Islam as a Religion of Tolerance and Moderation

Written by David F. Duncan

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl has been described as "the most important and influential Islamic thinker inrepparttar modern age." An accomplished Islamic jurist and scholar, he received formal training in Islamic jurisprudence in Egypt and Kuwait as well as holding degrees from Yale, Princeton, andrepparttar 126967 University of Pennsylvania School of Law. He is currentlyrepparttar 126968 Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Fellow in Islamic Law atrepparttar 126969 UCLA School of Law. Before joiningrepparttar 126970 faculty at UCLA, he taught Islamic law atrepparttar 126971 University of Texas at Austin Law School, Yale Law School and Princeton University.

Inrepparttar 126972 extended essay that begins his book, The Place of Tolerance in Islam, Dr. Abou El Fadl argues thatrepparttar 126973 post-September 11th image of Islam as a reactionary, intolerant, and violent religion does not accurately representrepparttar 126974 real traditional belief of Muslims. Torepparttar 126975 contrary, he declares his "unwavering conviction that I belong to a great moral humanistic tradition." Traditional Islamic jurists, he writes, "tolerated and even celebrated divergent opinions and schools of thought."

Duringrepparttar 126976 first centuries of Islam, clerics underwent a lengthy and intellectually demanding training that included an open discussion of differing viewpoints and interpretations. This training prepared them to be community leaders and judges in disputes between their coreligionists. Asrepparttar 126977 secular authority in Muslim states grew increasingly powerful, centralized, and autocratic, Muslim clergy lost much of their authority, producing "a profound vacuum in religious authority" and "a state of virtual anarchy in modern Islam."

Asrepparttar 126978 Muslim clergy were increasingly marginalized,repparttar 126979 great centers of learning at which they were trained became equally marginalized and more and more clerics were self-declared holy men with little or no formmal training. Consequently, amateurish interpretations of Islam, exemplified by those of Osama bin Laden, gained sway over theologically illiterate Muslims justifiably angry atrepparttar 126980 poverty and powerlessness they experienced in comparison to citizens ofrepparttar 126981 U.S. and other Western nations.

Dr. Abou El Fadl is particularly critical of Wahhabism -- a puritanical revision of Islam propagated byrepparttar 126982 Saudi monarchy. While Wahhabism claims to berepparttar 126983 "straight path" of Islam, it is, according to Abou El Fadl, an abberant form of Islam, forged inrepparttar 126984 18th-century slaughter of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. To call it "fundamentalist," he asserts, is misleading, since it flouts fundamental Islamic truths and distorts Islam by rejecting "any attempt to interpretrepparttar 126985 divine law historically or contextually."

He quotes specific passages to show thatrepparttar 126986 Quran declares diversity among peoples to be Allah's divine intent. Further, contrary to what you may have been taught in a high school history class,repparttar 126987 Quran opposes forced conversion of others to Islam, as practiced byrepparttar 126988 Taliban. In fact,repparttar 126989 Quran explicitly states that Jews and Christians as well as Muslimswill go to Heaven.

Bless Me Father, Bless Me!

Written by Ed Howes

Bless Me Father, Bless Me!

May our Father daily increase your wisdom, love, gratitude, reverence, healing, peace, joy, happiness, laughter and prosperity. In just about 15 seconds I declared my love for you by asking these blessings for you. If you are one who does not knowrepparttar One as Father, I wish you double portions of blessing.

Deepak Chopra tells us inrepparttar 126966 Second Spiritual Law of Success,repparttar 126967 Law of Giving, that we should never visit anyone without bringing a gift; a card with a sentiment, a flower, a silent prayer or blessing. In fact, he says, a silent prayer or blessing isrepparttar 126968 best gift of all. He says we should make it a point to bless everyone we meet, every day. He suggested a brief blessing like: I wish you peace, joy and happiness. I thought that covered a lot but I asked what blessings I would like to receive and my list grew to seven things. In a few weeks it grew to nine. In a few more it grew to ten, where I thought it enough.

