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Good day to you all and especially to exwa as the de facto "leader" of the board.
Before I begin my question I need to introduce myself.
I am a British expat living and working in the Middle East. In total I have spent nearly 15 years working in a Muslim society. I sit next door to a Palestinian and have done for 7 years. My job requires us doing business and meeting with a whole swathe of Arab nationals, including Syrians, Palestinians,Egyptians, Saudi's, Kuwaiti's,Iranians, Omani's, Qatari's, Yemeni's and apologies to any I have missed out.
All of course are Muslim and all are traders in commerce. They are not "political" nor rulers, they are of the "street" rather than the "palaces" and give me a very wide education upon Muslim views of current events within a Muslim setting.
I am sure Muslim's in a Western nation can accept life is very different for a Muslim living within a Muslim country than it ever is for a Muslim in a non-Muslim Country.
I post regularly on several boards in Fooldom and participate in a "pub" forum called Land of Sisu where every subject under the sun is discussed. This board was set up from the Nokia board as an aftermath of 9/11 where we felt we needed a different forum to the Business of Nokia as we had a lot of members wanting to learn more about what had led to 9/11.
I should also state that amongst them I am the one most vociferously anti-Islam in the way it is being practiced in several countries in the Arab World and elsewhere.
I stress this last sentence to differentiate it between the way Islam is supposed to be practiced in order I place personal distance between my views and those of someone like StorminNorman who was previously on this board.
My question or dilemna is this. If Islam is a fundamentally tolerant faith why as a Christian can I not worship in a Church in Saudi Arabia, the keeper of the holy shrines?
I am not interested to hear other Muslims go tsk'tsk Saudi Arabia, I would like to hear from a Muslim how he or she squares the circle of Muslim's in any Western country they would care to name are allowed and protected by laws to practice their faith in "Christian" countries yet we as Christians are not allowed that in the home of their Faith.
How when we have a Mosque in the Vatican can fellow Muslims allow Saudi Arabia to "desecrate" their religion by banning Churches in the country that is home to 2 of the 3 holiest sites of their faith.
It is especially relevant when every Muslim is obligated by their religion to visit Mecca and Medina at least once in their lifetime so no Muslim can ignore Saudi Arabia or the way they practice and protect the name of Islam.

I have other questions but would welcome comments on this subject first.
Although I do have very defined views I hope anyone here who is a Muslim would take up the debate in order a wider audience may see disparate views and argumnents aired in a civil manner, after all we cannot hit each other in a virtual World.

Regards
Caesium
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a long post, and deserving of a long response...but unfortunately i must rest soon...

political islam is entirely different from spiritual islam. you can see it in the muslims themselves. those wrapped in politics are often very different people from those wrapped in religion and sprirituality.

there is no justification within islam for the saudi's, or anyone else, to ban christians who live in their land from practicing their religion. this was not at all the teaching or practice of Muhammad (sas) who allowed chrisitians and jews to worship freely and under the protection of the islamic state.

but things are different now for the muslims than they were then. for some reason (or so i have found), many people of all faiths have a need to put a wall around what they believe. they hold it up as the ONLY way to God...the ONLY "right" way...and they fear anything outside of those walls. so depending on how incredibly ignorant they are, they kill, persecute and do whatever they feel they need to in order to "protect" their "truth." this is how we end up with christians who cannot build new churches in places like saudi...or how shiites are placed in storage containers to die by the taliban.

the atrocities are endless, and muslims do not have a lock on committing them. in my mind, the saudi government is not the "spokesperson" for islam. they may have control over two great holy cities (for now), but that alone does not give them the authority to represent and speak for all muslims. it will be a great day when large numbers of muslims rise against the tide of intolerance and work for change within their community. it will be a great day when that can happen all over the world.

e
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there is no justification within islam for the saudi's, or anyone else, to ban christians who live in their land from practicing their religion. this was not at all the teaching or practice of Muhammad (sas) who allowed chrisitians and jews to worship freely and under the protection of the islamic state.

Thanks for your response e.
Taking your para above. I agree with the statement but would now ask what are the moderate Muslim's doing about it?
Do you think they should indeed do anything about it. When talk amongst the congragation at your mosque turns to the Middle East for example, how much of the talk is of Palestine/Israel and how much of the talk is about what damage the Saudi's and others are doing to your religion?

Caesium
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I was able to contact someone who I consider a scholar regarding the subject of churches in majority Muslim lands. First I will address the issue of Saudi and the Arabian peninsula. As you know, Muslims believe that no one but Muslims should be allowed in Mecca itself. I'm sure there are some who gain entry, but it is probably a small number. Of course you know that this is the holiest site in Islam, and from a realistic perspective it does not hold much interest to anyone from other faiths anyway.

However, there are a large number of Muslims who believe that this policy extends to the entire peninsula...or at least this is how they interpret the Qur'anic ayats concerning the matter. It seems that this interpretation was taken after the death of Muhammad (sas)...and I would say it is the most extreme view. At the time, most of the Christians were in Yemen and other geographic locations. I know there were communities of Jews in Medina, and I am not sure how their needs were addressed later, though there is plenty of evidence that they were allowed to practice their religion during the lifetime of the Muhammad (sas).

My understanding is that in Saudi Arabia there are few to no Christian citizens (correct me if I'm wrong on this)...so there is little need for churches in the first place. However, this in not the case in many other lands with majority Muslim populations. In my conversation this morning, the man I spoke to said (as an example) that when the Muslims were strong in Turkey - back in the days of the Ottoman empire - that the Christians did indeed have places of worship (most of these still exist). If they needed new places, they would apply for permits and were most often granted them. Unfortunately as the Muslim community has weakened...and in his opinion this was in large part the effect of colonialism...they became much more reluctant to allow other faiths to build grand centers. Of course any prohibition of this is wrong from the perspective of Islamic law, but there is a big difference between what Islam really is and how it is practiced.

I see from your profile that you are in Sharjah. This scholar lived in this country for some time, and he surmised that in your case there would probably be only a few Christians who would want to worship together in that area. As such, it would be perfectly permissible and sufficent to do that either in each others homes, or in some other small venue (this is actually something that often happens with Muslims in America when the communities are small). If indeed you do have too many members of your community for that to work, then he said you should contact the country's leadership and ask for permission to build an actual Church. He said the man who runs the country was educated in England, and that he is a very enlightened and wise individual. He believes he would respond positively to your request...and that this area should be outside any areas Muslims would regard as restricted.

So I was in some part wrong in what I said yesterday regarding Saudi itself, although it certainly seems possible that they could take the lighter interpretation which would make only Mecca a closed area. Unfortunately this is not a problem confined to this area of the Islamic world alone...and Muslims often seem to fear anything outside of their own beliefs. This is actually a much larger problem...within and without the Muslim community.

That brings me to your post this morning. You said: "When talk amongst the congragation at your mosque turns to the Middle East for example, how much of the talk is of Palestine/Israel and how much of the talk is about what damage the Saudi's and others are doing to your religion?"

Politically I would guess that the issue of Palestine/Israel gets a lot more attention than the actions of the Saudis and people like the Taliban. Much of it depends on which group of Muslims you are talking to. Your typical Sunni crowd from the Middle East largely ignores most of what happens outside of Palestine. There was little to no outcry against the policies of the Taliban...or against the wahhabi influence coming out of Saudi Arabia. Of course, if you sit in a circle of Sufis you will hear a lot about the wahabbis and the harm their teachings have done to the Muslim world. I float in both circles...although my heart leans most toward the latter. The sufis I know are also practicing Muslims (keep in mind that sufism is something which is growing in North America, but that often people will only take the meditation and chanting without actually becoming Muslim or following the pillars of Islam). This community has great hope that the events of 9/11 will help them expose the harm wahhabism and other such ideaologies have done to the Muslim community due to the intolerance and lack of wisdom inherent in their teachings. It is their great hope that out of this will arise an Islamic revival from the West, where they are free to practice Islam in a different way, where their books will not be banned, where there is hope that new ideas can take root and grow.

Of course the struggle is one that will be long and difficult. I have found on the other side people who are very happy for Islam to be nothing but a rulebook. Black and white is much easier to deal with than shades of gray. I have also found that it is possible for people with great wisdom to change people's minds toward an Islam that is more loving and tolerant...and closer to the example of Muhammad (sas). Unfortunately what we see in wahabbism and its influence, is Islam as a set of rules, but without the wisdom and teaching of scholars throughout the ages. It is as if people believe all you need to do is read a certain set of books, and there is no need for a wise teacher to help you gain perspective on what you have read. So I personally work with the people I know here and try to open their minds very slowly to alternative viewpoints. People like Hamza Yusuf have a wonderful and very wide influence. I pray there are more like him...and I pray we can have some success here, and that this success will be of help to those who struggle across the ocean to make things better within their own communities.

