The post in question addresses a new Islamic reforming movement that has appeared of late, a movement which seeks to excise the rationale for islamist violence by editing the Qur’an to remove all the nasty bits that are used by the fanatics to support their “holy war” on all non-believers. This movement is called Muslims Against Sharia, and their website may be viewed here. There is also a blog which is worth a look.
While the enterprise of Muslims Against Sharia is both noble and commendable, and while Melancholicus would certainly be inclined to support it, Hilary draws attention to the fundamental illogic in professing religious faith in Islam on the one hand and in taking it upon oneself to edit the Qur’an according to criteria that one decides oneself—in effect rewriting the Qur’an to suit one’s own tastes. This cavalier rewriting does not trouble Melancholicus in the slightest, since he does not believe the Qur’an to be in the least bit divinely inspired, let alone dictated by God directly from heaven—but it does raise unavoidable questions about truth and authority within Islam.
The big problem of course is that most Muslims will simply not buy into the idea of editing their holy book according to criteria established by mere mortals—and the extremists certainly won’t, as they are surely bound to view Muslims Against Sharia as apostates, and anything that they may say (never mind their doctored Qur’an) as the most egregious heresy.
But let us now hear Hilary on the matter:
It reminds me a bit, somewhat incongruously perhaps, of John Henry Newman's efforts to bring Anglicanism back to its origins and to create some kind of reconciliation between the CofE and its apostolic Christian roots. Of course, in this investigation Newman was too honest and diligent and his work brought him into the Catholic Faith. (While others of his clique, carried on in their desperate delusions, bringing us the weird and surreal house of mirrors known as "high" or "traditional" Anglicanism.) Perhaps it reminds me of Newman's solution for the Protestant Problem because there are certain correspondences between that and the Muslim Problem.
It strikes me also that the item gives us a hint of why the so-called "liberal left" is currently so dedicated to the Islamic project of world domination. It is not just that they are both bent on the same goal, to wit, the utter demolition of Christian culture and the philosophical assumptions upon which it is founded. It is deeper than that.
Adherents to the modern authoritarian leftism currently in fashion in places like the newsrooms of the BBC and Guardian, are making common cause with the Mahometans and their brand of authoritarianism because their ideology comes from Protestant authoritarianism. The "new left" is merely a logical extension of the ultra-authoritarian Calvinism that preceded it. Calvinism also, if you recall, required its adherents to slavishly submit to the words of the Bible as though it is the literal word-for-word dictated message from God. It also required its followers to conform their thoughts to an unquestioning acceptance of a number of logical contradictions. To a 17th century Calvinist, the idea of interpreting the bible was a capital offense.
Similarly the proposal to examine and edit the Koran to bring it into line with Christian moral values seems to be a self-defeating and self-refuting proposal, one that neatly exposes the inherent logical contradiction at the heart of Islam.
I wonder what an honest, objective Muslim who is not normally inlined to become a "homicidal zombie", would make of the Koran when approached in the way these people seem to be suggesting.
It does create a little dilemma doesn't it? Islam requires unconditional and unexamined submission to Allah; this requires submitting to the notion that the Koran (unedited) is the actual literal faxed-to-earth-by-angels words of Allah. But because of the manifestly evil and self-contradictory content of the Koran, to do this, they must turn off both their conscience and their intellect.
But if Muslims then edit the Koran to make it nicer (and, let's face it, more Christian), how can they possibly "submit" to it? It would then have to be admitted that it is not the literally dictated words of Allah, but a book written by human beings for their own purposes. The entire religious proposal of Islam then collapses.
The problem of Islam is this:
The Koran is the literal word of Allah,
but the Koran is manifestly wicked, and is full of contradictions,
leading to only two possible logical conclusions: that Allah either does not exist at all and was invented by an evil megalomaniac to further his dreams of world conquest, or is a ravening demonic monster who must under no circumstances be mistaken for the living God.
This leads us to the next problem:
Islam requires submission to Allah, as revealed to man in the Koran.
But human beings are endowed naturally by their Creator with the ability to tell right from wrong and are created with the freedom to choose between them.
If a man submits to Islam, he knows that he is submitting either to the demonic monster Allah, or to something he knows is false. Either way, in order to submit to it, he must do violence to his nature and suppress his conscience and his intellect in order to do something wicked and dishonest. He must, in other words, become a wicked and dishonest man himself.
But to try to solve this dilemma by making the Koran better, by trying to make Allah into the True God, he is back to dishonesty again. If he remains a Muslim, since the only thing a Muslim is required to believe, the only "tenet" of Islam is utter submission to the Koran as it is, he must admit that his religion is wrong, false. To say he submits, but only to parts of the Koran, is to say he submits only to his own preferences, and we are back to dishonesty and internal contradictions again.
The only way out is to ask the question, "Can the Koran in its entirety be the true word of God?" And if we are starting with Christian presuppositions about the nature of God (He is always good, cannot will evil and cannot ever contradict His own nature), we are obliged to say that the idea of a good God is always and can only be utterly contrary and opposed to the savage beast represented as God in the Koran.
What they seem to be admitting is that the only way to be a good Muslim is to be a bad Muslim.
Now, the human intellect, will and conscience, in its natural un-deformed state, is ordered to that which is objectively good because it was made not by man, nor by the monster Allah, but by the true God who can only make good things and only will the good.
From this it naturally follows that no human being who wants to do good can submit to the Koran without deforming his conscience in some way. Either by using the pretense of obedience to the wicked instructions in the Koran to excuse the evil he wants to do in life anyway (beat his wife, murder people who disagree with him, rape, launch Human Rights Commission complaints against magazines and publishers, and blow up buildings) or he can pull a Winston Smith and masochistically force himself to submit and love something he knows is false. His religion requires that he become, in other words, either a bad man with a hopelessly deformed conscience, or a self-enslaved dhimmi living a lie.
Both of which will make him into the kind of monster so beloved of the demon Allah.
Which is precisely what we have seen.
Muslims against Sharia, it seems to me, are trying to figure out a way out of this impossible logical contradiction: they are trying to be good men and good Muslims at the same time.
The debate that has since arisen in the commbox is also well worth reading.
Whatever one may think about Muslims against Sharia and whether the kind of reformation they advocate is compatible with the profession of Islam at all, it is nonetheless heartening to see a group of Muslims willing to oppose the religious fanatics in their midst and to take a stand for freedom of speech, personal liberty, democratic government and all that good stuff that we in the west have traditionally enjoyed, and which values which we tend not, on the whole, to associate with Muslim societies. While Melancholicus considers their project as ultimately doomed to failure, he is impressed by the courage of these people, who are prepared to risk their necks—literally—in the struggle against extremism.