Under the heading Disappointing But Not Exactly Surprising:
There will no Turkish edition of The First Muslim. My Turkish publisher received a reader’s report on the book from an un-named “academic member of Islamic history” at the Faculty of Theology at Marmara University, and today emailed to say that “The report showed more than a few aspects about your book which, considering the current political situation, might not be desirable and welcomed in Turkey. I am apologetic to tell you that our company has decided not to proceed with your book.”
Since the book had already been translated and was ready for publication next month, this is a decision that comes at some cost to the publisher.
Here’s the upshot of the report:
The work seems successful in general. However it has some lack of knowledge and misinformation. Besides, it has an attitude imputing the prophet Mohamed and Muslims especially when it comes to Jews… The book is the product of a serious labor. Nonetheless it is concluded that the translation of the book to Turkish is not appropriate when it is considered lack of information mentioned above and negative comments which are sometimes beyond the purpose and sometimes understood to be made consciously.”
The full report is here. It seems I should have simply skipped over the tension between the early Muslims and the Jewish tribes of Medina, which culminated in the massacre of the men of the small Qureyz (Qurayza) tribe, and was, the academic reader argues, the fault of the Jews themselves. (This argument is very familiar to me, since I’ve debated it many times with fundamentalist-leaning Muslims, both in public and in private. I am equally familiar with most of the other points raised by “the academic member” — though the one about Jesus having or not having a father struck me as particularly picayune.) The real complaint, of course, is that the book is not a hagiography, and does not conform to the requirements of piety.
As the publisher wrote, this is a political decision. These are edgy times in Turkey, where Prime Minister Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party seem intent on deepening the instititutionalization of Islam despite strong secular resistance. Three months ago, Taksim Square was the epicenter of the secular/religious clash. Inevitably, my book falls into that same volatile intersection of religion and politics. That’s the realm I’ve been exploring for years now, and will continue to explore.
Just not, it seems, in Turkish.
It may still be explored in Turkish. Classic scenario: some book or newspaper or person is banned (for any reason). This gains some media attention. A translation makes its way online and cant be blocked by authorities, or banned person gets international media attention, shedding more light and giving more interest in it than if things were allowed naturally. My only other comment on this is that we have to keep in mind that lots of people in that part of the world WANT this institutionalization of religion believing that it will solve their problems. Hard to say whether they are a majority or minority. We’d like to think they are a minority but Im not so sure. Religion preys on the ignorant like a lion attacking the baby deer. And they dont know better.
Just to clarify: the book has not been banned in Turkey. Rather, the publisher was apparently given to understand that it might be wiser not to publish a Turkish translation. Whether this would be so or not remains an open question.
With my limited knowledge I find some difficulty in figuring out whether the authorities are being repressive or cautious: this brings to mind the conflicts when the vernacular Bible was undertaken: knowledge and perceived truth to be controlled by the elect.
The caution angle springs to mind after the Turkish Government’s reaction to our ridiculous NSW State Government recent recognition of the “Armenian Genocide” recently. It seems to me that the Turks would rather deal with this matter–as they are slowly doing–on their own terms and with their perceived social cohesion preserved. Perhaps this applies to your book?
Was “After the Prophet” translated into Turkish and published there?
To be clear, this is not a matter of the authorities clamping down on the book. It’s a cautious decision on the part of the publisher, taking account of a political climate that he fears may rebound against him. He may well be right.
It is a pity that the book’s publication encountered such an impediment in my country. Well, I would like to say that I’ve just finished reading the book and I truly enjoyed it. As I believe that there can be no “one, true” biography or historical account of Muhammad’s life, there is no meaning in criticizing the author for shaping the book as she wished or adopting the viewpoint that she had. As far as I know this is the first book about the Prophet’s life written by a woman, so for that alone it’s hugely important.
Lesley Hazelton, from the moment I started reading the first few words to the very last chapter, your prose, your historical narrative, mesmerized me. The events and the characters are so openly and candidly described. Muhammad is portrayed as a (fallible) human being–which was exactly what was needed compared to the languid bibliographies penned by such authors like Martin Lings.
Although I currently live and study outside Turkey, the book will definitely find its way to the hands of several friends. Maybe not in a Turkish translation, but in English.
Warming words on a freezing day in Seattle. Thank you so much!
