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When the scholarly texts affirm that he was born circumcised and with his eyes outlined with kohl, and this is illustrated by a Charb cartoon, it's hard not to smile.
This is the unsubtle intent : to treat Islam as a normal religion. Those who run around saying that sacred texts are the word of God and must be applied literally in the modern world, are opening themselves to ridicule at best, and to political opposition, in particular if they attempt to impose that on others. This is illustrated by the debate on marriage for all, currently ongoing in France : the big demo in a couple of weeks will illustrate the loss of cultural hegemony by the Catholic church. It was sporting of them to try.
Holding the sacred texts up to scrutiny may well be considered blasphemy. After all, it was heretical to translate the Bible from Latin into the vulgate. But it enables an informed dialogue. People can make individual choices after that. Once they are no longer handicapped by the notion that the sacred text is literally true, they can formulate their own, non-intermediated understanding of their faith. For each and every religion, this is an indispensable step in a secular society.
The only people who stand in the way of this process are the fundamentalists. Whether we hold religious beliefs or not, we can all agree that they are not our friends.
It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue
- Queen Elizabeth II
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