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The news of the Travel Ban imposed upon a number of Muslim majority countries to enter the USA has been headline news worldwide. Shortly after the Travel Ban was announced, one of the Associations that is a resource for this website made the following announcement:

The International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA) is an academic society whose mission explicitly is to build “a bridge between different global communities of Qur’anic scholarship” and “promotes cooperation across global boundaries.”…. Critical scholarship is the most effective weapon against extremist, fundamentalist narratives. This executive order directly threatens the work of IQSA to further dialogue between cultures and promoting peace and mutual understanding through scholarship.

Some view isolating the West from Islam (so to isolate it from the extremist element) as the solution to peace. During the era of Muhammad, the Arabian City of Medina was made up of a large Jewish population who had emmigrated centuries before from Palestine; and and a divided Arab tribal population. Medina had a leader committed to “Making the Arab world great again,” (sounds familiar?), as was promised to the descendants of Ishmael in Genesis 17.

The Arab tribes had been united and experienced prosperity as a “nation” probably atleast 3 times since the time of Abraham, the last time being centuries earlier. Beginning in Medina under Muhammad,  this was an effort to unite the Arab peoples once again. After the creation of the Constitution between the religious and ethnic groups, based upon verses in the Qur’an, no doubt there was violence in the pursuit of this goal. Despite this, in the context of ethnic tension, the Qur’an communicates the following:

We created you from a male and female, We made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. 
QS 49:13

The Muslim reformers who navigated a way for the progressive segment of the Muslim world have something in common, they were not isolated, instead experiencing and interacting with other cultures.  Even on a local level in Indonesia, many Islamic Training Centres are increasingly exposed to other cultures through all sorts of means, including overseas exchange programs. This has helped, Muslim majority countries, as well as the West, overcome many prejudices concerning other cultures.

In contrast to this, the santri of the pesantren, or students of the Islamic Boarding School, traditionally do not have an opportunity to interact outside of their own environment. Even though they rarely directly support any form of violence, the isolation makes them vulnerable to itinerant extremists. (Fortunately the Indonesian Government has brought in various programs to respond to this issue)

Isolation does not negate extremism. In fact the opposite, interaction is a key component in the breaking down of  prejudices, and is something we can all contribute towards.

 

 

This E-mail brings you an additional list of resources from a diverse range of authors. The additional recommended books (4) and uploaded articles (8) include topics such as how Islamic Law evolved to what it is, and what we do know about Muhammad and what we don’t. The following is a summary of one of the recommended books, by Wael Hallaq, The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law.

Written by the worlds leading authority on the History of Islamic Law, this study presents an important account of how Islamic Law evolved from its earliest days, that  of ethical instruction for Arabs in garison towns outside of conquered cities, to what it is today.

Some of the other article topics include:

-       A Piecemeal Qur'an: furqan and it’s meaning: Walid Saleh

-       Qur’anic Deities: Patricia Crone

-       The Qur’an and the Syriac Bible, Oxford studies: Gabriel Reynolds

-       Centralized authority in Islam: Fred Donner

-       The Role of Nomads in the Near East: Fred Donne 

Each of these resources has something significant to contribute to understanding the original story of Islam’s origins. The following are the new resources uploaded, with a summary of the books being available, and the articles able to be downloaded at www.equalaccess.org.au/index.php/resources.

Qur’an and Islamic Studies has experienced many phases in the West. Generally, up until the 1950’s, the approach was polemical, to prove the Qur’an wrong and expose its errors, followed by Montgomery Watt in reconstructing the historical setting based upon Traditional Islamic writings.  In the 1970’s, radical theories appeared, ranging from the Qur’an being formalised 200 years after Muhammad in Baghdad, to 100 years before Muhammad in Syria.

Qur’an Studies in the 1990’s went form what was said to be chaos, to what Gabriel Reynolds now calls “The Golden Age of Qur’an Studies.” Some qualities differ from previous times:

-       A greater collaboration, often between Research programs in Universities such as Chicago, McGill and Notre Dam.

-       There have been a great number of Muslim scholars involved in the process.

-       Related to the second point, generally there is a greater respect for the Muslim community, and recognition that the Qur’an of today is basically the same as the original at the time of Muhammad.

It is these values that this website is an advocate for.