I am quite a big fan of your work but just a side note you mention the “massacre” of the Qurayza tribe now I (from my humble understanding) read that the actual incident may not have even taken place as scholars such as Imam Malik and Ibn Hajar saw that this particular “report” (I’m guessing you mostly relied on Ibn Ishaq’s work) was lacking in authenticity and that as such cannot be taken as an actual historical incident but in fact it is related in the Bukhari and Muslim collections of hadith (which if I may note are the most authentic Hadith collections bearing also in mind that they contain some weak hadith but as whole entire work they are the most authentic out of the collections of Hadith) that the ruling was that only on the warriors or those who betrayed the pact during battle (basically committing high treason) and the numbers of 960 or so are not mentioned it is simply mentioned that those who committed the treason be executed.
I recommend reading this webpage its a very accurate analysis about this particular subject by W.N. Arafat :
I just wanted to re-etirate that I deeply enjoy your work and had I not respected your sincerity and academic scholarship I wouldn’t have brought this matter to light I hope I didn’t offend you in anyway or come of as a pomps know it all .
Wish you the very best,
No offense taken, Rashid. There have indeed been many reinterpretations of the early accounts in ibn-Ishaq and al-Tabari, and the argument as to which traditions are ‘authentic’ and which ‘inauthentic’ continues within Islamic theology. This is clearly a deeply disturbing episode in Muhammad’s life, especially for believing Muslims. My decision not to gloss over it, as many other modern biographers have done, was not taken lightly. It is, as I see it, a matter of according Muhammad the integrity of reality — of being human, rather than of being inhumanly perfect. (The same applies, of course, to my exploration of the ‘Satanic verses,’ an episode in which I admire Muhammad’s courage in openly acknowledging that he had been wrong.)
May I say that I am deeply honored that you have replied to my message !
I have to agree with you (as a Muslim) in that the Prophet Mohammed was human when it came to emotions, reactions and tendencies and thats why I have a deep respect for his character and connect with him as a person. I find the words of Thomas Carlyle to be very fitting “Faults? The greatest fault I should say, is to be conscious of none.” Truly as the Originator of the universe said in the Quran (( A man among you))
I hate to sound so patronizing and obnoxious please bare with my poor tactfulness.
The crux of the matter is that the majority of historians did not “re-interpret” the matter of the execution but found other separate reports which according to the requirements of verifying narrations or”Hadith” where far more authentic than Ibn Ishaq’s narrations.
Ibn Ishaq’s and Al Tabari’s methodology of gathering reports was very shall we say poor and considered not on par with the very stringent requirements of gathering narrations (you may want to check out the book “Usool Al Hadith” or the Methodology of Hadith) that was used by many of their contemporaries thus the majority of Muslim scholar and historians today and previously take some acceptation on details in Al Tabari and Ibn Ishaq’s works.
What my ramble is on about is that the details of this incident as related in Ibn Ishaq’s biography is academically and historically not proven.
On a less bothersome note I really feel very exited and inthralled to be exchanging thoughts with a person as your self. I find sincerity a very rare thing today among academics (muslims as well as none muslims) but in you madam I find it and it is that very quality in you that made me love your books and talks (I’m ever the flatterer aren’t I).
With outmost respect,
P.S I forgot to mention that in another authentic Hadith it is mentioned that the actual number of those executed where 40.
I am very sorry. I was VP of my region for Prime Minester Erdogan. What this people are claiming totally none sense. And Erdogans party was build as a reaction to 85 years of harsh ruling of anti- Islamic anti any religion communists. I couldn’t teach at Turkish university because I cover my hair. I couldn’t run for parliament because I was covered. I can not enter any court even if i were a lowyer. i couldnt work in any goverment job because i was covered. i coulnt go to any school public or private with my scarve. There fore we builded AKP. And what happened at Istanbul Taksim was a similar game that removed Mursi from Eygpt. AKP or Erdogan is not fanatics. I know prime minister well personally and I was elected official of AKP. This is a sorry excuse of the person who wrote this letter to you. It does not represent truth. AKP has no goal of institutionalizing Islam in Turkey. As Muslim Turks we want to same freedoms secularist enjoying since years. Secularism means in their mind oppressing believers. it is not the same secularism we enjoy at USA. I have more rights at USA as a Muslim women than in Turkey. Isn’t this wrong? I am reading first Muslim and wrote comment last night to your blog. I loved the book. It is unique and filling very important gap about Prophet Mohammad’s biography . I didn’t see anything about you siding with Jews . As I said who ever wrote this letter to you did not even understood what you are writing at First Muslim.
