Sunday, April 29, 2018

Post 72--Established Islamic Social Order

The following short item on Muslim social style comes to us from Tariq Ramadan, a recognized contemporary Muslim scholar, but one also under the suspicion of some. Well, I will let you figure that one out.  In the meantime I believe this short article is educational for both Christians and Muslims and gives a more positive face to Islam. 

                                                  Established Order

The time has come to reconcile ourselves with the depth and breadth of the Islamic civilizational tradition and its wealth of meaning that establishes rules in the light of the objectives of dignity, freedom, justice and peace. 

The Muslim peoples of today urgently need to reassert themselves. Crucial to the process are spirituality and mysticism: not those of a certain form of Sufism that, not wishing to “take part in politics,” ends up playing the game of powers (and colonisers), but of the quest for self that an authentic Sufism never separated from human, social and political (by way of wise and just government) considerations. It is not enough to affirm that freedom must come before the “Sharia”; what is lacking is a thoroughgoing reflection on freedom in the modern age, and the superior objectives (maqasid) of the Path (ash-Sharia) that supersede its reduction to a body of regulations presented as God’s intangible laws. 

What ash-Shatibi provided us with, in his synthesis of the “objectives of the Sharia" - which is actually a “philosophy of law" - must be thought for the notion of freedom: we need a “philosophy of liberty” that cannot be constricting, reactive or dogmatic but must be broad, holistic and liberating, valid for women and men alike.

There is a sore need of young scholars (ulama) of both sexes, of intellectuals who will show a modicum of courage. While respectful of the message and the immutable rules of practice, they must imperatively seek reconciliation with the intellectual audacity of those who have given the age-old Islamic tradition its strength. Against the institutions that have often shaped them, that are under state control and intellectually enfeebled (such as al-Azhar or Umm al-Qura today), the young Muslim generations must free themselves, make their presence felt and give new meaning to the dynamics of a civil society that is no longer a passive onlooker, or simply complain, and display their indignation, or explore new ways of acting, new and alternative visions. Yet they must remain faithful to themselves, while resisting the established order.

Compiled From:
"Beyond Islamism" - Tariq Ramadan

Monday, April 9, 2018

Post 71--Unjust Power Relations

The author of the main body of this post goes by the name Ingrid Mattson.  Now that sounds pretty common, so common that I would not even begin to guess from what Western European country she might hail. "Ingrid" sounds Scandinavian to my ears, but "Mattson?"  No clue. Actually, as with so much in life, things are seldom as they seem and, when it comes to names, things often don't sound the way they are.

Actually, Mattson is a highly respected female Muslim scholar. Yes, all of that. Female. Highly respected. Muslim. Scholar. She "is London and Windsor Chair of Islamic Studies at Huron Univeristy College at the University of Western  Ontario. She is a recognized Islamic religious and interfaith leader. She has published numerous articles on Islam, she travels and lectures widely, and is past President of the Islamic Society of North America."

One topic touched upon in this short article is the standing of Aboriginal peoples, most of whom are animists by tradition.  My research in Islam has brought to light deep-seated contempt for Animists. At least, Christians and Jews can be accepted as second class citizens as long as they tow the Muslim line about their status, but Animists have to rights at all in the traditional Muslim system. Mattson is more kind and wants to accord them recognition and a place to stand.

(For my research, go to my Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, vols. 1-8. See


Blindspot!Unjust Power Relations
A number of decades ago, the "Abrahamic" identity was created to expand Christian-Jewish dialogue to include Muslims. This was a positive development that has since established a shared platform for dialogue and engagement. At the same time, it is a constructed identity that does not fully encompass the theological ethics and identity of each of us or all of us. Anything we build will necessarily be limited in space and perspective, and we must be mindful that enclosures, as much as they unite people in a space, also restrict that space. I am particularly concerned that the "Abrahamic" appellation reinforces a patriarchal lineage that I believe Islam came to reform. The elder men of the community have no preferential claim on religious leadership and authority in Islam, as much as that might be the cultural preference and social reality of many Muslims. As we work together to build a more peaceful world, we must embrace language and appellations that do not replicate or reinstate unjust power relations.

Islam also recognizes that God's guidance is not limited to the scriptural traditions. The Quran states that "messengers" have been sent by God to every community. While it could be argued that communities without a written scripture have a tendency to drift further from prophetic teachings over time, they still can preserve some authentic teachings. This means that teachings of Islam in the literal sense of "submission to God" can be found among the non-scripturalists. In the Americas, New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia and the Baltic countries, there are Aboriginal people, some of whom belong to our scriptural faiths and others who try to follow a traditional path left by their ancestors. In most of our countries, there is a terrible history of injustice towards the original people of the land. Our interfaith engagement should not only address these injustices, but also open a spiritual appreciation for those who might retain some of the wisdom received from the Messengers.

Compiled From:
"Of Fences and Neighbors: An Islamic Perspective on Interfaith Engagement for Peace" - Ingrid Mattson. The compilation is found on Friday Nasiha, Issue 993, April 6, 2018 / Rajab 20, 1439.  So, now you know where all this comes from and even have access to the book that discusses all the above in much greater detail. 

Post 70--Is this "enlightened" Vancouver or Meccah?

I know, Ezra Levant is considered worse than a rogue in "main stream" journalism.  Of course, anyone who attacks that tradition is bound to "earn" such a reputation. But to me that epithet can be a badge of honour such rogues will pass on information our main streamers will not touch or twist the story to suit their ideology.  Perhaps Levant could be a little more gentle in conveying the same news, but that does not appear to be his character. But I understand, for I am somewhat the same way--and have burned a few bridges along the way.  It took me 80 years to come to that realization. I don't know Levant's age, but I do hope it won't take him that long to discover that in main stream journalism, it may be wise to act like a wolf in sheep's clothes!

Anyhow, read this Levant story. You can hardly believe that this is happening in my "enlightened"--read "liberal"--Vancouver and someone is getting away with it. Ah, that Islamophobe accusation is always just around the corner like a hidden sword. Few there are like Levant who dare to ignore it and say what they see or hear. It could lead to getting fired or being hauled before a human rights "tribunal," I am told, the accused pays for the expenses whether found guilty or not. To be honest, I cannot quite believe that, not in our democratic Canada.  Right?  You answer that question yourself.

Okay, here's Levant in person:


You wouldn't believe what happened in this Vancouver mosque