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Commenting on my remarks about Qutb, Paul Rahe asked a question. I paraphrase and I apologize, Paul, if I’ve misunderstood, but it seems to me he’s wondering whether so-called moderate Muslims are, basically, just faithless.
I went for a walk with a friend this afternoon. As we walked past a mosque, he mentioned that he knew the imam. They had served in the army together and they used to pray together.
Are you a believer, I asked?
He said he was. He had had times of doubt, but he had always come back to believing.
What, I asked, did he mean by that? What exactly did he believe?
It didn’t seem to me that this was a question he’d often been asked. He said that he supposed it meant that he believed there was a life after this one, and that we would be judged for our conduct. He couldn’t murder someone, for example, because it was forbidden.
Could you murder someone, I asked, if you didn’t believe God was watching?
No, he said, he supposed not. He might be a bit more flexible about the other commandments, though.
I suggested to him that he was already a bit flexible on some of the others.
He agreed. He thought some of them didn’t make much sense in the modern world–you had to think about the spirit of the law, not just the letter. He said that he believed God wanted him to be a good person, and that he tried to be a good person. This, he said, was what all religious people believed. “That part’s the same for them all, isn’t it?”
Is this a bit unsophisticated, theologically? Of course it is.
Is he faithless?
Beats me. I’m not in his soul at three in the morning.