As I said, this will take a long time. It is very hard to bring in new ideas to places like Saudi, as they tend to ban most any book which does not conform to their party line. Short of raising an army and overthrowing their government, there is little to do on the big scale. It may be that eventually there will be an opening there which we did not expect...but for now we work on the home front...and try to raise our children to continue the battle.

e




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My understanding is that in Saudi Arabia there are few to no Christian citizens (correct me if I'm wrong on this)..

No, disrespect meant to your learned friend. He does however forget the thousands of Philippino's (most of whom are catholics) working as maids and laborers in Saudi. They are of course not citizens and barely qualify as residents.

libra

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He does however forget the thousands of Philippino's (most of whom are catholics) working as maids and laborers in Saudi. They are of course not citizens and barely qualify as residents.

======================

I'll just give you my quick thoughts on this. First, I am no fan of the Saudis...or of wahabbism...or of salifism... It seems clear to me (as a Muslim) that Mecca itself is a restricted city. That land is holy to no one but the Muslims. If indeed the entire peninsula is restricted to Muslims by Islamic law, then the Saudis have no business bringing in Christian residents and not allowing them a place to worship. They cannot have it both ways, although it does not surprise me in the least to see them try.

I am well aware of discrimination and racism within Saudi culture. Seems these nasty things rear their heads all over this world.

e
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exwa's responses have been very good, so not much to add there.

Typically, Saudi Arabia always seems to be used as the basis of judging Islam. However, it is not really representative of Muslim countries.

If I can use the example of Malaysia instead. Malaysia is predominately Muslim Malay 65%, with minorities of Chinese 25%, Indian 8% and mixed 2%. The Chinese tend to be Buddhists although there is a minority of Christians. The Indians are mainly Hindus although there is a minority of Muslims and Christians. Christians would probably make up no more than 5% of the population and Hindus about 6%.

In Malaysia, public holidays are given for Vesak day (Buddha's birthday), Christmas (Christian), Easter (Christian), Deepavali (Hindu), Hari Raya Haji (Muslim) and Hari Raya Puasa (Muslim). Plus they give a holiday for Chinese New Year, which is a mixture of Chinese cultural traditions, confusianism and Taoism. Yet, as far as I am aware, the only public holidays given in the USA are for the Christian festivals. So which country is the more religious tolerant? Why should only the Christians get public holidays to celebrate their religious faiths, when America also has significant minorities of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Jews.

It is easy to pick the country that backs up your argument. Someone who wants to argue that the practice of Islam is intolerant, only needs to quote examples from Saudi Arabia. However, someone who wants to argue that the practice of Islam is very tolerant can quote examples from Malaysia. I just wish that people would realise the truth is somewhere in the middle.

In some respects it gets tiresome always defending Islam based on Saudi Arabia and Taliban Afghanistan. It would be like a Muslim harping on the attrocities in Bosnia and Kosova committed by the Christian Serbs as the basis for judging all Christian nations.

PS.

Caesium, my frustrations are not at all directed at you. You made it clear that you were talking only about Islam in the way it is being practiced in several countries in the Arab World and elsewhere.









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First of all, I am not an expert in Islamic themes at all. So please apologize and correct me, if I am wrong.

Caesium askes why there are no churches in Makka. I think it might have to do with the so-called covenant of ´Umar, a seventh century (some it dates from the eighth century, and another Umar, not from ´Umar al-Khattâb) document that tried to regulate the relations between Muslim conquerors and the Christian and Jewish conquered,- one has to be aware of the fact that Muslims conquering half a world in the seventh/eighth century faced the problem that the overwhelming mayority of their subjects were non-muslims, so they had to deal with them in a way that guaranteed a reasonable form of living together. Keep in mind also that at the beginning of Islamic rule there were no trained muslim administratives, so muslims necessarily had to employ Byzantine Christians and Sassanide Zoroastrians in leading positions. If I am well informed the Covenant of ´Umar has its roots in al-qur´ân al-karîm and sunnat Rasûl Allâh, to the policies of Muhammad towards the Jews (after the episodes in al-Madîna al-Munauwara, beginning with the conquest of Khaibar (?).

Christians and Jews (the people of the book, in contrast to the Polytheists; later also Zoroastrians and Hindus would be included in this group for practical reasons) were allowed in terms of the Covenant to keep existing places of worship, but NOT to build any new ones; that might explain why there are no churches in Makka.

I found the text of the Covenant together with an introduction on the Web:

"The Status of Non-Muslims Under Muslim Rule

After the rapid expansion of the Muslim dominion in the 7th century, Muslims leaders were required to work out a way of dealing with Non-Muslims, who remained in the majority in many areas for centuries. The solution was to develop the notion of the "dhimma", or "protected person". The Dhimmi were required to pay an extra tax, but usually they were unmolested. This compares well with the treatment meted out to non-Christians in Christian Europe. The Pact of Umar is supposed to have been the peace accord offered by the Caliph Umar to the Christians of Syria, a "pact" which formed the patter of later interaction.
We heard from 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam [died 78/697] as follows: When Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, accorded a peace to the Christians of Syria, we wrote to him as follows:
In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. This is a letter to the servant of God Umar [ibn al-Khattab], Commander of the Faithful, from the Christians of such-and-such a city. When you came against us, we asked you for safe-conduct (aman) for ourselves, our descendants, our property, and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations toward you:
We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks' cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims.
We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers. We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way for three days.
We shall not give shelter in our churches or in our dwellings to any spy, nor bide him from the Muslims.
We shall not teach the Qur'an to our children.
We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it. We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering Islam if they wish it.
We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit.
We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims by imitating any of their garments, the qalansuwa, the turban, footwear, or the parting of the hair. We shall not speak as they do, nor shall we adopt their kunyas.
We shall not mount on saddles, nor shall we gird swords nor bear any kind of arms nor carry them on our- persons.
We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals.
We shall not sell fermented drinks.
We shall clip the fronts of our heads.
We shall always dress in the same way wherever we may be, and we shall bind the zunar round our waists
We shall not display our crosses or our books in the roads or markets of the Muslims. We shall use only clappers in our churches very softly. We shall not raise our voices when following our dead. We shall not show lights on any of the roads of the Muslims or in their markets. We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims.
We shall not take slaves who have beenallotted to Muslims.
We shall not build houses overtopping the houses of the Muslims.
(When I brought the letter to Umar, may God be pleased with him, he added, "We shall not strike a Muslim.")
We accept these conditions for ourselves and for the people of our community, and in return we receive safe-conduct.
If we in any way violate these undertakings for which we ourselves stand surety, we forfeit our covenant [dhimma], and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition.
Umar ibn al-Khittab replied: Sign what they ask, but add two clauses and impose them in addition to those which they have undertaken. They are: "They shall not buy anyone made prisoner by the Muslims," and "Whoever strikes a Muslim with deliberate intent shall forfeit the protection of this pact."
from Al-Turtushi, Siraj al-Muluk, pp. 229-230.
[This was a from hand out at an Islamic History Class at the University of Edinburgh in 1979. Source of translation not given.] "

Best wishes

Abe
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The misperception works both ways. While non-Muslims judge us by the little news they hear about the Muslim world, my experience (in Indonesia) is that the Muslim world judges us from a similarly slanted portion of the news. When I first met my future mother-in-law, her only reservation about me (prior to my conversion) was that "Americans hate Muslims because of all those crazy Arabs". The Muslim bashers get plenty of press there, but not the more benign Americans. Similarly, I remember talking to a maintenance guy in a Jakarta hotel who thought most Americans were Jewish, many with dual Israeli citizenship. At the same time, he was unaware that the US had stopped the Yugoslavian genocide, or that New York City synogogues had organized Jewish women to escort frightened Muslim women tto shop in unfriendly neighborhoods after 9/11.. The fact is that "Dog bites man is not news; man bites Dog is news." The news media here and in Muslim countries tends to report stuff that raises people's hackles because that's what sells newspapers, and the result is undue hostility in both directions; Americans think all Muslims abuse women and murder in the name of Allah, and Muslims think all Americans are Jewish anti-Islam bigots. Both are wrong.
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Thanks for picking up this thread.
The response previously was at best ill informed.
To the friend who advised the rulers of the Emirates would respond to requests for places of worship is clearly unaware of what he is speaking so be careful of any advice he gives you related to this region.
The Emirates is multi-religious and there are already and have been for decades Catholic, Protestant and Anglican Churches.
They present the Islamic faith as it should be and is in the vast majority of the Islamic World.

