December 21, 2015

"In fact, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world who are also engaged in irja, even if they are unfamiliar with the term...."

"As one such Muslim, I call on my like-minded coreligionists to join me in wearing the irja badge with pride — and revived knowledge. We lost this key theology more than a millennium ago, but we desperately need it today to both end our religious civil wars and to establish liberty for all. Aware that irja is its theological antidote, the Islamic State presents it as a lack of religious piety. It is, however, true piety combined with humility — the humility that comes from honoring God as the only judge of men."

Writes Mustafa Akyol in a NYT op-ed titled "A Medieval Antidote to ISIS."

Irja = postponing (a basis, as described in the article, for "tolerant, noncoercive, pluralistic Islam — an Islamic liberalism").

ISIS considers irja the most dangerous heresy.

41 comments:

Birches said...

The positive part of me says, "Good for him! We need more like him speaking out."

The cynical part of me says, "Wow. I hope that guy gets used to life without his head..."

David said...

“ [The author is] An advocate of reconciliation between Muslims and the West, who is much in demand at conferences on the future of Islam...” — The Economist ...

Nice as far as it goes. But the future of islam is not going to be decided at conferences. He gets bravery points for saying this, especially since he lives in Turkey, where he might be a tad vulnerable. But who dares say this on the streets of Gaza or Syria or Iraq or Egypt etc etc.

He is now on quite a few kill lists. If he lived where the battle must be fought, he would likely be already dead.

Rhythm and Balls said...

It's nice that he's at least willing to engage them on theological grounds but the comments make perfectly clear how utopian he is. None of the four schools of Islamic theology have ever been able to endorse irja.

The day Muslims develop an authoritative theological association to combat all the crap doctrines is the day that progress will finally be made. It's already happening with that Ahmadiyyah guy that FOX always gets on Meagan Kelly's show. But if Christianity and early Islamic history are any guide, reform will take shape through smaller and less powerful splinter sects that will challenge doctrine, but never effectively enough to stamp out the purists and fundamentalists completely. There is every reason in the world to suppose that they (the latter) will always be claimed by "mainstream"/normative Islam.

And yet, that work of legitimating reformers and challengers must still proceed. And relentlessly so.

Michael K said...

The Saudis are largely responsible for the radicalization of US mosques as they have sent their own Wahabbi imams plus money. Moderate imams are forced out.

ISIS is Sunni and the Arab states are not going to help us fight them. This is Obama bullshit. The Iranians are backing the Shia insurgents in Yemen. If you don;t know the difference between these two wings of Islam, you are going to be doing and saying stupid shit.

What we are fighting is mostly radical Arabs, more than Muslims per se. Arabs and Pakistanis who were radicalized with the India partition.

garage mahal said...

ISIS believes liberal Islam is the enemy. Conservative Islam is their ally?

buwaya said...

There are quite a lot of heretical Islamic sects, some of which include much of what is included in this article, the Ahmadis for instance, plus some of the Shiites and offshoots.
It doesn't mean they are popular.

Also, this school - Mutazila - is something much more "modern' than Ijra - which is merely tolerance of differences of opinion about who is a Muslim -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu%CA%BFtazila

The idea here is the denial of the last thousand years of Islamic theology, which has consisted almost purely of textual analysis of the Koran, Hadith and Sunnah. Merely figuring out what is in the literal text of the rulebooks, and deciding on meaning through textual analysis, and preferences for one piece of text over another.
The Mutazila is more like the Pauline/Augustinian/Aquinian Christian/Catholic theology of reason and free will, figuring out what the rules are according to their fit within a set of principles, and interpretation of texts in the light of first principles with the use of reason.

Of course, that is a step much too far for modern Islam. One is not merely arguing philosophy or theology here. The real problem is the corruption of the culture, down to the default attitudes of the non-religious, in such a way as to be troublesome to their neighbors, in a similar was as the influence of Christianity has had on the unconscious values of even irreligious westerners. V.S.Naipaul gets into this in his books.

rhhardin said...

The media don't get ratings from nice. They get ratings from blowing stuff up, shooting and beheading.

Bruce Hayden said...