Ms. Fatma, I do agree that there should be freedom of religion and freedom to dress or cover your hair in any supposedly free society. So secularism shouldnt mean banning you from wearing a head scarf. For a while, Turkey had gone a little overboard there.
BUT, I think everyone should agree that an important aspect of Secularism is the separation of religion and state, which as it stands should not allow parties based on religion to be in the political arena. Thats the lesson that was learned in Egypt (the hard way). Even in the USA, the political party which doesnt separate church and state (guess which one, LOL) is the party holding us back from growth as a nation and people.
Chad, thank you for replying.
Yes absolutely you are right. AKP ruling party doesn’t want to change regime . It has no agenda to replace secularism with Sharia law. In Democracy every group of citizens must be represented at political arena. Devout Muslims were always band out from elections. Their parties closed one after another. And their human rights were taken away. At AKP we respect all citizens of Turkey, from any religion or background. Secularism is assurance of that. But CHP leftist party wants to show AKP as if it is Islamist party. Which is not! Inside of the our party there are liberals, ex- leftist people, democrats, nationalists, and devout Muslims, and cultural Muslims, conservatives . Basically AKP is mainstream party sits on the middle. Neither left or right. Proof of this we got % 50 of the vote at general elections. Turkey will never become another Iran! But on the other hand we want to be independent. We can not be Saudi Arabia either. We want equality in the Turkey, equality in the Middle East, equality in the world for every human being.
Turkey was the last of the Islamists that singly ruled Asia, Africa and Europe for centuries and finally decayed. They lost to rising, fresh and superior Europeans who had come out (14th-17th CE) of the centuries of ‘Dark Age’ and burst out of their shell in all directions, as to this day. The non Arabs, especially Muslims of the Indian sub-continent and now Pakistan still value Turkey greatly. Turkey is again on rapid rise more than other Muslim states and we wish them well ahead -secular, Islam or headscarf aside for a while…
Well said, Fatma. Turkey has indeed been admired these past several years for its leadership as a modern Muslim-majority country, a bright antithesis of repressive regimes such as that of Saudi Arabia. That’s precisely why I was so delighted when ‘The First Muslim’ was due to come out in Turkish, and why I’m disappointed now that it won’t. I don’t see this as a reflection on the AKP — I see it as over-cautiousness in what seems, post-Taksim, to be an uneasy political climate. Please correct me if I’m wrong here.
Thank you, Fatma. Again, this was not a result of any government action. It was a reaction to a pedantically fundamentalist reading of the book, which is still available in English.
The principle of freedom of religion, of course, is not freedom “from” religion, as extremist atheists seem to imagine, but freedom to choose and practice any religion or none. To be secular or to be religious is a personal choice, and as you note, a free government ensures that this choice is available to all, without discrimination.
I must say that the Turkish authorites of the Unversity of Marmara have rightly pointed out many weaknesses in your work. At the same time, your publishing their comments is apprecaited. The Quran & Muhammad are told many times in your Scriptures and all evidence of truth have come to you and yet you remain ‘agnostic and accidental theologist’ and a sceptic clash with upright reasoning!
There is a smear campaign is being executed against the AKP of Turkey by some of the illegal groups and secessionist organizations. It is unacceptable that any kind of idea or opinion against the governance should be under control or be banned by the government. I mean, there is a huge disinformation campaign is in action all around the globe by the individuals or the organizations who does not want the development of the country and the government of Turkey. In a world that people can criticize even the prophets because of their messages or sayings that right or wrong, it is so natural that you can make mistakes because of wrong information or lack of sources with a few viewpoints. By saying that I do not want to criticize or blame you as I am not a person like that. I’d rather prefer that the readers should judge you or make comments after reading your book. For this reason, please stop being a part of this campaign against the government in Turkey and approach the situation with a neutral attitude as I know your personality as an Agnostic 🙂
Ali, I think you may be jumping to conclusions here. Once more, this was not, repeat not, the result of direct government interference, but a reaction to a general political climate. No matter what you think of ‘The First Muslim’ and no matter where you stand in the Turkish political spectrum, it seems to me that people should be free to read it in their own language and decide for themselves.
