Monday, October 24, 2011
An excellent, recently published, article pertaining to Islam: "The Islamic Case for Religious Liberty"
Last night, I came across an article on Islam published in the new issue (November, 2011) of the journal, First Things, under the title: "The Islamic Case for Religious Liberty", by Dr. Abdullah Saeed (LINK).
I have been keenly interested in Jihad, and the related topic of religious liberty, as understood within the Islamic paradigm for sometime now, and my last two threads on Islam (link 1; link 2) touch on these issues. Dr. Saeed begins his essay with:
The words of the Qur’an and hadith contain rich resources for supporting the democratic order. If Muslims are to embrace modernity, including life in a pluralistic, democratic society, without abandoning their faith, they must take up the argument for religious liberty that is embedded in their history and that stands at the center of their most sacred texts.
Although the broad thrust of the Qur’an and hadith supports religious liberty, many parts of these texts can be, and traditionally have been, interpreted as denying it. One example is a qur’anic verse that deals with the question of the jizyah, a tax on non-Muslims: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Q 9:29). The Prophet reportedly sometimes demands the death penalty for apostasy, the most obvious example of this being the hadith “Whoever changes his religion, kill him” (Bukhari, Sahih, 9, 84, hadith 57).
These problematic texts are outweighed by the bulk of the texts and instruction provided by the two most important authorities in Islam, the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad’s actual practice. Both are remarkably supportive of the idea of individual and personal religious freedom.
I would like to urge all my readers to digest the entire article, and shall be looking forward to the reflections/thoughts of those who have taken the time to do so.
Grace and peace,
P.S. I would also like to recommend an older, but equally important, essay that is germane to our topic at hand: Jihad, Abrogation in the Quran & the "Verse of the Sword"