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Author Topic: What are your thoughts on Islam?
seekingprometheus
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Fenring:

?

I just cited 2 versions of verse 33, not 32.

Here's the whole verse, 2nd version though, assuming that's what you want:
quote:
Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,
If you google "al maidah" the first link will give you the whole sura, with the Arabic, and the "corruption" rendering, btw...
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Fenring
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Fantastic, thanks for quoting it for me anyhow, SP. I didn't realize they were both verse 33 but actually that clarifies things somewhat. Assuming your statement here wasn't a typo -

quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
Here's a handy list of "the major sins" (Al Kaba'r). Again, given the rest of the context of verse 32, committing any of these sins presumably could constitute the exceptional justification for "rightful killing,"--depending on how one interprets the text.

- then what you're talking about is how verse 32 sets up verse 33. What I wrote above about verse 32 is relevant to the fact that I think verse 32 is speaking only about the crime of killing a Muslim. Specifically, it seems that these verses are about how Muslims intend to relate to the children of Israel (presumably the Jews) and how the crime of murder will be settled in regards to the Jews. The message sent to the Jews seems to be that if a Jew kills a Muslim it will be considered to be as if everyone in the world was killed; or put another way, any murder of a Muslim for any reason other than retribution will be treated as the ultimate crime. See above for my reasoning on the fact that I believe verse 32 is speaking only of murder and not any other crime.

With that context, once we get to verse 33 (I'll use the corruption version for now) it stresses what the punishment for committing the crimes mentioned in verse 32 will be. Verse 33 looks at first as though it might be mentioning two different crimes with the same punishment, one being "those who wage war against Allah" and the other being "strive upon Earth [to cause] corruption." However when we note the "and" between these clauses I think it becomes more clear that in fact the phrase "cause corruption" is actually an expanding on the first phrase, spelling out the implication that killing Muslims in effect causes corruption. It looks to me like the crime in question is murder of a Muslim by a Jew, and that if Jews are going to be tolerated then they'd better abide by this code. I expect that the Jews were certainly not going to be expected to abide by all Muslim religious laws, otherwise why bother giving them edicts about murder if all you intend to do is convert them by force anyhow.

This passage also corroborates my interpretation:

"34. Except for those who (having fled away and then) came back (as Muslims) with repentance before they fall into your power; in that case, know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

This passage would seem to cite an exception to the penalties cited in verse 33, which is that if a Jew who murders a Muslim repents and converts to Islam prior to his punishment then he'll be forgiven the offence. It basically explains that conversion will be a get out of jail free card, which again seems to explicitly rule out that the conversion of the Jews is the purpose of verses 32 and 33. If verses 32 and 33 were taken to refer to some undisclosed corruptive offences (such as breaking rules in the list you provided) then that would be tantamount to saying that if the Jews simply are not Muslim in practice then they'll be punished, which would then make verse 34 make no sense at all.

[ November 25, 2015, 01:03 AM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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seekingprometheus
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Fenring:

You don't think you're stacking a whole bunch of strained interpretations on top of one another, there, just to say that it doesn't mean what it actually seems to mean on the surface?

The text preceding the verse does talk about Jews, but it also talks about Christians--and it really seems to mostly be about how these peoples of the book had abandoned the covenants Allah had given them, and would pay for it unless they convert to Islam.

And the text immediately preceding vs 32 isn't about the Jews specifically--it's about Cain and Abel, and thus generalizes to pretty much all of humankind...

Meanwhile the reference in 32 doesn't really seem to refer to what should be done to Jews, the reference to the Children of Israel is a reference to the command that Allah had already given them--as in, "I already told the Jews about this rule way back when because of what Cain did, and even after I gave them proofs and evidence, they still disobeyed."

Verse 33 certainly doesn't carry forward your strained interpretation, it just reiterates what Allah is claiming he already told the Jews: "Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land."

"His Messenger" is clearly Muhammed, so he's bringing it into the here and now (the there and then, really, but you get that?)--with the emphasis on the "Yeah, I do want you guys to kill folks," part, as if He wants to make sure that folks get that there are, indeed, exceptions to the "no killing" rule he just told you he already told the Jews, and here they are, in case you missed them in the last verse...

As for whether the penalty of death is specifically regarding fitnah, and the penalty for general mischief is just chopping off a hand and a foot--there are actually three distinct penalties for the two crimes: exile is in there too, so I'm not sure your syntax mirroring theory holds up...particularly since "fasad" is the single component that is mentioned in both verses 32 and 33 regarding the apparent context of what justifies killing a human being.