In this process, many have drawn the parallels with Christianity, where over the past decades an understanding of its Hebrew origin enhances the understanding of the original message. Two broad conclusions from this study has been: Firstly, the emergence of Islam was very interconnected with Syriac speaking Christianity in the Middle East and secondly, that Islam, despite its original distinctive, evolved in its beliefs, to what it is today. 

There are many positive consequences of getting a better understanding of how Islam emerged. For the Muslim community, this study helps in identity. Who am I really, as a Muslim? With this being an issue for a time long ago, does it need to be something I carry now? Where did my attitude towards these areas originate? For non-Muslims, this study helps with empathy and understanding. Instead of confusion, an understanding of the origins of extremism helps to navigate fears.

We trust that this blog can contribute towards that!

Regards

Robert

 

 

We look forward to a wonderful 2017 together, and are excited about the possibilities and resources planned for this site in the coming months

Generally in countries like Indonesia, there are a lack of resources and exposure that can provide the Muslim population access to the “non-traditional” interpretation of their history, with these resources more commonly available in English or German. One great exception to this, which I have referred to in the past, is a book by Professor Mun’im Sirry, originally from the Island of Madura in Indonesia, who now lectures at Notre Dam University in the USA, whilst also regularly teaching in Islamic tertiary institutions in Indonesia.

Currently I am assisting him with the translation from Indonesian into English of his book “The Controversy of Early Islam,” which will be available later in the year.

Below is a snapshot of the issues it deals with relating to the revising of the History of Islam. As explained, because of these issues, two different Western Universities may present quite opposite views on how Islam emerged…

The historical records of Islam, which are usually used to narrate the early history of Islam regarding the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, began to be recorded more than 100 years after the event, and is now being questioned for its accuracy. The reality is that until this point, we do not have a source of information, which was written at the time of the Prophet about the story of the life of Muhammad, and how this new religion he taught developed into Mecca and Medina. We also do not have writings from the following generation. And, it is almost certain, that sources such as these will never be found. Therefore, it makes sense for the question to emerge: Do the later historical records present an accurate image of what actually occurred?

Fred Donner, a leading lecturer in early Islamic civilization at the University of Chicago, in his book Narratives of Islamic Origins (1998), presents four approaches that have emerged amongst modern scholars in responding to the question of traditional Muslim sources. In discussing the four approaches, we can observe what is the focus and basic assumptions of each of these approaches, as well as the connecting points between one to another.

The first approach, termed as the DESCRIPTIVE APPROACH, fully accepts the traditional explanation as provided by Muslim sources. This approach does not have any issue with the evidence that information provided by Muslim theologians concerning the formative period of Islam was corrupted. With this, the traditional sources can be presented as the primary source to reconstruct the history of the emergence of Islam. Modern scholars within the West who embrace this approach do not concern themselves with the authenticity of sources from the classical Islamic era. Literary works, which represent the descriptive approach, to mention a few, are The Venture of Islam (1974) by M.G.S. Hudgson; A History of Islamic Societies (1988) by Ira Lapidus; Muhammad and the Age of the Caliphates (1986) by Hugh Kennedy. These books are widely known by scholars and students of Islam, and even some of them are considered classics and obligated reading in numerous Western tertiary institutions.

Regarding the SOURCE CRITICISM APPROACH, there is a belief that there are layers of narration within traditional Muslim sources, which includes factual historical data that is enclosed by inaccurate layers of data. The genuine historical record had been contaminated by human error in its transmission, or mixed with falsified stories with a sectarian polemical or political motive. Other sources (especially Christian sources) need to be collaborated to discern true historical data, sources outside of Islamic tradition can provide evidence to strengthen or weaken the traditional historical narration that is contradictory.

With the third approach, termed by Donner as the TRADITION CRITICISM APPROACH, the Hadith and other Muslim literature of the classical era reflects the issues which had become the focus during the Umayyad Caliphate rule. If the source criticism approach assumes that the biography and historical Muslim literature that we have received is partly based upon early fragments of written literature, the tradition criticism approach emphasizes the argument that Muslim literature was primarily based upon oral traditions.

The most dismissive rejection of the Muslim corpus is the fourth, the SCEPTICAL APPROACH. It is termed sceptical not with the understanding that this is the only approach with scepticism concerning the biographical and historical Muslim literature. However, the sceptical approach is radical in considering that there is no factual information and historical data in the Muslim corpus.

