Saturday, February 23, 2013

Qur'an: Subject to Reason?

Only yesterday, I posted on static texts in changing times, and afterwards found this article, "Liberal Iraqi Shi'ite Scholar Sayyed Ahmed Al-Qabbanji Calls For Reason In Islam," by Yotam Feldner for Memri (Inquiry and Analysis Series Report No. 937, February 21, 2013), which says the following on the views of the liberal scholar mentioned in the title:
Al-Qabbanji's take on the Islamic religion is entirely unorthodox. In his lectures, he methodically deconstructs the Islamic perceptions of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, the Koran, the shari'a, and all the taboos of conventional Islam. His underlying assumption is that nothing in religion can be true -- not even the Koran -- if it does not pass the litmus test of reason.

In a lecture on "Rationality in Jurisprudence," Al-Qabbanji explained the difference between his own perception of the shari'a and that of conventional Islamists. He broke down the conventional perception of the shari'a into the following five principles: The shari'a: 1) is eternal; 2) is total; 3) is beneficial; 4) is uninferable; and 5) trumps reason.
According to Al-Qabbanji, the Islamists, especially the Wahhabis, hold to these five points and maintain that:
Whenever contradiction arises, the shari'a takes precedence over reason. Al-Qabbanji explained that the Wahhabis openly adhere to this fifth principle, which is conceptualized in Ibn Taymiyyah's book The Rejection of the Conflict between Reason and the Revelation.
Al-Qabbanji argues for the precedence of reason, which demonstrates that some parts of the Qur'an are outdated:
The mere suggestion that anything in the Koran is a thing of the past defies the conventional Islamic belief that views the Koran as the literal word of God, as revealed to the illiterate Prophet Muhammad. But Al-Qabbanji rejects the concept of the Koran as the word of Allah, saying instead that it is full of untruths, contradiction, superstition, and immoral behavior. When the Koran was formed, he says, "there was not a single iota of falsehood in it. It was all true." Today, however, it must be accepted that the Koran rulings were appropriate [only] for their time. The treatment of women, justification of slavery, and jizya poll tax for Christians and Jews are frequently cited by Al-Qabbanji as examples of how the Koran's rulings were in keeping with what was deemed just and reasonable at the time, but which today are considered unjust, irrational, and immoral.
As one might expect, Al-Qabbanji has been arrested for his intriguing attempt to bring Islam into the modern world. Click on the link and read the entire article by Yotam Feldner, who has written this report as a preliminary draft of a chapter for an upcoming book on liberal Arab scholars.

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At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just about a week ago I watched a debate on VOA Persian, between a secular historian and an Islamic theologian and a shia clergyman. It was almost inconceivable a few years ago for such a widely viewed broadcasting organization to permit this controversial debate go on air in which Islamic beliefs being harshly criticized. This particular program -Ofogh (meaning 'horizon' in Persian- has millions of viewers who tune in (VOA channel)in order to relax free from the regime's propaganda on the "national TV". I recall that after the publication of Mohammad's cartoons in Denmark, major news agencies -including CNN- refused to show those images mainly because of potential danger of fanatics.
I also went on to see the comments underneath the link of the show on their facebook page and it was dominated by secular/atheists who encouraged having such debates and there was only very few comments such as; all beliefs should be respected.


At 9:24 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hajir, good to hear from you, and to hear what you have to tell us!

I, too, have the impression that some topics are opening up for discussion that were taboo only a few years ago.

Let me link better for you: Ofogh TV.

Jeffery Hodges

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