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[P]
Descriptive Ebonics and Prescriptive Islamics

By corian in Op-Ed
Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 12:09:53 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

We hear it every day - "Islam is a peaceful religion". Violence is contradictory to the true Islam. Nonetheless, every day we also hear of people who do self-identify as Muslims, who commit violence in the name of Allah. Except that "these people aren't Muslims", we are told, for `true' Muslims are against violence.

The problem with this argument, however, is that religion is not an absolute. Religion is a societal construct, and societal constructs change over time (and space). A societal construct, like religion, or language, is only fully characterised as to how it is actually practiced in society - how it is observed in the wild. That Islam as it was founded may have spoken against violence may be true - but that's a matter of historical description, not of dogma. A societal construct can only be properly described as it is actually practiced by society.

We've heard this argument before. This is Ebonics; This is the debate between Descriptive and Prescriptive linguistics.


A Prescriptive grammar is probably what you were taught in school - a succession of exact rules of valid and invalid usage; a completely formalized model. Most people, of course, don't talk exactly like that. That is because language changes, both temporally and regionally. Slang, borrowed grammatically forms, lazy usage, or simply creative expression result in mutually shared forms of English usage which nonetheless differ from that declared in the prescriptive rules. Sometimes these changes result in a regional form English (e.g. "Pittsburgh-ese") with only local distribution; other times these changes are propagated far and wide and even end up being incorporated into the dictionary or more "accepted" English variants (possibly true of "valley-girl speak".) A Descriptive grammar is a grammar of observations, a description of how language is actually used in a community, separate from the idealized notion of the prescriptive grammar.

Language is a social construct. Social constructs can be described historically,

(If you don't like my definitions, feel free to check out what the OUP has to say: http://www.xrefer.com/entry.jsp?xrefid=441730 )

The great debate of "Ebonics", or over prescriptive and descriptive grammars is not whether both exist (they obviously do), but whether prescriptive language should be considered to be a privileged form when compared to descriptive use. Or, to grossly simply it, "is it proper to say that someone who talks in an accent/dialect uses language in an inferior way." Or: "does supposed `ghetto-speak' mean that the agent is too dumb to learn English properly, or is the observed manner of speaking merely a way that a close-knit community has developed to assert their heritage, individuality and/or group-membership?"

It should be fairly obvious that modern liberal theory tends to privilege descriptive use as "culturally-different, but equal".

----

Like language, religion is a social construct. Accordingly, we should be able to discriminate between prescriptive religion (i.e., the original, `rote' form of the religious practice and its dogma) and descriptive religion (i.e., how it is practiced in the wild). And while prescriptive Islam (and some "dialects" of descriptive Islam) may condemn violence, it is obvious there are also descriptive groups that DO commit violence.

This would be fine if there were consistency - but instead, there is hypocrisy. I have heard from quite a few people who support Descriptive Ebonics, but Prescriptive Islamics. That is, they claim that those who speak "Ebonics" use an equally privileged form of English, but that those "Muslims" who commit violent acts are not real Muslims, because Islam is a "peaceful religion". This doesn't work, for the very same reason I've claimed above. Language is a societal construct. Religion is a societal construct. Societal constructs change over time. A societal construct can only be properly described as it is actually practiced by society.

Muslims who practice are still Muslims - they just practice a variant (regional? temporal?) form of Islam. They self-identify as Muslims: this should be a major clue. To claim they are not Muslims is to claim that Ebonics is not English. If there are violent muslims then, it is wrong to make a categorical claim that "Islam is a peaceful religion". Not all Muslims commit violent acts, but that doesn't make Islam inherently peaceful. The original tenents of Islam may have condemmed violence, but that doesn't make Islam today inherently peaceful. Islam is a societal construct. Societal constructs change over time. A societal construct can only be properly described as it is actually practiced by society.

---

So, are you a Descriptive or a Prescriptive Islamist?

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Descriptive Ebonics and Prescriptive Islamics | 188 comments (137 topical, 51 editorial, 0 hidden)
What's exactly wrong (4.16 / 6) (#2)
by i on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 10:26:56 AM EST

with the claim that Ebonics is not English? Why this claim is any worse than, say, the claim that Spanish is not English?

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

difference (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by corian on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 10:52:41 AM EST

Of course, to some degree it is just a matter of terminology (there are shades of difference between "dialect", vernacular/pidgin/language differences, but what Ebonics is -- relatively minor diversions in grammar (tense, number, etc.) and vocabulary on a regional basis over a short time period is not substantial enough to be considered a separate language. There are gross overlaps with English, there is concurrent usage, mutual understandability, etc. There is self-idenfitication (speakers don't believe they are speaking a separate language). Declaring "ebonics" a separate language is, contrary to offering it a priledged position, dismissing it so completely as a valid form of English that is has to be considered completely different.

Ultimately, I priviledge the self-identification. To claim that, whatever form of English I speak, that I am none the less speaking English says something about what "English" means to me, and where I see my own language performance in relation to this grouping, i.e. "the English-speaking community". Personal identity is, to a great part self-definition vis-a-vis group affiliation.

[ Parent ]

I see a big gaping hole (none / 0) (#152)
by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 11:39:50 AM EST

What about differing literary canons?

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Don't be silly. (none / 0) (#36)
by Happy Monkey on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:10:23 PM EST

Ebonics is just as much English as any other dialect, from Irish to East End to Bronx to Deep South. Spanish is a different language, with its own dialects.
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[ Parent ]
There's nothing wrong (none / 0) (#54)
by i on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 01:13:14 PM EST

with your claim either. The two are not mutually exclusive because you just can't reasonably define borders between "language" and "dialect". Maybe Spanish is a bad example. What about different pidgins? Is this English? This? Two "English dialects" may differ more than, say, two separate Slavic "languages". Who decides which is which?

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Indeed (none / 0) (#60)
by Happy Monkey on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 02:27:45 PM EST

I was primarily remarking on your choice of Spanish as the alternative. Ebonics is certainly more English than Spanish is.
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[ Parent ]
`languages' are fictional objects. (4.50 / 2) (#105)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 05:39:26 AM EST

What's exactly wrong with the claim that Ebonics is not English?

That "English" is not a concept that can be defined in strictly linguistic grounds, and thus the question is unanswerable. The same thing is "wrong" with the claim that Ebonics is English, however. Languages are fictional objects from a purely grammatical point of view; for any proposed criterion you can think of in order to distinguish between two languages, counterexamples can be found easily (e.g. dialect continua).

The one important point to make is that African American Vernacular English and Standard English are spoken within the same communities, by speakers who perceive themselves to be speaking the "same language", and who can actually understand each other to a very large degree.

--em
[ Parent ]

Hm. (none / 0) (#108)
by i on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 06:50:27 AM EST

I can't say whether these communities are indeed the same or this is just PC-speak, I'm just not qualified to comment. I'd venture to say, however, that mutual understanding is higher between Ukrainian and Slovakian speakers than between AAVE and Standard English speakers. One pair perceives themselves to speak "different languages" and the other "the same language" purely because they are taught so ("societal construct" indeed).

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
May I ask... (4.50 / 8) (#7)
by a2800276 on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 10:56:29 AM EST

... why exactly you singled out Islam as the example ? Why not pick say Christianity? True many people will tell you Christianity is a peaceful, tolerant religion, but I hear of Christians killing in the name of god all the time, e.g. North Ireland. And Christians are pretty well apt at intolerance, just look at evolutionists.

What is it that people have with Muslims? Their religion is just as inherently good or evil, peaceful or violent as most other religions.

islam because (none / 0) (#9)
by corian on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:00:15 AM EST

...well, because it's topical. As an equal-opportunity atheist, though, I'll criticize any religion. :)

[ Parent ]
you mean because you're american? [nt] (3.00 / 3) (#10)
by boxed on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:02:30 AM EST



[ Parent ]
To what topic? (3.71 / 7) (#13)
by a2800276 on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:14:03 AM EST

Maybe to the fact that America wants to wage ware against the Muslims? Maybe.

Anyway that still doesn't explain why you singled out Islam for your generalization. And why violence?

Your whole argument is based on fallacy. With your logics I could prove:

  • There exist gay christians, therefore Christianity is a gay religion.
  • There exist stupid American, therefore Americans are stupid
You would at least have to prove that the vast majority of Muslims are violent AND that there exists some kind of a correlation between the two facts. E.g. Almost all Americans speak English as their native language, but the fact that someone is American has nothing to do with English being their first language.

[ Parent ]
i disagree (3.55 / 9) (#14)
by corian on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:28:13 AM EST

Your whole argument is based on fallacy. With your logics I could prove: There exist gay christians, therefore Christianity is a gay religion. There exist stupid American, therefore Americans are stupid

No... you're claiming that the argument can assert a categorial positive. (christianity "is" X). I'm making an argument that negates a categorical positive (that "islam is X" is not true. That's not the same as asserting "Islam is Y" (where Y is the oppostive of X).

To look at something other than Islam -- to deny that "christianity necesarily respects the sexual innocence of children" (through institutionalized molestation) is not the same as saying "christianity is necessarily disrespectful of the sexual innocence of children." It's somewhere in between. Some...lets say Many Americans being dumb negates "All americans are smart" but doesn't assert "All americans are stupid." Then again, I'm unclear how locale of birth (and thus citizenship) has any direct relation to intelligence.

[ Parent ]

So really you're speaking out against... (4.33 / 3) (#15)
by a2800276 on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:39:12 AM EST

... generalizations in general. You would like everyone to say "Islam is a peachful religion with some exception"?

Then again, I'm unclear how locale of birth (and thus citizenship) has any direct relation to intelligence.

Exactly, I'm also unclear on how religious affiliation, and especially affiliation with a religion the central doctrine of which is peace, has any direct relation to violent tendancies.

[ Parent ]

aha. (3.00 / 4) (#24)
by corian on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:57:48 AM EST

Exactly, I'm also unclear on how religious affiliation, and especially affiliation with a religion the central doctrine of which is peace, has any direct relation to violent tendancies.

but religion is not just affiliation, it is belief. it defines ones principles and mindset. specifically, some dialects of islam define a mindset wherein criticisms or challenges to the religion supercede the value of human life. the violence is the imposition of that value (protect the religion at all costs) against others (non-believers).

[ Parent ]

so you're saying ALL religions are bad? (none / 0) (#112)
by boxed on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 11:16:09 AM EST

Because every single word I've heard you utter against Islam is equally true of christianity, judaism, hinduism, etc, etc. Seems to me like you're bashing islam in perticular just becuase it's the latest fad in the US and it increases your chances of getting a story posted. Islam is in fact behaving better than christianity

[ Parent ]
Seems to me... (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:58:05 AM EST

... he would like people to say that Islam is a diverse religion, which includes groups with differing perspectives on the subject of violence.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Propaganda (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by marx on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 03:33:50 AM EST

I'm making an argument that negates a categorical positive (that "islam is X" is not true. That's not the same as asserting "Islam is Y" (where Y is the oppostive of X).
Great, so you can declare the statement "Islam is peaceful" false by coming up with a single violent muslim. Yet you neglect to mention the fact that any statement "X is peaceful" where X is a religion can be declared false in the same way.

So again, why are you attacking Islam? If you would have done this against Judaism you would have been labeled a nazi.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

It's topical because of the ones killing people (none / 0) (#174)
by Lord of Caustic Soda on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 09:40:28 AM EST

All over the world, whereas the Christians have gone beyond the killing people bit for a while (except for the occational abortion doctor shootings and some crazy Seventh Day Adventist starting a cult that ended up commiting mass suicide), The Hindus are kinda killing in a tit-for-tat kinda way, and the Buddhists never really got the hang of evangelism, or smiting the infidels for that matter.)

