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MacCulloch_Reformation_sm Since we’re on the topic of religion, I thought I would make a book recommendation. If there is one book I would read on the Reformation if there was one book, it is Diarmaid MacCulloch’s The Reformation. I read this magisterial work in 2004 over a week and it has stuck with me in a way no other work on this topic before or since, has (similarly, if you are going to read one book on Byzantine history, it would be A History of the Byzantine State and Society).

MacCulloch’s history of Christianity was relatively disappointing (thin gruel, stretching out a deep topic too far in a survey). But I see he’s come out with a new book on an old topic, All Things Made New: The Reformation and Its Legacy. I just got a copy and it seems interesting. More thematic than narrative in comparison to the earlier survey.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Reformation 
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  1. A question I’ve repeatedly pondered at length is “why the Islamic world doesn’t seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?” and whether it will ever do so.

    I can’t say that I’ve ever answered the question satisfactorily.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Because Islam was its own Reformation. Decentralized, purity obsessed, book centred religion? Check.
    , @swampr
    What would the Islamic equivalent of the Reformation be? Can you map the doctrinal disputes of Christianity onto Islam?
    , @omarali50
    Perhaps a better question would be: why did the development of philosophical and scientific thought in the core Islamicate region get stuck/fall behind/remains bankrupt?
    After all, the Eastern Mediterranean, Persia, even Central Asia, were as developed a civilization (or more developed at times?) than Western Europe, but they have decayed and stagnated. Why?
    This way of posing the question would make the reformation just one facet of a general development of arts and sciences that characterized Western Europe from, say, 1200 AD onwards. Why wasnt there a parallel and equivalent development in the great gunpowder empires of the Islamicate world?
    (there wasnt in India either, but India was colonized by the Islamicate empires, so that just counts as "Islamicate stagnation".. The Hindus can (and do) blame their Turko-Afghan conquerors for the rot. China fell behind in relative terms, but seems to have recovered momentum. Japan caught up. What happened to the Islamicate region? Out of the great centers of ancient civilization, they seem to be the ones most bankrupt today)
    Something on these lines would avoid making theology the central issue.
    Unless you think theology IS the central issue?
    , @German_reader
    What would "reformation" even mean in an Islamic context...it's not like they have a pope to rebel against, so is that analoy really helpful? And going by the European experience which did include extremes like the rule of terror of the Münster anabaptists, and more generally the use of state power to enforce confessional uniformity, I'm not sure "reformation" would even be desirable.
    , @Talha
    Hey ohwilleke,

    I'll take a crack at this...

    The foundations of Sunni Orthodoxy in Islam (it's the one that concerns us most since it has always been the super majority) are fairly solid - for both creed and jurisprudence. It is flexible - in a practical way - to a point...but not beyond that. There has always been dissent among the scholarship, but nothing was ever centralized like in Western Christendom, so dissent has always been part of the tradition...these opinions are then analyzed and either accepted or discarded. You will far more likely see secular authorities simply discarding rulings or such that they find impractical or feel are against their interest (Ottomans did this at times) - but an about-face from the qualified scholarship on a scale of what happened from the clergy in Europe is not likely.

    You are actually seeing attempts at reformation right now; Daesh is one extreme and at another extreme are people like Irshad Manji - but nothing on that level is coming from qualified scholarship or institutions.

    Another question to ask are regarding the underlying assumptions; the Western world is magnificent in its material accomplishments but it is losing faith or tenuously holding on to it - why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route? Islamic civilization was able to strike a balance between material accomplishment and faith in the past - so the paradigm we look to for success is different.

    Peace.
    , @Marcus
    All Mohammedans consider the Quran the literal word of God, only some Protestants think the same about the Bible.
    RE: the Reformation, this is one of my favorite analyses, it was the triumph of the new bourgeoisie, think of Thomas Cromwell for example
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2014/07/the-breaking-of-images/
    "It was also an unabashedly top-down phenomenon. That image breaking we hear about was invariably the work of urban mobs, in societies that were overwhelmingly rural. The Reformation was a war of the cities against the countryside, of the ten percent (perhaps) against the ninety percent.

    It would be decades or centuries before the new religious order based on books and literacy would disseminate throughout the whole country, including rural areas. Urban communities spent those decades sneering at the religious ignorance of the peasants."

    , @Pat the Rat
    The Reformation was about the subordination of Christianity to the state, the breaking of the Catholic churches universal claims to rule men beyond politics. The City of God.

    With Islam there has always been a closer union between state and religion. Mohammed was a political leader.

    When the Reformers gutted and divided Christianity they destroyed it's claim to truth and led to the slow rise of atheism and scepticism about religious belief.

    This cancer is slowly destroying us.
    , @Crawfurdmuir

    A question I’ve repeatedly pondered at length is “why the Islamic world doesn’t seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?” and whether it will ever do so.
     
    Wahhabism seems to me to be the Islamic equivalent of Calvinism - with its antipathy to shrines, the veneration of saints, and other manifestations of "idolatry" widely observed amongst other votaries of Islam, its puritanical austerity of manners and mores, etc. Of course Islam at large already adhered to predestination.
  2. I agree that his book is *the* book to read about the Reformation. (Almost the only one).
    But, I am impressed that it only took you a week to read this whole book.
    It is so dense with names and events that it seemed it took me a week just to get through one page.
    What I took away from this book was how messy, violent (e.g. anabaptists in Münster) and fractured the early days of Protestantism were. And that Europe (and the U.S.) did make it through to a more peaceful religious situation.

    • Replies: @jtgw
    I am also a slow reader; I daydream about getting through Razib's list of recommended reading, but I just can't process the text that fast. I need to stop and think about nearly every new fact or idea in a book. I don't know if that means I'm exceptionally careful in my thought or just dull and slow.
  3. @ohwilleke
    A question I've repeatedly pondered at length is "why the Islamic world doesn't seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?" and whether it will ever do so.

    I can't say that I've ever answered the question satisfactorily.

    Because Islam was its own Reformation. Decentralized, purity obsessed, book centred religion? Check.

    • Agree: Philip Owen
  4. @ohwilleke
    A question I've repeatedly pondered at length is "why the Islamic world doesn't seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?" and whether it will ever do so.

    I can't say that I've ever answered the question satisfactorily.

    What would the Islamic equivalent of the Reformation be? Can you map the doctrinal disputes of Christianity onto Islam?

  5. @ohwilleke
    A question I've repeatedly pondered at length is "why the Islamic world doesn't seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?" and whether it will ever do so.

    I can't say that I've ever answered the question satisfactorily.

    Perhaps a better question would be: why did the development of philosophical and scientific thought in the core Islamicate region get stuck/fall behind/remains bankrupt?
    After all, the Eastern Mediterranean, Persia, even Central Asia, were as developed a civilization (or more developed at times?) than Western Europe, but they have decayed and stagnated. Why?
    This way of posing the question would make the reformation just one facet of a general development of arts and sciences that characterized Western Europe from, say, 1200 AD onwards. Why wasnt there a parallel and equivalent development in the great gunpowder empires of the Islamicate world?
    (there wasnt in India either, but India was colonized by the Islamicate empires, so that just counts as “Islamicate stagnation”.. The Hindus can (and do) blame their Turko-Afghan conquerors for the rot. China fell behind in relative terms, but seems to have recovered momentum. Japan caught up. What happened to the Islamicate region? Out of the great centers of ancient civilization, they seem to be the ones most bankrupt today)
    Something on these lines would avoid making theology the central issue.
    Unless you think theology IS the central issue?

    • Replies: @Yudi
    I've asked this question before and tried to find books on the topic, but haven't found much of answer so far. I'd like to hear of some good reads about the decline of the Islamic world that are relatively ideology-free.
    , @rec1man
    http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/14/national-merit-semifinalists-announced/

    Has the 2017 , California National Merit List ;

    Total 2100

    850 Chinese
    100 Korean
    75 Vietnamese
    25 Japanese

    125 Jews

    55 Muslims

    275 Hindus ( of which 125 Brahmin and 20 Jains and 18 Khatri and 55 Dravidian )
    ( and 3 Jat Sikhs and 4 Patels )

    Islam bans free thinking and is like puttin blinders on a horse - whereas Science can induce disbelief as real data conflict with theology
    , @BB753
    "Perhaps a better question would be: why did the development of philosophical and scientific thought in the core Islamicate region get stuck/fall behind/remains bankrupt?"

    Lower IQ. They didn't have enough brains to make it to the industrial revolution.
  6. @ohwilleke
    A question I've repeatedly pondered at length is "why the Islamic world doesn't seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?" and whether it will ever do so.

    I can't say that I've ever answered the question satisfactorily.

    What would “reformation” even mean in an Islamic context…it’s not like they have a pope to rebel against, so is that analoy really helpful? And going by the European experience which did include extremes like the rule of terror of the Münster anabaptists, and more generally the use of state power to enforce confessional uniformity, I’m not sure “reformation” would even be desirable.

    • Replies: @random observer
    Agree with you and others that the degree to which the Christian reformation can be mapped onto Islam is pretty limited, and that holds whether one or both of these frameworks is applied, both having some value:

    1. the issues and the nature of the religions are too different

    2. Islam IS a Christian reformation [and/or the Second Jewish Reformation, for that matter]. As Thursday suggested above.

    The other alternative, the one brought to mind by your comment, is that the movements that have emerged in the past 150 -200 years [Salafis hither and yon including Wahhabis; the various Deobandis; for that matter several generations of new Sufi orders like the Senussi and others; not all of which are either violent or focused on external jihad by any means] ARE the Islamic Reformation. Similar to what Thursday said about Islam at its origin.

    Like the reformation, there is a sort of loose unity imposed by the goal of finding some new or reborn purism, but little else. There are book and word obsessives, and spiritualists. Violent warrior denominations, introspective meditatives, and social reformers. It doesn't mean Baghdadi is the new Calvin or make Islam today identical with Europe circa 1400-1700 [I'm running from the first big outbreaks of dissent to the end of religion as a serious driver of intra-Christian war], but it does impose a certain humility on those of us observing this period in Islamic civilization. I wonder what Europe would have looked like in 1570 to the Ming, had they been as affected by it as we are by what is happening in Islam today. [Not that they didn't have either internal violence or religious division. Just that they would have seen Europe's way of doing it as quite alien.]
  7. because Islam can be seen in many ways as a reformation [of the monotheisms then available]? Iconoclasm, and speaking to god without intermediaries, seem to me to predict or mirror Calvinism. Which might or might not reflect a restrictive, personal, view of “The Reformation”.

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey JKM,

    Spot on! That is definitely one of the theological foundations of Islam. It is our contention that it is a return to the pure transcendent monotheism of the past - before there was a Jew or Christian - think Noah (as), Abraham (as), etc. Bani Israel happens to be a fork in the tradition (an important one) but still only a fork. This is why Muslims will not have a problem with saying that it is quite possible that people like Buddha or Zoroaster were divinely guided men but that we don't have confidence in the reliability of their teachings as they have been preserved; for us Divine guidance has never been the monopoly of the Semites - this is possibly another reformist position.

    Peace.
  8. @ohwilleke
    A question I've repeatedly pondered at length is "why the Islamic world doesn't seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?" and whether it will ever do so.

    I can't say that I've ever answered the question satisfactorily.

    Hey ohwilleke,

    I’ll take a crack at this…

    The foundations of Sunni Orthodoxy in Islam (it’s the one that concerns us most since it has always been the super majority) are fairly solid – for both creed and jurisprudence. It is flexible – in a practical way – to a point…but not beyond that. There has always been dissent among the scholarship, but nothing was ever centralized like in Western Christendom, so dissent has always been part of the tradition…these opinions are then analyzed and either accepted or discarded. You will far more likely see secular authorities simply discarding rulings or such that they find impractical or feel are against their interest (Ottomans did this at times) – but an about-face from the qualified scholarship on a scale of what happened from the clergy in Europe is not likely.