Regarding the historical perspective it is true that under the rule of the Caliphs of Syria Jews lived and prospered for generations.
The problems arose with an influx of Jewish descendants from Europe pre and post World War 1 that brought with them notions of self rule and democracy learnt from Europe.
This resulted in the Balfour declaration and ultimately the Nation State of Israel being enshrined by the UN in 1948.
From then till now the Arab states now split into several countries since the end of the Caliphs rule refused to accept any "Arab" land being given to non-Muslim or non-Arabs.
However we digress from the question at hand. The rulings you gave based upon archaic law from the 7th century is not in place in 90%+ of the Islamic World so I return to why is that Saudi Arabia persists in being the only Country, as far as I know, denying the right to worship.
To the poster who finds it tiresome that Islam being judged solely on Saudi Arabia does have a point but I specifically raised it as Saudi Arabia is not simply another Muslim country that the rest of the Muslim World can whisper about in select circles as some kind of black sheep of the faith.
They are specifically charged with protecting the Holy sites of Mecca and Medina and as such must be even beyond the highest level of Islamc faith.
How would we in the West think about the Vatican as one of the "holy sites" of Catholicism being backward in their teachings or behind the rest of the World's Christian understanding.
As such and I KNOW Saudi Arabia beleives themselves to be in that position and that it is the rest of the Muslim World who are behind them in their Islamic understanding, hence their devotion to a strict interpretation of Islam

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Thanks for picking up this thread.
The response previously was at best ill informed.
To the friend who advised the rulers of the Emirates would respond to requests for places of worship is clearly unaware of what he is speaking so be careful of any advice he gives you related to this region.
The Emirates is multi-religious and there are already and have been for decades Catholic, Protestant and Anglican Churches.
They present the Islamic faith as it should be and is in the vast majority of the Islamic World.

Regarding the historical perspective it is true that under the rule of the Caliphs of Syria Jews lived and prospered for generations.
The problems arose with an influx of Jewish descendants from Europe pre and post World War 1 that brought with them notions of self rule and democracy learnt from Europe.
This resulted in the Balfour declaration and ultimately the Nation State of Israel being enshrined by the UN in 1948.
From then till now the Arab states now split into several countries since the end of the Caliphs rule refused to accept any "Arab" land being given to non-Muslim or non-Arabs.
However we digress from the question at hand. The rulings you gave based upon archaic law from the 7th century is not in place in 90%+ of the Islamic World so I return to why is that Saudi Arabia persists in being the only Country, as far as I know, denying the right to worship.
To the poster who finds it tiresome that Islam being judged solely on Saudi Arabia does have a point but I specifically raised it as Saudi Arabia is not simply another Muslim country that the rest of the Muslim World can whisper about in select circles as some kind of black sheep of the faith.
They are specifically charged with protecting the Holy sites of Mecca and Medina and as such must be even beyond the highest level of Islamc faith.
How would we in the West think about the Vatican as one of the "holy sites" of Catholicism being backward in their teachings or behind the rest of the World's Christian understanding.
As such and I KNOW Saudi Arabia beleives themselves to be in that position and that it is the rest of the Muslim World who are behind them in their Islamic understanding, hence their devotion to a strict interpretation of Islam and the only one applying the strict code of Sharia Law. Hence also Saudi Arabia's funding of the Qu'ran according to Wahabbism being published in the millions and distributed for free around the Islamic World.

However enough of this subject let us move it onto another poser.
If a Christian chooses to become a Muslim he is rightly welcomed into the Faith, however if a Muslim chooses to convert to Christianity can someone explain why by doing so they sign their own death warrant.
If you wish for links I will provide them showing even today people are being killed for "converting to Christianity".
Most Muslims will not need links as they know this is true abhorrent as it may be to them.
Again I ask for the reasons to understand what lies behind this, wehre does it come from and what does the average Muslim think of this practice.

Regards
Caesium
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However enough of this subject let us move it onto another poser.
If a Christian chooses to become a Muslim he is rightly welcomed into the Faith, however if a Muslim chooses to convert to Christianity can someone explain why by doing so they sign their own death warrant.
If you wish for links I will provide them showing even today people are being killed for "converting to Christianity".
Most Muslims will not need links as they know this is true abhorrent as it may be to them.


There is a verse in the Qur'an I believe which indicates that it is ok to kill apostates. There are also verses which support the view that you should stone people for adultery and other harsh penalties. Many Muslim countries take the view that civilization has moved on to he point where such penalties are no longer required. There is authority in the Qur'an (or the Hadith) that Islamic law is meant to be adapted for local crcumstances (i.e you can't expect Chinese Muslims to adapt to the style of Islam practiced in Arabia as the cultures are too diverse. Also, there is authority in the Qur'an (or the Hadith) that Islamic law should change according to changing times. I can't recall the specific authorities but can look them up if you wish.

There are four schools of Sunni Islamic law; Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii and Hanbali. There is divergence between the four schools concerning the extent to which Islamic law can or sould be adapted. Shafii is practiced in South East Asia, East Africa and parts of Southern Arabia and is relatively flexible. Hanbali is practiced in Saudi Arabia and is quite rigid (I think Wahhabism is a movement within Hanbali but I am not sure). Hanafi is practiced by most of the remaining middle east and is somewhere between Hanbali and Shafii in terms of the strict enforcement of Islamic law. Maliki is practiced in North, central and West Africa but I don't know a lot about it.

I am Shafii, so we don't practice stonings, killing apostates, amputating limbs and other such practices. Personally, I find such practices abhorent, but if the Saudi's for example are happy to follow such practices, it is not for me or anyone else to say they should change. Europeans find capital punishment abhorent but it is not for them to tell America that they must change. Live and let live.




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The misperception works both ways. While non-Muslims judge us by the little news they hear about the Muslim world, my experience (in Indonesia) is that the Muslim world judges us from a similarly slanted portion of the news. When I first met my future mother-in-law, her only reservation about me (prior to my conversion) was that "Americans hate Muslims because of all those crazy Arabs".

I must admit that is my view of the average American as a result of reading these boards. They did a poll on the Political Asylum board and about 80% of people supported the nuking of Mecca. And this was only last month and not immediately after the 911 attacks. People regularly call for genocide against Arabs and Muslims and few people speak out in defence. However, if you so much as hint that you disagree with Israeli policy they howl at you that you are a rascist anti-semite.

Are married to an Indonesian? Did you work there?




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Caesium asked:

If a Christian chooses to become a Muslim he is rightly welcomed into the Faith, however if a Muslim chooses to convert to Christianity can someone explain why by doing so they sign their own death warrant.

Internet seek machines below "irtidad" will give you a lot of explanations:

I give an example:
www.yahoodi.com/peace/apostacy/html


Why is Apostacy such a terrible crime in Islam?


* Apostasy (Irtidad) in Islam
?If a person is raised in a society which protects his soul from the impurities of kufr and shirk, or if a person is shown the Right Path accepts it willingly - can such a person reject the Islamic faith? Is he allowed to apostate (become murtad)? Can he declare that he does not believe in God, Prophet Muhammad and the Day of Judgement?
Once a person enters into the fold of Islam, the rules change. As soon as you become a Muslim by your own choice, you are expected to submit yourself to Allah totally and completely. "O You who believe! Enter into submission, kaffatan!" (2:208) he surrenders the right of making decisions to Allah and His Messenger. No believing man and no believing woman has a choice in their own affairs when Allah and His Messenger have decided on an issue." (33:36)
Now even the question of apostasy, irtidad or deserting of one's faith, for a Muslim, becomes a shar'i/religious issue - even in this issue he is governed by the laws of Islam. And Islam clearly says: No! You cannot become an apostate.After coming into the fold of Islam, rejection of the fundamentals is not tolerated. If there are doubts in your mind about the fundamental beliefs of Islam, then discuss, question, debate, study and solve them BUT you are not allowed to leave Islam, desert your own fitra!
On the issue of openly rejecting Islam, Islam cannot just stand aside and see one of its followers going astray. It would allow discussions to understand and solve the problems, but not allow its followers to lower themselves from the sublime status of "surrendering to the will of Allah-Islam" to the status of those "who have hearts but do not understand, ears but do not hear, and eyes but do not see."

