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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The exchange Adassamad Clarke and Claire Khaw had on Secular Koranism

THE DISCUSSION CLARKE AND I HAD - CAN YOU MAKE OUT WHY HE IS OBJECTING TO SECULAR KORANISM?

He seems to be saying that if I don't believe in God I have no right to follow the Koranic principles or suggest that others do so.

I wonder if he would wish to prevent others from following the commandment of "Thou shalt not kill" just because they are not believers, like him.

It is a bit like the Jews preventing Jesus from spreading the benefits of a belief in a unique moral and omnipotent God to gentiles because it diluted their brand, is it not?

He claims dishonestly that he has made his position perfectly clear to me, but has he, dear reader, or do you think he is being intellectually dishonest?



04/09/2013 07:14
Claire Khaw
I would really like to start a Koran Book Club for practising lawyers.  That is probably the only way of propagating Secular Koranism.

Only if you join the Koran Book Club can you participate in the essay competition I have in mind.
It would have a large cash prize, rather like the Woolfson Prize of £250K.  That would be only way of attracting publicity.

There would be two sections you could participate in.  One is "Why Secular Koranism is viable."  The other is "Why Secular Koranism is unworkable in Britain."  They would both have the same cash prize, for the purposes of showing  impartiality.

Do you know what Secular Koranism is?
Chris Hewer seems to think it is logical and workable when I asked him.

04/09/2013 07:20
Abdassamad Clarke
The title seems to give it away. What is wrong with 'Islam' as a name?

04/09/2013 07:22
Claire Khaw
Because my standpoint is that of an atheist acknowledging that the Koran is the best guide to humanity.  That is a more powerful message than my saying so as a Muslim and a believer in the existence of God to a nation of atheists who can barely restrain their contempt for those who have religious beliefs.

I hope to persuade people by inviting them to read the book for themselves.  However, I already know most are too full of hate to contemplate the exercise.  So I propose bribing them with the prospect of a large cash prize.

04/09/2013 07:25
Abdassamad Clarke
But you are not an atheist, are you?

04/09/2013 07:28
Claire Khaw
I believe everyone has 3 states of mind:
1.  Belief
2.  Disbelief
3.  Doubt
Whichever our state of mind, it does not affect the rightness of the commandments of God.
I too have 3 states of mind.
My purpose is to point out the Utility of God as an Instrument of Government.
Islam is after all the only viable moral force for social conservatism.
I should have said the Koran.
I want to focus on the book, and talking about the book, because I want people to read it and tell me exactly what they find wrong with it.
I am in fact proposing that the Koran be subject to a philosophical analysis as to all the evils its prohibitions are meant to discourage.

04/09/2013 07:31
Abdassamad Clarke
Dostoyevsky dealt with the idea of ethics and rational systems in Notes from the Underground and other works. It makes salutary reading.

04/09/2013 07:32
Claire Khaw
Would you please summarise what this said?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notes_from_Underground
I will read this in my own time if you your time is limited.
However, it is as well to say that all that all moral acts are exhorted in the Koran and all immoral acts are forbidden too by the Koran.

04/09/2013 07:39
Abdassamad Clarke
Indeed.

04/09/2013 07:39
Claire Khaw
Those who disagree with this proposition are invited to adduce evidence and construct arguments to support their argument that the Koran is evil, impractical etc.

04/09/2013 07:39
Abdassamad Clarke
But not merely with a view to good government.

04/09/2013 07:40
Claire Khaw
What else then?

04/09/2013 07:40
Abdassamad Clarke
The form of civil society is of course not a negligible consideration.
But the over-riding concern is man's relations with the Eternal.

04/09/2013 07:42
Claire Khaw
Ah, but to discuss that aspect of Islam presupposes belief in God, and we do not want to be bogged down by these arguments.

I would just say that God was created by Man to assist him in his government, morality and spirituality, and leave it at that.

04/09/2013 07:45
Abdassamad Clarke
In terms of civil society, then the ruler and the judge have certain penalties but they are only effective because in the end the Muslims really do believe that they have a reckoning. Without that, people will do whatever they wish, and if they have to they will lie, cheat and deceive. Because: why not? If you do not believe that you have an accounting: why not?