    You are actually seeing attempts at reformation right now; Daesh is one extreme and at another extreme are people like Irshad Manji – but nothing on that level is coming from qualified scholarship or institutions.

    Another question to ask are regarding the underlying assumptions; the Western world is magnificent in its material accomplishments but it is losing faith or tenuously holding on to it – why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route? Islamic civilization was able to strike a balance between material accomplishment and faith in the past – so the paradigm we look to for success is different.

    Peace.

    • Replies: @iffen
    I’ll take a crack at this…

    Some of us were counting on it.

    omarali makes some good comments as well.

    Not sure I buy your self-correcting premise there, Talha.


    why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route

    The orthodox Christians weren't all in on the idea either.

    I think that you need to think about this issue some more, but then you can't.
    , @random observer
    This was interesting:

    "You are actually seeing attempts at reformation right now; Daesh is one extreme and at another extreme are people like Irshad Manji – but nothing on that level is coming from qualified scholarship or institutions."

    In my comment below I hadn't considered the different role of the 'professional' religious establishments in the Christian reformation versus Islam today. Not that clergy changing their position was the whole of the former, but what a huge and decisive and probably essential role it did play. A couple of general questions:

    1. If the scholarly classes in Sunni Islam today are effectively not in the game, or could be more fairly be said to be carrying on normal business while these events play out, does that mean they can eventually become irrelevant or bypassed? Is that even possible?

    2. Or does it mean that at some point they do play a bigger role, and does that constitute a decisive moment in favour of one course, or an opportunity for them also to become more divided? Do existing differences among the madhabs matter at all in looking at such questions?

    3. I have gathered in the past that you are part of a Sufi tradition. I am far too poorly informed to pose many questions on that aspect here, but I note that the Deobandi tradition has managed to produce forms of religious behaviour that run the full gamut from the introspective to the Talibanic. [Without intending to imply that the Taliban are not the scholars and pious men they claim to be of course. But they are more extroverted than some.] Most of what we hear about in the West, at least in the press, is either radical Shi'ism or Salafism. The Deobandi origins of the Taliban don't get much play outside academic or government writing. How do you see Sufi traditions contributing to Islam's future from here on?
    , @Greg Pandatshang

    the Western world is magnificent in its material accomplishments but it is losing faith or tenuously holding on to it – why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route?
     
    I think this is very important beyond the context of the Abrahamic religions, and for seculars as well as the religious (although of course different people will have different solutions in mind). I often remember hearing Brian Reynolds Myers talking about his book on North Korea a few years ago. He said that North Korean "propaganda" is very successful at instilling a sense of meaning in the lives of a lot of people there. Suicide is more common in South Korea than in North Korea, which Reynolds Myers argued is because of a common sense of meaninglessness among South Koreans. I thought to myself, "Jesus, we [i.e. people in liberal societies] are in bad trouble if we aren't actually creating the conditions for lives that are more liveable than in North Korea!"
  9. @Talha
    Hey ohwilleke,

    I'll take a crack at this...

    The foundations of Sunni Orthodoxy in Islam (it's the one that concerns us most since it has always been the super majority) are fairly solid - for both creed and jurisprudence. It is flexible - in a practical way - to a point...but not beyond that. There has always been dissent among the scholarship, but nothing was ever centralized like in Western Christendom, so dissent has always been part of the tradition...these opinions are then analyzed and either accepted or discarded. You will far more likely see secular authorities simply discarding rulings or such that they find impractical or feel are against their interest (Ottomans did this at times) - but an about-face from the qualified scholarship on a scale of what happened from the clergy in Europe is not likely.

    You are actually seeing attempts at reformation right now; Daesh is one extreme and at another extreme are people like Irshad Manji - but nothing on that level is coming from qualified scholarship or institutions.

    Another question to ask are regarding the underlying assumptions; the Western world is magnificent in its material accomplishments but it is losing faith or tenuously holding on to it - why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route? Islamic civilization was able to strike a balance between material accomplishment and faith in the past - so the paradigm we look to for success is different.

    Peace.

    I’ll take a crack at this…

    Some of us were counting on it.

    omarali makes some good comments as well.

    Not sure I buy your self-correcting premise there, Talha.

    why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route

    The orthodox Christians weren’t all in on the idea either.

    I think that you need to think about this issue some more, but then you can’t.

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey iffen,

    Not sure I buy your self-correcting premise there
     
    Instances of self correction are in our history; development of hadith sciences to sift through the ocean of fabricated and weak hadith, defeat of the ultra-rationalist thought championed by Mu'tazilites, bridging of the divide between Sufism and Orthodoxy, etc.

    I study the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. It is full of more and more current works sifting through the older ones and trying to determine what the correct opinions are based on the strongest evidence...the self correction goes on.

    The premise is internally coherent, which is what is most important.

    The orthodox Christians weren’t all in on the idea either.
     
    Very good point, they also avoided being tossed in the Reformation; partially due to the fact that they probably didn't have a dog in the fight and partially because most were within the borders of the Ottomans - who were not going to have that bloody nonsense between their various Christian subjects - bad for taxes.

    but then you can’t
     
    I actually did; I was quite Salafi-leaning in my youth, but found that it just didn't have the same intellectual foundation that was built up over 14 centuries. Again, as a Muslim, there are some great things about Western civilization (and I'm a beneficiary of such), but I'm not sure it is viable on its current trajectory; low birth rates, dissolution of a unifying culture, widening economic divide, massive debt financing, etc. - tremendous gains in science notwithstanding.

    Peace.
  10. @omarali50
    Perhaps a better question would be: why did the development of philosophical and scientific thought in the core Islamicate region get stuck/fall behind/remains bankrupt?
    After all, the Eastern Mediterranean, Persia, even Central Asia, were as developed a civilization (or more developed at times?) than Western Europe, but they have decayed and stagnated. Why?
    This way of posing the question would make the reformation just one facet of a general development of arts and sciences that characterized Western Europe from, say, 1200 AD onwards. Why wasnt there a parallel and equivalent development in the great gunpowder empires of the Islamicate world?
    (there wasnt in India either, but India was colonized by the Islamicate empires, so that just counts as "Islamicate stagnation".. The Hindus can (and do) blame their Turko-Afghan conquerors for the rot. China fell behind in relative terms, but seems to have recovered momentum. Japan caught up. What happened to the Islamicate region? Out of the great centers of ancient civilization, they seem to be the ones most bankrupt today)
    Something on these lines would avoid making theology the central issue.
    Unless you think theology IS the central issue?

    I’ve asked this question before and tried to find books on the topic, but haven’t found much of answer so far. I’d like to hear of some good reads about the decline of the Islamic world that are relatively ideology-free.

    • Replies: @Yevardian
    Simple, nomadic warlords from central asia and the discovery of the Americas.

    Seljuks, Mongols, Timur, Qara Koyunlu, death of the silk road. Not so difficult to figure out. Also the emigration or conversion of the sources of Islam's brief vitality, Orthodox and Zoroastrian Dhimmis.

    If you look at the 'Islamic Golden Age' practically all the major thinkers, poets and engineers were Persians, Syriacs or Armenians. Even the translations of Greek thought were usually double-translated from Syriac first.

  11. @omarali50
    Perhaps a better question would be: why did the development of philosophical and scientific thought in the core Islamicate region get stuck/fall behind/remains bankrupt?
    After all, the Eastern Mediterranean, Persia, even Central Asia, were as developed a civilization (or more developed at times?) than Western Europe, but they have decayed and stagnated. Why?
    This way of posing the question would make the reformation just one facet of a general development of arts and sciences that characterized Western Europe from, say, 1200 AD onwards. Why wasnt there a parallel and equivalent development in the great gunpowder empires of the Islamicate world?
    (there wasnt in India either, but India was colonized by the Islamicate empires, so that just counts as "Islamicate stagnation".. The Hindus can (and do) blame their Turko-Afghan conquerors for the rot. China fell behind in relative terms, but seems to have recovered momentum. Japan caught up. What happened to the Islamicate region? Out of the great centers of ancient civilization, they seem to be the ones most bankrupt today)
    Something on these lines would avoid making theology the central issue.
    Unless you think theology IS the central issue?

    http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/14/national-merit-semifinalists-announced/

    Has the 2017 , California National Merit List ;

    Total 2100

    850 Chinese
    100 Korean
    75 Vietnamese
    25 Japanese

    125 Jews

    55 Muslims

    275 Hindus ( of which 125 Brahmin and 20 Jains and 18 Khatri and 55 Dravidian )
    ( and 3 Jat Sikhs and 4 Patels )

    Islam bans free thinking and is like puttin blinders on a horse – whereas Science can induce disbelief as real data conflict with theology

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey rec1man,

    You have made a claim that in the realm of science, Islam bans free thinking; please produce a more solid proof.

    Here is a starting point for reading on the subject:
    https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Triumphant-Concept-Medieval-Classics/dp/9004153861

    The Muslim world had debates on philosophy long before Christendom did; people like Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Rushd (ra), etc. incorporated Hellenistic thought into their philosophy. The Maturidi/Ash'ari positions* came out on top in open debate (whether oral or writings) - there were no book burnings or people burnings - we've always been far more accommodating to heresies. The Muslim scholarship incorporated what it felt was good, like logic and discarded what it felt was irrelevant or false. Because the debates didn't come out the way post-modern man wants is a separate matter.

    The Muta'zilites are still around but they are marginal.

    Peace.

    *And are still valid to this day:
    http://www.ghazali.org/articles/harding-V10N2-Summer-93.pdf
    , @Lot
    What is your source for the demographics there?

    Assuming you are right, I bet the 55 Muslims out of 2100 are likely 90% or more South Asian or Persian.

    The Bay Area list of hundreds of name did not include a single hit for "Moham" "Noor" "Abu" or "Abdul."

    There was one "Muhammad," with the often-Ashkenazi German last name of Lehrmann.
  12. @JKM
    because Islam can be seen in many ways as a reformation [of the monotheisms then available]? Iconoclasm, and speaking to god without intermediaries, seem to me to predict or mirror Calvinism. Which might or might not reflect a restrictive, personal, view of "The Reformation".

    Hey JKM,

    Spot on! That is definitely one of the theological foundations of Islam. It is our contention that it is a return to the pure transcendent monotheism of the past – before there was a Jew or Christian – think Noah (as), Abraham (as), etc. Bani Israel happens to be a fork in the tradition (an important one) but still only a fork. This is why Muslims will not have a problem with saying that it is quite possible that people like Buddha or Zoroaster were divinely guided men but that we don’t have confidence in the reliability of their teachings as they have been preserved; for us Divine guidance has never been the monopoly of the Semites – this is possibly another reformist position.

    Peace.

    • Replies: @random observer
    Easily the most interesting so far among several comments of value here today.

    That approach, were it taken up, would reasonably be said to vault Islam well ahead of Christianity or Judaism, making Islam come across as what I understand it claims to be, the real baseline of religion on which all others are or might have been built. essentially a mainstream interpretation of a wider, partly syncretic tradition.

    At least I think that way of putting it makes sense. Everything would be Islam, although some teachings more reliable than others.

    One thinks of "Zensunni" or "Buddhislam" as described in non-canonical works...
  13. @rec1man
    http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/14/national-merit-semifinalists-announced/

    Has the 2017 , California National Merit List ;

    Total 2100

    850 Chinese
    100 Korean
    75 Vietnamese
    25 Japanese

    125 Jews

    55 Muslims

    275 Hindus ( of which 125 Brahmin and 20 Jains and 18 Khatri and 55 Dravidian )
    ( and 3 Jat Sikhs and 4 Patels )

    Islam bans free thinking and is like puttin blinders on a horse - whereas Science can induce disbelief as real data conflict with theology

    Hey rec1man,

    You have made a claim that in the realm of science, Islam bans free thinking; please produce a more solid proof.