* Apostasy is Equal to Treason
Why does Islam not allow apostasy? Apostasy or irtidad in Islam is equal to treason. ?In Islam, the concept of treason is not limited to political and military affairs, it also has a spiritual and cultural dimension to it. In the Islamic order of sacredness, Allah then the Prophet and then the Qur'an occupy the highest positions. Tawhid, nubuwwa, and qiyama form the constitution of Islam. Just as upholding and protecting the constitution of a country is a sign of patriotism, and undermining it is a form of treason - in the same way open rejection of the fundamental beliefs of Islam by a Muslim is an act of treason. Apostasy i.e. the public declaration of rejecting the fundamentals of Islam, has also negative influence on the Muslim society, it is indeed a major fitna.
And that is why Islam has prescribed harsh punishment for irtidad. It must be emphasized that irtidad which we are dicussing here involves open rejection without any force and with the realization of what one's statements or actions imply. The punishment prescibed by the shari'a for apostasy is death.
Even the terms used by the shari'a for apostates give the idea of treason to this whole phenomenon. "Murtad" means apostate. Murtad can be of two types: fitri and milli. (1) Murtad Fitri means a person born of a Muslim parent and then he rejects Islam. Fitri means nature or natural. The term "murtad fitri" implies that the person has apostacized from his nature, the nature of believing in God. (2) "Murtad Milli" means a person who converted to Islam and then later on he rejects Islam. Milli is from millat which means a community. The term "murtad milli" implies that the person that the person has apostacized from his community.
In the first case, the apostasy is like treason against God, whereas in the second case, the apostasy is like treason against the Muslim community. Probably, that is why there is also a difference in dealing with these two kinds of murtad.
A former kafir who becomes a Muslim and then apostates (Murtad Milli) is given a second chance; if he repents then he is not to be killed.
But one who is born as a Muslim and then apostates (Murtad Fitri) he is to be killed even if he repents. His repentance might be accepted by Allah but he still has to go through the punishment prescibed for his treason in this world.
This punishment is only applicable in case of apostasy by men; in case of women the punishment is not death but life imprisonment. And if such a woman repents, then her repentance is accepted and the punishment is suspended.
(Excerpts from "Left Shoe News")

Hope that helps

Abe
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As such and I KNOW Saudi Arabia beleives themselves to be in that position and that it is the rest of the Muslim World who are behind them in their Islamic understanding, hence their devotion to a strict interpretation of Islam and the only one applying the strict code of Sharia Law.

=========================

This may be what you "know," but rest assured...a very large percentage of the islamic world "knows" no such thing. the fact that the saudis are the guardians of islam's two holiest cites does not necessarily make their interpretation of islam that of the "highest level." they may see it that way, some others may see it that way...but there are plenty in the world who do not.

as the centuries pass we will hopefully find a better and more tolerant understanding of islam eminating from that part of the world. the passage of time has an amazing way of changing things...and there will be plenty of individuals working to chip away at the brick wall of wahabbism in the meantime.

e

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They did a poll on the Political Asylum board and about 80% of people supported the nuking of Mecca. And this was only last month and not immediately after the 911 attacks. People regularly call for genocide against Arabs and Muslims and few people speak out in defence. However, if you so much as hint that you disagree with Israeli policy they howl at you that you are a rascist anti-semite.

=====================

it is very hard to gauge what americans "really" think based on message boards. i've found this world to be a strange one...not always based in reality...but sometimes a good source for learning and sharing knowledge. i'm sure there are indeed plenty who would like to nuke mecca just for retributions sake, and unfortunately we seem to find more sickos like that in these forums.

then there are people like those i sat with in a church a few weeks back who would never condone any such thing. they are pious and believing people...who feel no need for blood vengance against innocents. they may not share our faith in name, but they share the same moral code.

so please do not take what you see here as an indication of what americans are like. the internet can be a bizarre place where we see many bizarre psychologies at work. in real life i have rarely encountered such people. most we know are kind and helpful, and are actually pretty concerned about our wellbeing.

be prepared if you question israeli policy in any circles tho. it is a very unpopular stance, and few online or in real life are well informed of the "other side of the story." i suppose the average american doesn't really care much, but our school system has done a stellar job of making a basic pro israeli impression on the general population. the media in general backs this up, but we are starting to see a little less bias. with the advent of the internet it is also now possible to easily obtain information in a way which was not at all possible previously. this i believe will be of great help in opening people's eyes...but to try and do so on the boards here is often futile.

e
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To the friend who advised the rulers of the Emirates would respond to requests for places of worship is clearly unaware of what he is speaking so be careful of any advice he gives you related to this region.
The Emirates is multi-religious and there are already and have been for decades Catholic, Protestant and Anglican Churches.

===========================

So do you need a place to worship or not?

Or is the question of churches in Saudi only a hypothetical?

As I stated before, Mecca is a closed city. Some argue that the peninsula as a whole is closed as well. There are no other places in the world regarded as such by the Muslim community. If the individuals who govern that land do indeed allow people from other faiths entry, and do not provide them places of worship, then they are simply trying to "have their cake and eat it too."

I will not deny that I believe that only Muslims should be allowed access to Mecca. I am skeptical about expanding that to the whole peninsula. How the ruling party handles this is something which is not within my control, or that of most of the rest of the Muslim world.

e
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So do you need a place to worship or not?

Or is the question of churches in Saudi only a hypothetical?


I live in the United Arab Emirates and so am well served.
I used to live in Saudi Arabia so it is hypothetical from that perspective but not for the thousands of expatriates who are currently living there.
Yes the Saudi's are having their cake and eating it but I am more interested in your assertion that although you agree the whole peninsula should not be for Muslim's only why do you beleive that it is correct that Mecca is forbidden to other faiths?
This is hypothetical, it is not that I have a burning desire to go there although I have been to the border of Mecca where there are booths preventing access to those not allowed.
There is a very large sign saying "Christians Barred from entering" if my memory serves me correct or words to that effect.
As an aside how would you feel as a visitor to America seeing a sign to Utah for example, "Muslims not allowed"?
I also agree with you that this is of course outside of your control and I am not attempting to portray yourself as a rabid supporter of practices that are clearly not widely supported outside of Saudi Arabia.
Have you been to perform Umrah or witnessed Mecca or Medina firsthand?
If the practices of Saudi Arabia are out of everyone elses control what would happen if the Muslim faith Worldwide refused to perform Umrah or attend Haj until the holy sites were being run by some Religious and autononous body? One perhaps more in tune with the majority of Muslims and they way they practrice the faith?
I would appreciate your thoughts on the likelihood on this ever happening?

Caesium
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why do you beleive that it is correct that Mecca is forbidden to other faiths?

It is my understanding (although I cannot cite the specific ayat right now, but I can find it if you like) that the closure of Mecca is commanded in the Qur'an. Since I believe the Qur'an to be the word of God, I accept this. Mecca itself holds an extremely special place in the religion of Islam in that it is its holiest city. There honestly is no way to play this particular thing down to make it more acceptable to everyone else...it is the way it is.

I have not had the opportunity to go to Hajj yet, or visit Mecca or Medina at other times in the year. My husband has lived there as a child, and made Hajj while in college. My in laws have resided in Mecca and have been to Hajj, we also have many friends who have either been for Hajj or Umrah, or have lived in Saudi Arabia for extended periods of times. We are hoping to make Hajj once this last child is born and gets to an age where we can leave for a few weeks. That is a couple of years off.

At this time the holy sites in Mecca are extremely crowded at all times, especially at Hajj. It is a logistical nightmare just to deal with the millions of Muslim visitors on top of the permanent residents.

If Utah were the holiest place in Christianity, and were restricted by that status to Christians only...I would accept that. That would be a part of their belief, and I respect their right to practice their faith.

If the practices of Saudi Arabia are out of everyone elses control what would happen if the Muslim faith Worldwide refused to perform Umrah or attend Haj until the holy sites were being run by some Religious and autononous body? One perhaps more in tune with the majority of Muslims and they way they practrice the faith?
I would appreciate your thoughts on the likelihood on this ever happening?


I doubt there would ever be a mass refusal worldwide to attend the Hajj since it is incumbant upon every Muslim to perform it at least once in their lives if they have the means. As it is, that is an extremely difficult thing for the average Muslim to do, and I myself would not pass up the opportunity to go regardless of how I feel about the Saudi government. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Muslims tried to make a statement to the Saudis by refusing to perform Umrah at any other time. Since we are talking about millions of people from across the globe who travel to Mecca for this purpose, the logistics of making any kind of mass statement are just about impossible to deal with. It would be more possible to make a statement from America, or from a group of countries. I think it unlikely that this will ever happen. Very unlikely.