Anyway, we all know Americans are stupid, hell, most Americans know that.

[ Parent ]

I think I may know why he chose Islam (4.11 / 9) (#18)
by lorcha on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:43:51 AM EST

why exactly you singled out Islam as the example ? Why not pick say Christianity?

When radical Christians go out and, say, kill doctors who perform abortions, there's no outcry of "buy Christianity is a peaceful religion, so these people can't really be Christians!" Whatever they are, they're murderers and are dealt with accordingly.

But when a Muslim blows up a building or a bus or whatever, people can't seem to grasp that there are violent Muslims and assume that we Westerners must have done something wrong to provoke that.

So I think he chose islam because violent muslims seem to get special treatment.

--
צדק--אין ערבים, אין פיגועים
[ Parent ]

the apes of wrath (none / 0) (#39)
by 6mute on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:18:08 PM EST

So I think he chose islam because violent muslims seem to get special treatment

this is a good point, however i think this needs to be considered in a wider context. the reason that muslims are claiming that their religion is non-violent is that they feel as though the us administration is about to wage war on them.

in this light it appears to be less of a statement of fact than an attempt to divert the wrath of dubya.

[ Parent ]
This has been a hot topic... (none / 0) (#41)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:24:35 PM EST

...of debate for at least 25 years, since the publication of Said's Orientalism, among historians and other academics. The events of the last year have only given the debate a braoder audience.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Erm (4.66 / 3) (#51)
by Rogerborg on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:48:58 PM EST

people can't seem to grasp that there are violent Muslims and assume that we Westerners must have done something wrong to provoke that.

While I agree with you, I should point out that those aren't mutually exclusive.  There are very few truly irrational zealots out there; most of them do have insults or injuries (recent or historical) to avenge.  I'd suggest that in most cases, it's a mix of both: violent individuals responding to real actions (rather than purely on principle or out of sheer spite).

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Racist (5.00 / 3) (#73)
by emad on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 03:36:33 PM EST

Coming from the guy who has a hebrew signature that says "no arabs, no terror" but is too much of a coward to write it in english.

[ Parent ]
Coward? (none / 0) (#184)
by lorcha on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:16:13 PM EST

Actually, I was just sick of getting lectured on Mideast affairs by people who can't even locate the Middle East on a map and who can't even tell you if my sig is in Hebrew or Chinese. I am more than happy to have a reasonable dialogue on Israeli-Palestinian relations with people who recognize that there are two sides to the issue.

I changed my sig to its current incarnation after the attack at Hebrew U where I liked to eat my lunch (well, "liked" might be a bit generous, since the food ain't that great... I like the hamburgers on baguettes in the Forum better... Mmmmm...). It was a big "F U" to those who think it's a good idea for the Palestinians to be "freedom fighting" by blowing up kids instead of working out their differences with the Israelis through negotiations. The kind of "F U" where I don't have to deal with poorly-written regurgitations of poorly-written one-sided articles from ultra-left wing socialist sources.

If you look through my past posts on the subject, you'll find that I always write in English on k5 (or some variant thereof depending on how early in the morning/late at night it is). You might also find that I've written one or two things you agree with. You never know.

But that is where my sig comes from. Would you prefer "Fuck you, you liberal commie uninformed moronic [insert more expletives here] sack of shit!"? I didn't feel it had the same ring to it and it would prolly get me more 0's and 1's than I get for my current sig. ;) I'm always open to suggestions, though. Any right-wingers out there have something good I could use?

--
צדק--אין ערבים, אין פיגועים
[ Parent ]

Points of view (3.40 / 5) (#42)
by SanSeveroPrince on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:26:22 PM EST

Well, he did not pick Christianity because a violent Christian is a hypocrite. His religion clearly states that forgiving is paramount when dealing with ALL your fellow men.

Islam, on the other hand, lists quite a long succession of situation where killin yourself or someone else is not only acceptable, but DESIRABLE.

That said, at least a Muslim will tell you that they're going to kill you....

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


[ Parent ]
You entirely missed the author's point (3.66 / 3) (#48)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:42:30 PM EST

You're making essentialist comparisons of doctrine, whereas the author was advocating using a descriptive framework, under which Christianity has no greater claim to being a religion of peace than does Islam.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Stop masturbating (1.00 / 3) (#87)
by SanSeveroPrince on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 05:13:40 PM EST

If you stopped looking at them pretty words for a second, you'd realize just how goddamn stupid you just sounded.


----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


[ Parent ]
Let me see... (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 05:47:14 PM EST

...if I can rephrase in language that your average wanker can understand. The author argues that the best definition of Islam is to be derived from an account of the current and historical practice of those who claim to be Muslims, rather than resorting to doctrinal claims about what constitutes "true Islam". In turn, you claim that anyone who advocates violence in the name of Christianity is not a "true Christian," in spite of the fact that self identified Christians do currently and have historically advocated violence in the name of religion.

Me thinks you've failed to understand the author's point! Or, perhaps, you simply disagree, but why then the approving comment? I suspect that you liked the article only because you thought it was a codemnation of Islam.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Recognition (none / 0) (#111)
by SanSeveroPrince on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 10:01:56 AM EST

You are saying that if I start worshipping red bricks and call myself a Muslim, then I have as much right to be one as the Qur'an worshipping people.

Yes, we should look at the practices of current religions, but we must still use standards to DEFINE those religions.

The bible states that in now way you should hurt another human being.

The Qur'an states that is sometimes is your holy duty to kill other people. All the more honour if it involves your own death.

Those are facts stated in the two Good Books in question.

What I stated is that if a descriptive Christian abhors violence, he also is an essential Christian.

If a descriptive Muslim wants to kill infidels and bomb himself to death on an airplane in the twin towers, he is being an essential Muslim.

How does this in any way conflict with what the author is stating?

And please, do reply, don't just go silent.

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


[ Parent ]
Rubbish (5.00 / 2) (#91)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 06:19:11 PM EST

Not only have you completely misunderstood the point of the story, but you're also far to generous to Christianity. The Christian Bible lists quite a number of offenses for which people should be stoned to death, beaten or sold into slavery. In its account of history, it also lists a considerable number of murders, wars and terrorist acts apparently condoned by its loving god.

Now admittedly most reasonable Christians ingore those bits, and have pretty sound theological reasons, although the less reasonable ones occasionally look to them for excuses to treat people they dislike badly. I think you might find the attitude of Muslims towards the "sword" passages in the Koran and the accompanying Haddith are roughly similar.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

So far out it's painful (none / 0) (#110)
by SanSeveroPrince on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 09:56:19 AM EST

The bible only DESCRIBES a series of occurrences where various people are stoned, burned alive, crucified, mutilated or otherwise put to death.

No point in the bible ENDORSES such behaviour. It's the telling of a tale, and it would be fairly stupid to remove all contemporary elements in the telling, wouldn't it?

You're telling me that because Jesus is crucified, then the Bible really approves of crucification?

Theologically you're so far out that it hurts.
Just to remind you, I am sure you know of the 'cast the first stone' episode.
The Bible is unique in its guilt/punishment structure that no act of revenge is ever carried out by a 'faithful'. It's always god, or one of his/her/whatever angels (the Egyptian plagues, Sodoma and Gomorrah, and all that).

The bible is laughable in its logical flaws and inflexible attitude, but it never gave any christian permission to kill anybody...

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


[ Parent ]
Nope (5.00 / 1) (#124)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 05:11:59 PM EST

The bible only DESCRIBES a series of occurrences where various people are stoned, burned alive, crucified, mutilated or otherwise put to death. No point in the bible ENDORSES such behaviour.

On the contrary, there are many Old Testament passages that do just that. Execution, usually by stoning, is set out at the penalty for a range of pretty trivial offenses, including blasphemy. Yahweh was clearly too busy to do his own smiting and expected the Israelites to join in.

In addition to the utterly barbaric legal code, which is set out much more clearly than that in the Koran, the Israelites were assured of divine help in their wars, and sometimes specific millitary instructions.

The New Testament is much better, but doesn't entirely get away on the enemy smiting front.

The Bible is unique in its guilt/punishment structure that no act of revenge is ever carried out by a 'faithful'.

That isn't true. See above. It is the message of the Sermon on the Mount, but there's plenty of stuff in the Bible that could be used to undermine it.

Anyway, this is really all beside the point. Disregarding essentialist arguments, quite as many terrible things have been done in the name of the Lamb of God as have been done in the name of Allah. This is the basic point in the article that you've overlooked in your glee at finding a fellow Muslim-basher: the author is saying that religions should be judged by their fruits, not by their doctrines.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

I am really not a muslim basher. (4.00 / 1) (#126)
by SanSeveroPrince on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 06:31:23 PM EST

It just feels pointless.

I personally think that most religions are a farce. Not necessarily an unnecessary one, but a farce nonetheless.

Obviously you decided to read in my words that I am a 'Muslim basher', and refuse to see the argument behind my obviously clumsy words.

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


[ Parent ]
Hmmm ... (5.00 / 3) (#129)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 07:46:07 PM EST

Obviously you decided to read in my words that I am a 'Muslim basher', and refuse to see the argument behind my obviously clumsy words.

I apologise for that accusation. It wasn't fair.

You're right, I don't see your argument. I'd rather you clarified it, rather than going off in a huff. It seems you're trying to argue that Islam is fundamentally more predisposed to producing violent fanatics that the other major faiths, on the grounds that its doctrines more clearly endorse conversion by the sword and violent self-sacrifice.

My point is that this is not clearly justified, even by comparison with the Christian Bible. I've given several examples of violent and bloodthirsty actions endorsed by Yahweh, and I've got a good number more where those came from. It's also worth pointing out that the Koran contains at least as many contradictions as the bible. One of the key contradictions is actually on this very question of violence: there are passages that advocate violence, but one of the most famous says "there is no compulsion in religion".

My meta-position, if you like, is that these kinds of arguments, about what the "true natures" of particular religions really are, are fruitless. There are peaceful strands in Islam, just are there are in Christianity. Islam has produced its fair share off thugs, as has Christianity. The obvious thing to do is to deal with the thugs as thugs and the paficists as pacifists. What faith they base their pacificism or thuggery on is really not relevant.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Amen. Let it rest in peace now :) (nt) (none / 0) (#138)
by SanSeveroPrince on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 05:22:06 AM EST



----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


[ Parent ]
Islam is topical (4.50 / 2) (#66)
by Sloppy on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 02:50:20 PM EST

Islam is topical in 2002, and you'd have to be living in a hole to not know this. Had this article been written in 1148, no doubt that Christianity would be on the hot seat intead.
"RSA, 2048, seeks sexy young entropic lover, for several clock cycles of prime passion..."
[ Parent ]
becuase (1.00 / 1) (#102)
by auraslip on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 03:54:45 AM EST

Islam is the new comunism. Duh
124
[ Parent ]
The organization of Islam (5.00 / 7) (#12)
by minerboy on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:13:04 AM EST

One thing that seems missing from the article is the fact that variant forms of islam exist under the same general organizational scheme. There is no distinction in terms of where worship occurs, or religious authority. All worship together, based on where they live. How does this impact the the amount of tolerance that one group (the peaceful muslims) has for another (the jihadists)?

I believe ... (4.80 / 5) (#55)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 01:34:21 PM EST

... that the different schools within Islam worship separately. Shia and Sunni, for instance, do not go to the same Mosques. They also have different leaders - although Islam has no formal hierarchy these days. I think the boundaries between the different Shia and Sunni schools are a bit more blurred.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
I'm undecided as yet. (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by daragh on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:39:53 AM EST

I think the article is well written though, a nice argument that should stir up some lively debate.

Although I don't think people will mod it through because of the subject matter and the conclusion that Islam is a violent religion. This is a shame, as this is a point of view that is under examined as yet.

