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Author Topic: What are your thoughts on Islam?
Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshuaD:
Oops! I meant Aristotle.

In that case my question is withdrawn [Smile]

(but in fairness I'm not as up on my Aristotle as I should be)

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshuaD:
I am basically begging for an Islamic scholar to sit down and talk about these sections of violence in the Qur'an and Hadith, and talk to me about them.

I'm nowhere near close to an Islamic scholar, but I can use the power of Google to find what some have written about these interpretations.

quote:

It is, in short, not permitted to quote a verse without considering the whole Koran and the Hadith.

Muslim scholars refuting violent passages and interpretations of their text


quote:
God ﷻ says in the Qur’an: ‘And do not slay the soul [whose life] God has made inviolable, except with due cause … ’ (Al-Isra’ , 17: 33); and ‘Say: “Come, I will recite that which your Lord has made a sacred duty for you: that you associate nothing with Him, that you be dutiful to parents, and that you do not slay your children, because of poverty – We will provide for you and them – and that you do not draw near any acts of lewdness, whether it be manifest or concealed, and that you do not slay the life which God has made sacred, except rightfully. This is what He has charged you with that perhaps you will understand.” ’ (Al-An’am , 6: 151). The slaying of a soul—any soul—is haraam (forbidden and inviolable under Islamic Law), it is also one of the most abominable sins (mubiqat ). God ﷻ says in the Qur’an: ‘Because of that, We decreed for the Children of Israel that whoever slays a soul for other than a soul, or for corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers have already come to them with clear proofs, but after that many of them still commit excesses in the land .’ (Al-Ma’idah , 5: 32). You have killed many innocents who were neither combatants nor armed, just because they disagree with your opinions[13].

Aid workers are also emissaries of mercy and kindness, yet you killed the aid worker David Haines. What you have done is unquestionably forbidden (haraam ).

Recently, Shaker Wahib—who was affiliated with what was known at the time as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)—appeared in a YouTube video where he stopped unarmed civilians who said they were Muslims. He then proceeded to ask them the number of prostrations (rak’ahs) in specific prayers. When they answered incorrectly, he killed them[36] . This is absolutely forbidden under Islamic Law and is a heinous crime.

Full text of the letter

Now, they are still not digging on atheists a whole lot, and the statements wouldn't refute attacking combatants, but more the terror components and killing civilians - even those from other religions.

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seekingprometheus
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NH:
quote:
I don't think that belief is... theologically rigorous. Or, at least, you can't use it as a get-out-of-jail-free card for the whole of the OT.
Well, to be fair, nothing about Christianity's theological sourcing is rigorously coherent.

The NT consists of the writings which were accepted not by Jews, but by the gentile followers of Paul, the author of the majority of canonical text, who not only wasn't one of Jesus' disciples, but was actually a known enemy of the Jesus' real group of disciples.

And the story Paul's gentile slave-class followers accepted is completely at odds with the old Jewish Law--the abrogation isn't just of some of the harsher punishments spelled out in the Torah, it's a wholesale abandonment of the theological narrative of the God of Moses, in which not only was there no afterlife component in the covenant Yahweh makes with his Chosen People, but in which the metaphysical concepts that underlie the ideology of an afterlife--such as immortal spirits--were expressly condemned as heretical.

In order to believe in the narrative of Pauline Christianity, wherein Jesus the Great Necromancer is going to resurrect all of the meek, obedient sheep from the dead, one must reject God's explicit commands in the Torah, which forbid His chosen people from falling into exactly such abominable pagan beliefs.

In spite of centuries of mind-numbing scholastic apologies, there has never been any rigorous theological coherence linking the pagan ideologies of a Heaven/Hell afterlife for the immortal familiar spirits of mortal humans, or the necromantic resurrection of meek servants, to the theological paradigm of the old Jewish Covenant.

There's just some writings that got circulated among the gentile slave classes, which explain that the messianic movement in Judea in the first century was actually about the moral superiority of being a meek, humble servant, and prove that the crucifixion of any supposed Messiah from that era was the Jews fault--the Romans washed their hands of any blame in the mess.

