Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Memo to "Ibn Rushd"

Someone by the moniker of "Ibn Rushd" left a comment on an article I wrote about the apostasy thing, published at altmuslim.com. He said, "The author's analogy to the United States' sedition and treason law is inaccurate. The U.S. Constitution reads, "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." Apostasy can only be equivalent to treason if different faiths are seen as the enemy. The author indicates very clearly that, historically, this was the case. But, this argument crumbles the way all historical context arguments crumble: given that the context has changed, shouldn't the rule change? Also, the author's analogy between the War of Apostasy and U.S. non-payment of taxes is weak. Non-payment of taxes, even if supported by a movement, would not be punishable by execution. As for the Civil War, the deaths involved were from an actual war for separation/unity, perhaps based on economic factors, but not for the non-payment of taxes. Couched deeply amidst standard apologist arguments, the author declares, "Not one reference in the Quran that refers to people leaving the realm of faith suggests the penalty of death." Why was this so difficult to say? Why wasn't this the main point of the article? I think the author, like most modern Muslims, fears the consequences of a highly visible call for reform."

I appreciate the comment, but would like to respond here, since I don't like doing so on the publication site. I don't know why, just don't. Here's my response:

This article has two “nut graphs” that deliver two main purposes: First, the analogies are presented because folks in the West do not understand their own traditions in which violence is done or called for. Hence, the fake halos: “I mention this because regrettably analogies of this kind are now a requirement, given the puerile handling of Muslim affairs, the pompous bloviations of media ‘experts,’ and a public seemingly sedated by its own sense of perfection.” It’s an attempt to expand the way people understand new things. It is not a legal argument, although the link between apostasy (ridda) and treason (khiyana) has been made way back in history. Second, this article does not address reform per se, but psychology. When it’s healthy, amazingly difficult things become repairable. Our dilemma is not about sharia (sacred law), but about courage and psychological sovereignty. But that’s impossible when this happens: “There's hardly anything more dangerous than the mixture of religion with simplemindedness, or any people-moving philosophies mixed with the loss of intellectualism and critical thinking. Somehow the spiritual equation has been inversed.”

So reform and the fear of advocating it are irrelevant points to raise with regard to this article.


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