No work.

Interesting, but so what? (4.83 / 6) (#35)
by gauntlet on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:08:46 PM EST

I think your point is valid. But whether you accept the prescriptive or descriptive definitions of things, you have to agree that they are different, and that they are different in recognizable groups, as opposed to on a spectrum.

There are people that speak Ebonics, and people who speak other dialects of english. Whether you call it all "English" or differentiate in terms, doesn't change the fact that they are different.

So basically, it's a semantics argument for someone that wants to be able to say that Islam is violent. Well congratulations. Islam is violent, if you accept the descriptive definition of Islam. If you accept the prescriptive definition, only Islamic extremism is violent.

The problem is not with the word "Islam." The problem is with the word "Violent." See, you will never needlessly hurt the feelings of a muslim person by saying that islamic extremism (or whatever term you use if you accept the prescriptive definition of Islam) is violent. Note that it doesn't matter which definition they use.

So those of us that are concerned about the feelings of others will continue to use presecriptive language when making broad negative judgements, and will only use descriptive language when no one will take offense.

Into Canadian Politics?

ok (4.00 / 3) (#38)
by corian on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:13:21 PM EST

check my brief comment lower down, also entitled, I belive, "so what". The problem, as I see, is not a merely a semantic one as to whether or not islamic is "a peaceful religion" -- its that challenging that premise is the first step to challenging its use as a denial. if "islam is a peaceful religion", then islam has no problems to solve -- therefore, the problem must lie with the westerners, or the journalist, or someone else. that's not necesarily so.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by DarkZero on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:30:20 PM EST

If this article is voted down, which seems to be a coin toss at this point, perhaps you should add that argument to it and repost it. Had you made that point within the article itself, the comments would be much leaner and more focused.

[ Parent ]
I wholeheartedly agree with DarkZero, here (none / 0) (#81)
by gauntlet on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 04:04:29 PM EST

If you repost, do make that point more clear.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Continuing your analogy of Language to Religion (none / 0) (#176)
by trane on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 01:17:35 PM EST

Suppose we decided that Ebonics was hurting society and we wanted to make all blacks speak "proper" English. Would we perhaps look at the reasons why Ebonics has arisen? There might be reasons behind the development of Ebonics that lie with whites: lack of education, lack of opportunity, etc. To most effectively change Ebonics, we would most likely have to consider the reasons why it arose and change those reasons.

So in the same way even if "Islam is not peaceful", we might want to look at the reasons why it is not peaceful. So the "problem" could still lie with the "westerners, or the journalist, or someone else".

See what I'm saying? You seem to have a point (maybe it is simple Muslim-bashing) that you aren't stating explicitly.

 

[ Parent ]

A couple of comments (3.75 / 4) (#37)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:10:31 PM EST

  1. I believe that you are letting those that claim Islam is historically a "religion of peace" off the hook way too easily. The fact is, for the first 150 years of Islam's development it was essentially a religion of the garrison town and was spread by the Arab conquest of Persia, the Levant, and North Africa. This should not be construed in any way, shape, or form to be an attack upon the Islamic religion, but a simple statement of the plain facts of history.
  2. I like your analogy with prescriptive and descriptive grammars and I think it is a conceptual distinction that is absolutely necessary in the discussion of all manner of social phenomenon, not just religions. Unfortunately, given the reactionary tenor of most of the comments thus far, I fear that many of those in the greatest need of just such distinction will simply write this off as "Islam bashing."

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


Whoa. (2.44 / 9) (#43)
by SanSeveroPrince on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:28:12 PM EST

Beautiful.

It's a shame that the ones this was written for will only ever hear the sonic boom over their heads...

+1FP from me.

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


Social Construct? No, it's the The Truth. (4.33 / 6) (#47)
by Sloppy on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:35:55 PM EST

Like language, religion is a social construct.
If you're an outsider to the religion, the religion a social construct.

But if you're a true believer, the religion is The True Word Of God. It is as objectively correct as the laws of physics themselves. Man and his societies didn't create the laws of physics; he discovered them. A mystic and his society doesn't create their religion; they discover it.

We outsiders know that's bullshit, but only other infidels like us, or those with weak faith, would pay heed to our deceptive blasphemy.
"RSA, 2048, seeks sexy young entropic lover, for several clock cycles of prime passion..."

Yeah, but.... (4.50 / 8) (#53)
by krek on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 12:59:34 PM EST

Violence is also a societal construct. If a religion dictates that thieves should have their hand chopped off for an offence, then they would not classify this as violence but as punishment. In our western society, we punish people by incarceration. Is this not violence? Is violence really just a physical act? The courts are starting to see that it is not; Emotional damages, psycholgical abuse, bullying... these are all non-physical forms of violence.

To truly be able compare levels of violence between societies, you would first have to define violence in the contexts of those two societies.

I agree with you thoroughly, but, I just had to point that out.

Get some balls, man (5.00 / 2) (#153)
by revscat on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 11:45:11 AM EST

To truly be able compare levels of violence between societies, you would first have to define violence in the contexts of those two societies.

No, you don't. I believe that it's wrong to flaggelate someone as a form of punishment, and I stand by that belief. I have no problem pointing at Saudi Arabia and saying "You are wrong for chopping that guy's hand off." I don't care if it's acceptable in their culture, I'll still tell them they're wrong. Ditto Israel and the innumberable inhumane restrictions they've placed upon the Palestinians. Ditto suicide bombers, for that matter.

Cultural relativism can kiss my ass. I'm familiar with the brutality handed out by many nations, and I reject it all.



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
[ Parent ]
And the death penalty???? (5.00 / 1) (#183)
by krek on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:51:00 AM EST

You forgot to mention the American infatuation with hypodermic needles, toxic substances and crispy-fried criminals.

[ Parent ]
dialectism fallacy (4.81 / 11) (#56)
by tichy on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 01:56:35 PM EST

What prescriptivism calls an aberrant form, descriptivism calls a different dialect.

If a new dialect emerges that uses 'ain't', you can't say that English uses 'ain't', only that that dialect does, especially when there are millions of live speakers who still don't use 'ain't'. But this is what you're doing - the new dialect of Islam, which is marginal (to my understanding), is also violent, but you want to have us believe that the whole language of Islam is what's violent. This is not the case.

But then again I'm not surprised at the confusion; it was to be expected when using one set of tools ('dialect', 'prescriptivism', etc) from one domain to try to understand another domain (or perhaps to force your preconceived conclusion on that domain - that's up to you).

You use 'societal construct' as a catchall term, despite the fact it includes things as divergent as language, religion, currency and restaurants. In essence 'societal construct' is no more precise than 'physical phenomenon'; a (huge) class of things which share a common, important property but that may be wildly diverse otherwise. It's not nearly guaranteed that the tools used to analyse some kind of 'societal construct' will be useful or even relevant to the study of another kind, i.e. you wouldn't give a telescope to a particle physicist.

Doing this for social objects in a haphazard manner is just asking for trouble, but not uncommon for people who are trying to 'prove' all kinds of BS about society; for an example, look at all the things Hegel's dialectic has been used to 'explain' or justify, e.g. Marxism on one side and Fukuyama's 'End of History' on the other.



His terminology... (4.25 / 4) (#79)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 04:03:45 PM EST

...may be borrowed from linguistics, but the basic distinction he is making can be found within the foundational works of sociology, historiography, anthropology, political science... etc. Think Dilthey, Durkheim, Weber, Marx, Freud, Carlyle, et al.

In essence 'societal construct' is no more precise than 'physical phenomenon'; a (huge) class of things which share a common, important property but that may be wildly diverse otherwise. It's not nearly guaranteed that the tools used to analyse some kind of 'societal construct' will be useful or even relevant to the study of another kind, i.e. you wouldn't give a telescope to a particle physicist.

Indeed, the category of physical phenomenon and the category of social phenomenon both contain a wide variety of sharply differentiated subjects, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that each general category forms a homogeneous domain as demarcated by specific epistemological constraints.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
So... (4.16 / 6) (#57)
by talorin on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 02:08:51 PM EST

So Islam isn't a peaceful religion because some people who claim to be Muslim are violent? Same thing applies to Christianity. In fact, I can say that atheism is not a belief system for intelligent people because some atheists are fuckwits. Brilliant.

Atheism (4.00 / 2) (#61)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 02:38:58 PM EST

I think the categorical claim for atheism would be "atheism is a belief system of intelligent people." This, as you point out, is demonstrably false. I know lots of atheists who are quite stupid.

The statement "Islam is a religion for peaceful people" is demonstrably true. There are many peaceful people who are fervently Islamic. I agree with the author, however, that Islam is not a peaceful religion. Neither is Christianity. It's not just that some Muslims or Christians are violent. It is that many Muslims and Christians feel have felt and feel that violence is justified or even demanded by their religious beliefs.

[ Parent ]

"many" Muslims... (3.33 / 3) (#65)
by talorin on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 02:49:46 PM EST

So what's your definition of many?  How many people have to behave in a certain way before you can apply stereotypes?  

Islam and Christianity are both peaceful religions, in that the central message of each is to follow a code of behaviour to get into Paradise.  Just because there are examples of people using religion as an excuse for violence doesn't mean that a religion is violent.  

The article's nothing but semantic wankery.

[ Parent ]

Many (none / 0) (#94)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 08:08:40 PM EST

I would say hundreds of thousands would be enough to qualify as "many" in this context. However, I fail to see how I am "applying stereotypes." I simply, accurately, delineated a group. "Americans are fat" would be applying a stereotype. "There are fat Americans" is in no way applying a stereotype.

There is more to a religion than its "central message". For instance, Catholicism is not just the Christian bible, but almost two millennia of papal bulls and other theological decrees.

I'll grant that "people using religion as an excuse for violence" does not make a religion violent. However, believing that your religious leaders have the ability to issue orders for someones death, orders which it is your holy duty to carry out, does make a violent religion.

[ Parent ]

Mangle mangle (4.12 / 8) (#58)
by jabber on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 02:19:23 PM EST

Christianity abhost violence. Christianity perpetrated the Crusades.

I'm afraid you're trying to turn lead into gold, metaphorically speaking of course.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Do you live in a time machine? (3.00 / 4) (#77)
by NaCh0 on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 03:56:58 PM EST

There is a difference between what happened hundreds of years ago and what happened...say...yesterday.
--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
[ Parent ]
We all do (5.00 / 6) (#83)
by jabber on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 04:30:59 PM EST

Islam is what? 600 years younger than Christianity? Assuming that Islam is maturing at the same rate as Christianity, it is perfectly reasonable to expect it to act as Christianity did in the 1400's.

"Do they not learn from the mistakes of Christianity?" is the obvious next question.

Clearly, no. Just as Christianity didn't learn from the mistakes of the Romans, the Jews, the Summerians... Besides, why should they? They see Christianity as a politically perverted form of God's original message. To a large degree, it certainly is that.

Yes, Islam is inherently different culturally from Christianity. It's laws are much more violent, but that's a function of the culture, which itself is a function of the environment in which it exists. A land which does not coddle or tolerate weakness will give rise to a people who think that this is the will of God, and who will create a religion to reflect and reinforce such beliefs.

But, in many ways, Islam is similar very similar to Christianity. We're seeing in Islam vis-a-vis the Middle East, very much the same patterns we saw with Christianity vis-a-vis Europe of the Middle Ages.

We see heads of the religion grapple for power with the heads of political entities. Just as we had the Pope, Holy Roman Emperor and the various Kings, Dukes, Vassals etc, all playing games over control then; now we see Sheiks, Clerics, Presidents, Kings and Dictators doing the same thing.

