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Whitaker on “native misinformants” September 10, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Homosexualists, Proggies.
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Quite some time ago, I promised a response to Brian Whitaker’s article asking: What’s wrong with being gay and Muslim? Well, I’ve shelved the idea of responding to that, as it would be better to respond to what he’s written in his book, once I get round to it! See here and here for relevant previous posts.

The article gives a taster of the arguments found in the book – arguments that are apparently based upon the work of Scott Kugle (which I’ll have to refute before Whitaker’s, therefore). In fact, Whitaker doesn’t so much indulge in the scriptural reinterpretation in the article, but just gives the case for doing this, and moving with the times.

Note the way in which he frames the question in terms of identities (“being Muslim and gay”), making it difficult to provide an answer based on juristic principles. There is nothing wrong with being anything, simply, as Islam describes sin as an act of doing, not a state of being. Whitaker realises this, but I feel his use of the concept is highly misleading. His subtitle says: “The Qur’anic verses usually cited as condemning homosexuality are by no means as clear or unequivocal as people imagine.”

Kugle-Manji-Hirsi-Aslan-Alam

My attention was caught by a later article by Brian, a cutting overview of the “native misinformants”, chiefly represented by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji. I’m left a little confused, in that Brian is going on about reform of Islam’s attitude to homosexuality, without noticing the overlap between all these figures, and the implications of the Queer Muslim Reformation.

It so happens that both the women he castigates have taken homosexuality as important planks in their anti-Islam campaigns (though Manji’s is supposedly from “within”). I posted here before about the endorsement given by Al-Fatiha founder Faisal Alam to Ayaan’s Submission movie – and that was the first one, not the forthcoming one about gays. Meanwhile, Brian Whitaker links to Al-Fatiha, and I wonder if he has any criticisms of their role as “reformers”.

Another chap going on a lot about the “civil war” in Islam and how reformation is going on right now, is Reza Aslan, author of No god but God. In an article on the proggies’ central site, a young lady tells of how her interest in Islam was piqued by how “very very good-looking” Aslan is. He later tells her:

[Y]ou must be careful, because there are lots of crazies out there and they all have their ‘authoritative’ views on what Islam is and what it is not; what it allows and what it doesn’t. Don’t listen to any of it… Islam is what you consider it to be… I have countless gay Muslim friends and encourage you to contact my very good friend Faisal who is the head of al-Fatiha organization…

Whether “scholars” like Kugle and Aslan, or “activists” like Manji and Ayaan, these are players in the same insidious game.

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Comments»

1. Yousef - September 10, 2006

“Islam is what you consider it to be”…oh wow. Where do we even start to see what’s wrong with this statement? I will keep it to the following: This is an extremist statement first and foremost, changing the religion to suit your own needs…perhaps it would do Reza some good to pay more attention to Islamic scholarship than to creating his own faith. May God guide us all.

2. sonia - September 21, 2006

I suppose you wouldn’t be too fond of the Progressive Muslims Union of North America?

3. sonia - September 21, 2006

as in your own intrepetation – Obviously! Who’s going to be held accountable on the Day of Judgement? Each individual – so what is one to say – oh terribly sorry miLord, I didn’t think for myself – I was told by Mullah X. Well that won’t wash will it?

So for example -the Iranian judge who ordered the 16- year old girl’s execution in 2004. If someone else had actually placed the noose around her neck – can they at the Day of Judgement say – well it wasn’t me – it was him, he told me to do it, I’m not responsible? Surely Islam teaches us we are responsible for ourselves. I don’t see how you can be if you don’t query ‘doctrine’ and use it to live your own life.

Really!

4. sonia - September 21, 2006

I do think you ought to take the ‘Compassionate’ bit out your strapline.

5. Rasheed Eldin - September 21, 2006

Do a search for PMUNA if you want to know what we say about them. But we are happy to engage in intelligent debate with anyone. 

Who said anything about Mullah X? How about Prophet X, would you agree with following him? Or are you someone who thinks that hadiths are just too inconvenient to accept?

Oh, and I don’t say I’m compassionate towards the likes of Manji. Even so, if she was in a perilous situation I would save her if possible, just because she’s a human being.

