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« American Islam's Uncritical Shift Left | Main | Anti-Terrorism and Muslims »

December 15, 2003

Comments

islamoyankee

I'm really intrigued by the argument. Theology clearly needs to keep up with the times. However, I'm curious as to what you think the ethics of Islam are that should frame the discussion.

I've personally found the following site fairly useful:
http://www.iis.ac.uk/learning/life_long_learning/akdn_ethical_framework/akdn_ethical_framework.htm

Haroon

Salam.

I wholeheartedly agree that theology can be a misguided and sometimes unnecessary venture. What I find especially intriguing is that Judaism shares, with Islam, a view that some Muslims (incorrectly) abscribe to Christianity alone.

Namely, Judaism teaches that the Children of Israel told Moses that they would "obey and [then] understand." This is a lot like the Islamic idea: Islam comes first and then Iman (faith). That is, one can obey and must obey, but one may not understand why one is obeying until one begins to obey?

It's a complicated issue, but certainly, there is some room for ethical exploration. If we do not fully understand something, should we practice it? If not, is that a legitimate excuse? What about a religion both appealing to our intellects yet beyond it?

Too many questions!

It would be more interesting I think for ethical theologies to explore Islam and Iman and the relationship to the two, based on action and works...

(PS: If anyone has the time, I recommend reading Melvin Konner's "Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews". It's quite long and makes sometimes ridiculous assertions, a la the "righteousness" of Zionism, but it is nonetheless a helpful and informative read).

Ali Eteraz

With ideals of "taqwa," "iman," and "ihsan," - and others like it which cannot be realized in this life - can it really ever be possible

The Islamic ideals: taqwa, iman, ihsna, etc. cannot be perfectly realized in this life. But pursuing them engenders the same kind of idealistic pursuit that Enlightenment Rationalists and Marxists have been pursuing. It seems the Utopic impulse cannot be divorced from our theology. And until then we will always be susceptible to power mongerers, and promise-fulfillers. Who really cares if one comes up with a system of "ethics" (whatever that is) and calls it "Islamic Ethics." I say we accept that and stop philosophizing (or theologizing).

Thebit

Salaam,

"The Islamic ideals: taqwa, iman, ihsna, etc. cannot be perfectly realized in this life."

Then we may as wll give up being Muslims. No one is suggesting that we can reach a "perfect" stage of taqwa, or iman or ihsan. That is the folly of some forms of Sufism. Life - the flesh-and-blood world - is a constant "struggle".

"But pursuing them engenders the same kind of idealistic pursuit that Enlightenment Rationalists and Marxists have been pursuing."

You're right that as Muslims we are required to pursue "the one Truth", just as Enlightenment Rationalists did, and just as Marxists still do. Religion is bound inspire some form of idealism. That is the whole point, no?

"And until then we will always be susceptible to power mongerers, and promise-fulfillers."

So we might as well give up all hope in life then?

"Who really cares if one comes up with a system of "ethics" (whatever that is) and calls it "Islamic Ethics.""

You're welcome to your opinion, of course. But I thought a religion like Islam, with its emphasis on "good acts", would require some sort of ethical base.

"I say we accept that and stop philosophizing (or theologizing)."

Unless you believe in the "death of philosophy", then I doubt we can stop "philosophising".

Salaam `alaykum

Ali E

I understand I can't philosophize out of philosophy. Otherwise I would have just stayed silent. My point is that there is no need for institutionalized metaphysics.
Because the only way to convince everyone to believe in them is by dangling carrots in front of them. And then you're not really convincing people based on the beauty of your ideas but on the beauty of your rewards. A wholly inauthentic way of convincing. And even if you convince others based on the beauty of your idea, I'd still have a problem, because someone else would've then become under your thrall and given up their own innate autonomy. If they believe in your stories they might as well become your slaves. And make you god.

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