As we saw religious fanaticism and emergence of religious sects in our own Western history (Protestantism, the Anglican Church, the Greek Orthodoxy, etc, all contra the Vatican) so now we see the Shiite, Suni, Ba'atha, etc sects.

IMHO, the mistake we're making in addressing the very feudal mentality of present day Islam is that we're not seeing it in a historical perspective.

As for things happening just yesterday... There are plenty of Jesus-Freaks out there, beating their wives and kids for misbehaving. Others are still out there blowing up abortion clinics. The difference here, between Christians and Muslims, is that most Christians live in stabilized societies, where law has a few hundred years more of maturity on it, and the legal and law enforcement systems are evolved enough to keep rape gangs, public stonings and suicide bombers to a minimum.

If Martin Luther's more enthusiastic followers had dynamite back then, you can be quite sure they would have used it. In fact, to this day, England commemorates Guy Fawkes day, which was a (unsuccessful) religiously/politically motivated terrorist attack, by Catholics, on the British Parliament.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

So? (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by NaCh0 on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 06:13:34 PM EST

So, should we try to fast-foward the Islamists 600 years or would that be considered a bad thing? Should those of use who live 600 years ahead of the Islamists put up with their bullshit? This seems to be the question.
--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
[ Parent ]
Can someone explain? (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by kosmos on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 06:52:12 AM EST

When you look at Islam objectively, there are some questions that I would like to have them anwered. Especially regarding the treatment of women and the violence against someone with different beliefs. No matter how hard I try to interpret them and find deeper meaning... I keep resort to its literal meaning. These verses are from Koran: "your wives are as a tilth (a field to be ploughed) unto you, so approach your tilth when or how ye will " Surah 2:223 "I have not seen any one more deficient in intelligence and religion than women" Al Bukhary vol. 2:541 ... from the teachings of Mohammed. Mohammed said, "Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him." Vol. 9:57 Fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)....." Surah 9:5 ---------------------- There are many more places like this in the book. What are you supposed to get out of these passages besides whatever it tells you to do?

[ Parent ]
Good question (2.50 / 2) (#115)
by jabber on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 11:49:28 AM EST

I can not give you an answer, since I am not a student of Islam. However, in this case as in all others, there is a stark parallel to Christianity.

The Christian Bible has similar passages. They tell us, in literal translation, that blacks should be the servants of whites, that children should be beaten into obedience, that people should be stoned to death.

Here is how I explain it. The Holy Books are not autographed, original manuscripts. They've passed through countless human hands since God (arguably) first dictated them. Each person in charge has "clarified" the meaning along the way, injected their own bias and prejudice, and then called the finished product The Word of God.

There is less "word of God" in the modern Bible than there is in the modern children's coloring book. Each religion has been exploited by those in charge to suit their goals.

I'm sure that, were Muhammad alive today, the first thing he would do, would be to give everyone a copy of the original. It's also entirely possible that Muhammad, despite his best intentions, misunderstood what God meant.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

No where in the bible.... (none / 0) (#187)
by kosmos on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 12:15:54 AM EST

No where in the bible says that blacks should be servants of whites, though, your other two examples are in the bible.

[ Parent ]
People (3.75 / 4) (#64)
by kcidx on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 02:49:38 PM EST

Some people are violent. Therefore "people" are violent.

Religion has nothing to do with it.

Using your logic, any group that has ever had anyone violent in it, is a violent group. Therefore I am 100% sure that all groups are violent. Including the over-arching super-group known as "people."

Basically, I just guess I don't see what your point is.

Bush is a Christian, and has ordered the deaths of far more people than any group of islamic people have in the last two years. So why is this article about Islam and not about Christianity?

the situations aren't comparable (3.66 / 3) (#97)
by ogre on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 02:24:24 AM EST

Bush didn't order the deaths of muslims because they don't believe in Jesus, he has prosecuted a war against a group of people on the grounds that they are a threat to the US and others, regardless of religion. He would have reacted the same if the target country was christian, just as Clinton attacked a nominally christian group to protect a nominally muslim group, an Clinton called himself a christian.

Man, the desperation to show that christianity is "just as bad as islam" is reaching hysterical proportions.

Everybody relax, I'm here.
[ Parent ]

Drastic Oversimplification (4.00 / 1) (#116)
by kcidx on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 11:53:38 AM EST

It's is incredibly short sighted to think that we are under attack by islamic terrorist simply because we have a different faith.

Although I admit, it is much easier to think like that. It lets us off the hook so easily, without the slightest hint of responsibility for our past, and our continuing actions.

[ Parent ]

but that is why we are under attack (none / 0) (#168)
by ogre on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 07:29:09 PM EST

I didn't oversimplify since I didn't say that religious bigotry was the only reason behind the islamist attacks. However it certainly is a big part of the reason, according to the terrorists own rhetoric.

The point is that islamists are attacking us (or so they say) because their religion compels them to do so. And muslim religious leaders are endorsing hatred and violence against non-muslims. It is therefore reasonable to say that we are the victims of muslim violence. By contrast, no christians are attacking muslims because their religion in any way encourages them to do so. Nor is there any christian leader who is endorsing hatred and violence against anyone. Therefore it is not reasonable to say that muslims are the victims of christian violence.

Everybody relax, I'm here.
[ Parent ]

but... (5.00 / 2) (#146)
by mikelist on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 10:52:11 AM EST

Islamic terrorists are NOT attacking us for our belief in the divinity of Jesus, in fact Jesus is regarded in Islam as a prophet, as referenced by the fact that Islamic mention of Jesus name are appended with "Peace be upon Him". The justification is usually our support of Israel, in the face of their oppression of the Palestinian people. There is a generic tenet of converting the world and emnity against 'non-believers', just as there is in Christianity. Judaism, however is NOT interested in converting the world, in the Jewish view, they are the chosen people and need not concern themselves with salvation of the non-chosen peoples. In fact conversions to Judaism by other 'peoples of the book' as Muhammad called them, are not at all encouraged, at most tolerated by most Jewish sects.

[ Parent ]
no, it is for our lack of belief in Mohamed (none / 0) (#169)
by ogre on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 07:33:42 PM EST

... hence the analogy. And also for our lifestyle that is an affront to islam.

And before you claim otherwise, I suggest you do some reading on islamist web sites to see what they say their reasons for violence are.

Everybody relax, I'm here.
[ Parent ]

So what ? (4.33 / 6) (#71)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 03:18:42 PM EST

Interesting analogy, and bang on about the difference between practise and theory in religion, too. Much the same is true of all idealistic schemes, in fact.

What I don't get is who this argument is directed at. By now there can't be anyone who doesn't realise that some self-identified Muslims do terrible things, and that some self-appointed religious authorities condone them.

Are you saying that Islam is, in fact, inherently more violent than other religions ? or that Islam is in need of some reform ? or what ?

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate

missed connections (4.62 / 8) (#74)
by dr k on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 03:38:27 PM EST

If Ebonics is a dialect of English, then what is a "dialect" of Islam? If you are going to "societally construct" your religions, you should do a better job.

An easy example: if we were talking about Christianity, then a dialect of Christianity might be Methodist. And it turns out to be a rather fitting example, as the African Methodist Episcopal church, or AME church, is a "black" church just as Ebonics is a "black" dialect.

But am I claiming that all Methodists are black? Well, that is certainly not true. In fact, I don't know if the AME church is affiliated in any way with the United Methodist Church, the one your cousin goes to.

So, what is the Methodist denomination of Islam? What is the crazed-fundamentalist-abortion-clinic-bombing denomination of Islam?

* * *

Stating that "Islam is a peaceful religion" is shallow and condescending. Lumping the divers[e] beliefs of a billion people into a single category and making claims about it is foolish.


Destroy all trusted users!

You might wish to look up some terms. (4.00 / 1) (#106)
by i on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 05:55:26 AM EST

Start with "wahhabism" or "salafism".

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Language and religion differ on several points (4.40 / 10) (#82)
by opensorcerer on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 04:14:35 PM EST

To say "religion is a social construct" is to ignore one important difference between them: many religions practiced today have some variation of a Holy Book or Holy Writ - the Koran (pick your favorite alternate spelling if you dislike mine), the Bible, and so forth.  The principal tenets of several faiths have been established; the chief variations that a religion incurs are those based on interpretation of that original text.  This does not apply to all religions, obviously; however, it does apply to a significant number of faiths practiced today.

Conventional spoken languages - English, Spanish, Basque, and so forth - typically lack such a focal point.  When any effort has been made to "standardize" a language (the OED, for example), that effort has relied on investigation and research.  The standard arises from the practice, rather than vice versa as is the case for formally-described religions.

In computing, an example of such "scripture"-driven religions might be the C language.  C has a well-known, well-established structure.  But the grammar is available; anyone can go out and build their own C-like variant, whether they add a single new keyword or graft on a substantial new set of features (like C++).  Even some of the appearance of C can be used in a new language (such as PHP) without retaining its essential qualities.  It would be foolish to call PHP programs "C" or even "C-like"; it is equally foolish to state that someone who carries out actions extremely at odds with a given religion's tenets is an adherent of that religion.  One should more properly say that such a person is an adherent of a different faith that shares many superficial similarities.

Steve Arlo: There aren't evil guys and innocent guys. It's just... It's just... It's just a bunch of guys.

"focal" points (5.00 / 3) (#104)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 05:31:48 AM EST

Conventional spoken languages - English, Spanish, Basque, and so forth - typically lack such a focal point.

Calling English and Spanish "conventional spoken languages" is very misleading. Both are languages with well over 200 million native speakers, spread over a large part of the globe, national languages for several states, and with a long history of being written down. Most languages in the world simply don't have a written form.

And (successful) written languages in general do have a "focal point", but not the one you're thinking of (grammars). There is a literary canon associated to them, which serves as a shared standard of what are good forms of expression in the language. With English, one can point to Beowulf, Chaucer, and above all, Shakespeare. With Spanish, El Mío Cid, Alfonso X, and above all, Cervantes.

--em
[ Parent ]

To clarify... (2.00 / 1) (#120)
by opensorcerer on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 02:57:18 PM EST

I should have said "conventional spoken/written (as opposed to operative)" to clarify the difference between human and computer languages, since I used computer languages as a parallel to the discussion later in the topic.  Sorry for the misleading statement.

I would consider "literary canon" to be a product of the language, more than a source of it (yes, many famous works of literature have coined words and phrases, but to my knowledge very few have achieved a higher number of coined terms than of terms already in the vernacular).  To go back to the computing analogy, "literary canon" consists of well-known programs written and in common use, such as the Windows operating system, Netscape and so forth.  A program cannot introduce new concepts into the language without "forking" that language, unless the original authors (or designated maintainers) choose to accept those contributions.

And finally back to religion - the addition of the Gospel of Jesus is not considered acceptable to any practicing Jew I personally am aware of, although you have groups such as "Jews for Jesus".  Christianity itself can be thought of as a "fork" of Judaism.  The "literary canon" equivalent in writ-based religion consists of interpretations of the text, "new discoveries" (e.g. Mormonism), and acts committed in the name of that religion (e.g. the stories of saints' deeds in Catholicism).

In some faiths, God (Allah, etc.) is considered the principal Author of a religion's Holy Writ or equivalent, and consulting that Author to have changes introduced into the original work probably cannot be provably accomplished.  Still, nothing stops you from writing your own Talmud variation and publishing it as "Don's Judaism" or somesuch.

Steve Arlo: There aren't evil guys and innocent guys. It's just... It's just... It's just a bunch of guys.
[ Parent ]

Spare us your computing analogies. (5.00 / 2) (#132)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 02:14:31 AM EST

I should have said "conventional spoken/written (as opposed to operative)" to clarify the difference between human and computer languages, since I used computer languages as a parallel to the discussion later in the topic.

Gah.