    Here is a starting point for reading on the subject:
    https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Triumphant-Concept-Medieval-Classics/dp/9004153861

    The Muslim world had debates on philosophy long before Christendom did; people like Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Rushd (ra), etc. incorporated Hellenistic thought into their philosophy. The Maturidi/Ash’ari positions* came out on top in open debate (whether oral or writings) – there were no book burnings or people burnings – we’ve always been far more accommodating to heresies. The Muslim scholarship incorporated what it felt was good, like logic and discarded what it felt was irrelevant or false. Because the debates didn’t come out the way post-modern man wants is a separate matter.

    The Muta’zilites are still around but they are marginal.

    Peace.

    *And are still valid to this day:
    http://www.ghazali.org/articles/harding-V10N2-Summer-93.pdf

    • Replies: @Talha
    I should clarify that there were exceptions to the general rule...some scholars with heterodox views were imprisoned or books banned, but it generally depended on the people in charge - for instance, the Al-Mohads (before they learned to chill) operated notoriously like some of the Salafism/Wahhabi extremists.
    , @Lot

    You have made a claim that in the realm of science, Islam bans free thinking; please produce a more solid proof.
     
    Is there a single Muslim-majority country in the world where saying negative things about Islam will not get you jailed or murdered? All I can think of as possibilities are places on the periphery and even then I am not so sure: the Muslim part of Sri Lanka, Albania, and Bosnia.

    You carefully qualify your question to "the realm of science" as you know that Islam leads to severe intellectual repression in the fine and liberal arts and social science, but it is not so simple to try to limit repression to just those areas, which is why Mao's China, with its ~billion 105 IQ subjects, produced no scientific achievements of note.

    Aside from the direct oppression, there is the fact that in Western societies smart boys are encouraged to do things like build robots, while in Islamic societies they are encouraged to deaden their minds by trying to memorize the Koran. That might not technically be a "ban on freethinking" but the effects are not so different.
    , @Marcus
    Do you think it's a coincidence that Christian ME immigrants are generally better regarded their Muslim counterparts from the region despite being probably of the same racial stock? Likewise with non-Muslim vis-a-vis Muslim S Asians. And this is not just material success, which we sometimes put too much stock into: they are also better "citizens" for the most part, Sirhan Sirhan and some Indian tax frauds aside. Yet compared to their relatives back home, these Muslims generally do better in largely non-Muslim states than in Muslim ones, why?
    http://vinod11220.tripod.com/backwardness.htm
    http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/10/08/wikileaks-clinton-chief-podesta-received-intel-that-muslim-migration-was-creating-misery-and-mayhem-in-europe/
  14. @iffen
    I’ll take a crack at this…

    Some of us were counting on it.

    omarali makes some good comments as well.

    Not sure I buy your self-correcting premise there, Talha.


    why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route

    The orthodox Christians weren't all in on the idea either.

    I think that you need to think about this issue some more, but then you can't.

    Hey iffen,

    Not sure I buy your self-correcting premise there

    Instances of self correction are in our history; development of hadith sciences to sift through the ocean of fabricated and weak hadith, defeat of the ultra-rationalist thought championed by Mu’tazilites, bridging of the divide between Sufism and Orthodoxy, etc.

    I study the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. It is full of more and more current works sifting through the older ones and trying to determine what the correct opinions are based on the strongest evidence…the self correction goes on.

    The premise is internally coherent, which is what is most important.

    The orthodox Christians weren’t all in on the idea either.

    Very good point, they also avoided being tossed in the Reformation; partially due to the fact that they probably didn’t have a dog in the fight and partially because most were within the borders of the Ottomans – who were not going to have that bloody nonsense between their various Christian subjects – bad for taxes.

    but then you can’t

    I actually did; I was quite Salafi-leaning in my youth, but found that it just didn’t have the same intellectual foundation that was built up over 14 centuries. Again, as a Muslim, there are some great things about Western civilization (and I’m a beneficiary of such), but I’m not sure it is viable on its current trajectory; low birth rates, dissolution of a unifying culture, widening economic divide, massive debt financing, etc. – tremendous gains in science notwithstanding.

    Peace.

  15. @omarali50
    Perhaps a better question would be: why did the development of philosophical and scientific thought in the core Islamicate region get stuck/fall behind/remains bankrupt?
    After all, the Eastern Mediterranean, Persia, even Central Asia, were as developed a civilization (or more developed at times?) than Western Europe, but they have decayed and stagnated. Why?
    This way of posing the question would make the reformation just one facet of a general development of arts and sciences that characterized Western Europe from, say, 1200 AD onwards. Why wasnt there a parallel and equivalent development in the great gunpowder empires of the Islamicate world?
    (there wasnt in India either, but India was colonized by the Islamicate empires, so that just counts as "Islamicate stagnation".. The Hindus can (and do) blame their Turko-Afghan conquerors for the rot. China fell behind in relative terms, but seems to have recovered momentum. Japan caught up. What happened to the Islamicate region? Out of the great centers of ancient civilization, they seem to be the ones most bankrupt today)
    Something on these lines would avoid making theology the central issue.
    Unless you think theology IS the central issue?

    “Perhaps a better question would be: why did the development of philosophical and scientific thought in the core Islamicate region get stuck/fall behind/remains bankrupt?”

    Lower IQ. They didn’t have enough brains to make it to the industrial revolution.

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey BB753,

    Lower IQ. They didn’t have enough brains to make it to the industrial revolution.
     
    Please explain the lack of the same from the Japanese and Chinese.

    Peace.
  16. @garyg
    I agree that his book is *the* book to read about the Reformation. (Almost the only one).
    But, I am impressed that it only took you a week to read this whole book.
    It is so dense with names and events that it seemed it took me a week just to get through one page.
    What I took away from this book was how messy, violent (e.g. anabaptists in Münster) and fractured the early days of Protestantism were. And that Europe (and the U.S.) did make it through to a more peaceful religious situation.

    I am also a slow reader; I daydream about getting through Razib’s list of recommended reading, but I just can’t process the text that fast. I need to stop and think about nearly every new fact or idea in a book. I don’t know if that means I’m exceptionally careful in my thought or just dull and slow.

    • Replies: @RaceRealist88
    If I'm really into a book, I can read over 100 pages pretty quickly (a few hours). I read at least one book a week. I've tried the speed reading route but I realized it's not good if you want to fully process the information you're reading.

    I'm going to tackle his reading list on the sidebar when I get through my backlog. Thanks for the solid list Razib!
  17. @Talha
    Hey rec1man,

    You have made a claim that in the realm of science, Islam bans free thinking; please produce a more solid proof.

    Here is a starting point for reading on the subject:
    https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Triumphant-Concept-Medieval-Classics/dp/9004153861

    The Muslim world had debates on philosophy long before Christendom did; people like Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Rushd (ra), etc. incorporated Hellenistic thought into their philosophy. The Maturidi/Ash'ari positions* came out on top in open debate (whether oral or writings) - there were no book burnings or people burnings - we've always been far more accommodating to heresies. The Muslim scholarship incorporated what it felt was good, like logic and discarded what it felt was irrelevant or false. Because the debates didn't come out the way post-modern man wants is a separate matter.

    The Muta'zilites are still around but they are marginal.

    Peace.

    *And are still valid to this day:
    http://www.ghazali.org/articles/harding-V10N2-Summer-93.pdf

    I should clarify that there were exceptions to the general rule…some scholars with heterodox views were imprisoned or books banned, but it generally depended on the people in charge – for instance, the Al-Mohads (before they learned to chill) operated notoriously like some of the Salafism/Wahhabi extremists.

  18. @ohwilleke
    A question I've repeatedly pondered at length is "why the Islamic world doesn't seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?" and whether it will ever do so.

    I can't say that I've ever answered the question satisfactorily.

    All Mohammedans consider the Quran the literal word of God, only some Protestants think the same about the Bible.
    RE: the Reformation, this is one of my favorite analyses, it was the triumph of the new bourgeoisie, think of Thomas Cromwell for example
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2014/07/the-breaking-of-images/
    “It was also an unabashedly top-down phenomenon. That image breaking we hear about was invariably the work of urban mobs, in societies that were overwhelmingly rural. The Reformation was a war of the cities against the countryside, of the ten percent (perhaps) against the ninety percent.

    It would be decades or centuries before the new religious order based on books and literacy would disseminate throughout the whole country, including rural areas. Urban communities spent those decades sneering at the religious ignorance of the peasants.”

  19. @BB753
    "Perhaps a better question would be: why did the development of philosophical and scientific thought in the core Islamicate region get stuck/fall behind/remains bankrupt?"

    Lower IQ. They didn't have enough brains to make it to the industrial revolution.

    Hey BB753,

    Lower IQ. They didn’t have enough brains to make it to the industrial revolution.

    Please explain the lack of the same from the Japanese and Chinese.

    Peace.

    • Replies: @BB753
    The Japanese soon caught up with the West during the Meiji era and were a great power in the early 1900's. They were relatively backward only because of self-inflicted isolation.
    As for China, well I guess you're reading this post on a computer made in China, or assembled from parts made in China. There's not much coming from the Muslim world. Even the trillions of petrodollars pouring out of the ground haven't done much to improve the native intellectual output of Saudia Arabia and Gulf States.
    , @Lot
    You misunderstand his point when he says "Lower IQ. They didn’t have enough brains to make it to the industrial revolution."

    No, China and Japan did not start or join early the Industrial Revolution, but once the basic conditions need for industrialization were present, they experienced rapid economic growth and industrialized.
  20. @German_reader
    What would "reformation" even mean in an Islamic context...it's not like they have a pope to rebel against, so is that analoy really helpful? And going by the European experience which did include extremes like the rule of terror of the Münster anabaptists, and more generally the use of state power to enforce confessional uniformity, I'm not sure "reformation" would even be desirable.

    Agree with you and others that the degree to which the Christian reformation can be mapped onto Islam is pretty limited, and that holds whether one or both of these frameworks is applied, both having some value:

    1. the issues and the nature of the religions are too different

    2. Islam IS a Christian reformation [and/or the Second Jewish Reformation, for that matter]. As Thursday suggested above.

    The other alternative, the one brought to mind by your comment, is that the movements that have emerged in the past 150 -200 years [Salafis hither and yon including Wahhabis; the various Deobandis; for that matter several generations of new Sufi orders like the Senussi and others; not all of which are either violent or focused on external jihad by any means] ARE the Islamic Reformation. Similar to what Thursday said about Islam at its origin.

    Like the reformation, there is a sort of loose unity imposed by the goal of finding some new or reborn purism, but little else. There are book and word obsessives, and spiritualists. Violent warrior denominations, introspective meditatives, and social reformers. It doesn’t mean Baghdadi is the new Calvin or make Islam today identical with Europe circa 1400-1700 [I’m running from the first big outbreaks of dissent to the end of religion as a serious driver of intra-Christian war], but it does impose a certain humility on those of us observing this period in Islamic civilization. I wonder what Europe would have looked like in 1570 to the Ming, had they been as affected by it as we are by what is happening in Islam today. [Not that they didn’t have either internal violence or religious division. Just that they would have seen Europe’s way of doing it as quite alien.]

  21. @Talha
    Hey ohwilleke,

    I'll take a crack at this...

    The foundations of Sunni Orthodoxy in Islam (it's the one that concerns us most since it has always been the super majority) are fairly solid - for both creed and jurisprudence. It is flexible - in a practical way - to a point...but not beyond that. There has always been dissent among the scholarship, but nothing was ever centralized like in Western Christendom, so dissent has always been part of the tradition...these opinions are then analyzed and either accepted or discarded. You will far more likely see secular authorities simply discarding rulings or such that they find impractical or feel are against their interest (Ottomans did this at times) - but an about-face from the qualified scholarship on a scale of what happened from the clergy in Europe is not likely.