Yes, I think people are jumping to conclusions. Lesley stated the facts of what happened and that it was not a government ban but rather a publisher who felt the sensitive political climate now made it not the right time fir the book.
However, I must say I just feel this is an excuse. I’d like to see what other books this publisher didnt take. Did he skip pro-religious books too? I’m doubtful.
You see, as a person from the middle east, I know how this works. Sure, Turkey may be different. But generally in that part of the world, books may be banned from the government, but a publisher may decide to skip on a book for fear of government retribution. A friend of mine was a journalist in another mid east country, published a newspaper article talking about some of the stories of Aisha and how Islam split. He was put in prison for a while along with the paper’s editors for “blasphemy”.
Not saying that Turkish government would have put the publisher in prison, just saying its complicated and im not buying your publisher’s excuses…
I get it, but he lives and works in Turkey and I don’t. Further, there’s no sign that he anticipated any government backlash. I think it’s more that, having sought out a conservative opinion, he feared he had then invited a fundamentalist backlash which otherwise may not have occurred. Obviously I am disappointed in his decision, but under the circumstances, I can understand it.
At the 10th line of my comment I wrote that “the readers of the book should review, criticize and comment”. Maybe I couldn’t express my thoughts clearly before. I want to say that, your book or any other books of others, have to be published unless it is directly against to sensitive values. I was asking for your book always in the bookstores (After the Prophet) for more than nearly a year. I watched your videos and talks… The only thing here I question is, why your book is not accepted by the publisher with the given reason of “political situation” ???
Please explain me what is the meaning of this paragraph taken from your article;
“The report showed more than a few aspects about your book which, considering the current political situation, might not be desirable and welcomed in Turkey. I am apologetic to tell you that our company has decided not to proceed with your book.”
and this also;
“As the publisher wrote, this is a political decision. These are edgy times in Turkey, where Prime Minister Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party seem intent on deepening the instititutionalization of Islam despite strong secular resistance. Three months ago, Taksim Square was the epicenter of the secular/religious clash.”
Frankly speaking, I am asking these questions because I want to make sure what was the “true” reason that your book not published here in Turkey. I want to read your books in my native language if possible. I watched your several videos and impressed too much about one on the TED talks, “A tourist reading Koran”, and telling about you to all my friends 🙂
I am not agree with the publisher about the “edgy times in Turkey” when it comes to publishing a book or knowledge.
Ali, I won’t try to explain what was not my decision. If you click on the link in the post, you can read the reader’s report for yourself. If you then read the book, you can judge to what degree it has merit.
Lesley, I have read both your article and the reader’s report and I am still not satisfied with your replies. I do not want to be offensive but to be frank with you, I can not understand your post’s aim. I mean, you are gracefully complain about the situation with a heading “Disappointing But Not Exactly Surprising” and highlight the loss of the publisher with the statement “Since the book had already been translated and was ready for publication next month, this is a decision that comes at some cost to the publisher” but still telling me about the reader’s report. Reader’s report is not important for me at the moment because I will be the one who to judge the “degree it has merit” after reading the book as you stated (I am not a critic just for my own account).
Again, as I mentioned before, I respect your work and studies and want to read your books in my native language.
In this instance, I can not find your publisher’s explanation sincere…
There are hundreds of publishings, more inconvenient than yours in the country.
Hope I didn’t displease you with my messages but believe me I want everything to be crystal clear in the light of the facts and you will find another publisher who can be more efficient.
Have a good day.
I would like to broaden this discussion somewhat if you allow me, just to wonder. Going back to the book, which I have already read and immensely enjoyed, I see Lesley really writing beautifully about the main character, generally in a positive light as a good husband and father, a teacher and inspiration, and most importantly a human. I think there is definitely a problem in anyone who will focus on specific sentences or words or events to initiate violence or problems in their country (be it Turkey or elsewhere).
As children growing up, we learn about many myths and imaginary people (Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Sandman, Boogie man, Superman, monsters in the closet, etc.). These mythical characters are always classified as either good or bad. For the simple mind of a child, these tools help guide them to understand what is right and wrong. But as adults we know (or should know) that life is more complicated than that. Humans are capable of good and evil.