[Roll Eyes]

The only part of Christianity which is connected to the Old Hebrew theology is that God demands a blood sacrifice to pay for sin...because slaughtering an innocent being has always been God's favorite way for humans to make atonement for all the wrong that has been done by everyone else, apparently...

[ November 24, 2015, 07:22 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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NobleHunter
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quote:
Well, to be fair, nothing about Christianity's theological sourcing is rigorously coherent.
True, but I prefer it when they at least make the effort.
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
but I prefer it when they at least make the effort.
Your preference suggests to me that you have vastly more patience with bullsh*t than I do. I find that most of the "efforts" I've come across consist of seemingly hundreds of pages of nonsensically paradoxical mumble-jumble, all clearly designed to obscure the fact that the logical fallacy on page one remains completely fallacious...

[Wink]

Speaking of which...
quote:
do not slay the life which God has made sacred, except rightfully...

...whoever slays a soul for other than a soul, or for corruption in the land

...not to suggest that there is no appreciation available for the well-meaning efforts of Islamic apologists, but it occurs to me that no amount of interpretive bullsh*t is gonna change the fact that the quranic text does clearly provide an exception for some "rightful killing" as duly prescribed for "corruption in the land."

[ November 24, 2015, 08:09 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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NobleHunter
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Mmmm... Aquinas [Razz]

Rightful killing could be an injunction against murder but permitting capital punishment; see 10 commandments, interpretations of (yes, I'm too lazy to look up thou shalt not kill). And what does corruption in the land mean, anyways?

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
And what does corruption in the land mean, anyways?
The verse is from the Sura Al Maidah, which treats on various forms of corruption/mischief, but overall, the Sura is mostly concerned with Islamic dietary prohibitions, as well as containing a specific recurring theme of condemnation of various forms of disbelief in Islam.

I'm not going to post the whole Sura, but here are the next few verses to flesh out the context a bit (this translation uses "mischief" rather than "corruption" for the term under discussion):
quote:
32. Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidences, and signs, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits (e.g. by doing oppression unjustly and exceeding beyond the limits set by Allah by committing the major sins) in the land!.

33. The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.

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.

35. O you who believe! Do your duty to Allah and fear Him. Seek the means of approach to Him, and strive hard in His Cause as much as you can. So that you may be successful.

36. Verily, those who disbelieve, if they had all that is in the earth, and as much again therewith to ransom themselves thereby from the torment on the Day of Resurrection, it would never be accepted of them, and theirs would be a painful torment.

37. They will long to get out of the Fire, but never will they get out therefrom, and theirs will be a lasting torment.

From the context of the rest of verse 32, it would seem that the charge of corruption in the land pertains to those that have been shown the "proofs" of Islam, and fail to believe/obey Allah's major commandments.

It's clearly open to some latitude in interpretation, but the fact that the apologist who cited the verse felt it necessary to completely gloss over a rather broad exception clause is indicative of a pretty big problem with the GodSpeak source, especially given how much of the rest of the Sura is about how much Allah hates the mischief caused by disbelievers...

[ November 24, 2015, 10:29 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Fenring
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I'm not familiar with that text, nor do I know much of anything about interpretation of it, but SP I have a question: It seems to me that at least in its English form verse 32 here indicates that killing someone in cold blood (i.e. not in retaliation), or *killing someone* to spread mischief in the land (i.e. rebellion, assassination, etc.) will count as killing the whole word. I repeated the word "killing" even though it doesn't occur the 2nd time in the text because it seem like the usage is one of the distributive law of mathematics, i.e. 2(X-Y)=2X-2Y, where you have the abbreviated version and the numeral "2" is understood to apply to both clauses.

