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Contemporary Muslim Theologians of Non-Violence

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Is religion the cause of or the solution to violence?

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Contemporary Muslim Theologians of Non-Violence

  1. 1. Contemporary Muslim Theologians of Non-Violence Marcia Hermansen Loyola University Chicago
  2. 2. Why? Is religion the cause of or the solution to violence? • “Sociological” proof—at least some Muslims interpret the Islamic tradition as non-violent-how do they argue this? How does this topic illustrate recent Islamic “theology”?
  3. 3. Non-Violence and Islam • Categories of Non-Violence – Just war (limited, strategic non-violence possible) – Islamic Approaches to Conflict Resolution – Muslim Advocates/Activists for Peace – Muslim Pacifists-principled non-violence
  4. 4. Who is a Muslim Theologian? • Sources-use of religious texts, Qur’an, hadith, legal tradition • What is Islamic “theology”? • Authority? • New topics, revival, new institutional contexts in Europe and “Muslim” societies
  5. 5. Muslim Theological Approaches to Non-Violence • Theological/Spiritual/Metaphysical – Nature of Allah, universe, human being • Juristic – Concept of Dar al-salam, rules of jihad • Historical-sunna (Prophet Muhammad’s example) and sira (his bio), examples of peaceful co-existence in Muslim history
  6. 6. Theological/Spiritual/Metaphysical • Al-Salam (“Peace”) as one of the Divine Names (Q 59:23) • Allah’s mercy (Rahma) encompasses all 7:156 • “jamal” beauty as a principle (divine names, hadith) • Sakina (tranquility as a principle)48:4 • Human nature—Fitra (normalcy)
  7. 7. Juridical • Dar al-salam— The “Abode of Peace” as an ideal • Jihad as a category (defensive, necessary for stability and order)—limited, rules of engagement—to limit violence—not “holy war”
  8. 8. The “Inner” Jihad
  9. 9. Revisioning Jihad
  10. 10. Historical Examples of Non- Violence • Sunna and sira--biography of Prophet Muhammad as advocating mercy “a mercy to the worlds”, accommodation, forgiveness—the surrender of Mecca • Islamic history—examples of peaceful co- existence
  11. 11. Contemporary Figures • Khan Abdul Ghaffar “Badshah” Khan d. 1988 • Muhammad Mahmoud Taha d. 1985 • Wahiduddin Khan • Said Jawdat • Chaiwat Satha-Anand • Muhammad Nimer • Rabia Harris • Activists, Academics, Theologians
  12. 12. “Badshah” Khan--South Asia
  13. 13. Khan ‘Abd al-Ghaffur “Badshah” Khan • Gandhian, 1930s/40s-spends 1/3 of life in jail • Philosophy of Amal (action), yaqin (certainty), muhabbat (love) • “I am going to give you such a weapon that the police and the army will not be able to stand against it.” “It is the weapon of the Prophet, but you are not aware of it. That weapon is patience and righteousness. No power on earth can stand against it.”
  14. 14. Mohammad Mahmoud Taha- Sudan
  15. 15. Theological Moves • Second Message of Islam • Meccan vs. Medinan Chapters of the Qur’an—new concept of abrogation (naskh)—Meccan are more timeless and universal, Medinan ones are contextual • Advocates Pluralism and Equality • Sufi influence
  16. 16. Wahiduddin Khan--India
  17. 17. Wahiduddin Khan’s Approach • Islam as a religion seeks to cultivate a “moral” rather than a political ethos (Omar, 161) • Jihad as purely spiritual—bi-n-nafs (inner jihad) • Historical examples--Muhammad tried to avoid war by negotiation and making settlements • Al-sulhu (reconciliation) is best (khayrun) (not battle)
  18. 18. Wahiduddin Khan • Patience and gentleness as quranic concepts • Themes-- normalcy, peaceful Da’wa • Against public protests and rallies (critique of Gandhi) , encourages inner moral transformation • Critique of contemporary Muslim attitudes and behaviors—need for Muslim self-criticism
