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A Benedict Option For Muslims?

Emma Green shows once again why she is the most interesting religion reporter in the country, this time with a story about how America is changing Islam. [1] That is, she writes about how American life is altering Islamic norms for Muslims who live here. As the reader who sent this piece to me said, “There’s a lot going on here.” Yes indeed. Let’s get started with this excerpt:

American culture often presents two opposing paths for young Muslims. On one side are people like President Donald Trump, who retweets unverified videos purporting to show Muslim violence; says things like “I think Islam hate us”; and claims there’s “no real assimilation” among even second- and third-generation Muslims in the U.S. On the other are movies like The Big Sick, which depicts the autobiographical love story of Kumail Nanjiani, a Muslim comedian who rejects religion and falls in love with a white woman, devastating his immigrant family.

In reality, most Muslims are somewhere in between. U.S. Muslims—roughly 60 percent of whom are under 40—are going through a process that’s quintessentially American: finding new, diverse, self-constructed identities in their faith, ranging from fully secular to deeply pious. The contours may be particular to Islam, but the story is one shared by Catholics, Jews, and even the Puritans. Muslims are creating distinctively American forms of their religion.

Outsiders may think that radicalization of the young is the biggest worry. It’s a potential problem, but not the one that keeps Muslim parents up at night:

But for the vast majority of Muslim parents, teachers, and imams, the worry is the opposite: that the young will drift away from their faith. “The people [who] are anxious about [assimilation] are the people who are white-knuckling it, holding onto tradition, worried that they’re going to lose it,” said Zareena Grewal, an associate professor at Yale University. Imams will often compare young Muslims and Jews, she added, wondering whether their religious organizations will also be hurt by widespread disaffiliation. “They’re like, ‘Oh, the rabbis are panicking, so we should also be panicking.’”

Check this out:

In the lead up to their wedding this fall, the two had only minor friction with their families over religion, even though both sets of parents are more observant than they are. Although there was some disagreement about how the couple planned their nikkah, or Islamic marriage ceremony, they mostly avoided conflict by not really talking about Islam. “It’s difficult for my parents to address head-on a lack of religion,” Siddiquee said. “They don’t have some false pretense that I’m going to Jummah,” the traditional Friday afternoon prayer, “or I’m going to mosque or I even pray myself. I’m pretty sure they know that’s been a steadily declining thing for a long time.”

The pair hope they’ll eventually find a religious community that fits them—something more “progressive” and “flexible” than how they grew up. Islam is “a part of me,” Khan said, “but it’s not the main part.”

In some ways, this is a very Millennial story. Like others in their generation, Khan and Siddiquee have gravitated away from religious institutions and regular practice. Abdullah Antepli, an imam who teaches at Duke Divinity School, often sees similar patterns among the undergraduates he works with. “There is an incredible difference between the students and the parents in how they’re thinking about American Muslim identity,” he said. “The parents want to invest on the Muslim side of that hyphenated identity—they are really worried for certain aspects of that identity to be preserved.” Most students, however, “are negotiating and brainstorming on the American side.” There’s some evidence behind the anxiety: Less than half of Muslims under 40 visit a mosque each week, according to Pew Research Center, and only one-third of Muslims under 30 pray five times a day in keeping with traditional Islamic practice.

Uh oh:

“The term ‘religious’ isn’t something that I really like,” she told me. “Too often, the connotation of ‘religious’ is someone who is very strict and focused on acts. I would say I’m very spiritual, and I have a very strong faith.”

Spiritual but not religious. We know how that goes. The story takes an especially interesting turn when Green interviews a married lesbian Muslim couple:

Taj and Nur decided to get married in January, right before President Trump was inaugurated. Despite the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell that legalized same-sex marriage in America, they were worried about losing their rights under the Trump administration. As the political atmosphere has become overtly hostile to Muslims, both Taj and Nur have felt that it’s important to claim their identities—all of them. “It felt really empowering, really beautiful, and like this strong political stance to claim like, ‘Yes, actually, I am queer, and hands down I am Muslim,’” Nur said.

