Inclusiveness: attack vs defense

I saw a page recently on FB which seems to want to spread the message of Quranism, albeit with a different style of approach than my own preferred way. I do try to be less “attack / confront”, rather I’ll defend my own beliefs and try to back up why I believe what I believe with verses / examples from the Quran. To spread the message of Quranism, do we need the “Attack” side or just a really strong “Defense”? I could be wrong, I’m willing to admit that, but anyway here is my post on the thread

“I like this article called “An analysis of Quranist Fundamentalism”  because it’s very balanced and inclusive.

I am a Quranist – I believe that the Quran is the sole divine source of islam. However I believe there are many paths to salvation and I don’t believe that Quranism is the only way to salvation. The reason I chose that article to share on here is that it seemed to me that people who do believe in other sources of islam (and possibly even consider them divine) are portrayed as idol worshippers. I personally believe that each individual has their own beliefs and performs their own actions and it only for Allah to judge whether they were idol worshippers or not. Even Quranists, people who claim to follow the Quran as their divine guidance and not give authority to other sources, could in theory still commit shirk like the one in the example of the garden (18:32 – 18:42) where the one who committed shirk should have said a phrase (18:39) and ends up regretting his behaviour / attitude and ends up saying he wished he had not made partners (18:42) So this (to me) shows that there are different ways to commit shirk and we must all be very careful. I also think we can’t call believers rejectors, if they say they believe (4:94).

I think it’s nice to spread the message of Quranism as I feel it is closest to the true teachings of islam seeing as Quranism is following the teachings of the Quran that Allah Himself teaches in the Quran.

I prefer a more inclusive approach when spreading the message rather than tarnishing sincere people who do believe in Allah and sincerely believe they are obeying Allah by following hadiths. I personally think there is a lot of work to do to bring a better understanding of Quranism to the masses and by attacking others’ beliefs could only serve to divide and cause resentment. A softly softly approach could be seen as friendly and accessible to the type of “inter-faith” dialogue I feel is required so that people can ask questions, learn more in a welcoming environment, free of attacks, insults, etc.

For beliefs to change, attitudes also have to change. “I am right and you are wrong” is not the way (in my own humble opinion) whereas “this is what I believe and why, what do you believe and why?” type dialogue can only be beneficial. I do sympathise though that this is not easy when the SOME of the ones who could benefit very much from this type of dialogue refuse to extend the same courtesy. It can be very exhausting and requires a lot of patience but I personally feel that this is a test, in itself – remember debating in the best way – 16:125

Here is another link for you about Multiple Paths to salvation which discusses the use of “Subulan” (Paths – plural) in the Quran. Hope that helps – no offense intended, just doing my bit to contribute to achieving what seems to be a common goal and a noble cause, which seems to rival the other FB Page that I saw recently called “Refuting Quranists and Modernists” 🙂 which I hope will be a good place to do some “dawah” type work.
Salaam Aleykum and peace 🙂

Pyrrhic victory

I know it always seems to be a victory when we can prove a point or make someone realise that what the Quran teaches is not what (all) the Hadiths teach. I think it is really important to bear in mind that the intention is to invite to the truth and expose falsehood, but never to make anyone feel embarrassed or for them to lose their dignity in front of other people. We are instructed to debate/dispute/argue/discuss  in the best manner (16:125) and (29:46).

I’ll be honest – I am not really sure what the best manner is! Maybe I spend too much time wondering about the safest way to ensure the other party does not get humiliated? Is the only real way to do that for the debate to be done in private? Should debates be private or public? A public debate can be very revealing and educational, and obviously can benefit more people than the alternative of private conversations with each individual. After all, we are all in the same boat, looking for the truth, so no-one has anything to hide do they? Or do they? The problem is that it is natural to want to “save face” and I think we should always be aware of our own ego and pride and try to remain humble and never arrogant. By focussing on the issues and the evidence and never letting the debate turn into a personal attack about intelligence, I think the debates can be productive and to the point.

