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Old 09-27-2013   #21
Tukhachevskii
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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
Asserting a widespread belief in an undefined "G-d" (a "higher power" of some kind) is different from claiming worship of the same God.
Metaphysics was never my strong point but “higher power” would, to me at least, signify a single entity; Monotheism. Three monotheistic faiths all claiming to believe in a single God are bound to come into conflict.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
illustrates (your "...but also ... Byzantium") pragmatism at work - a point made by Omar in his comments and by Brown (in later chapters 3-7).
I beg to differ sirrah. There was nothing pragmatic about it. Islam and Muslims were ordered to treat the People of the Book as protected persons under certain conditions. Islamic treatment of these people was wholly within keeping with their doctrine because, as far as Islam and Muslims were concerned, these people were Christians in the proper sense (as People of the Book; i.e., not Trinitarians). Had they failed the criteria of what Christianity was supposed to be according to Islam then I doubt they would have been so well received. I would understand pragmatism to be something along the lines of Churchill’s alliance with Stalin against Hitler.
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Old 09-27-2013   #22
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Tukhachevskii,

Thanks for the in depth response. I wish I had the time to review all the references you mention. I am familiar with Skinner having read his Foundations of Modern Political Thought and Liberty before Liberalism. The other references will go onto my “to do” list.

I also agree that over time the meanings of words and statements change to fit the needs and desires of those using them (including us). It is very difficult to put ourselves in the shoes of those who lived in the past and fully comprehend what they meant. The problem is even more pronounced for Westerners as we see European history as the sine qua non of political thinking.

Yes, I do see Catholicism and Protestantism as two separate religions at least from the point of view of political interpretations. They were different enough to go to war over (maby less in the minds of the leaders who were trying to avoid papal taxes but at least in the minds of the followers who fought and died). In my mind that makes then as least as different as as Judaism and Islam - all claiming a common source but diverging in at least a significant enough way to die over.

I wish I had the time to post a more in-depth response. I would start by arguing that the entire idea of a “Divine right” of kings, as opposed to a god king, as some other societies would view their political leaders, creates a defacto separation of church and state. That the passage of two keys (or two swords) was simply a recognition of a belief already prevalent in Roman times that the church and the state represented action in two separate spheres of human activity.

Instead I will ask a question relevant to the thread:

“Why is religion so closely tied to political legitimacy?” Even where there is a separation of church and state many laws are based in religious beliefs. Politicians swear oaths before God. Congress opens with a benidiction. What is the connection? Why is it important to our mortal lives?
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Old 09-27-2013   #23
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Default political definition of religion

If the religious beliefs of a group are distinctive enough to act as a distinguishable factor in defining an ethnic group …. and that group distinction is capable of being the basis of a political or national identity; or could be the basis of an in-group/out-group distinction that allows that group to be a viable enemy in a war ... then for my purposes it represents a separate religion.
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Old 09-28-2013   #24
jmm99
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Default Systematic Theologies and Muslim Governance

Monotheism is a very large tent.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Monotheism (First published Tue Nov 1, 2005; substantive revision Fri Sep 6, 2013)

Quote:
Theists believe that reality's ultimate principle is God - an omnipotent, omniscient, goodness that is the creative ground of everything other than itself. Monotheism is the view that there is only one such God. After a brief discussion of monotheism's historical origins, this entry looks at the five most influential attempts to establish God's uniqueness. We will consider arguments from [1] God's simplicity, from [2] his perfection, from [3] his sovereignty, from [4] his omnipotence, and from [5] his demand for total devotion. The entry concludes by examining three major theistic traditions which contain strands which might seem at odds with their commitment to monotheism—the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition, Christianity, and Shri Vaishnavism. ...
For present purposes, I'll take Islam and Judaism to be strictly "monotheistic" and "unitarian"; and that Trinitarian Christianity meets the Stanford tests (it does according to the SEP article).

However, Christianity has three primary (and different) systematic theologies: Unitarianism, Binitarianism and Trinitarianism.

Thus far, it has not formally espoused "Quadranianism" (though some devotees of the Virgin Mary have approached that theology). Apparently, a small Christian sect, both proximate in space and time to the Quran's revelation, did exactly that.

Shakir trans. (U of Mich)

Quote:
The Dinner Table

1.[5.116] And when Allah will say: O Isa son of Marium! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah he will say: Glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to (say); if I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it; Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I do not know what is in Thy mind, surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen things.
Maududi, snip 5.116 and commentary:

Quote:
[115-119] Allah answered, "I am going to send it down to you,[129] but whoever among you shall disbelieve after that, I will surely give him such a chastisement wherewith I will not have chastised any other creature in the world." (After reminding him of these favors), Allah will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary, did you ever say to the people, 'Make me and my mother deities besides Allah'?"[130]...

129. The Qur'an is silent as to whether the `tray' was sent down or not and there is no other authentic source of information. Possibly it was sent down, but it is equally possible that the Disciples themselves might have taken back their request after the warning in verse 115.

130. This refers to another error of the Christians. They had made Mary an object of worship along with Christ and the Holy Ghost, though there is not a word or hint in the Bible about this doctrine. During the first three centuries after Christ, the Christian world was totally unaware of this creed. Towards the end of the 3rd century, the words "Mother of God" were used for the first time by some theologians of Alexandria. Though the response which these words found in the popular heart was great, yet the Church was not at first inclined to accept the doctrine and declared that the worship of Mary was a wrong creed. Then at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., the words `Mother of God' were officially used by the Church. As a result `Mariolatry' began to spread by leaps and bounds both inside and outside the Church. So much so that by the time the Qur'an was revealed, the exaltation of the 'Mother of God' had eclipsed the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Her statues were set up in Churches and she was worshiped, implored and invoked in prayers. In short, the greatest source of reliance of a Christian was that he should obtain the help and protection of the `Mother of God.' Emperor Justinian in the preamble to one of his laws bespeaks her advocacy for the empire and his general, Narses, looks to her directions on the battlefield. Emperor Heraclius, a contemporary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, bore her image on his banner and believed that because of its auspicious nature it will never be lowered. Though the Protestants after the Reformation did their best to fight against Mariolatry, yet the Roman Catholic Church still adheres to it passionately.
See, Madrid, Collyridianism (1994):

Quote:
Most of the early heresies were Trinitarian and Christological in nature, but Collyridianism stood alone as a heresy that sought to deify the Blessed Virgin Mary. Little is known about the movement's theology. Not even the names of the group's leaders are mentioned by writers of the time. This sect's excessive Marian devotion developed into the idolatry of Mary worship. This aberration grew out of the Church's rightful veneration of Mary as ever-virgin, Mother of God, and powerful heavenly intercessor, but crossed the line of orthodoxy when certain Christians began to worship Mary as divine. Details about the Collyridians are scanty, but one of the few specifics we know of them is that at their liturgical service bread was offered as a sacrifice to Mary.
See also Epiphanius, Panarion II-III, sect. 78, Letter to Arabia(ca. 374-377 CE) (link).

Of course, at that time, Arabia (esp. that part in or near Roman-Byzantine borders) had a thriving orthodox, trinitarian Christian Church. That dominant systematic theology is reflected in most Quranic verses dealing with Christians.

The Quran is very clear in its unitarianism; equally clear that God never begat a Son; and that God is not part of "three" - as summed in a magisterial sura:

Shakir trans. (U of Mich)

Quote:
The Unity

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

[112.1] Say: He, Allah, is One.
[112.2] Allah is He on Whom all depend.
[112.3] He begets not, nor is He begotten.
[112.4] And none is like Him.
Attached is a pdf, Quran - One & Son, with several dozen verses to the same effect; as well as the proper place of Isa, son of Marium, in its systematic theology. See also, Stacey, Jesus and Mary in the Qu'ran - A Selection of verses from the Qur’an (2007).