Finally, this observation from Green:

This, more than anything, seems to be the through-line of Muslim love, and life, in America. It’s almost always an experience of multipleness, identity mixing, and navigating a lot of different expectations and desires from family members or the culture writ large. That itself is a deeply American experience, a form of assimilation to a country built on ambiguous, mixed identities.

Most definitely read the whole thing. [1] There really is a lot going on here. Let’s try to break some of it down. Here are my takeaways:

  1. In this piece, you can see, I think, a key difference between life as a Muslim in America, and life as a Muslim in France. Not only is America more open to religion in general, American identities are a lot more flexible. Caveat: there are many more Muslims in France than in the US, as a percentage of overall population. Still, it appears that in this story, we see that one of the particular qualities of US culture is its ability to assimilate outsiders.
  2. But this same quality is not good news for orthodox Muslims, by which I mean Muslims who want their children to observe a theologically normative version of the faith. If you read the story, especially its discussion about marriage, you see that preserving Islam according to traditional norms requires a strong Islamic community. What parents — immigrants mostly, but not entirely — are discovering is that America’s pluralism changes the rules.
  3. It changes the rules most profoundly in a way discussed by Charles Taylor in A Secular Age. The US is the most modern nation, in terms of being a nation born in modernity, and founded on modernity’s principles. You cannot not know that it is possible to live a successful American life with any number of identities. The broader culture in which a child growing up here is immersed in offers nothing normative, not anymore. In fact, it encourages the self-construction of identity — something that Green’s piece notes. In fact, radical self-determination of identity is the only norm.
  4. Therefore it is possible in America for a civilly married lesbian to say ‘Yes, actually, I am queer, and hands down I am Muslim’. I say “possible” in that such a statement makes sense in a culture where self-determination is the only orthodoxy. To point out the contradiction in cases like this is to transgress against the social code by “denying” someone’s identity.
  5. But you can’t simply say that it is possible to be a sexually active lesbian and a faithful Muslim and have it be true — unless Islam itself changes its norms. It’s the same with Christianity, whose norms are radically changing precisely to accommodate what was once strictly forbidden.
  6. What is happening here is a crisis of religious authority. If the God of the Koran is God, and Muhammad is His prophet, then it is very difficult to see how active homosexuality can be reconciled with a life of fidelity to Islam. (I recognize that I don’t know much about Islam; if I am wrong here, please correct me.) It’s the same way with Christianity, the Bible, and homosexuality. I can’t say about Islam, but within Christianity, sexuality itself is deeply entwined with fundamental concepts within Biblical faith, anthropologically and otherwise. People who believe homosexuality is forbidden simply on the basis of a few explicitly prohibitive Bible verses are deeply uninformed.
  7. The problem that orthodox Muslims, Christians, and Jews face in post-Christian America is that all religions make accommodations to the cultures in which they are expressed. Which accommodations can a particular faith make and still be true to its core, and which ones must it hold on to? The easy answers are “no accommodations, ever” and “whatever accommodations you want” — but neither one of those are realistic. The rigidity of the former will break under pressure, and the laxity of the latter will guarantee the dissolution of the religion into the syncretic hedonism of contemporary America.
  8. How does an individual, a family, a community decide? And beyond that, how does it raise its children to affirm orthodoxy in a culture where heterodoxy is the only orthodoxy? In a culture in which affirmation of the religion’s norms could cost one greatly — including the possibility of losing the affection of one’s child?
  9. It is virtually impossible to create a religiously and socially conservative culture in America in which the choices an individual makes are strongly circumscribed by premodern religious and communal norms. As Emma Green’s story reveals, the search for a spouse is one place where old-world norms (e.g, courtship as a family affair) are hard to uphold.
  10. It all comes down to the fundamental division among religious people living in this culture today, one that affects every religion. Is religion primarily about what God says to us, or about what we say to Him?

There is no escape from Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, only different strategies for how to cope with it. I am eager to hear the thoughts of Muslim readers of this blog about what a Benedict Option for Muslims would look like.

