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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Multiculturalism’s Child Brides

Recent reports of under-age marriages in Australia are evidence that the authorities need to do more to enforce marriage laws in Western nations, and to restrict the practice of unregistered ‘clandestine’ religious marriages, particularly Islamic marriages.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Islam’s Second Crisis: the troubles to come

In What Went Wrong, Bernard Lewis charted the decline of Islam in the modern era and the resulting theological crisis for the Muslim world.

Now Islam is going through a second crisis, caused by the repeated failures of revivalist responses to the first crisis.  This second crisis, combined with the cumulative effect of the first crisis, which remains unresolved, will lead to a long drawn-out period of political and social instability for Muslim societies.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Andrew Brown on "Response to A GUIDE TO REFUTING JIHADISM"

Andrew Brown of the Guardian has commented on my response to A Guide to Refuting Jihadism, which was published first on Lapido Media and then in fuller form on this blog.

Brown writes:
Can you dissuade fanatical jihadis using theological argument?
by Andrew Brown (as revised on Feb 10, 2014)
It doesn't really matter whether the fundamentalists are right about the nature of Islam – it's loyalties and peer pressure that drive them.

How much of what jihadis do is religiously motivated? At one extreme are those who claim their beliefs are entirely explained by oppression and reaction to social circumstances; at the other is the view that the Qur'an is a kind of brain parasite, compelling its victims to slaughter. This latter view is still quite popular on the fringes of the right. I'd like to think the view that religion doesn't matter at all has been abandoned entirely but there is bound to be some groupuscule or cult that still clings to it.

More sophisticated versions of the argument continue, though, and there was a fascinating outbreak this week when the Henry Jackson Society published a pamphlet organised by a former jihadi giving theological reasons why jihadi violence is as unjustified as terrorism, and a counterblast saying this would persuade no one, as Muhammad himself had clearly done indiscriminately violent things and the fanatics we are dealing with use only the text of the Qur'an.

Both sides in this dispute know what they are talking about. The Henry Jackson pamphlet comes with a foreword by the remarkable Usama Hasan, who himself fought in Afghanistan in the 1990s; the Christian counterblast comes from an experienced watcher of the jihadi scene.

Read the full article at:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2014/feb/09/fanatical-jihadis-theological-argument-islam-fundamentalists

Friday, February 7, 2014

Response to A GUIDE TO REFUTING JIHADISM – Critiquing radical Islamist claims to theological authenticity

This article first appeared with Lapido Media: see here.

The Henry Jackson Society had just launched a guide to rejecting jihadi theologies in Islam, A Guide to Refuting Jihadism by Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart.  There are also forewords by two Sheikhs, including one from Al-Azhar University, and endorsements from other Muslim leaders.  
Although the appearance of this guide as a welcome acknowledgement that jihadi violence is theologically motivated, its use of Islamic sources is flawed and unconvincing, and there are risks for secular governments in embracing its arguments.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Abrahamic Fallacy

The original of this article was published in the New English Review.

The Abrahamic Fallacy

by Mark Durie (February 2014)
Presented at Ahavath Torah Synagogue, Stoughton, Massachusetts January  9, 2014
and for Children of Holocaust Survivors in Los Angeles, California, January 21,2014
(the video displayed here below)
Introduction
The Abrahamic Fallacy is the belief that Abraham is a figure of unity for Islam, Christianity and Judaism. 
The phrase “Abrahamic Religions” has become very popular as a cover-term for these three faiths. It is particularly popular among Jewish and Christian progressives on the one hand, and Muslim apologists on the other. The term implies a kind of unity or brotherhood across the three faiths.
More broadly, the term “Abrahamic religions” has become the standard term, both in comparative religions and popular parlance, to refer to the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in contrast, for example, to Indian religions and East Asian religions.
In essence the claim embodied by the expression is that Abraham is “shared” as a point of common origin by all three monotheistic religions, and naming him as their shared identity is meant to signal that these three faiths are linked together in some kind of theological continuity. 
The expression is in fact used in a variety of ways. Adam Dodds points out that for some, it is simply a cover term for the grouping of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, a kind of functional shorthand without any intended theological content. Others – perhaps the majority of writers – use the phrase to imply some degree of “historical and theological commonality,” perhaps unspecified. For still others the term implies an intimate unity, namely that it is one and the same God who has authored the Bible and the Qur’an, and the same eternal message is presented in both books.
But is the construct of “Abrahamic religion” helpful, or quite the opposite, a bad idea? And specifically, is the multi-faith Abraham the same person found in the pages of the Torah, or is he merely a product of wishful thinking?