In this approach, popularised by John Wansbrough , the canonization process of the Qur’an text actually occurred during the second century of Islam, not after the death of the prophet, as is described in historical literature, and in fact was canonized in Iraq during the Abbasid Dynasty. Because of that, the Qur’an cannot be said to be of the same era as the prophet, and cannot be considered as evidence regarding the emergence of Islam. The biographical and historical literature which was written by Muslims in the classical era is not considered “history” in its true meaning, however “salvation history,” meaning to serve the traditional story to idealize the prophet and the community of his followers. It is within this approach that some question even the very existence of Muhammad.

Prof. Mun’im Sirry has done a wonderful job in analysing and critiquing each of these approaches. I believe the book, once released, will be invaluable tool, presenting a systematic overview that affects how we understand Islam.

Wasalam

Robert

 

Jakarta Demonstrations 4th December

Whilst I was in Jakarta this past week, over 200,000 Muslims again gathered in demonstration at the central Jakarta monument. They were calling for the arrest of the Chinese descent Christian Governor of Jakarta, on charges of defamation of Islam. Some months ago, the Governor had commented to an audience on a particular portion of the Qur’an, which had earlier been used as a basis for protesting his legitimacy as the Governor of Jakarta by traditionalist Muslims. Rapidly the protests gathered momentum, calling for the imprisonment of the Governor.

In response to the accusations, the following is based upon an insightful article written by one of our Muslim friends, Prof Mun’im Sirry, in a Jakarta online newspaper (www.geotimes.co.id/ahok-penistaan-agama-dan-defisit-percaya-diri-kaum-muslim/)

I see this type action coming out of a sense of feeling threatened and insecure, because of an increasing deficit in identity. Has the Muslim community ever had a sense of security within itself?

The history of Islam experienced a period where there was a sense of security within itself, which even allowed for “heated” debates without any accusation of religious defamation. During the great Abbasid Dynasty (Baghdad 750AD – 1250 AD), the caliphate was not only a political figure but also quite an intellectual. It was under him that a mass of translated literature emerged from Greek into Arabic.

In this era, the Muslim leaders prepared a special room for debating between Muslim and Christian leaders, normally recorded by Christian and Muslim scribes. One debate that is recorded is between Timothy, the Patriarch of the Church of the East, and Caliph al-Mahdi, with the records showing a friendly and honouring interaction, even though the content would these days be considered extremely sensitive. 

Timothy, not believing Muhammad as a Prophet, or that the Qur’an was divinely inspired, endeavoured to show that it is impossible for the Qur’an to be from God. Likewise, al-Mahdi challenged Christian doctrines, such as the Trinity. My point is at the end of the debate session, according to the records, the two leaders embraced and honoured each other for their efforts. (Extra note: The Headquarters for the Church of the East with its rapid missional expansion and the Abbasid Caliphate continued for a long period near each other in Baghdad)

It should be added, the concept of “Religious Defamation” and “Defamation of the Prophet” in Islam only emerged hundreds of years after Muhammad during the period of the Crusades. Prior to that, throughout the classical era of Islamic writings and compiling of Islamic legal traditions, there was no understanding of “Religious Defamation” as we have it today. “Religious Defamation” was possibly first referred to in the political turbulent period of Islam in the 14th Century, when Islamic Empires were dividing and a strong sense of insecurity existed.

Many Muslims are embarrassed to hear the accusations of “Religious Defamation” (i.e. Insulting the Qur’an and the Prophet), demonstrations voicing anger, using physical intimidation rather than a logical argument.

With this as a background, the cause of demonstrations such as the ones recently in Jakarta is not isolated to a particular event. It reflects an underlying issue, one that has been present for centuries. A growing segment within the Muslim world is embracing change and reform, whilst a large segment live in a world of insecurity as Arab traditions of the past are being held on to.

Yesterdays sacrifice, Today’s Renewal.

There are a number of Muslims in the 20th Century who were Pioneers in bringing a new way of thinking.  It would not be an exaggeration that two of these, Abu Zayd and Fazlur Rahman, have left a legacy that has influenced tens of thousands of people throughout the Islamic world.

For many people, in hearing their message, they may wonder what difference it is to that of some modern Muslim’s today. However their message was during an era and region when it was so foreign, causing them to eventually be forced to live in exile from their home countries, Fazlur Rahman leaving Pakistan to the USA, and Abu Zayd from Egypt relocating to the Netherlands.  Before his departure, Abu Zayd was required by Islamic legal clerics to divorce his wife.