    You are actually seeing attempts at reformation right now; Daesh is one extreme and at another extreme are people like Irshad Manji - but nothing on that level is coming from qualified scholarship or institutions.

    Another question to ask are regarding the underlying assumptions; the Western world is magnificent in its material accomplishments but it is losing faith or tenuously holding on to it - why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route? Islamic civilization was able to strike a balance between material accomplishment and faith in the past - so the paradigm we look to for success is different.

    Peace.

    This was interesting:

    “You are actually seeing attempts at reformation right now; Daesh is one extreme and at another extreme are people like Irshad Manji – but nothing on that level is coming from qualified scholarship or institutions.”

    In my comment below I hadn’t considered the different role of the ‘professional’ religious establishments in the Christian reformation versus Islam today. Not that clergy changing their position was the whole of the former, but what a huge and decisive and probably essential role it did play. A couple of general questions:

    1. If the scholarly classes in Sunni Islam today are effectively not in the game, or could be more fairly be said to be carrying on normal business while these events play out, does that mean they can eventually become irrelevant or bypassed? Is that even possible?

    2. Or does it mean that at some point they do play a bigger role, and does that constitute a decisive moment in favour of one course, or an opportunity for them also to become more divided? Do existing differences among the madhabs matter at all in looking at such questions?

    3. I have gathered in the past that you are part of a Sufi tradition. I am far too poorly informed to pose many questions on that aspect here, but I note that the Deobandi tradition has managed to produce forms of religious behaviour that run the full gamut from the introspective to the Talibanic. [Without intending to imply that the Taliban are not the scholars and pious men they claim to be of course. But they are more extroverted than some.] Most of what we hear about in the West, at least in the press, is either radical Shi’ism or Salafism. The Deobandi origins of the Taliban don’t get much play outside academic or government writing. How do you see Sufi traditions contributing to Islam’s future from here on?

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey RO,

    Let's see...
    1) They are quite in the game, but could probably be more engaged. They are denouncing both extremes of the attempted reformation. From what I can tell, they are trying to navigate the waters of (post) modernity and its institutions as best they can - they will readily admit this is a very confusing time. There is definitely a crisis of authority. Many angry young men (and others) are not listening to their pronouncements. Their relevancy is directly inversely correlated to the spread of Salafi/Wahhabi thought that wants to bypass them and let every man interpret Qur'an and hadith - very dangerous stuff (http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/buti.htm - read from about the half way mark). Of course there is also the section of the public which respects them but simply ignores them - Ibn Battuta (ra) mentions his frustration in Mali that he just could not convince the people to stop letting their slave girls walk around completely nude.

    I sincerely hope we are not upon this time:
    “Verily, God does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but rather He takes away knowledge with the death of the scholars until He leaves no scholar behind and the people turn to the ignorant as their leaders. They are asked to give religious judgments without knowledge, thus they are led astray and lead others astray.” - reported in both Bukhari and Muslim

    2) "constitute a decisive moment in favour of one course"...We have always had room for differences of opinion so unanimity is not a goal in itself, whether past or present. The existing madhabs (schools of jurisprudence) do play huge role. Often Hanafis will borrow rulings from the Mailiki school or vice versa due to the need of the time or circumstance. The Ottomans did this quite often and it is reflected in their attempt to institute a singular state-wide canon - the 'Majalla':
    "Derived from Hanafi jurisprudence, the code incorporated not always the opinions of the most prominent Hanafi jurists, but rather whatever Hanafi jurists’ opinions seemed most suited to the times."
    http://islamicus.org/mecelle/

    The way it is supposed to work in a state is that various scholars or factions of scholars formulate opinions on a matter (provided the matter is in their domain in the first place). The state or authorities then choose which opinion they feel is most appropriate for their need. Historically, they usually gave precedence to one school over the other. If you have the time, this is a brilliant lecture on the subject - it is far more nuanced than people think:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e403Hn3L9CU

    3) A poor excuse for a Sufi, but yes. Deoband is a historical institution kind of like Azhar. Just as some extremist elements have been linked to Azhar, there is little doubt in my mind that some graduates from Deoband have also gone rogue. What concerns me most is what the core scholars (the pillars) of the institutions say. Though I don't know much about the Taliban now, I do know they started out as a fairly popular and relatively benign force for Afghanistan. You wouldn't want them running Norway, but they stopped a lot of the bloodshed, nonsense like bacha bazi, drugs, etc. They were heavy handed, but most were known to be incorruptible and people appreciated that. I think the constant wars (almost 40 years of continuous conflict) and fracturing has led to the current situation - for instance the 'Taliban' who attack civilians in Pakistan are not officially affiliated with the parent group - to my knowledge. Again, I am not up to date on this group much so I would look elsewhere for details. The Deobandi scholarship are traditional Hanafis and (mostly) Sufis and are in constant exchange with the scholars of the Levant, Egypt, etc. The Sufi traditions are key to being able to dampen down the violence and in general, getting everyone to calm down. In the West, they are also key in preserving the hearts of the Muslims in an increasingly materialistic culture as well and spreading Islam. Many Westerners I have come across like the idea of what Sufism has to offer - Goethe, Emerson, Thoreau all spoke well of the mystic tradition.
    http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/01/28/inenglish/1422461803_942945.html

    "Local Muslims follow the Maliki madhab. In addition to that, Tasawwuf has become widespread in Granada, and most local Muslims adhere to the Qadiri-Shaziliya Tariqa."
    http://islam.ru/en/content/story/andalusia-return-islam-europe

    Peace.
  22. @Talha
    Hey JKM,

    Spot on! That is definitely one of the theological foundations of Islam. It is our contention that it is a return to the pure transcendent monotheism of the past - before there was a Jew or Christian - think Noah (as), Abraham (as), etc. Bani Israel happens to be a fork in the tradition (an important one) but still only a fork. This is why Muslims will not have a problem with saying that it is quite possible that people like Buddha or Zoroaster were divinely guided men but that we don't have confidence in the reliability of their teachings as they have been preserved; for us Divine guidance has never been the monopoly of the Semites - this is possibly another reformist position.

    Peace.

    Easily the most interesting so far among several comments of value here today.

    That approach, were it taken up, would reasonably be said to vault Islam well ahead of Christianity or Judaism, making Islam come across as what I understand it claims to be, the real baseline of religion on which all others are or might have been built. essentially a mainstream interpretation of a wider, partly syncretic tradition.

    At least I think that way of putting it makes sense. Everything would be Islam, although some teachings more reliable than others.

    One thinks of “Zensunni” or “Buddhislam” as described in non-canonical works…

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey RO,

    That is our claim - it is the religion of fitrah - primordial human nature. These were the people known as Hanifs (pure monotheists). The Qur'an alludes to this:
    "Abraham in truth was neither a Jew nor a Christian; but he was a Muslim and one pure of faith [Hanif]; certainly he was never of the idolaters." 3:67

    "The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah..." 42:13


    Everything would be Islam, although some teachings more reliable than others.
     
    Bingo! Again - we just cannot state with certainty without having some sort of evidence - the evidence we have for certain is that there were others who were not mentioned in the Qur'an:
    "And We have already sent messengers before you. Among them are those [whose stories] We have related to you, and among them are those [whose stories] We have not related to you..." 40:78
    "And verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): 'Serve God and shun false idols.' Then some of them (there were) whom God guided, and some of them (there were) upon whom error became established..." 16:36

    I believe it was the late Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi [ra], who wrote that all goodness and moral clarity wherever it is found in the world can be traced back to one or another Divinely sent guide.


    “Zensunni” or “Buddhislam”
     
    Dune reference!

    Peace.

  23. Regarding the English Reformation in particular, I really recommend Selwood’s writing, he’s a Catholic partisan, but overall provides great antidote to the Protestant narrative still taught in the Anglosphere
    http://www.dominicselwood.com/telegraph_reformation_tudor_propaganda/
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/11361080/Thomas-Cromwell-was-the-Islamic-State-of-his-day.html

    • Replies: @j mct
    Here is another Telegraph article about the English Reformation like that.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9350681/The-story-of-the-Reformation-needs-reforming.html

    I am not sure what one might call questioning the usual English narrative about the English Reformation, Jacobite?, but I always thought that if it were questioned, the Telegraph doing it would be surprising, but I guess I do not know enough about English society as in what type reads the Telegraph.

    Not to say that the English story of its Reformation is in any way, shape or form true, it’s hogwash, but it’s a specific and meticulously crafted bit of hogwash.

    England in 1509 was not a nation state, though the idea of a nation state, or that the subjects of the English crown might have be a tribe or a nation based on being subjects of the English crown, rather than something else was an idea floating around England, and Europe in general at the time. In Syria right now, there is no Syrian nation, if anyone who lives there has any tribal feeling that goes beyond family and neighbors, it’s based on religion, as in being a Shiite or a sunni or an alawite, and political borders are irrelevant to its existence or its particulars. England in 1509 was the same way, if any of the newly crowned Henry VIII subjects felt any tribal feeling beyond the local, it was to Christendom, not to England, and the man who it might be directed at was the Pope, not the King. No one would have found ‘England expects every man to do his duty’ to be stirring in 1509, though some might have found ‘Christendom expects every man to do his duty’, stirring in the proper context as in who the enemy was. By 1805, that had changed quite a bit, at least in the upper classes.

    The English nation, or tribal feeling among the subjects of the English crown based on being subjects of the English crown, didn’t arise in any sort of unplanned fashion, it was the result of a sustained long term deliberately planned policy of the English govt, there was nothing at all spontaneous or unplanned about it. Just like the French, the Germans, the Italians (not done as well as the others). The Dutch are the exception, they were the first European nation state, from 1625 or 1650 or so, and they arose in an unplanned fashion, unlike the others. The problem with this factually correct story is that tribal feeling being the sort of thing that it is, this story is a problem. A much better story would be that the English tribe began sometime before history, like the 700’s, and you, John Smith of Lancashire, are a proud Englishman as was your father and his fathers before that going back to time immemoriam or the reign of the Great Alfred, so even if this story is completely fictional, if a govt official wants to create English tribal feeling, what does he have taught in school? It was also quite successful too, there definitely was an English tribe in 1750, and at least in Hume’s History of England, published around then, this is the story Hume tells, this story and the nation part of the English nation state are quite intertwined. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t even slightly true, that is not the point, it was designed to help create tribal feeling and it worked, and believing in it, even if wrong, was part of being a good member of the English tribe.
  24. @Talha
    Hey BB753,

    Lower IQ. They didn’t have enough brains to make it to the industrial revolution.
     
    Please explain the lack of the same from the Japanese and Chinese.

    Peace.

    The Japanese soon caught up with the West during the Meiji era and were a great power in the early 1900’s. They were relatively backward only because of self-inflicted isolation.
    As for China, well I guess you’re reading this post on a computer made in China, or assembled from parts made in China. There’s not much coming from the Muslim world. Even the trillions of petrodollars pouring out of the ground haven’t done much to improve the native intellectual output of Saudia Arabia and Gulf States.

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey BB753,

    I was talking about the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

    Even the trillions of petrodollars pouring out of the ground haven’t done much to improve the native intellectual output of Saudia Arabia and Gulf States.
     
    Why are you expecting "intellectual output" in the material sciences out of the Arabian peninsula - it's about the same as expecting it out of Tuaregs who happened to suddenly become rich or others that haven't produced scientific material in the past - why would money all of a sudden change that? It's better to look for it out of other places; Khazakhstan, Turkey, Iran, Muslims in India, etc. other places which were centers of scientific knowledge or intellectual pursuits - or at least those who have cultures that can adopt to it like the Malays.

    Are these able to compete with Germany or the US? No, but that's only the goal if you want it to be.

    Peace.
  25. @jtgw
    I am also a slow reader; I daydream about getting through Razib's list of recommended reading, but I just can't process the text that fast. I need to stop and think about nearly every new fact or idea in a book. I don't know if that means I'm exceptionally careful in my thought or just dull and slow.

