Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Islam v. Theocracy

Bridgethought of the Day: Neocon strategy - If you can't win, hype some enemies.

It may seem incongruous to those taken in by the anti-Islamic hype, but Islam should be right there on the forefront of the fight against theocracy. Of course, Muslims themselves can be blamed for much of, albeit not all of, the bad rap, what with this Bush-touted "caliphate" thing and such well-known "Islamic" (sic) theocracies as Egypt (run by dictator/pharoah Mubarak) and Saudi Arabia, right down to the Sultan of Brunei. In fact, most of the Islamic world are run by brutal dictatorships, and the dictators set themselves up as demi-gods, claiming rights to the natural resources of their respective nations. But they have nothing to do with Islam as a religion, except insofar as they unfortunately claim to adhere to it.

Remember that Hitler claimed to adhere to Christianity, but no one ever called him a "Christo-fascist". His regime is a prime example of theocracy in action. He was the absolute leader, a demi-god. But whatever he was or did was never considered representative of Christianity. Even the Spanish Inquisition did not taint the name of Christendom the way a few terror cells have been used to characterize Islam.

The Qur'an actually demands freedom of religion: "No compulsion in religion." And "no" here means "forbidden", verboten, no can do. "Compulsion" means any kind of force or favoritism. And "religion" actually refers to a broader sense of "way of life". In fact, other ayat (verses) call for the best kind of language being used in discussion with those one disagrees with and no aggressive action against any person or group based only on their religion or lifestyle. No prohibition of music here. The basic rules mentioned in the Qur'an regarding dress do not mandate a "burqa" for all women, nor do they prohibit it. And there certainly should never be a "state religion" or "state sponsored religion" because this would be in direct disobedience to the above injunction.

People will ask, "What about the sharia?" First of all, the number of Muslims who really understand what the Sharia is are few and far between - so what about the non-Muslims world's impression about it, derived mostly from much-publicized radical views on it? There is much room for discussion and change in application of certain laws, contrary to the view of many. In fact, the Qur'an gives us this injunction: "The rule of law is (to be applied by) mutual discussion and agreement between you." And the "you" is not gender-specific, but is plural. This is certainly a directive towards democracy, not autocracy. And theocracy is autocratic, as are most "Muslim" rulers today. In fact, much of sharia law actually promotes human rights (e.g., women's property rights, anti-slavery recommendations, orphan's and children's rights, the rights of the disabled to some extent, and dispute-resolutions that favor the weaker party, etc.). The fact that rules do not adhere to most of their own religion's ethics reflects very badly on their societies.

In fact, Islam is almost impossible to be practiced in the world today in many Muslim countries. Many have come to the U.S. specifically in order to freely practice Islam. And since theocracy really means setting up the leader as a demi-god, this should be universally recognized by Muslims as anathema. For the U.S. not to make the extra effort to protect this first freedom at a time when it is under assault from all sides is unconscionable. And Muslims should join with all others, believers, non-believers, atheists, you name it, in protecting and promoting that basic right. The Qur'an really emphasizes the use of the mind. And in this case, I think all humans could work harder to put the sapiens in homo sapiens.


GodRousingDogPipes said...

I don't know very much about Islam, but I've started reading about it recently, and I have a question about the Qur'anic verses that seem to favor religious toleration. It's my understanding that these verses were written during the Meccan period of Muhammad's life, and that later Medinan verses (which seem to favor war against non-Muslims) are supposed to override (or 'abrogate') them. Is that true?

Also, it's my understanding that the Qur'an is typically supplemented by the hadith, the sunna, the sharia, and (though I don't know the details) the interpretations of leading jurists. What do these other sources of Islamic authority say about religious toleration?

Also, just a matter of curiosity, are there any prominent Islamic thinkers from the past who defended religious toleration? I often read about the Enlightenment in the West, and I think of religious toleration as coming from the Cambridge Platonists, and John Locke, and Pierre Bayle. But I wonder about their historical antecedents, and it would be cool if there were some Muslims who anticipated them.

rationalpsychic said...

I always enjoy reading other views about thought and practice in Islam. I would like to know more about your sources. Great blog--equally good as statement against theocracy. Thanks for writing.

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

omyma said...

Thanks for your comments. Regarding the abrogation of Qur'anic verses, it is NOT true that "Madinan" verses abrogate "Makkan" verses, and the Qur'an is always a superior source than hadeeths. The Sharia is Islamic code which is based on the Qur'an and Sunna. If any hadeeth contradicts a Qur'anic aya (verse) then it should not be adhered to. Sometimes this is not obvious, however, and requires much careful thought. One should also take into consideration the Qur'anic message as a totality in deciding what should be followed. As to previous Islamic thinkers, I'm sure there are many, but need to research that, and do not pretend to have great knowledge, only to see what is very clearly and obviously true.
- Omyma

Anonymous said...

Islam is theocracy. Theocracy is goverment by religious idealogy. Theocracy is horrible. It is about domination, not just of the individual, but domination of the soul. And this domination is not by the theocratic god, but by those who govern in the name of the theocratic god.

Freedom of indivudal religious belief, rite & ritual are not allowed under theocracy. Theocracy tells you to surrender and be dominated. ASTWB