Saturday, July 23, 2005

ST published an interview with Khaled Abou El-Fadl today. It's quite an interesting article, especially for someone like me who has very little understanding of what Islam means to Muslims. In particular, I refer to his comments on cutting off of hands.. This was something I probably first read about in Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel, about some punishment that was inflicted on thieves in Turkey somewhere pre-WWII days.

I give a very practical example. In traditional Islamic law, there is a whole
set of rules on theft. If a person commits a thet because he is hungry, you
cannot sever his hands. If a person commits a theft because he believes it's his
property, you cannot sever his hands. There are about 30 such exceptions..
Extremists show no such reserve.

He also says,

Extremists give themselves the power not just to decide what is modest or
immodest behaviour for women, but also to enforce their notions, because they
believe that they act as God's agents. I argue that this type of thinking arises
from extremist assumptions. A moderate might form an opinion as to how women ought to dress, but doesn't believe that he or she has the power to force that code of dress, because looking at the (Quranic) text they cannot assume an absolute understanding of the divine will.

Hmmm. For some reason I find myself thinking about grace and law. Maybe, to one way of thinking, the thing between law and grace is that law, assumes that I understand what God's will is or isn't, whereas the idea of grace is that God's will is something that is beyond our understanding, and so we always have to seek His guidance and His will in our lives?

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