The reason for their exiles partly goes back to the 9th Century, when Islamic scholars, after decades of evolving theological debate and conflict, concluded that the Qur’an is not only the word of God, but is eternal and uncreated1. By the 12th Century, for someone who said that the Qur'an is created, "He should be flogged and painfully beaten and imprisoned until he repents2,"  with this being the standard Sunni doctrine to this day.

In contrast to the above, Fazlur Rahman believed that, “The Qur’an is God’s response, through Muhammad’s mind, to the moral and social needs of Arabia at the time of Muhammad.” In other words, instead of the traditional belief that the eternal Qur’an coming down through the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad in a cave for the world to follow, for Fazlur Rahman the instructions came in stages to Muhammad in contexts where it was needed. For him, the Qur’an is practical instruction to Arab tribes, previously in conflict with each other, now struggling to find a common way of life. In this, Fazlur Rahman was departing from over 1,000 years of tradition that every Sunni Muslim was locked in to.

With this background, throughout the West after their exiles, Fazlur Rahman and Abu Zayd were responsible for the establishing of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Faculties in various prominent western Universities, including the University of Chicago in the 1950’s. Thousands of young Muslim scholars and teachers, particularly from Indonesia, as well as many of the authors of material on this website, have been directly or indirectly influenced by these and other similar Pioneers. Those Muslims benefiting from this, are no longer staunchly holding to tradition, but are openly re-interpreting their past. This is the “Other side of Islam” that gains little exposure in Media.

Both Fazlur Rahman and Abu Zayd have recently passed away, but their influence hasn’t ceased. The sacrifices they have made have resulted in great positive change.

We may not contribute academically like them; however in other ways, maybe through the building bridges of trust, the sacrifices we make today can bring great change tomorrow!

1 See Asharites.

2 (Qadi 'Iyad Musa al-Yahsubi, Muhammad Messenger of Allah) Bewley Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K. 1991, p. 419

In the coming days, approximately 2 million Muslims will be arriving in Mecca for the Haj, with over 100,000 pilgrims coming from each country of Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

What is the background and significance of Mecca for this Pilgrimage, and what was its origin? According to Muslim tradition, in 630AD Muhammad journeyed to his native Mecca from Medina and destroyed all the pagan idols in the Holy Sanctuary of Mecca, called the Kaaba. He then dedicated the place as a Holy Place to remember God, the creator of the Universe.

The time prior to this event was known as Jahiliyah, the Age of Ignorance. Muslim tradition presents this age in Mecca as idolatrous, full of immorality, the killing of unwanted female children, and murderous.

Many studies now question whether there was such an “Age of Ignorance” followed by this sudden change. (See Book The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam by G R Hawting) The Qur’an speaks of people of Mecca and Arabia who knew well the characters of the Bible. The Qur’an speaks of people who knew the God of Abraham, but who compromised their faith with associating other figures, such as Angels and Saints, with God. These same accusations of angel and saint worship were common of Christian groups in Arabia during that period. It is against this background that the Qur’an’s is increasingly understood.

In creating the Age of Ignorance so immoral, and leaving that behind so dramatically, later traditions achieved 2 things: Firstly, elevating the efforts of Muhammad, and secondly, separating the inter-connectedness of the followers of Muhammad with the Middle East followers of the Bible.  This is not to deny the destroying of idols in Mecca ever occurred. However there is a very different environment in Mecca to what tradition suggests.

As centuries past, the separation increased as this later tradition was understood as reality. The challenge today is to re-build the natural original bridges, restoring that connection between communities.

Wasalam

Robert

The last couple of weeks the position of the Qur’an has been used in relation to the mass murder in Orlando, Florida. What does the Qur’an say (and NOT say) about homosexuality, and in particular, any punishment? Below is a study concerning this, however… there needs to be a reminder of the CONTEXT, which is one of the emphasis’ of this site.

The moral instructions (such as those verses relating to homosexuality) within the Qur’an are what the Arab armies recited as they brought tribal Arabia under a single creed and leadership. Beyond that, there was instruction to ensure that the laws of conquered peoples, including Christian and Jewish cities were NOT to be affected, with those people considered a part of the “community of faith.” 

Wael B. Hallaq, one of the most respected writers on the history of Islamic Law, writes in his book “The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law”…

The Arab army with their families consisting primarily of tribal nomads, rather than take up residence in the newly won cities, for the most part inhabited garrison towns as a separate class of conquerors…. The standard Arab policy adopted during the entire period of the conquests were for the invading Arabs to ‘‘establish a covenant with every city and people who received’’ them. They were to give these people ‘‘assurances and to let them live according to their laws, for the conquered to regulate their own affairs exactly as they had been doing prior to the advent of Arab conquest.’’  