Islam is needing its reformation, and what we have seen so far, with an ultra-orthodox 7th Century version of the religion, is not good, for them, or for us. If they can't get along with the modern world, what are we going to do with them? Tempting though the use of nuclear weapons might be, I just don't think that is viable, even if we could get the Ruskies, and maybe even the ChiComs, to take the lead.

As we find out more about Islam, one of the things that is becoming obvious is that the "submission" that is the meaning of Islam does not fit well in the modern world. It is a good part of why so much of the Muslim world is stuck better than a millennium ago, and why there have apparently only been one Muslim Nobel Laureate in Physics, and two in Chemistry. Ever, out of a global population of more than a billion believers. Contrast, of course, with the Jews, who have won over 170 Nobel Prizes, despite being maybe .2% of the population on this Earth, as contrasted with Muslims, who constitute approximately 100x as many people (about 20%). There has to be something really negative, in terms of dealing with the modern world, to have contributed so little to the modern world. Instead of advancing science, much of the Muslim world prefers to engage in honor killings of their women who might have strayed, and murdering those who happened to be born homosexuals. And, yes, for those in the most backwards parts of the Muslim world (such as Afghanistan), having sex with their farm animals (watching of which is, apparently, quite fun for our drone drivers).

Islam desperately needs to be brought into the 21st Century, and doesn't appear to be doing so on its own. This is a possible alternative to the more fundamentalist Muslims whose idea of their religion seems to revolve around beheadings and abductions of girls as child brides. And, that is why I think that it is good that it is being discussed.

mccullough said...

Yet another version of true Islam.

steve uhr said...

Space-X successfully landed their Falcon rocket back on earth. Yea.

pm317 said...

Pakistanis who were radicalized with the India partition.

I feel the need to correct this, knowing a thing or two about it. Pakistan founder Jinnah was a alcohol swilling secular guy. Nothing Muslim about him. He just wanted a country for himself and the Brits were much too obliging. Pakistan was not like what it is now when it was partitioned. It only turned radical in the 70s when Zia Ul Haq figured out that he can get the peasants, radicalized with Saudi money to do his dirty work, which was to pin prick India to death. Pakistan military owns 12% of its GDP(?!) Its ISI has his fingerprints on many of the terror attacks on India. There is really no middle class. The gap between rich and poor keeps the peasants doing the dirty work of their overlords/mullahs.

Sal said...

I credit Trump for the appearance of this op-ed. These so-called liberal/moderate Muslims keep quiet when the only people to be feared are other Muslims.

David Begley said...

Islam is incapable of reform. It is hopeless. Sunni v Shia will never stop.

The West must both contain and disassociate itself from Islam. Let's start with a tariff on OPEC oil that would drive North American energy independence.

The heart of the problem is Saudi Aradia. The worst ingrates ever. The Sauds are not our friends.

Michael said...

I vote for the Ismailis every time. Peaceful. Industrious. Devout in an understated way. Charitable. None of this off with their heads bull with them. Apolitical. Led by the Aga Khan a descendant of the prophet. Rich. On second or third wife. All cool with the Ismailis.

gadfly said...

In setting the tone of his argument, note that Mustafa Akyol picks just two quotations (“There is no compulsion in religion” and “Allah’s mercy and forgiveness is not an excuse to commit sins.”) from the Koran but skips over the later writings of Muhammad that made Islam a violent religion.

ISIS did not invent this religious bent toward violence, since the problem first became a world problem during the "Mohammedan" invasion of Europe in the 17th Century. Sadly, when twisted words overcome reason, hope dissipates into misery and death.

David said...

buwaya said...

Lots of stuff, all of it interesting. Thanks.

garage mahal said...

Conservative Islam and conservative Christianity both share explosive elements among their most devoted followers.

chillblaine said...

"...God as the only judge of men."

Sharia.

DavidD said...

Postponing? Postponing?

Until when?

Theodore James said...

So I guess that the "Why can't we all get along" thing has kind of gone out the window?

n.n said...

Instead of an indefinite postponement, and instead of adopting a [degenerative] liberal ideology, they should discover principles that recognize and reconcile individual dignity and intrinsic value. They will miss that opportunity if they follow their counterparts in liberal societies.

khematite said...