The best place for these changes to happen are from within the residents and citizens of Saudi Arabia. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that (as an example) there is nothing in Islam which prohibits a woman from driving. We have known a number of Saudi families who have come to study in America for 4 or more years. These women are quite educated, and almost all learn how to drive when they come here. How long before there will be so many of them demanding their right that the government of Saudi can no longer ingnore or stifle them? The best place to reach these people is in the west while they are visiting. As the numbers of people who demand change grow, their actions will become more bold.

Until then...the work isn't quite so spectacular on the face of things.

e






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Thank you exwa,
As always your response is considered and thoughtful.
Obviously I may disagree with some of what you write but I respect your right to do so.
I will follow up on some other issues in the future.

Caesium
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I will not deny that I believe that only Muslims should be allowed access to Mecca. I am skeptical about expanding that to the whole peninsula. How the ruling party handles this is something which is not within my control, or that of most of the rest of the Muslim world

Muhammad, pbuh did not as far as I am aware refuse non Muslims entry into Mecca and Medina. Accordingly, I don't believe that the prohibition is founded on Islam.

However, having said that I totally agree that Mecca and Medina should be Muslim only. I think we are entitled to a sanctuary where we can practice our faith without the intrusion of gawking tourists. I visited Nepal a few years back and visited Pashupatinath temple, which is one of the most holy Hindu sites. I was incredibly offended by some of the tourists who would walk right up to the funeral pyres when people were bereaving to take photos of the dead bodies. It is the equivalent of a Japanese tourist walking into a funeral home in America and taking pictures during the ceremony of the body lying in the casket. The tourists in Nepal would also literally stick their cameras into the faces of Hindus praying. It was incredibly rude. So I don't see why we should allow ourselves to be subjected to the same thing.





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It is my understanding (although I cannot cite the specific ayat right now, but I can find it if you like) that the closure of Mecca is commanded in the Qur'an.

I tried to find a general source on the internet about this but could not. If you can find an ayat please post it as I am curious to know what the authority is.

My recollection of Islamic history is that Muhammad, pbuh did not evict the pagans from Mecca after it was captured. However, I think they were banned from worshipping at the Kabbah itself.

I suspect the issue is one of logistics. Although non Muslims are allowed under Islam to visit Mecca they cannot pray at the Kabbah. However, if you allow all these non Muslims into Mecca it will be virtually impossible to stop them from them visiting the Kabbah. Therefore it is better to ban them altogether.

I don't know about the argument for Medina, but I suspect that they just want to create a sanctuary for Muslims to worship without the imposition of nosey tourists.

The only reason to visit Mecca and Medina is for religious reasons. Its not like there are beaches, nightclubs and theme parks there. So non Muslims have no reason to visit the two cities other than to gawk and take photos of Muslims at worship. But it is for this very reason that the cities should be off limits as we are entitled to worship without chattering and laughing non Muslims taking photographs of us.



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Hi Anibaldo

Hope that helps

No It doesn't. You have taken your description of apostacy from a right wing Israeli propaganda website:

http://www.yahoodi.com/peace/index.html

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Dear Asslamaksa.

I reported my post to the fool in order to be drafted; if it offended anybody I am sorry for this:

Dear fool,

would you please draft my post 410; it seems it contains conflictive or offensive material that I have been unaware of when I posted it; it also seems that the link given doesn´t work properly anymore, but takes you to www.fbi.gov/

Apologizing

Anibaldo

----------------------------------
A concise short description of apostasy in Islam can be read in Encyclopaedia of Islam (new edition) VII,635f., s.v. Murtadd.

Best wishes

Abe
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<Are married to an Indonesian? Did you work there? >

Not married yet (December). Have spent time there, of course, and will move there when she finishes her Ph.D. in US after her current MA program in Australia. Will teach English in Sumatra, and then hopefully retire to Bali (which is, ythe way way, IMHO, the most beautiful place on earth).
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I tried to find a general source on the internet about this but could not. If you can find an ayat please post it as I am curious to know what the authority is.

=============

My apologies Assamlaksa for taking so long to get back to you on this. Been pretty busy here.

The ayat is 9:28.

Bismillah ar Rahman ar Rahim

O you who have attained to faith! Those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God are nothing but impure: and so they shall not approach the Inviolable House of Worship from this year onwards. And should you fear poverty, then [know that] in time God will enrich you out of His bounty, if He so wills: for verily, God is all-knowing, wise!


(Muhammad Asad translation pg. 261)

My basic understanding of what happened was that after the Muslims conquered Mecca, Abu Bakr was to lead a later pilgrimage. Muhammad (sas) received this revelation and sent Ali to bring the news that after that year the pagans would no longer be allowed to worship at the Kabba. (Muhammad Asad says in his commentary on the above ayat that the implication is that this exclusion would apply to all of Mecca. I would say that since the issue of poverty (due to loss of trade in Mecca) is addressed, that this is not an unreasonable conclusion.)

Martin Lings covers this subject in his book Muhammad: his life based on the earliest sources on pages 323-324. The pagans were given 4 months notice (if I recall correctly what I read in several books), and any who had treaties with the Muslims and had honored them would not be effected by the new ruling until said treaties expired.

I found no mention of Medina regarding this.

I do like the modern day idea of excluding 'nosey' tourists from our two holiest sites for the reasons you laid out. I cannot imagine visiting the Kabba while being observed by tourists.

In any case, I'm sorry I cannot go into further detail about what I found in all the books I looked in, God only knows how long it will be before I am interrupted yet again. Hope this is helpful.

e

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exwa,

No offense intended, but if the ban on non-Muslims is based on the verse you cite, wouldn't Jews be allowed entrance? They ascribe divinity only to God. I can see where there could be a perceived problem with Christians, but the Jewish faith is pretty danged monotheistic.

greet.




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The only reason to visit Mecca and Medina is for religious reasons. Its not like there are beaches, nightclubs and theme parks there. So non Muslims have no reason to visit the two cities other than to gawk and take photos of Muslims at worship. But it is for this very reason that the cities should be off limits as we are entitled to worship without chattering and laughing non Muslims taking photographs of us.

Hi Assamlaksa,

What I hear you expressing is the concern that individuals will disrupt the worship. I'm curious - what does this have to do with the religion of the disruptive person?

Essentially, if disruption is your concern, then the cities should be off limits to obnoxious people, obnoxious Muslims included. You needn't then object to non-muslims who cause no problems.

Regards,
Pentiumm
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i see what you are getting at greet, and i don't have a good answer for you right now. i'll dig a little deeper and see what i find.

e
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ok, some more information for you greet.

i have learned that the references to the cities/peninsula being made exclusively muslim are in the hadith. i'll have a bit of research to do in order to some up with the relevant ones, and confirm that there are not any other Qur'anic references as well.

the crux of the matter is, as i have determined thus far, that this area (especially mecca and the kabba) are the holiest places on the face of the earth to muslims. they are the furthest things from tourist attractions in our minds, and should remain that way.

truth be told, we've never heard of any great clamoring or protesting about people wanting to go to mecca anyway...so the point is fairly moot unless you want to argue based on principle. i'm not sure the islamic position is one most people these days are going to understand, as it isn't very 'pc.'

anyway, i'll get back to you with further references to others who were in the area besides the pagans when i track them down officially.

e
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the crux of the matter is, as i have determined thus far, that this area (especially mecca and the kabba) are the holiest places on the face of the earth to muslims. they are the furthest things from tourist attractions in our minds, and should remain that way.

I agree. I don't know why anyone else would have a burning desire to go there, unless it's curiosity, or a streak of contrariness. ;o)
Or, perhaps, if someone had very close ties with Muslims who were going.

I feel that people should have a place to call "our own"; a sanctuary, a sacred space, a place where people can feel safe and at home with others who share their beliefs.

Just wondered about the wording of the ayat in question.

Thank you,
greet.
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. I don't know why anyone else would have a burning desire to go there, unless it's curiosity, or a streak of contrariness.

Because a little bit of religous discrimination is the base for greater discrimination.

Because people like to expose themselves to the wonders of the world.

Mecca is a fascinating historical site. I'd like to see it.

Touring the Vatican, Catholicisms Ground Zero during high mass was a fascinating experience. Yes, I'm an avid tourist! Museums, churches and historic sites only serve to improve our understanding of each other.

To suggest that I am not worthy of visiting Mecca because I am not Muslim is nothing less than discrimination.





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To suggest that I am not worthy of visiting Mecca because I am not Muslim is nothing less than discrimination.

