What do you think of Islam?

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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby met on Tue Dec 13, 2016 11:33 am

. I wonder if it is as hard to talk about Islam as one thing as about Xianity ( and here my extremely superficial knowledge will probably get me in trouble!) In Islam, you've got one text which is believed to be the direct transcription of God's intent given to one 'stenographer' and in the original language. In Christianity you have multiple witnesses/authors/traditions talking about something that's inherently mysterious. God became a man. W-Wait...whut?! ST will correct me on this but I wonder if there is the same level or type of mystery at the foundation of Islam. I know there've been many schisms and theological disputes in Islam, but the main one, Sunni/SHiite I believe is about lineage and succession. Look at the disputes that raged in the Byzantine world ( and in the West) about what the foundations of Xianity could even mean.


Well, the filloquedispute gave a theological spin to some political issues too, no? Does the Spirit proceed hierarchically or severally? - which echoed more pragmatic & worldly concerns about how the Church (and the Empire) should be organized?
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby sgttomas on Tue Dec 13, 2016 2:47 pm

Jim B. wrote: ST will correct me on this but I wonder if there is the same level or type of mystery at the foundation of Islam. I know there've been many schisms and theological disputes in Islam, but the main one, Sunni/SHiite I believe is about lineage and succession. Look at the disputes that raged in the Byzantine world ( and in the West) about what the foundations of Xianity could even mean.

With Islam, I get the sense that it's over, it's closed, the curtains been parted, at least as far as what we humans need to know in this earthly existence. We heard from The Man directly in His own words.


...so twice I have composed something on this and my computer inexplicably shutdown before I could post it. So I'm taking that as a sign that I have no knowledge and no permission to speak. :idea:

But yeah, Jim, that seems like a reasonable generalization to me.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby Jim B. on Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:21 pm

sgttomas wrote:
Jim B. wrote: ST will correct me on this but I wonder if there is the same level or type of mystery at the foundation of Islam. I know there've been many schisms and theological disputes in Islam, but the main one, Sunni/SHiite I believe is about lineage and succession. Look at the disputes that raged in the Byzantine world ( and in the West) about what the foundations of Xianity could even mean.

With Islam, I get the sense that it's over, it's closed, the curtains been parted, at least as far as what we humans need to know in this earthly existence. We heard from The Man directly in His own words.


...so twice I have composed something on this and my computer inexplicably shutdown before I could post it. So I'm taking that as a sign that I have no knowledge and no permission to speak. :idea:

But yeah, Jim, that seems like a reasonable generalization to me.

Peace,
-sgttomas


Of course you have knowledge and permission to speak. I posted in order to learn more but I can't tell you how to interpret signs.
Last edited by Jim B. on Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby Jim B. on Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:23 pm

met wrote:
. I wonder if it is as hard to talk about Islam as one thing as about Xianity ( and here my extremely superficial knowledge will probably get me in trouble!) In Islam, you've got one text which is believed to be the direct transcription of God's intent given to one 'stenographer' and in the original language. In Christianity you have multiple witnesses/authors/traditions talking about something that's inherently mysterious. God became a man. W-Wait...whut?! ST will correct me on this but I wonder if there is the same level or type of mystery at the foundation of Islam. I know there've been many schisms and theological disputes in Islam, but the main one, Sunni/SHiite I believe is about lineage and succession. Look at the disputes that raged in the Byzantine world ( and in the West) about what the foundations of Xianity could even mean.


Well, the filloquedispute gave a theological spin to some political issues too, no? Does the Spirit proceed hierarchically or severally? - which echoed more pragmatic & worldly concerns about how the Church (and the Empire) should be organized?


That's a good point. I'm sure all those disputes were very complicated but theology must have played a major role.
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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby sgttomas on Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:51 pm

Lol Jim. No mystery actually. First time my battery was dying and I thought I plugged in the cable but it wasn't in the wall outlet and second time was a push update from my work server that I knew was coming but I was trying to get my post done during lunch hour.

It's depressing losing posts.

