From (Jeremiah McAuliffe)
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam
Subject: Re: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Muslim Book Part 2 (2/2)
Date: Thu Sep 19 12:05:35 EDT 1996
Message-Id: <51rr0f$>

Abdul Saleeb wrote:

>Jeremiah, I am too tired and too bored with this discussion to look up

Well, so am I. It WOULD be interesting to see other people chime in
here.... even if that means Muslims disagreeing with me.

Saleeb, your book is an argument against certain forms of Islam, not
Islam per se. It is, in that case, a book I might support. Your book
is an argument for an overhaul and upgrading of our religious

Muslim intellectual work and theology has been asleep for 400 years
as symbolized by the phrase "closing the doors to ijtihad". I assume
you are familiar with that phrase. You have based your understanding
of Islam on what you hear from contemporary Muslims and a few
selective readings and interpretations. Had you really talked to a
broad cross-section of Muslims, if you had really read Faruqi, you
would know this (such as his book on tawhid-- excellent). Though, I
will grant you, Muslims such as myself seem to be in a minority....
and, to be fair to you, some local Muslims think I work for the
FBI-CIA. I think they have unresolved psycho-social problems that are
being expressed by means of religion....

I did find your statement of your experience at Al-Azhar really
interesting. The top "Muslim" university is still stuck in Medieval
styles of thinking--- precisely my complaint as readers of sri know.
Now, I'm not saying there is NO place for this, but certainly, as
someone who has engaged in formal academic religious studies, I can
say with confidence that there have been advances and developments in
styles of thought and methodologies in the human sciences that change
the character of any theological activities....

You did not address my concerns, nor did you refute them, nor did you
defend your book as an argument against Islam per se. However, as a
devastating work against contemporary Muslim practice? I'll give it
to you. As a complaint against contemporary Muslim theology? I'll
give it to you. Indeed, I'll join you.

In fact, I'll go farther than that: imho, there are fundamental,
foundational errors in our contemporary approach to both Qur'an and

You mentioned the assasinations. THAT would have been good to put in
your book, as well as the hadith where some guys have their eyes put
out. When I discovered these and asked about them here in sri, and
asked about them of local Muslims NOT ONE Muslim even knew of these
hadith, which are in sahih Bukhari. I got e-mail saying what a bad
guy I was for even bringing it up! That is typical of my experience
with Muslims-as-a-group: don't ask questions! I saw this same
attitude in Catholic school.  So.... many of today's Muslims, and, it
would seem, ALL of the Muslims on sri, are not even familiar with the
foundational texts of our tradition. Pretty normal. When I was
Catholic I knew a lot who had never read the Bible, much less the
Vatican II documents......

So, as a complaint against contemporary Muslim practice, and as a
call for an overhaul of our religious education, your book works.
Indeed, it proves my own points, made to my Muslim brothers and
sisters, that we need new ijtihad..... big time. Our absurd Medieval
positions on a number of issues leave us open to valid attacks. The
Geisler-Saleeb book, when seen as a complaint against our
contemporary practice, is valid. The statement that our contemporary
theology is "bankrupt" is true. It would seem that most of us are not
really studying religion at all-- relying on "what our forefathers
did" which we know from the Qur'an that is an invalid basis for

However, your stuff on the immanence-transcendence issue still
doesn't work. Again, don't you accept the Christian idea of Godhead
and those writers I mentioned who use metaphors like "dark nights"
"desert experience" etc? And what about the "via negativa" and the
form of silent prayer called "orison" (spelling?) All of these talk
about God-as-transcendent.....

I'll end on a positive note for you, a negative one for us. We
Muslims do indeed have things to learn from our Christian cousins.
How often are we talking about things like joy, compassion, love,
forgiveness? Almost never. THAT, Saleeb, is the foundational Achilles
heel of contemporary Muslim practice...... also, the legalistic
trends in Islam-- think Jesus' saying the Law is made for man, not
man for the Law.....

(Gospel of Barnabas? I am embarrassed for us everytime I see it being
sold or mentioned.... I do not accept your interpretation of the
Qur'anic ayat talking about God not having a consort... I do accept
that the previous Scriptures *point to* someone like Jesus and
Muhammad-- I do NOT accept the literal reference Christians want for
Jesus and some Muslims want for Muhammad.... it is an issue of HOW to
read the Bible-- I disagree with the way both you and Muslims
approach the Bible.....)

It is fast becoming a cliche among Muslim converts: the best
religion, the worst adherents--- "if I had met Muslims before
accepting Islam I would not have become Muslim"..... we are not known
for our piety.

And so, I guess that's it? Is this an acceptable compromise for you?

Jeremiah McAuliffe/
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