While the average Muslim will tell you Islam is a flawless faith passed from the Heavens to mankind in timeless perfection, the reality is that Islam is one of the most hybrid, evolving (and devolving) faiths. It is deeply complex. Much of what is seen as “Islam” today is Islamic law and interpretation codified into religion. That codification took place over centuries by Islamic scholars. Today, in addition to a Clash of Civilizations between the East and West, we have another clash – a clash between Muslim traditionalists and Muslim progressives. This clash is between the old guard of Islamic scholars who have taken the most literal interpretation of scripture and merged ideology with theology, and the new guard of reformers and critical thinkers who are ushering an overdue evolution. Muslim reformers, dissidents and critical thinkers are the new wave of Mutazilites – Islam’s original free thinkers from the 10th century. And we’re going up against some of the most indoctrinated forms of ideological tyranny, cemented not only in the hearts and minds of Muslim fundamentalists, but also cemented with stone structures that are seen as beacons of scholarly thought in the Islamic world; the best of what Islam has to offer today.
Egypt’s Al-Azhar University is one of them. Seen as the highest point of authority in Islamic scholarship, the institution is a mausoleum of original thought and its crypt keeper is a sheikh by the name of Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.
Al-Tayyeb recently went on MEMRI (Middle East Research Institute), just four days after the Orlando shooting, to deliver this thoughts on apostasy. Al-Tayyeb defended against the idea that apostasy, defined as the abandonment or renunciation of religious beliefs, warrants punishment in Islam.
“If apostasy comes in the form of a crime, transgression, or high treason, it is only natural that it will be treated as a crime that must be fought, and must carry a certain punishment. But if apostasy does not constitute a danger or a crime against society, I believe that society does not need to deal with this issue. We should be aware that the concepts of human rights are full of ticking time-bombs. My opinion was – and I said this (in the West) – that no Muslims society could ever consider sexual liberty, homosexuality, and so on to be a personal right. Muslim societies consider these things to be diseases which must be fought and treated.”
Love is conditional. Acceptance is conditional. Your freedoms are conditional. It’s a monstrous view. Islamists like CAIR, as well as secular Muslims, push the narrative that only certain conversations can be had. All minority or non-conformist views must be attacked, silenced, or shamed. At their core, fundamentalists see all ‘deviant’ acts of behavior as misleading a society.
Category: MIDDLE EAST