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"Muslims can reinterpret their faith: it’s the best answer to Isis" Hassan Radwan'

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posted on Dec, 16 2015 @ 11:33 AM
This is Hassan Radwan's first article for The Guardian as a new columnist. Hassan founded the Agnostic Muslims & Friends group on Facebook and runs the blog Agnostic Muslim Kutbahs. He spent 15 years as a teacher at the Islamia primary school in London and has written four books for Muslim children"

The thread title is actually Hassan's title for his article. It is a bold statement. He refers to Moroccan writer Sa’eed Nasheed's book "Modernity & the Qur’an" to support his own view that Muslim's need to change and evolve, just like other religions.

A qoute by Sa’eed Nasheed:
The Qur’an is not the speech of God, just as the loaf of bread is not the work of the farmer. God produced the raw material, which was inspiration, just as the farmer produces the raw material, which is wheat. But it is the baker who turns the wheat or flour into bread according to his own unique way, artistic expertise and creative ability. Thus it is the Prophet who was responsible for interpreting the inspiration and turning it into actual phrases and words according to his own unique view.

Quotes by Hassan:
Islam (and religion) at its best should be about being a good human being. About showing love, empathy and charity to others. About seeking strength and comfort through prayer and community. About reaching out to the unknown and seeking a little help to get us by in a difficult world. That is what Islam is for the ordinary man, and that is what we need to wrestle back from the literalists, who are in fact the ones destroying Islam.

As long as we refuse to appreciate that the Qur’an may be divinely inspired but is human-authored, we will be forced to continue playing the game of the fundamentalists and disarming ourselves of the only weapon that can defeat them – reason. Only when we recognise that the Qur’an and Sunna are fallible can we free Islam from the prison of dogma we placed it in.

I am not sure if a fundamental change in thinking would stop Daesh in its tracks but I think the idea of religions changing and evolving is a plausible scenario and it would also facilitate religious belief being respected, not only by non-scriptured theists, agnostics and atheists but also by other religions as well.

Guardian article

The Guardian gives a link to a review of the book here.. It is also available on another site which makes for easier reading.

edit on 16-12-2015 by deliberator because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2015 @ 11:44 AM
a reply to: deliberator

A qoute by Sa’eed Nasheed: The Qur’an is not the speech of God, just as the loaf of bread is not the work of the farmer. God produced the raw material, which was inspiration, just as the farmer produces the raw material, which is wheat. But it is the baker who turns the wheat or flour into bread according to his own unique way, artistic expertise and creative ability. Thus it is the Prophet who was responsible for interpreting the inspiration and turning it into actual phrases and words according to his own unique view.

I think i may steal a few of his words. This is the same argument, not so nicely stated, that I have been trying to say for years.

The belief some people have that the words of any religious book is the divine, actual words of God, is beyond reason. So you don't stand a snowball's chance in hell, of trying to discuss anything with anyone that does believe this.

Divine inspiration is indeed a possibility, and it is possible for any and all that believe. To believe that God wishes you to follow his demands, but only tells one person what they are, truly makes their God look like a fool.

posted on Dec, 16 2015 @ 01:18 PM
a reply to: deliberator

The holy Quran is word by word the speech of Allah passed to prophet Muhammed (pbuh) through the angel Gabriel (that's what all muslims unanimously agree up on). So I really do not know where this Hassan got his information from when he says it's not the litteral speech of God.

One really interesting verse in the Qur'an that offers an insight into this is ( Surat 'Ali `Imran [3:7]):

It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the foundation of the Book - and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah . But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.

Some points of context and translation: "The Book" here is the Qur'an. The word translated here as "precise" (محكمات) has other nuances: clear, meant to be final -- the root word is judgement and wisdom. And the word translated as "unspecific" (متشابهات) has other nuance of being covered, or hidden, or not quite clear -- the root word is similarity or two things that are similar but not not exactly the same.