I'll try to muster up the energy again tonight ;)

-sgtt
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby sgttomas on Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:50 am

Jim B. wrote:I wonder if it is as hard to talk about Islam as one thing as about Xianity ( and here my extremely superficial knowledge will probably get me in trouble!) In Islam, you've got one text which is believed to be the direct transcription of God's intent given to one 'stenographer' and in the original language.


As much as I want to point to "broad consensus" on core theological issues, I have to acknowledge that modernity has been brutally efficient at tearing the fabric of the religion to pieces. Also, since Islam touches on so many social dimensions in explicit detail it has a mosaic like quality of cultural expressions that aren't just superficial but genuine "Islamic" distinctiveness. One of my favourite scholars in a poetic way says that, "Islam is a river and if it remains pure then it allows the river bed, which is the culture it inhabits, to be reflected through, but if it becomes polluted then it appears like a homogeneous muck".

Further, the Quran, while definitely central to the Islamic identity (and yes, with considerably less baggage than the Bible) is only one element of the "authority" in the religion. The question of authoritative interpretation of both the Quran and the life of Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) has left a line of "sects" and discord from shortly after the Prophet's death right up into our time. Though for a period of about a thousand years you could argue that Sunni Islam had achieved a broad consensus on how to interpret the religion, through schools of theology, law and spiritual practice. Refer back to my comment about modernity.

One of my favourite muslim scholars said something along the lines of, "people these days say 'I'm spiritual, but I don't like organized religion' so they should try Islam because it's possibly the least organized religion on the planet!" (meaning it's a chaotic stew).

I want to emphasize that there is indeed still a strong emphasis on the tradition of broad consensus, but some of the staunchest defenders of "The Tradition" have acknowledged that as it has accreted over time it has also become something of a burden (meaning specifically the aspects of law, which constitute the majority of religious teachings; though possibly not the most crucial teachings).

After saying all of that....I still can find a core Muslim identity shared across a very broad range of sects, cultures, and interpretations such that I can at least recognize something in the "other" that creates a bond between us. The Quran is central to that. You will find virutally nothing that connects an Ismaili with a Sunni, but I attended a gathering a few years back sponsored by the Ismaili community in Edmonton and they brought in a Sunni scholar to talk about the Quran's majestic qualities.

In Christianity you have multiple witnesses/authors/traditions talking about something that's inherently mysterious. God became a man. W-Wait...whut?! ST will correct me on this but I wonder if there is the same level or type of mystery at the foundation of Islam.


Yes and No.

God became a book. :!: :?: :?: :idea:

Though the core message is pretty clear.

Jim B. wrote:I know there've been many schisms and theological disputes in Islam, but the main one, Sunni/SHiite I believe is about lineage and succession. Look at the disputes that raged in the Byzantine world ( and in the West) about what the foundations of Xianity could even mean.

With Islam, I get the sense that it's over, it's closed, the curtains been parted, at least as far as what we humans need to know in this earthly existence. We heard from The Man directly in His own words.


Like I said above, the question over who has the authority to interpret the religion has created a variety of divisions. The Sunni/Shia divide began as a political dispute, but evolved over time into a true divide over authority; with the Shia adopting the "Imamate" approach (the notion that God ordains a single person as the ultimate authority) with various splinters over who is that Imam, and the Sunni's adopting various methodological "schools of thought" of which there were many throughout history but predominantly only four remain. And both Sunni and Shia have their modernist twists that strain to even keep a coherent tether to their roots.

One can see questions over interpretation and belief forming factions from the earliest of time. A powerful group with considerable numbers of adherents were (are) the Mutazilites, which may be characterized as attempting to harmonize Islamic concepts with ancient Greek philosophy.