This is where we hit the clash of cultures.
In the "western" World this is straighforward and undeniable discrimination. To a Muslim's eyes it is justifiable "protection" and both sides are worthy of their view within their own cultures.
What irks me is that American or Western based Muslims would sue the relevant authorities for the same type of discrimination if was practiced in the Country they currently reside in the West.
It is my humble opinion that you cannot have it both ways. Either the discrimination is "justifiable" in which case do not demand integration backed up by civil and legal rights related to freedom of worship in predominantly Christian countries in the West and then deny your new found neighbours and fellow citizens freedom of worship or even travel based upon Muslim sensibilities in other Muslim countries.
I am not I hasten to add suggesting we in the West should become less tolerant, multi-cultural and multi-religious socities are our only way forward, but that Muslims MUST become more tolerant if they want us to avoid conflict and promote greater understanding.
If it is not justifiable and the fundamental freedoms being enshrined in the Western World cannot then be said not be applicable in Muslim countries for whatever reason.
Either something is right or is wrong, it does not matter which country it is in.
Therefore I will for the first time take exception to exwa's views justifying Mecca or Medina being closed to non-Muslims. If by some strange quirk of circumstances a fundamentalist Christian group took legal control via elections of the area she lives in and proposed by some other strnge quirk of historical circumstances that this area has some wierd religious significance to this particular group of Christians and as a result they banned all Muslims and other non Christians from going out on a Sunday or they have to move away she would be well within her rights to take them all the way to the Supreme Court to defend her legal rights.
Yet she will deny us the opportunity to do the same when it comes to Muslim religious sites.
Strange views and understanding of the word tolerance.

Caesium
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Either something is right or is wrong, it does not matter which country it is in.

Hi Caesium,

What I hear you saying is that it's wrong to have double standards, and since this is a higher order truth, then it applies to everyone on the planet.

This is still a western-culture influenced statement. My understanding is that there is no higher truth than God's word.

So if God (Qur'an) says keep others out of Mecca, then others must be kept out. Period. And if God (Qur'an) doesn't prohibit suing for the same type of discrimination by other cultures/religions, then such lawsuits are fine.

Regards,
Pentiumm
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So if God (Qur'an) says keep others out of Mecca, then others must be kept out. Period. And if God (Qur'an) doesn't prohibit suing for the same type of discrimination by other cultures/religions, then such lawsuits are fine.

Good point but then the conclusion from this is that Islam is a tolerant faith but only up to a point, and in this case the point is decreed by God and therefore one cannot blame it's followers for applying it.
I do beleive that's the same line of reasoning Bin Laden took in defence of his actions.
Therefore the reasoning behind these "rules" are dangerous to a non-Muslim, who obviously does not beleive or share the same faith as those following the Qu'ran, if this flawed reasoning has a murderous result, especially one that is murderous to non-Muslims.

Caesium
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What irks me is that American or Western based Muslims would sue the relevant authorities for the same type of discrimination if was practiced in the Country they currently reside in the West.

================

not true.

i haven't heard of anyone suing the mormons over not being allowed to visit their temples in this very country. you MUST be a mormon to visit them from what i understand to go inside after construction is complete.

also, i don't have to allow anyone into my own house without my permission. i can make any rules i want regarding that...and the police will even come to my defense against outside 'intruders.'

its all a matter of perspective.

Either something is right or is wrong, it does not matter which country it is in.

i disagree with you on this point. life is almost never this black and white...there are many grey areas...many things which are a little right, and a little wrong... we cannot expect the entire world to be forced to accept what the 'west' considers 'right.' america and the west do not have a lock on universal truth and righteousness...even if they do have the biggest guns.


e
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Mecca is a fascinating historical site. I'd like to see it.

========================

It simply is not a tourist attraction sano.

I believe only Muslims who have personally been there can truly understand what it actually 'is,' and after them Muslims who have not been there. There is just no way for you to fully comprehend the sacredness of this site, or the reason it is closed.

Truth is, people are always more fascinated by things which are veiled and secret. The owners and guardians of these veiled and secret things indeed are being discriminatory, but that isn't always and 'evil' or 'bad' thing. Why do you think Muslim women who cover their bodies and hair fully have such a hard time? They are stating that these things are sacred and only to be seen by specific individuals. Everyone on earth does NOT have a right to see these, even if the custom of much of the rest of the world is not to do this. This creates an mystery around these women which does indeed get on the nerves of many individuals (this I draw from personal experience).

Some things are just too sacred to share.

But lets give it a little reality check will we?

In the grand scheme of things, whether or not non Muslims can visit Mecca is a mere triviality compared to other things we can spend our time and efforts being concerned with. If you want to be angry about injustice in the world, why not worry about people getting their limbs hacked off in Sierra Leon which is associated with the diamond trade? Or the fact that the west exploits these people for these gems, and the average person on the street does not know, or does not care what is happening at the beginning of the chain as long as they get that diamond engagement ring they want.

e


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If you want to be angry about injustice in the world, why not worry about people getting their limbs hacked off in Sierra Leon which is associated with the diamond trade?

We'll just have to disagree on this point.

There are plenty of terrible things happening in the world. Some many scales worse than others. But a big injustice does not make a small injustice ok. They are all injustices.

In the grand scheme of things, whether or not non Muslims can visit Mecca is a mere triviality compared to other things we can spend our time and efforts being concerned with.

We'll just have to disagree on this point. I'll stand on my belief that discrimination is discrimination, no mattter the size of the organization perpetrating the discrimination.

I read an in-depth explanation of the physics and geographic implications of the big cube. Whether or not one is Muslim, it is a fascinating phenomena. But if they don't want me to see it, I'll live with that, no problem. It's Islams loss for denying the world a chance to more fully understand and appreciate the center of their universe.

SANO


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Good point but then the conclusion from this is that Islam is a tolerant faith but only up to a point, and in this case the point is decreed by God and therefore one cannot blame it's followers for applying it.

That's kinda right. Exactly what is decreed by God doesn't have to include violence.

I do beleive that's the same line of reasoning Bin Laden took in defence of his actions.

That's correct.

Therefore the reasoning behind these "rules" are dangerous to a non-Muslim, who obviously does not beleive or share the same faith as those following the Qu'ran, if this flawed reasoning has a murderous result, especially one that is murderous to non-Muslims.

I would think that that's a little too extreme. Let me wander around a bit before I get to the point.

You're correct, IMHO, if we stretch this issue to it's logical extreme. However, Islamic cultures are based on religious faith, not logic. You keep trying to impose that seperation of church and state that the West has. In other words, there are higher order values or rules that apply to everyone regardless of religion.

It just doesn't exist in these countries. You can't conceive of it's total absence. There is no higher order than God. This is an important premise that I think you're missing.

Is the culture discriminatory as a previous poster pointed out on this issue of Mecca. Absolutely. Let's stop dancing around that. HOWEVER, whether that's a bad or a good thing is a value judgment call. The West says yes, the Middle East says no. Each is appealing to it's culturally deemed higher order law or premise to come to that conclusion - the West it's the law of equality and Muslim countries it's the law of God. In order for the two to come to an agreement on this issue, someone has to give up their law/premise. (Editorial comment - it ain't gonna happen).

This issue applies throughout the argument. The next step is the double standarded nature of discriminating towards others but being offended at being discriminated against. Yeah it hypocritical. Let's stop dancing around that. HOWEVER, whether or not that's a bad or good thing is a value judgment call. And each culture is going to appeal to its own higher order law or premise to call it. (By the way, I'm not sure if this circumstance has actually arisen).

The reasoning is very clear and stepwise related. It just doesn't conform to basic Western premises. The premise is where the action is.

So the danger issue ONLY applies if the defintional premise going into a cascade of reasoning demands agression/death/bin Laden tactics. But the rest remains tightly related.

Do Mulsims hold that agression premise at this point in time? Well, my prior conversation dovetails nicely here. Although the text of the Qur'an has remain static, the interpretation of the Qur'an is fluid. So we can't look at the text for an answer to this question, but instead canvass opinions regarding interpretations. Right or wrong is not the issue, Islam or not is not the issue. The issue is what is believed.

Well, we know from the Post's report of the Gallup poll in 8 Muslim nations, America deserved 9/11. Unfortunately, we don't know how the question was asked. The poll indicated that approx 2/3 (a majority) believed that action was warrented. And if that action was warrented, then the folks in those buildings and planes deserved death.

On the other hand, some Muslims who live in the US indicate the opposite. It appears at this point in time these folks may be in the minority of Muslims. Muslims may argue about the text of the Qur'an and what is the right or wrong interpretation, but at this point in time there is a clear predominance regarding how to interpret the Qur'an on this issue.

