Erkan's further mumbling on some Quranic verses…

Erkan’s one new interest is to check out the Quran blog at the Guardian. Thanks to Christian, I have become aware of this blog. It is fun to have a look and although i have no interest to declare authoritative statement, i will poke around and utter my own comments from time to time.

In Injunctions to the strong Andrew Brown says:

….The first thing that strikes me about this collection of verses is how very unChristian it is…. But these qur’anic injunctions are much more addressed to the strong. They are almost an ethic of noblesse oblige: God will reward his followers and they in turn are to be just, generous, and upright in the use of the powers he has granted them……..

This has immediately reminded me Nietzsche’s critique of dialectic – an in advance, Christianity- where the slave-master analogy is used. What is Christian in N’s words is the slave mentality. In fact, this level of comparison btw Christianity and Islam is historically understandable. the latter started as a revolutionary ideal among the slaves whereas the latter from the outset challenged the Meccan hegemony. I never thought of N’s critique in religious terms and tried to apply his ideas to the opposition forces who constantly whine about the evils of power and whose agenda is always determined by the power it critiques. (see Nietzsche And Philosophy )
In the mean time, Islam vies for power and at least works on determining the nature of the strong which reminds me liberals’ intellectual attempts to determine how capitalism would evolve (see The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality ); instead of challenging the authority, attempting to shape what authority is…

Christianity is certainly more romantic, and more collectivist whereas Islam (and Judaism) seem(s) to be more realistic and individualistic. But of course, theory and practice differ shockingly: Just check out the state of Christians and Muslims:)

As one commenter points out Sunni Islam had already softened the radical relation between the individual and the God and collectivized it (with instituting intermediaries). I am always fond of some early schools of Islam which emphasize the lack of intermediaries and the heavy burden of every individual. (for a treatment of early Islamic schools: Authority in Islam: From the Rise of Muhammad to the Establishment of the Umayyads by Hamid Dabashi) Christian collectivism (or sense of community) – at least in theory- implies more solidarity against the evils of the world but Islamic sense of community (at least in Sunni version) implies the collectivisation of individual responsibilities and guaranteeing collective salvation. So whatever you do, as long as you are in the Muslim community, you will go to heaven after you are punished in Hell. I have been thinking this kind of reasoning causes a postponement of duties and a misbelief in an already happened salvation and an essential belief of superiority over others.

In another blog post, Ziauddin Sardar is in conversation with Andrew Brown. The subject is patience:

Internally, gratitude is about two specific values that the Qur’an mentions again and again: patience and moderation. "Be patient" (46:35), we read, for it is the patient who ultimately have faith and hope in God: "Those who believe seek help through patience and prayer" (2:153). The Qur’an divides patience into three components. First, patience requires endurance: "Endure patiently whatever may afflict you" (31:17). But endurance in the face of affliction is not about fatalism, Andrew. It is about steadfastness, the second element of patience. Affliction is endured patiently because there is always hope if we steadfastly follow the path of virtue. This is why the believers pray "Our Lord, fill us full of patience and make our feet firm" (2:250).

Third, patience is about self-control and seeking righteousness without being distracted by the glamour of the world or materialistic and physical desire: "Content yourself with those who pray to their Lord morning and evening, seeking his approval, and do not let your eyes turn away from them out of desire for the attraction of this worldly life" (18:18).

The Qur’anic idea of patience is not passive but proactive. In expressing our gratitude to God through seeking equity and justice we can err towards self-righteousness, feebleness and towards impatience violence.

But of course, social practice of these beliefs differ from the theory (which is subject to several different forms of interpretation). Although I agree with Mr. Sardar, the Muslim self is socialized into a passive subject in most of the social contexts…

In another post, Brian Whitaker says:

I am confused as to whether God is regarded by Muslims as a continuing interventionist or whether, in the manner of an absentee landlord, he has simply provided the house and left the tenants to get on with it.

Verse 2:30 seems to suggest the latter. God announces that he will place a vicegerent/viceroy/caliph on earth (ie humans) and the angels protest that they will only make mischief and cause bloodshed. God retorts that he knows what he’s doing, but I’m not so sure – I’m inclined to agree with the angels on that point.

In the last analysis, I am imagining a deistic God. Difference from the Enlightenment’s deism is that the God will return in the afterworld and determine the fate of people where to go. But between creation and afterworld, humans are left to alone with a warning that they will be judged in the end. But in the mean time, the God is an observer at best..

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