    If I’m really into a book, I can read over 100 pages pretty quickly (a few hours). I read at least one book a week. I’ve tried the speed reading route but I realized it’s not good if you want to fully process the information you’re reading.

    I’m going to tackle his reading list on the sidebar when I get through my backlog. Thanks for the solid list Razib!

  26. @BB753
    The Japanese soon caught up with the West during the Meiji era and were a great power in the early 1900's. They were relatively backward only because of self-inflicted isolation.
    As for China, well I guess you're reading this post on a computer made in China, or assembled from parts made in China. There's not much coming from the Muslim world. Even the trillions of petrodollars pouring out of the ground haven't done much to improve the native intellectual output of Saudia Arabia and Gulf States.

    Hey BB753,

    I was talking about the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

    Even the trillions of petrodollars pouring out of the ground haven’t done much to improve the native intellectual output of Saudia Arabia and Gulf States.

    Why are you expecting “intellectual output” in the material sciences out of the Arabian peninsula – it’s about the same as expecting it out of Tuaregs who happened to suddenly become rich or others that haven’t produced scientific material in the past – why would money all of a sudden change that? It’s better to look for it out of other places; Khazakhstan, Turkey, Iran, Muslims in India, etc. other places which were centers of scientific knowledge or intellectual pursuits – or at least those who have cultures that can adopt to it like the Malays.

    Are these able to compete with Germany or the US? No, but that’s only the goal if you want it to be.

    Peace.

    • Replies: @BB753
    My money is on Turkey and Iran. The do have some brainpower.
  27. @random observer
    Easily the most interesting so far among several comments of value here today.

    That approach, were it taken up, would reasonably be said to vault Islam well ahead of Christianity or Judaism, making Islam come across as what I understand it claims to be, the real baseline of religion on which all others are or might have been built. essentially a mainstream interpretation of a wider, partly syncretic tradition.

    At least I think that way of putting it makes sense. Everything would be Islam, although some teachings more reliable than others.

    One thinks of "Zensunni" or "Buddhislam" as described in non-canonical works...

    Hey RO,

    That is our claim – it is the religion of fitrah – primordial human nature. These were the people known as Hanifs (pure monotheists). The Qur’an alludes to this:
    “Abraham in truth was neither a Jew nor a Christian; but he was a Muslim and one pure of faith [Hanif]; certainly he was never of the idolaters.” 3:67

    “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah…” 42:13

    Everything would be Islam, although some teachings more reliable than others.

    Bingo! Again – we just cannot state with certainty without having some sort of evidence – the evidence we have for certain is that there were others who were not mentioned in the Qur’an:
    “And We have already sent messengers before you. Among them are those [whose stories] We have related to you, and among them are those [whose stories] We have not related to you…” 40:78
    “And verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): ‘Serve God and shun false idols.’ Then some of them (there were) whom God guided, and some of them (there were) upon whom error became established…” 16:36

    I believe it was the late Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi [ra], who wrote that all goodness and moral clarity wherever it is found in the world can be traced back to one or another Divinely sent guide.

    “Zensunni” or “Buddhislam”

    Dune reference!

    Peace.

    • Replies: @Talha
    As a related note, my wife took Art History in UCLA. One of the interesting things she learned was that there were no images about the Buddha for the first few centuries...then they start appearing around three centuries after his demise.
  28. @Talha
    Hey RO,

    That is our claim - it is the religion of fitrah - primordial human nature. These were the people known as Hanifs (pure monotheists). The Qur'an alludes to this:
    "Abraham in truth was neither a Jew nor a Christian; but he was a Muslim and one pure of faith [Hanif]; certainly he was never of the idolaters." 3:67

    "The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah..." 42:13


    Everything would be Islam, although some teachings more reliable than others.
     
    Bingo! Again - we just cannot state with certainty without having some sort of evidence - the evidence we have for certain is that there were others who were not mentioned in the Qur'an:
    "And We have already sent messengers before you. Among them are those [whose stories] We have related to you, and among them are those [whose stories] We have not related to you..." 40:78
    "And verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): 'Serve God and shun false idols.' Then some of them (there were) whom God guided, and some of them (there were) upon whom error became established..." 16:36

    I believe it was the late Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi [ra], who wrote that all goodness and moral clarity wherever it is found in the world can be traced back to one or another Divinely sent guide.


    “Zensunni” or “Buddhislam”
     
    Dune reference!

    Peace.

    As a related note, my wife took Art History in UCLA. One of the interesting things she learned was that there were no images about the Buddha for the first few centuries…then they start appearing around three centuries after his demise.

  29. @Yudi
    I've asked this question before and tried to find books on the topic, but haven't found much of answer so far. I'd like to hear of some good reads about the decline of the Islamic world that are relatively ideology-free.

    Simple, nomadic warlords from central asia and the discovery of the Americas.

    Seljuks, Mongols, Timur, Qara Koyunlu, death of the silk road. Not so difficult to figure out. Also the emigration or conversion of the sources of Islam’s brief vitality, Orthodox and Zoroastrian Dhimmis.

    If you look at the ‘Islamic Golden Age’ practically all the major thinkers, poets and engineers were Persians, Syriacs or Armenians. Even the translations of Greek thought were usually double-translated from Syriac first.

  30. @Talha
    Hey BB753,

    I was talking about the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

    Even the trillions of petrodollars pouring out of the ground haven’t done much to improve the native intellectual output of Saudia Arabia and Gulf States.
     
    Why are you expecting "intellectual output" in the material sciences out of the Arabian peninsula - it's about the same as expecting it out of Tuaregs who happened to suddenly become rich or others that haven't produced scientific material in the past - why would money all of a sudden change that? It's better to look for it out of other places; Khazakhstan, Turkey, Iran, Muslims in India, etc. other places which were centers of scientific knowledge or intellectual pursuits - or at least those who have cultures that can adopt to it like the Malays.

    Are these able to compete with Germany or the US? No, but that's only the goal if you want it to be.

    Peace.

    My money is on Turkey and Iran. The do have some brainpower.

  31. @rec1man
    http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/14/national-merit-semifinalists-announced/

    Has the 2017 , California National Merit List ;

    Total 2100

    850 Chinese
    100 Korean
    75 Vietnamese
    25 Japanese

    125 Jews

    55 Muslims

    275 Hindus ( of which 125 Brahmin and 20 Jains and 18 Khatri and 55 Dravidian )
    ( and 3 Jat Sikhs and 4 Patels )

    Islam bans free thinking and is like puttin blinders on a horse - whereas Science can induce disbelief as real data conflict with theology

    What is your source for the demographics there?

    Assuming you are right, I bet the 55 Muslims out of 2100 are likely 90% or more South Asian or Persian.

    The Bay Area list of hundreds of name did not include a single hit for “Moham” “Noor” “Abu” or “Abdul.”

    There was one “Muhammad,” with the often-Ashkenazi German last name of Lehrmann.

    • Replies: @rec1man
    http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/14/national-merit-semifinalists-announced/

    My guess is 25 Persians 10 Turks, 20 South Asians

    For the last several years, it was just 30 muslims per year
  32. @Talha
    Hey rec1man,

    You have made a claim that in the realm of science, Islam bans free thinking; please produce a more solid proof.

    Here is a starting point for reading on the subject:
    https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Triumphant-Concept-Medieval-Classics/dp/9004153861

    The Muslim world had debates on philosophy long before Christendom did; people like Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Rushd (ra), etc. incorporated Hellenistic thought into their philosophy. The Maturidi/Ash'ari positions* came out on top in open debate (whether oral or writings) - there were no book burnings or people burnings - we've always been far more accommodating to heresies. The Muslim scholarship incorporated what it felt was good, like logic and discarded what it felt was irrelevant or false. Because the debates didn't come out the way post-modern man wants is a separate matter.

    The Muta'zilites are still around but they are marginal.

    Peace.

    *And are still valid to this day:
    http://www.ghazali.org/articles/harding-V10N2-Summer-93.pdf

    You have made a claim that in the realm of science, Islam bans free thinking; please produce a more solid proof.

    Is there a single Muslim-majority country in the world where saying negative things about Islam will not get you jailed or murdered? All I can think of as possibilities are places on the periphery and even then I am not so sure: the Muslim part of Sri Lanka, Albania, and Bosnia.

    You carefully qualify your question to “the realm of science” as you know that Islam leads to severe intellectual repression in the fine and liberal arts and social science, but it is not so simple to try to limit repression to just those areas, which is why Mao’s China, with its ~billion 105 IQ subjects, produced no scientific achievements of note.

    Aside from the direct oppression, there is the fact that in Western societies smart boys are encouraged to do things like build robots, while in Islamic societies they are encouraged to deaden their minds by trying to memorize the Koran. That might not technically be a “ban on freethinking” but the effects are not so different.

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Lot,

    You carefully qualify your question to “the realm of science” as you know that Islam leads to severe intellectual repression in the fine and liberal arts and social science, but it is not so simple to try to limit repression to just those areas
     
    I limit my question since that is what was insinuated. As far as me knowing "that Islam leads to severe intellectual repression in the fine and liberal arts and social science"...

    What I do know is two things; 1) historically (and factually) there was open debate about heretical concepts in the Muslim lands (read some translations of the poetry of Abu Nuwas), lands that were filled with far more pious people than there are today - so your insistence that this free range of thought is repressed automatically due to Islam is not correct, 2) that was at a time when the Muslim world was top of their game, they were full of confidence. The Muslim world has lost that self-confidence and, like a hedgehog, it has curled up into a ball with spikes pointing out. On top of that, I'm not sure that the nation-state model (with its nanny-state leanings) may be a good fit for lands employing Islamic law. So in my view, the current situation is due more to the circumstances of the time rather than Islam itself. It is my hope that the repression changes once Muslims get back on their feet.

    As far as public blasphemy or mockery of God or the prophets (pbut) - then yes, that has never been tolerated - nor should be - in Muslim lands.

    smart boys are encouraged to do things like build robots, while in Islamic societies
     
    Islamic societies are a vast array of people and their environments. Your criticism is only valid for urban centers like Kuala Lumpur, Tehran, Istanbul, etc. What would a boy do with learning about robots in the Sahel region of Mauritania or in the agricultural areas of Balochistan? Herding and tending to goats, properly recognizing weather patterns, hunting (how to properly kill and skin an animal), proper farming techniques, getting the produce to the right market on time for maximum returns are far more important there. And because you don't know it is happening, doesn't mean that it is not:
    http://www.creativeminds.edu.my/v5/index.php/en/competition

    they are encouraged to deaden their minds by trying to memorize the Koran
     
    Memorization of Qur'an does not deaden one's mind. Memorizing any text of 600 pages does not deaden one's mind. It requires an immense amount of dedication and effort, it does not come cheaply. I know this intimately since my children are memorizing the Qur'an. I personally know of many doctors, engineers and people like IT directors who have memorized Qur'an. One of my first teachers in Arabic is a credentialed pathologist, assistant professor, Islamic scholar and has memorized the Qur'an:
    http://pureway.org/shaykh-omar/

    It's what you do with the person after they have memorized that counts.

    Peace.
  33. @Talha
    Hey BB753,

    Lower IQ. They didn’t have enough brains to make it to the industrial revolution.
     
    Please explain the lack of the same from the Japanese and Chinese.

    Peace.

    You misunderstand his point when he says “Lower IQ. They didn’t have enough brains to make it to the industrial revolution.”

    No, China and Japan did not start or join early the Industrial Revolution, but once the basic conditions need for industrialization were present, they experienced rapid economic growth and industrialized.

  34. @Lot

    You have made a claim that in the realm of science, Islam bans free thinking; please produce a more solid proof.
     
    Is there a single Muslim-majority country in the world where saying negative things about Islam will not get you jailed or murdered? All I can think of as possibilities are places on the periphery and even then I am not so sure: the Muslim part of Sri Lanka, Albania, and Bosnia.

