The taxi's coming to take me to the airport in about three hours. I just woke up with a start, thinking that I'd overslept, and now I'm afraid to go back to sleep for fear that I will. I'm all packed, and it's the middle of the night, so Ricochet buddies, would you please help keep me awake for the next few hours?
I'll give you something to start with. This reminded me of our earlier conversation about the critical things we just don't notice when we're focussing on something else.
I posted a link to our conversation about whether Islam itself is the enemy to my Facebook page. Some of my friends here in Istanbul (who are Moslems, and, as the word "friend" suggests, not my enemy) weighed in with responses that I think confirm my assertion that the Islamic world is not monolithic. In particular, my friend Babür left a long, thoughtful response, which I'll reproduce in full. (I've told my Facebook friends that anything they say on my page is on-the-record, and I've told Babür this in particular, so I'm sure he won't mind):
As a practicing muslim, and as somebody who's undertaken some Islamic studies, I might have a say for the closing remarks of this article:
-To decide whether Islam INSTITUTIONALLY embraces terrorism or not, the exact description and scope of “GENUINE” Islamic beliefs should be concretized first of all,
-I agree with the fact that, implementations of Islam are, unfortunately, as many as the number of muslims,
-Such differentiation upon "personal perceptions" is the misfortune of any mainstream & globalised religion,
-However, this differentiation occurs only in the practical level: the limits of Islamic beliefs - the theory, is all well defined,
-There is only one genuine, unique and clear-cut definition of Islamic beliefs, which is established back in 632 A.D., preserved with a sound application of METHODOLOGY (centuries before the European version of methodology was developed), and has survived so far,
-This set of beliefs is called "Sunnah", and its followers "Sunnis",
-In terms of daily religious activities, the Sunnah have several sub-categories, the practical sects / "MEZHEB"s; which provide Sunnis with a somehow wide range of options to choose from,
-The practical mezhebs are not at conflict with one another at all; one can pray according to "hanafi" mezheb, fast according to "shafi" mezheb, and yet, make his/her donations according to "maliki" mezheb, etc.: the Prophet (sav) has fulfilled his daily actions compatibly with all mezhebs,
-BUT THEN.. where do we locate the "Shia" concept?
-Clearly speaking, the modern Islamic world is divided into some 75 THEORETICAL mezhebs, most of which fall under the "Shia" category,
-The word "Shia" has its roots in the expression "Gulat-i Shia li Ali b. Ebi Talib", meaning "helpers of Ali b. Ebi Talib",
-Ali, the beloved cousin of Prophet and one of the capital masters of muslims - either Shia or Sunnis, has experienced a major political chaos near the end of his life, and naturally, a circle of helpers / political suppliers formed around him,
-The historical development, and thus, main BELIEF categories of these helpers, the Shia, has 4 main phases:
(1) those who favor Ali over Osman as a caliph (ONLY a political distinction),
(2) those who favor Ali over Abu Bakr and Omar as well (a FAR-FETCHED, but still political distinction),
(3) those who favor Ali over Prophet (sav) (the beginning point of BLASPHEMY),
(4) those who favor Ali over God (an EXTREME point of blasphemy).
-The last two phases emerged nearly a century after the death of the Prophet (sav); SO, DURING THE FIRST CENTURY OF ISLAM, THERE WAS NO DISTINCTION OF BELIEFS, BUT ONLY POLITICAL VIEWS,
-Apart from the Shia, some extremist sects also arose throughout the history, like Batinis, Ismailis, Durzis, etc., who are definitely non-muslims,
-So, in terms of beliefs, the modern Islamic world can be divided into three parts: (1) Sunnis, the unique believers, (2) non-Sunnis, but believers, (3) non-Sunnis and non-believers,
-Haven said all this..
How does genuine Islam, the Sunnah, approach terrorism?
Islam ABSOLUTELY forbids even the slightest offense against individuals (either women or men, the young or the old, etc.) who has not attacked Islam and/or muslims in a military fashion; even, military personnel figthing against Islam and/or muslims who ask for mercy during a full scale battle, should not be touched.
-This rule is very, very clear:
The first two warfare of Islamic history, The Battle of Badr and The Battle of Uhud, were of vital importance for the survival of the early Islamic society and thus, the entire religion.
EVEN DURING THOSE WARFARE, the Prophet (sav) applied the above principle with utmost certainty..
-A similar example is The Conquer of Mecca, where, the Prophet (sav) showed TOTAL mercy (involving the entire enemy army), after being oppressed, humiliated, and even subject to genocide for two decades..
-This is the REAL Islamic approach. Any sincere muslim IS OBLIGED TO oppose terrorism, suicide bombing, 9/11 attacks, El Qaeda, etc.
-The knowledge requirement standards enough to make a decree, or “ICTIHAD” were stated by the Prophet (sav) himself. Those fulfilling the standards, the “MUCTEHID”s can alone authorize the Islamic approach to any situation.
-Real muslims do not care about Imam Whatsoever, etc. has said, unless those so-called, often self-declared Imams measure up to be a muctehid..
I later left this comment:
I've just walked down a street filled literally with thousands of Moslems of exactly the kind many people are seriously arguing do not exist. I saw them with my own eyes, as I have every day for the past five years. With so many other questions in the world, why waste time debating this? Book a ticket to Istanbul, spend an afternoon here, have a lovely time, drink some tea, meet friendly, tolerant, warm, welcoming Moslems (mostly), and see for yourself. They exist! They're my neighbors and my friends! Babür, is there anyone at our gym, for example, who would not describe himself as a Moslem? Would any member of our gym endorse terrorism, honor killing, forcing me to wear the hijab, or subjecting me to a dhimmi tax? The idea is so absurd it's beyond discussion -- and yet we're discussing it.
Theo Spark found the conversation sufficiently interesting to link to it in his blog. He described the discussion as a "raging debate." I notice that his post has been picked up at Right Wing News. So now this chat among my friends is a raging and somewhat public debate, I guess.
The odd thing is that the "raging debate" is about whether moderate Moslems exist. That they do is a proposition so easily verifiable that I don't even have to leave my apartment to do it. I can just look out the window.
But no one even noticed the snake pit of controversy embedded in Babür's claim that Shi'a Islam is a heresy.
Now, as people who know the Islamic world well will tell you, that is--what is it Andrew Sullivan calls it?--the money quote. You just watch and see how much more blood is yet to be spilled over that claim.
And no one even noticed it--their attention was elsewhere.
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