A quick question from Jochen following Jeremiah's last article, and then Mohammad responds in detail to Jeremiah's all too short answer to my question.

From Jochen Katz 
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam
Subject: Re: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Muslim Book Part 2 (2/2)
Date: Fri Sep 20 16:33:55 EDT 1996
Organization: None

In article <51rr0f$59h@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>, 
alimhaq@city-net.com (Jeremiah McAuliffe) writes:

| You did not address my concerns, nor did you refute them, nor did you
| defend your book as an argument against Islam per se.

What is "Islam per se" ?  

And who is authorized to decide that? 
[whether in "Islam" or in "Islam per se"]

Warm regards,

Jochen Katz

P.S.: For more details and why this is an important question following
up on Jeremiah's arguments, see his article.

From alimhaq@city-net.com (Jeremiah McAuliffe)
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam
Subject: Re: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Muslim Book Part 2 (2/2)
Date: Sat Sep 21 15:59:53 EDT 1996
Organization: CityNet, Inc.

Jochen Katz  wrote:

>What is "Islam per se" ?  

Islam1: "submission to the will of God"

Islam2: "religious tradition(s) based upon the Qur'an and sunnah of

>And who is authorized to decide that? 
>[whether in "Islam" or in "Islam per se"]

The first one? God.

The second? Consensus of the believers.

or at least, this is my understanding.....

Jeremiah McAuliffe/alimhaq@city-net.com

From Mohammad Noorul Islam 
Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam
Subject: Re: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Muslim Book Part 2 (2/2)
Date: Sun Sep 22 11:21:55 EDT 1996
Organization: Johns Hopkins University
Message-Id: <523lij$6cm@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>

Allow me to jump in. Mr. McAuliffe has a very interesting
set of views. I feel compelled to share my thoughts on 

We will start with an answer that Mr. McAuliffe gave
to two questions by Jochen Katz. I will reproduce the 
dialogue and follow it with my opinion of those.

JK: What is "Islam per se"?
JM: Islam 1: "submission to the will of God"
    Islam 2: "religious tradition(s) based upon the 
              Qur'an and sunnah of Muhammad"

It is common among many to use the English equivalent 
of the word "Islam" and purport it to be the complete 
yet concise description of the religion itself. Pithy
as the answer looks, it leaves the more serious questions
"submission to the will of God" is more akin to defeatism
than it is to Islam. Islam is not about abject surrender
of spirit and body to some wishy washy "will of God". On
another level, we would all be Muslims per Jeremiah's 
definition, for what else do we do except submit to the
will of God. Do we even have a choice in that regard?

Submission to the will of God is meaningless if it 
isn't clear what the will of God is. And even more 
fundamental than this, is the question: what IS 
God? So before we decide to submit ourselves to the
will of God, it is imperative upon us to acknowledge
His existence. Therefore the most basic tenet of 
Islam is "tawheed": a rough and incomplete translation
would be "monotheism", and very strict monotheism 
at that. 
The next question is about the will of God, and 
that's where the ground gets a little difficult 
to tread. Most Muslims would list Muhammad's 
"risalah" (messengership) and "nubuwwah" 
(prophethood) as the second foundational doctrine.
Indeed the Muslim profession of faith i.e. the
"kalimah al tayyibah" is the profession of existence
and oneness of God and the divine messengership 
of Muhammad. This might well be the most important
concept after tawheed for people who lived with
Muhammad. For if Muhammad was the messenger of God,
whatever words he ascribed to God, had to be God's 
word. And therefore the belief in the divineness 
of the Qur'an, and the complete and absolute truth
of that book followed immediately from a belief
in Muhammad's risalah. Could the message of God
be false? 
But we don't have Muhammad with us but we 
know about Muhammad through what? through 
the Qur'an. That the Qur'an is the absolute,
eternal and immutable word of God gets us to
the belief in Muhammad's prophethood. Belief
in the aforementioned attributes of the Qur'an
directly leads us to the belief in the risalah
of Muhammad, but the converse is not true. 
Indeed there are, and have been sects who 
have ascribed prophethood to Muhammad yet 
have had doubts about the Qur'an's completeness.
My understanding is that such sects are 
In a way, the concepts mentioned in the last
two paragraphs are more important ones than
simple monotheism, which is not exactly 
an equivalent of "tawheed" for the latter 
encompasses much more than the former. 
Deists, some Jews, some Unitarian Christians
are all monotheists, but they are not (and
I couldn't be more emphatic about it) Muslims.
Belief in the Qur'an and the aforementioned 
attributes thereof, is the cornerstone of 
Islam and distinguishes it from other creeds
and opinions. It is my opinion that anyone 
who disagrees with even one statement within
the Qur'an cannot call herself a Muslim.
Once the belief in Allah and the
Qur'an etc.  is established with certainty, and only 
when that's the case, the question of submission
arises. The four pillars after aqeedah (salat,
Siam, zakah, and Hajj) are in a sense furoo'
and absolutely meaningless if the underlying 
aqeedah is not sound. They are ways to
"submit to the will of God" and have 
meaning after the "will of God" is clearly
understood and defined. One can fail (as opposed
to "refuse") to submit and yet be a Muslim
(albeit a bad one), but one can submit all
they want without the underlying faith
and they will not be Muslim. This is my 
understanding of what Islam is all about. 