We'll turn to the major Christian systematic theologies in the next post of this multi-part series.

Regards

Mike
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Old 09-28-2013   #25
jmm99
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Default Primary Christian Systematic Theologies

The three primary Christian systematic theologies: Unitarianism, Binitarianism and Trinitarianism, are addressed in the following references:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Trinity (First published Thu Jul 23, 2009; substantive revision Fri Sep 13, 2013)

Quote:
The traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity is commonly expressed as the statement that the one God exists as or in three equally divine “persons,”, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Every significant concept in this statement (God, exists, as or in, equally divine, person) has been variously understood. The guiding principle has been the creedal declaration that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of the New Testament are consubstantial (i.e. the same in substance or essence, Greek: homoousios). Because this shared substance or essence is a divine one, this is understood to imply that all three named individuals are divine, and equally so. Yet the three in some sense “are” the one God of the Bible. ...
Supplement to Trinity - History of Trinitarian Doctrines
Quote:
1. Introduction

This supplementary document discusses the history of Trinity theories. Although early Christian theologians speculated in many ways on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, no one clearly and fully asserted the doctrine of the Trinity as explained at the top of the main entry until around the end of the so-called Arian Controversy. (See 3.2 below and section 3.1 of the supplementary document on unitarianism.) Nonetheless, proponents of such theories always claim them to be in some sense founded on, or at least illustrated by, biblical texts. ...
Supplement to Trinity - Unitarianism

Quote:
1. Terminology

The term “unitarian” was popularized in late 1680's England as a less pejorative and more descriptive term than “Socinian”for Christians who hold God to be identical to one and only one divine self, the Father. It has since been used as a denominational label for several distinct groups, but it is here primarily used in the descriptive, generic sense just stated. (The capitalized “Unitarian” is occasionally used here in the denominational sense.) All these groups have been labeled “antitrinitarian”. Although many unitarians have proudly flown the antitrinitarian banner, others strenuously argued that they expounded the correct trinitarian doctrine, the difference being that the former were promoting rival denominations, while the latter sought to be included in mainstream groups (i.e., traditionally trinitarian churches, or ones which were often assumed to be).
Wiki - Binitarianism

The link jumps to this section, which is material because of its timeframe - before the revelation of the Quran:

Quote:
Larry W. Hurtado of University of Edinburgh uses the word binitarian to describe the position of early Christian devotion to God, which ascribes to the Son (Jesus) an exaltedness that in Judaism would be reserved for God alone, while still affirming as in Judaism that God is one, and is alone to be worshiped. He writes:

Quote:
…there are a fairly consistent linkage and subordination of Jesus to God 'the Father' in these circles, evident even in the Christian texts from the latter decades of the 1st century that are commonly regarded as a very 'high' Christology, such as the Gospel of John and Revelation. This is why I referred to this Jesus-devotion as a "binitarian" form of monotheism: there are two distinguishable figures (God and Jesus), but they are posited in a relation to each other that seems intended to avoid the ditheism of two gods" (Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2003, pp. 52–53).
Hurtado does not cite "binitarianism" as antithetical to Nicene Christianity, but rather as an indication that early Christians, before Nicea, were monotheistic (as evidenced by their singular reference to the Father as God), and yet also devoted to Jesus as pre-existent, co-eternal, the creator, embodying the power of God, by whom the Father is revealed, and in whose name alone the Father is worshiped. He writes,

Quote:
"The central place given to Jesus…and…their concern to avoid ditheism by reverencing Jesus rather consistently with reference to "the Father", combine to shape the proto-orthodox "binitarian" pattern of devotion. Jesus truly is reverenced as divine." (Ibid, p. 618).
...

Before Hurtado's influential work, one classic scholarly theory of binitarianism was that the Holy Spirit was seen as in some sense identical to the Son, or uniquely embodied in him. The Shepherd of Hermas, among other sources, is cited to support the theory. In one of the parables, for example, an angel declares:

Quote:
The preexistent Holy Spirit, which created the whole creation, God caused to live in the flesh that he wished. This flesh, therefore, in which the Holy Spirit lived served the Spirit well, living in holiness and purity, without defiling the Spirit in any way. … it had lived honorably and chastely, and had worked with the Spirit and cooperated with it in everything.
The classic theory of Christian binitarian theology, assumed by most dictionary definitions of binitarianism, asserts that some early Christians conceived of the Spirit as going out from God the creator, and is the creator: an aspect of God's being, which also lived in Jesus (or from other sources, appears to be thought of as Jesus's pre-existent, divine nature).
...
By the time of the Arian controversy, some bishops defended a kind of dual conception of deity, which is sometimes called "Semi-Arianism". The Macedonianism or Pneumatomachi typifies this view, which some prefer to call binitarian. The Semi-Arian view at that time was the Father and Son were God, but not the Holy Spirit;[citation needed] but none of the Arian views were strictly monotheistic (one being) [JMM: here, "unitarian" seems a better term than "monotheistic"].

All asserted that the God who speaks and the Word who creates are two beings similar to one another, of similar substance (homoiousia), and denied that they are one and the same being, or two beings of the same substance (homoousia) in which two are distinguished, as Nicaea eventually held. Nevertheless, the term binitarian is considered to be a more descriptive term than Semi-Arian, by current scholars, because the latter term has no precise meaning.
The Middle East, before the Quran's revelation, had a bountiful supply of Christian heresies. See, Wiki - List of Christian Heresies; and Latourette, A History of Christianity: Beginnings to 1500 (1997; 792pp.)

All this background is useful in considering the term "People of the Book" in early Islam; but, I'm not contending that the early Muslims concerned themselves with parsing the varieties of the Christian herd (nor that they should have).

I'll argue, in the next parts, that the early Muslims took the passages material to the People of the Book (which focus on sacred texts, and little on comparative systematic theologies); and then applied them to the Jews and Christians according to the pragamatism called for by the then-current political environment. The early (and later) Muslims were very aware of the basic "we-they" distinction; and they governed the Jews and Christians accordingly.

Regards

Mike

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Old 09-28-2013   #26
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Default "People of the Book" - Passages I

Factually, who were the "People of the Book" here on earth ? The Quran also provide answers when the last judgment is made. Were the "Trinitarians" included among Christians in the "proper sense".

Shakir trans. (U of Mich)

Quote:
The Cow
1.[2.62] Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

The Dinner Table
1.[5.69] Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabians and the Christians whoever believes in Allah and the last day and does good-- they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.
The Jews, Christians and Sabians are classed together in these two verses - "they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve."

On the other hand, those who associate others with Allah have a great deal to fear.

Quote:
The Cattle
1.[6.22] And on the day when We shall gather them all together, then shall We say to those who associated others (with Allah): Where are your associates whom you asserted?

Jonah
1.[10.28] And on the day when We will gather them all together, then We will say to those who associated others (with Allah): Keep where you are, you and your associates; then We shall separate them widely one from another and their associates would say: It was not us that you served:

The Bee
1.[16.86] And when those who associate (others with Allah) shall see their associate-gods, they shall say: Our Lord, these are our associate-gods on whom we called besides Thee. But they will give them back the reply: Most surely you are liars.
2.[16.100] His authority is only over those who befriend him and those who associate others with Him.
Following is a complicated verse, which I'm parsing for my education with the help of Maududi's commentary. It includes the Muslims ("those who believe"), the Jews, Sabeans and Christians (the other "People of the Book"), the Magians

Quote:
The Pilgrimage
1.[22.17] Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associate (others with Allah) -- surely Allah will decide between them on the day of resurrection; surely Allah is a witness over all things.
Maududi's trans. & commentary

Maududi trans. snip:

Quote:
[17] As regards those who believed[23] and those who became Jews[24] and the Sabaeans[25] and the Christians[26] and the Magians[27] and those who committed shirk,[28] Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection,"[29] for everything is in the sight of Allah. ... [18]
"As regards those who believed[23]"

Quote:
23. This means the "Muslims" of every age who believed in the Prophets of Allah and His Books up to the time of Prophet Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him): they included both the sincere Muslims and the wavering Muslims.
"and those who became Jews[24]"

Quote:
24. See E.N. 72 of Chapter IV (An-Nisa).