 

133 Comments (Open | Close)

133 Comments To "A Benedict Option For Muslims?"

#1 Comment By Floridan On January 3, 2018 @ 9:18 am

NFR: …You shouldn’t assume that the worst-case scenario is something all conservatives endorse…

And yet, itsn’t “worst case scenario” pretty much your default position on social/cultural issues in America?

#2 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 3, 2018 @ 10:13 am

My hope is that the power of American culture (and American pop culture in particular) will dilute and marginalize all forms of conservative religion everywhere. MTD is probably the best hope for world peace.

LOL.

As the experience of the last couple decades has shown us, becoming secular doesn’t make you liberal.

People don’t need to be deeply invested in theology or religious moral doctrines to fight over religion, all they need is for religion to serve as a tribal signifier. The Eastern Europeans who are up in arms about Muslim migration right now aren’t upset because they’re devout Christians or because they’re liberals. They’re upset because like most people today and historically they’re deeply invested in the survival of their tribe and ethnic group, and they see an influx of foreigners (correctly) as a demographic threat. Theology matters less than tribal identity here.

#3 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 3, 2018 @ 10:17 am

Such an ignorance of Natural Law which our Founders accepted and which the Torah, Christian Scriptures and the Koran realize leads to the loss of soul and other negative consequences.

World peace comes not from becoming a clone like the progressives want. Peace between others only comes from a soul that has been nurtured in its Divine Source, not from some ”I’ll have it my way” pseudo creation of special knowledge elitism (void of humility) which is the ancient heresy called Gnosticism.

All of this indicates you don’t really understand either natural law or Gnosticism.

#4 Comment By Jawad Hussain On January 3, 2018 @ 1:56 pm

Rod, as a first generation American born Muslim whose parents immigrated from South Asia I’ll give you my two cents on some of these issue. I actually just started reading the Benedict Option as I have been a reader of your blog and the American Conservative for the past few years. These issues that you reference are very much top of mind for someone like myself who is trying to live a life faithful to my religious teachings in a culture that is rooted in individualism. For me the biggest risk to American Muslims is losing the sense of collectivism, which is part of the Islamic tradition and very much how Eastern societies (regardless of religious tradition) have always been centered. Even in the cases mentioned in the article where people were less connected to Islam it was the family ties that kept them from breaking away completely and helped to at least keep them somewhat engaged with their faith. This isn’t a panacea for MTD, but it slows the process.

In terms of a Benedict Option for Muslims I think this somewhat organically has been occurring for a few different reasons. The first is that Muslims are a minority in the US and by and large minorities tend to be cautious vis a vis the broader community especially if they are afraid of losing their culture/values and this is the case for many Muslims who then look to their mosques as a place where they can conserve and pass on the values that are not in synch with the broader culture. Also, Islam is more similar to Judaism in that it is a far more legalistic religion than Christianity so abiding by those rules in your daily life forces you to think about why you are making this difficult decision and by extension about God.

In regards to some of the culture wars issues that are so dominant in Christian discourse it’s viewed differently at least in my view and how I have observed it. There is no doubt that the mainstream Islamic viewpoint on homosexuality is that it is forbidden in Islam and there are only very small fringe groups that consider it permissible, but in regards to sexual ethics any and all heterosexual relationships that are outside of marriage are considered a major sin in Islam as well, so for someone like myself the fact that pre-marital relationships are completely acceptable in society is already problematic so the debate on homosexual relationships is just the next step beyond the already problematic acceptance of sexual freedom in society.

I also wanted to comment on this point “But you can’t simply say that it is possible to be a sexually active lesbian and a faithful Muslim and have it be true — unless Islam itself changes its norms. It’s the same with Christianity, whose norms are radically changing precisely to accommodate what was once strictly forbidden.”

In Islam there is no difference in being a Muslim who engages in lesbian relationships or one that drinks alcohol in that both are sins the difference in our society is that homosexuality is an identity and not an act whereas drinking alcohol is an act and not an identity. In Islamic understanding their is a big difference between private sin and public sin and when sin becomes mainstream that’s a big problem and to my knowledge this has not yet occurred in a widespread way in Muslim communities in America, though it is happening on the fringes to some degree and that could be problematic longer term.