    You carefully qualify your question to "the realm of science" as you know that Islam leads to severe intellectual repression in the fine and liberal arts and social science, but it is not so simple to try to limit repression to just those areas, which is why Mao's China, with its ~billion 105 IQ subjects, produced no scientific achievements of note.

    Aside from the direct oppression, there is the fact that in Western societies smart boys are encouraged to do things like build robots, while in Islamic societies they are encouraged to deaden their minds by trying to memorize the Koran. That might not technically be a "ban on freethinking" but the effects are not so different.

    Hey Lot,

    You carefully qualify your question to “the realm of science” as you know that Islam leads to severe intellectual repression in the fine and liberal arts and social science, but it is not so simple to try to limit repression to just those areas

    I limit my question since that is what was insinuated. As far as me knowing “that Islam leads to severe intellectual repression in the fine and liberal arts and social science”…

    What I do know is two things; 1) historically (and factually) there was open debate about heretical concepts in the Muslim lands (read some translations of the poetry of Abu Nuwas), lands that were filled with far more pious people than there are today – so your insistence that this free range of thought is repressed automatically due to Islam is not correct, 2) that was at a time when the Muslim world was top of their game, they were full of confidence. The Muslim world has lost that self-confidence and, like a hedgehog, it has curled up into a ball with spikes pointing out. On top of that, I’m not sure that the nation-state model (with its nanny-state leanings) may be a good fit for lands employing Islamic law. So in my view, the current situation is due more to the circumstances of the time rather than Islam itself. It is my hope that the repression changes once Muslims get back on their feet.

    As far as public blasphemy or mockery of God or the prophets (pbut) – then yes, that has never been tolerated – nor should be – in Muslim lands.

    smart boys are encouraged to do things like build robots, while in Islamic societies

    Islamic societies are a vast array of people and their environments. Your criticism is only valid for urban centers like Kuala Lumpur, Tehran, Istanbul, etc. What would a boy do with learning about robots in the Sahel region of Mauritania or in the agricultural areas of Balochistan? Herding and tending to goats, properly recognizing weather patterns, hunting (how to properly kill and skin an animal), proper farming techniques, getting the produce to the right market on time for maximum returns are far more important there. And because you don’t know it is happening, doesn’t mean that it is not:
    http://www.creativeminds.edu.my/v5/index.php/en/competition

    they are encouraged to deaden their minds by trying to memorize the Koran

    Memorization of Qur’an does not deaden one’s mind. Memorizing any text of 600 pages does not deaden one’s mind. It requires an immense amount of dedication and effort, it does not come cheaply. I know this intimately since my children are memorizing the Qur’an. I personally know of many doctors, engineers and people like IT directors who have memorized Qur’an. One of my first teachers in Arabic is a credentialed pathologist, assistant professor, Islamic scholar and has memorized the Qur’an:
    http://pureway.org/shaykh-omar/

    It’s what you do with the person after they have memorized that counts.

    Peace.

    • Replies: @Sideways
    "Peace" he says in the same comment where he says he wants me arrested and prosecuted. Nice
  35. @random observer
    This was interesting:

    "You are actually seeing attempts at reformation right now; Daesh is one extreme and at another extreme are people like Irshad Manji – but nothing on that level is coming from qualified scholarship or institutions."

    In my comment below I hadn't considered the different role of the 'professional' religious establishments in the Christian reformation versus Islam today. Not that clergy changing their position was the whole of the former, but what a huge and decisive and probably essential role it did play. A couple of general questions:

    1. If the scholarly classes in Sunni Islam today are effectively not in the game, or could be more fairly be said to be carrying on normal business while these events play out, does that mean they can eventually become irrelevant or bypassed? Is that even possible?

    2. Or does it mean that at some point they do play a bigger role, and does that constitute a decisive moment in favour of one course, or an opportunity for them also to become more divided? Do existing differences among the madhabs matter at all in looking at such questions?

    3. I have gathered in the past that you are part of a Sufi tradition. I am far too poorly informed to pose many questions on that aspect here, but I note that the Deobandi tradition has managed to produce forms of religious behaviour that run the full gamut from the introspective to the Talibanic. [Without intending to imply that the Taliban are not the scholars and pious men they claim to be of course. But they are more extroverted than some.] Most of what we hear about in the West, at least in the press, is either radical Shi'ism or Salafism. The Deobandi origins of the Taliban don't get much play outside academic or government writing. How do you see Sufi traditions contributing to Islam's future from here on?

    Hey RO,

    Let’s see…
    1) They are quite in the game, but could probably be more engaged. They are denouncing both extremes of the attempted reformation. From what I can tell, they are trying to navigate the waters of (post) modernity and its institutions as best they can – they will readily admit this is a very confusing time. There is definitely a crisis of authority. Many angry young men (and others) are not listening to their pronouncements. Their relevancy is directly inversely correlated to the spread of Salafi/Wahhabi thought that wants to bypass them and let every man interpret Qur’an and hadith – very dangerous stuff (http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/buti.htm – read from about the half way mark). Of course there is also the section of the public which respects them but simply ignores them – Ibn Battuta (ra) mentions his frustration in Mali that he just could not convince the people to stop letting their slave girls walk around completely nude.

    I sincerely hope we are not upon this time:
    “Verily, God does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but rather He takes away knowledge with the death of the scholars until He leaves no scholar behind and the people turn to the ignorant as their leaders. They are asked to give religious judgments without knowledge, thus they are led astray and lead others astray.” – reported in both Bukhari and Muslim

    2) “constitute a decisive moment in favour of one course”…We have always had room for differences of opinion so unanimity is not a goal in itself, whether past or present. The existing madhabs (schools of jurisprudence) do play huge role. Often Hanafis will borrow rulings from the Mailiki school or vice versa due to the need of the time or circumstance. The Ottomans did this quite often and it is reflected in their attempt to institute a singular state-wide canon – the ‘Majalla’:
    “Derived from Hanafi jurisprudence, the code incorporated not always the opinions of the most prominent Hanafi jurists, but rather whatever Hanafi jurists’ opinions seemed most suited to the times.”
    http://islamicus.org/mecelle/

    The way it is supposed to work in a state is that various scholars or factions of scholars formulate opinions on a matter (provided the matter is in their domain in the first place). The state or authorities then choose which opinion they feel is most appropriate for their need. Historically, they usually gave precedence to one school over the other. If you have the time, this is a brilliant lecture on the subject – it is far more nuanced than people think:

    3) A poor excuse for a Sufi, but yes. Deoband is a historical institution kind of like Azhar. Just as some extremist elements have been linked to Azhar, there is little doubt in my mind that some graduates from Deoband have also gone rogue. What concerns me most is what the core scholars (the pillars) of the institutions say. Though I don’t know much about the Taliban now, I do know they started out as a fairly popular and relatively benign force for Afghanistan. You wouldn’t want them running Norway, but they stopped a lot of the bloodshed, nonsense like bacha bazi, drugs, etc. They were heavy handed, but most were known to be incorruptible and people appreciated that. I think the constant wars (almost 40 years of continuous conflict) and fracturing has led to the current situation – for instance the ‘Taliban’ who attack civilians in Pakistan are not officially affiliated with the parent group – to my knowledge. Again, I am not up to date on this group much so I would look elsewhere for details. The Deobandi scholarship are traditional Hanafis and (mostly) Sufis and are in constant exchange with the scholars of the Levant, Egypt, etc. The Sufi traditions are key to being able to dampen down the violence and in general, getting everyone to calm down. In the West, they are also key in preserving the hearts of the Muslims in an increasingly materialistic culture as well and spreading Islam. Many Westerners I have come across like the idea of what Sufism has to offer – Goethe, Emerson, Thoreau all spoke well of the mystic tradition.
    http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/01/28/inenglish/1422461803_942945.html

    “Local Muslims follow the Maliki madhab. In addition to that, Tasawwuf has become widespread in Granada, and most local Muslims adhere to the Qadiri-Shaziliya Tariqa.”
    http://islam.ru/en/content/story/andalusia-return-islam-europe

    Peace.

  36. @Talha
    Hey rec1man,

    You have made a claim that in the realm of science, Islam bans free thinking; please produce a more solid proof.

    Here is a starting point for reading on the subject:
    https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Triumphant-Concept-Medieval-Classics/dp/9004153861

    The Muslim world had debates on philosophy long before Christendom did; people like Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Rushd (ra), etc. incorporated Hellenistic thought into their philosophy. The Maturidi/Ash'ari positions* came out on top in open debate (whether oral or writings) - there were no book burnings or people burnings - we've always been far more accommodating to heresies. The Muslim scholarship incorporated what it felt was good, like logic and discarded what it felt was irrelevant or false. Because the debates didn't come out the way post-modern man wants is a separate matter.

    The Muta'zilites are still around but they are marginal.

    Peace.

    *And are still valid to this day:
    http://www.ghazali.org/articles/harding-V10N2-Summer-93.pdf

    Do you think it’s a coincidence that Christian ME immigrants are generally better regarded their Muslim counterparts from the region despite being probably of the same racial stock? Likewise with non-Muslim vis-a-vis Muslim S Asians. And this is not just material success, which we sometimes put too much stock into: they are also better “citizens” for the most part, Sirhan Sirhan and some Indian tax frauds aside. Yet compared to their relatives back home, these Muslims generally do better in largely non-Muslim states than in Muslim ones, why?
    http://vinod11220.tripod.com/backwardness.htm
    http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/10/08/wikileaks-clinton-chief-podesta-received-intel-that-muslim-migration-was-creating-misery-and-mayhem-in-europe/

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Marucs,

    Not necessarily. I live down the street from an Assyrian Orthodox Church. Their young people could pass for Latinos with the way they behave and dress. They'll integrate just fine; what's keeping them from switching churches, etc.?

    I don't think it is realistic to expect Muslims to integrate in that sense, but as far as just being good citizens then, yes, they should absolutely be held up to high(er) standards. I can't stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc. My teachers criticize this kind of nonsense a lot. Will this mentality change? I am seeing hopeful signs in the next generation.


    these Muslims generally do better in largely non-Muslim states than in Muslim ones
     
    Depends on where exactly you are talking about. But I would say yes, indeed Muslims do generally better in places like the West because the West is well put together. They have seriously invested time into learning how to organize a working society* and - I think this is the most important - brought transparency into governance (for the most part). A lot of this has to do with self-respect and a desire to strive for excellence in whatever you do. The Ottomans and others had it for a time, but a good number of the Muslim world has lost it** - some exceptions like the Malays, etc. aside. Muslims can learn a lot of good things from Western culture, unfortunately many are too busy aping the worst things like inner city ghetto thuggery. Like I said, it'll take some time to get things on track.

    Peace.
    *I know there are fissures here and there, so I guess part of this is seeing if this model has longevity or if it is unsustainable.

    **If previous generations saw the ease with which certain Muslims live off of handouts from the societies they emigrated to, they would be shamed to their core. This is a complete loss of dignified behavior.

  37. @Marcus
    Do you think it's a coincidence that Christian ME immigrants are generally better regarded their Muslim counterparts from the region despite being probably of the same racial stock? Likewise with non-Muslim vis-a-vis Muslim S Asians. And this is not just material success, which we sometimes put too much stock into: they are also better "citizens" for the most part, Sirhan Sirhan and some Indian tax frauds aside. Yet compared to their relatives back home, these Muslims generally do better in largely non-Muslim states than in Muslim ones, why?
    http://vinod11220.tripod.com/backwardness.htm
    http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/10/08/wikileaks-clinton-chief-podesta-received-intel-that-muslim-migration-was-creating-misery-and-mayhem-in-europe/

    Hey Marucs,

    Not necessarily. I live down the street from an Assyrian Orthodox Church. Their young people could pass for Latinos with the way they behave and dress. They’ll integrate just fine; what’s keeping them from switching churches, etc.?