04/09/2013 07:45
Claire Khaw
I wish to convey the impression of neutrality, so that what falls to be discussed is the rightness or wrongness of what are said to be God's laws and not the state of belief of anyone participating in the debate.
There are punishments that the Koran prescribes that will deter those who would disobey its laws eg 100 lashes for extramarital sex.

The Old Testament is too harsh and the New Testament too vague.

"The law is the wind and the people the grass.  When the wind blows the grass will bend."  Old Chinese saying.

I would also point out that Man has the power to bring God into existence simply by *wishing* to believe in Him.  Once we wish to believe in Him, we would behave as if He did in fact exist, and that is all that is required.

04/09/2013 07:50
Abdassamad Clarke
There is quite a difference between adopting an objective tone and actually trying to deceive people as to your real position.

A God that you can bring into existence is clearly not a god in any real sense.

04/09/2013 07:52
Claire Khaw
To persuade the liberal political establishment it is necessary to adopt a neutral and sceptical stance.  The point is to invite philosophical debate on the moral content of the Koran.

For too long philosophers have been asking themselves the wrong question, seeking to prove or disprove the biggest idea of all: God.

Eventually, belief would become more general, but first we must persuade the political establishment that their lives would be better and their jobs made easier if they adopted the course we recommend.

Why do you say I am trying to deceive anyone at all?

What is my deception?

04/09/2013 07:58
Abdassamad Clarke
If you believe and present yourself as an atheist that is a deception. If you yourself do not really believe there is no deception.

04/09/2013 07:59
Claire Khaw
I have already said that my mind has 3 states: belief, disbelief and doubt.   This is true of all people, if they are being honest with themselves.

04/09/2013 07:59
Abdassamad Clarke
The political establishment are the same as the electorate: they do not want what is rationally best.

04/09/2013 07:59
Claire Khaw
Because they are irrational.
They are irrational because they are uninformed, we could tell them.

04/09/2013 08:00
Abdassamad Clarke
No. Some people really do believe. Some people really disbelieve. Some people are in doubt. Some people pretend to believe out of expediency.

04/09/2013 08:00
Claire Khaw
How many of them have read the Koran?

04/09/2013 08:00
Abdassamad Clarke
None of them. The translation is not the Qur'an itself.

04/09/2013 08:01
Claire Khaw
Whatever their state of mind, they cannot dispute that there are specific evils the Koran wishes to discourage eg gambling, irresponsible lending and borrowing etc.

I think it would be too much to expect them to learn Ancient Arabic and read the Koran in Arabic.

All we can do is get them to read it and say what they dislike about it.


04/09/2013 08:04
Abdassamad Clarke
But although gambling has its evils, the people who gamble would do it  anyway. Alcoholics know at first hand the evil of alcohol better than anyone, but they will still drink.

04/09/2013 08:04
Claire Khaw
The least we can do is to tell people what the rules are, so that they know when they break them.
Now, they do not even know what the rules are, and have no idea that they are doing anything wrong.
As regards gambling, you can pass laws that will take way all the fruit machines in all the pubs and railway waiting rooms in the land, without believing in God.

The law that forbids a publican from selling alcohol to someone already drunk is in harmony with the Koran, I would have thought.

I think many would find the idea of a stable currency quite appealing.  This can be achieved through fiscal prudence, once the government does not have the option of issuing government bonds which operates on interest.

Khums is an argument for a 20% flat rate income tax, is it not?

04/09/2013 08:09
Abdassamad Clarke
Certainly not.

04/09/2013 08:10
Claire Khaw
Shura is an argument for plebiscites too.
I will argue that it is.  What objections do you have about a 20% flat rate income tax?
I think it would be quite popular with quite a few taxpayers.

04/09/2013 08:12
Abdassamad Clarke
It has nothing to do with Islam whatsoever.

In other words, the Qur'an means whatever we want it to mean?

04/09/2013 08:13
Claire Khaw
Of course, if it can reasonably bear that meaning.

04/09/2013 08:13
Abdassamad Clarke
Or whatever we think it means or imagine?
Well then: kill the idolators wherever you find them.

