I have criticized the “Conservative” movement before, along with some sects of of Christianity, not because I see much wrong with either movement, but because most “adherents” are not actually involved in either movement, something they do not really know or understand. In the book “Almost Christian” author Dr. Kendra Dean, Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, discusses the problems inherent in the lack of Christianity amongst Christians, particularly amongst youth. This is not to say that the adherents are not Christian, this is actually impossible, since understanding perception of Christianity is so underdeveloped as to be an actual impediment to definition. Christianity is a movement with a history that goes back thousands of years, but for many, this has no importance or meaning. The same can be said of Conservatism amongst a large portion of the claimed “Conservatives.” Most are as unfamiliar with what constitutes Conservative thought as they are unfamiliar with Christian thought.
So, this being the case, I was commenting on some of the comments from the “Constitution Club” a blog that prides itself on their Conservatism, and being a plague to liberals. They are neither. Most of the members have little to no conception of what Conservatism actually is, and the blog consists of just really terrible articles on just about anything. Even subjects were I might agree with the philosophy, are presented so poorly as to be embarrassing.
Into this cesspool, I joined a discussion on Islam. One poster went off on a tirade about how President Obama was surrendering to Islam. It was, as most is on the website, completely uninformed, ignorant of not only Islam, but also Christianity and Judaism, general history, culinary habits, and so on… It was a very poorly informed article.
One poster, ThomasPaine2nd tried to defend the article. In it he claimed to be well versed in Islamic studies, in fact he said “For every “history” book, monograph or paper you can produce to support your argument, I can produce an equal amount of sourced, documented and proven historical books, monographs and papers to refute your argument.”
He proceeded to butcher any understanding of Islam, which one should expect. He had never studied Islam, never studied anything that he discussed (at least that I could see).
In short he stated that Christianity was the source of everything good, Islam the source of everything evil. When Christians did things bad, they were not real Christians. When Muslims did things good, they were not real Muslims. It was absurdly stupid, but he did it without the slightest understanding of the absurdity of the statement.
I simply asked for something simple…
you say “when we read in surah 9:5 allah’s command for muslims to kill non-muslims wherever they find them, it’s actually pretty easy to understand” it is clear you have no idea.
Just to prove it, I will call your bluff. Using supporting documentation in Ja’fari jurisprudence and appropriate sourcing, explain how that verse was understood in, say, the thirteenth century. Again, please source accordingly. This is naturally going to necessitate some study of the underlying structures from the other schools of jurisprudence, as well as a historical understanding of the verse, and some readings from various Koranic commentaries. Please list all materials used.
Now, in reality this is how Muslims would understand their own faith. This is how Muslim Jurists would interpret the Law. I was asking him to understand Islam from Islam’s point of view. It is also, incidentally, roughly how Judaism interprets the Law (different Law in each case, but the process is surprisingly similar). Any study of Islam or Judaism would find this familiar.
His response was…
I find it interesting that in “calling my bluff,” you lay down the parameters within which I must defend my statements. In other words, you will allow me to defend my statements, but only if I do so within your established parameters. Your requirement is that I only use Ja’fari jurisprudence. Not the Hanafi, not the Maliki (both of which are accepted by more muslims than accept Ja’fari), and not Shafi’I, Hanbali, Zaydi or Isma’ili.
The reason I asked was that the Shia have a unique school of jurisprudence. Also Zaydi and Ismaili are not schools in themselves, they are sects with some differing characteristics, but that is neither here nor there. Whatever webpage he copied this from likely did not explain this.
So the parameters that an Islamic Jurist would roughly use (much different terms, but the general élan would be the same), was lost on this presumed education. In short, TP2 had no idea, and was essentially admitting as much, but did not realize it.
TP2 went on to explain how other people did not like Islam either, and posted quotes, including this one…
“Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science – the science against which it had vainly struggled – the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.” (1st edition, volume two, pp 248, 250)
Whenever people try to do this, there is a simple trick you can use. Ask for the next page. In this case the next page is interesting. TP2 has no idea. He has not read the book. He did not know what the book said. You can find this quote on dozens of websites, but never a sentence more. And naturally, TP2 did not know a sentence more. This is what he calls education, because it supports his prejudice. Prejudice is education enough for the prejudiced.
I asked for TP2 to use اجتهاد in his answer and he responded…
A suggestion, instead of making feeble attempts to prove your intelligence by writing in Farsi, why not simply write the word in English for the benefit of others who do not understand Farsi? Unless of course your only purpose is braggadocio. I can deduce by your insistence that I use only Ja’fari jurisprudence, which is neither used nor accepted by all muslims (nor even the majority of muslims), but is used by Shi’a muslims, which are the majority in Iran.