A sentiment similar to irja was expressed in 1947 by secular Zionists who were being criticized by Orthodox Jews for accepting a partition plan that did not place the holy city of Jerusalem under Jewish control. The pragmatic Zionist response was "We have to leave something for the Messiah to do."

Birkel said...

All I know is the future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.

Not sure how 'irja' fits into that construction. Perhaps we should consult the president.

Mark said...

pm317 is right on Pakistan. To link Arab hostility to the Partition is a fallacy as well.

Also agree with Michael re Ismailis. My favorite place to visit when I lived in Pakistan were the deep mountain Ismaili areas. It's the only place where I commonly talked to women out and about. Very different culturally from the Sunni Punjabis.

walter said...

"Irja = postponing"
Hmm..why is that not comforting?

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exhelodrvr1 said...

"Hundreds of millions" is just a fraction of Islam - that illustrates the problem pretty well.

Peter said...

"It is acceptable for Muslim nations to declare hudna, or truce, at times when the infidel nations are too powerful for open warfare to make sense."

Irja seems intimately related to hudna, at least historically. It's not so much about renouncing Islamic Supremacy as a "peace in our time" strategy; a long, indefinate truce that leads not to peace but to ultimate victory.

Of course, a hudna is limited to ten years; perhaps Irja is more durable. But absent a renunciation of the need for ultimate Islamic Supremacy, it's not going to be all that comforting to non-Muslims.

It is, however, certainly an improvement that the NYT is at least willing to host such a discussion.

BrianE said...

Interesting concept-- that people can engage in a religious practice and not even know they're engaged.

But perhaps not unique.

Jesus said that whoever isn't for Him is against Him.

From that I conclude that billions of people are working for Satan without even knowing it.

Sammy Finkelman said...

I don't think you can pick a religious philosophy for political reaosns - it is supposed to be correct, and not affected by this. So I don't think an argument lke this would work. And this is probably not necessary for Moslems to be non-violent.

If they want to do something, let tehm say they are Zionists.

Smilin' Jack said...

Irja = postponing (a basis, as described in the article, for "tolerant, noncoercive, pluralistic Islam — an Islamic liberalism")

Yechhh...it's the Unitarian Universalism of Muslemism. God hates squishes.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Bruce Hayden said... on 12/21/15,@ 7:31 PM

the "submission" that is the meaning of Islam does not fit well in the modern world. It is a good part of why so much of the Muslim world is stuck better than a millennium ago, and why there have apparently only been one Muslim Nobel Laureate in Physics, and two in Chemistry.

That also used to be true for Catholics. (passivity)

This does not make Islam a problem for oter people.

Contrast, of course, with the Jews, who have won over 170 Nobel Prizes, despite being maybe .2% of the population on this Earth,

We used to be close to 1%.

as contrasted with Muslims, who constitute approximately 100x as many people (about 20%). There has to be something really negative, in terms of dealing with the modern world, to have contributed so little to the modern world.

It also helps to have dictatorships, and disease. Freedom is really a pre-condition. And spare money. And a variety of spenders.

The lack of intercovertiability of money afetr World War I is also a factor - the geographical sprread of technologocal development realy slowed down after 1914. There are a few exceptions to frozen development, mainly on the eastern periphery of Asia after World War II, particularly 1960.

khematite said...

Blogger BrianE said...
Jesus said that whoever isn't for Him is against Him.

Yes, that's what he says in Matthew 12:30

But then in Luke 9:50, he says:

"Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."

Take your pick.

ussmidway said...

The radical islamists need to be taken down by exposing their "leaders" to intense, unrelenting ridicule and shaming. They preen as though they are some kind of role models for devout muslims, and yet many of them are involved in graft and sexual deviancy. Between the NSA and the Israelis, I bet we could put together some wickedly embarrassing YouTube videos of these ISIS guys visiting hookers, making large cash deposits in Switzerland and Dubai, screwing little slave boys they keep in captivity, drinking like fish, etc... Muslim males from the madressas, raised away from females and indoctrinated to see them as property, are all messed-up when it comes to sexuality, and they would be mortified to have their true selves shared with the world. These muslim leaders are TOTAL hypocrites and if their followers knew how "impure" they really were, we could ignite a firestorm inside their ranks. Exposing them to this kind of global, public humiliation would rock their world.