I would consider "literary canon" to be a product of the language, more than a source of it (yes, many famous works of literature have coined words and phrases, but to my knowledge very few have achieved a higher number of coined terms than of terms already in the vernacular).

One of the most important facts about language is that it varies. It varies across time, space and social circumstances. It varies not just across speakers but also within speakers. You were talking about language standardization, which is the way in which a subset of the variation in a speech community at a given moment in its history is given a special privileged status within that community. My point is simple-- the literary canon has a very important role in the fixing of the standard. The canon is part of the things that are pointed at in legitimating the standard-- it is not an accident that nonstandard speakers can be denounced as "butchering Shakespeare's/Cervantes'/[insert canonical writer] language". Writers don't invent any new linguistic features for their texts to become an exemplar of the standard form of the language. The standard takes their language (as opposed to that of other people from different regions/social classes/etc.) as the example.

To go back to the computing analogy

Please spare us. I think it would be more productive to speak of language in its own terms, not in those of your little comfortable technological ghetto.

--em
[ Parent ]

Postin' (2.33 / 3) (#86)
by vile on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 05:10:12 PM EST

I be postin' comments in different styles, you dig?

I believe that everyone has their own individual style of expression. Everyone. Not acheived entirely through communities (though, this does play a role), but more so from friends. If someone I respect says something, I'm most likely going to repeat it at some point -- or at many points. Such as Luff for Love. Or, Ain't for is not. Or, the way I'm typing now.

My point is, everyone submits their own style in conversation.. which is basically a 'construct' of what they have learned and what has impacted them from the past. It is a way to distinguish themselves from others. (Though, many kids these days seem to be expressing the same commercial thread, but that's a diff conversation). Ya know?

Good article. A little short and jumpy. Sectioned. :)

~
The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
Summed up (4.00 / 3) (#88)
by xriso on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 05:22:38 PM EST

People don't always practice what they preach.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
But it sends strong signal.... (1.00 / 2) (#98)
by kosmos on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 03:07:11 AM EST

When large number of people of certain religion condone violence without much control in sight. It's even more troubling when we see a entire country condoning such a behaviors in the name of Islam. I hope that people of Islam can come forth STRONGLY and denounce these monstrous terrorist and do SOMETHING about it.

[ Parent ]
oh shut up (5.00 / 2) (#100)
by boxed on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 03:41:43 AM EST

Christianity never condemned the crusades, the witch burnings, the inquisition, the KKK, and THE NAZIS. Muslims are condemning these terrorist attacks, if you don't think it's "strongly" enough I think you need to get some historical perspective, because they are UNIQUE in condemning hideous crimes in the names of religion at the time it is happening.

[ Parent ]
Are you kidding me? (none / 0) (#186)
by kosmos on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 12:09:28 AM EST

You should read a book by Corrie Ten Boom entitled "The Hiding Place", this book tells about a Christian who stands up to the Nazis for Jews and has her family killed because of it. The basic tenants of Christianity disagree with all the things you just mentioned. And I'm sure there were many individual christians who gave there lives to oppose those wrongs. You do have a valid point that people who called themselves Christians did support these things. The problem with radical Muslim terrorism, is that the large majority of the people in those countries, that have power, either support them or just close their eyes to their doings. Ty

[ Parent ]
you missed my point (none / 0) (#188)
by boxed on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 03:57:38 AM EST

CHRISTIANITY never condemnded the acts I mentioned. A lot of christians condemned them of course, as they should being christians, but christianity, the organization(s), didn't. Islam however is condemning the terrorist acts, as are individual muslims. THIS is what makes islam historically unique, and in a good in my opinion.

[ Parent ]
I think you have it backwards (3.80 / 5) (#93)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 06:47:54 PM EST

Islam does prescribe violence. Mohmmed (sorry about the spelling) was a bit of a warlord. However, that doesn't mean that all Muslims are warlike.

Muslims like all religous people, pick and choose which pieces of their religion they want to follow. They conform to the societies they live in just as Christians do. Mohmmed lived about 1200 years ago, Jesus lived about 2000 years ago. It should be no suprise that their teachings aren't very appealing anymore.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

Mohammed a Genius (2.75 / 4) (#95)
by elzubeir on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 10:39:46 PM EST

Not only is he a great leader, a politician and a trader -- he was also successful in creating a civilization out of bedouins that took beat the other empires in TWENTY THREE YEARS.

Now you tell me if the man is not pure genius, never again rivaled in history. Otherwise, I agree with everything else you have said.

[ Parent ]

Yeah, he was (none / 0) (#96)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 12:55:53 AM EST

but maybe not the greatest genius ever.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
bah (4.00 / 1) (#151)
by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 11:35:53 AM EST

Lenin took over Russia a lot faster than that.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

There is no `prescriptive linguistics' (4.50 / 6) (#107)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 06:03:02 AM EST

This is the debate between Descriptive and Prescriptive linguistics.

There is really no such thing as "prescriptive linguistics". Linguistics is an academic discipline founded on the descriptive approach. The closest you can come to a "prescriptive lingusistics" is possibly some of my very first teachers, who hold positions in a Spanish language academy; they believe that good prescriptive work is essentially comparing descriptions of various dialects, noting which forms of usage are common to most of them, and recommending those for general usage.

A Prescriptive grammar is probably what you were taught in school - a succession of exact rules of valid and invalid usage; a completely formalized model.

There is nothing "exact" about such rules, trust me on this point. You can construct examples quite easily that the rules will block up on; e.g. a grammar that says something like "verbs agree with the subject in number and person" will have nothing to say for examples like "John or me {is/are} coming".

Most people, of course, don't talk exactly like that. That is because language changes, both temporally and regionally.

More importantly, because a prescriptive grammar doesn't tell you how to talk-- it tells you how not to, which is completely useless if you don't know the language in the first place.

--em

Of course there is Prescriptive Language... (1.00 / 1) (#144)
by mikelist on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 09:45:34 AM EST

In many circles, poor language use (based on Prescriptive rules, no surprise there)is used to determine one's level of 'learnedness'. Einstein would have had a hard time describing relativity in Ebonics without reverting to prescriptive language, although some of the prescriptions are irrelevant to the actual explanation. Ever hear poor grammatical usage and thought, "trailer trash" or "hillbillies" or "name your castigated subgroup here", at the drop of an "ain't", and dismissed the user as non-literate? Of course for many people, common usage(description) is what determines how they use or ignore prescription.

[ Parent ]
language != linguistics (none / 0) (#161)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 02:44:18 AM EST

The former is some sort of object in the world, the latter is an academic discipline that studies it. There is prescriptive grammar and descriptive grammar. There is no academic discipline, however, dedicated to prescriptive grammar in general (i.e. for all languages). There is a discipline dedicated to descriptive grammar in general, and its name is "linguistics".

--em
[ Parent ]

Missing the point (4.66 / 6) (#118)
by mech9t8 on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 12:29:37 PM EST

The point of "Islam is a peaceful religion" is that Islam is AS PEACEFUL as Christianity, and that the terrorists are corrupting Islam JUST LIKE violent Christians have done for centuries.  It's meant to prevent assaults and discrimination against Muslims from ignorant hicks who think the Qu'ran is telling all their Muslim neighbours and co-workers and strangers they see on the street to blow them up in the name of Allah.  It's not meant as a complex example or political statement - it's meant as a short, simple message to hopefully keep ignorant dumbasses from beating up the next brown person they see on the street.

There are lots of possible ways in which the West has had a causal effect for violent Islamism.  Whether they're true or not has nothing to do with whether one classifies Islam as peaceful or not.  (The argument would be that it doesn't matter whether or not Islam is inherently peaceful, because the causes of terrorism are due to all sorts of social and political and (mostly) psychological factors, and Islam is just an excuse - just like Christianity has been used as an excuse for centuries.  Society shapes its religion to fit what it wants to believe, not the other way around - take away the root causes of violence and poverty, and worldwide Islam will become as innocuous as Christianity.)

Whether or not the terrorists are "true" Muslims is as unimportant as whether or not Abortion terrorists are "true" Christians - it's just a matter of how one chooses to define one's terms.  The point is that jihad and suicide bombing is not mainstream Islam.  The point is to convince a populace that, in general, thinks that Christianity is a peaceful religion that Islam is a peaceful religion as well.

If you want to disprove the usage of the phrase "Islam is a peaceful religion", go the Qu'ran.  Go listen to mainstream Muslim sermons.  And then base conclusions on that.  "Islam is a peaceful religion" says that Islam is peaceful, and the terrorist are corrupting it - just like Christianity and whatnot have been/are corrupted all the time.  Right now, you're just arguing semantics, and completely missing the point being made.

--
IMHO

Prescriptive religion (5.00 / 1) (#119)
by IHCOYC on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 12:42:07 PM EST

That language is a social construct, at least as to its superficial forms, I have no problem with. (Deep structures, and the human instinct to create language, may be something else entirely.)

Religion, by contrast, may have a supernatural origin. More importantly, religion may be preserved in written documents that enable the possibility of Reformations of various sorts. Protestants, seeking to reform Christianity, returned or thought they were returning to standards contained in Christian scripture; and the attempt to interpret that scripture was what set Protestantism apart. The actual practice may turn out to be substantially more complicated, the claims of reliance on Scripture selective, and taking place within a new-modelled body of social convention. Still, the written material had a deep impact.

It seems obvious to me as an outsider that Islam needs a reformation of some sort. The current interpretive tradition seems socially obnoxious and regressive, and may be leading the Muslim world down a path towards disaster. I suspect that the deep problems will have to become self-evident, perhaps as the result of a military disaster or major loss of independence, before the problems within the current model of Islam become apparent enough to the Muslims themselves and bring about these needful changes.
--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy

Doesn't matter what Islam preaches (3.25 / 4) (#121)
by MSBob on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 04:00:35 PM EST

It doesn't matter what the teachings of Islam are. They may well be peaceful although that is not a given. I agree that an average muslim has no hatred for Christianity and probably wants both cultures to coexist peacefully. However, even within the mainstream of Islam there is a certain degree of tolerance for the extremist element and that's what bothers me about Islam. In the same way that we can't blame an average German for the rise of the Nazis, we can't blame an avereage muslim for terrorism. However, in both cases the moderate majority did not do enough to isolate and eradicate the extremist element from their ranks. This is why Islam is so troubling.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

huh? (none / 0) (#150)
by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 11:34:10 AM EST

we can't blame an average German for the rise of the Nazis

Why not? Lots of 'average Germans' voted for Hitler, and lots of 'average Germans' tolerated having former Nazis in high places after the war.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

I know (2.00 / 1) (#122)
by Sairon on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 04:04:24 PM EST

Let's talk about it some more. That should solve the problem. How about we quit worrying about these little details and find solutions?

Jared

No need to restrict yourself like that (4.25 / 4) (#123)
by mayo on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 05:08:35 PM EST

I would have thought you'd put more effort into your first article.

We hear it every day - "Christianity is a peaceful religion". Violence is contradictory to the Christian way. Nonetheless, every day we also hear of people who do self-identify as Christians, who commit violence in the name of God. Except that "these people aren't true Christians" we are told, for "true" Christians are against violence.

Ok , who (2.00 / 4) (#134)
by evil roy on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 02:52:16 AM EST

Throw us some examples of christians who commit acts of violence in the name of God. The historic examples, some in modern US , have met with massive widespread condemnation and criticism from christians. Klansmen , Davidians - the common theme was condemnation from real christians. What sets the muslim world apart is the lack of condemnation. Rather than sit silently and lament that militant islam is not true islam these people should be leading the fight to rid the world of the menace. The lack of action from muslims is one of the saddest but most enlightening aspects of the current worldwide terror campaign. It is a culture/religion with no redeeming features.

