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    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Clarity on the clash of humanity

    This Jesuit, Samir Khalil Samir, provides some important clarity regarding why islamists are so hard to understand with Western eyes and ears.


    I have imaginged them to be some seriously misguided spiritual folks. But as Samir points out, the spiritual has little to do with it. It's something social and political, that happens to be based on a prophet from around 616 or 666.

    From a social point of view, someone who converts to Christianity and encourages others to follow him or her becomes a cancer on society.

    From a political point of view, anyone leaving Islam is a traitor, a spy against his own nation who deserves death, because Islam is always viewed as a community, the Ummah.

    For the Egyptian government for example, anyone who converts to another religion “threatens national unity.” Although Egyptians authorities are not likely to put any apostate to death, they will certainly try to hush up the whole thing or attempt to push the apostate to emigrate. This is exactly what befell Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, a writer forced into exile in the Netherlands after a fatwa was pronounced calling for his death.

    Undeniably the real problem with Islam is that becoming a Muslim today means joining a political and sociological group. It no longer means making a religious and spiritual choice.

    This is what most ails Islam today. If this profound conversion is not made, Islam shall always be the enemy of the modern world, a world that is based on individual liberties, on the individual person rather than the group, on freedom of conscience, etc. Muslims want this as well but they do not realise that it is all interconnected. As long as Islam is seen as a group or partisan issue rather than a matter of personal choice, it will lag behind.

    Until now Islamic teachings have been based on the notion of ‘submission’ (Islam). This kind of submission is against freedom. I as a Christian do submit to God but I remain a son who is free! Christ, too, obeyed (Philippians 2, 8) and any man religious, too, takes his vows of obedience, but does so fully aware of his freedom of conscience.

    Conversely, in the Muslim world the most common teaching that is spreading inside families and in the mass media is that submission must be total, obliterating one’s personality, removing all differences.

    Freedom is a core human attribute because it goes to the heart of our image as child of God. To our Western thinking, all of our associations are voluntary because we are free. Be it religion, marriage, jobs, or country, we stay because we are compelled by our constant choice to do so.

    The poor islamists are either in or out of some really powerful human groups.. family, religion, country. And this to the extent that those groups see "out" as death or exile.

    Given their only choices, it becomes clearer why they are so different from us. We clash as regards what it is that defines human.


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