Islam as a Religion of Tolerance and Moderation

Written by David F. Duncan

Continued from page 1

Interpretations ofrepparttar Quran that urge violence against innocents, he argues, require poorly informed, out of context readings of a line here/ a line there in my view, not unlikerepparttar 126967 practice of many Christian Fundamentalists. To show that, he citesrepparttar 126968 ambiguous verses by which Muslim extremists justify their acts, and their deceitful disregard of everything Quranic that prohibits their acts. He insists that any valid Quranic interpretation must square withrepparttar 126969 holy book's "general moral imperatives such as mercy, justice, kindness." "Ifrepparttar 126970 reader is intolerant, hateful, or oppressive," he concludes, "so will berepparttar 126971 interpretation."

Far from sanctioning "holy war," Abou El Fadl reports,repparttar 126972 Quran does not even containrepparttar 126973 phrase. The entire concept of jihad as holy war was a later development rooted more in political and economic conflict than in religious difference. Moreover, far from supportingrepparttar 126974 "get even" (for Israel, for economic imperialism, etc) justification for terrorism,repparttar 126975 Quran warns Muslims thatrepparttar 126976 injustice of others does not permit them to be unjust in return. Furthermore, warriors who attacked innocent civilians were regarded by classic Muslim jurists to be "corrupters ofrepparttar 126977 earth and criminals" -- guilty of "especially heinous crimes."

The eleven reactions to Abou El Fadl's essay add further depth torepparttar 126978 debate. Milton Viorst, Middle East correspondent for The New Yorker, praises it as a "brilliant" explanation of why Muslims are "onrepparttar 126979 brink of becoming a permanent global underclass." Sohail Hashmi, who teaches international relations at Mount Holyoke College, agrees that politically motivated Quranic interpreters, notrepparttar 126980 Quran itself, feedrepparttar 126981 us-against-them mentality of violent Muslims. British culture critic Tariq Ali laments that "there was more dissent and skepticism in Islam duringrepparttar 126982 11th and 12th centuries than there is today." Onrepparttar 126983 other hand, Abid Ullah Jan, a political analyst from Pakistan, blames all debates about Islam on "efforts byrepparttar 126984 United States and its allies to achieve economic and cultural hegemony by dominating or destroying all opposition." He denouncesrepparttar 126985 essay as "an attempt to please Islam-bashers."

Abou El Fadl's response torepparttar 126986 commentaries asserts thatrepparttar 126987 extremists false fundamentalism threatens to turn Islam into "an idiosyncracy -- a moral and social oddity that is incapable of finding common ground withrepparttar 126988 rest of human society." His motivation for engaging in debate against extremists, he says, is "to deny such groups their Islamic banner." In his view,repparttar 126989 ultimate issue for all Muslims ought to berepparttar 126990 extremists degradation of "the moral integrity ofrepparttar 126991 Islamic tradition."

Khaled Abou El Fadl, Tariq Ali, Milton Viorst and John Esposito. The Place of Tolerance in Islam. Boston, Beacon Press, 2002.

Dr. David F. Duncan is the President of Duncan & Associates, a research and policy studies consulting firm in the areas of public health, mental health, and drug abuse. His Commonplace Book is a collection of excerpts, book reviews, and commentary on classic movies and favorite authors.

Bless Me Father, Bless Me!

Written by Ed Howes

Continued from page 1

"Your kingdom comes" points to a future event every generation of believers longs for, and it is our hope. Some of us know this kingdom is both at hand and within us. We know it is one of justice, tempered by mercy, without cruelty.

"Your will is done". It doesn't seem so to many of us and many are critical of this will and its possessor. Never-the-less, form demands this identification in our address. "On earth as in heaven" or even inrepparttar heavens, if you prefer. This completesrepparttar 126966 opening address or identification ofrepparttar 126967 One we wish to hear our prayer. It isrepparttar 126968 attention getter. What isrepparttar 126969 point in writing a letter and sending it torepparttar 126970 wrong address? Should we then expect any good result?