[JMM: For context, we have to consider the text at 44-46 and notes 71-73]

[44-46] Have you ever considered the case of those who have been given a portion of the scriptures?[71] They themselves purchase deviation and wish you, too, to go astray from the Right Way: Allah knows your enemies well and Allah suffices you for protection and for help. Some of those, who have become Jews,[72] pervert[73] words out of their context and twist their tongues in order to malign the true Faith ....

71. About the scholars of the people of the Book the Qur'an at many places has used words to the effect: "They have been given a part of the knowledge of the Scripture". These words have been used because the scholars had actually lost a portion of their Scriptures and had become strangers to the spirit and the real aim and object of the portion left with them. The only interest they took, in these was confined to polemical controversies, minor details of Commandments and philosophical subtleties of creed. That is why they were ignorant of the true nature of religion and were void of its essence, though they were called "Divines" and "Rabbis" and were the acknowledged leaders of their community.

72. The words used are: "who have become Jews" and not "who are Jews," for originally they were "Muslims" just as the community of every Prophet is Muslim. Then afterwards they degenerated and became merely "Jews".

73. They were guilty of perversion in three ways: (1) They effected changes in the words of the Scriptures; (2) they distorted the meanings of the text with false interpretations, and (3) they would sit in the assemblies of the Holy Prophet and his Companions and afterwards make false reports of what they heard there in order to create mischief against them by distortion. They would thus spread misunderstandings about Islam and pervert people from joining the Islamic Community.
"and the Sabaeans[25]"

Quote:
25. "Sabaeans": In ancient times two sects were known by this title:

(1) The followers of Prophet John, who were found in upper Iraq in large numbers and practiced baptism.

(2) The worshipers of stars, who ascribed their creed to Prophets ####h and Idris (peace be upon them) and believed that the elements were governed by the planets and the planets by the angels. Their center was at Harran with branches spread all over Iraq. These people have been well known for their knowledge of philosophy and science and their achievements in medicine.

Probably here the first sect is referred to, because the second sect was not known by this name at the time the Qur'an was revealed.
See, Gunduz, The Knowledge of Life: The Origins and Early History of the Mandaeans and Their Relations to the Sabians of the Qur'an and to the Harranians (1994); contra, Fratini & Prato, God-Fearers: A Solution to the Ancient Problem of the Identity of the Sabians (1983)

- to be continued -

Regards

Mike
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Old 09-28-2013   #27
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Default "People of the Book" - Passages II

Continuing with Maududi's Commentary:

"and the Christians[26]"

Quote:
26. See E. N. 36 of Chapter V (AI-Ma'idah).

[14] Likewise We bound by a covenant those people, who said,"We are Nasara."[36] But they too, forgot much of what had been taught to them. So We sowed among them seeds of discord, enmity and hatred that shall last up to the Day of Resurrection, and surely the time will come when Allah will tell them of what they had been contriving in the world.

36. It is wrong to presume that the title Nasara pertains to Nazareth, the home of Jesus. In fact, its root is nusrat (help). The Christians have been called ,Nasara (helpers) for the reason that when Jesus asked, "Who will be my ansar (helpers) in the cause of Allah'?" his disciples answered, "We are ansar in the cause of Allah." (LXI : 14). The Christian writers got the wrong impression that the Qur'an contemptuously calls the Christians Nasara because of the apparent similarity between Nasara and Nazarenes, a sect of early Christians who were contemptuously called Nazarites. But the Qur`an makes it clear here that the Christians themselves said, "We are Nasara." It is obvious that the Christians never called themselves Nazarites.

In this connection, it may be noted that Jesus Christ never called his disciples "Christians" or "Messiahites," for he had not come to found a new religion after his own name but to revive the same religion that Moses and the other Prophets before and after him had brought. Therefore he did not form any new community other than that of the Israelites; nor they lived like a new one; nor adopted a distinctive name or symbol for themselves. They used to go to the Temple (Jerusalem) for prayer along with the other Jews and considered themselves to be bound by the Mosaic Law. (Please refer to the Acts, 3: 1, 10: 14,15: 1 & 5, 21: 22).

Later on the process of separation began froth two sides. On the one side St. Paul, a follower of the Prophet Jesus, put an end to the observance of the law and declared that the only thing needed for salvation was belief in Messiah. On the other side, the Jewish rabbis cut off the followers of Christ by declaring theta to be a misguided sect. But in spite of this separateness, at first the sect bore no distinctive name. The followers of Christ called themselves by different names, such as disciples, brethren, believers, saints etc. (Please refer to the Acts, 2 : 44, 4: 32, 9 : 26, 11 : 29, 13 : 52, IS : 1 & 23; Romans, 15 : 45, and Corinthians, 1:12). But the Jews called them Galileans or the sect of the Nazarenes contemptuously and tauntingly (Luke, 13 : 2, The Acts, 24 : 5) because of the Roman Province of Galilee in which Nazareth, the birth place of Jesus, was situated. These satirical names, however, did not become current as the permanent names of the followers of Christ.

As a matter of fact, the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch, when Barnabas and Paul went there in 43-44 A.D. to preach the Gospels. (The Acts, 11: 26). Though this name was also given to them contemptuously by their enemies, yet, by and by, their leaders accepted this, saying, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye,.....if any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed." (I Peter, 4: 16). At long last, they lost the feelings that the name "Christian" was a bad title that had been given to them by their enemies.

Thus it is clear that the Qur'an has not called them Christians because of the contempt associated with it, but has called them Ansar (helpers) in order to remind them that they were the name-sake of those disciples of Jesus who had responded to his invitation and said, "We are helpers of Allah." Is it not an irony that instead of being grateful to the Qur'an for giving them their name, the Christian missionaries of today should bear a grievance against it for not calling them "Christians"?
[JMM: but more important for the present discussion]

Quote:
[17] Indeed they committed blasphemy, who said, "The Messiah, son of Mary, is verily God."[39] O Muhammad, say to them, "If Allah chose to destroy the Messiah, Mary's son, and his mother, and all the dwellers of the earth, who has the power to prevent Him from this? For, to Allah belongs the Kingdom of the earth and the heavens and all that is between them: He creates whatever He wills[40] and has power over everything."

39. The Christians were guilty of blasphemy in regarding Jesus as God and worshiping him as such. This was the result of the error they committed in regarding Jesus as the union of man and God, for it made his personality an enigma, which their scholars have not been able to solve in spite of their verbosity and argumentations. The more they tried to solve it the more complicated it became. Those who were impressed by the human aspect of this complex personality made him the son of God and one of the Trinity, while others, who were impressed by the Divine aspect of his personality, declared him to he the incarnation of God and worshiped him as such. There were still others who tried to adopt the middle course between the two extremes and spent all their abilities to prove the impossibility that Jesus was both man and God at one and the same time and that God and the Messiah were two separate beings, but at the same tune a single being. (Please refer to E.N.'s 212,213,215 of An-Nisa).

40. "He creates whatever He wills" implies that the miraculous birth of Jesus was merely' one of God's countless wonderful manifestations, and that this and his moral excellences and his perceptible miracles should not mislead the Christians to regard the Messiah as God. It was their shortsightedness that they did not consider the other creations of God which were even more wonderful than the creation of Jesus and foolishly made him God. They forgot that His power has no bounds and seeing the miracles performed by a wonderful creation of the Creator they began to regard him as a creator; whereas wise men see the All-Powerful Creator in the wonders of His Creation and get the light of Faith from them.
"and the Magians[27]"

Quote:
27. That is, the fire-worshipers of Iran, who believed in two gods -one of light and the other of darknesses-and regarded themselves as the followers of Zoroaster. Their creed and morals were so corrupted by Mazdak that a brother could easily enter into matrimony with his sister.
"and those who committed shirk,[28]"

Quote:
28. That is, "The mushriks of Arabia and of other countries, who had no special name like those mentioned above."