But you are right in a sense if you restrict yourself to the Sunni schools of thought which did resolve a broad consensus at least a thousand years ago. New circumstances always brought new questions, but the framework of how the "Sunni" tradition would proceed had been worked out and followed pretty consistently (up until maybe 1799 - 1850, and it became crystal clear when the Ottoman Caliphate dissolved into secularist Turkey). A key principle is that while there are important distinctions between these schools of thought, they were not considered as mutually exclusive, but each valid within their own frameworks (since no one can perfectly capture what God intends in all times and places, and no one can claim to have a perfect representation of Prophet Muhammad's teachings and character). This may be thought of as:

1) Ashari / Maturidi schools of theology
2) Hanafi / Hanbali / Shafi' / Maliki schools of jurisprudence drawing upon...
...3) Sahih al-Bukhari / Sahih Muslim / Sunan an-Nasa'i / Sunan Abu Dawood / Sunan Tirmidhi / Sunan ibn Majah / and a host of lesser known works of hadith collections (categorizations of narrations attributed to Prophet Muhammad)
4) Naqshabandi / Chishti / Qadari / Ja'fari / and a few other sufi orders, which prescribed how to implement the above in a way that is befitting of the character of Prophet Muhammad

(sorry I don't know really anything about Shia traditions, but there are long standing traditions there too)

If you consider the core message of the Quran it's probably no more complicated than: God is One; God is Supreme; repent and be saved. But if you consider that the *intention* of the Quran is that we seek to perfect ourselves by emulating the Best of Creation, the Mercy to the Worlds, Muhammad the Messenger of God....well, that's packing a lot meaning and it takes considerable *unpacking*.

- - -

Praise be to God. It seems I'm going to be able to submit this one. ....I'm much happier with the product, too.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby Jim B. on Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:58 pm

I'm starting to suspect that you might know something about this topic. ;) In a Youtube interview, Winter said that Islam could be thought of as "the word become book," whereas Xianity is "the word become flesh." It sounds like you're saying that this word becoming book is not as foundational as other tenets, like God is one. In Xianity, it is pretty foundational and has been subject to endless disputes of meaning and interpretation. And there are self-described Christians who don't hold the incarnation, even understood metaphorically, as necessary to their faith. Heck, some are even atheists.
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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby met on Thu Dec 22, 2016 5:44 pm

Yes and No.

God became a book. :!: :?: :?: :idea:

Though the core message is pretty clear.


Last time you were around, you were talking about a new interest in Derrida. In view of this, it's east to see why too, with D:'s "writing is primary" thing. But D means it as an aporia, of course, cuz, for him, meaning is never fixed. It always exists (if at all) only in relation to a non-written, non-delineated context. But then, so do you, it would seem, from previous comments?

How do you add this up? This seeming-paradox between the literal (fixed) Word of God in the Quran, and the unfixed set of practical meaning(s)/messages from God? It seems to me like in view of the latter, as best I can wrap my thoughts around whats been said here, the medium IS the message? The fact that it's Gods literal words has a message of its own, but doesn't restrict what the text could mean in some given context? Unlike the way the similar idea in Xianity - "the Word of God is clear" - usually evokes, not the words of the texts themselves, but a hierarchical reading of them that has already predetermined and limited what could be meant by them?
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby sgttomas on Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:12 am

Jim B. wrote:I'm starting to suspect that you might know something about this topic. ;) In a Youtube interview, Winter said that Islam could be thought of as "the word become book," whereas Xianity is "the word become flesh."


I'm a total Dr. Winter fanboy :geek:

Jim B. wrote:It sounds like you're saying that this word becoming book is not as foundational as other tenets, like God is one. In Xianity, it is pretty foundational and has been subject to endless disputes of meaning and interpretation. And there are self-described Christians who don't hold the incarnation, even understood metaphorically, as necessary to their faith. Heck, some are even atheists.


Not as foundational is probably the right way to put it. It is a necessary belief, but with caveats.

(Q2:2, WK transl) "This is the Book; there is no doubt in it. It is a guide for those who are mindful of God,"

It's not a hidden or obscure matter that the Quran claims to be revelation from God. Denying that it is "from God" is pretty inexcusable for Muslim...I mean that one would not be considered a Muslim by stating such a denial. But in terms of the Quran as the "word incarnate", well let's use an illustration from, hmmm.....basically the equivalent of the Nicene Creed.