I realized this prayer works equally well as a daily request or a thanksgiving. I prefer it as a thanksgiving, morning and evening. I will treat it as a thanksgiving here: "We thank you for this day and our daily bread". Even without bread, another day is a wonderful thing to be thankful about. Our daily bread can extend far beyond our food to all our material needs. It is worth noting it isrepparttar 126971 first thing we ask for or give thanks for because air, water and food are critical to our life.

"And forgiving our offences as we forgive those who offend us". Forgiveness is conditional. We can expect it inrepparttar 126972 way we practice it. The blessing I began with implies forgiveness inrepparttar 126973 act of blessing all. I can bless those I despise and I can just as easily forgive them if I so choose, and receive it myself, as needed. Forgiveness brings peace in a way nothing else does. Is there little peace in your world? Then there is little forgiveness in your world.

"Lead us not into testing, (for this we do ourselves) but deliver us from trouble". Many confuserepparttar 126974 word evil withrepparttar 126975 idea of wicked. Wicked is always trouble but trouble is not necessarily wicked and in other Scripture, Father claims to create evil. We could sayrepparttar 126976 flood was evil but it was not especially scheming and calculated trouble for someone's personal gain, which we know as wicked.

In Scripturerepparttar 126977 formal close comes next and I decided this wasrepparttar 126978 point at which I would personalize this simple prayer, I had recited so often as a boy. "Thank you for helping us become instruments of your peace; blessing those we bless and those who bless us". This is an acknowledgement that my blessing may help no one at all, except it is backed by superior power. I paraphrased a small part ofrepparttar 126979 Prayer of Saint Francis because he was praying for himself and I am still praying for us.

"Thank you for daily increasing our wisdom, love, gratitude, reverence, healing, peace, joy, happiness, laughter and prosperity, especiallyrepparttar 126980 leaders and authorities of this world, a world transforming from one of fear to one of love." This isrepparttar 126981 gratitude I have forrepparttar 126982 increased power, as I see it, behind my personal blessing. I see it as a power multiplier. You might see it differently.

"Thank you for granting us wealth, prosperity and abundance, that our light so shines before others, they will see our good works and glorify you." Although this repeatsrepparttar 126983 last blessing, it isrepparttar 126984 very thing secular society teaches us to want and is worth repeating. It also reminds us there is one proper purpose for wealth and to pervert this purpose is asking for trouble. Just ask a few lottery winners.

"For yours isrepparttar 126985 kingdom andrepparttar 126986 power andrepparttar 126987 glory, forever. Amen." The close, in proper form, is confirmingrepparttar 126988 addressee andrepparttar 126989 equivalent of our Respectfully Yours, on a business letter. I never fully understood whyrepparttar 126990 Roman Catholic Church rejected this close, except some Pope decided it was understood and unnecessary. I will always feel it is an important part of form and properly closesrepparttar 126991 prayer.

When American children discontinued this prayer in school, one disaster followed another; not that we were free from them in earlier years. I think it is safe to say that some families may have recitedrepparttar 126992 prayer before breakfast each day, butrepparttar 126993 majority did not and this precipitated much negative change in America andrepparttar 126994 rest ofrepparttar 126995 world. I did not continue with it on my "own time" once it stopped in school. This was aboutrepparttar 126996 same time I leftrepparttar 126997 church and became agnostic, suspicious and resentful of all assumed authority.

My point is that if a great good torepparttar 126998 whole world could come from millions upon millions of Christians, Jews and Muslims, asking for and receiving these wonderful, magical blessings, through a few minutes of daily prayer and blessing, why don't we all do it? A unity opportunity. I can think of two reasons. We don't believe it makes a difference and we don't care if it does.

In Napoleon Hill's book, "Think and Grow Rich", he devotes at least a chapter to mastermind alliance. He says there is great power in many people working in common cause. An Aquarian idea for sure. I believe it. What ifrepparttar 126999 purpose of each and every one of us is only to blessrepparttar 127000 earth, in word and deed? What might berepparttar 127001 effect of each of us fulfilling this purpose every day of our lives? It costs us so little to testrepparttar 127002 idea andrepparttar 127003 result could just prove we can do something right after all. Surelyrepparttar 127004 deeds will followrepparttar 127005 words. Who can bless and remain fearful?

Freelance writer published in websites and newspapers.

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