#5 Comment By xrdsmom On January 4, 2018 @ 7:38 am

Are you proposing to require women to wear bikinis who would feel very uncomfortable doing so, just so you can pat yourself on the back that now they’re “free”?

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m proposing because bikinis are the most frequently worn garment among Western women.

Thanks for the lengthy explanation about Muslim clothing just for women. So if hijab and the like are just loose comfortable clothing, pray tell why don’t the men wear them as well?

#6 Comment By Youknowho On January 4, 2018 @ 10:55 am

As for Muslims succumbing to commercialism, it probably depends on how poor they were when they came. People who undergo privation and then come to enjoy abundance tend to splurge – like kids in a candy store. They are dazzled, and they do not cling to the ethos of poverty. You call it commercialism, for them is reaching the land of milk and honey.

#7 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 4, 2018 @ 12:20 pm

Based on various hadiths, three of the four Sunni schools either require or encourage female circumcision of some variety.

Haddiths may be devoutly believed by people who inherited them as a kind of tradition, but they are a good example of syncretism that puts former traditions in the context of the new faith, rather than disappearing when the new faith arrives. There are all kinds of superstitions that have attached to Christianity like barnacles to a ship in the same way.

Bad Religion is mostly correct on who has killed how much of who on what excuse. Rod has to blame Nazis and Communists in the same breath because, (1) everyone agrees that Nazis are scum, or almost everyone, so its a universal epithet, and (2) between spending his life atoning for having once told his parents he was a socialist, making up for having once listened to a pathetic overweight bespectacled intellectual pontificate that if the Klinghoffers could afford a cruise, maybe they deserved to die, and having come to Orthodoxy via a branch of the faith that canonized Bloody Nicholas Romanov, its just an article of faith. And the French Revolution was all about killing priests in a basement, nothing else to see. It is probably the low point of Rod’s often insightful reasoning, but its very much a part of his thinking.

#8 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 4, 2018 @ 1:47 pm

“sex, Coca-Cola, and freedom always win”

And water runs downhill, the path of least resistance.

#9 Comment By mrscracker On January 4, 2018 @ 2:14 pm

xrdsmom says:

“Thanks for the lengthy explanation about Muslim clothing just for women. So if hijab and the like are just loose comfortable clothing, pray tell why don’t the men wear them as well?”
*********
My guess is that there are more Western Muslim men in the workforce & they adopt Western business attire to fit in? But just from watching tv, it seems as though men still wear traditional attire in Arab countries.
I personally think Muslim women look very nice & on days like today I’d be glad to hide my hair under something.
🙂

#10 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 4, 2018 @ 3:14 pm

“sex, Coca-Cola, and freedom always win”

Yea, that’s what everyone in Iran thought in 1978.

#11 Comment By BadReligion On January 4, 2018 @ 7:52 pm

mrscracker- You could wear a hat, or a hoodie that you can let down when necessary.

Have we all seen the pictures of pre-Revolutionary Iran, mid-20th century Egypt, or (especially) Afghanistan in its semi-secular era, i.e. from the 1930s to the 1970s (and later, in government/Soviet-controlled areas)?

#12 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 4, 2018 @ 8:28 pm

So if hijab and the like are just loose comfortable clothing, pray tell why don’t the men wear them as well?

Perhaps for the same reason that most men don’t wear skirts and dresses. Kilts are something else again, but then, Roman men wore togas, and nobody denies that Roman society was patriarchal.

#13 Comment By Youknowho On January 4, 2018 @ 8:37 pm

@Siarlys

Yes, genital cutting is a pre-islamic tradition that many Muslims believe it to be part of their religion.

When it comes to outlawing it what happens when Muslims complain that their religious freedom is being violated? Do you think that they will listen to you, a non-muslim, telling them what Islam is and what isn’t?

Do you expect to pay attention when a bureaucrat explains Islam to them?

In this case it is better to be insensitive.

