Archive for August 2014

Islamic theology

August 30th, 2014 — 5:11pm

I’m reading through The Qur’an: The Basics by Massimo Campanini, and so far have found it quite useful as a concise introduction to Islamic belief and practice. Here’s a sample (I hope to post more):

Islam is predominantly an anti-dogmatic religion, with just two general assumptions. There is a very basic profession of faith, and an absence of an ecclesiastical judge and a central doctrinal authority. In fact, the only principle to which all Muslims can agree is the assertion of the profession of faith “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God”. This is the indispensable belief. Everything else, at least from a theoretical perspective, is supererogatory or more than what is required. The study of theology is inessential. Instead, what binds Muslims is the practice of acts of worship, the “five pillars” consisting of the profession of faith, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage and charity. In fact, Islam is really an orthopraxy. In order to be saved it is necessary to act.

The fact that there are no sacraments in Islam and that dogma is resolved in orthopraxy renders a priestly class redundant. The connection between God and the believer is direct and immediate. The function of priests is replaced in Islam by ‘ulama’, experts in law and the religious sciences who are appointed jurists and theologians rather than priests. This means that an expert jurist may express legal opinions that are not binding on everyone but only on those who adhere to the school of law of that jurist. However, Muslims say with pride that they do not have a Church, and instead have consistently accepted the widest possible scope for debate and subjective and personal opinion.

(Campanini, The Qur’an, pp. 7–8)

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A longer way round

August 24th, 2014 — 7:45am

And now, before I end, I am going to venture on a guess as to how this section [on social morality and societal implementation of the “Golden Rule”] has affected any who have read it. My guess is that there are some Leftist people among them who are very angry that it has not gone further in that direction, and some people of an opposite sort who are angry because they think it has gone much too far. If so, that brings us right up against the real snag in all this drawing up of blueprints for a Christian society. Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says: we are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party. We are looking for an ally where we are offered either a Master or – a Judge. I am just the same. There are bits in this section that I wanted to leave out. And that is why nothing whatever is going to come of such talks unless we go a much longer way round. A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. I may repeat “Do as you would be done by” till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him. And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward – driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home. (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 82–83)

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