29. That is, "Allah will pass His judgment on the Day of Resurrection in regard to all the differences and disputes which take place between different people and different religions and will decide which of them was right and which was wrong. "
In conclusion, the "People of the Book" in the Quran are Muslims, Jews, Christians and Sabians. Each group received a book of God's words from God. They were classified because of those receipts, not because of their degree of monotheism. Only the Muslims kept their book intact.

The Magians and "shirkers" didn't make the cut at all.

The next parts deal with the "canon" in the Quran to determine the sacred texts; and finally, with pragmatic applications of the Quran to governance of the Christian religious group in two tough test cases.

Regards

Mike

Regards

Mike
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Old 09-28-2013   #28
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Default Books Made Explicit

As a framework for which books made the cut, see Wiki - Islamic holy books:

Quote:
The Quran mentions at least three main Islamic scriptures which came before the Quran by name.

Tawrat (at-Tawrāt): According to the Quran, the Tawrat was revealed to Moses,[2] but Muslims believe that the current Torah, although it retains the main message,[citation needed] has suffered corruption over the years, and is no longer reliable. Moses and his brother Aaron (Harun) used the Torah to preach the message to the Banu-Isra'il (Children of Israel). The Quran implies that the Torah is the longest-used scripture, with the Jewish people still using the Torah today, and that all the Hebrew prophets would warn the people of any corruptions that were in the scripture.[3]

Zabur (az-Zabur): The Quran mentions the Zabur, often interpreted as being the Book of Psalms, as being the holy scripture revealed to King David. Scholars have often understood the Psalms to have been holy songs of praise.[4] The current Psalms are still praised by many Muslim scholars,[5][6] but Muslims generally assume that some of the current Psalms were written later and are not divinely revealed.[citation needed]

Injil (al-Injil): The Injil was the holy book revealed to Jesus, according to the Quran. Although many lay Muslims believe the Injil refers to the entire New Testament, scholars have pointed out that it refers not to the New Testament but to an original Gospel, given to Jesus (Isa) as the word of God (Arabic الله Allah).[7] Therefore, according to Muslim belief, the Gospel was the message that Jesus, being divinely inspired, preached to the Children of Israel. The current canonical Gospels, in the belief of Muslim scholars, are not divinely revealed but rather are documents of the life of Jesus, as written by various contemporaries, disciples and companions. These Gospels, in Muslim belief, contain portions of the teachings of Jesus, but neither represent nor contain the original Gospel, which has been corrupted and/or lost, which was a single book written not by a human but by God.[8]
...
The Quran also mentions two ancient scrolls and another possible book:

Scrolls of Abraham: The Scrolls of Abraham are believed to have been one of the earliest bodies of scripture, which were vouchsafed to Ibrahim (Abraham),[9] and later used by Isma'il (Ishmael) and Is'aq (Isaac). Although usually referred to as 'scrolls', many translators have translated the Arabic suhuf as "books".[5][10] The Scrolls of Abraham are now considered lost rather than corrupted, although some scholars have identified them with the Testament of Abraham, an apocalyptic piece of literature available in Arabic at the time of Muhammad.

Kitab of Yahya: There is an allusion to a Kitab or Book of Yahya[11] (who is also known as 'John the Baptist'). It is possible that portions of its text appear in some of the Mandaean scriptures such as the Genzā Rabbā or the Draša d-Iahia "The Book of John the Baptist". Yahya is revered by the Mandaeans and by the Sabians.

Scrolls of Moses: These scrolls, containing the revelations of Moses, which were perhaps written down later by Moses, Aaron and Joshua, are understood by Muslims to refer not to the Torah but to revelations aside from the Torah. Some scholars have stated that they could possibly refer to the Book of the Wars of the Lord,[5] a lost text spoken of in the Old Testament or Tanakh in the Book of Numbers.[12]
Footnote texts are omitted in the above quote, but are in the Wiki.

Regards

Mike
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Old 09-28-2013   #29
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Default Umar's and Saladin's Assurances

We now can turn to the "Assurance of Umar". See, Wiki - Siege of Jerusalem (637); and Wiki - Pact of Umar:

Quote:
Covenant of Umar also known as Pact of Umar (Arabic: شروط عمر‎ or عهد عمر or عقد عمر), is an apocryphal treaty between Muslims and Christians that later gained a canonical Islamic status in Islamic jurisprudence. The pact is traditionally attributed to the second Caliph Umar ibn Khattab.[1] Several versions of the pact exist. It contains a list of restrictive measures and prohibitions on non-Muslims in general, by abiding to them, non-Muslims may enjoy some measure of religious tolerance under Muslim rule as Dhimmis.[2][3][4] The document effectively established a social hierarchy with Muslims on top and the Dhimmis as subordinates.[5][6]
Footnote texts are in the original Wiki. Exactly how apocryphal this assurance is or is not is addressed in the two recent 2012 articles cited below.

This is Tabiri's version (from al-Bushra, below)

Quote:
In the name of Allah, the merciful Benefactor! This is the assurance granted to the inhabitants of Aelia by the servant of God, 'Umar, the commander of the Believers. He grants them safety for their persons, their goods, churches, crosses - be they in good or bad condition - and their worship in general. Their churches shall neither be turned over to dwellings nor pulled down; they and their dependents shall not be put to any prejudice and thus shall it fare with their crosses and goods. No constraint shall be imposed upon them in matters of religion and no one among them shall be harmed. No Jew shall be authorised to live in Aelia with them. The inhabitants of Aelia must pay the gizya in the same way as the inhabitants of other towns. It is for them to expel from their cities Roums (Byzantians) and outlaws. Those of the latter who leave shall be granted safe conduct... Those who would stay shall be authorised to, on condition that they pay the same gizya as the inhabitants of Aelia. Those of the inhabitants of Aelia who wish to leave with the Roums, to carry away their goods, abandon their churches and Crosses, shall likewise have their own safe conduct, for themselves and for their Crosses. Rural dwellers (ahl 'I-ard) who were already in the town before the murder of such a one, may stay and pay the gizya by the same title as the people of Aelia, or if they prefer they may leave with the Roums or return to their families. Nothing shall be exacted of them.

Witnesses: Khaledb.A1-Walid, 'Amrb.A1-Alp, 'Abdar-Rahmanb. 'Awf Muawiya b. Abi Sufyan, who wrote these words, here, In the year 15 (33).
Here is a current Islamic analysis and a current Christian analysis:

al-Fattah & al-Waisi, Umar's Assurance of Aman to the People of Aelia (Islamicjerusalem): A Critical Analytical Study of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate’s Version (2012).

al-Bushra, The Christian Majority Becomes a Minority Once Again (continuation) (2012)

I view this as a pragmatic deal cut by "Umar" with the "Greek Orthodox Patriarch" (a Byzantine Trinitarian), without consideration of the fine points of the Christian systematic theologies (Unitarian, Binitarian or Trinitarian).

As al-Fattah points out, this document probably tells us more about the later Kaliphates' and Ottomen's dealings with Christians and Jews than with "year 15" Aelia.