“This is the law. When you were admitted to this country, you lifted your right hand and promised to obey our laws. Now, obey them, or go back to where this is legal. As for the theological argument, I do not know, and I do not care. All I know is the law of the land.”

#14 Comment By Khalid mir On January 5, 2018 @ 5:15 am

“Do you think that they will listen to you, a non-muslim, telling them what Islam is and what isn’t?”

For someone who says its a ” fact” that Muslims accept lesbianism and that ” many” muslims believe genital cutting to be part of their religion that’s an interesting statement.

Hector earlier said that Islam is not based on the Qur’an but that it ” uses” it ( as if Islam is an entity with agency!). But no, keep on informing us of what the religion is.

Good grief!

#15 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 5, 2018 @ 10:14 am

Besides, even in the Twentieth Century, we have such calamities as the partition of India, which was based on religion

Good to know that according to BadReligion’s fantasies of a borderless world, South Asians weren’t entitled to the Muslim Homeland that they overwhelmingly wanted. (The Muslim League won 88% of the Muslim vote on a platform of partition, in the last election in a united British India). At least he’s consistent about denying popular self determination to brown ethnicities as well as white ones.

Many South Asian Muslims didn’t care to live under the political domination of Hindus any more than under the domination of Brits. (Just as a lot of the lower caste indivdials among my co-ethnics didn’t want to live under the Hindi-speaking Brahmins of the Congress Party any more than they did under the British).

#16 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 5, 2018 @ 10:20 am

Do you condemn the women who married such men — whether duped into it by their false fronts, or under parental or other pressures — to lives of misery and abuse at their hands? Once you recognize that the only moral answer to this question is “no,” there follows no-fault divorce, an easing of the pressure to marry, government support for single mothers, higher education and serious career paths for women, and now you’re right in the thick of a massive social and cultural revolution in favor of women’s rights.

Jefferson Smith,

This isn’t really true. The premise of your argument is that the political and moral values of a society are governed by abstract principles, such that when you accept a set of principles (say, the first principles of second wave feminism) you must then logically accept all the consequences that flow from that. I don’t think that’s the way societies work. Most societies, most of the time, are torn between conflicting sets of values and conflicting moral commitments, pulling them in various different directions. Where they end up is going to vary a bit from one society to another and it’s not logically necessary for the process to go all the way. Lots of revolutions only go part of the way and then stall. One can easily conceive of a society that made some progress towards the second wave feminist utopia, but didn’t go full Sweden or whatever.

#17 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 5, 2018 @ 10:26 am

I came back with a much deeper appreciation of why some women from such cultures may actually choose to completely cover themselves. I also came back with a much deeper appreciation of American men.

Of course, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of women to ensure that they don’t get harassed. The idea that women should dress modestly so as not to tempt men is, you know, deeply deeply problematic. Whether the people endorsing the idea are Italian Catholics, Scotch Calvinists, Persian Muslims, Orthodox Jews or Indian Hindus.

#18 Comment By BadReligion On January 5, 2018 @ 2:18 pm

“Good to know that according to BadReligion’s fantasies of a borderless world, South Asians weren’t entitled to the Muslim Homeland that they overwhelmingly wanted. (The Muslim League won 88% of the Muslim vote on a platform of partition, in the last election in a united British India). At least he’s consistent about denying popular self determination to brown ethnicities as well as white ones.
Many South Asian Muslims didn’t care to live under the political domination of Hindus any more than under the domination of Brits. (Just as a lot of the lower caste indivdials among my co-ethnics didn’t want to live under the Hindi-speaking Brahmins of the Congress Party any more than they did under the British).”

That’s precisely my point. If all of these arbitrary boundaries didn’t exist (in this case religion, which is the worst one because of its sheer pointlessness), none of this would have happened. Also, most of the violence stemmed from hostility towards “those people” coming (often as desperate refugees!) into “our town.” That should seem familiar.

#19 Comment By Jefferson Smith On January 5, 2018 @ 3:21 pm

@Hector:

Where they end up is going to vary a bit from one society to another and it’s not logically necessary for the process to go all the way. Lots of revolutions only go part of the way and then stall. One can easily conceive of a society that made some progress towards the second wave feminist utopia, but didn’t go full Sweden or whatever.