The reasons it seems like this to me is because the conclusion of the clauses is that X act plus Y act both count as killing the whole world, and it's contrasted with saving a life, which is like saving the whole world. It stands to reason, then, that X and Y are both about killing and the point is to explain that killing someone in various manners other than in retribution will be considered to be like killing the whole world. The symmetry of the verse would seem to fail if Y was interpreted as meaning "spreading mischief in some unspecified way."

Maybe I'm not understanding it, so if I'm missing someone I'd be happy to learn more about the passage.

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seekingprometheus
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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.
quote:

01. Associating anything with Allah
02. Murder
03. Practising magic
04. Not Praying
05. Not paying Zakat
06. Not fasting on a Day of Ramadan without excuse
07. Not performing Hajj, while being able to do so
08. Disrespect to parents
09. Abandoning relatives
10. Fornication and Adultery
11. Homosexuality(sodomy)
12. Interest(Riba)
13. Wrongfully consuming the property of an orphan
14. Lying about Allah and His Messenger
15. Running away from the battlefield
16. A leader's deceiving his people and being unjust to them
17. Pride and arrogance
18. Bearing false witness
19. Drinking Khamr (wine)
20. Gambling
21. Slandering chaste women
22. Stealing from the spoils of war
23. Stealing
24. Highway Robbery
25. Taking false oath
26. Oppression
27. Illegal gain
28. Consuming wealth acquired unlawfully
29. Committing suicide
30. Frequent lying
31. Judging unjustly
32. Giving and Accepting bribes
33. Woman's imitating man and man's imitating woman
34. Being cuckold
35. Marrying a divorced woman in order to make her lawful for the husband
36. Not protecting oneself from urine
37. Showing-off
38. Learning knowledge of the religion for the sake of this world and concealing that knowledge
39. Bertrayal of trust
40. Recounting favours
41. Denying Allah's Decree
42. Listening (to) people's private conversations
43. Carrying tales
44. Cursing
45. Breaking contracts
46. Believing in fortune-tellers and astrologers
47. A woman's bad conduct towards her husband
48. Making statues and pictures
49. Lamenting, wailing, tearing the clothing, and doing other things of this sort when an affliction befalls
50. Treating others unjustly
51. Overbearing conduct toward the wife, the servant, the weak, and animals
52. Offending one's neighbour
53. Offending and abusing Muslims
54. Offending people and having an arrogant attitude toward them
55. Trailing one's garment in pride
56. Men's wearing silk and gold
57. A slave's running away from his master
58. Slaughtering an animal which has been dedicated to anyone other than Allah
59. To knowingly ascribe one's paternity to a father other than one's own
60. Arguing and disputing violently
61. Witholding excess water
62. Giving short weight or measure
63. Feeling secure from Allah's Plan
64. Offending Allah's righteous friends
65. Not praying in congregation but praying alone without an excuse
66. Persistently missing Friday Prayers without any excuse
67. Unsurping the rights of the heir through bequests
68. Deceiving and plotting evil
69. Spying for the enemy of the Muslims
70. Cursing or insulting any of the Companiions of Allah's Messenger



[ November 24, 2015, 11:07 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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velcro
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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?

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seekingprometheus
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Fenring:
quote:
The symmetry of the verse would seem to fail if Y was interpreted as meaning "spreading mischief in some unspecified way."
I don't read Arabic any more than you do, so I wouldn't be able to speak to nuances such as symmetries in the original.

I tend to think that there is going to be some interpretive latitude given to any set of ancient text. The problem I see is that people are clearly interpreting the Quran's injunctions to kill (disbelievers) in a rather literal way, and even the verses being used by apologists to claim that the Quran forbids such killing have explicit exception clauses which seem to contain sufficient interpretive latitude to undermine the necessary validity of the apologetic argument.

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Fenring
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SP,

I'll take that list at face value since I don't know any better, but what I'm saying is that at least the English version of that text seems to be saying nothing more than killing is very bad and saving a life is very good. The bit about "mischief in the land" appears to simply be an addendum to the ways in which you're not supposed to kill people. But maybe you're right that the Arabic is different, or that other clauses than this one specify exactly what you're saying.