Something of the same kind of deal was struck between Saladin and Balian ibn Barzan in 1187 to allow the "Franks" and other Christians to leave the city - and for some to stay. See, Saladin Takes Jerusalem (p.46 pdf)

Quote:
This account is from Ibn al-Athir after the battles for Jerusalem.
...
Then Balian ibn Barzan asked for safe conduct for himself so that he might appear before Saladin to discuss developments. Consent was given, and he presented himself and once again began asking for a general amnesty in return for surrender. The Sultan still refused his requests and entreaties to show mercy. Finally, despairing of this approach, Balian said:

Quote:
'Know, O Sultan, that there are very many of us in this city, God alone knows how many. At the moment we are fighting half-heartedly in the hope of saving our lives, hoping to be spared by you as you have spared others; this is because of the nature of horror of death and our love for life. But if we see that death is inevitable, then by God we shall kill our children and our wives, burn our possessions, so as not to leave you with a dinar or a drachma or a single man or woman to enslave. When this is done, we shall pull down the Sanctuary of the Rock and the Masjid al-Aqsa and the other sacred places, slaughtering the Muslim prisoners we hold - 5,000 of them - and killling every horse and animal we possess. Then we shall come out to fight you like men fighting for their lives, when each man, before he falls dead, kills his equals; we shall die with honour, or win a noble victory!'
How to negotiate a surrender when defending a hopeless position - bravado, bluff, bravery, which led to:

Quote:
Then Saladin took council with his advisors,all of whom were in favor of granting the assurances requested by the Franks, without forcing them to take extreme measures whose outcome could not be foreseen. 'Let us consider them as being already our prisoners,' they said, 'and allow them to ransom themselves on terms agreed between us.' The Sultan agreed to give the Franks assurances of safety on the understanding that each man, rich and poor alike, should pay ten dinar, children of both sexes two dinar and women five dinar. All who paid this sum within forty days should go free, and those who had not paid at the end of the time should be enslaved. Balian ibn Barzan offered 30,000 dinar as ransom for the poor, which was accepted, and the city surrendered on Friday 27 rajab/2 October 1187, a memorable day on which the Muslim flags were hoisted over the walls of Jerusalem. . . .
According to al-Qadi al-Fadil, Balian ibn Barzan also "offered a tribute in an amount that even the most covetous could not have hoped for." Balian had a large military force (mostly Turcopols to whom he was personally commited), with their dependents, whose ransoms were based on "each man, rich and poor alike, should pay ten dinar, children of both sexes two dinar and women five dinar."

Again, a reasonable result was reached via a pragmatic approach avoiding the complexities of religious theologies.

A similar approach was taken with respect to the native Christians of Jerusalem; see, Hadia Dajani-Shakeel. "Some Medieval Accounts of Salah al-Din's Recovery of Jerusalem (Al-Quds)" (Fordham link):

Quote:
The Fate of the Native Christians

'Imad al-Din indicates that, after paying their ransom, the native Christians requested Salah al-Din's permission to remain in their quarters in safety. Salah al-Din granted their request, provided that they paid the poll tax (jizya). Some members of the Armenian community also asked to stay in the city and were allowed to do so, provided that they also paid the tax. Many of the poor from both groups were exempted. Rich Christians bought much of the property of the departing Latins, as has been mentioned above. Salah al-Din allowed them to pray freely in their churches, and he handed over control of Christian affairs to the Byzantine patriarch.

'Imad al-Din notes that at first Salah al-Din ordered the closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its future was discussed, and some even advised that it should be demolished in order to sever completely the attachment of the Christians to Jerusalem. However, a majority of the Muslims rejected the idea. They argued that demolishing the church would not help, for it would not prevent Christians from visiting it. According to 'Imad al-Din:

"Those who come to visit it come to worship at the location of the cross and the sepulchre rather than at the building itself. Christians will never stop making pilgrimages to this location, even if it has been totally uprooted."

Those who spoke in favour of preserving the Church of the Holy Sepulchre even suggested that when the Caliph 'Umar conquered Jerusalem, he confirmed the right of Christians to the church and gave no orders to demolish the building.
At least in the "here and now", the "People of the Book" protected status for Christians was recognized in two hard cases. But, that recognition came via pragmatism exercised on both sides. For those Christians who remained under Muslim governance, they had to accept second-class citizanship in Palestine; or convert to Islam - which many did.

Regards

Mike

Last edited by jmm99; 09-28-2013 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 09-29-2013   #30
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Default Part 1.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
I wish I had the time to post a more in-depth response. I would start by arguing that the entire idea of a “Divine right” of kings, as opposed to a god king, as some other societies would view their political leaders, creates a defacto separation of church and state. That the passage of two keys (or two swords) was simply a recognition of a belief already prevalent in Roman times that the church and the state represented action in two separate spheres of human activity.

Instead I will ask a question relevant to the thread:

“Why is religion so closely tied to political legitimacy?” Even where there is a separation of church and state many laws are based in religious beliefs. Politicians swear oaths before God. Congress opens with a benidiction. What is the connection? Why is it important to our mortal lives?
It is only right that I explain my premises rather than simply assuming that they are evident at least so that we and others may know what our respective positions are. My rather rakishly rebellious refusal to follow any sort of “criterion of elegance” (as Herbert Blumer termed the over-identification of a researcher with a particular method of research rather than the object of research) has resulted in my thought processes not only confusing others but also myself (there is perhaps something to be said for methodological parsimony).

My issues with the notion of “political” religion / political “religion” require, unfortunately for the reader, a little foregrounding. This will, however, not only help clarify my position but also the premises with which I am working. Everything I write here, of course, is simplistic, general and only skims the surface.


1. The Concept of the Political: The Meaning of Being (Human)

Firstly, I make a distinction between “the political” (la politique/ das Politische), the human condition of being with others (a la Heidegger) and the word politics (le politique/die Politik) itself representing purely administrative issues to do with the management of the state (in this I am largely following lines of thought initiated by Ernst Vollrath ( ‘The Rational and The Political An Essay in the Semantic of Politics [no link avaliable]). The former, then, represents the ontological conditions that make the latter possible; the political is about the very meaning of life itself or in Heideggerian language, the meaning of Being (with others/ Dasein as Mit-Dasein). In those terms what could be more political if not religion?

I think, from my reading of archaeology and anthropology (I had always wanted to be an archaeologist but chose another path instead; a dead end too) that the evidence supports that conclusion. As my brother (pbuh) used to say “religions were the first political theories that could only be disproved when their “Gods” had been destroyed or undermined”. Though discussing sacred relics and the like, Andrew Cowell’s discussion (in The Medieval Warrior Aristocracy: Gifts, Violence, Performance, and the Sacred ) is apposite in this context;
Quote:
It is thus not surprising that true power in society should rest with those who have access to these objects, and thus to the resources of the sacred. As Godelier notes, regarding Melanesia, the “big man” is ultimately less powerful than the “great man,” who controls such access to the sacred, kept object (1999:8). Likewise, in the Plains Indian cultures of North America, it is the keeper of the Sacred Pipe who is the ultimate locus of authority in the tribe, not the wealthiest and most generous giver, or the bravest and most successful taker. In a medieval context, Irish kings gained power through performance, but then “assumed a sacred mantle that was central to the legitimization of their rank” (Aitchison 1994:70). More specifically, they were “seeking to formalize and render less challengeable the possession of rank”(Aitchison 1994:73). The efforts of the French monarchy to establish its privileged access to sacred power – especially healing power – as incarnated in the possession of sacred objects such as relics and the crown itself are emblematic of this fact. Access to sacred power marks the ultimate in vertical exchange. It represents not the vertical exchanges downwards between lord and dependents, however, but a vertical exchange upwards between God or gods and those who have access to these exchanges. Such power clearly trumps any possible advantages deriving from horizontal exchanges within the society, and thus allows the recipient a form of integrity which literally transcends the bonds of reciprocity between human individuals and groups. Anyone familiar with the thirst for relics exhibited by medieval society will recognize the validity of these ideas. (p.90)

At this point we may need a definition of religion for the sake of argument if nothing else and why not fall back on old Durkheim for that purpose (The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life);
Quote:
A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church all those who adhere to them. The second element which thus finds a place in our definition is no less essential than the first; for by showing that the idea of religion is inseparable from the idea of a Church, it conveys the notion that religion must be an eminently collective thing. (p. 47 in my 1915 George Allen & Unwin edition)
Aside from Durkheim there are others, as listed in Jack Eller, Introducing Anthropology of Religion: Culture to the Ultimate ](p. 7-8);
Quote:
James Frazer: “a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and human life” (1958: 58–9).