I began with wisdom because I remembered a proverb that said wisdom wasrepparttar 126969 principle thing. With all my getting, get me wisdom. That pretty much defines my quest for this life. Wisdom teachesrepparttar 126970 value of love and love springs forth from wisdom. To have some of each brings gratitude forrepparttar 126971 gifts and reverence for all who provide them. This attitude facilitates healing for self and others. As we become whole, we find peace. In peace we find joy, in Joy we find happiness and contentment. In happiness we find laughter. Inrepparttar 126972 growth these blessings generate, we find a natural prosperity unmeasured by material wealth. If I want these things for me, so do I truly want them for you and for presidents, all their counsel, dictators and evil doers. Who on this earth has no need of blessing?

As I began to apply this wisdom, I was blessed in very unexpected ways. Yet I had much difficulty in remembering to bless everyone I met every day. It occurred to me that I could incorporate this blessing as a blanket blessing forrepparttar 126973 world during morning and evening spiritual practice. Everyone is blessed, even when I forget to bless an individual I meet. I still try to remember personal blessing and grow better at it with time.

I had nominal religious training in a Protestant denomination betweenrepparttar 126974 ages of ten and sixteen. I lovedrepparttar 126975 ritual and not much else. I leftrepparttar 126976 church andrepparttar 126977 religious family to have all day Sunday for myself. I needed one day each week with nobody telling me what to do, for most of it. About fifteen years later, fatherhood had me asking questions aboutrepparttar 126978 meaning of life and I began finding answers wherever I looked, especially inrepparttar 126979 Scriptures. I became a fascinated Bible student. I would soon learn that every answer raised more questions and I would never know it all.

I did a study on what is commonly calledrepparttar 126980 Lord's Prayer, a prayer that already had a history in America and its schools. In 1962, whenrepparttar 126981 Supreme Court declared that God had no business in government schools, I could see howrepparttar 126982 atheist's children could be made uncomfortable by this group activity. I did not protestrepparttar 126983 loss of this daily ritual, or keepingrepparttar 126984 Pledge of Allegiance ritual, since I was clearly pledging allegiance torepparttar 126985 ones who operatedrepparttar 126986 school that was preparing me for a godless life.

Less than two years fromrepparttar 126987 court decision, President Kennedy was assassinated. Less than two years after that, we were going off to Vietnam. Before that war was over we were fighting a war on poverty. Before that war was over we were fighting a war on drugs. I sensed a connection and my study ofrepparttar 126988 prayer confirmed it.

Incidental to my study of this prayer, I learned it was a fitting prayer for those who see theirselves in a paternal relationship torepparttar 126989 Supreme Power. Therefore, it could be prayed by Christians, Jews and Muslims. It is a prayer given to students by a master, recognized by all three faiths, uponrepparttar 126990 request of one student who thought it good to know just how to pray.

It is important to noterepparttar 126991 master did not respond saying, recite this prayer. He said to pray in this manner and then gaverepparttar 126992 form which prayer should take. We are free to modify its content to our liking and it is a matter of respect to frame our content inrepparttar 126993 proper form, as with a business letter. The form isrepparttar 126994 thing of greatest importance to us andrepparttar 126995 content as given is secondary, but still important.

The very first word, "Our", is plural possessive - a claim of possession. I am not praying for me. I am praying for us. Who we are depends on my worldview. We might be family, we might berepparttar 126996 other people praying with us. We might berepparttar 126997 nation in which most ofrepparttar 126998 children prayed for us, five days a week. We might be allrepparttar 126999 Christians ofrepparttar 127000 world. We might be allrepparttar 127001 people ofrepparttar 127002 world. We might be every living thing in this world. It is clearly a personal choice to define we/our or child of God.

"Father",repparttar 127003 next word, puts to rest all arguments aboutrepparttar 127004 name of God. The master shows it is our relationship that matters andrepparttar 127005 proper address expresses this relationship. "Who is in heaven" distinguishes from a living biological father, but not one who has passed over. "Sacred is your name" does distinguish from any biological father and explainsrepparttar 127006 ancient Hebrew custom of not publicly pronouncing a name. A sacred thing made common is no longer sacred, as in common sense. Name in Scripture also symbolizes authority. For example; Israel means rules with God. This is why Abram's name was changed and Jacob's. We are acknowledging this Father's authority in declaringrepparttar 127007 sacredness of it.

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