(And I get that you'll probably just argue that "killing and crucifying" are the two punishments for fitnah, whereas maiming and exiling are the two punishments for fasad--even though crucifixion is really just a specific form of execution, but it does also bear mentioning that there is nothing that semantically suggests that such an interpretation was actually the intended meaning, you're merely imposing an unwarranted distinction upon the meaning of the text purely out of speculation of what the syntax might imply...)

Meanwhile, the verse about forgiving people who repent and convert to Islam seems mostly to bolster the idea that the vague crime of corruption/mischief refers largely to disbelief--"If they're fighting against belief in my message, kill 'em, but if they repent and submit to my messenger's message before you capture them, you can forgive them for stirring up disbelief before." The criterion upon which Allah is judging whether or not they deserve death is whether they are submitting to the belief narrative...

I'm not saying that there is no potential interpretive latitude, here, Fenring--clearly there is. I'm simply pointing out that the violent Islamist interpretation is actually a pretty natural interpretation of the text. It actually relies less upon stacking several narrow, strained interpretations upon each other...

(By the by, if you were given a choice between getting your head chopped off, and having a hand and a foot chopped off--in a pre-modern medicine time, mind you--which would you choose?)

[ November 25, 2015, 03:17 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Fenring
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SP, I just read 3-4 different translations of those passages and my conclusion that the culprit is the translation. In the translation you provided above of several verses I think my reading makes more sense due to how they awkwardly worded "if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land", whereas other translations more clearly phrase the "or" as defining two exceptions to the proscription against killing. Based on the combined translations I think you're right, it's saying that killing will not be considered to be like killing the whole world in the cases where it's against a killer or against someone spreading chaos in the land. Of course, it doesn't actually say that killing in those cases is recommended or good; it just says it won't be the ultimate crime.

However, after reading verses 1-38 it seems like "children of Israel" does mean the Jews and maybe the Christians also, especially since in an early verse it describes how the children of Israel had 12 tribes. It then goes on to describe Jews and Christians, and then twice refers to the followers of Mohammed as the 'people of the book.' Then there's the Cain and Abel reference, which seems like it's supposed to mean that although two brothers come from the same heritage and believe in the same God, only the pious one will be accepted by God. Since in previous verses it's mentioned that both the Jews and the Christians were legitimate believers until they distorted the texts and lost their faith, it stands to reason that the Cain and Abel reference is an analogy delineating Cain as being the Jews and Christians (believers in the correct God but impious) and Abel being the Muslims. They're brothers, but only one will be accepted by God and the other will be 'one of the losers.'

Since the verse about punishment for killing comes right after that one it also stands to reason that when specifying the laws given to the children of Israel for killing (note again that the killer in the allegory was Cain, the Jews/Christians) it's talking about what the penalties will be for a Jew or a Christian killing a Muslim. As I understand my history there were some Jews living among Muslims in the early days of Islam, and so it would be important to mention that the Muslims are the true believers, and that if a Jew or Christian kills a Muslim like Cain killed Abel that it will be punished by one of those four bad things.

So far I think we may be on the same page. However the question comes down to one of historical context: is this law being made in the context of Muslims going over to Jewish or Christian lands and attacking them for having previously killed Muslims? It seems to me more like a local law-enforcement type of verse where they detail what happens to a given murderer. This would make more sense in the context of laws pertaining to Jews and Christians living in a Muslim land, the law being intended to be a regular punishment for individuals who kill a Muslim.

That would, then, make verses 32-33 about how to treat Jews/Christians locally and wouldn't be saying anything about going around and killing infidels on general principle. Still, it does effectively mean that trying to corrupt a Muslim land (e.g. through proselytizing) will come with a death sentence, but it also might mean that if you mind your own business you'll be ok, which would mean you're ok to be a non-Muslim in Muslim lands as long as you obey the civil laws. If so this would make Mohammed's rules more lenient than current day Saudi Arabia!

[ November 25, 2015, 11:33 AM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
It then goes on to describe Jews and Christians, and then twice refers to the followers of Mohammed as the 'people of the book.'
No...the 'people of the book' appears to refer to all three of the Abrahamic religions.