اجتهاد is an Arabic term, not Farsi. It is also one that I learned before I knew Arabic, when I was an undergrad. This is like someone claiming to be well versed in Judaism, but not recognizing Hebrew, or someone who has studied Judaism but cannot recognize simple Hebrew terms. I do not speak Hebrew (well I do speak Hebrew, a little at least, I just have no idea what the words mean, I just know what the letters sound like), but I know the word for Torah, and a few other religious terms. What TP2 takes for braggadocio is actually basic, Intro to Islam level undergraduate education. This is like claiming someone is bragging because they know something that is taught in Western Civilization 101? If this rather insignificant level of knowledge is bragging, how would a detailed examination of Al Ghazali look?
This is not bragging. This is very, very, very basic knowledge, and it is something that TP2 thinks is exceptional.
Now after this, TP2 started a thread about me personally, that is interesting in what little he seems to understand, again.
TP2 states “He claims he is a Christian, and a mormon, and a buddhist, and a sufi muslim”
This is interesting for several reasons. First the Sufi label comes from a post here, where, after discussing Kipling and Richard F. Burton I state “I am a Sufi, in a manner of speaking, and I do enjoy praying at the mosque, despite not being a believer, or a very unorthodox believer, can’t decide which.” Now, this statement should be understood in context, considering Kipling (and Mahbub Ali) and Burton, which TP2 clearly has no familiarity with. Leaving this for a second…
In reading his blog, I discovered several comments from him that are actually quite revealing, and help to understand just what kind of a person he is. In a post titled, “Depth of Faith,” “Joseph” reveals that the he subscribes to the PARDES method of reading religious texts. Whereas most theologians, whether professional or amateur, will rely on exigesis (in which the reader will interpret the text based on the literary and grammatical context of the text), and will refrain from over allegorizing the text. The PARDES method, on the other hand, is far more subjective.
Now, I liked the blog post, and I referenced it, but TP takes this as emphatic subscription to the whole methodology, which is simplistic thinking. I can like the post without subscribing to every aspect of the paradigm. Nevertheless, this does not seem to occur to TP2. But again, there is more…
What is so amusing about this is that it is so badly uninformed. First, TP2 does not know what exegesis is. St Augustine was famous for exegesis, and was very allegorical. Early Christianity was incredibly allegorical in their exegesis. TP2 is using a term he clearly does not understand at all, and there is a reason for that.
The sentence TP2 uses is interesting…
“the reader will interpret the text based on the literary and grammatical context of the text”
because it is almost the exact same as
“The modern manner of interpreting Biblical text is commonly called exegesis. This method concerns itself mostly with the literary and grammatical context of Scripture verses”
TP2 proceeds to plagiarize several paragraphs from this website. (paraphrasing is still plagiarism, when TP claims he was not plagiarizing) First, there is no reason to plagiarize. It is completely acceptable to not be familiar with Jewish exegetical processes. But second, TP2 has no clue what he is talking about…ever. He does not understand Islam. He does not understand Judaism. He does not understand Islam. He draws absurd connections that a reasonable intellect would not automatically make. I honestly doubt he has ever read Thomas Paine. He plagiarizes to cover this fact.
Then he is upset that this is pointed out. He is clearly poorly read, clearly intolerant, clearly bigoted, clearly ignorant, clearly uninformed, etc… but this is not anyone’s fault but his own. He really did call Arabic Farsi, because he is unfamiliar with this. He did not recognize jurisprudence. He did not understand Christian principles. He had to plagiarize Jewish thought and flubbed concepts of exegesis. All of this was a voluntary admission of ignorance, but to point it out…?
TP2 has a burning hatred for Muslims, because he does not know Muslims, and he is terrified of what he does not know. He is lashing out because that hatred is the root of his problems, not his education (which is non-existent) or his understanding (likewise non-existent) but because he is scared and ignorant. This is ultimately the functional definition of prejudice anyway. He does not understand Christianity, Sufism, Islam, Buddhism or even his list of political ideas.
And this is what is killing Christianity, and Conservatism, the ignorance and prejudice of their claimed practitioners. What is interesting, is that TP2 could actually study. He could check out the books, read the journals, and even meet the people who could help him learn, but he won’t. He could learn. He simply will not put the work into it. And I honestly have no idea why. He plagiarizes to cover the lack, but will not really study…?
I do not know why, I really do not.