I don’t really disagree with that, and I can imagine feminism playing out somewhat differently in Muslim and non-Western societies than it has in the West. But it’s going to come, in some form, at some point, and it’s going to be a huge change. As to societies not being governed by abstract principles, that’s true, but I think you’re overemphasizing “governed.” There’s no deterministic necessity whereby the logic underlying one reform leads to others. But as a practical matter politically, groups will tend to follow up one successful reform by demanding others, and they’ll tend to try to imitate the success of other groups. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, for example, that we saw movements for racial equality, women’s liberation, and gay rights all follow each other in pretty close succession.

#20 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 5, 2018 @ 4:22 pm

Good to know that according to BadReligion’s fantasies of a borderless world, South Asians weren’t entitled to the Muslim Homeland that they overwhelmingly wanted.

Self-determination of a collective entity can be grossly over-rated. This kind of sentiment fluctuates a good deal. Drawing long term boundaries on the basis of such emotions can be a very bad criterion. There was a united movement of Indian independence, and when it was close to becoming a reality, all of a sudden rival politicians jockeying for position started fighting each other instead. There are 189 million Muslims living in India — which says something about how “overwhelming” the real sentiment for partition was. Then, there are the millions of Muslims and Hindus and others who died during partition. The total population of Pakistan is a little over 207 million, and of Bangla Desh about 165 million.

Its a bit like the confederacy in American history. There were enthusiastic votes for secession (although not so overwhelming as the Myth of the Lost Cause pretends), but when it came to actually fighting and paying the costs of a war… a lot of people didn’t really think it was worth it. That’s why the confederacy had to institute conscription. The masses weren’t going to ante up.

How many people would have voted for partition at all if they had known how it would turn out? For that matter, would Jinnah have pushed the idea, if he knew what kind of nation would be the long term result? He was a secular Muslim who smoked, drank alcohol, looked forward to a prosperous republic in which he and his associates would be re-elected again and again.

When it comes to outlawing it what happens when Muslims complain that their religious freedom is being violated?

Khalid Mir has eloquently questioned youknowho’s credentials for discussing what Muslims will accept from a non-Muslim. I would certainly NOT authorize mutiliation of female organs just because someone claims it as a religious duty, any more than I would authorize human sacrifice because someone claims their gods demand it. But its not accurate to critique Islam as a religion that mandates genital cutting.

#21 Comment By Youknowho On January 5, 2018 @ 6:52 pm

@Khalid Mir

On the subject of lesbianism and Islam, I only quoted a person who had personal contact with Muslims and recorded their opinions. Call it anecdotal evidence You should know by now that what religion teaches, and what people in that religion do are two different things.

As for genital cutting, well, why does Malasya commands it, as part of the Muslim religion? A lot of them DO believe it, as evidenced by their actions and words. I do not know what’s in their hearts, but I know what they do.

#22 Comment By Mia On January 5, 2018 @ 7:54 pm

“It is virtually impossible to create a religiously and socially conservative culture in America in which the choices an individual makes are strongly circumscribed by premodern religious and communal norms. As Emma Green’s story reveals, the search for a spouse is one place where old-world norms (e.g, courtship as a family affair) are hard to uphold.”

So are you suggesting that all ideologies are equally good as long as they are premodern traditional and religious? Do you actually know what it was like to live in such societies? What is your position on honor crimes in Muslim countries, which are pretty common and sometimes over something as minor as a woman merely talking to a man or having rumors spread about her, even untrue ones?

You talk alot about how you once lived in New York and wanted to break free from your family because you had interests they didn’t like. Do you actually understand what your life would have been like in such a regime? Would you have been fine with the idea that the community/extended family tell you you couldn’t go to school based on some arbitrary group idea or rule even if you wanted to and had talent for it? How would you have felt if they said you couldn’t marry your wife, or switch to Orthodoxy because of communal identity and cultural norms? You may think you’d be okay letting other people dictate everything you would ever do with your life (and lots of people around the world from collective cultures where this is often how things are run HATE it, and that’s why they usually consider suicide as a legitimate, completely moral option), but that’s only because you haven’t had to deal with it. You would have more freedom as a man under such systems, but that wouldn’t make it pleasant for even you.