There are verses in the Qur'an -- the foundation -- that are clear and specific. There are other verses that are general for a reason Allah knows best: perhaps because the Qur'an is meant to be timeless which requires flexibility in meaning, or perhaps because them being unspecific evokes man's curiosity, contemplation and analysis (for example, there's no consensus on the muqatta'aat -- the mysterious letters that start some surahs of the Qur'an).

But the problem is for people who have their own agenda (whether it is terrorism, communism, feminism or any other -ism) they can twist the words to make it say what they want. And in so doing, they're deliberately ignoring the foundational aspects of the book that are clear.

That's not the right approach. The right approach is to start with the Qur'an as your foundation and use that to guide the meaning. Amongst the people who do this (the core of the Muslim community), there really isn't that much difference in the understanding of the meaning of the Qur'an.

posted on Dec, 16 2015 @ 01:34 PM
a reply to: ElectricFeel

Exactly. If dude wants to start his own denomination, that's on him. But he needs to make sure he says up front each time that he's an Agnostic Muslim & that his views are just his own interpretations. Because the Qur'an itself is quite clear on its origins.

As for the thread title, I disagree completely. We don't need to reinterpret anything. ISIS & the radical Wahhabis are the ones who reinterpreted things, not the other way around. The Qur'an directly states that anyone who intentionally kills a believer is going to Hell (4:93). But that hasn't stopped those radical Wahhabis/Kharijites from ignoring the Qur'an & introducing their own teachings which contradict the Qur'an.

EDIT to Add: And I agree completely that people should start with the Qur'an. Anything that contradicts the Qur'an is not Islam. That's why I have a link to the Pickthall translation in my sig. I promote the Pickthall translation because that's the translation my parents gave me when I was young.
edit on 16-12-2015 by enlightenedservant because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2015 @ 02:19 PM
Think how different Islam would have been if Rumi was seen as the last prophet instead of Muhammad.

A non dualistic approach that goes beyond Muhammad being the only source of knowledge/wisdom pushing knowledge/wisdom instead of faith to one mans vision.

Rumi the Heretic of love.

edit on 16-12-2015 by LittleByLittle because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2015 @ 02:36 PM
a reply to: ElectricFeel

Thanks for taking the time to explain this. So you are basically saying Hassan is abrogating the verses of the Quran?

I did some reading this evening which showed versus from the Quran giving a clear interpretation to me that criticising/judging other religions is forbidden.

a reply to: enlightenedservant

I downloaded The Quran last month to read out of interest but have to do it in small doses so I can absorb it.

posted on Dec, 16 2015 @ 03:49 PM
Well that is one method, and I've read about others discussing reformation in Islam though its worded in a way to make that harder, but they can choose to put the past in the past as Christians and Jewish believers do, within the historical context and take only the good.

But it doesnt work well with mercenaries and extremists around every corner and under fascist theocracy states where free will is taken and behaviors are forced.

posted on Dec, 16 2015 @ 08:28 PM
Fiqh - Interpretation of Sharia Law, Quran, and the Hadiths.

Yes literally many are trying to reinterpret and package Islam and Moderate and peaceful, while others reinterpret and repackage Islam as even more Radical.

If only we could do that with Shakespeare.

posted on Dec, 16 2015 @ 09:36 PM

originally posted by: deliberator
a reply to: enlightenedservant

I downloaded The Quran last month to read out of interest but have to do it in small doses so I can absorb it.

Usually, we read it from front to back, but memorize it from back to front (after memorizing the 1st Surah, the Fatiha). It's much easier to digest if you start from the back, since the Surahs are shortest in the back. Examples:

Surah 114, An-Naas ("Mankind"), Pickthall Translation

1. Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,
2. The King of mankind,
3. The God of mankind,
4. From the evil of the sneaking whisperer,
5. Who whispereth in the hearts of mankind,
6. Of the jinn and of mankind.

And here's Surah 113, Al-Falaq ("The Daybreak"), Pickthall Translation

1. Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak
2. From the evil of that which He created;
3. From the evil of the darkness when it is intense,
4. And from the evil of malignant witchcraft,
5. And from the evil of the envier when he envieth.