  19. 19. Wahiduddin Khan • Criticism of contemporary Muslim positions: –Muslims as “witnesses” –No supremacism/triumphalism –al-hukm b’illah (“the mandate/rulership is God’s”)—should be taken in a metaphysical, not political sense –End glamorization of khilafa (the caliphate) –Muslims need to reconcile with the present (Kashmir/Palestine)
  20. 20. Chaiwat Satha-Anand (Qader Muheideen) Thailand
  21. 21. Chaiwat Satha-Anand • Thai Muslim political scientist • Book: Islam and Non-Violence • Eight Theses on Muslim Nonviolent Actions
  22. 22. Chaiwat Satha-Anand 1. For Islam, the problem of violence is an integral part of the Islamic moral sphere. 2. Violence, if any, used by Muslims must be governed by rules prescribed in the Qur‘an and Hadith. 3. If violence used cannot discriminate between combatants and noncombatants, then it is unacceptable in Islam. 4. Modern technology of destruction renders discrimination virtually impossible at present.
  23. 23. Chaiwat Satha-Anand 5. In the modern world, Muslims cannot use violence. 6. Islam teaches Muslims to fight for justice with the understanding that human lives—as all parts of God’s creation—are purposive and sacred. 7. In order to be true to Islam, Muslims must utilize nonviolent action as a new mode of struggle. 8. Islam itself is fertile soil for nonviolence because of its potential for disobedience, strong discipline, sharing and social responsibility, perseverance and self-sacrifice, and the belief in the unity of the Muslim community and the oneness of mankind
  24. 24. Jawdat Said--Syria
  25. 25. Jawdat Said • Syrian scholar • The Doctrine of the First Son of Adam: The Problem of Violence in the Islamic World (1966) + 11 more books • Abel as a model of the non-violent path • The story of Adam and the angels= science over bloodshed
  26. 26. Jawdat Said • Influenced by other Muslim thinkers, Iqbal, Shari’ati, Muhammad Arkoun • Importance of freedom of belief • Violence is allowed against a society that kills or exiles people because of their ideas
  27. 27. Mohammad Abu Nimer-USA
  28. 28. Islam and Non-violence • Palestinian American peace builder and theorist • Emphasizes the pursuit of justice in the building of Islam. As divinely ordained in the Qur'an, (the holy book for Muslims), all Muslims have a duty to struggle to remove injustice and bring justice in the different aspects of their lives. Active “civic jihad” rather than negative—lā ‘unf • Social empowerment by doing good, both to oneself and to one's fellow humans. • Islamic Ummah-the unity of all Muslims, to eliminate intra-Musim violence.
  29. 29. Rabia Terri Harris . (Muslim Peace Fellowship USA)
  30. 30. Rabia Terri Harris • The Arabic term for nonviolence as a life decision is islam. • The Arabic term for nonviolence as a method is jihad. • The Arabic term for the principle underlying both aspects of nonviolence is tawhid, the affirmation of the unity of God
  31. 31. Conclusions • Promises and Challenges of Islamic Theologies of Non-Violence – Hopefulness – Internal critique – Clearly a “modern” approach, and thus shares strategies with Islamic liberalism, pluralism, feminism, etc.
  32. 32. Strategies of Islamic Liberals (Kurzman) • Liberal shari’a—argue within shari’a norms • Silent shari’a-carve out new areas • Interpreted shari’a-denies that orthodoxy ever had the ‘final’ say
  33. 33. “New” Islamic Theologies of Non-Violence (Previous examples were 1990s or earlier) • 1. Non-violence is broadened to include issues of gender justice, domestic violence, psychological roots, etc. • 2) approach becomes more global, considers private and public aspects • 3) Muslim theologians come into deeper conversation with philosophy, comparative and critical thought
  34. 34. THE CHOICE AHEAD? Book by Ali Asghar Engineer (pro-Isis blog Ansarukhalifa)