ISLAM: Religion, History, and Civilization
How is it, the esteemed professor would choose to live in a decadence so publicly criticized by source materials, consanguinity, and inhered philosophy?
We should well-note: Professor Nasr confesses typical Islamic belief with his admission on page 39: “The daily prayers that punctuate the Muslim’s entire life, from the age of puberty until death, are constituted of verses and chapters from the Quran, while Islamic Law has its root in the sacred text . . . . the Quran contains the roots, or principles, of knowledge pertaining to both the domain of action and that of intellection and contemplation . . . . for Muslims, everything about the Quran is sacred . . . . that central sacred presence that determines all aspects of Muslim life and the source and fountainhead of all that can be authentically called Islamic.”
From Ben Winter perspective, and though awed by the professor’s academic standing, ‘sacred text’ and ‘everything’ appears to be used in the synecdochical, seeking acceptance in general rectitude, yet dodging specific embarrassment in Qur’an calls to fundamentalist mission. Blatantly encouraged in Qur’an text, specific inhumanities are covered-over by Imam clerics, accusing the Western world of disinformation and misinterpretation.
In his apologetic, the good Doctor dared only to quote philosophical tidbits from the prophet Mohammed’s repertoire; never does he or other Islam apologists mention the constant Qur’an theme: denigration of Jews and Christians, infidels as it were! In Qur’an text and Muslim life, defaming Jews and Christians is the lesser evil; many Qur’an passages contain prompts to more stringently deal with offending Jews and Christians: (Sura 5.33) “The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom; . . .”
Again, specifically, Sura 47.04: “Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain.”
If the good Doctor is enthralled with ‘civilization,’ humanity, economy, culture, and moral excellence accredited to Islam, then why migrate to a decadent and depressed civilization described as the United States of America? Regardless Seyyed Nasr’s motive, under the umbrella of University liberalism, apologetics and evangelistic fervor are publicly propagandized to further Islam desideratum. Islam’s aniconic renown seeks notice; yet Allah presence is knowingly indicated in geometric design, arabesque, and rhythmic repetition in sacred art. In migratory habit, Islam infuses this ubiquitous and subtle art form into local culture and soon transforms it into Islamic reality.
In Nasr’s apologetic, we hear much of Islam’s predilection to science and the arts, to respect for other religions, to distortion of Islam in the West, and to Islam as the final and plenary Revelation for ‘all’ mankind.
In the inflected inclusiveness of ‘all, we must challenge Doctor Nasr’s perception of subject, time frame, and objectivity contained in Sura 7.172. According to Nasr, Allah’s question of “Am I not your Lord?” received an answer ascribed to the ‘whole of humanity’: “Yes, verily we bear witness.” Actually, Doctor Nasr’s perception of address and intent is incorrect; for, the prophet Mohammed’s elucidations are contextually addressed to the disloyalty of Israel’s twelve tribes, to their false testimony, to illumination as seed of Adam, and to a disloyal people first receiving the word.
Seyyed Nasr posits Islam as a return to Abraham’s religion, even to that of Adam: “. . . restoring primordial monotheism without identifying it with a single people, as is seen in the case of Judaism, or a single event of human history, as one observes in the prevalent historical view of the incarnation in Christian theology.” Thus, mimicking Qur’an emendations to Reality, Doctor Nasr exposes his prejudice and embarrasses academia with that which he proudly hangs as a rejection to Actuality.
Complicating philosophical intellection raised from Qur’an incertitude, Nasr frequently refers to “the outward meaning of the text and to its inner message. The science of Quranic commentary is one of the most important of the religious disciplines taught to this day in traditional Islamic schools.” Ben Winter observes: this science does not emanate from Qur’anic text so much as it does from extensive Commentary written over the past 1400 years. With this dependency, Islamic devotees rely on ancient opinion, desideratum, and legal-historical narratives written by over-zealous and under-edified troglodytes—still cave dwellers despite modern advances.
In this book, we cannot escape the mumbo-jumbo of intellectual escapism: “Islam came into the world to create a balance between the outward and the inward, the physical and the spiritual, and to establish an equilibrium on the basis of which human beings are able to realize the Unity, or al-tawhid, that is the goal of human life.”
Contemplating Nasr’s world of prophets, angels, jinns, nominative omnipotence, and life goal, we experience the liberty of innovative exposition; which world can be attained only through sapiential advise from the good prophet. And at the end, Mahdi will come, after Christ returns to Jerusalem, “which will bring human history to a close and lead to the Day of Judgment.” Typically, like Jewish and Christian counterparts, Nasr’s Islamic conscience will not permit the utterance of Messiah when referring to Jesus Christ. Such nomination infers the unthinkable, a Jewish, son of God, ruling over a Hebrew God Kingdom—and adopted by others as inclusive of all. However, ALL utter ‘Christ’ with the least conviction as to its unutterable derivation.
On page 77, freedom is defined: “in Islam not simply as individual rebellion against all authority but participation in that freedom that in its fullness belongs to God alone. Muslims gain freedom, not confinement, by conforming to the Will of God, Muslims are able to transcend the imprisonment of their own egos and the stifling confinement of their passionate selves.” Ben Winter observes: Thus, freedom or passion, fortune or misfortune, administered by angel or jinn, cannot be diverted by individual effort, but must await the ‘will of God.’ Perhaps this willingness to leave all to the will of God can account for an impoverished Middle East and to the present world problem of Qur’an inspired terrorism intent on maintaining the status quo!
Nasr accounts the existence of Shari’ah (the path), a divided circle containing sufficient directives to satisfy Muslim requirements for devotion and lifestyle; yet does Qur’an verse overshadow Imam recitations of Shari’ah duties. A system of Sulfism effectuates the Shari’ah construct and expects to forecast eschatological success.
According to Nasr bibliography, the Islamic calendar started with Muhammed’s hajj, or pilgrimage, to Medina in A.D. 622. Thus, always 21 years behind the Gregorian, 2003 would be registered as 1982 in the Islamic calendar. Beginning with its institution, the Islamic calendar registers a continuous war both within and without its religious extremisms. Ever praising the perseverance of Islam, Nasr, a student of comparative religions, admits to Bible origins for Qur’an principals and principles; yet, the professor neglects Ishmael’s clear disenfranchisement of Abraham’s promise, and which disinheritance is detailed in THE GREAT DECEPTION: Symbols And Numbers Clarified, written by Ben Winter. THE GREAT DECEPTION boldly limits monotheism utility to Jacobian progeny, limited in Daniel’s vision of Ten Ages, fulfilled in John’s End Time Revelation of activities, and culminated in The Temple destruction.
Nasr writes a very informative book, though filled with legal-historical reference; yet, he successfully illuminates the ethics and ethos incorporated into Shari’ah directives. One need not read other books on the Islam stimulus or Muslim motivation, for they all read pretty much alike. Typically and habitually, Muslim writers toy with philosophical ruminations and egocentric rationale. Illuminating Islam by incandescent shrewdness; they neglect an overshadowing illegitimacy, incongruity, and danger to world peace.