(Unless you meant to defer the action of the verb in the first clause ("describe") beyond the ", and then" to conjointly relate to the "as the 'people of the book' in addition to its relation to the verb in the second clause (refers to). This seems like a horribly tortured rendering to my eye, but I get that you see meaning from apparently independent clauses as latently carrying forward... [Wink] )
quote:
(note again that the killer in the allegory was Cain, the Jews/Christians)
I think you're trying too hard to narrow it down to exclusively the Jews/Christians, here. The Cain/Abel story may pertain to 'the people of the book,' but Cain is considered the 2nd generation of all human beings, and after he is cast out for murdering his brother, he is presumably the forefather of the pagan lineages...
quote:
it's talking about what the penalties will be for a Jew or a Christian killing a Muslim.
Only if we read your stack of poorly warranted assumptions as following through to carry such an unspecified specificity. A more natural reading of verse 33 would note that the language does not isolate Jews/Christians, but simply uses the universally generic: "Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption."

A natural reading doesn't assume unspecified specificity--if a specific meaning isn't specifically indicated by the language, it's an extraneous assumption. This doesn't mean that it couldn't theoretically be the intended meaning, but it does mean that the text itself doesn't give a warrant for such an exclusive reading.

If you'll step back from the prepossessed conclusion you're trying to "carry through" from verse to verse, you'll notice that your exclusive reading doesn't even really make sense. The sanctity of life rule applies to everyone--even Cain, who should have known better than to break the rule before it was even given, and is a loser (banished to hellfire) because of it. He's saying that the Hebrews had received the rule earlier, and had disregarded it, and he's urging Muslims not to do the same as the Hebrews did.
quote:
Of course, it doesn't actually say that killing in those cases is recommended or good
Not in verse 32, but verse 33 immediately clarifies the potential confusion, by emphasizing that "Indeed" a recommended punishment for fitnah and/or fasad is death.

Which is, indeed, a recommendation...

[ November 25, 2015, 02:48 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Fenring
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I checked it out and it looks like you're right - people of the book means all the Abrahamic religions. I was wrong about that point, it would seem, although it's not strictly relevant to what I'm looking at in verses 32-33.

I just read a few websites about the quran regarding the phrase "children of Israel" and the result is somewhat unclear. They say that it refers to the Israelites but it's hard to get a clear read on a surface Google search about whether this means only Jews or might include Muslims (or even Christians). Here's one article on this subject explicitly:

http://www.eretzyisroel.org/~jkatz/quranhadith.html

The article seems to say that since "the children of Israel" is how the Jews used to refer to themselves that this would be a general term referring to Jews. However another term, "Yehudis", might have referred to a subset of the Jews at the time, since (the article claims) that etymology comes from a derogatory usage coined by the Romans to refer to militants rebels among the Jews.

I can't find a source at the moment which suggests that the Muslims at that time referred to themselves as also being "children of Israel," especially since that designation is meant to literally connote those among the twelve tribes, from which as I understand it Muslims do not derive.

So as far as I can tell the reading of verse 32 rides on whom is being referred to by this term. I thought it was non-Muslims, but maybe I'm wrong. Can you find anything conclusive on this, SP?

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seekingprometheus
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The children of Israel presumably refers to the offspring of Jacob, who was re-named "Israel" after he wrestled with an angel. Jacob is the son of Isaac, the grandson of Abraham, and the half-nephew of Ishmael. Arab Muslims are traditionally supposed to descend from Abraham via Ishmael--not via the the Isaac->Jacob/Israel lineage, so "the children of Israel" wouldn't be a reference to Muslims, but to Jews. (The words "Jew" and "Judaism" and Judea all seem to derive from "Judah" who was the 4th of the 12 sons of "Israel" who are mentioned earlier in the Sura).

All of this notwithstanding, the referent to 'the children of Israel' in verse 32 does not seem to be isolating Jews as the only ones to whom the "don't kill sacred life" admonition (or the exception clause) applies, the referent is merely an allusion to the fact that the God had explicitly revealed precisely such a law to the 'children of Israel' through Moses, and the rest of the context implies that the Jews had nonetheless disobeyed God's command. Nothing seems to imply that the imperative only applies to the Jews, the reference is merely an allusion to the fact that the law that Allah is now directly giving to Muslims through Muhammed was a law that he had already given to the Jews, who he claims failed to obey.

