An Academic Fortress against Islamophobia

· Islam
Authors

Courtesy of: Islamophobia Watch: Documenting anti Muslim bigotry

Islam and Muslims are not monolithic. The Muslims come with different theological, political and social views. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes in complete separation of Mosque and State and shrines religious freedom for every human being.

To those Christians, who are excelling in their Islamophobia let me suggest, look around you, read some books by Andrew Dickson White, Bart Ehrman, Joseph Priestly, John Dominic Crossan and John Shelby Spong. Look at the empty churches in Europe and notice that Christianity, with its irrational dogma is imploding all around you. Do not rush in your zeal to destroy Islam or the Muslims, as you or your generations may soon need Islam as the only viable way to Monotheism!


If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.  (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

It is important to study all religious and political traditions side by side and not focus on the dirty laundry of one particular tradition as that only confirms ones prior prejudices and biases.
Often the Islamophobes in their hate mongering are tilting at windmills, at least in as much as they stereotype and lump, more than 1.5 billion Muslims with diverse ideas and backgrounds, together in one basket.Tilting at windmills is an English idiom which means attacking imaginary enemies, or fighting unwinnable or futile battles. The phrase is sometimes used to describe confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.
The phrase derives from an episode in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In the novel, Don Quixote fights windmills that he imagines to be giants. Quixote sees the windmill blades as the giant’s arms, for instance. Here is the relevant portion of the novel:
Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.””What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.”Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.””Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”
—Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote’s success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record.

Phillip Cary (born June 10, 1958) is a philosophy professor at Eastern University with a focus on Saint Augustine. He received his Ph.D. from Yale Divinity School, he preaches respect of all the Monotheistic traditions in the following words:

Religious traditions, of course, work differently from scientific traditions, but I think they have several things in common. In order to be intellectually healthy, they will be self-critical. They will have an authority in the past. You think about the past in science; Einstein’s theories are viewed with great respect, even if you’re criticizing them, and you can criticize them. Both authority and self ­critical thinking are part of the tradition. I think this ought to work the same way in religious traditions. Even if you are believing in the Bible as the word of God, you can certainly criticize the history of interpretation of the Bible, and you should. This in fact works for all the monotheistic religions, and let me focus my account on those three traditions now.
Judaism, Christianity, Islam–all of them have scriptures; all of them have Scriptural texts to which they have an unrevisable allegiance. To be a Jew is to have an allegiance to Torah; to be a Christian is to have an allegiance to the Bible; to be a Muslim is to have an unrevisable allegiance to the Koran. But that means also to be a Jew is to be involved in critical discussion about the meaning of Torah, and to be a Christian is to be involved in critical discussion and argument about the meaning of the Bible, and to be a Muslim is to be involved in critical discussion of the Koran.
These three traditions can never be insulated from one another because their scriptures are interrelated. Christian scripture is inherently dependent on Jewish structure; that’s something that Luther got right. If the Jewish scriptures do not bear witness to Jesus Christ, then Christianity is false. Christians and Jews do have to fight in one sense over the Bible; Christians and Jews do have to argue about whether the Jewish Bible bears witness to Jesus Christ. They shouldn’t fight about it in warfare, there shouldn’t be bloodshed, but they should argue about it. What I want to suggest is that we should get used to the idea that traditions are engaged in ongoing arguments, that this argument is a good thing. It should be respectful argument, not bloodshed.
It should give up the notion of certainty, give up the notion of proving that the other person is so wrong that they’re irrational, they’re stupid, they’re dishonest, you don’t have to listen to them. Jews, and Christians, and Muslims have to listen to each other because they’re not stupid, they’re not irrational, and therefore they have something to say to each other that has to be listened to. But it is an argument; it is about the truth; so, Christians can say to Jews: “I think your reading of your own Bible is mistaken,” but then, if it’s mutually respectful, Christians have to listen to Jews say: “But here’s why you Christians are wrong about the reading of the Jewish Bible.” That’s what makes it mutually respectful; you not only say: “I think you’re wrong, and here’s why,” but you hear the others say: “I think you’re wrong, and here’s why.”
What makes it respectful is hearing the word of the other, and that’s where Luther can help us. As I suggested, Luther is all about hearing the word of the other. When you hear the word of an honest person, a trustworthy person, you need to consider the possibility that it’s true. That is, indeed, how you end up knowing people. Indeed, for the monotheist religions, that’s also how you know God as a person. Perhaps, indeed, that’s how the two points are connected; perhaps the way we know God as a person is connected to the way we deal with other human beings as persons, and know who they are, and listen to the truth of their words–or at least consider the possibility that their words are true and ours are not.
That ongoing argument, then, is not just a matter of believing God’s Word and hearing what God has to say, but also believing what these other folks have to say and listening to the possibility that they’re right. It’s not just a matter of conscience, but also a matter of community-not just a matter of faith, but also a matter of love–and here Luther’s theology of hearing can help us. If we get rid of this urge for certainty-this need to show that the other person is just wrong, irrational, speaking for the devil-we can apply this theology of hearing not just to God, but to other people who are arguing with us, and learn a little bit about the structure of the respect we owe to the authority of other people, as well as the authority of God.[1]
This is certainly good advice, as to how to be an active and a good listener.  Additionally, the Christian Islamophobes their zeal of hate mongering and intolerance forget the tolerant streak in the Christian tradition.  They forget what Saint Francis had penned centuries ago, when in human history religious tolerance was still the exception rather than the rule in international politics:

Lord make me an instrument of Your peace

Where there is hatred let me sow love

Where there is injury, pardon

Where there is doubt, faith

Where there is darkness, light

Where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

And it is in dying that we are born to the eternal life 

                       Saint Francis of Assisi

 

References

  1. Prof. Phillip Cary. Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation. Teaching Company Course Transcript, 2004. Pages 212-213.

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