So at this point in history, yes there is danger to non-muslims. At another point in time, there need not be a threat. Islam stays the same, but Muslims change.

It's like the First Amendment. It hasn't change one iota, but man is it used differently over time.

Regards, and with apologies for being longwinded
Pentiumm
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I read an in-depth explanation of the physics and geographic implications of the big cube. Whether or not one is Muslim, it is a fascinating phenomena. But if they don't want me to see it, I'll live with that, no problem. It's Islams loss for denying the world a chance to more fully understand and appreciate the center of their universe.


Hi Sano,

I don't mean to be rude, but it's not a loss if it's not valued. You value learning above God.

Not everyone does.

Regards,
Pentiumm
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On the other hand, some Muslims who live in the US indicate the opposite. It appears at this point in time these folks may be in the minority of Muslims. Muslims may argue about the text of the Qur'an and what is the right or wrong interpretation, but at this point in time there is a clear predominance regarding how to interpret the Qur'an on this issue.

=============

Afternoon Pentiumm,

I've not personally met a single Muslim in this country who condoned the 9/11 attacks, quite the contrary actually. However, most people who have any clue about US foreign policy knew something like this was eventually coming...including the FBI and CIA.

I think the Gallup Poll answered more of a political question than it did a religious one. You have to also take into consideration that a very large portion of the Muslim world is not very religious in the first place. They think based on the political angle they are fed, and the news they receive. They do not relate to the deaths of innocent civilians on our soil any more than the average American relates to the deaths of innocent civilians in Afghanistan or other such places.

In acutality, there are only a few of the billion Muslims in the world who would actually do something which would take an innocent life regardless of what their politics are. Leaving fringe groups like Al Quaida aside, most religious Muslims I have talked to condemn the attacks, but that does not necessarily mean that they do not take issue with our foreign policy.

To wrap this up, I do not believe that the Gallup Poll represents how Muslims view the Qur'an. I believe it represents how they view politics. Unfortuantely most of them lack any understanding of the Qur'an, or of their own religion. If they had that, they most would have to stop and think twice before saying that any innocent life 'deserved' what it got.

e

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I don't mean to be rude, but it's not a loss if it's not valued. You value learning above God.

No worries, Pentiummm... I suppose I don't explain in great enough detail.... I'll try and make what I meant a bit clearer...

Muslims have been in the spotlight like never before in my lifetime. They are saying "We are not evil, the west is misrepresenting what Islam truly - is Islam is a peaceful culture, let's get together and find common grounds, etc"

That being the case, by discriminating on the basis of religion, they are not presenting an image of tolerance, inclusion, or acceptance of all peoples. In that respect, it is their loss whether they consider it their loss or not.



SANO
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I've not personally met a single Muslim in this country who condoned the 9/11 attacks, quite the contrary actually.

I read a scad of 'readers comments" on Islamic City by Muslims claiming to ne American (but who really knows, right) which both deny Muslims did it, and then say it was permissible becuae of the nature of the targets. But, again, who's to say if they were actually written by Muslims.

However, most people who have any clue about US foreign policy knew something like this was eventually coming...including the FBI and CIA.

Regardless of US Foreign policy, anybody with a clue about Muslim Terrorists knew something like this was eventually coming. It happened all over Europe, especially in France, and was bound to happen in the USA. Anybody with a clue about Muslim Terrorists knows it's going to happen again here and in Europe, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

a very large portion of the Muslim world ... do not relate to the deaths of innocent civilians on our soil any more than the average American relates to the deaths of innocent civilians in Afghanistan or other such places.

On what do you base these broad generalizations? I think most Muslims have strong feelings one way or the other on the issue. I think most Americans are well aware of the tragedies which have occurred to the Afghani's. If it were otherwise, the fight in Afghanistan would not have received such wide national endorsment.

, most religious Muslims I have talked to condemn the attacks, but that does not necessarily mean that they do not take issue with our foreign policy.

Most Americans I know condemn Muslim terorist tactics, and they take issue with Islamic politics which are used as justification for the attacks, yet they STILL uphold the right of people to practice any religion they choose.
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Good Evening Sano,

Just a few things I'm going to address. We've been 'round and 'round about this before, and I'm not really in the mood to do it again.

I read a scad of 'readers comments" on Islamic City by Muslims claiming to ne American (but who really knows, right) which both deny Muslims did it, and then say it was permissible becuae of the nature of the targets.

Got those links I asked about so long ago?

I have not met ONE SINGLE PERSON, no matter what their politics, who considers the WTC a legitimate target. The Pentagon 'maybe,' but even that is a big maybe for most considering there are plenty of civilians and tourists there. I have not browsed websites to figure this out, it is based on interactions with real live people.

I have also met quite a few who deny that Muslims did it. Part of it is belief in conspiracy theories, and a general lack of trust of the US government. A bigger part is an inability to accept that a true Muslim could commit such a murderous act...which we all acknowledge was outside of the bounds of Islamic behavior.

On what do you base these broad generalizations?

I'd appreciate it if you would not cut and paste only sections of my writing which intentionally leave out clear points I was trying to make. What I said was:

"You have to also take into consideration that a very large portion of the Muslim world is not very religious in the first place. They think based on the political angle they are fed, and the news they receive. They do not relate to the deaths of innocent civilians on our soil any more than the average American relates to the deaths of innocent civilians in Afghanistan or other such places."

(Just for the sake of accuracy mind you.)

Americans support the fight in Afghanistan because the believe it is a legitimate military undertaking which is our national best interest. What many do not sense in the way they sensed the deaths of Americans on 9/11, is the deaths of Afghan civilians as a result of our military action. My argument here is that it is all to easy for ANYONE to say, "tsk, tsk...that's too bad that those people died...but maybe they had it coming anyway..." when the people in question are not their own.

I have seen that sentiment expressed by Americans here on the Fool (much to my disgust), and I see it in the stats of the Gallup Poll. You may disagree with my deductions, which is fine.

Now, we've been through all of this before (I think) in one way or another sano, and I doubt the back in forth was of much benefit to either of us. If you want to see evil, and discrimination, and bad things then you will find them. There is nothing I can do or say which is going to stop that.

e









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Hi exwa,

Thanks for your reply.

I've not personally met a single Muslim in this country who condoned the 9/11 attacks, quite the contrary actually.

Actually, neither have I. I'm sure the vast majority of Muslims here would agree with you. When I said "some" in my post, that was just me using equivacal language. Occupational hazard.

I think the Gallup Poll answered more of a political question than it did a religious one. You have to also take into consideration that a very large portion of the Muslim world is not very religious in the first place. They think based on the political angle they are fed, and the news they receive.

I'm a bit confused by this. I thought there was no seperation of religion and government - that civic laws were from the Qur'an?

They do not relate to the deaths of innocent civilians on our soil any more than the average American relates to the deaths of innocent civilians in Afghanistan or other such places.

I'm curious. Given the incessant media blitz here regarding the terrible plight of Afghan refugees due to the US led war in Afganistan, did the Arab media present a similarly incessant and sympathetic view of the death wrought by Arab terrorists? Did the Arab media even talk about the terrorists being Arab (albeit 4 with Egyptian passports)?

I'm restricted to viewing the English translations of, for example, Egyption newssheets. I just don't know if they are representative of the Arab media in general.

Unfortuantely most of them lack any understanding of the Qur'an, or of their own religion. If they had that, they most would have to stop and think twice before saying that any innocent life 'deserved' what it got.

Well, delicately, why can't you be wrong and they be right? Instead of them lacking understanding of the Qur'an, rather you have drifted away from the center of understanding the Qur'an. You, and folks like you, may have evolved into a reliably distinct and seperate subgroup over time.

We talked about how we know the Qur'an itself is authentic. It came from God, and devine intervention prevented the changing of the text over time. That's the easy one. Here's the harder one. What has prevented you from progressively misinterpreting the Qur'an over time vis a vis the majority as indicated in the poll?

I'm not sure if I'm asking the question in an intelligable way.

Regards,
Pentiumm
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Muslims have been in the spotlight like never before in my lifetime. They are saying "We are not evil, the west is misrepresenting what Islam truly - is Islam is a peaceful culture, let's get together and find common grounds, etc"

That being the case, by discriminating on the basis of religion, they are not presenting an image of tolerance, inclusion, or acceptance of all peoples.


Hi Sano,

Thanks for your reply.

I think what I hear you saying is a bit on the black and white side. Islam can be peaceful, and Muslims getting together with non-Muslims to find common ground doesn't mean (IMHO) that everyone has to agree on everything. It doesn't even mean that everyone has to agree on the majority of things.