[ November 25, 2015, 05:05 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Fenring
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You may well be right, fair enough. Except here's the thing I'm fuzzy on: if the intent is to show that the Muslim law is merely a reiteration of the law given to the children of Israel that they disobeyed, the clause about spreading mischief becomes quite bizarre. The Jews were not, after all, given a law by God saying that 'spreading mischief' (or corruption in some vague sense) was punishable by death or anything like that. In fact the laws as set forth in Exodus and Leviticus are mostly very precise and pragmatic, and I don't recall anything in my readings of them mentioning severe punishments for heretics or those who lacking in some aspect of piety.

But according to your reading of these passages the text says that this is the same law given to the children of Israel - namely that whoever does murder or spreads corruption will be punished by one of four punishments, which were most definitely not punishments specifically employed by the Jews (obviously death was one, but not the others).

So is it your understanding that verses 32-33 mean that the law was originally given to the Jews, but that this new telling of it will employ different standards of guilt (which now includes spreading corruption) and different punishments (crucifixion, dismemberment, exile)? That would really make it not sound so much like the same law the Jews received.

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
God saying that 'spreading mischief' (or corruption in some vague sense) was punishable by death or anything like that.
Actually, there are multiple sins--other than murder--for which the prescription in the Mosaic Law is death. Several of them are the same as some of those listed as the major sins in Islam above.(This is probably part of why so many people are trying to force a false equivalence argument by referring to the Old Testament in order to somehow exonerate the bad juju which is in the Quran.)

But Allah isn't actually Yahweh any more than Muhammed is actually Moses, so if you're having a problem with the internal consistency of Allah's punitive logic toward Islam versus Yahweh's punitive logic, the resolution to the confusion is simply to remember that Muhammed is just making up what "Allah" is saying based on what Muhammed understands (which is pretty skewed, when it comes to the traditions of the Jews), the same way that Moses was making up what Yahweh was saying 2000 years before Muhammed.

There isn't a problem with following the internal logic as long as you don't drop a rational perspective and accept the nonsensical, superstitious claims of the primitive schizophrenics at face value...

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Fenring
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Right. But I'm not talking about whether what they say is accurate, I'm only trying to figure out what they think they're saying. Even if their facts are wrong I want to at least verify what they think their facts are. Maybe it's too hard a job to do just looking at the text without being a quran scholar.
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seekingprometheus
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I think it's hard to pick fine nuances out of a translation, and it's difficult (if not impossible) to grasp the context a writer is working with, 1400 years removed.

But I also think that you seem to be overthinking some of it--coming up with complex hypothetical assumptions about potential nuances, and getting carried away trying to make your theories fit. This is primitive literature from a relatively illiterate time. The fact that billions of superstitious people have mistaken it for a message directly from God might create a cultural illusion that every word of it must be profoundly meaningful...but it's really not all that deep. It's just primitive literature in the end.

I would think that the most correct way to read the original intended meaning is usually just to learn what you can about the context the writer was using, then to keep to the simplest interpretation possible, and assume that confusing discrepancies can be chalked up to human error.

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Greg Davidson
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WHile I appreciate the depth of the textual discussion, I do not think that's the way to understand the effect of the text on human behavior. From a certain context, I don't believe that the text needs to be assessed in order to measure its impact on people.

For example, take the imaginary religion of Cannibilia in which the holy documents include specific passages that direct followers to kill and eat everyone who is not a member of their religion. Let's say that Cannibilia has had many followers for a thousand years. What if when you look at all of the actions of all of those followers, they neither kill nor eat non-belivers with a higher frequency than all of the other competing religions. It literally does not matter what their beliefs are, as long as their actions are no more immoral than those of other groups.

When I phrase it that way, I realize that is a Jewish perspective on justice where what you do is even more important than what you believe. Is this perhaps a reason why some of you have the level of concern about Islam that you do? Do some of you believe that Islam is more flawed than other religions because of what you see of its beliefs, regardless of whether Islam actually causes people to act any worse in the aggregate?

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Fenring
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We've had discussions elsewhere that looked at whether religion has any significant impact at all on the actions of its followers compared to if they didn't have the religion, which seems to be something like what you're saying. For my part I would say that a religious text isn't going to be very relevant in terms of macro political events since no power structure that wanted to last more than a few minutes could eschew all the usual tools of statecraft in favor of being 'nice.'

However the basic necessity for ruthless statecraft doesn't have to sideline a discussion about religion since I see religion as having two distinct purposes from two perspectives:

1) A tool for an individual to seek enlightenment.