William James: “the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine” (1958: 34).

Émile Durkheim: “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set aside and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them” (1965: 62).

Paul Radin: “it consists of two parts: the first an easily definable, if not precisely specific feeling; and the second certain acts, customs, beliefs, and conceptions associated with this feeling. The belief most inextricably connected with the specific feeling is a belief in spirits outside of man, conceived as more powerful than man and as controlling all those elements in life upon which he lay most stress” (1957: 3).

Anthony Wallace: “a set of rituals, rationalized by myth, which mobilizes supernatural powers for the purpose of achieving or preventing transformations of state in man and nature” (1966: 107).

Sherry Ortner: “a metasystem that solves problems of meaning (or Problems of Meaning) generated in large part (though not entirely) by the social order, by grounding that order within a theoretically ultimate reality within which those problems will ‘make sense’” (1978: 152).

Clifford Geertz: “(1) a system of symbols which act to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic” (1973: 90).
Or as per Emilio Gentile (quoted in Richard Shorten, “The status of ideology in the return of political religion theory”, Journal of Political Ideologies, 12:2, 2007) religion is,
Quote:
a system of beliefs, myths and symbols which interpret and define the meaning and the goal of human existence, making the destiny of an individual and of the community dependent on their subordination to a supreme entity. p.177
But, and it’s a big Jennifer Lopez but, the modern concept of religion is nothing more than an ideal-type,
Quote:
If by religion is meant a matter of belief, separable from forms of action and political organization, signified by one’s assent to a creed and enacted in certain ritual behaviours (i.e., worship), then even in Latin the modern term “religion” has no equivalent. ( The New Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Volume 5, p.2408, my italics)
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Old 09-29-2013   #31
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Also, as Winston King states in the Encyclopaedia of Religion, 2nd Ed., Vol. 11,
Quote:
“Many practical and conceptual difficulties arise when one attempts to apply such a dichotomous pattern [ sacred / profane ] across the board to all cultures. In primitive societies, for instance, what the West calls religious is such an integral part of the total ongoing way of life that it is never experienced or thought of as something separable or narrowly distinguishable from the rest of the pattern. Or if the dichotomy is applied to that multifaceted entity called Hinduism, it seems that almost everything can be and is given a religious significance by some sect. Indeed, in a real sense everything that is is divine; existence per se appears to be sacred. It is only that the ultimately real manifests itself in a multitude of ways—in the set-apart and the ordinary, in god and so-called devil, in saint and sinner. The real is apprehended at many levels in accordance with the individual’s capacity.” p.7692, my italics)
Of course, I would argue that the so called “Western” phenomena is of recent and local provenance and hardly universal.

Seeing religion as a subset of la politique or “the political” also gives new meaning to Easton’s famous description of politics as “the authoritative allocation of values” (The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science, p. 117). The question for me then isn’t so much why religions become political but rather why isn’t religion considered a political force in the first place (at least according to my idiosyncratic schema)? To borrow a quote from Carl Schmitt (Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty ) I would argue that
Quote:
“the political is the total and as a result we know that any decision about whether something is unpolitical is always a political decision” (p.2)
My real gripe, therefore, is that religion has come to mean something non-political (like economics) when IMO the reverse is true. It is from that PoV then that I take issue with theorists of “political religion” and I might be in good company (the complicated debate is excellently set out and explored in Norris & Ingelhart, Sacred & Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide, 2nd Ed.). The indistinguishable religion / politics matrix is explained by Paul Radin, Primitive Religion: Its Nature and Origin in connexion with early societies,
Quote:
”Where there is little trace of a centralized authority, there we encounter no true priests, and religious phenomena remain essentially unanalysed and unorganized. Magic and simple coercive rites rule supreme”.p.21
George Simmel is also instructive in his “Contribution to the Study of Religion”[no link available], The American Journal of Sociology, 60: 6, 1955, (his portion was excised due to length and I’m sure many of you wish more had been).

This begins to change with complex societies that display social stratification and a division of labour. Says Jack Eller, Introducing Anthropology of Religion (Op. Cit.)
Quote:
“Civilizations are characterized by large and/or interconnected communities which are socially heterogeneous. Social relationships cannot remain personal but become “practical” and “rational.” (Weber said the same thing about modern societies, as we will consider in the next chapter.) Kinship as an organizing principle gives way to “politics,” in the shape of formal government, contractual relations, and the stratification of power and wealth. Specialization and differentiation within the society comes to include religion itself, which becomes an institution among other social institutions, albeit one that supports the political institutions. In the process, religion becomes more “professional,” with religious specialists, and more reflective, self-conscious, and systematic”. (p.190)
The process of religion becoming universalist and thus un-tethered from a particular community is a complex but not unrelated factor. However, I would still see that as part of a political process with an admixture of other causes (usually persecution). There are also more prosaic reasons. Witness the relative ease with which the Roman Empire was able to pacify larges areas. When a legionary confronted his opposite defeated number he would ask “who is your God”. The phrase “your God” does not mean what entity outside of the world and its affairs do you personally, on an individual level, believe in. It means what God represents your existence, what God defines who you are as a people....&c? “What?”, says the Legionary ,“Oh, that sounds like Mithras to my ears. Brother! We have the same god but by another name in our pantheon! (And thank the gods below they did have a pantheon). Come, brother, join the Empire”. The mirroring of the divine stage upon the earth (Caesar as God Emperor) is obvious (and, again, later appropriated by Catholic political philosophy). Michael Mann in The Sources of Social Power, Vol. 1 has an excellent overview of these issues (I just couldn’t find the book for an actual quote; you’re welcome!). His IEMP (Ideology, Economics, Military, Political) model is also pregnant with possibilities. In sum, as religions form a social function, by regulating the affairs of man, they are at base political. In Islam, for instance, one does not see political factions without also seeing religious sects.

2. Religion dethroned: The de-sacralisation of the Political: Man becomes God

Political thought (and scientific thought I might add) from the late 17th century onward is an attempt to grapple with a disentangling of religion from social life in an age in which (pace Nietzsche (pbuh)) “God is Dead”. This is evident in the work of explicitly Catholic political thinkers like de Maistre or his nineteenth century “secular” Catholic compatriot Durkheim. Indeed, aping Schmitt we can say that all sociological concepts are merely an attempt to fathom the absence of a transcendent moral centre in human life. Concepts such Marx’s alienation and Durkheim’s anomie are the fruits of such a process. The great age of political thought is great precisely because of the innovative new ways that the relationship of man to man was rethought in the absence of a transcendent lodestar. The Liberals satisfied themselves with the rather queer notion of a social contract drawn up between free, sovereign individuals (which found fertile soil in the U.S. again, via, Locke and his ilk) where as in Europe where ethnic and territorial states had already developed a nascent sense of nationalism fell back on that (racism is a perversion of nationalism, attributable to trends in nineteenth century biology, not a logical outgrowth).

