No God But God

I just finished reading Reza Aslan’s recently published book entitled “No God But God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam” I enjoyed it and would recommend it to others. Aslan makes the argument that Islam is, and continues to be, in a constant state of evolution and has been for 1400 years. He shows from that from the earliest revelations, the Prophet was a social reformer and that the ideologies of egalitarianism, human rights and popular sanction of governing bodies is not outside the values of Islam. Aslan goes on to make the case that Islamic terrorism for the most part a symptom not of a clash of civilizations but an internal conflict within the Muslim world.

According to Aslan “We are now living in the twilight of that era of Arab-Islamic reformation. This is a process that began around the time of the colonialist experience, some 100-150 years ago, when Muslims were, for the first time, forced to respond to not just the realities of the modern world — secularism and modernization, and industrialization — but also the western cultural hegemony that came part and parcel with the colonialist experience… What we’re seeing now is a natural evolution of this reformation that began then, and which, in essence, is coming to a close.”

I am less optimistic, but do subscribe to the idea that the conflicts we tend to see as Islam versus the West are too simplistic. What we are seeing is an internal series of crisis on a global stage. Aslan ends with ““The West is nearly a bystander and an unwary complicit casualty of rivalry that has raging in Islam over who will write the next chapter in its story.” That chapter is being written now, but I am very unsure of the outcome. The book is worth reading.

10 thoughts on “No God But God

  1. That’s very interesting blog. The same could be said to be going on in evangelical christianity at the moment.
    Many of us believe it is to do with the shift from the modern world to the postmodern world. In many ways we are trying to understand how we can connect people to God in our society.
    I think as modernity/postmodernity starts to reach so parts of the world people will and are questioning the status quo and this will cause change and change can cause fear and fear can cause conflict (be it armed or verbal).
    The terrorism is, I believe, caused through fear of a westernisation of the arab world and I can perfectly understand that, the western world is not the panacea put across by Bush etc And yet that is already happening in the middle east.

  2. I very much agree what have been said about the reasons that cause terrorism to
    arise in many Arab Coutries. But, moreover, terrorism in the Arab Countries not only because of internal conflict within Islam or moslem community, but, I think, it’s also to do with the REGIMES that are governing those countries. Some of them are still maintaining despotism and practicing violence against their own
    citizens. To me, as far as Arab countries concerned, terrorism it’s not only to
    do with religion but it’s very much to do with the policies which are
    followed in those countries!So, the whole Arab countries need to be gradually and peacefully democritized, but not in a way Bush is doing in Iraq and Afganistan.

  3. hi there,
    you may have prompted me to look into doing a review of aslan’s book on my blog.
    keep up the great work. add me to your blog roll when you get the chance.

  4. Salaams. I would like to find a copy of the article to read. I’ll like to your blog. I find it to be a good read. Salaams.

  5. I’m confused why does mob mentality rule in so many eastern countries. If they are so cilvized, why so many guns? God is God regardless of your faith, why do so many of us kill in the name of God?

  6. Ghostdog, how can you possibly fall for such fallacy? “Aslan goes on to make the case that Islamic terrorism for the most part a symptom not of a clash of civilizations but an internal conflict within the Muslim world. ”
    Please reconcile this passage from the Quran: “Kill disbelievers wherever you find them…. Such is the reward of disbelievers. (But if they desist in their unbelief, then don’t kill them.) 2:191-2
    Aslan is so right in that the issue is an Islamic problem, but Muslims are weak in spirit and cultured never to go against a fellow Muslim. While we wait, all people of the world including fellow Muslims are killed by extremists.
    Speak out and take action to irradicate the world of these extremists who harm all of us.

  7. Demille,
    I haven’t fallen for any fallacy. Muslims take more lives of Muslims than any other aggressors. We are however, too preoccupied in defensive arguments and have a seige mentality that we often fail to be self-critical of the Ummah.
    Regarding the Sura from the Quran, the context of the revealed message has to be understood. I am not a Quranic scholar, but let me attempt a feable explaination. The passage you qoute fully is: “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”
    This has a specific reference and historic context to the pagen tribes who had broken a treaty with the Prophet and attempted to decimate the Muslims. The next Sura, which you conveniently did not include states: “If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge.”
    The context in which Christainity began as opposed to Islam is very different. It is important to understand these contexts before passing judgement. The Quran laid out strict rules for fighting and making war. This was, unfortunately, the environment which the early Muslim community found itself.
    “O believers, be dutiful to Allah and bearers of just witness. Do not allow your hatred for other men to turn you away from justice. Deal justly ; justice is nearer to true piety…” (5:8)
    If they (the attackers) incline towards peace, make peace with them and put your trust in Allah. Surely He is Hearing, the Knowing. Should they seek to deceive you (do not reject peace on that probability, for) Allah is All-Sufficient for you…” (6:61-62) “…if they keep away from you and cease their hostility and offer you peace, Allah bids you not to harm them”. (4:90)
    There are many others.

  8. Deliver A Messiah “Mistaken Identity” By Agron Belica
    About the Book
    Deliver A Messiah, “Mistaken Identity” by Agron Belica brings forth an elaborative examination of who was put on the cross. Many theories suggest that the son of Mary (aka Jesus Christ) was not the person placed on the cross, but someone other than Jesus Christ himself. The author takes you through an examination paving ways of new insight of who might have been put on the cross.
    To contribute to the present work, the author investigated and researched to seek the truth about the assumptive facts leading up to what people of Christendom believe to be the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The Bible and the Koran are the main resources used as references formally presented in use of persuasive arguments and theories of why the author strongly does not believe that the son of Mary was killed nor crucified.
    The author has made every effort to be as unbiased and objective in presenting the facts and interpreting the events in this present work. The author is not trying to stir up controversy, but only wishes to lead people towards what might be considered the truth about the events believed about the crucifixion. The author strongly believes that the prevailing powers during that era have camouflaged the truth. The cover-up of the crucifixion with a false pretext was to lead the masses of people in the past and at present to believe, that the son of Mary was really crucified, by the leading elite that was influenced by the Jewish religious hierarchy at that time.

  9. It will be interesting to see how the Islamic world responds to this one. The Islamic veiw point is that it was Judas Iscariot who was crucified and not Jesus. This author of the book deliver a messiah mistaken identity claims an independant theory. It is not just a challenge in my opinion to the christian world, but to the islamic worls as well. After seeing the cover-art I think I know where he is headed with this one. Sounds like an interesting read. Christians should act christian like, and not make such comments. This is free country an the author has the right to express his ideas-opinions or what have you. Let us not forget that “History is not truth” but an attempt to get at the truth. Peace to you all.

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