Aqidah At-Tahawiyyah (The Creed of Imam Tahawiyyah)
1. We say about Allah's unity believing by Allah's help - that Allah is One, without any partners.
2. There is nothing like Him.
3. There is nothing that can overwhelm Him.
4. There is no god other than Him.
.
.
.
29. And we are certain that Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is His chosen servant and selected Prophet and His Messenger with whom He is well pleased.
.
.
.
33. The Qur'an is the word of Allah. It came from Him as speech without it being possible to say how. He sent it down on His Messenger as revelation. The believers accept it, as absolute truth.

Give it long enough and a person will have to reconcile with, not just the message, but the Messenger, and then the *thing* itself. If a person were to say it is something invented by a human...that's essentially committing an act of disbelief and it is specifically mentioned in the Quran itself. (Q74:25) But the "how" of it. The "in itself" of the symbol. ....that's not accessible to us in any direct way. (primacy of symbol is a proving a fruitful discussion)

You'll find much in terms of disputes of the meaning of the "incarnation" of the Quran. The Mu'tazilah, or Mutazilites, are probably the most well known and significant. The Tahawiyyah says only that it is necessary to believe it is God's speech, but not necessary to believe the *how* of it. Nor is the physical book itself what is meant by the Quran and God's speech. The physical book is a creation. The vocalization is a creation. The Arabic words??....well, now we're getting at least tangential to the matter.

How about this: the concept of the word being book extends out the universe at large. The entire cosmos is the book of God's signs, in a literal way. It isn't matter at all. It isn't light at all. It's all meaningful signs of God and nothing other than that. When we see a tree and we think of the material functions it has and the economic value it might bring, we haven't seen the tree, we have seen our ego imprinted on something. But it wouldn't take a person outside the fold of Islam to fail to recognize everything in this manner. I mean....we basically all fail at this most of the time. Now, the same is true of the Quran. It is the epitome of signs. But if we aren't overwhelmed by consciousness of God whenever we hear it we don't worry about the state of the heart in that way. But if a person were to say that the Quran is not from God and that it was invented by a man, this is analogous to saying the same thing about the book of the universe and denying a Creator brought all of it forth. God has given us enough in our faculties of comprehension to reach this conclusion. ....though with God is the final affair and God is the best of judges.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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Re: What do you think of Islam?

Postby sgttomas on Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:19 am

met wrote:Last time you were around, you were talking about a new interest in Derrida. In view of this, it's east to see why too, with D:'s "writing is primary" thing. But D means it as an aporia, of course, cuz, for him, meaning is never fixed. It always exists (if at all) only in relation to a non-written, non-delineated context. But then, so do you, it would seem, from previous comments?


How about this, for a start?
(Q3:7, MQ transl) "It is He who has sent down to you the Quran. Some of its verses are clear, they are the Mother of the Book; while others are open to interpretation. Those with swerving in their hearts pursue what is open to interpretation, seeking to create dissension, and seeking to explain it. Yet none knows their explanation except God. Those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say, "We believe in it; it is all from our Lord." But only people of understanding really heed."

met wrote:How do you add this up? This seeming-paradox between the literal (fixed) Word of God in the Quran, and the unfixed set of practical meaning(s)/messages from God? It seems to me like in view of the latter, as best I can wrap my thoughts around whats been said here, the medium IS the message? The fact that it's Gods literal words has a message of its own, but doesn't restrict what the text could mean in some given context? Unlike the way the similar idea in Xianity - "the Word of God is clear" - usually evokes, not the words of the texts themselves, but a hierarchical reading of them that has already predetermined and limited what could be meant by them?


That's pretty fair.

A criticism levied by Dr. Winter (among many scholars) is that so many (most?) modern flavours of Islam are so shallow in their reading of the Quran compared to the possible depth of meanings in it. Those who deviate, as described in the verse I quoted, are doing so to limit the interpretations to something they or their sect favours.

So, how's this?
(Q31:7 WK transl) If all the trees on earth were pens, and the sea [were] ink, with seven [more] seas added to it, the words of God would not be exhausted: for, truly, God is Almighty and Wise.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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