Islam & Post-Modern Mentalities

I have just recently had the unfortunate experience of learning that a friend of mine, an acquaintance for over some 20 odd years, is seriously contemplating converting over to some form of the Islamic Faith. The idea of “converting over,” is a kind of misnomer since the individual under discussion is not particularly a man of any explicitly held “religious faith,” but he does ascribe to many ultra-liberal commitments and has for many years. In the way I view life that is a religious stance, one which is so, whether he acknowledges it, or can even see it as such, or not. When I first heard this I was rather shocked, since this individual is not an ignorant man; he has just recently received a Ph.D. in the field of Sociology, and is at present engaged in teaching this to students at a nearby community college. At first site it would appear that any kind of even potential commitment to a fundamentalist Islam, for a mind that has been committed to American Liberal Politics, would be a no go from the start. Obviously, there is more here than meets the eye, but a commitment to an ultra liberal frame of mind, and the kind of faith that could find commitment to dogmatisms of a fundamentalist stripe, may not be as far from a commitment to ultra liberal American ideologies as it might first appear to be.  In an attempt to sort this out, and also to share this with you and others, I’ve posted below two emails, an essay, a web page, and a hot link to a video that can be found off the study group’s web page. Nothing that he wrote appears below, so it is wholly a presentation of the way I have been driven to think about this exchange and in light of both what I know is at stake, and what the basic orientation really is to these kinds of issues, I do hope my saying so doesn’t appear vain, but you can be the judge of that,and I must admit that I am biased, and am proud to be so. My bias is to Jesus Christ and a kind of Christianity that is committed to Him in the context of an American Idea, after all, this is where I–and most of you–who will be reading these posts find their orientations to a set of ideas and in life.

What follows will be: 1) An Initial Email; 2) a link to web a page on which will appear a Stanley Fish essay from Harper’s Magazine titled, POSTMODERN WARFARE: THE IGNORANCE OF OUR WARRIOR INTELLECTUALS ; 3) a URL that presents statements that actually appear in the Koranic Texts, and that in order to illustrate some ideas that my comments point to which I’d made in the emails, and finally, the second email. Last will be, as an addendum, a link to a You Tube that finds a kind of common ground for what might appear to be issues as different as oil and water, namely radical fundamentalism and politically correct notions pertaining to homosexuality as they have come to be perceived in our culture.


I have just recently been made aware (since I made this post) of a study that presents information that steadily buttresses the claim that the Koran is at it’s core a document that teaches and advocates violence, not peace. The study was conducted by Dr. Bill Warner who heads up The Center for the Study of Political Islam. I have placed a hotlink just beneath the red-bold faced link labeled “Key Statements in the Koran,” which can be found just beneath the “First Email,” immediately beneath this paragraph titled, Political/Statistical Islam. That hot link will take you to what is essentialla summary statement to what The Center for the Study of Political Islam has made available for us.


———- First Email ———–

Hey Marco, you may be familiar with this piece (i.e., the first hot link below, the link titled Postmodern Warfare) , if not you should read it and try to get what Fish is throwing, or threw, our way just after 9/11. This is not an attack on Islam, far from it, it takes some swipes at the Bush administration, but the political motives of Fish have little to do with why I think this is a very interesting article, indeed. Both the fundamental and the Fundamentalist orientation of a thoroughly committed mindset of devote and extremist religious thinkers-of any stripe-is what is in focus, and is what I think is of value in this article.

Key is the notion, for me at any rate, of what exactly does the Koran allow in interpretive elaborations among its adherents, and albeit religious authority/ies needs be attended to very closely at this point. On the basis of the plain assertion of the Koranic document, what kind of license and duties are commensurate, and explicit in it’s teachings that allow a legitimate carrying over (however in the case of statements made in the Koran there is no “carrying over” involved, they move straight from the statements that are explicit demands) into the political domain of a religious ethic; and as you well know Traditional Muslim societies are ensconced  at the very heart in Theocratic contexts–that are fundamental to the core. The Jewish text that stands at the basis of Christian authority, which of course is the Pentateuch, or the Mosaic texts, have explicitly been superseded by Christ’s teachings, which cannot be legitimately used as any kind of real basis for Jihad . . .  (however, in the Christian context they both can be, and are used as allegories, or metaphors for SPIRITUAL WARFARE) . . . Some argue that legitimate forms of the Muslim faith cannot and will not be placed in the service and used as rationales, which have a capacity to prove a  legitimate bases for acts of terrorism. However, a, or the key point(s) here that needs to be kept in mind is what do the Koranic texts actually and unambiguously say at specific points in its writings. Imam’s have the authority at this point (this is where Fish is very informative), and if differing Imam’s have differing opinions, they are just that, “opinions/Truths” that Allah will either endorse and bless, or condemn and curse, however Allah Judges, and you know as well as I do that all fundamentalist Imam’s know the answer to that question whether they might claim it condemns or endorses. Christian teaching is not in that way, not with regard to Christ’s authority and teachings, within Orthodox Christianity; no teacher, preacher, guru, or Imam has the kind of authority to override Christ’s commands.


==> Key Statements in the Koran (some)

 ==> Political/Statistical Islam.