04/09/2013 08:13
Claire Khaw
We must read the verses in context, of course.
The command to kill idolaters wherever you find them only applies in a state of war with the idolaters.

04/09/2013 08:14
Abdassamad Clarke
Only the ones you want to read in context though? Such as the khums and shura.

04/09/2013 08:14
Claire Khaw
I don't think even believing Muslims are always in agreement with each other as to what each verse means.

04/09/2013 08:15
Abdassamad Clarke
But of course everybody will choose their own contexts and their own interpretations and will be quite willing to fight each other over it.

04/09/2013 08:15
Claire Khaw
Let us not get bogged down in the minutiae of detail, but at this stage only agree the principle of the thing.

04/09/2013 08:16
Abdassamad Clarke
The devil is in the detail.
The principle is wrong.

04/09/2013 08:16
Claire Khaw
Yes, everyone will have their own interpretation, and what I propose is to let judiciary interpret and apply the Koran.

04/09/2013 08:16
Abdassamad Clarke
The Qur'an is devoted to calling people to belief in Allah and His Messengers. That is at least a third of it.

04/09/2013 08:17
Claire Khaw
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donoghue_v_Stevenson is a case that applies the Biblical commandment of love thy neighbour.

Once the laws are in place, belief will follow.

Secular Koranism is about infusing the UK legal system with the commandments of God of the Koran.

Everything else eg stories, threats of heaven and hell, is irrelevant.

There is no compulsion in belief.

04/09/2013 08:21
Abdassamad Clarke
Then you make the Qur'an subject to the whims of people like Cameron and Milliband who will bend it precisely whichever way they like. The entire political class have lost the plot and the society is not far behind them.

They are not stories.

Heaven and hell are not stories.

04/09/2013 08:23
Claire Khaw
I really wish to avoid pointless arguments about the existence of heaven and hell, and concentrate on whether, for example, it is necessary, practicable and moral to lash 100 times those who are convicted of having extramarital sex.

Surely such a question can be decided upon by educated people without arguing about whether God exists or not?

If clear rules are laid down, then they will have to be followed.

At the moment, there are no clear rules.  This can be easily remedied.

04/09/2013 08:26
Abdassamad Clarke
We had rules in Christendom and we deliberately subverted all of them.

Many of them have disappeared during my lifetime.

The prohibition of homosexuality for example.

04/09/2013 08:27
Claire Khaw
Yes, because the Bible is not clear!

The Koran is a model of clarity and brevity.

04/09/2013 08:27
Abdassamad Clarke
Having children out of wedlock was a disgrace for a person and for their family.

04/09/2013 08:28
Claire Khaw
I know, I know, but the Church is now just a source of income for female vicars, gay priests and liberal leftists who wish to subvert the institution that is intended to promote social conservatism.

04/09/2013 08:28
Abdassamad Clarke
Yes, and now the Muslims are losing the plot. Arabic nations who have memorised more Qur'an and understand it, such as Dubai, have filled their countries with Russian prostitutes and bars.

04/09/2013 08:28
Claire Khaw
I have argued that the Koran tolerates brothels.

04/09/2013 08:29
Abdassamad Clarke
A brothel is an instance of adultery and is thus haram. If they women and customers were all single people they should be lashed each time they had sex.

The issue is belief. People who do not believe go to Hell even if they are 'good' and 'moral' people.

04/09/2013 08:36
Claire Khaw
http://thebattlefieldoflove.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/verse-in-koran-implicitly-condones.html

The Battlefield of Love: Verse in Koran implicitly accepts the existence of brothels
I am really not bothered about heaven or hell, because I am not really bothered about the existence of an afterlife.
I am not doing this in order to get into heaven!

04/09/2013 08:38
Abdassamad Clarke
But death comes soon enough, and then that is the only thing that matters.

04/09/2013 08:40
Claire Khaw
The only afterlife we have is the memory we leave behind.
Some people have a longer afterlife than others, of course.

04/09/2013 08:43
Abdassamad Clarke
Then you do not believe in anything at all and so you are welcome to do whatever you like since you appear willing to pay the price.

