Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Imam al-Ghazali on true knowledge

I just finished reading Imam al-Ghazali's "Deliverance from Error" (al-Munqidh min al-Dalal) for the first time - this is a powerful and important book to read!

This is a quote from the very end on true knowledge:

"The third remedy, and this is the real one, is that the true man of learning commits a sin only by way of a slip, but will in no wise stubbornly persist in his sins. For true learning is that which leads to the knowledge that sin is a deadly poison and that the afterlife is better than this life. And anyone who knows that will not barter the better for something inferior. This knowledge is not the fruit of the various types of knowledge with which most men busy themselves. Hence the knowledge they acquire only makes them bolder in disobeying God Most High. True knowledge, on the other hand, increases it possessor's reverence, fear, and hope, and this stands between him and the commission of sins, save for those slips from which, in moments of weakness, no man is free. But this is not a sign of weak faith, for the believer is trued but continually repentant, and he is far from stubborn impenitence." - pg. 98

This is from the tranlation by R.J. McCarthy which has been recommended by many including T.J. Winter (Abdal-Hakim Murad) who has a blurb in the back of the Fons Vitae edition.

(There's another translation by W. Montgomery Watt)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Speaking Truth to "Western Civilizational Litmus Tests"

The following passage from Dr. Richard W. Bulliet's book seems to directly speak to the likes of this terrible op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, published on April 16 called "Speaking Truth to Muslim Power" by Reuel Marc Gerecht:
"Western critics of Islam persistently propose civilizational litmus tests: Does Islam meet, or is it on its way to meeting, Western standards of gender equality? Can Islam conceive of human rights in a manner that sufficiently resembles Western conceptions to be counted as civilized? Does Muslim understanding of religious toleration and secularism come close enough to Western ideals for inclusion in the civilization club? Tests like these, conceived in willful denial of the appalling failure of most Western societies, as recently as a hundred years ago, to live up to the same standards, are intended as rhetorical devices for finding Islam wanting rather than as serious questions.
Even today, islands of religious practitioners within both Judaism and Christianity profess illiberal views, ranging from limitations on the behavior and life choices of women, to advocacy of government support for religious organizations, to hopes for an imminent messianic theocracy, that depart substantially from the egalitarian and secular standards that the would-be Western crusaders of “The Clash of Civilizations” have emblazoned on their banners.

Scarcely any of the unattractive strictures and intolerant attitudes manifested by some Muslim groups lack parallels among some Christian and Jewish groups, or among some post-religious Western secularists, for that matter. But since Jews, Christians, and Western secularists have named themselves as charter members of the civilization club, the ideological or behavioral shortcomings, from the majority’s point of view, of this or that Jewish or Christian group do not impugn or threaten the civilizational inclusion of those religious traditions as a whole. Christianity and Judaism pass by definition the civilizational litmus tests proposed for Islam even though some of their practitioners dictate women’s dress codes, prohibit alcoholic beverages, demands prayers in public schools, persecute gays and lesbians, and damn members of other faiths to hell.

Muslims of every stripe, on the hand, stand accused of being party, by reason of religious belief, to the worst behaviors manifested by some groups of their coreligionaries. Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Meir Kahane do not typify Christianity and Judaism in the eyes of the civilized West, but those same eyes are prone to see Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar as typifying Islam."
from pg. 12-13 of Bulliet's amazing little book "The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization" (You can read the whole chapter 2 of the book "What Went On?" online)