Summary statement from the first (blue) URL Above:

The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule.  Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding.  Muslims who do not join the fight are called ‘hypocrites’ and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.

Unlike nearly all of the Old Testament verses of violence, the verses of violence in the Quran are mostly open-ended, meaning that they are not restrained by the historical context of the surrounding text.  They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subjective as anything else in the Quran.

The context of violent passages is more ambiguous than might be expected of a perfect book from a loving God, however this can work both ways.  Most of today’s Muslims exercise a personal choice to interpret their holy book’s call to arms according to their own moral preconceptions about justifiable violence.  Apologists cater to their preferences with tenuous arguments that gloss over historical fact and generally do not stand up to scrutiny (my, or Robert’s emphasis added).  Still, it is important to note that the problem is not bad people, but bad ideology.

Unfortunately, there are very few verses of tolerance and peace to abrogate or even balance out the many that call for nonbelievers to be fought and subdued until they either accept humiliation, convert to Islam, or are killed.  Muhammad’s own martial legacy – and that of his companions – along with the remarkable stress on violence found in the Quran have produced a trail of blood and tears across world history.

———————- 2nd Email ——————

(Marco suggested that I was guilty of sending “hate emails,” of course they were based on statements extracted from The Koran)

The problem is, if you observe hate on the web page I sent, it’s souly Muslim hate. The Fish article was just a prompt for you to think intelligibly about the issues, Fish is not a Christian and he is politically not a friend to the conservative idea, so he’s actually voicing views more consistent with a liberal mindset and not a conservative one. Individual acts rarely rise above the bases for their actions, if you have documents that are allowed to stand as foundational, it follows that the acts that spring from them are not going to rise above those statements (i.e., the documents). The point being not in the way people act–since they can and do act contrary from what they know to be the good. If and when we witness atrocities (and of course–we will) the people who perpetrate these kinds of acts cannot utilize the canons of the New Testament Scripture in order to try and justify those kinds of acts, if they are vile. Individual Islamic Imam’s can and do justify those kinds of acts because those sorts of things, [vile] acts are not only allowed, they are encouraged and can even be made obligatory. Furthermore, one can stand in danger of being dammed if you, or anyone who is commited to the Koran as an infallible statement of religious duties and obligations, do not carry them out, that is these kinds of atrocious acts, if you don’t, then the paradise on offer is forfeited and damnation might well take its place.

There is a difference there Marco and if you can’t see it that is really too bad. If you’ve been conditioned, or have allowed yourself to become conditioned . . . (because nature abhors this kind of thing, in animals it is one thing, but for humans there is an internal witness that is contrary to it) . . . into thinking there are no innocents in these kinds of actions, then you really do have a huge problem. People can talk theories all they want, but when people think that their idea–those ideas–stand on a kind of anointed ground which can give justification to those kinds of acts, which carry with them obligatory force, then that is the same kind of ground men, even a Ph.D in Sociology, could get convinced to walk into a Wall Street Bank with a load of dynamite strapped to themselves in a backpack and murder everyone in sight-including him/themselves. If you think that is far-fetched, if you think about it, it is a mere move away from having him sit down with a group of students and friends and draw up a polemic that justifies, or tries to, people who are doing just that. Which is worse? The suicide, since this deranged person who actually carries out an act of this kind has to have a real conviction to do so, which is to say he/she would at minimum have to have, and do have the sincerity of their convictions (not to mention a diabolical form of insanity); whereas those who simply sit and talk about it are mere cowards.

Within the framework of radical Islam there is simply no way out of this, and that’s what Fish would have to offer. He does not put it in those terms, but what he does say is that not to understand this . . .  
(he doesn’t say this explicitly, he’s a liberal on a wolf hunt, he sinks to the level of a stump speech (I think you’d like that part it) you will have to be intelligent enough to read between the lines, since he himself offers no recommendations, which is his failure–how else could it be, he is a Postmodern theoretician after all)

. . .  is plain ignorance. And so it is. There is actually no possible ground for any sort of rationality of ethic to mitigate commitment to Allah, and the agenda.  However, you may not have time for any of this (which is peculiar given the kind of thing you, if not endorse–then condone), but then again, you may not be in a position to understand it either and that would be too bad if that is the case.

One way of not-responding to any of this is the usual curt, “too wordy,” and given the communicants it’s probably not the case that I use to many word, but to decipher the meaning of the pixels that I do place before you, along with their theoretical/ideological content, maybe it is actually beyond your capacity to do so. I mean, I couldn’t really hold that against you, though the arrogance I could, and I do.

                       ----------- An Addendum -------

One further resource I would like to share with you to support the notion that seemingly incompatible commitments in the realm of ideas can stand in close proximity to one another  . . . (and you can find this on the Lewis site) . . . is a short statement (9 minutes  & 12 seconds) that was made by Peter Kreeft, a Christian (Catholic) writer and theologian on the nature of the ascendancy of radial forms of the Muslim faith and the phenomenon of the rise of, the politically correct policies related to the rise of the pro-homosexuality movement which seems to have taken over American culture. Oil and water one would think, if you do I would encourge to watch the hot linked video below.

==>  The Simultaneous Rise of Radical Islam & Homosexuality


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