04/09/2013 08:43
Claire Khaw
I am reminded of the saying "The life of a samurai is not measured by its length", for some reason.

I believe in doing the right thing, of course.

Or what I regard as the right thing, if you prefer.

04/09/2013 08:44
Abdassamad Clarke
Then you are your own god.

04/09/2013 08:44
Claire Khaw
I have obliged myself to follow the Koran.

04/09/2013 08:44
Abdassamad Clarke
As I said.

04/09/2013 08:46
Claire Khaw
Within the constraints of following the Koran, I think I am allowed to do what I like.

04/09/2013 08:47
Abdassamad Clarke
As your own god, you may of course do what you wish.

04/09/2013 08:49
Claire Khaw
The state of our belief is our own, provided we do not commit immoral acts.

I think that is fair enough.

There is no compulsion in belief.

Believing Muslims often disagree with each other on doctrinal matters.  I am really no worse morally than you and others like you.

Eventually, people will want to believe, but we have to show them how belief would improve their lives.

04/09/2013 08:58
Abdassamad Clarke
I am certainly not making a moral evaluation of you.

But if you do not believe yourself, what interest have you in other people believing? I really do not understand.

04/09/2013 09:01
Claire Khaw
An atheist benefits from living in a society that has a general belief in God if such a general belief in God brings about a lower crime rate and is more stable, would he not?

Parents do routinely instill in their children a belief in Santa Claus in the hope of encouraging good behaviour, do they not?

I have not succeeded in showing members of Eurosceptic parties who are usually also Islamophobes that the Koran could be interpreted to support their policies.  Or, if I have, they do not think that their policies require the validation of the Koran.

Having read Notes from Underground, I still fail to grasp the significance of it to our discussion.

04/09/2013 18:43
Abdassamad Clarke
All ethical programmes fall at this hurdle: the man or woman who says "But I don't want to do the right thing or the thing that is best for the maximum number of people. I just don't want to."

04/09/2013 22:49
Claire Khaw
What has that got to do with anything we have discussed?

04/09/2013 22:49
Abdassamad Clarke
You want to present the Qur'an as the perfect ethical approach to society's ills void of iman in Allah and His Messengers.

04/09/2013 22:51
Claire Khaw
I said it is the best available guide and invite people to agree with me, whether or not they believe in God.
While you want to convert the world.
There is no need to conduct an Inquisition either.
All that is required is that it is interpreted in a way that is consonant with reason and humanity.

04/09/2013 22:58
Abdassamad Clarke
I have long since given up the desire to convert the world, or at least come to realise that is not within my power.
When you say "consonant with reason and humanity" you mean your reason and your humanity since people have never agreed. Things seem obvious to you (and to every human being) but to other people the direct opposites seem obvious.

04/09/2013 22:58
Claire Khaw
Just because not everyone agrees means we must do nothing, does it?

04/09/2013 23:04
Abdassamad Clarke
Of course not.
The root of the issue is a correct understanding of existence. And that makes no sense without knowing Allah.

04/09/2013 23:05
Claire Khaw
*Your* idea of correctness.
Were you formerly a Christian?
I mean the believing Trinitarian sort.

04/09/2013 23:13
Abdassamad Clarke
Never, alhamdulillah.
'Correct' is that which corresponds to reality. So if I have some views on that they are only 'right' if others find them corresponding to the truth.
i.e. they are then 'right' or 'correct' for those other people.

04/09/2013 23:16
Claire Khaw
Ah, so the number of people who agree with you is evidence of your rightness.

04/09/2013 23:16
Abdassamad Clarke
Certainly not.
If it is right for one other person, it is right for him or her.
Clearly then if a huge number of people find it to be right for them then there is the basis of a social order based on that.

04/09/2013 23:17
Claire Khaw
What do you see as the purpose of your presence on social media?

04/09/2013 23:19
Abdassamad Clarke
To meet and talk with people like you. Some people agree with me and some do not. If people do not agree with me, then it is a challenge to try and communicate together and challenges are good.

04/09/2013 23:21
Claire Khaw
I am not sure what your ideas are.  You present them in a way I find obscure.

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