Take for example this passage from Matthew in the NT:

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

There's literal, and then there's literal. Even a fundamentalist fanatic Christian wouldn't go much farther than to say this passage means that if you're rich you're screwed (in other words give us your money). Only someone who can't read would take the passage to be saying something about the art of maneuvering camels through needles or whether it's a big camel or what kind of needle we're talking about.

I mean that it's one thing for a person to take a passage and fail/refuse to understand its hidden meaning, but it's quite another to simply read it wrongly and make a mistake what's literally being said. It just seems to me that verse 32 above isn't saying anything about some unspecified mischief that - whatever it may be - is like killing the whole world. Admittedly I did have to read the verse twice to realize the "or" is probably attached to the clause "not in retaliation of murder" rather than to the verb "killed." The connective "to" at the start of "to spread mischief" would seem to also suggest that it's an adjunct to the verb killing, as in killing "to" achieve some end. If you wanted to associate the "or" to "killed" then the complete sentence would read "if anyone killed a person [...] or to spread mischief..." which of course is bad grammar. Both the grammar and the context suggest to me that the "to spread mischief" is a description of a potential motive for killing, which means that verse 32 isn't a back door for other sins to be counted here.

That being said I'm sure there are other passages in the Koran that promise bad things for the other sins, I just don't see it here.

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seekingprometheus
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I'm not sure I follow you, Fenring.

To my eye, it pretty clearly denounces homicide with an exception clause containing two parts: "unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land."

I could see how "for a soul" could be interpreted as either "for killing someone" or "to save a life" (self-defense), and I can see how "for corruption (done) in the land" is pretty vague, and I can even understand how one might interpret the "or" as potentially having more of an intent at "and," but I don't see a reasonable interpretation that doesn't recognize these two issues as exceptions to the proscription on homicide.

People can interpret things however they like--but I don't personally see a reasonable rendering of the intended meaning which doesn't recognize that Muhammed is saying that it's wrong to kill except in instances A and/or B...

Did you read the surrounding verses? The next verse again refers to the punishment for mischief being death (this time coupling it with the concept of fitnah--or conflict against Allah/Islam, rather than in juxtaposition with the capital crime of murder):
quote:
33. The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.
Here's another translation of 33, with the "corruption" rendering:
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


[ November 25, 2015, 12:12 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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BTW, I asked a Saudi friend of mine what arabic word is being translated as corruption/mischief, and he says that the phrasing in the Arabic contains a variant of the term 'fasad.'

(He also agrees with my interpretation, that it says that homicide is a grave sin except in cases of murder or for "fasad," but again, this doesn't mean there aren't other potentiall interpretations...)

[ November 25, 2015, 12:25 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pete at Home
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For my rebuttal of SP's assumption that the Roman collaborating Sadducee theology was the original religion of Israel, search on words like Pharisee, saducee Essenes, dead sea scrolls, etc. I have no desire to take SP on in such a discussion while sober. Shudder.
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Fenring
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I see, SP, you're going with the original translation you quoted, which is also of verse 32. Got it. In that one you have a chopped version - might you quote that passage in that translation in full? I have an answer for you but I'd like to see first whether the translators themselves might have adjusted the grammar to fit their interpretation of the Arabic text and therefore changed the literal meaning. If so my point would only apply to the second translation.
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Pete at Home
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A biochemist with a very large blender could pass a camel through the eye of a needle, but only God can get a rich man into heaven(see the next verse where Jesus makes the point that God can do it). So the verse is literally true [Smile]
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seekingprometheus
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[LOL]

I didn't even mentioned the theology of the actual high priests in Israel at the time, Pete.

I mentioned the Law, or the Torah--you know, that book upon which the Hebrew theology was predicated before the Romans killed all the High Priests, and Judaism became about building an interpretive hedge around the Law rather than following it literally.

The argument that the Romans would have known how to deal with an ideology based in GodSpeak that was incompatible with their "civilized" values does seem to hold historical merit, though...

[ November 25, 2015, 12:43 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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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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