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At the risk of becoming perceived as the PC nut on this blog I'd also like to mention that such selective theological exegis has a long an ugly history, being the chief ideological weapon in the service of fanatical hostility to other religions. The anti-Muslim version largely died out in the early modern period, the anti-Jewish one survived though it was overshadowed by the new mode of authoritative discourse of scientific rationalism. I realize that few are aware of this but that makes it all the more insidious of a weapon. I also realize that what you are trying to do is simply point out the hypocrisy of those currently throwing a fit over the cartoons. But to do that properly what you need to show is actual words and actions by those protest a bit too much - e.g. sift through remarks by Qardawi, point out the irony of official Saudi clerics condemning religious intolerance while supporting the ban on all non Muslim religious practice, etc.
PS - I don't care about what religions say will happen to my soul in the hereafter since I believe in neither. What I do care about is when my freedom of speech or action is limited in the name of religion.
What you are doing is representing and taking a stand for an often neglected but to be encouraged perspective on the issue.
And for the use of that tool of selective exegesis, this is always a bother for me too. The subsequent quote wars are not helpful in anyway. What is the point in pointing out the contradictions in a holy scripture - it can score cheap points, but it is a detraction from the underlying problem. Why people want to believe in a literal truth. That question is never answered and more often not even being asked and a solution can hardly ever be reached when the quote wars begin.
So you can throw quotes at Christians from Leviticus and be retaliated with some Deuteronimus.
Or in your case a Muslim could say, yes, well those quotes are in the Qur'an, but here it says...
The problem with quoting out of context is, that you can always bend any quote in the direction you like and if you don;t like it - ignore it.
It is not helpful and does not lead to a solution of the underlying problem.
So applied to our situation. A Muslim that reads the quotes will not (necessarily) loose faith, because his convictions are stronger (as are yours) to resist and ignore the inconsistencies.
If that would work... One of the oldest stories in the quote war is Gen1 against Gen2 - two completely different stories - even in English, and if you look at the original the differences and contradictions get even greater. how can anybody believe that Gen1 is an acurate description of historic occurrence, when Gen2 tells a complete different creation story.
That argument has however rarely stopped a Gen1er in his/her stride. They rather try to ignore or somehow forcefully incorporate it in their convictions.
That's why quote war's are usually not convincing. Especially from a Non-literal point of view (be it enlightened believers, or atheists, which will use similar arguments to the former)
This does not mean that small battles cannot be won, but it will not solve underlying problem.
Someone that believes in the literacy of hisher holy scripture is not going to fall out of his/her faith simply because of inconsistencies in the text. (Our mind is to small to understand this, have faith and it will become clear... or some such quote)
I don;t have a solution to the problem of how getting people away from their rabbit-eye-stare faith. Otherwise I would be a minister now....
Sirocco, I appreciate your story but I think that your choice to quote from the Koran is wrong in this context.
Wrong in what sense? I hope you don't mean, morally wrong.
We are talking about an ancient text written for a different time. That some Muslims have shaped their religion into one of hate and oppression is an obvious fact, but the text itself is not to blame.
You seem to assume that I am out to bash Islam. Such is not the case; so this point is moot.
The Koran really is seen as infallibly and literally true in its entirety within mainstream Islam. Indeed, it is regarded as equiprimordial with God, having existed from eternity. (Opposing views remain theologically marginal and vulnerable to charges of apostasy. For a primer, see this NYRB piece by Max Rodenbeck.) Although sociologically speaking, different strands bestow varying degrees of cognitive prominence on various aspects of the founding text, if you think the Koranic passages about hell are somehow dormant, disregarded, or even optional within contemporary mainstream Islam, then you are mistaken. You would have to look long and hard to find a reputable Islamic scholar prepared to allegorically reinterpret, let alone reject, these Koranic passages.
Thus you also quite unfairly accuse me of using the "insidious weapon" of "selective theological exegesis," which owing to its "long and ugly history... in the service of fanatical hostility to other religions" is apparently supposed to make me guilty of a sort of hate speech. Not so. I am simply quoting some core doctrinal tenets of Islamic religion as a living tradition.
I also do happen to consider the quoted verses offensive, however fictitious. (If someone asserts that one shall rightfully be tortured forever, the sentiment is no less obnoxious for being absurd; just safer to ignore.) Whether you personally react that way is hardly of relevance as long as you can understand how someone might.
In general, too much pious lip-service is paid to the supposed obligation to respect the religious or ontological beliefs of others. There is no such duty from my unapologetic Enlightenment viewpoint. Instead, there is a duty to respect the right of others to believe whatever they please and to act on those beliefs whenever they don't demonstrably harm others. To quote Mencken again, "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." And that is the sense and the extent to which I respect most religion, including Islam.
I also realize that what you are trying to do is simply point out the hypocrisy of those currently throwing a fit over the cartoons.
Actually, that was not all I was trying to do, though the mention of Sudan was to that effect.
But to do that properly what you need to show is actual words and actions by those protest a bit too much - e.g. sift through remarks by Qardawi, point out the irony of official Saudi clerics condemning religious intolerance while supporting the ban on all non Muslim religious practice, etc.
Yes, in a longer piece I would have done this too, especially the Saudi bit. But sadly, then, as now, I had limited time.
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