Now to the Islam2 that ties in well with what
Mr.McAuliffe wrote in this post.

Mr.McAuliffe says that the believing community
is the judge of what constitutes Islam2. I smell
"ijmaa'" somewhere. If this is ijmaa' for 
Jeremiah, then I would politely suggest to him 
that we need more than a dictionary to understand
theological jargon. Majority of the believers can
be (and indeed are, as demonstrated quite often 
on SRI) ignorant of the contents of the Qur'an
and Sunnah. Ijmaa' has always meant the consensus
of scholars who are knowledgable about the Qur'an
and Sunnah. Therefore the opinion of a thousand 
Jeremiah McAuliffe's isn't worth a penny against
the opinion of a Ibn Hajar or a Jalaluddin for
the latter spent all their lives in the 
acquisition of religious knowledge as opposed to 
having read a solitary book by Faruqi or someone
else. Ijmaa' is not one-man-one vote system, for then
we could have referenda to decide religious matters.
That, you would acknowledge is not the case.

> 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
> education.

And here to educate all Muslims is Jeremiah McAuliffe PhD:
the rennaissance man of Islam!

> 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. 

For some "ijtihad" has come to mean manufacturing religious 
rulings according to one's whim, or what is considered 
politically correct. How ignorantly Jeremiah throws
around the word "ijtihad", as if it is some euphemism
for amending religion at will. Ijtihad, Mr.McAuliffe 
is the application of analogical reasoning BASED ON
THE QUR'AN AND SUNNAH, to decide matters on which 
the former are unclear. If a religious ruling exists
for a situation, then it is no ijtihad to change it
because it is not "kosher". Ijtihad, by any stretch
of imagination, doesn't mean some sort of an evolutionary
process; it is a way to deal with NEW situations that 
arise with changing times. The ruling on the permissibility
of photographs, for example, is ijtihad.

> You have based your understanding
> of Islam on what you hear from contemporary Muslims and a few
> selective readings and interpretations. 

The man who has no voice can say the rest of the 
world is deaf. It is Mr.McAuliffe whose
reading is selective, picking up scattered minority
opinions of obscure "scholars". It is he who has 
been talking too much with contemporary Muslims, 
showing a singular unfamiliarity with Islamic literature.
And when he laments the collective ignorance of Muslims
for not knowing about the Ukl/Uraina tradition, I do 
hope he includes himself for he had no inkling of that
tradition until his attention was drawn to it. It is 
ironic that Jeremiah is so decries the lack of knowledge
among his co-religionists and in the same breath discredits
those who were well-versed in religious tradition. I say
this because I have met and sat with people who were 
properly schooled in religion. Let alone not knowing 
about a tradition, they would tell you who the narrators
are, the whole chains of transmission together with the 
relative credibility of each link in that chain. It is
these kinds of people who wrote the classics of Islamic
literature, and it is their rulings that we consider 
Islam, and criticize as Islam. Until Mr.McAuliffe attains
that level of knowledge (starting with a course in Arabic)
he should think twice before so conveniently dismissing
our criticism.

> broad cross-section of Muslims, if you had really read Faruqi,
> you would know this (such as his book on tawhid-- excellent). 

I think Abdul Saleeb is from Egypt, and I am from Pakistan.
Who do you think has talked to a broader cross-section of 
Muslims? You, living in the United States of America? But
then again, didn't you just a few lines before separated
Islam from the practice of "contemporary Muslims". I really
think you are very confused about your religion. Might I 
suggest that you spend time reading a bit more?

> FBI-CIA. I think they have unresolved psycho-social problems 
> that are being expressed by means of religion....

Whoever doesn't agree with Jeremiah McAuliffe PhD has
a psychological or a social problem. 

Try reading Fazlur Rahman. I have a feeling that you 
would like Hossein Nasr too. 

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

Well it depends. Religion is not science you see. Hermeneutics
in this case are to be based on the religious tradition, not
science. But if you give some concrete examples of this, I will
be interested in hearing them.

> 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......

The above description might apply to you and a majority of
Muslims, it certainly doesn't apply to EVERYONE on SRI. 
And see my above comments on this matter.

> sisters, that we need new ijtihad..... big time. Our absurd Medieval

You are advertising ijtehad like they are advertising 
Bill Clinton on TV these days. 

> (Gospel of Barnabas? I am embarrassed for us everytime I see it
> being sold or mentioned....

Thank Ahmed Deedat for that.

> it is an issue of HOW to
> read the Bible-- I disagree with the way both you and Muslims
> approach the Bible.....)

You can find sporadic jewels in the haystack. Here 
is one. 

> 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.

You haven't met enough Muslims then. I have met some 
gems of men and women who were Muslims. I think it is
fashionable among new converts to bring out this "great
religion worst adherents" line. It is a generalization
unfair to the millions among Muslims who are also great
human beings. 

Mohammad Noorul Islam

Overview on the debate
Answering Islam Home Page