Finding common ground can be simply (!) a method for living peacefully side by side.

In that respect, it is their loss whether they consider it their loss or not.

Ah. That is what you meant. Thanks for the clarification.

Regards,
Pentiumm
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Well, delicately, why can't you be wrong and they be right? Instead of them lacking understanding of the Qur'an, rather you have drifted away from the center of understanding the Qur'an. You, and folks like you, may have evolved into a reliably distinct and seperate subgroup over time.

The same argument can be made for any religion. Perhaps the Christian abortion clinic bombers are practicing the correct form of Christianity and everyone else has drifted away from the true understanding of the Bible. However, most people accept (or should accept) that the extremist views are the aberation rather than the norm.


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I thought there was no seperation of religion and government - that civic laws were from the Qur'an?

Hello Pentiumm,

I think you are confusing what Islam is in an ideal sense, from how it is actually practiced...or not practiced by the Muslims. They are often entirely different things. Truth is, there are no existing "islamic governments" in the strictest sense of the word. There are some countries which attempt to implement one form or another of sharia law, but their overall governments are not islamic. Saudi is a monarchy, and a monarchy is not an islamic government (as an example).

If a Muslim is not a religious person, as many are not, then their views will be based on all kinds of things...but not necessarily what the Qur'an says. Just because a person or people are identified as 'Muslim' does not necessarily mean that their religion plays any factor in their daily life. The same goes for multitudes of 'Christians' in this country, who will tell you that is their religion, but know nothing of it whatsoever. (My family is a very good example of that)

I can't find the link to the poll easily anymore, but I do not recall the questions being based at all on what people thought the Qur'an or Islam said. The questions were politically oriented, and there really is no way to know for certain what the driving factors were in the responses. I am only making assumptions based on what I know about the Muslim world in general.

Given the incessant media blitz here regarding the terrible plight of Afghan refugees due to the US led war in Afganistan, did the Arab media present a similarly incessant and sympathetic view of the death wrought by Arab terrorists?

Don't have an answer for you on this one. Keep in mind, there was wide condemnation of the attacks from Muslims around the world. We saw governmental officials in Saudi and other countries do this, we saw a very large number of Islamic organizations in the states do the same. You can link to some of these statements at this site: http://groups.colgate.edu/aarislam/response.htm

What has prevented you from progressively misinterpreting the Qur'an over time vis a vis the majority as indicated in the poll?

As I said above, the poll did not ask individuals for Qur'anic interpretation. They asked for their political views. I have heard, and believe to be true, that 5% or so of the Muslims of the world pray their 5 required daily prayers. From that I assume that the vast majority keep the Qur'an on a shelf (if they have one at all) and never read or examine it. Of course that makes them much more easily influenced by extremist views because they do not know any better, but it does not make their viewpoints as valid as those of one who is studied. So when you look at the poll results, take 5-10% of the people as being religious and having their religious beliefs factor into their answers. As for the rest, I do not know or understand the way they live, so to me their views only display their ingnorance in many cases.

e






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Hi Assamlaksa,

Thanks for jumping in.

The same argument can be made for any religion. Perhaps the Christian abortion clinic bombers are practicing the correct form of Christianity and everyone else has drifted away from the true understanding of the Bible.

Absolutely.

But you're talking about a different issue. I'm wasn't pursuing the external validity of Islam, i.e., how Islam stacks up against other religions or even other societies (which, I grant you, is the way most of these discussions end up going).

My question has to do with internal consistency. Basic epistomology for the logicians in the crowd.

So, for example, the Qur'an is the true word of God through Muhammad. The text can't have been corrupted down through the centuries because of devine intervention.

Whether or not you agree with the two premises, the argument from an internal standpoint hangs together. So when someone states that the Qur'an is the true word of God, I know it is so and not just an individual and potentially idiosyncratic interpretation/opinion. I know that if I were to interview every Mulsim on earth, the vast majority would hold this tenet to be true.

So my question to exwa, which she addresses in the next post, is why does she as an Muslim individual know that the results of the Gallup poll were inaccurate, or rather reflected politics versus Islam? This relies on the premise of her interpretation of the Qur'an.

And we've already established that there is no devine protection of interpretation.

I'll blather more on this vein in the next post.

Regards,
Pentiumm
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Hi exwa,

Thanks for your reply.

Truth is, there are no existing "islamic governments" in the strictest sense of the word.

Ah.

There are some countries which attempt to implement one form or another of sharia law, but their overall governments are not islamic. Saudi is a monarchy, and a monarchy is not an islamic government (as an example).

How 'bout these governments themselves? Do they think they are Islamic (Saudi?)? I rather suspect they think do.

I can't find the link to the poll easily anymore, but I do not recall the questions being based at all on what people thought the Qur'an or Islam said. The questions were politically oriented, and there really is no way to know for certain what the driving factors were in the responses.

I suspect the content of the questions was never published. And I'm not even sure if the report were purchased from the Gallup folks (approx $1200), that the questions themselves would be included.

I have heard, and believe to be true, that 5% or so of the Muslims of the world pray their 5 required daily prayers. From that I assume that the vast majority keep the Qur'an on a shelf (if they have one at all) and never read or examine it. Of course that makes them much more easily influenced by extremist views because they do not know any better, but it does not make their viewpoints as valid as those of one who is studied.

Ah. Now I understand where you're coming from.

Regards,
Pentiumm


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I suspect the content of the questions was never published. And I'm not even sure if the report were purchased from the Gallup folks (approx $1200), that the questions themselves would be included.

I am not normally paranoid and don't have much regard for conspiracy theories, but the results of that poll really shocked me.

Indonesia is only 30 kilometres away and just as an American living on the USA / Canada border would have some knowledge of Canadian thinking, I think I have some idea about how Indonesians think. Plus I deal regularly with Indonesians and have Indonesian friends. None of the people I have spoken to hold the view that it was non Arabs who hijacked the planes that flew into the WTC. I often read Indonesian newspapers and they never question this issue. Also Singaporean Muslims are mostly the same race as Indonesian Muslims so you wouldn't expect such a wide discrepancy in viewpoints. And I know that the overwhelming majority of Singapore Muslims believe that it was Arab hijackers.

I am really curious to know the Bahasa translation for the question. I tried to find it on the Gallup website but you have to pay a subscription fee for the full poll results. But I doubt that the full poll results show the question in the native languages anyway.

The english version of the question was actually quite sloppy, which is surprising for a polling organisation. Instead of asking something like "Did Arabs hijack the planes that crashed into the WTC towers", the question was something like "were Arab groups responsible for the attacks?" My first instinct when reading the question was that Al-Quada is not an "Arab group", but then I saw the "s" on the end of "group" and guessed they were talking about the ethnicity of the attackers themselves. But I don't know how the question was translated in Bahasa, which is a shame because I can read enough Bahasa to know whether the question was correctly translated.

However, it seems unlikely that the question would likewise be mistranslated into Arabic, Urdu etc.

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Plus I deal regularly with Indonesians and have Indonesian friends. None of the people I have spoken to hold the view that it was non Arabs who hijacked the planes that flew into the WTC. I often read Indonesian newspapers and they never question this issue.

Another possiblity for the discrepancy between your experience and the poll results may be demographics.

Do you and your friends belong to a well educated group? Is newspaper reading widespread across all classes, or is it confined to folks who are educated(read a lot) and/or have money(can afford newspaper subscription)?

Regards,
Pentiumm
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Do you and your friends belong to a well educated group? Is newspaper reading widespread across all classes, or is it confined to folks who are educated(read a lot) and/or have money(can afford newspaper subscription)?

Yes, I did think about that and it is the likely explanation. The majority of Indonesians live in villages which begs the question: Were they aware of the 9/11 attacks? If not, then it is quite possible that they just answered no to the question as it is not conceivable that Muslims would perform such acts.

It may seem condescending to claim that they are so ignorant, but my family is originally from a village in Bangladesh and I know from experience that they know very little about world affairs, simply because newspapers don't reach that far. What little information they get about the outside world comes from word of mouth, which is notoriously innacurate.

In order to reflect genuine Indonesian opinion the pollsters would have had to mainly sample villagers. Were the villagers even fully aware of the attacks that had taken place?

I am not trying to find excuses. The results were a genuine shock to me. If I had been asked before the poll what percentage of Indonesians believed the 9/11 attacks were committed by Arab groups I would have said 60 - 80%. So it came as a total surprise that it was around 10%. Thats why I am curious to see the demographics of the sampling and how the question was put.




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