(Last one, I promise lol) And here's Surah 112, Al-Iklaas ("Purity"), Pickthall Translation

1. Say: He is Allah, the One!
2. Allah, the eternally Besought of all!
3. He begetteth not nor was begotten.
4. And there is none comparable unto Him

I've posted Surah 109 al-Kafiruun plenty of times, so I won't do it again. But I think you get the point. It's much easier starting from the last Surah, especially if you only have a little bit of time here & there.

EDIT to Add: Now you've read 3 of the 114 Surahs in the Qur'an! Not so hard now, is it?
edit on 16-12-2015 by enlightenedservant because: added something

edit on 16-12-2015 by enlightenedservant because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 12:27 AM
I don't know about REinterpreting, but muslims already interpret their faith in a hundred different ways- some people take one verse to mean one thing, some take it to mean another thing. The same as with Christianity.

posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 02:42 AM
So basically Muslims need to ignore Allah and just be good people. Why did no one ever come up with that idea before?

posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 03:57 AM
As many other people, he deserves his own thought.
A little bit of things about Quran.
It is words from God, to the prophet through Gabriel with some describing point from Gabriel as the one who reveal. There are some discussion about the physical book, but it will be too long to explain.

Quran itself come as words, and then write it after that. So what we know as Quran is not the book itself, but the words in it, kind like the differences between song, lyric, cassete,cd or file.
Form of quran itself is an ancient literature, can be kind of poetic etc. Listen to Quran and you will see it is a form of art.
Quran writing itself been modified so many times including these days, it change all the time , ( just like example about a song )
Language that been use in Quran is old arabic quraisy language with high literature.
There is a way to study Quran because of things above, one need to learn from sorof, nahu, bayan, mantek alpiah, sapiah, as basic, and learn the background and timing, some ppl add tasawuf as a tool to learn it.
Basically its about learning how to read it, how to spell it correctly, how to translate the word/words combination as close as possible etc.

These only for translating mostly, that is why you can find many translation, for example just for english alone it will be different to one another, how far the differences, it is another story.

To interpret Quran will be a different things, more complicated but in the same time is simple to certain extend. So you can imagine how many interpretation came from different translations just from one language, different sect, different teacher, different style, different ppl, and time. Even these days some ppl who dont even know what islam is try to interpret it freely.

Many muslim try to interpret Quran after learning all the stuff above, but often they forget the basic thing that Quran is a literature book, in the form of art. Just like ancient wisdom ( or other holly book) from anywhere in the world, you can not just pick one or two and interpret or tweak it to suite ones agenda. Need to read and be familiar with the whole book, and understand what it is about in general.
The same with ancient literature, it will teach you more about wisdom than knowledge, to become wise and able to react properly in different situations, mostly situations that so different.
These days ppl read Quran ( or other holly book ) like reading school book or law book, and that is what went wrong.

A bit summary about islam and Quran.
Islam mean surrender to the will of God. Whatever the name is, it is a God who create everything.
In Quran, it said if God want, God can make everyone as a good person, all muslim etc, but not.
God will is human to become a leader on earth ( not human lead human but everything but us )

So in the end, the last part of interpretating Quran is about what God want with us as human not just as muslim. What it is all about a leader on earth. It will open another understanding and knowledge that it is not that simple about human journey, and it might be possible about ancient story that some might be the truth in a way.

Do muslim have to reinterpret Quran? We always do, before, now and later.
edit on 17-12-2015 by maung because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 07:44 AM
a reply to: enlightenedservant

Thanks. I will take your advice and start from the back. I looked at the Pickthall Translation and it is far easier to read and locate where you have read.

a reply to: maung

I have never thought of the Quran as a piece of art. Interesting. Obviously I cannot comment on that as I only recently started reading it.

posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 06:09 PM
a reply to: maung

Why does the appearance of Gabriel of Islam differ from that of Gabriel of the Bible?

posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 06:34 PM
I don't usually weigh into this forum because it makes me tired and sad....