I think one way to “debate in the best manner” would probably be by presenting evidence, highlighting the illogic of the opposing argument and remaining calm and polite and respectful. I wondered whether sarcasm is included in “debating in the best manner”

Wikipedia says:

“Understanding the subtlety of this usage (of sarcasm) requires second-order interpretation of the speaker’s intentions. This sophisticated understanding can be lacking in some people with certain forms of brain damage, dementia and autism,[11] and this perception has been located by MRI in the right parahippocampal gyrus.[12][13]

Cultural perspectives on sarcasm vary widely with more than a few cultures and linguistic groups finding it offensive to varying degrees. Thomas Carlyle despised it: “Sarcasm I now see to be, in general, the language of the devil; for which reason I have long since as good as renounced it”.[14] Fyodor Dostoyevsky, on the other hand, recognized in it a cry of pain: Sarcasm, he said, was “usually the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.”[15] RFC 1855, a collection of guidelines for Internet communications, even includes a warning to be especially careful with it as it “may not travel well”.”

However, it is interesting to note some examples from the Quran about how Ibrahim dealt with the one who tried to argue with him in 2:258. It seems to me Ibrahim used irony to prove a point and I imagine it was said with a smile 🙂  In 21:63 too, again a point is proven by Ibrahim. This shows that sometimes we have to highlight the illogic in a profound way to prove the point, without beating around the bush! After all Ibrahim is a good example (60:4)

Who is the audience? Sarcasm, irony, rhetoric, hyperbole and understatement are misunderstood communication devices, too often unnecessarily considered rude when in fact there is no malice intent. I think if it was available in a tube the instructions would be “Apply sparingly” and “Use with caution” ! 🙂

I don’t have the opportunity very often to debate in real life face to face, so I am thinking about online debates mainly. Maybe I am over-sensitive though? Maybe I need to toughen up! 🙂 I don’t really like conflict so I guess I sit on the fence a lot. Or maybe I think it is sitting on the fence by refusing to take sides when people have heated discussions, once I have shown my evidence (verse from the Quran) – I guess I have this automatic instinct to stick up for the underdog, and I don’t really believe in “kicking a guy when he’s down”. Even though that would probably not be reciprocated! Maybe that is a weakness on my part. But still the truth must prevail over falsehood. I need to remember 2:42

I suppose for those who choose to engage in public debates know what they are getting into and do so at their own risk, but I think the good that can come from effective debates must outweigh the possible negative side effects.  I sometimes find myself being drawn in to online debates and then it is difficult to end things without being accused of “running away” which is not the case – it’s just I don’t see the point in repeating my evidence. There has to be a line drawn somewhere when the debate is no longer productive. After all, time is a precious and limited commodity! Some people think that having the last word means you have won the debate! I don’t agree with this simplistic and superficial view. Agreeing to disagree is a good one! (28:55)

The last point I wanted to make was that although quranists do get attacked constantly,  it seems a little extreme to tar all the attackers with the same brush with the concept that if they do not follow quranism (islam based on no other source than the Quran) then they are “polytheists” by default. I will admit; I am naive and I give the benefit of the doubt all too often. But I don’t like to brandish anyone, call names or mock – 49:11 comes to mind and I feel it is important to remember quranic etiquette and manners at all times, especially in debates. I think it is REALLY important for the quranist “movement” to lead by example and prove that the Quran really does have everything we need. A recent attack on Quranism was that if we did not have the hadiths then we would not have good manners, which I certainly do not agree with. Here are some links about Attitudes and Etiquette from the Quran.
More verses about truth and falsehood :

Chapter 2 – 2:42;
Chapter 3 – 3:71;
Chapter 8 – 8:8;
Chapter 13 – 13:17;
Chapter 17 – 17:81;
Chapter 18 – 18:56;
Chapter 21 – 21:18;
Chapter 22 – 22:62;
Chapter 31 – 31:30;
Chapter 34 – 34:49;
Chapter 40 – 40:540:78;
Chapter 42 – 42:24;
Chapter 47 – 47:3;

Happy debating! Remember to smile – it’s from the Quran! 27:19 ! 🙂

The Quranists’ role in Combatting Islamic Fundamentalism

Some person asked on Yahoo Answers : What’s your opinion on Quranists? I said:

I am a Quranist and I believe that Quranism is the movement which will stop the advance of Islamic Fundamentalism for one very simple reason:Islamic Fundamentalism comes from hadith or hadithic interpretation of the Quran. Not all hadith promotes it of course but in general, hadith creates an artificial group which is the ‘saved sect’. This entitles them (in their estimation) to disallow any other approach to islam.