Secular politics, so called, thus replaces the transcendent vision with an immanent one; the nation, or the people or the law, or the constitution now becomes the ultimate regulating principle. What is a politician doing if not promising a paradise on earth? Thus Nazism’s manic “faith” in “race” is a form of religious politics (in which the divine is replace with the immanent sanctity of the genome). As is America’s Manifest Destiny an expression of a supposedly Chosen People (but by whom?). We can see the same set of theological reasoning underpinning Communism in the idea of dialectical materialism. As Carl Schmitt once said in Political Theology,
Quote:
“All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularised theological concepts‟ (p. 36)
or again in The Concept of the Political that
Quote:
“The juridic [sic] formulas of the omnipotence of the state are, in fact, only superficial secularisations of theological formulas of the omnipotence of God‟ (p. 42).
Hobbes’ Leviathan, then, is perhaps rightly designated as the first truly modern (secular) vision of politics in which the state itself becomes God (for later Liberals it is the sovereign Man which takes the place of the transcendent as the pole around which politics revolves). Not for nothing did Nietzsche (pbuh) call the state the “new idol” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, p. 48). Now it is not so much in the name of god but in the name of the people or even, humanity (gulp!). What is nationalism but each people declaring itself to be “the chosen people”? (more so in America I find). Indeed, the logical corollary is the need for a messianic figure (a Fuhrer, or President, or Supreme Leader) to lead them.
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Old 09-29-2013   #32
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Before Hitler, there was Napoleon. On the 13th October 1806 following the defeat of Russia and Prussia by Napoleon’s forces Hegel wrote that
Quote:
“I saw Napoleon, the soul of the world, riding through the town on a reconnaissance. It is indeed wonderful to see, concentrated in a point, sitting on a horse, an individual who overruns the world and masters it” (quoted in C. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, p. 105n7)
;
To this end, as de Maistre pointed out -though, admittedly in a different context-
Quote:
“institutions are only strong and durable to the degree that they are, so to speak, deified” ( Considerations on France, p. 80, my italics)
Durkheim would seem to agree (from Elementary Structures),
Quote:
“in the present day just as much as in the past, we see society constantly creating sacred things out of ordinary ones. If it happens to fall in love with a man and if it thinks it has found in him the principal aspirations that move it, as well as the means of satisfying them, this man will be raised above the others and, as it were, deified. Opinion will invest him with a majesty exactly analogous to that protecting the gods. This is what has happened to so many sovereigns in whom their age had faith: if they were not made gods, they were at least regarded as direct representatives of the deity. And the fact that it is society alone which is the author of these varieties of apotheosis, is evident since it frequently chances to consecrate men thus who have no right to it from their own merit. The simple deference inspired by men invested with high social functions is not different in nature from religious respect”. (p.213, 1915 Ed.)

What I think we see from the renaissance onward is the gradual de-sacralisation or secularisation of the political in Western Europe (Eastern Europe and Orthodox Christianity present a different kettle of fish) with the rise of humanistic, rationalistic and post-Reformation political philosophies. It is also a period that Eric Voegelin describes exhibiting the “secularisation of history”. In Voegelin’s words from ‘Secularised History: Bossuet and Voltaire’, in (From Enlightenment to Revolution) this trend
Quote:
“becomes revolutionary by its implication that the sacred history' the "theology;' is unimportant and that profane history has the monopoly of determining the relevance of peoples and events. The centre of universality is shifted from the sacred to the profane level, and this shift implies the turning of the tables: that the construction of history will, in- the future, not be subordinated to the spiritual drama of humanity, but that Christianity will be understood as an event in history. Through this shift of the centre of interpretation the dualism of sacred and profane history disappears. The profane history is profane only as long as sacred history is accepted as the absolute frame of reference and when this position is abandoned, the two histories merge on the level of secularized history. By secularization we mean the attitude in which history, including the Christian religious phenomena is conceived as an inner worldly chain of human events, while, at the same time, there is retained the Christian belief in a universal, meaningful order of human history”. (p. 7)
The consequence of this is a liminal vacuum described by Weber (‘Science as a Vocation’) as stemming from a “disenchantment with the world”. As Clifford Porter explains regarding Voegelin (‘Eric Voegelin on Nazi Political Extremism, Journal of the History of Ideas, 63:1, 2002)
Quote:
”With spiritual reality denied or obscured, something must take its place to respond to the human need to express the feeling of being created. Voegelin argues that modem philosophy had gradually attributed to the state the redemptive power that belongs to God”. (p.160)
.
Your correspondent agrees with Voegelin. The loss of the central Metanarrative of human existence provided by religion (as a part of “the political”) resulted in what Karl Jaspers (in the Origin and Goal of History, I think, but can’t be certain) identified as the age of totalitarian ideologies each of which vies to replace lost certainties (metanarratives) with appeal to a deified humanity (either that of the liberal individual, the nation or the race, etc.) beginning with the French Revolution. All of these are Western European phenomena (encompassing its offshoots). But the key point is this process of de-sacralisation never occurred in the rest of the world with such intensity if at all except, perhaps, where European empires made their mark. What we see with Islam is merely a continuation of a process which we in Europe abandoned long ago. Islam and Muslims, then, have not re-discovered or perverted their religion but merely sloughed off the secular ideologies that they believed failed them (i.e., pan-Arab nationalism, communism, etc.,) and reverted to type (as it were). As Khomeini put it (Velayat-e Faqih) before the revolution of 1979;
Quote:
“The colonialists have spread the insidious idea that religion should be separated from politics and that men of religion are not qualified to act in political and social matters. In the Prophet’s times, was the church separate from the state? Were theologians distinct from politicians?” (p. 190 in my bootlegged copy)
It wasn’t that Islam became political but rather that the failed revolutionaries, and those who had been marginalised because they insisted on Islam-centric action, rediscovered Islam was political (the Islamic reformation you all fantasise about has already occurred, but not in the way you hoped). The consequence of this kehre for us, and our ability to understand our foes, is profound. It means we are confronted with a language and a system of meaning that we only rarely comprehend (especially when we try and translate it into similar but ultimately different systems of thought). And that may have been deliberate.


3. The re-sacralisation of the Political; Or, on the Fuzziness of “Political Religion

Political religion as a notion (is it coherent enough to be a concept?) - usually taken to mean that a religion has come off the reservation allotted to it and is meddling in affairs that don’t concern it -isn’t the stable signifier we assume it is either given the multiplicity of meanings attached to it. If you have access to the Journal Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions you’ll see what I mean.
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Old 09-29-2013   #33
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The only possible usage for the phrase political religion, as far as I am concerned, would be to signify a pseudo-religious phenomena (I know, that’s even more than less than unhelpful), i.e. one that does not refer to the supernatural but one that rather takes as its referent a non-supernatural entity and deifies it (such as the state, the race, or a class). Hence communism, liberalism and Nazism can be described as politically religious. I think I might be veering off here (only here!?) but I’ll let it stand. In this I stand side by side with Albert Piette whose phrase ‘religion potentielle’ captures what I want to say about the phenomena in two words (eloquent bastard!). I think I may also have been inspired by Ernst Nolte’s Three Faces of Fascism (it was a question of not disturbing my piles of books for a quote, its messy enough in my room). I would also agree with Emilio Gentile (“Political religion: a concept and its critics - a critical survey” , Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, 6:1, 2005), when he states,
Quote:
“Personally, I would easily renounce the use of this term and other terms alike, such as civil religion or secular religion. But even after banishing these terms, the historical phenomenon from where they originated still remains, the phenomenon which in my study I defined as the ‘sacralisation of politics’. However it may be defined, I do not consider it possible to deny that in the modern age, politics, after conquering its institutional autonomy toward traditional religion, at certain important moments of contemporary history, starting from the American Revolution until the present day, has acquired the aura of sacredness up to the point of asserting, in an exclusive and complete way, as was the case with the totalitarian movements of the twentieth century, the prerogative to define the ultimate meaning and the fundamental goal of human existence on earth. This concept does not refer to the political mobilisation of traditional religions, but to the modern political ideologies and movements which adapted religious habits to secular ends. The sacralisation of politics is manifest in the way the ideal of politics was conceived, experienced and represented by its supporters, in their style of life as well as in their attitudes towards the adversaries and opposing ideals. Modern political movements are transformed into secular religions when they: (a) define the meaning of life and ultimate ends of human existence; (b) formalise the commandments of a public ethic to which all members of these movement must adhere; and (c) give utter importance to a mythical and symbolic dramatisation in their interpretation of history and reality, thus creating their own ‘sacred history’, embodied in the nation, the state or the party, and tied to the existence of a ‘chosen people’, which were glorified as the regenerating force of all mankind. The sacralisation of politics occurs all the time by virtue of the fact that a political entity, for instance, the nation, the state, race, class, the party, assume the characteristics of a sacred entity, that is, of a supreme power, indisputable and untouchable, which becomes the object of faith, of reverence, of cult, of fidelity, of devotion from the side of the citizens, up to and including the sacrifice of life; and as such it lies in the centre of the constellation of beliefs, of myths, of values, of commandments, of rites and of symbols” (my italics, p.29)
.
Though taking an opposite tack, Mathias Behrens makes similar arguments in “Political Religion – A Religion? Some remarks on the concept of religion”, in Totalitarianism and Political Religions, Vol. II: Concepts for the Comparison of Dictatorships. Hans Maier, “‘Political religion’: The potentials and limitations of a concept” (in Op. Cit.) in a different vein writes that,
Quote:
“The concept of ‘political religions’ might provide an inadequate label for all this, but – as I see it – it is still indispensable, at least provisionally. It reminds us that religion does not allow itself to be driven from society at will”. p.282
.