But, I really appreciate this man's comments and efforts. The very nature of Earth is change. Humans change too as we age. Religion and all institutions must change as well. That is, if they want to continue to be relevant to humans.

It takes more courage to change than to stay the same. It takes more intelligence as well. And commitment.

Change is simply an commitment to the future. I presume that is what Muslims want? A future? A future that is peaceful, prosperous and hopeful for their children?

I was appalled to hear a terribly off color joke the other day about the difference between a radical Muslim and a moderate Muslim. I won't repeat it. But it dramatically underscored the horrible PR and social disconnect that Islam is experiencing. It may well be unfair but that doesn't make it any less real. Or sustainable.

It's basic Social Skills 101. If fewer and fewer people call you friend, return your phone calls or send you invitations - you might want to examine your behavior or at least check your teeth for spinach or your breath for freshness.

posted on Dec, 18 2015 @ 02:19 AM
a reply to: kosmicjack

I understand what you're saying but I have to disagree on a few things.

1. Islam isn't getting "fewer & fewer" hypothetical people calling us "friends". It's just the opposite. In fact, more people are standing up for Muslims now than in any other time that I've personally seen. And more people are both converting to Islam and learning about Islam than ever. The real question is why does the major media choose to focus on the extremists instead of the rest of us?

If you think this is bad, just think about how it was right after 9/11. My family & I lived through that, and today's rhetoric is nothing compared to the actual security checks, charity raids, frozen assets, and more that happened after 9/11. Many of my own friends & classmates joined the military just to "get revenge" against Muslims overseas. I lost quite a few friends because of that, for various reasons.

2. In no way should we be the ones to change. Peaceful Muslims have existed this entire time. We form the super majority of Muslims & always have. Why should I alter my beliefs because of some Wahhabi-Kharijite extremists? I'm far more likely to be murdered by them than you are because I'm a "false Muslim" to them. In fact, Muslims make up the majority of their victims because they reject all other Islamic sects. Bin Laden was even upfront that Western Muslims were fair game because our tax dollars help out Western governments, which were their enemies.

3. Uhh, you realize we're not the ones statistically doing the crimes, right? We're being scapegoated. I pointed this out in another thread, but look at the demographics for every crime in America, the UK, or wherever. It's not Muslims who are committing those crimes or endangering the public.

And let's look at the number of deaths from American terrorism from 2001 to 2013, then compare it to the number of deaths from firearms in the same time period. There were 3,380 American deaths from terrorism (including 9/11), compared to 406,496 deaths from firearms.

Using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we found that from 2001 to 2013, 406,496 people died by firearms on U.S. soil. (2013 is the most recent year CDC data for deaths by firearms is available.) This data covered all manners of death, including homicide, accident and suicide.

According to the U.S. State Department, the number of U.S. citizens killed overseas as a result of incidents of terrorism from 2001 to 2013 was 350.

In addition, we compiled all terrorism incidents inside the U.S. and found that between 2001 and 2013, there were 3,030 people killed in domestic acts of terrorism.* This brings the total to 3,380.

And the numbers are even more absurd when you look at the number of heart disease & cancer deaths per yer, which is routinely between 580,000 and 600,000 dead Americans. Even the flu & pneumonia kill something like 56,000 Americans a year, which is more than 15 times as many Americans who've died from 2001 to 2013. (Here). (note: I used 2001 to 2013 because that's what the article listed.)

So why should we change anything? It's the radical Wahhabi-Kharijites who need to reinterpret their words, not us. And it's the cowardly, scared-of-their-own-shadow, searching-for-a-scapegoat-to-distract-themselves-from-their-own-problems, kneejerk bigots that need to change. And maybe if the West stopped propping up the Wahhabi governments, stopped protecting their regimes with their Mideast bases, and stopped arming them with massive defense contracts, just maybe the extremism would stop.

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