With this as a context, two things need to be remembered in regards to punishments based upon the Qur’an.  Firstly, with the Qur’an's legal instructions being recited and applied to Arab armies who did not have laws to unite them, and NOT for those conquered in the early 7th century, it is difficult to use the Qur’an to justify the punishment of Muslims today, let alone non-Muslims. 

And even for the Arab conquests in the 7th century, what does the Qur’an actually say? For this, Click Here for a short summary…. 

 

Regards,

Robert

 

Dear Friends. The author of the following article, Mun’im Sirry, is a Muslim scholar from Indonesia who I met recently during a visit there. He has worked closely with a number of researchers re-looking at the origins of Islam, lecturing at the University of Chicago and Notre Dam University during the past few years. In 2015 Mun’im Sirry published his latest book in Indonesian “The Controversy of Islamic Origins: Between traditionalists and Revisionists.” This article, contributed in an Indonesian online paper, presents one of the key topics related to the origins of Islam. (Further comments are from myself below the article)

Why does the Qur’an show favouritism towards Christians? I have thought about this question for a long time. Before I answer this question, what is the basis to even claim this.

I realise it is not easy for Muslims to acknowledge this favouritism. During the classical era of Islam, there was a tendency in Islamic literature to be anti-Christian. This is easily understood, because the literature was produced in a political climate of high tension between Muslims and Christians. During this period from the 9 to the 12 century, there was a significant Christian population in the Middle East, even out-numbering the Muslim population in most countries. It was in this environment an anti-Christian polemic emerged filling Islamic literature, despite the Qur’an being favourable towards Christians.

Examples of a favourable position towards Christians in contrast to the Jews

We come across a number of criticisms in the Qur’an concerning Christian doctrine in Arabia. I have discussed this theme in my book, Scriptural Polemics: The Quran and Other Religions (2014). Despite this, the Qur’an also speaks affectionately, and even has favouritism, towards Christians. This is in contrast to the environment in Medina, when there was an anti-Jewish sentiment. In the Qur’an in Surah 5:82, which contains many polemical verses, there is a contrast between Jews and Christians as follows.

You will find the people with the greatest animosity towards those who believe being Jews and those who are polytheists; and you will find the closest in affection to those who believe are those who say: “We are Christians,” that is because among them are Priests and Monks, and they are not arrogant. (QS 5:82)

I can give a personal testimony in regards to this verse. In my coming from Indonesia in my first year as a lecturer at Notre Dam University, I was asked to give my first public lecture concerning the criticisms in the Qur’an about Christianity. The response was quite amazing to me, as people spoke to me about how they felt a need to be more humble in understanding the critical spirit in the Qur’an.

Concerning the accusation of the distortion of scriptures (tahrif), the Qur’an differentiates between Jews and Christians in Arabia. If we look at the Surah Al-Maidah, the Jews are accused of distorting their scriptures.

We (God) have made their hearts become hardened; they take the words out of context; and they forgot much of what they were reminded of. (QS 5:13)

If we compare this with the Qur’an’s accusation concerning Christians in the following verse, Christians have forgotten the contents of their Scriptures. There is no punishment for Christians, except that there is division and enmity amongst them.

They (Christians) have forgotten much of what they were reminded of. (QS 5:14)

As a further example, the Qur’an clearly supports Rome in the Roman /Persian conflict. This is expressed in the Qur’an in the Surah named Al-Rum. After the Romans were defeated by Persia, the Roman army was predicted by the Qur’an to return to reclaim victory. The interesting thing is that upon that victory, the believers will rejoice (verse 4)

So, we come back to the question, why does the Qur’an rejoice in the victory of the Roman Empire, that is, Christians? What is their connection with Islam?

The answer to this question for the German scholars Gunter Luling and Christoph Luxenburg was clear. They viewed the Qur’an’s pro Christian stance being because, for them, it was originally a Christian text. For Luling, he argued that the original Qur’an text, which he called Ur-kurn, is a Christian hymn from Arabia that was Islamised at Muhammad’s time, and after.

Somewhat similarly, Luxenberg declared that the Qur’an was not a Christian text from Arabia, but was based upon Christian-Syriac sources, understanding the foundational language of the Qur’an was not Arabic, but Syriac.

