Sunday, September 17, 2006


Once again, many parts of the Muslim world fall into a defensive rage because of perceived criticism, confirming the belief of many that Islam as widely practised today is intolerant of different perspectives (whether they are external or internal to the faith). It was doubtless folly for the Pope to make the remarks he did and appear not to contradict a quote that Islam was 'evil and inhuman'. The defence that his speech was a piece of deep-theology beyond the ken of ordinary mortal minds just won't wash. The Vatican, stuck in a different history to the rest of the world, needs to get its act together. Just as the previous Pope sent millions to their deaths by not explicitly approving condom use, it looks like this Pope may be prone to error.

However, there is a question in his commentary that deserves to be asked - that of the centrality of jihad in Islamic belief. Muslims and non-muslims have to ask what does jihad actually mean? To an outsider, it simply means war on all infidels (non-Muslims). To that extent, Islam does get perceived as an intrinsically violent faith. So, perhaps jihad should be sidelined in moderate practice of the faith. Or, perhaps there is another scholarly re-interpretation of the concept available. The word comes from the Arabic root ghd, which means 'to exert utmost effort, to strive, struggle.' As the link shows, there are six kinds of jihad, only one of which is 'jihad by the sword', referring explicitly to religious war.

Like the word 'Crusade', jihad has a dangerous history. The time for a more spiritual re-interpretation is surely nigh. Otherwise, yet more angry disfranchised young men in Bradford and Peshawar, driven on by rabid mullahs, will continue to abuse and simplify a religious concept as a justification of violence.


Master Peace 10:49 am  

The spiritual re-interpretation is already here!

Trust the Fraudulent Gurus!!

Saku Rado!

Akin 1:42 pm  

In fact, the commonly accepted definition of Jihad as the Jihad of the Sword is just one of about 6 different Jihads, where the other 5 are about intelligent introspection, debate and the expansion of knowledge.

However, it is easier to mobilise people to take to violence than inspire them to engage in debate.

Part of this I have covered in my blog.

Shango,  4:12 pm  

I utterly reject the notion that a Pope (or anyone else) is "responsible" for deaths by not explicitly approving condom use. One is ultimately responsible for one's own actions, Papal declaration or no.

If the Pope had condoned castrations of two-year-old boys, would that have exonorated anyone who practiced it?

The problem as I see it with Jihad is that as long it is possible to interprete Jihad to allow violence, there will always be violence, period.

Anonymous,  7:05 pm  

if you find that the vatican needs to get its act together (1.e kowtow to your views) i suggest you get down from your lofty hill

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