Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Is Islam a religion of violence or peace?

Maajid Nawaz, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Feisal Abdul Rauf
Via Sam Harris' Twitter feed, news of the Richmond Forum which took place last Saturday, of which Sam says "Great (if occasionally frustrating) discussion, between Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maajid Nawaz and Imam Abdul-Rauf":
One of the most compelling conversations of our age will take place on the Richmond Forum stage as we bring three noted voices together for the first time to tackle the question: Is Islam a religion of violence or peace? Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim and the author of "Infidel," speaks and writes widely about what she believes is the inherently violent nature of Islam and its subjugation and abuse of women. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, an American Muslim spiritual leader, acclaimed author, and one of the most influential Muslim voices of moderation, holds the position that Islam is a bedrock of tolerance. Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamic extremist and the author of "Radical," spent four years in an Egyptian prison and today works to challenge extremism and promote democracy in the Muslim world. Among the most requested topics by our subscribers, this promises to be a powerful and enlightening Forum.
Imam Rauf is accused of being a bit of a scam artist. He also says that Sharia is consistent with the US Constitution, and in this Forum talk he claims that "our laws are basically the same". This is nonsense. See my "Sharia: what does it say about...".  He says in this Forum that Sharia has a multitude of interpretations.  That's also wrong.  There is one manual of Islamic Jurisprudence, the Umdat Al-Salik, which is authorised by the supreme authority of Islamic law, the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, and which explicitly says that it covers all five strand of Fiqh, Islamic jurisprudence.  The extent of disagreements may be on whether, say, homosexuals should be killed by stoning, or by hanging.  On the core of Sharia, all are agreed.
Indeed, it is one of the things that makes the "reform of Islam" so problematic: like the Koran itself, the pure and direct word of Allah, it's fixed and immutable.