Luling and Luxenberg created a lot of controversy. For Luling, the controversy was created within the academic world. For Luxenberg, the controversy was created throughout the mass media, including front cover of the Time Magazine. Many scholars have debated the arguments of Luling and Luxenberg. However, besides agreement with some specific points, in my view it requires almost a conspiracy theory to adopt the totality of their argument.

Despite this, there is a need to continue to have a deeper study concerning the Qur’an and its surrounding context. There is a need to understand the birth of Islam, not in isolation from Christianity, which has been the assumption traditionally within Islam, but it’s inter-connectedness with Christianity. With this, we can further understand the interaction between the Qur’an and Christianity in a greater way, until we obtain a clearer understanding in regards to why the Qur’an speaks favourably of Christians. Mun’im Sirry

A Further Note from Myself: The growing consensus amongst many who are studying this field is that, despite understanding Luling and Luxenberg as extreme in their views, Islam originally was not a distinct religion as we know it today. Instead it was very much inter-connected with Christianity. For further information on this, please refer to the Book Summaries by Fred Donner and G.R. Hawting on the resources page.

Warm Regards

Robert

Dear Friends,

Over the past few months, I have mentioned about Muslim traditions that evolved over centuries that would seem to contradict the Qur’an and its context. 

A segment within Islam, often refer to themselves as being “Qur’an centric” (or Qur'anist) in contrast do not believe these later Muslim traditions. One of the better Qur’an centric websites contains systematic short studies of over 100 Muslim beliefs that are not in the Qur’an. I have uploaded 10 of these studies; Click Here to view some of these under the section “Qur’an Studies”. Some of these misconceptions include:

Tradition

Blindly Following

Islam, a name of a religion

Arabic is superior

Allah is the only God

Child Brides

Women to earn less

Qur’an’s Teaching

Q.S 5:104 - Use your intellect

Q.S 28:53 - Islam is submission, not religion

QS 14:04 – The Qur’an is in Arabic so local people could understand.

QS 17:110 - Allah is not an exclusive name for God

QS 4:006 - Marriage permissible only after Bride evidences sound judgement

QS 4:32 - No differentiation

 

qur'anThe above verses are best understood in the context of the entire study provided, also remembering the instructions being an Arabic recitation for tribal warriors. Although those who are “Qur’an centric” have positiveness towards the Bible, are anti-extremism and view God’s supremacy over Muhammad, they often do not read the Qur’an in view of its local context. (See Abdullah Saeed: Reading the Qur’an contextually).

This week we are also excited to introduce another partner of Equal Access International, See Link Here. Its’me (www.itsme.id ) is bringing solutions to Muslims Families, as well as re-educating Muslims on various misunderstandings such as those listed above. It is privilege to be able to partner with them.

Warm Regards

Robert

It has been some time since the previous blog for this site, when I promised a short video of the work of one of our partners. This will be coming soon. While we are waiting…

Much of this site is about what is happening in the academic world today in re-writing the History of Islam, known as Historical Revisionism. In regards to Islam, it is happening because the traditional source of Muslim history was written about 300 years after Muhammad, and very influenced by the traditions of the Arab dynasty at the time. Instead, those revising the History of Islam attempt to recreate its history in its original context. The end result… Islam and Christianity are very more interconnected, both with common origins, and much of the basis for extremism is removed.

With a new inter-connected history, the path ahead is rebuilding relationships. A group of Christians in NSW, Australia, visited a number of mosques recently, each asking for a Qur’an. That evolved in sharing meals together, suspicions of each other decreasing, and friendships established. Simple, but a challenge and inspiration to us all!

New Recommended Books

Two new recommended books on this site by G R Hawting are:  

The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam - According to Muslim tradition, Arabia was filled with idolatry, and Muhammad introduced montheism for the first time. Hawting explains that this is quite misleading. Arabia embraced forms of montheism long before Muhammad, however with diverse forms of Eastern Christianity often compromising a pure montheism through the deifying of saints. 

The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate - The First Arab Political Dynasty, which ISIS today seeks to restore, was much different from Islam today. Sharia Law was still centuries before it was finalised. The Sunna (The example of Muhammad) was being debated. Hawting presents an understanding of life in the Umayyad Dynasty prior to the later evolving of Islamic traditions.

We trust that these resources will be a contribution to bringing understanding to challenges facing Islam today.

 

Warm Regards

Robert

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