2) A tool for an authoritarian power to control the populous.

These are not mutually exclusive, and we may find the most successful religions to be the ones which maximally fit both conditions; they are good for seeking enlightenment, and they also maximally reinforce authoritarian power structures and keep the system stable.

While I agree that it may not be valuable to investigate whether particulars in the scriptures somehow make individuals do bad things, I think one area that does bear scrutiny is whether portions of the texts serve to legitimize violence and autocracy by the state, and whether the personal ethic in the text is also geared towards accepting or even applauding this state. In other words, I think the politics of the text is more important than the metaphysics for the purposes of criticism.

I see the real question about the quran being - does its personal ethic feed directly into a situation where an authoritarian government has the most chance of succeeding? The question, again, is not whether the quran produces bad people, but whether an Islamic society produces bad government. In answer to this question, though, I would say that we cannot speak of Islam in vacuum since the mid-East has been enmeshed in international politics and manipulation since at least WWI. They haven't exactly had the leeway to develop on their own for some time.

We do know that early Islam made its mark through repeated wars of conquest, including into Europe. But then again the early Jews also made their mark through wars of conquest in what became Judea. Of course, one difference is that the Judean wars were limited to capturing one particular geographical area, as opposed to expanding outwards relentlessly, but it was still not without a militant aspect.

[ November 26, 2015, 11:58 AM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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Greg Davidson
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I agree that Islam and Judiasm have wars of conflict at their origin, but I would also assert that Christianity as we know it today had its origins in a process that was similarly political to at least Islam (Jewish scripture differs slightly in being assembled when there was not a similar political leadership structure). The Christian canon was assembled at the First Council of Nicaea which was called into being by the direction of Emperor Constantine I in 325, where a much wider range of scriptures were reviewed. It is unlikely that Constantine was untouched by political interest, and that the outcome was independent of his direction.
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Greg Davidson
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quote:
I see the real question about the quran being - does its personal ethic feed directly into a situation where an authoritarian government has the most chance of succeeding? The question, again, is not whether the quran produces bad people, but whether an Islamic society produces bad government.
A fine question. And we have 1400 years of experience that can be used to assess that question. For 650-1900 it would be very hard to find evidence that Islam was more prone to supporting authoritarian governments than other religions. For the 1901-2015, if we started listed the most authoritarian governments I would first consider the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Communist China and Eastern European Communist Countries, Belgian Congo, and Cambodia under Pol Pot. Some Muslim countries might fit into the bottom of the list, and for one such as Iran there might be just as much of a case that the more secular government under the US-supported Shah was roughly as authoritarian as under the Ayotollahs. Saudi Arabia is an interesting case, because there are authoritarian rules that impact women but there are also significant freedoms for others (sort of like the US under slavery - pretty significant level of authoritarism if you were a slave, much better if you weren't).
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Fenring
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What I'm getting at is less about which countries espoused outright dictatorships and committed atrocities, and more about whether the personal ethic of the populace could be utilized to justify political aggression abroad or locally. This is a complex question, since a few factors can figure into whether a populace passively or actively encourages political violence. This can include fundamentalism/fanaticism, a warrior or warlike outlook on life, passivity to the point where government will never be challenged, an overly inward and unpolitical outlook (inspired cluelessness), and maybe even xenophobic or tribal elements.

Does a religious text advocate submission to authority? Does it advocate individualism? Is God in the text a figure to be feared? Does the religion as practised employ a hierarchical pyramid structure? These are all questions that figure into whether the religious community will serve to reinforce government, or be a thorn in its side. A well-run dictatorship will find ways to manipulate public opinion either way, but certain popular religions would be unsuitable for a dictatorship to tolerate, while others are quite usable to pacify the population.