[ Parent ]
No redeeming features? (2.50 / 2) (#135)
by PowerPimp on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 03:18:58 AM EST

I'm sorry, but that's just plain offensive, and a disgusting stereotype of Islam and muslims. I'd like you to clarify this, as I'd like to know whether you understand that Islam is massive, and that Islamic culture spreads from Malaysia and the Philippines to Sub-Saharan Africa, and that the culture changes immensely across that range.
What culture do you think has no redeeming features? Do you even understand which aspects of the culture are unique to individual areas, and which are universal? How can you condemn over a Billion people in one statement?
Think before you insult.



You'd better take care of me God; otherwise, you'll have me on your hands...
[ Parent ]
No redeeming features? (2.33 / 3) (#136)
by evil roy on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 04:07:46 AM EST

Poor choice of words on my part. In context of what is happening around the globe with terrorism in the name of islam I see no evidence of condemnation from muslims - nothing to redeem the religion and culture at all. It appears to be made up of people who, whilst not condoning mass murder, do not condemn it either. It is a religion that usurps and denigrates local culture. The geographic examples you provide prove the point. Islam has not transgressed these cultures, it has divided and destroyed the people it has touched.

[ Parent ]
Who are you trying to describe? (5.00 / 1) (#141)
by DominantParadigm on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 09:22:20 AM EST

It appears to be made up of people who, whilst not condoning mass murder, do not condemn it either. It is a religion that usurps and denigrates local culture. The geographic examples you provide prove the point. Islam has not transgressed these cultures, it has divided and destroyed the people it has touched.

Sounds more like Americans than Islam. If we lived 1500 years ago, you might have a point. 100 years ago, you'd be talkign about the British.In the present, you're describing Americans to a tee with that paragraph.



Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 0) (#157)
by evil roy on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 05:45:27 PM EST

You are spot on. Both sides can be completely wrong. Since the US is the only country to have used a WMD they fit squarely into this mould.

[ Parent ]
Hold on there sparky. (none / 0) (#171)
by Kal on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 01:55:08 AM EST

Since the US is the only country to have used a WMD

If you were talking purely about nuclear weapons you'd be entirely correct, but WMD covers chemical and biological weapons as well. Sadly, the use of WMD in that sense has stretched at least as far back as Alexander the Great, who used to use catapults to hurl dead bodies into the cities he was besiging. If that's too far back for you take a look at what the Conquistadors, albiet it was likely unintentional at first, and the US government did to the Native Americans. Take a look at the battle fields of World War I, where poison gas was routinely thrown around, for an even more modern example.

[ Parent ]
You're right, of course (4.75 / 4) (#127)
by Lord Snott on Thu Nov 28, 2002 at 06:41:42 PM EST

I think the true hipocracy is in the way people use language to diminish one side over the other.

Christians don't commit genocide, Nazi's do. Christians don't lynch blacks, Klansmen do. In a predominantly Christian country, the language used to describe atrocities hides the mindset of the perpetrator.

Most Muslim's aren't violent either. (I don't know for a fact, but) I'm sure in predominantly Muslim countries, it wasn't Islam that destroyed historical monuments and oppressed women, the Taliban did.

So, in answer to your question, I think more people are Descriptive than they realise.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
registration number 2,347,676.
Bummer :-(

okay... (4.00 / 3) (#130)
by autopr0n on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 12:46:06 AM EST

Well, there is a difference, of course, and that Islam is supposed to be wholly Prescriptive. That is to say, you're supposed to do what it says in the Koran, and only that. This is different from something like Buddhism where there are many branches and they are all ok.

Of course, there are different branches of Islam, but they are not supposed to be, so it's totally reasonable for a Muslim to say 'they are not true Muslims' about Al-Quada.

In all honesty, though. Historical Prescriptive Islam is violent. And people who say it isn't are not just hypocritical, their liars.


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What is a religion? (5.00 / 2) (#131)
by Blarney on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 01:32:57 AM EST

Your article asks whether a religion is a set of Prescriptive rules about how its followers should behave, or whether it is a set of Descriptive rules about it's own practices. I hypothesize that a religion is a self-replicating idea, and it contains a set of prescriptive rules and replicates through a set of descriptive rules about itself.

Take Christianity for example - it contains a set of prescriptive rules mostly written by Paul the Apostle, dictated from his visions of Jesus of Nazareth, a set of prescriptive rules attributed to saying of Jesus of Nazareth during his own lifetime on Earth, and the Law of Moses as a backup in cases where the other rules do not conflict with them. However, Christianity requires that it be preached to the "unsaved", and this involves a set of descriptive rules which are explained to the new convert.

Similarly, Judiasm contains the Mosaic Law and Talmudic commentary as prescriptive rules, and is passed through the generations through descriptive rules - check out Maimonides's Guide to the Perplexed for a good description of "What is a Jew"?

A religion could theoretically be constructed with only a prescriptive or descriptive set. For instance, one could have a religion with no actual rules for behavior but still having descriptive rules - "Elephantarianism involves worship of the elephant as the greatest being in the Universe. There are no rules in Elephantarianism, everything goes!" - but people would think it a joke. Also, one could construct a religion with prescriptive rules but no descriptive rules - "We Linuxists like to dance through the streets wearing only dot-matrix printouts of the kernel code" - but it could not readily be witnessed and would soon die out - there would be no answer readily available to "Why do you guys do that?"

In conclusion, I suspect that no viable religion lacks either prescriptive or descriptive rules.

Re: Linuxists (none / 0) (#147)
by TheBeardedScorpion on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 11:05:21 AM EST

"We Linuxists like to dance through the streets wearing only dot-matrix printouts of the kernel code"

The sad thing is, I know some people who would be eager to join this religion.



[ Parent ]
It's a great article, except that it's malarky... (4.80 / 10) (#133)
by israfil on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 02:41:23 AM EST

I agree with the bulk of it, and it's certainly interesting. Where I depart, is in a fundamental premise, which seems to falsify your conclusions (treating Islam like ebonics). I think it's apples and oranges, because the premise that religion is like language - a societal sub-conscious expression of culture, is just plain incorrect. (And I'm not even going to discuss Esperanto. ;)

If anything, religion degrades as a result. Yes I'm being prescriptive, but by definition, so were the founders of the religions. They formed social structures - codes of behavior, and standards for membership. The fact that Muhammad proposed five pillars of conduct (prayer, fasting pilgrimage, tithing, and declaration of faith), and described a community, and fleshed it out, to some extent, meant that you were only entitled to call yourself a Muslim, IF you agreed to hold to these conditions.

Put another way, if the Qur'an is the "Constitution" of the Muslim faith, then you can't claim to be a Muslim if you disobey it... especially if you disobey it's obvious intent. For example, it is not hypocrisy to attempt to apply an ancient law in the modern time and fail. It is hypocrisy to apply an ancient law who's principle is explained, in the exact same way, but such that the principle is betrayed, AND, in a cynical way so as to keep power for yourself, or your group. That's the kind of crap that Muhammad outlawed in the first place.

Religion is prescriptive, though local variations clearly are descriptive. But you can, I argue, make a rough-estimate that a person is not a true {Muslim|Christian|Jew|Buddhist|etc.} by examining the core teachings of that faith as articulated by its founder, and evaluating consistency. If you've drifted 50% (from the intent, not the appearance) then it's a new religion, and the honest path is to call it one.

[sidebar: don't give me grief about "intent" and "authorship" either. Any author can be evaluated for intent based on evidence available, especially if that author obviously established context for interpretation. It isn't intellectually honest to say "well, when Muhammad said, women should dress modestly, what he REALLY meant was that they should be covered head-to-toe, and that this was because women were totally inferior." The dishonesty here is that it disregards the obvious removal of this interpretation by Muhammad in his own text by asserting the spiritual equality of both genders. To wit: "If any do deeds of righteousness, be they male or female, and have faith, they will enter paradise and not the least injustice will be done to them." (Qur'an 4:124)

It is therefore only reasonable to conclude, that because of the latter phrase, the former attitude is inconsistent with being a Muslim.]

Now the nice thing about that sidebar, is that it kind of illustrates the point. Religion is prescriptive. If you weren't convinced, let's take a poll:

"You shall believe in what I have revealed herein, confirming what you have; do not be the first to reject it. Do not trade away My revelations for a cheap price, and obey Me." (Islam - Quran 2:41)

"If you love me, you will obey My commandments... whoever accepts my commandments and obeys me is the one who loves me." (Christianity - John 14:15-21)

"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I [Moses] command you this day for your good?" (Judaism - Deuteronomy 10.12-13)

"A sacrificial vessel: The superior man, taking his stance as righteousness requires, adheres firmly to Heaven's decrees." (Confucianism - I Ching 50: Sacrificial Vessel)

"Abiding by your commandment is preferable to worshipping you. Obeying your commandment conduces to deliverance and contravenes from bondage." (Jainism - Vitaragastava 19.4)

"What is thy command? What is thy wish? Is it for praise? Is it for worship? Proclaim, O Wise One, that we may hear for which of the decrees rewards shall be assigned-- Instruct us through Right, paths good to tread, of Good Mind!" (Zoroastrianism - Avesta, Yasna 34.12)

"The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him [The Prophet or Revealer] Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed. It behoveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Source of Divine inspiration." (Baha'i - Kitab-i-Aqdas para 1)

All emphasis mine.

You see, while there is personal application of law and teaching, the fundamental constant in religion is that there are givens. There are deal-breaking offences, and bottom-line tenets, without which you can only somewhat dishonestly call yourself a member or believer.

If I am a Christian, and I say, "but I don't really believe in this Jesus fellow. I think he was cool and all, but you know, he probably knew some swanky sleight of hand. Boy, could he give a speech, though..." well then I would not be much of a Christian. Not because some fundamentalist said I wasn't, but because there's sufficient and obvious evidence that Jesus claimed more about himself. So one is going to follow Him, or at least the religion He founded, then one must be consistent, or face facts - one is not a Christian... one is something else. Maybe that something else is valid, maybe it's not... that's not for me to say. The point here is (hammered home redundantly now) that religion, unlike language is prescriptive.

The fact that we live in nearly secular societies (officially) is unsurprising, especially in the US of A, given the anti-authority, fear-of-tyrrany culture spawned from the earliest days of its revolution. The fact, however, is that no matter how descriptive we make religions (comfey, new-agey, huggy), it's fundamentally prescriptive. Now they all seem to prescribe hugs, as well as the sword or two, in context, so it's not all doom and gloom. The point is that you can't just pick and choose. If you're a Muslim, you submit to Allah. If you're a Baha'i, you obey the Kitab-i-Aqdas and other scripture. If you're a Christian, you obey the bible's injunctions, because that's a fundamental part of the definition of your faith, etc.

Now the good news is that there is quite a bit of latitude for diversity and opinion within the bounds of obedience. This is why you can have christians and muslims and others in one country be culturally closer to each other than to their co-religionists in other far-away places. Most of these faiths do not curtail personal expression as much as their modern forms have done. But it is clear, from even a cursory glance at the formative texts, that these modern forms are impostors, bearing little resemblance, nor relationship to the original form.

Muhammad even warned against this: "Therefore, woe to those who distort the scripture with their own hands, then say, "This is what GOD has revealed," seeking a cheap material gain. Woe to them for such distortion, and woe to them for their illicit gains.(Qur'an 2:79)

So to decide that because enough people do it, it's a valid (Descriptive) flavour of the religion assumes the Author intended any flavours. Play a game by different rules, and guess what, you may have a different games. It may be a matter of semantics, but semantics and belief are twin pillars in this field. They stand as part of a whole, and can't be easily dismissed.