    I don’t think it is realistic to expect Muslims to integrate in that sense, but as far as just being good citizens then, yes, they should absolutely be held up to high(er) standards. I can’t stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc. My teachers criticize this kind of nonsense a lot. Will this mentality change? I am seeing hopeful signs in the next generation.

    these Muslims generally do better in largely non-Muslim states than in Muslim ones

    Depends on where exactly you are talking about. But I would say yes, indeed Muslims do generally better in places like the West because the West is well put together. They have seriously invested time into learning how to organize a working society* and – I think this is the most important – brought transparency into governance (for the most part). A lot of this has to do with self-respect and a desire to strive for excellence in whatever you do. The Ottomans and others had it for a time, but a good number of the Muslim world has lost it** – some exceptions like the Malays, etc. aside. Muslims can learn a lot of good things from Western culture, unfortunately many are too busy aping the worst things like inner city ghetto thuggery. Like I said, it’ll take some time to get things on track.

    Peace.
    *I know there are fissures here and there, so I guess part of this is seeing if this model has longevity or if it is unsustainable.

    **If previous generations saw the ease with which certain Muslims live off of handouts from the societies they emigrated to, they would be shamed to their core. This is a complete loss of dignified behavior.

    • Replies: @iffen
    I can’t stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc.

    Redneck Muslims. Who would have thunk it.
    , @Marcus
    I could be wrong, but what I've read indicates that Muslims are also better off in India than in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh by most measures, though they are still among the poorest segments of Indian society. India has a huge problem with illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and it wouldn't be surprising to see an issue with Pakistani ones in the future. One thing to note is that the US (more than Europe, Russia, etc.) has "skimmed off the top" when it comes to legal immigration until pretty recently, e.g. a) the South Asians regardless of faith tend to be successful small business owners at the least b) Arabs in Dearborn, MI were mostly middle class, but from what I've read even the Christian ones don't get along well with the local white population. Now we're getting more resettled refugees (often dubious status IMO), so this is changing...
    , @random observer
    " I can’t stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc."

    Boy did that ever give me an out loud laugh. I had no idea these were even things in Muslim American communities today.

    That may be the unkindest cut of all- to take Muslims from the Middle East and have them assimilate to the worst elements of white or black American lifestyle.

    I might think Sayyid Qutb was nuts on some level for his overwrought reaction to a barn dance [though his logic on the trajectory of American society was plainly sound], but if this is what living in America has done to Muslims, I pity them more than America.
  38. @Talha
    Hey Marucs,

    Not necessarily. I live down the street from an Assyrian Orthodox Church. Their young people could pass for Latinos with the way they behave and dress. They'll integrate just fine; what's keeping them from switching churches, etc.?

    I don't think it is realistic to expect Muslims to integrate in that sense, but as far as just being good citizens then, yes, they should absolutely be held up to high(er) standards. I can't stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc. My teachers criticize this kind of nonsense a lot. Will this mentality change? I am seeing hopeful signs in the next generation.


    these Muslims generally do better in largely non-Muslim states than in Muslim ones
     
    Depends on where exactly you are talking about. But I would say yes, indeed Muslims do generally better in places like the West because the West is well put together. They have seriously invested time into learning how to organize a working society* and - I think this is the most important - brought transparency into governance (for the most part). A lot of this has to do with self-respect and a desire to strive for excellence in whatever you do. The Ottomans and others had it for a time, but a good number of the Muslim world has lost it** - some exceptions like the Malays, etc. aside. Muslims can learn a lot of good things from Western culture, unfortunately many are too busy aping the worst things like inner city ghetto thuggery. Like I said, it'll take some time to get things on track.

    Peace.
    *I know there are fissures here and there, so I guess part of this is seeing if this model has longevity or if it is unsustainable.

    **If previous generations saw the ease with which certain Muslims live off of handouts from the societies they emigrated to, they would be shamed to their core. This is a complete loss of dignified behavior.

    I can’t stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc.

    Redneck Muslims. Who would have thunk it.

    • Replies: @Talha
    Their necks are brown, but they need enough slapping to make them red.

    Peace.
  39. @Talha
    Hey ohwilleke,

    I'll take a crack at this...

    The foundations of Sunni Orthodoxy in Islam (it's the one that concerns us most since it has always been the super majority) are fairly solid - for both creed and jurisprudence. It is flexible - in a practical way - to a point...but not beyond that. There has always been dissent among the scholarship, but nothing was ever centralized like in Western Christendom, so dissent has always been part of the tradition...these opinions are then analyzed and either accepted or discarded. You will far more likely see secular authorities simply discarding rulings or such that they find impractical or feel are against their interest (Ottomans did this at times) - but an about-face from the qualified scholarship on a scale of what happened from the clergy in Europe is not likely.

    You are actually seeing attempts at reformation right now; Daesh is one extreme and at another extreme are people like Irshad Manji - but nothing on that level is coming from qualified scholarship or institutions.

    Another question to ask are regarding the underlying assumptions; the Western world is magnificent in its material accomplishments but it is losing faith or tenuously holding on to it - why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route? Islamic civilization was able to strike a balance between material accomplishment and faith in the past - so the paradigm we look to for success is different.

    Peace.

    the Western world is magnificent in its material accomplishments but it is losing faith or tenuously holding on to it – why would Muslim scholarship looking at this want to encourage this route?

    I think this is very important beyond the context of the Abrahamic religions, and for seculars as well as the religious (although of course different people will have different solutions in mind). I often remember hearing Brian Reynolds Myers talking about his book on North Korea a few years ago. He said that North Korean “propaganda” is very successful at instilling a sense of meaning in the lives of a lot of people there. Suicide is more common in South Korea than in North Korea, which Reynolds Myers argued is because of a common sense of meaninglessness among South Koreans. I thought to myself, “Jesus, we [i.e. people in liberal societies] are in bad trouble if we aren’t actually creating the conditions for lives that are more liveable than in North Korea!”

  40. @Talha
    Hey Marucs,

    Not necessarily. I live down the street from an Assyrian Orthodox Church. Their young people could pass for Latinos with the way they behave and dress. They'll integrate just fine; what's keeping them from switching churches, etc.?

    I don't think it is realistic to expect Muslims to integrate in that sense, but as far as just being good citizens then, yes, they should absolutely be held up to high(er) standards. I can't stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc. My teachers criticize this kind of nonsense a lot. Will this mentality change? I am seeing hopeful signs in the next generation.


    these Muslims generally do better in largely non-Muslim states than in Muslim ones
     
    Depends on where exactly you are talking about. But I would say yes, indeed Muslims do generally better in places like the West because the West is well put together. They have seriously invested time into learning how to organize a working society* and - I think this is the most important - brought transparency into governance (for the most part). A lot of this has to do with self-respect and a desire to strive for excellence in whatever you do. The Ottomans and others had it for a time, but a good number of the Muslim world has lost it** - some exceptions like the Malays, etc. aside. Muslims can learn a lot of good things from Western culture, unfortunately many are too busy aping the worst things like inner city ghetto thuggery. Like I said, it'll take some time to get things on track.

    Peace.
    *I know there are fissures here and there, so I guess part of this is seeing if this model has longevity or if it is unsustainable.

    **If previous generations saw the ease with which certain Muslims live off of handouts from the societies they emigrated to, they would be shamed to their core. This is a complete loss of dignified behavior.

    I could be wrong, but what I’ve read indicates that Muslims are also better off in India than in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh by most measures, though they are still among the poorest segments of Indian society. India has a huge problem with illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see an issue with Pakistani ones in the future. One thing to note is that the US (more than Europe, Russia, etc.) has “skimmed off the top” when it comes to legal immigration until pretty recently, e.g. a) the South Asians regardless of faith tend to be successful small business owners at the least b) Arabs in Dearborn, MI were mostly middle class, but from what I’ve read even the Christian ones don’t get along well with the local white population. Now we’re getting more resettled refugees (often dubious status IMO), so this is changing…

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Marcus,

    that Muslims are also better off in India than in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh by most measures
     
    India is huge, so depends on where you are talking about. I have a co-worker from the south, the Malabar coast (which was never under Mughal rule - Muslims there are Shafi'i). Anyway, he was saying Muslims do pretty well there and are integrated quite well - despite some not-so-pleasant history.

    it wouldn’t be surprising to see an issue with Pakistani ones in the future
     
    I think Pakistan will win the war by throwing its hands up, declaring itself a state of India and demanding re-integration - I believe Delhi shakes in their boots over this prospect.

    Peace.
  41. @iffen
    I can’t stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc.

    Redneck Muslims. Who would have thunk it.

    Their necks are brown, but they need enough slapping to make them red.

    Peace.

  42. @Marcus
    I could be wrong, but what I've read indicates that Muslims are also better off in India than in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh by most measures, though they are still among the poorest segments of Indian society. India has a huge problem with illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and it wouldn't be surprising to see an issue with Pakistani ones in the future. One thing to note is that the US (more than Europe, Russia, etc.) has "skimmed off the top" when it comes to legal immigration until pretty recently, e.g. a) the South Asians regardless of faith tend to be successful small business owners at the least b) Arabs in Dearborn, MI were mostly middle class, but from what I've read even the Christian ones don't get along well with the local white population. Now we're getting more resettled refugees (often dubious status IMO), so this is changing...

    Hey Marcus,

    that Muslims are also better off in India than in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh by most measures

    India is huge, so depends on where you are talking about. I have a co-worker from the south, the Malabar coast (which was never under Mughal rule – Muslims there are Shafi’i). Anyway, he was saying Muslims do pretty well there and are integrated quite well – despite some not-so-pleasant history.

    it wouldn’t be surprising to see an issue with Pakistani ones in the future

    I think Pakistan will win the war by throwing its hands up, declaring itself a state of India and demanding re-integration – I believe Delhi shakes in their boots over this prospect.

    Peace.

  43. @Lot
    What is your source for the demographics there?

    Assuming you are right, I bet the 55 Muslims out of 2100 are likely 90% or more South Asian or Persian.

    The Bay Area list of hundreds of name did not include a single hit for "Moham" "Noor" "Abu" or "Abdul."

    There was one "Muhammad," with the often-Ashkenazi German last name of Lehrmann.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/14/national-merit-semifinalists-announced/

    My guess is 25 Persians 10 Turks, 20 South Asians

    For the last several years, it was just 30 muslims per year

  44. @Marcus
    Regarding the English Reformation in particular, I really recommend Selwood's writing, he's a Catholic partisan, but overall provides great antidote to the Protestant narrative still taught in the Anglosphere
    http://www.dominicselwood.com/telegraph_reformation_tudor_propaganda/
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/11361080/Thomas-Cromwell-was-the-Islamic-State-of-his-day.html

    Here is another Telegraph article about the English Reformation like that.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9350681/The-story-of-the-Reformation-needs-reforming.html

    I am not sure what one might call questioning the usual English narrative about the English Reformation, Jacobite?, but I always thought that if it were questioned, the Telegraph doing it would be surprising, but I guess I do not know enough about English society as in what type reads the Telegraph.

    Not to say that the English story of its Reformation is in any way, shape or form true, it’s hogwash, but it’s a specific and meticulously crafted bit of hogwash.

    England in 1509 was not a nation state, though the idea of a nation state, or that the subjects of the English crown might have be a tribe or a nation based on being subjects of the English crown, rather than something else was an idea floating around England, and Europe in general at the time. In Syria right now, there is no Syrian nation, if anyone who lives there has any tribal feeling that goes beyond family and neighbors, it’s based on religion, as in being a Shiite or a sunni or an alawite, and political borders are irrelevant to its existence or its particulars. England in 1509 was the same way, if any of the newly crowned Henry VIII subjects felt any tribal feeling beyond the local, it was to Christendom, not to England, and the man who it might be directed at was the Pope, not the King. No one would have found ‘England expects every man to do his duty’ to be stirring in 1509, though some might have found ‘Christendom expects every man to do his duty’, stirring in the proper context as in who the enemy was. By 1805, that had changed quite a bit, at least in the upper classes.

