Saturday, April 26, 2008

Reform! Reform! Reform! Reform Islam!

If 99.99 per cent of Muslims claim a tiny group of Muslim heretics are not Muslim, who is right?

Bully pulpit

Apr 24th 2008 | BANGKOK
From The Economist print edition
Religious freedom is put at risk by political expediency

SEVERAL thousand hardline Muslims protested outside President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's palace in Jakarta on April 20th demanding that he ban Ahmadiyah, an unorthodox but moderate Muslim sect founded in 19th-century India that claims around 200,000 members across Indonesia. At an earlier meeting of one of the groups involved, a leader was filmed chanting, "Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill Ahmadiyah!"

[A] modern Islamic sect and the generic name for various Sufi (Muslim mystic) orders. The sect was founded in Qadian, the Punjab, India, in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (c. 1839–1908), who claimed to be the mahdi (a figure expected by some Muslims at the end of the world), the Christian Messiah, an incarnation of the Hindu god Krishna, and a reappearance (buruz) of Muhammad. The sect's doctrine, in some aspects, is unorthodox.

What's it all about?

The Ähmadiyah Sect are Islamic by nature, they are just over a hundred years old, and hold the Prophet Muhammad as the figurehead.

And, if nobody minds too much, the founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his son would also like to be considered amongst the prophets.

The Ähmadiyah started life in the Punjab, India and now they are alive and fairly well in Pakistan, Northern India, Egypt, Europe and some of the Americas.

They are in the missionary and conversion business, and although they do not have a great deal of political influence, they do have a bit of money tucked away and their main aim is to try to persuade the impressionable to take up their particular brand of Islamic Faith.
Mostly without success.

I don't care, and I'm sure most readers here don't care what Muslims think about Islam and each other. But let's face it, Muslims care about Islam and about other Muslims' fiddling with it, reforming it, as it were. And what's the usual outcome of that? Well, I don't know. Let's see.

"Kill! Kill! KIll! Kill Ahmadiyah!"

Graphic from Blazing Catfur.


Vancouver visitor said...

Translation of the signs in the Economist's photo:

Bubarkan Ahmadiyah: demolish/eliminate/dissolve the Ahmadiyah.

Harga mati: a slang that means fixed price/non-negotiable and it is also used in this context as a fig leaf for the incitement to murder through the use of the threatening mati instead of the bland tetap (harga: price; mati: dead; tetap: fixed).

Connie said...

Sounds kind of like wacko scam artist Benjamin Creme's Maitreya.

Dag said...

There's no room above to show the details of Indonesia's experience with colonialism, and it's not pleasant reading if there were. My point in posting this is to show that the Ahmadiyah are not serious contenders for the thrust so many wish Islamic reform to be. There are relatively many in this area around Vancouver, and they are as "Muslim' as a space-ship worshipper would be Christian to the Pope. Islamic reform, if such a thing is possible, is only to come from orthodox Muslims, and we can see from 1,400 years of Islam that it won't be this. Even the sight of Ahmadiyah is what turns the average Muslim into a murderous fanatic in the street. All of our good intentions about Islamic reform come to naught simply because we have nothing to do with Islam. It's up to them to change, and they show what they think of it, as above.

I'm with Connie. It's a loony scam to me. I don't have any respect at all for Islam, but at least it's a real thing, bad as it is.

V.V., thanks for the insight into the details of the sign. Wish I'd had you handy while doing exercises in morphology at uni. those many years ago.

truepeers said...

I don't care, and I'm sure most readers here don't care what Muslims think about Islam and each other.

-oh, I think you do care. It's rhetorically easy to say that it's up to the Muslims to change and decide what they can be. But why would they change if not for having to face up to inconvenient realities, e.g. us and our visions of the sacred, the visions that currently allow us to be free and productive and feed the world.

They change when they have to come to terms with our modern realities, when we don't appease them but find productive ways of drawing and redrawing boundaries and demanding the rule of law and a moral of reciprocity for all. But this can only happen if we do care what they think and if we demand of Muslims recognition of the universal fact that human beings are created with freedom and are inherently historical creatures who owe each other reciprocity under God. And thus, neither we nor they should be sure to know what a "Muslim" is today or tomorrow.

More generally, the interface between any word or representation and reality is inherently paradoxical; the word is meaningful because it transcends physical reality. "Muslims" can't wish that complex interface of immanent and transcendent reality away, even if they all think they know what a heretic is. It's one thing to rely on scapegoats and to say "he's not us"; it's altogether much more difficult to know what one, and one's words, is and are, especially when one's language finds itself in a whole new world that other people, materially (spiritually?) more successful, have built.

maccusgermanis said...

It's one thing to rely on scapegoats. Another thing to make language bear all sins.

I know what a heretic has long been called, even if I seldom apply the same disdainful connotation used by modern self-supposed orthodox. The word itself, being some differentiation between the dis-believing and wrongly-believing. Islam doesn't even have such differentiation. Those that don't submit are kufr.

I needn't re imagine what words in wide common usage, and long historical use, mean, so that I can believe as I like. But, that's probably because I'm a heretic. I don't have to sacrifice honesty itself, because I do already dare disagree.

If we should like to bring submitters "to terms with our modern realities," then we probably shouldn't obscure the fact that "muslim" has been faithfully defined as "one who submits" for near 1400 years. It means the same, even in modern times. The creative reinterpretation of words,that would make non-sense of 1400 years of tradition, may be your aim. But, there is collateral damage to language and honesty in which no understanding could ever again be possible. Conflict can not be pretended misunderstood agreement.

I'd rather convince clear thinking individuals that islam doesn't make any sense than, to argue that nothing makes sense.