Okay, it's quite simplified, and I know about differences in interpretation, sects, yadda yadda. I'm keeping it this simplified only to make a general point, and because the scope of that discussion is beyond that of this post.
i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.

not quite true... (4.66 / 3) (#142)
by mikelist on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 09:24:26 AM EST

The Islamic faith, as set down by Muhammad IS prescriptive, but as practiced by all who came after is descriptive, based on the perceptions of those who espouse it. I have wondered (too lazy to get to the very bottom line) if, like dietary laws (for health of the body) these perceptions are based on environmental parameters.Shariyah was a good idea in The Prophet's day, due to the fluidity of Middle Eastern societies of His day, to head to toe covering of the women would deter abduction by strangers passing through, whereas today, simple modesty would suffice (in my admittedly non-Islamic view). Further, I have wondered at the proclamations of innocence of those Islamics caught in terrorist acts. Aren't they disgracing their faith by lying? If I killed people on explicit instructions from God, I would be proud of myself, admit or even boast of my actions, even in the face of my enemies, as I know they were sanctioned by my Creator. It seems to me that those terrorists will not attain martyrdom, having blemished their actions with a lie. The lie shows that they know the true nature of their actions, and are unwilling to put their fate in the hands of their God, which is the single most prescriptive tenet of any religion. I doubt that Muhammad ever implied that liars would attain Paradise, especially when their lies, show their unwillingness to submit to the ways of God. A question for Muslims, are fatwahs set in stone after acceptance, or is there a mechanism to undo a fatwah, seeing as they are based on people's interpretation rather than coming directly from God? I'm not suggesting that Islam should be watered down to accommodate Christian outrage, but certain fatwahs seem to be based on very circular logic, and I would hope that there is a sort of review board that would critique the human hand that wrote them for correctness and true relevance to God's intentions, some points of which could conceivably be blemished by political and personal fortunes of those who submitted them.

[ Parent ]
A reference point for argument (none / 0) (#137)
by alizard on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 04:51:39 AM EST

The Quran

Standard commentaries

If you're going to argue something, you might as well know what it is you're arguing about.

What is Islam (3.40 / 5) (#139)
by Ronniec95 on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 05:47:32 AM EST

I would just like to point out, being a muslim, how Islam is prescriptive.

Islam consists of 2 parts, the Quran (word of God) and Hadith (actions allegedly attributed to prophet Mohammed and other dudes who might have had a political interest in influencing the religion).

Islam only prescribes the bits in the Quran. Hadith is where 99% of the justification for all the bits you see in the media about islam takes place. Things like stoning, chopping of hands, blowing up hotels, suicide bombings are ALL in Hadith only.

The fact there is no compulsion is religion cited in a previous comment, should immediately indicate to one self that we cannot force someone to obey an islamic rule of law for the sake of the religion. However, if there is a socially decided rule of law that abides by the constitution of the Quran then the other issues like fighting for the protection of land etc should apply. But this, I would point out, becomes a political rather than religious matter. However mullahs like to cite religion because the vast majority of people are stupid and are never going to check what some old guy in a beard and cap is right; and it helps them keep their hold on village/city/country/whatever.

In my experience, living day to day life, in a Islamic country (most of the middle easy) vs a western country (UK, Europe), the islamic one has always been safer in terms of violence, crime, muggings etc.

One more thing, and this is what the media loves to report: the pushishment for adultary, only if verified by 4 witnesses(likely only in a porn film, unless they like to 'do it' outside!) , is 100 lashes as prescribed in the Quran; AFAIK Jewish tradition specifies it as stoning. And death penalty for murder, carried out within a week. This does not make Islam violent, just the rule of law has specific punishments that may not sit well with westerners. So what? They are pretty good deterrents, and cuts costs for the taxpayer, and the places are generally safer for the vast majority of the population.

Sorry to rant on like this but I felt these should be raised at least.

Thanks (4.00 / 1) (#140)
by daragh on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 08:32:40 AM EST

Nice to hear a Muslim point of view on this one, cheers for the perspective.

No work.
[ Parent ]

You frighten me (4.14 / 7) (#143)
by revscat on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 09:31:41 AM EST

In my experience, living day to day life, in a Islamic country (most of the middle easy) vs a western country (UK, Europe), the islamic one has always been safer in terms of violence, crime, muggings etc.

At what cost? I would rather me and my family live in a society free from religous tyranny even if it is more dangerous.

One more thing, and this is what the media loves to report: the pushishment for adultary, only if verified by 4 witnesses(likely only in a porn film, unless they like to 'do it' outside!) , is 100 lashes as prescribed in the Quran; AFAIK Jewish tradition specifies it as stoning. And death penalty for murder, carried out within a week. This does not make Islam violent, just the rule of law has specific punishments that may not sit well with westerners. So what? They are pretty good deterrents, and cuts costs for the taxpayer, and the places are generally safer for the vast majority of the population.

So let me get this straight: You think that it is morally acceptable to give 100 lashes to people who commit adultery? And that this act of violence, apparently prescribed by the Koran, "does not make Islam violent"?

Nope, gotta disagree with you on this one my Muslim friend. Vehemently. My wife and I have a pseudo-open marriage. If the situation and the people are right, and the other doesn't care, we're quite open to having other sexual partners. We have rules about this and have only done it twice, but it's our business.

If you or anyone else tried to give her lashings because of this I would fucking kill you.

I am not a Muslim. I am not a Christian, or a Jew, or a Hindu. I'm first and foremost an American, and I oppose all forms of tyranny over the mind of man. I believe freedom is the ultimate in human morality. Fuck you and your holy book if you think otherwise.



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
[ Parent ]
correction (4.33 / 3) (#149)
by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 11:29:17 AM EST

One more thing, and this is what the media loves to report: the pushishment for adultary, only if verified by 4 witnesses(likely only in a porn film, unless they like to 'do it' outside!) , is 100 lashes as prescribed in the Quran; AFAIK Jewish tradition specifies it as stoning.

The Quran may prescribe lashes for adultery, but many Muslim women worldwide are killed for it. The witness provision is often sidestepped by people witnessing the otherwise impossible pregnancy of an unmarried (possibly raped, etc.) woman. I recall that was the case in the recent Nigerian shari'a scandal.

Meanwhile, while the Torah does prescribe death for adultery, the tradition teaches that 'a court passing the death sentence twice within seventy years, is a court of murderers.' Muslims actually prosecute the death penalty for adultery under forms of law, whereas the Jews don't.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Correction (none / 0) (#160)
by Ronniec95 on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 08:39:40 PM EST

I agree completely that these provisions are ignored. But one can only challenge something if one knows the ruling. Most people are uneducated and those is power, don't wish to have questioning subjects!!!; this is equally true in the West as it is in the East.

I mean how many people in the US really consider the real consquences of the Patriot Act or even DCMA bill??? Equally how many muslims have ever even read the quran and it's views of various aspects. I would ascertain very few!

[ Parent ]

um (none / 0) (#175)
by adequate nathan on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 09:44:29 AM EST

What exactly is your point, that most Muslims who murder women do so because they are ignorant of the Quran?

I concede the point. You've won.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Laughable (none / 0) (#156)
by strlen on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 04:14:57 PM EST

I think revscat's point is right on target, and I agree with everything he said. However, I'd like to add this:

100 lashes? Jewish law from around the time Jesus had lived had already made more than 39 lashes illegal (because more than 40 lashes is almost always guiaranteed death in any case). Stonings of women for adultery were looked down upon, again, since the days of Jesus (the great first stone exasmple). Such a punishment is backasswards, and utterly barbaric, and has no place anywhere in the modern world, I don't care whether it makes the street safer or not.

Also, the Torah is not used in Israel was basis for law! You won't be stoned to death for adultery. Not only that, under Israeli laws most every woman can get an abortion: 96% of women who applied have received them, while it should be 100%, you can only imagine what's going to happen in a Islamic country if a woman even mentions the word abortion.

The Afghanis were dancing in the streets, when Americans captured Kabul and allowed the freedoms they were denied: namely the right to consexual sex as I see fit, the right to get wasted with a bottle of alcohol, the right for a woman to differ from a doorstep. Sorry, but any religion that denies these rights (including fundie Christianity, fuck Falwell and his butt buddy Robertson as well) is utter and pure tyrany.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

[OT] 40 lashes as a limit is older than that (3.00 / 2) (#158)
by czth on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 06:55:48 PM EST

Deuteronomy (lit. "second law", in some ways a restatement of the law in Exodus) limits the number of lashes to forty, and that was a long time before the New Testament.

It's also noted that Paul, the "apostle to the gentiles" was five times given forty stripes save one by the Jews, which commentators believe to be done so they wouldn't accidentally give more than forty and thus break the law themselves.

czth

[ Parent ]

Re::Laughable (2.00 / 1) (#159)
by Ronniec95 on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 08:33:27 PM EST

Well given that these replies have focused on the punishments in Islam (as opposed to all the other bits)...

If you look at the preconditions - that of 4 witnesses - then I would imagine it is pretty unlikely that this could ever be prosecuted successfully. Depends on how important monogamous marriage, and/or sex-before-marriage is to your particular view of the world.

Also the Quran though prescribes lashes, the idea is NOT to cause harm. Infact it is specified that the lashes may not leave so much as a mark on the person. The idea is to publicly humiliate the person. However I would grant you that this <sarcasm>minor</sarcasm> point is often overlooked in much of the islamic world.

Having been to Afganistan, in 1996, I very much doubt they will be having consensual sex with multiple partners, drinking alcohol. They are still muslims and there is a tribal honour there which will not disappear just because the Taliban are gone. Taliban maybe abhorrent, in their application of their laws (notice that I did not say islamic), but it is unlikely that conditions currently are that different for regular people.

Also islam grants equal rights to women, but culture in (most) countries is still patriachical. The extent to which it is so differs from culture to culture, but it is not a facet of islam that promotes this. Even in the UK, we hear of glass ceilings for women. The degree to which this occurs is different depending on the general education level of the people around.

If you want to see equal rights, look to the UAE or Bahrain where women run industries on an roughly equal par to men.

[ Parent ]

Mocking Christianity & Islam: An Open Letter (4.27 / 11) (#145)
by revscat on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 10:11:50 AM EST

Fellow apostates,

How many of you are completely comfortable making off-color jokes about Jerry Falwell's rectum and what objects should be put therein, but are hesitant to do so when Muslim leaders/practitioners are the target? Do you feel that you have every right (and even a duty!) to make fun of Christian fundamentalists, but that Muslim fundamentalists are ephermally out of bounds?

To you I say: No! Ridicule them equally! Muslim fundamentalists are equally if not more deserving of the biting satire, ridicule, and every other memetic tool which we've been using for years against the Christian fundies! Islamic fundies are just like Christian fundies, only different. People are scared to say things like "Mohammed? Yeah, I fucked him." Why? PC bullshit? Maybe. But I also think it's a bit of cowardice.

No more. I think Islam is just as wrong as I think Christianity, Judaism, or Hinduism is. Fuck it.

Religion is and forever will for dorks who can't handle the reality of their own impending and eternal death. Islam is no different.

Do I hate Muslims? Nope. Hope they live happy, healthy lives and have many children. Do I disagree with their faith? Yup, wholeheartedly. And I am no longer afraid to say so.

These people are attempting to bully the world, and to varying degrees of success. Fuck em.



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
What exatly are you proposing (none / 0) (#166)
by levesque on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 05:26:48 PM EST

Religion is and forever will for dorks who can't handle the reality of their own impending and eternal death.

I think there is more than one motivation for religious belief.

dorks

Name calling is possibly a symptom of your own insecurities.

Fuck em

Individuals are not a monolithic disposable mental construct.

[ Parent ]

Depends on how well you know the person (none / 0) (#173)
by Lord of Caustic Soda on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 09:21:11 AM EST

If you know an individual, then he/she is not a disposable mental construct, if you don't know that person, he/she is about as real as a disposable mental construct.