    The English nation, or tribal feeling among the subjects of the English crown based on being subjects of the English crown, didn’t arise in any sort of unplanned fashion, it was the result of a sustained long term deliberately planned policy of the English govt, there was nothing at all spontaneous or unplanned about it. Just like the French, the Germans, the Italians (not done as well as the others). The Dutch are the exception, they were the first European nation state, from 1625 or 1650 or so, and they arose in an unplanned fashion, unlike the others. The problem with this factually correct story is that tribal feeling being the sort of thing that it is, this story is a problem. A much better story would be that the English tribe began sometime before history, like the 700’s, and you, John Smith of Lancashire, are a proud Englishman as was your father and his fathers before that going back to time immemoriam or the reign of the Great Alfred, so even if this story is completely fictional, if a govt official wants to create English tribal feeling, what does he have taught in school? It was also quite successful too, there definitely was an English tribe in 1750, and at least in Hume’s History of England, published around then, this is the story Hume tells, this story and the nation part of the English nation state are quite intertwined. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t even slightly true, that is not the point, it was designed to help create tribal feeling and it worked, and believing in it, even if wrong, was part of being a good member of the English tribe.

    • Agree: Marcus
    • Replies: @omarali50
    I recently read Robert Tomb's "The English" and he would vigorously disagree with this characterization. He makes the argument that England had a sense of being one country before any of the other nation states in Europe. Like most things in history, this is arguable, but he did seem to have a good argument.
  45. @ohwilleke
    A question I've repeatedly pondered at length is "why the Islamic world doesn't seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?" and whether it will ever do so.

    I can't say that I've ever answered the question satisfactorily.

    The Reformation was about the subordination of Christianity to the state, the breaking of the Catholic churches universal claims to rule men beyond politics. The City of God.

    With Islam there has always been a closer union between state and religion. Mohammed was a political leader.

    When the Reformers gutted and divided Christianity they destroyed it’s claim to truth and led to the slow rise of atheism and scepticism about religious belief.

    This cancer is slowly destroying us.

  46. @j mct
    Here is another Telegraph article about the English Reformation like that.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9350681/The-story-of-the-Reformation-needs-reforming.html

    I am not sure what one might call questioning the usual English narrative about the English Reformation, Jacobite?, but I always thought that if it were questioned, the Telegraph doing it would be surprising, but I guess I do not know enough about English society as in what type reads the Telegraph.

    Not to say that the English story of its Reformation is in any way, shape or form true, it’s hogwash, but it’s a specific and meticulously crafted bit of hogwash.

    England in 1509 was not a nation state, though the idea of a nation state, or that the subjects of the English crown might have be a tribe or a nation based on being subjects of the English crown, rather than something else was an idea floating around England, and Europe in general at the time. In Syria right now, there is no Syrian nation, if anyone who lives there has any tribal feeling that goes beyond family and neighbors, it’s based on religion, as in being a Shiite or a sunni or an alawite, and political borders are irrelevant to its existence or its particulars. England in 1509 was the same way, if any of the newly crowned Henry VIII subjects felt any tribal feeling beyond the local, it was to Christendom, not to England, and the man who it might be directed at was the Pope, not the King. No one would have found ‘England expects every man to do his duty’ to be stirring in 1509, though some might have found ‘Christendom expects every man to do his duty’, stirring in the proper context as in who the enemy was. By 1805, that had changed quite a bit, at least in the upper classes.

    The English nation, or tribal feeling among the subjects of the English crown based on being subjects of the English crown, didn’t arise in any sort of unplanned fashion, it was the result of a sustained long term deliberately planned policy of the English govt, there was nothing at all spontaneous or unplanned about it. Just like the French, the Germans, the Italians (not done as well as the others). The Dutch are the exception, they were the first European nation state, from 1625 or 1650 or so, and they arose in an unplanned fashion, unlike the others. The problem with this factually correct story is that tribal feeling being the sort of thing that it is, this story is a problem. A much better story would be that the English tribe began sometime before history, like the 700’s, and you, John Smith of Lancashire, are a proud Englishman as was your father and his fathers before that going back to time immemoriam or the reign of the Great Alfred, so even if this story is completely fictional, if a govt official wants to create English tribal feeling, what does he have taught in school? It was also quite successful too, there definitely was an English tribe in 1750, and at least in Hume’s History of England, published around then, this is the story Hume tells, this story and the nation part of the English nation state are quite intertwined. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t even slightly true, that is not the point, it was designed to help create tribal feeling and it worked, and believing in it, even if wrong, was part of being a good member of the English tribe.

    I recently read Robert Tomb’s “The English” and he would vigorously disagree with this characterization. He makes the argument that England had a sense of being one country before any of the other nation states in Europe. Like most things in history, this is arguable, but he did seem to have a good argument.

  47. @ohwilleke
    A question I've repeatedly pondered at length is "why the Islamic world doesn't seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?" and whether it will ever do so.

    I can't say that I've ever answered the question satisfactorily.

    A question I’ve repeatedly pondered at length is “why the Islamic world doesn’t seem to have had the equivalent of a Reformation yet?” and whether it will ever do so.

    Wahhabism seems to me to be the Islamic equivalent of Calvinism – with its antipathy to shrines, the veneration of saints, and other manifestations of “idolatry” widely observed amongst other votaries of Islam, its puritanical austerity of manners and mores, etc. Of course Islam at large already adhered to predestination.

  48. @Talha
    Hey Lot,

    You carefully qualify your question to “the realm of science” as you know that Islam leads to severe intellectual repression in the fine and liberal arts and social science, but it is not so simple to try to limit repression to just those areas
     
    I limit my question since that is what was insinuated. As far as me knowing "that Islam leads to severe intellectual repression in the fine and liberal arts and social science"...

    What I do know is two things; 1) historically (and factually) there was open debate about heretical concepts in the Muslim lands (read some translations of the poetry of Abu Nuwas), lands that were filled with far more pious people than there are today - so your insistence that this free range of thought is repressed automatically due to Islam is not correct, 2) that was at a time when the Muslim world was top of their game, they were full of confidence. The Muslim world has lost that self-confidence and, like a hedgehog, it has curled up into a ball with spikes pointing out. On top of that, I'm not sure that the nation-state model (with its nanny-state leanings) may be a good fit for lands employing Islamic law. So in my view, the current situation is due more to the circumstances of the time rather than Islam itself. It is my hope that the repression changes once Muslims get back on their feet.

    As far as public blasphemy or mockery of God or the prophets (pbut) - then yes, that has never been tolerated - nor should be - in Muslim lands.

    smart boys are encouraged to do things like build robots, while in Islamic societies
     
    Islamic societies are a vast array of people and their environments. Your criticism is only valid for urban centers like Kuala Lumpur, Tehran, Istanbul, etc. What would a boy do with learning about robots in the Sahel region of Mauritania or in the agricultural areas of Balochistan? Herding and tending to goats, properly recognizing weather patterns, hunting (how to properly kill and skin an animal), proper farming techniques, getting the produce to the right market on time for maximum returns are far more important there. And because you don't know it is happening, doesn't mean that it is not:
    http://www.creativeminds.edu.my/v5/index.php/en/competition

    they are encouraged to deaden their minds by trying to memorize the Koran
     
    Memorization of Qur'an does not deaden one's mind. Memorizing any text of 600 pages does not deaden one's mind. It requires an immense amount of dedication and effort, it does not come cheaply. I know this intimately since my children are memorizing the Qur'an. I personally know of many doctors, engineers and people like IT directors who have memorized Qur'an. One of my first teachers in Arabic is a credentialed pathologist, assistant professor, Islamic scholar and has memorized the Qur'an:
    http://pureway.org/shaykh-omar/

    It's what you do with the person after they have memorized that counts.

    Peace.

    “Peace” he says in the same comment where he says he wants me arrested and prosecuted. Nice

    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Sideways,

    I don't want you arrested nor prosecuted - thus, I would highly recommend not blaspheming or mocking God in a Muslim country. If you reside there, stick to academic criticism (not mockery, denigration, etc.) - this should ideally be allowed (but this also generally depends on the locality so, form a practical perspective, it gets complicated) and I believe strikes a fairly healthy balance of the kind of discourse that should be allowed in a Muslim country. As the late Shaykh Muhammad Shafi Uthmani (ra), Grand Mufti of Pakistan, had written:
    “Honest intellectual criticism when conducting research into problems and rulings remains exempt from its purview. Thus it is not supposed to be vilification in its lexical sense. Therefore, for non-Muslim citizens of Dar al-Islam, any honest intellectual criticism can be allowed, but what cannot be allowed is vilification, contempt, insult or outrage against Islam” this is found in his work of exegesis, Ma’arif ul-Quran.

    Peace.
  49. @Sideways
    "Peace" he says in the same comment where he says he wants me arrested and prosecuted. Nice

    Hey Sideways,

    I don’t want you arrested nor prosecuted – thus, I would highly recommend not blaspheming or mocking God in a Muslim country. If you reside there, stick to academic criticism (not mockery, denigration, etc.) – this should ideally be allowed (but this also generally depends on the locality so, form a practical perspective, it gets complicated) and I believe strikes a fairly healthy balance of the kind of discourse that should be allowed in a Muslim country. As the late Shaykh Muhammad Shafi Uthmani (ra), Grand Mufti of Pakistan, had written:
    “Honest intellectual criticism when conducting research into problems and rulings remains exempt from its purview. Thus it is not supposed to be vilification in its lexical sense. Therefore, for non-Muslim citizens of Dar al-Islam, any honest intellectual criticism can be allowed, but what cannot be allowed is vilification, contempt, insult or outrage against Islam” this is found in his work of exegesis, Ma’arif ul-Quran.

    Peace.

  50. @Talha
    Hey Marucs,

    Not necessarily. I live down the street from an Assyrian Orthodox Church. Their young people could pass for Latinos with the way they behave and dress. They'll integrate just fine; what's keeping them from switching churches, etc.?

    I don't think it is realistic to expect Muslims to integrate in that sense, but as far as just being good citizens then, yes, they should absolutely be held up to high(er) standards. I can't stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc. My teachers criticize this kind of nonsense a lot. Will this mentality change? I am seeing hopeful signs in the next generation.


    these Muslims generally do better in largely non-Muslim states than in Muslim ones
     
    Depends on where exactly you are talking about. But I would say yes, indeed Muslims do generally better in places like the West because the West is well put together. They have seriously invested time into learning how to organize a working society* and - I think this is the most important - brought transparency into governance (for the most part). A lot of this has to do with self-respect and a desire to strive for excellence in whatever you do. The Ottomans and others had it for a time, but a good number of the Muslim world has lost it** - some exceptions like the Malays, etc. aside. Muslims can learn a lot of good things from Western culture, unfortunately many are too busy aping the worst things like inner city ghetto thuggery. Like I said, it'll take some time to get things on track.

    Peace.
    *I know there are fissures here and there, so I guess part of this is seeing if this model has longevity or if it is unsustainable.

    **If previous generations saw the ease with which certain Muslims live off of handouts from the societies they emigrated to, they would be shamed to their core. This is a complete loss of dignified behavior.

    ” I can’t stand it when Muslims do stupid things like double-park in the street or let their kids run around unsupervised in the neighborhood while they are in prayer or not maintain their yard, etc.”

    Boy did that ever give me an out loud laugh. I had no idea these were even things in Muslim American communities today.

    That may be the unkindest cut of all- to take Muslims from the Middle East and have them assimilate to the worst elements of white or black American lifestyle.

    I might think Sayyid Qutb was nuts on some level for his overwrought reaction to a barn dance [though his logic on the trajectory of American society was plainly sound], but if this is what living in America has done to Muslims, I pity them more than America.

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