6. Yousef - September 21, 2006

Sonia: Do you know the people that run this site to make such a comment? Have you read the posts on this blog?

7. Taleb Haqq - September 22, 2006

Sonia: You will also be asked on the day of Reckoning how you twisted religious texts and ignored parts of it in order to make it conform to your lifestyle. As well, you will be asked on how you treated Islamic scholarship, I don’t know what “doctrine” you are talking about. If people did not need to learn we would no have received texts and Prophets in order to teach us. God ORDERS us to ask people who know more than we do in order to learn from them. OF course i’m not saying “blindly follow” but also do not blindly steer away from hundreds of years of scholarship. Do not belittle the greatest scholars of this religion by calling their work “doctrine”.

8. Taleb Haqq - September 22, 2006

Sonia: PMUNA…you suppose right! You are quite observant I see.

9. Rasheed Eldin - November 2, 2006

Article with fairly in-depth criticism of Hirsi’s and Manji’s books:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060619/lalami

10. Rasheed Eldin - December 23, 2006

Discredited attention-seeking proggie Asra Nomani wrote a charming feature on Reza Aslan, from which I want you to consider one excerpt:

“After high school, Aslan set off for a degree in religion from Santa Clara University, a Jesuit-run school, where he spent Sunday evenings at church services. In class, he learned how to do textual analysis on theological writings to study religion. It was an area in which Christians had a modern-day head start on Muslims, and learning to master it was going to serve Aslan well. […]
“Aslan earned a master’s degree in theological studies at Harvard and then a master of fine arts in fiction at the University of Iowa—unusual credentials for a scholar of Islam, but valuable assets in today’s war of ideas in the Muslim world.”
http://asranomani.com/writings/archives/2005/12/post.php

Not just “unusual credentials”, not that there’s anything wrong with having a broad education to inform Islamic scholarship. The problem is that they are insufficient credentials to begin reinterpreting Islam. If anything, they are proof of the problem.

Islamic scholars developed sophisticated sciences of interpretation (tafseer) from the earliest days of the Qur’an, and these precede biblical hermeneutics by many centuries. No way do Christians have a “head start”. The Muslim exegetes analysed every word and inflection, and discussed the challenges posed by the Qur’anic discourse.

I wonder how the Jesuit methodology has skewed Aslan’s approach to Qur’anic interpretation.

11. Rasheed Eldin - March 24, 2007

Having recently taken a quick look at Aslan’s book, the problems are clear. I looked mainly at his interpretation of the early Caliphate, which was full of fantasies, and oddly skewed in “favour” of Sayyidna ‘Ali (r.a.)! Aslan’s narrative is full of insinuations about what Abu Bakr (r.a.), ‘Umar (r.a.) and ‘Uthman (r.a.) wanted, meant, intended, thought… but it bears no relation to history except as dreamt up by malicious orientalists.

12. vinelectric - March 24, 2007

haven’t read reza’s book but saw him debate sam harris (famous-atheist-ultraislamophobe) on C-Span. Reza so eloquently pulled the atheist’s arguments to pieces, in brutal defense of Islam. give the man a bit of credit. his skewed history is probably becuz of his shiite roots.

13. Rasheed Eldin - March 24, 2007

I’ll happily give credit where it’s due. He’s very articulate and gives an attractive face for Islam. But when he declares that “Islam is what you consider it to be,” this is more than a minor fault with his methodology. It just means that Islam has no definition.

14. Rasheed Eldin - April 28, 2007

Irshad Manji on “Faith Without Fear”, said:

“I’ve long felt that walking away from the faith would be running away… Notice that I use the word ‘faith’: I try not to use the word ‘religion’ – I’m not that interested in organised ritual. I’m interested in the notions of faith…”

Maybe when you have that great “conversation with God” you’re deluded to look forward to on That Day, you can ask Him why He insists on using the word “Deen” all the time and giving us all these “rituals”.

Idiot.

15. Obsessive Scottish Muslim? « Eye on ‘Gay Muslims’ - July 12, 2009

[…] at Glasgow University who desperately wishes he could be as celebrated a Muslim progressive as his idols like Reza Aslan. Trouble is, he’s just not as […]


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