If only we had a national command authority that was willing to take them on in this realm, where they are hugely vulnerable, we could make some progress in the propaganda war we are now actively trying to lose. Too bad we have a guy in the White House whose approach requires we express admiration for Islam at every opportunity, so he will send Americans to die rather than expose these Imams to public ridicule.

Postponement is an interesting idea, but it does not ignite the kind of fire I am talking about starting inside radical Islam.

Sammy Finkelman said...

David Begley said...

The West must both contain and disassociate itself from Islam. Let's start with a tariff on OPEC oil that would drive North American energy independence.

While you weren't looking, I think we got there. Or almost there.

http://www.businessinsider.com/americas-path-to-energy-independence-in-charts-2015-9

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/congratulations-america-youre-almost-energy-independent-now-what-098985

https://www.bpnews.com/index.php/in-the-news/244-u-s-seen-achieving-energy-independence-by-2025

Congress just passed a bill legalizing the export of crude oil from places other tahn Alaska. (This was included in the omnibus bill. Speaker Pal yan cited it as a win for the Republicans)

TreeJoe said...

The concept of postponing is, in itself, saying that dominance is still the goal.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Obama is probably getting ready to take credit for American energy independence.

http://dailycaller.com/2015/06/22/white-house-touts-energy-independence-after-dismissing-oil-boom/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/securing-american-energy (Obama's The All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy)

Our all-of-the-above energy strategy aims to harness American innovation and develop a diverse portfolio of American-made energy. We are safely and responsibly developing our energy resources while advancing cleaner forms of energy, such as natural gas and renewables. In November 2013, America hit a milestone of energy independence: For the first time in nearly two decades, the U.S. produced more oil domestically than it imported from foreign sources. And the U.S. is now the number-one natural gas producer in the world.

Thanks in part to these initiatives, America’s dependence on foreign oil is at a 40-year low — and declining. As we decrease our carbon emissions, our economy continues to grow. Our all-of-the-above approach is advancing our energy independence, supporting American jobs, and building the foundation for a clean-energy economy.

Jupiter said...

gadfly said...

"ISIS did not invent this religious bent toward violence, since the problem first became a world problem during the "Mohammedan" invasion of Europe in the 17th Century."

Ever hear of a place called Constantinople? Islam has been a violently expansionist ideology from its inception. In fact, there is evidence that the violent expansionism preceded the religion, which was invented to serve as an organizing principle for a violent expansion that had grown too large to be controlled by personal relations. See "Did Muhammad Exist?", Robert Spencer.

BrianE said...

Khematite

I suppose you can get the Bible to say almost anything if you ignore the context.

Which is why I prefer the modern translations that arrange verses by paragraphs, so the thought is clearer.

In Mathew Jesus was talking about the Pharisees who were accusing Jesus of using the power of Satan to perform his healing. And Jesus minced no words about their evil intent. Jesus says later in the passage, "You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks....I tell you on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Contrast that with the passage in Luke 9:49,50. "John answered, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us. But Jesus said to him, "Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you."

But you probably knew that.

damikesc said...

The day Muslims develop an authoritative theological association to combat all the crap doctrines is the day that progress will finally be made. It's already happening with that Ahmadiyyah guy that FOX always gets on Meagan Kelly's show. But if Christianity and early Islamic history are any guide, reform will take shape through smaller and less powerful splinter sects that will challenge doctrine, but never effectively enough to stamp out the purists and fundamentalists completely. There is every reason in the world to suppose that they (the latter) will always be claimed by "mainstream"/normative Islam.

As has been pointed out before, the assumption that "reform" of Islam will make it more tolerable might be quite inaccurate. Wahhabism isn't that old a sect in Islam and it seems to have taken over the belief. Who's to say that THAT isn't the "reformation" of Islam?

We cannot assume that Christianity becoming more open is the same path all religions will take. Especially since Christianity didn't try to be a complete list of how to do everything, politically et al.

Thanks in part to these initiatives, America’s dependence on foreign oil is at a 40-year low — and declining. As we decrease our carbon emissions, our economy continues to grow. Our all-of-the-above approach is advancing our energy independence, supporting American jobs, and building the foundation for a clean-energy economy.

He's taking credit for the fracking his party has vehemently opposed and is only really being done on privately owned property? Seriously?