Monday, May 21, 2007

Continuing on Islam and New Discussion of Illegal Immgration

I had a discussion concerning the topic of the historical relation of Islam and violence (as written about in yesterday’s blog, available HERE) with a scholarly friend of mine. This friend, unlike the more military orientated buddy that initiated this entire topic, had a different point of view. He is Cornell educated and a current graduate student here at my university. His academic endeavor is Religious Studies and he is a peer whose knowledge I respect highly. He is also Muslim. More importantly, he is absolutely open-minded and was willing to discuss the topic broadly with me. For privacy’s sake, I didn’t “interview” my friend. However, he brought aspects to my attention that I felt needed to be reproduced here.

First of all, he has a much deeper working knowledge of Qur’anic scripture then I do. I admitted yesterday that I was weak in this particular topic. On the other hand, I find myself to have an able handle on the history of the development of the religion. He pointed out that it is terribly easy to find flaw in the Qur’an because of the style that was used to write it.

Here is what is meant. Unlike the Old Testament or books of most other faiths, the Qur’an is not written as a narrative. No story is really being told. Instead, a recitation of God's word is occurring. Furthermore, the recitation is not occurring at once, but over time. When the words of Mohammad were converted from the oral teachings to the written ones, they were documented not in chronological order, but in order of length.

What does this mean? It seems to indicate that certain teachings made apparent to Mohammad at one point in time may not have applied later during the prophet’s life. So the new teachings, in many ways, overrule old ones. This is to say that one may find verses that sound inherently violent only to find them contradicted at a different point in the scripture. The interpretation of which of these verses are the ones to be followed, as explained by my friend, is where the division occurs between those that find the Qur’an to be condoning violence and those that take heart in its more modest teachings.

It is also important to note the history as pertains to Mohammad while receiving his teachings from Allah through the Angel Gabriel. These teachings occurred during periods in the prophet’s life where he was at different points; either gathering a religious following or at other times, trying to work as, basically, a statesman in Medina. Prophecies that were appropriate for certain times during the religion’s development were not so congruent to other periods. As such, they were, for lack of a better word, amended. While some can find this to be an example of hypocrisy, others find it to be a needed fluidity.

My friend also explained many of the reasons that people of his Muslim faith depend on to reaffirm their faith. An example of one of these reasons is the beauty of the Arabic language which was only developed as it was originally recorded in the Quar’an with the birth of the document. Exciting and interesting stuff, however, not necessarily related to the discussion at hand. Worth pointing out; however, I rather stick to the discussion of why people would or would not consider this a religion of peace. That issue is more directly related to the on-going situation in Iraq.

I absolutely enjoy these on-going discussions. I hope that you do as well. I also hope that you tackle these “debates,” as I am attempting to do, with an open mind.

My education continues… Thanks.

A quick note on a different subject.

I foresee writing much more thoroughly on this topic but I want to point out briefly that I am 100% against the newly presented immigration bill. I am a huge supporter of our President. However, I realize that he does make mistakes. His support of this bill, as I understand it, is one of those mistakes. I, like many others, see this as little more then amnesty for immigrants residing in our country illegally. I also see it as a slap in the face for those that are working hard to enter our country legally.

The illegal immigration problem is serious. To me, it is an issue of essential national security. However, the answer doesn’t seem to be one warranting further legislation but, rather, enforcement of current laws. While this issue is developing, I highly doubt my positive assessment of it will follow suit…