I asked the question seriously, but I don't expect to be able to even address it except in the most cursory fashion. It's unbelievably complicated and our religious studies capabilities are still in their infancy in terms of inspecting the 'results' of a given religion.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
A well-run dictatorship will find ways to manipulate public opinion either way, but certain popular religions would be unsuitable for a dictatorship to tolerate, while others are quite usable to pacify the population.
This is untrue unless you assume completely inept leadership. Any religion, regardless of a nominal reading of its texts, can be harnessed to suit a dictatorship, because the dictatorship, through collusion with or appropriation of religious leadership, sets the context from which the texts are read and interpreted, and thus the meaning that's derived from them.
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Fenring
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A very rebellious religion wouldn't have a good relationship with an authoritarian power. The result would likely be the wiping out of the believers in that religion, hence not a good fit. This has happened plenty throughout history. Whatever religions or at least cultures that couldn't learn how to play ball at the right times vanished.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by velcro:
quote:
I do think that if someone chops off the heads and fingers of his enemies, he is not living in line with the teaching of the Buddha. Similarly, I think if a man strikes his wife, he is not living in line with the teaching of the Buddha.
Google Bodu Bala Sena. They are Buddhists. They are violent.

So according to you, they are not living in line with the teaching of the Buddha. I say, they are not living in line with the teaching of the Buddha as you interpret it but they are living in line with the teaching of the Buddha as they interpret it

There is no objective "teaching of the Buddha". It is all interpretation. (Sounds kinda Zen..)

If 99% of Buddhists took up hunting next week, and found texts in the literature that they interpret as supporting it, what grounds would you have to say they are not Buddhists?

How do you know how evil Busshists interpret things? Do you suppose my religion teaches it's OK to do everything that I do?

Not all sinners rewrite their religion to justify their sin. Yes, some do. But not all.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
I agree that Islam and Judiasm have wars of conflict at their origin, but I would also assert that Christianity as we know it today had its origins in a process that was similarly political to at least Islam (Jewish scripture differs slightly in being assembled when there was not a similar political leadership structure). The Christian canon was assembled at the First Council of Nicaea which was called into being by the direction of Emperor Constantine I in 325, where a much wider range of scriptures were reviewed. It is unlikely that Constantine was untouched by political interest, and that the outcome was independent of his direction.

Oy veh. In your book Christianity "originated" at Nivea? Really? That's like saying that Judaism originated with the publication of the Talmud.

I submit that your choice of Nivea as Christianity's point of "origin" is a political choice and not one that befits a respecter of facts. You see neither the tees nor spaces where trees are absent, for the "forest"

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Pete at Home
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Greg, according to the anthology that was agreed on at Nicea, the word Christian was first used at Antioch within a decade of Jesus'death.

What you said insults not only my faith but my intelligence

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
A very rebellious religion wouldn't have a good relationship with an authoritarian power.

Sure it would. The authoritarian power just has to cast itself as the leader of the rebellion and ensure a steady stream of outside "oppressors" are available to rebel against. Perhaps even by provoking them into attacking so that it can tell its own people that they're under constant threat.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
A very rebellious religion wouldn't have a good relationship with an authoritarian power.

Sure it would. The authoritarian power just has to cast itself as the leader of the rebellion and ensure a steady stream of outside "oppressors" are available to rebel against. Perhaps even by provoking them into attacking so that it can tell its own people that they're under constant threat.
This sounds cute on paper, like the plot of a good TV show. Historically things were much simpler. Rebellious religion or region led to...rebellion. And then squashing the rebellion.

Along the lines of what you said I can even imagine such a power arranging to have its people actually running the rebellion just so it could give people some hope only to dash it at the right time, and ensure order for a generation or two. Again, neat plot idea, but essentially irrelevant when talking about real cultures. The proven way to deal with a rebellion in an autocracy is to simply annihilate it.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
This sounds cute on paper, like the plot of a good TV show. Historically things were much simpler. Rebellious religion or region led to...rebellion. And then squashing the rebellion.
Aside from, for example, the Islamists, who have taken the revolutionary nature of jihad and repurposed it from battling with personal struggles into perpetual war against outside threats that they cultivate to maintain power.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
This sounds cute on paper, like the plot of a good TV show. Historically things were much simpler. Rebellious religion or region led to...rebellion. And then squashing the rebellion.
Aside from, for example, the Islamists, who have taken the revolutionary nature of jihad and repurposed it from battling with personal struggles into perpetual war against outside threats that they cultivate to maintain power.
Are you talking about ISIS? What has that got to do with the concept that rebellious religion doesn't fare well under autocratic rule? ISIS is currently not under autocratic rule by someone else. If you're talking even more specifically about ISIS as regards Assad, then the nature of that relationship is clear: they didn't fare well under Assad, and are now fighting him! So much for getting along with an autocratic government. Rebellious religions can go one of two ways: get squashed, or win and become the new autocrats. Either way there is no co-existence, and by virtue of natural selection this is probably why the principle religions of the world are non-rebellious by nature (except maybe for Judaism, but I think a case can be made that the advent of Christianity effectively took the fight out of Judaism).
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Pete at Home
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Um ... The destruction of the temple circa 70 ad took the fight out of "Judaism." Or rather, killed off the Sadducees and Sandwiches and Essenes, leaving the field open for the Pharisees to create what we now call Judaism, which is a relatively peaceful adaptation of an earlier religion which remains as nameless or multi named as its God.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Are you talking about ISIS? What has that got to do with the concept that rebellious religion doesn't fare well under autocratic rule? ISIS is currently not under autocratic rule by someone else.
Where are you getting "someone else" from? ISIS is the autocratic ruler. ISIS is currently using rebellious religious concepts as a tool to control people.