Let’s end on that as I fear I may have wandered away from our original dispute about whether or not Islam was perverted by the MB to serve nationalist ends (i.e., religion is not political or something).


I have said my peace and await eagerly for the thread to refocus on some aspect of the book we are reading. What was that again?
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Old 09-29-2013   #34
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
If the religious beliefs of a group are distinctive enough to act as a distinguishable factor in defining an ethnic group …. and that group distinction is capable of being the basis of a political or national identity; or could be the basis of an in-group/out-group distinction that allows that group to be a viable enemy in a war ... then for my purposes it represents a separate religion.
No disagreement from me there. That was never my quibble; (are you code-switching?) I thought we were arguing about the supposed perversion of religion into its opposite, politics (&c.)

I’m dizzy, I want to get off.
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Old 09-29-2013   #35
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Old 09-29-2013   #36
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Smile In compete agreeance

T,

Fully understand and agree with your position. Did not realize that was what you were going for. From my perspective, a practitioner of social instability needs to understand things at the level you are talking. To say that one group believes the the trinity and one group does not is interesting from a historical perspective. To say that one group does not easily separate religion from politics (and why that is the case for many people) helps to understand the issues at hand at a very basic level. To say that those who have separated it do so in definition only and some of the actual social functions performed by religion is now part and parcel to the political I believe helps some of us understand why things are as they are. I know I bastardized what you said, and I like the elegant way you said it, but I hope I got your point right this time.

Thanks for taking the time to explain it. I am sure I am not the only council member who felt that way.
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Old 09-30-2013   #37
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
T,

Fully understand and agree with your position. Did not realize that was what you were going for. From my perspective, a practitioner of social instability needs to understand things at the level you are talking. To say that one group believes the the trinity and one group does not is interesting from a historical perspective. To say that one group does not easily separate religion from politics (and why that is the case for many people) helps to understand the issues at hand at a very basic level. To say that those who have separated it do so in definition only and some of the actual social functions performed by religion is now part and parcel to the political I believe helps some of us understand why things are as they are. I know I bastardized what you said, and I like the elegant way you said it, but I hope I got your point right this time.

Thanks for taking the time to explain it. I am sure I am not the only council member who felt that way.
Thank you for saying in one paragraph what it took this pedant to do in four posts!
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Old 09-30-2013   #38
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It seems a little (a lot?!) redundant now but as I have just found my copy of Hegel (Philosophy of Right) (when I had given up looking; always the way!) and as I had intended to include him previously I shall do so as a footnote of sorts to my previous post as his comments are well worth mulling over;
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The state is the march of God in the world ( Es ist der Gang Gottes in der Welt, daas der Staat ist); its ground or cause is the power of reason realizing itself as will. When thinking of the idea of the state, we must not have in our mind any particular state, or particular institution, but must rather contemplate the idea, this actual God, by itself.” (my italics, §258A)
and
Quote:
“We must hence honour the state as the divine on earth, and learn that if it is difficult to conceive of nature, it is infinitely harder to apprehend the state. That we in modern times have attained definite views concerning the state in general, and are perpetually engaged in speaking about and manufacturing constitutions, is a fact of much importance. But that does not settle the whole matter. It is necessary further that we approach a reasonable question in the mind of rational beings, that we know what is essential, and distinguish it from what is merely striking. Thus, the functions of the state must indeed be distinguished; and yet each must of itself form a whole, and also contain the other elements. When we speak of the distinctive activity of any function, we must not fall into the egregious error of supposing that it should exist in abstract independence, since it should rather be distinguished merely as an element of the conception”. (my, italics, §272A)

In “The Relationship of Religion to the State” (url= http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hegel-Politi...9753]Political Writings[/url]) Hegel elaborates further and is a text which repays careful reading (in many ways it is a distillation of themes begun in the Philosophy of Right,
Quote:
“In general, religion and the foundation of the state are one and the same thing – they are identical in and for themselves. In the patriarchal condition and the Jewish theocracy, the two are not yet distinct and are still outwardly identical. Nevertheless, the two are also different, and in due course, they become strictly separated from one another; but then they are once more posited as genuinely identical. [That the two have then attained] that unity which has being in and for itself follows from what has been said; religion is knowledge of the highest truth, and this truth, defined more precisely, is free spirit. In religion, human beings are free before God. In making their will conform to the divine will, they are not opposed to the divine will but have themselves within it; they are free inasmuch as they have succeeded, in the [religious] cult, in overcoming the division [die Entzweiung aufzuheben]. The state is merely freedom in the world, in actuality. The essential factor here is that concept of freedom which a people carries in its self-consciousness, for the concept of freedom is realised in the state, and an essential aspect of this realisation is the consciousness of freedom with being in and for itself. Peoples who do not know that human beings are free in and for themselves live in a benighted state both with regard to their constitution and to their religion.– There is one concept of freedom in [both] religion and the state. This one concept is the highest thing which human beings have, and it is realised by them. A people which has a bad concept of God also has a bad state, a bad government, and bad laws”.(my italics in bold, p.225-226)
However, standing as Hegel does at an epochal moment where religion has almost completely been separated from the political (de-sacralised) and confined into a distinct realm with distinct functions Hegel also notes that,
Quote:
“the state and religion can also be divorced from one another and have different laws. The secular and the religious spheres are distinct, and a difference of principle may also arise. Religion does not simply remain in its own distinct sphere, but also affects the subject, issuing precepts with regard to the subject’s religiosity and hence also to its activity. These precepts which religion issues to the individual may be distinct from the principles of right and ethical life which obtain within the state.(my italics in bold, p.228)


On a different tack does the book club have a formal structure or do we simply flag up issues that concern us about Brown's Religion and State as we encounter them?
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Old 09-30-2013   #39
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On a different tack does the book club have a formal structure or do we simply flag up issues that concern us about Brown's Religion and State as we encounter them?
Initially, I skim the ToC and look for interesting chapters to skim or read; after that, I'll slog through the book from start to finish, if it seems worth it. I've never learned how to read through a book backwards ; so, I'd have to pass on that methodology.

Other than that, I'm flexible in how you decide we should discuss Brown's book. So far as I'm concerned, you can take the lead in setting the framework for us to "follow".

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Regards

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Old 10-08-2013   #40
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I am almost done with the book. Not bad at all. The following post is in some ways based on this book
http://www.brownpundits.com/2013/10/...m-brotherhood/
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