Just because everything is in the toilet doesn’t mean we should go back to the 16th century way of doing things, or that we shouldn’t criticize traditional ways of thinking and doing things. The pendulum has merely swung too far in the other direction. It’s important for our project to not turn into crazy reactionaries and throw the baby out with the bathwater. Freedom is a good thing, remember, it just needs to have some rationality about it.

#23 Comment By VikingLS On January 6, 2018 @ 2:45 pm

@Khalid mir

Yeah they do that to Christians too. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told that as a Christian I believe things that not only do I not believe, but that the Orthodox Church doesn’t believe, such as sola scriptura.

#24 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 6, 2018 @ 3:42 pm

As for genital cutting, well, why does Malasya commands it, as part of the Muslim religion? A lot of them DO believe it, as evidenced by their actions and words. I do not know what’s in their hearts, but I know what they do.

The state of Malaysia doesn’t command female circumcision, the religious authorities in Malaysia generally say that female circumcision is required if it can be done in a way that isn’t harmful to the girl involved or to her future physical well being. It’s important to remember that what they do in Malaysia is a fairly superficial / symbolic procedure that supposedly doesn’t impact the health of the child or their potential for sexual pleasure as an adult.

I actually this is a decent example of what a reasonable, ‘humanized’ conservative Islam would look like. (Malaysia is a conservative country by any measure). If a long series of jurists going back twelve hundred years all hold to a consistent teaching it probably makes more sense, where possible, to try and reinterpret the teaching in more mild and humane terms, rather than to try and say ‘this isn’t in the Quran, so just get rid of it!’

#25 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 6, 2018 @ 3:44 pm

On the subject of lesbianism and Islam, I only quoted a person who had personal contact with Muslims and recorded their opinions

For what it’s worth, I’ve heard the claim made that liwat, like arsenokoitai for Christians, are both fairly narrow terms that were meant to connote one specific act (anal sex) and nothing beyond that.

#26 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 6, 2018 @ 4:11 pm

Siarlys,

Muslims in British India voted overwhelmingly (89%) for the pro-partition Muslim League. It’s true many of them didn’t move to Pakistan, but they wanted Pakistan to exist as a safe haven for them, just like many Jews who have no interest in moving to Israel nevertheless want it to exist.

Then, there are the millions of Muslims and Hindus and others who died during partition.

Again, you have to balance the bloodshed that accompanied Partition with the death toll of the Hindu-Muslim riots that had been going on before 1947, and with the projected outcome of future ethnic tensions if the two groups had been forced to stay together.

In addition, it’s my belief that India is already too big (it’s probably no accident that wherever you have a small country next to a culturally compatible large country, the large country tends to function better: compare Canada to the US, Belarus to Russia, Taiwan to China). An India that’s a third again larger than it is today would probably have functioned even worse.

Sure, Jinnah probably wouldn’t be very happy at the changes that happened in Pakistan in the 1980s. (Although having read up a little bit about the situation, Pakistan is not quite the theocratic dystopia that a lot of Indians seem to think). Then again, the atheist socialist Nehru probably wouldn’t be very happy at modern India under BJP rule, either.

#27 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 6, 2018 @ 4:14 pm

There was a united movement of Indian independence,

I mean, almost by definition, a ‘united movement’ of this kind ceases to be united once it’s achieved it’s objective. The only thing that ‘united’ various South Asian politicians was having a common enemy in the British.

#28 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 6, 2018 @ 4:19 pm

Khalid Mir,

I’m sorry but I think my statement was at least reasonable accurate. It was intended to convery that in Islam, just like in Christianity, scripture isn’t the only source of religious obligation, tradition counts too. (Islam has done a better job than Christianity of documenting the basis of their traditions, in the hadith collections: I’d bet they did so partly because they wanted to avoid all the divisions that had characterized the first few Christian centuries). I’m aware there are ‘Quranists’ who disagree but as far as I know they’re a distinct minority.