An autocratic authority looking to use religion as a tool of control collaborates with or assumes control of religious authority. It doesn't do it as "someone else" it does it as "the one of us that bears the burden of being in charge"

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Pete at Home
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Pyr is mostly right but screws up on the religion part. Most fail to grasp that Islam is more of a tribal identity like Jewishness than a religion like Christianity. As for rebellion, think of Jefferson Davis declaring martial law in the confederacy, violating the confederate constitution to do so, and maintaining near totalitarian control of areas (having deserters and runaway slaves killed horribly) through enthusiastic gangs of white trash that weren't even fit enough to join the rebel army. There is no contradiction between rebel and authoritarian. In the totalitarian mind, no problem with a "freedom Fighter" being a SLAVER.
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Pete at Home
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Note Judaism has a vocabulary to distinguish the religion (Judaism) from the Jewish identity. Islam does not. A Muslim-identity person (identified by the Quran as Muslim, by the fact of having a Muslim father) who does not adhere to the Muslim religionis called a "Muslim apostate.". (Unless he happens to be a powerful world leader in which case the subject is politely avoided while he is visiting Saudi Arabia.)
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Um ... The destruction of the temple circa 70 ad took the fight out of "Judaism." Or rather, killed off the Sadducees and Sandwiches and Essenes, leaving the field open for the Pharisees to create what we now call Judaism, which is a relatively peaceful adaptation of an earlier religion which remains as nameless or multi named as its God.

Well you could argue that once the Jews lost their power base rebellion became impossible by definition. I was addressing more the fact that the OT is pretty rife with Never Give Up Never Surrender, and the NT (which ended up eclipsing Judaism) washes this kind of sentiment away completely. Christianity may be subversive in subtle ways (Jesus was definitely subversive) but not in an open "we will fight you" kind of way. I mean, he said came right out and blatantly told the Jews they had to change their ways if they wanted to survive.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Are you talking about ISIS? What has that got to do with the concept that rebellious religion doesn't fare well under autocratic rule? ISIS is currently not under autocratic rule by someone else.
Where are you getting "someone else" from? ISIS is the autocratic ruler. ISIS is currently using rebellious religious concepts as a tool to control people.

An autocratic authority looking to use religion as a tool of control collaborates with or assumes control of religious authority. It doesn't do it as "someone else" it does it as "the one of us that bears the burden of being in charge"

Ok, I get what you mean now. Still, do you really think ISIS uses 'underdog' language to keep its people in line? From what I hear it sounds like they use good old fashioned force and threats, which doesn't make them sound too much like rebels to me. That being said for those who subscribe to the theory that ISIS arose in order to oppose Assad then ISIS would by definition be a rebel force and not a ruling force, notwithstanding the fact that as fairly successful rebels they now control territory. I don't subscribe to this theory, mind you, and so actually I'm more inclined to agree with you that they should be considered to be a 'rising kingdom' more so than a rebellion. Actually I really think they're mercenaries who may end up with a kingdom, which is pretty much the same thing in the end.
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Slovenija
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isam is ok, isis is not ok, that`s all
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Still, do you really think ISIS uses 'underdog' language to keep its people in line?
Absolutely. That's the core of how radicalization works. It's also how the keep the people pliant and accepting of their abusive practices, by framing it as necessary for the greater good and protection against the infidels that want to bomb them. It's the core of how they gained power in Iraq, employing the cast out Sunnis from the Baath part and the Awakening movement and offering them the chance to not only put their skills and training to work, but to fight back against the Iraqi government and Western Forces that left them in shambles.

