperone is for her protection, this helps deter potential rapists.  A woman can vote and participate in legal proceedings in Islam, this is all taught by the Qur'an.  Women are biologically different.  Their bodies have different needs and alterations than a man's.  That is a fact. Is homosexuality is wrong in Islam? Yes.  I have no issue with saying that.  It is religiously wrong, it hurts society and it is against the natural order. 

 

Now yes in a Muslim country their are some issues such as driving.  This is unIslamic.  There are other issues about not exposing one's body as is the case with a bikini.  This is Islamic.  I do not agree with the Niqab as this was originally a pagan practice and that I cannot condone.  Islam teaches rights but it also teaches limits.  A Muslim woman can go swimming with proper wear. 

 

It sounds, in general, that instead of trying to understand Islam you are wanting to attack it based on the actions of secular governments claiming to be Muslim, such as the Saudis.  Reply if you want.  As I said initially I will not be responding to you anymore. 

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johnford -

 

I'd say that our conversation will move along faster if you're not patronizing, but ultimately I'm interested in learning about Islam, so I'll cut through whatever chaff I have to. :)

 

Drilling in a bit:

 

 

 The issue here is not 'equality of rights' but a matter of engaging with people who place themselves under sharia law ... something which you don't understand.

 

Forgive me, but from what I've researched, this is often a mischaracterization. Of the billion-plus Muslims, isn't it accurate to say that millions and millions of them don't realistically have any choice when it comes to sharia. They can't choose otherwise. They are born into societies for which apostasy is an extremely serious matter. So for millions of people, they are NOT "placing themselves" under sharia. Correct?

 

You mention Dawkins. One of Dawkin's ideas is that children should never be declared to be members of ANY faith by their parents. In this approach, the child in brought up without faith, and is allowed to choose how to approach the idea of faith for herself. Seems like a fine idea to me. If the parents' faith translates to a loving, nurturing, life for the child, it's likely the child will appreciate their faith. On the other hand if the child's life is stressful, they might choose a different faith path.

 

Next:

 

 

So, to address your issues, to understand Muslims you have to understand the Qur'an. This is where the cultural roadblocks are set up ... trying to cross the cultural divides without getting run over in the passing traffic ... and by 'passing traffic' I mean taken for granted assumptions that are propagated by public and social media about the 'other'.

 

I've got three different translations of the Quran, and one volume of the Hadith (which I've barely scratched the surface on). I read one translation cover to cover, taking notes along the way. I spot checked this version with the other translations and determined (not perfectly, but statistically), that the version I read cover to cover seems to be consistent with the other two. 

 

My schooling and training is quite broad. I look at topics from the perspectives of general science, cognitive science, engineering, spirituality, society, philosophy, ethics, empathy, and so on. A big part of my income comes from editing books. I'm not claiming to be any sort of expert in anthropology. Nor do I claim to be any sort of expert on Islam. 

 

With all of that said, how should I come to "understand the Quran"? Should I read what Islamic scholars say? (I am doing this BTW.) Should I listen to what Imams say? If you advise this path, then notice that what you're saying is that I should rely on human interpretation and not on the direct word of Allah. That seems odd. Would Muslims tell me that Allah has allowed translations of his work that do not convey his intentions? I read with my own eyes, repeatedly, that the Quran is NOT corruptible. 

 

I think it's far more likely that anyone who says "you have to read it in ancient Arabic" is more interested in earthly power over me, than in really conveying the scripture. How many people on this forum know ancient Arabic? How many degrees of separation are there between you and someone who studied the actual source documents in their original form?

 

Next:

 

 

I have raved on a bit ... sorry ... but to get to your last point ... the Qur'an is about doing what is beautiful ... for in doing what is beautiful you will not transgress the social boundaries that impinging on us all ... essential the Qur'an is about being aware ... aware of oneself and everything else ... and when we are truly aware ... when we have suspended the imposed social and public taken for granted assumptions ... we become truly human. The Qur'an is about what it means to be really human.

 

Perhaps this is a correct interpretation. But how on earth did you derive this message from the text? From my perspective it would take extreme editing on your part to make this claim. If you did such editing, what moral compass did you use as your guide?

 

I have to tell you that if I were to make a list of the messages I learned from the Quran, the ones you mentioned above would have been far, far down on the list, buried under an avalanche of more prominent and often repeated messages.

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A woman is not half a witness but even my wife has informed me women have trouble remembering things.

Are you for real ... I have trouble remember things ... like where are my cars keys ... have I enough left in the account to pay the electricity bill ... and just what was that sura I was trying to commit to memory ... ?

Edited by johnford

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