Therefore, for any given group of people that you don't know personally, you can fuck them by creating a disposable mental construct of each of them individually, fuck that particular disposable mental construct, and then dispose of it. Of course, to save time, you might want to create your disposable mental constucts in parallel.

[ Parent ]

The Difference (none / 0) (#167)
by Dolohov on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 05:50:45 PM EST

is that, well, those of us who mock Jerry Falwell are generally capable of telling the difference between his views and those of ordinary Christians. We know that when push comes to shove, he doesn't really speak for more than a handful of people. I am uncomfortable, however, mocking fundamentalist Muslims because I have no sense of how well they truly represent the feeling of their fellow Muslims -- if they do represent well, then the problem is already beyond mocking.

[ Parent ]
Not sure about the have many children bit though (none / 0) (#172)
by Lord of Caustic Soda on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 09:15:32 AM EST

World human population being as it is.

As for the problem of dying: I'm going to chip in my $10 for the Time Travel Fund.

[ Parent ]

BLIND DORK (none / 0) (#182)
by Wulfius on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 01:03:57 AM EST

"Religion is and forever will for dorks who can't handle the reality of their own impending and eternal death. Islam is no different. "

This is the secret of religion;
a) This is where you are.
b) This is where you want to get to.
c) This is how you get there.

By the looks of it you figured out (a) pretty well.
You can't even begin to imagine (c) much less (b)
so as far as you think you are set.

The blind man does not miss the colors of the rainbow.
-


---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

Isn't Christianity a peaceful, tolerant religion? (4.00 / 2) (#148)
by mike3k on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 11:24:37 AM EST

So how can hateful, intolerant people like Jerry Falwell & Fred Phelps call themselves Christians when they promote hate & violence?

I have never heard that... (5.00 / 1) (#154)
by jjayson on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 12:48:55 PM EST

I don't listen to Fred Phelps, so I can't say anything about him, but I have never heard Jerry Falwell promote violence.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Don't you see? (3.00 / 5) (#155)
by artificial intellect on Fri Nov 29, 2002 at 04:03:05 PM EST

The fact that these terrorists are Muslim is completely irrelevant. The Koran does not tell people to commit acts of terrorism. They would do the same regardless of whether they were Muslims or Christians.

In the fields of (4.80 / 5) (#162)
by jonathanwilson on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 06:35:25 AM EST

In the fields of anthropology and comparative religions this distinction is termed as "Folk Religion". There is always a discrepency between the stated doctrine and practice of a religion as described by its scriptures or prescribed by its clergy and the actual day to day practice or thought of those who identify with it.

I am a Christian pastor. Part of my job in preaching is to move the thinking and practice of the people in my congregation closer to that of the thinking and practice of Jesus. To say that these people, because they are not perfectly following, are not Christians would be false. They are Christians, just not perfect Christians. If they were perfect Christians then I would be out of a job. (Which would be wonderful IMHO)

Unfortunately there are people who will use positions of authority in religion (as in every other field) for their own benefit. They use their pulpits not to persuade people to move closer to the thinking and practice of the founder but to "their own interpretation" which has been colored by their cause or their greed or their prejudices. This leads to pensioners sending their money to tv preachers who live in mansions, churches that supported slavery in the American South, "religious" wars and such things.

Islam of course, like Christianity is not one monolithic entity but has quite a few sects and then subsects within each of those. It is also, like Christianity, spread out over a vast area that comprises many different ethnic and national groups with different interests. So talking about Islam in one sentence is like trying to say something intelligent about Catholicism, Russian Orthodoxy, Methodists, Pentecostals and the Chinese House Church movement all at the same time. All you can really say is that they are quite diverse.

Why we are having this discussion at all, rather than relegating it to the academics and the religious, is because some Muslims have taken to blowing up things to make their points known, which puts the rest of us on edge.

Which brings me to my point. Certain Islamic clergymen seem to be using their positions of authority to promote their interpretation of their faith as militant to an audience of young people, many of whom have lived in refugee camps or extreme poverty for most of their lives. Some of these young men are recruited to join groups for training where they are surrounded by an incessant reinforcement of the message, comaradarie of their fellow trainees and ardent religious fervor. ( I would love to see a comparative study of these training camps and some of the camps set up by cults in the West. I would imagine that many of the mind-control elements are similar).

Questions that I think should be raised... 1. What percentage of clergymen in Islam are involved in this and to what degree? (i.e. awareness raising, fund-raising, actual recruiting and training)

2. Where are these clergymen concentrated? (i.e. along sectarian lines as well as geographical-- mostly Shiite, Sunni, which division of either?)

When these questions are answerd and this strain of militant Islam is pinpointed, then we can start to ascertain if this is the "future" of Islam, or if this is a small minority that has found a way to become very vocal. If this is the future, then the rest of the world needs to take it very seriously and find peaceful means to interact with it. If it is a small but violent minority then a completely different course of action would be required to keep more young people from becoming human bombs. I think that this is one of the key questions before world leaders and leaders within Islam at this time and their answers to these questions will decide whether or not nations try to eradicate terrorists (or heretics) or address their concerns and enter negotiations in search of lasing peace.

Islam != Monolithic (5.00 / 1) (#181)
by Wulfius on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:59:49 AM EST

A very well presented insiders perspective Father.

I would just like to add that the Moslem religion
does not have a central, hierarchical structure
like most 'western' religions.
Any cleric can start issuing religious decrees
which naturaly spawns a lot of debate and controversy within the faith.

This is paradoxical considering that the 'western'
faith is very authority centric in an individualistic society where the Muslim faith
is very decentralised and interpretative (within
the laws of the faith) in (usuall) opressive
societies.
-

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

centralized and decentralized religion (none / 0) (#185)
by jonathanwilson on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:07:48 PM EST

Thanks, and people usually call me Pastor or Jonathan. There is a huge spectrum in Christianity in regards to church governance or authority, ranging from Catholicism which is highly centralized to Protestant denominations where every church is completely independant. I am a pastor in a non-denominational church which means that instead of a central authority I am instead affiliated with a network of like-minded (still independant) churches.

[ Parent ]
Islam is inherently violent (1.83 / 6) (#164)
by chunkwhite84 on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 12:45:27 PM EST

Islam is an inherently violent and intolerant religion. Anyone who has done research on Muhammad will realize that he was an evil man who abused his authority and twisted the laws to serve his own selfish purposes.

A recent example of this intolerance is the school teacher in Iran who was to be executed for speaking poorly of Muhammad. Unfortunately for this fellow, he never even mentioned Muhammad in his lecture that sparked this controversy. He simply told his students not to blindly trust authority figures, and to think for themselves. The Islamic ruling government wants to put him to death for this.

I don't think anyone needs me to reiterate any of the recent world events which strongly illustrate the violent nature of the current Islamic teachings (brainwashings?) and practices.

I leave you with this thought: Why, after the Taliban government was overthrown from Afghanistan did 100% of the financial aid, relief workers, donated food and medical supplies come from countries that were primarily Christian? And why was not once cent, not one loaf of bread, and not one relief worked donated from the Islamic nations to help their fellow Muslims in a time of need? I think the answer is clear...

I leave you with this thought: (5.00 / 1) (#165)
by gmol on Sat Nov 30, 2002 at 05:24:27 PM EST

Many of the bombs that blew many people up came from "primarily Christian" countries too....hmmmm....

And why was not once cent, not one loaf of bread, and not one relief worked donated from the Islamic nations to help their fellow Muslims in a time of need? I think the answer is clear...

I hate to tell you this but neighbouring Pakistanis did help out many of their fellow Afghani muslims by giving them a place to stay.


[ Parent ]

A couple of points (5.00 / 2) (#177)
by coillte on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 04:08:05 PM EST

Here is direct refutation of the Christian only aid to Afghanistan.

The above, comprises, only part of the total aid package promised, and currently being implemented by Saudi Arabia.

Another example of a non-Christian country offering massive aid to Afghanistan is Japan, which has promised up to $500 million in aid over the next two years.

It may be an idea to base your conclusions upon premises which are not demonstrably false. Your wit, in this manner, is rivalled only by your research.

Regarding your point re the inherent violence of Islam - which particular branch or sect is it pertinent to? - Wahhabism, Sufism, Sunni, Shi'ite, Ismailism, Druze, Bahai? If you are unable to answer this, then your understanding of Islam is too superficial to form an accurate judgement of it.

Regarding Mohammed, to which examples in his life are you referring? The founding of his original religious city base? The later consolidation of the surrounding chieftains? The control exerted over the trade routes? Specificity is the soul of rational argument.

You are also unaware, I presume, of the variety of Muslim clerics who have condemned the various attacks, and the concept of violent jihad as haram(forbidden). The most recent example of this that I have encountered can be found here.

The example you give of religious intolerance is correct, however. Uncharacteristically, in context of your overall comment, it seems factually correct. However, you are engaged in inductive reasoning - going from the specific to the general. The Islamic world, like any culture spanning large distances, and stretching back through history, has a variety of faces which it offers to the world. Is the legislated and legally enforced culture of universal religious tiolerance that characterised much of the Ottoman Empire any less emblematic of Islam than the destruction of Buddha ststues at Bamiyan?


"XVI The Blasted Tower. Here is purification through fire,lightning, flames, war...the eye is the eye of Shiva... the serpent on the right is the symbol of the active will to live,the dove on the left is passive resignation to death"
[ Parent ]

Flaws with the argument (2.00 / 1) (#170)
by nin on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 12:11:26 AM EST

Firstly you base your initial discourse upon the actions of a people following a religion which is an unwise way to understand a religion. It's like saying look at the USA as example of democracy.

Your rhetoric would only seem acceptable to somebody who doesn't have any knowledge of the Arabic language, while the English language might apply to Ebonics. Qu'ranic Arabic is grammatically very strict and doesn't suffer ambiguity you describe.

As for the social influences of language, it's a historical fact that the scripture hasn't been tampered with and that the dialect of the Qu'ran is the same as it was when revealed.

Religion is only perceived as a social construct by a typical Atheist viewpoint (Not that atheism exists within Islam), which I personally believe is due to societies (mostly western) programming of the individual.

The state prefers atheists.


No flaws with the argument (none / 0) (#179)
by OldCoder on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 07:37:04 PM EST

The article wasn't trying to understand the whole religion of Islam, so much as its perceived relationship to the current wars.

There are variations in the way Islam is practiced, for example, in Iran vs Turkey vs Arabia vs the USA. This is a historical observation. Any religion as practiced is a social construct. The Ideal to which it exhorts its believers, is less so, depending on whether you believe in the religion.

So the author doesn't know Arabic, he was arguing to a mostly English-speaking group.



--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2004 OldCoder
[ Parent ]

ALL CHRISTIANS MUST DIE! (none / 0) (#180)
by Wulfius on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:52:23 AM EST

A brilliand example of intellectual sloppines.

The argument goes along the lines of;

This is a gun,
Some guns can kill people.

This is a stapler,
Since some guns can kill people hence
some staplers can kill people to. (!).

Absurd, isnt it?

Your notion that you can apply Descriptive grammar
to religion legitimises the root cause of ANY religious war in history.
"Their religion is evil."

You dishonor the tradition of rational debate.

Pfeh, be gone undergraduate peasant!

PS. Be on the lookout for my counter-article
entitled more moderately "All murderous Christians must die!".
Wherein I will couch my ill thought out, half-baked notions about why the religion which gave
us the nuclear bombs dropped on unarmed civilians
and concentration camps must be expunged from
the face of the planet.
-

---
"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!

Descriptive Ebonics and Prescriptive Islamics | 188 comments (137 topical, 51 editorial, 0 hidden)
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