You wouldn’t get very far telling a Christian ‘abortion isn’t that important, since it’s not in the Bible’ or for that matter ‘the Trinity isn’t that important, since it’s not in the bible’, since Christianity isn’t a religion based on the exegesis of a single text, but rather on a body of inherited traditions and beliefs (some of them written, some not). My general lay understanding is that the same is true of Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism (among other religions).

#29 Comment By Youknowho On January 6, 2018 @ 5:12 pm

@Hector St Clare

On lesbianism and Islam, I did believe the account as it is the kind of behavior to expect of a shame culture, that is the kind of culture where what the neighbors think is more important than what God thinks.

And a lesbian relationship that does not destroy the hymen nor cause pregnancy, if conducted discreetedly may prevent the more disgraceful outcome of an unwed pregnancy, or the daughter being rejected for not being a virgin at her wedding night.

People who lived in shame cultures can recognize the logic “Do not let the neighbors know”

#30 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On January 6, 2018 @ 11:06 pm

Good to know that according to BadReligion’s fantasies of a borderless world, South Asians weren’t entitled to the Muslim Homeland that they overwhelmingly wanted.
Hector

Are you aware that the majority of people in British India were Hindus and that they did not vote for the Muslim League? Once again, you seem to conflate sub-continent Muslims with “South Asians.” Maybe it is time for you to stop posting about India – as you said a while back, you have assimilated so completely to the West that you should not be expected to know anything about India.

#31 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On January 7, 2018 @ 9:22 am

Janwaar Bibi,

You’re aware that this blog lacks an edit function right? Are you really unaware that sometimes people type fast and accidentally omit a word that readers can easily fill in from context? Not everything is an ideological talking point.

#32 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 7, 2018 @ 10:54 pm

The notion that India should be several smaller countries is worth considering, although it may be water under the bridge. There are a LOT of cultural distinctions between the belt of Hindi speaking states in the north, and some more southern cultures. The notion of a United India was partly the product of aspirations by various kings to unite the entire area (with a mix of idealistic inspiration about the wonderful utopia they could create, and ruthless ambition to establish an empire), and of course, British colonial administration.

I’m not impressed by the argument that Muslims wanted Pakistan to exist even though they didn’t want to move there. To be taken seriously in politics, you should have, or be willing to put, some skin in the game. Partition was a disaster.

A model like Switzerland might have been better… a lot of small cantons that were more or less homogenous, and a federal government that would have some cumulative heft in dealing with the outside world. That could have reflected both the way Muslim and Hindu and other populations were scattered across the map, and the desirability to have some space where one’s preferred mode of life is not unduly interfered with.

Over time, people would knit together by osmosis, as indeed the disparate colonies that formed the USA did, with only one civil war 87 years after independence.

Nehru could recognize the constitutional fabric of India today, and plot a strategy to win the next election for the Congress party. Jinnah would be assassinated and his adherents bombed to oblivion in modern Pakistan.

You wouldn’t get very far telling a Christian ‘abortion isn’t that important, since it’s not in the Bible’ or for that matter ‘the Trinity isn’t that important, since it’s not in the bible’

Both have some traction with me — although abortion is “important,” it just isn’t doctrinally fixed.

#33 Comment By Misha Pennington On January 10, 2018 @ 1:40 pm

“There is no escape from Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”

Yes there is. In fact, there are two escapes from it. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is but the pseudo-spiritual facade of Secular Humanism. It has two rivals with respect to worldviews vying for universal imposition. One is Islam, the other is Orthodox Christianity. Much of the international news is a function of posturing, maneuvering and strategic interaction of these three camps. The Benedict Option is simply an ill advised surrender to Secular Humanism. It would be better if Western Christians sided with the Orthodox to propagate a Christian worldview through law and culture. Some, like Franklin Graham, have gotten the message. They understand that it is either Christ, Muhammad or the Dead End West. The Dead End West can’t even maintain its demographic base, let alone export its ideology anymore.