It's precisely the formula that all of the Islamist groups follow and why they provoke outside attackers and the resultant collateral damage that brings in more recruits, all while pretending to be the last, best line of defense against such aggression.

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Fenring
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There may be something to that. I'm not sure it's as pat as "they're an oppressor who talks like an underdog" since from a macro perspective they really were the underdog. Nevertheless I see your point.
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Greg Davidson
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quote:
Pyr is mostly right but screws up on the religion part. Most fail to grasp that Islam is more of a tribal identity like Jewishness than a religion like Christianity.
Why do you not consider Christianity to be a tribal identity for many people? There was the US Congressman who had proposed a bill to publicly post the 10 Commandments in Post Offices and he was famously unable to actually name more than 2 or 3 of them during an interview. In that case, he strongly affiliated with a movement to the degree that he wanted to overrule past precedent and force promulgation of key tenets of that belief. At the same time, he had no clue as to even the basics of that religion.

Those who burn a cross on land to stake their claim (Scots/Irish prior to the adoption of this policy by the KKK) were acting out their Christianity in a tirabal rather than theological way.

Those who get outraged over "the War on Christmas" (and polling suggests that is millions of Americans) are moved not by doctrinal issues having anything to do with Christianity, but instead by tribal affiliation.

[ December 04, 2015, 12:10 PM: Message edited by: Greg Davidson ]

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Fenring
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Greg, I think you have a point, however I think we can still distinguish between someone who has a 'religious spirit' even though their actual knowledge about it is nearly zero, and between someone who doesn't care about the spiritual side of it at all and knowingly disavows belief in that thing while still caring about the culture. We know for sure there are cultural Christians, but in terms of someone supposedly caring about the 10 commandments while being ignorant of them this doesn't strike me as a cultural thing but rather as a pathetic religious thing. Ever since Chuck Heston fell out of favor with liberals I don't recall the 10 commandments as being a pop culture thing.

As for Christmas I know plenty of outright non-Christians (even Jews) who could potentially get outraged over Christmas, so I wouldn't even call that in particular cultural Christianity.

Pete's point isn't that tribal identity doesn't exist outside of Islamd and Judaism, but is more a description of the fact that entire communities of Jewish people are only tribal Jews, and not religious ones. You'd be hard-pressed to find an active community of avowed Christians who don't believe in the tenets of the Christian religion. Maybe the odd person, but not a whole culture. Pete is trying to say he suspects Muslims may have something in common with this, which would be an important thing to note if true.

[ December 04, 2015, 12:32 PM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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Pyrtolin
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There are tribal groups that have adopted Islam, sure, but the tribal identities are based on those groups, not on the religion as a whole. That's why you have major factions like the Shia and Sunni fighting each other. Different tribes that nominally share a faith. Judaism had a more uniform tribal identity because, by and large, it's tied to a single tribe and has rules to shield itself from integrating with other tribes and discourage general evangelism.

And that's only at the higher level Persians, Arabs, Turks, Serbs, Kurds, etc... all have distinct identities and perhaps even distinct tribal identities within them, even if their majority nominally share the same faith.

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Pete at Home
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"There are tribal groups that have adopted Islam, sure, but the tribal identities are based on those groups, not on the religion as a whole. "

If that was an attempt to respond to what I said, you seriously derailed when you said the word RELIGION.

Non responsive. Move to strike.

Are you claiming that Islam's concept of the UMMAH is not intended to create a sense of identity analogous to Jewishness?

By insisting that Islam is no more than a religion and by acting as if Islam isn't a core identity like Jewishness, you commit violence against key elements of the Muslim self description. Go talk these assumptions of yours out with actual Muslims and get back with me. If you are very lucky they will recognize that you meant well and did not actually mean to say something horribly offensive.

[ December 04, 2015, 12:53 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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By offensive I mean tantamount to a Gentile telling a Jewish atheist that he isnt really a Jew because he doesn't believe in God.
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Pyrtolin
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Christianity is no different in that regard, and it fails just as much as Islam does because regardless of what identity it imparts it can't override actual tribal identity. Judaism gets away with it because it is a single tribe, not because it manages to override tribal differences. MAny Muslims may do their best to hold to the concept of a single identity, but the real state of the conflicts between the various tribes just within the Middle East, Balkans, and Africa show that practice does not meet theory, and more than it does across various groups of Christians who are supposed to consider themselves one community/body (never mind a whole tribe)
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