We need Quranism to overcome this menace because only Quranists have no reverence for the classical clergy.

How can we practise the Quran if we spend our lives trying to understand it?

Quranists, more than any other Muslim group in my opinion, have no ending in sight when it comes to constantly studying and revising their views on Quranic interpretation. It’s not that anything is wrong with us. It’s just that other Muslims don’t really think there’s anything more to the Quran than the interpretations which already exist. This is not to insult them but it’s not in their sphere of concerns. Try going into a Sunni or Shia bookshop and ask for a book which analyses the rendition of the story of Musa from chapter to chapter. You will draw a blank because the subject simply isn’t important enough.

But that leaves us with the question of the title:  How can we practise the Quran if we spend our lives trying to understand it?

To me, it works like this: We can practise the Quran immediately by simply reading some short chapters like al-fatiha, al-asr and al-ikhlas. Basically it tells us to believe in God, be good and what life is basically about. Practice according to your knowledge.

However, as you go on through life, you will experience more signs of God. The Quran is the clarification of these signs. We read the Quran, read our lives, then read the Quran, then practise and on and on.

The Quran’s depth in unfathomable. There are an unlimited number of angles which we can explore in the course of lives. Living must of course continue but the Quran acts as like God’s council to us. It keeps us on the straight path.

This is a very organic process and very individual. No two people read the same way so it’s good to share notes. The Quran is the perfect map for the travel of life.

The Quran and the Counter Movement 3

So how can the Quran contribute to the Counter Movement? Well, we must remember, the definition of the the Counter Movement in the context of these musings which is:  the movement which counters the enslaving nature of current world politics

The Counter Movement seeks to liberate humankind and allow them to stand on their feet. It would be against, for example, the economic mismanagement of socialist governments, allowing for inefficiencies through complexification. The larger a structure gets, the more obfuscations one can exercise. In the end, the winners are well placed individuals and corporations.

The Quran is against this. It is for the primacy of the nafs or human personality (among other meanings). It would not be into the building of large organisations where one person leads the show and others serve his policies. That is Firaunic.

But how does the Quran serve this movement? By providing philosophical and spiritual resources. The Quran mentions a number of personalities who are also of the Counter Movement (in a way). These personalities call for the service of Allah and are against taghoot (authorities which transgress). So the proponents can read the Quran for spiritual strength. Philosophically speaking , the Quran gives a lengthy discourse of the dialogue between the Counter Movement of Musa and the fascist Firaun. Here we will be able to see the ins and outs of both sides and thus see what happens in the end.

Truth be told, the Quran is about some form of counter movement, the only thing is, it adds a dose of spirituality to the proceedings.

The Quran and the Counter Movement 2

Can Quranism ever be at the forefront of the Counter Movement? I don’t think so. Quranism is a specific response to a specific cultural condition. It uses specific cultural references such as quran,islam,deen and tries to re-root these references back into its own socio-cultural millieu, which is Islam. Therefore it is unlikely to be accepted on a global scale as the Counter Movement.

However, this doesn’t mean the Quran itself cannot be used. After all, what is the Quran but a perfect self-actualisation system under the auspices of God? The Quran has the philosophy (qawl in Quranic terms) to lead the counter movement but we dont need to use its original references.

Take for example the word ‘islam’, it means ‘acquirement of salam’ and ‘salam’ is exposed all through the text of the Quran. Why cant we just absorb that philosophy and bring it to the table of the Counter Movement?

The least we can do as Quranists is to export our concepts in the most user-friendly packages available. Dogma is our biggest enemy. The Quran itself is flexible yet those who stand by it are dogmatic.

The Quran and the Counter Movement

It’s all well and good conducting a deep research into the Quran. It keeps our faith and conceptual framework strong. We are able to see how the Quran continues to unveil deeper and deeper layers of truth to us. I for one am continually amazed by this. However, this is not why we’re here on earth. As the Quran itself says, we are here to serve (51/56). We all serve something. The best of course is to serve Allah.

What do I mean by the counter-movement? I mean the movement which counters the enslaving nature of current world politics. How does the Quran play a role in this? The Quran opposes oppression and slavery. It wants everyone to be masters of their own domain, not to be slaves of others. Indeed that was the nabi’s statement when he says ‘kunoo rabbaniyeen’ (3/79)

How does the Quran stand in this counter movement though?

will continue later..