What saddens me is that religions have used the stories and biographies of their leaders/ prophets and have had to inevitably edit some stories to cast them as pure good men that never make a mistake. Or glorify them to god-equivalent. Now we have grown adult men who still look at the world through the lens of a child and good vs evil as if people are an extension of the cartoon characters they watch on TV. and of course what THEY believe in is “good” and everyone else (including the person pointing out a different side to their prophet) is “evil”. Such a childish rhetoric and idea that only increases the amount of hate in the world and totally ignored the whole idea behind “the invention of religions” which is raising humanity to a higher level of love and understanding. When we view these prophets or leaders for what they are: people just like all of us who saw a way to make people better and life better and took it, regardless whether they made mistakes in their life too, I believe it makes us respect them more.
I think it is pointless to pull up other sources of history to argue against Lesley’s ideas in the book and try to say anything in the book is not accurate. This is not the point, it’s not a history book to be taught in schools. It is a book that presents a viewpoint with which you may or may not agree. The point is to humanize a prophet who was before everything else human, before being a Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic. Gnostic Agnostic or whatever. and reflecting off of that, that we are all HUMAN FIRST.
Well put, Chad. And totally agree re this idea of perfection — and perfectability — which seems to me inhuman. That is, it denies humanity. And thus dehumanizes both ourselves and others.
That last sentence in the Marmara report must have hurt: We have plenty of approved books on the subject already, we don’t need another one (if I interpret it correctly)
Not hurtful, more kind of exasperating. Note the phrase “approved books,” the question of course being by whom.
I’m not surprised but really sad about your post. As an old grad. student of Oriental Studies at U of P from the 1960s & ’70s it makes me weep to realize how things have gone so wrong, from bad to worse. Islam has become combative all over the world, not submissive to their Allah. Peace and reason seems out of reach when stubborn Holy War is preached by influential Imams and the ignorant faithful believe that the West is the Devil, worthy only to be killed and killed. Mohamed (BPUH), they say, was arguably just a simple man.
Unlike Jesus, who sacrificed himself, Mohamed was not executed on a cross. The Prophet, died peacefully in his own bed and was buried under it. Who are now, since the 1970s, mounting Jihad everywhere? Fearful times, eh? Muslims, by and large, see you as a Jew and a Western Atheist, hated. Be brave, tell your story — until they come to get you.
Hugh, certainly there are extremist that very ignorant about Islam yet can attract group of ignorant people and send them to kill. But view of Islam : if anybody kills one innocent person he will be punished as if He killed all human beings on the face of the earth! This is from Quran. Terrorist can NOT BE MUSLIM , Muslim Can NOT BE TERRORIST!
But west ignite this terrible problem and fueled many many years by unfair foreign policies agains Muslims under occupation by non- Muslims commited atrocities in those lands. Than this sick mined persons became enemy of west and prayed on ignorant young adults turn them in to killing machines. We are in this mess as whole world. I hate to be in this situation as a devout Muslim. For many years western media saw this as a opportunity to mock Islam. They always said ‘Muslim terrorist” . They brain wash people putting Muslim term by Terrorsist. Why they did not call IRA As A Christian Terrorist for example? Muslims all over the world are very very sad about whole stuaition.
Fatma, i’ve got to agree with Hugh’s assessment. While the killing and terrorism happening seems to go against your interpretation of Islam, please DO NOT blame the west and/or other religions for this. The evolution of Islam over time, unfortunately has taken a more violent turn with ignorant religious teachers. As we speak, messages of hatred and classifying the other as evil are happening everywhere from ultra-religious people of all religions.
A truly perfect religion from a perfect godly figure would be perfect enough not to allow these atrocities to be done in its name. It wouldnt allow god’s words to be twisted and misinterpreted in 1000 different ways. That goes for Islam and Christianity too. Alas, we reach a conclusion that just like everything humans make, just like humans themselves, these (man made) religions are far from perfect. I feel that Fatma’s defensive stance only proves my point of how religion makes us cast ourselves as good and the other as evil.
Oh Chad — “a truly perfect religion”? But what did you just say (and I agree with) in your previous comment?! Religions, as you say, are human constructs, and while intended to bring out the best in us, they can also bring out the worst. Should we then blame the religion itself? Or should we acknowledge the multiple factors that go into religiously inspired extremism, as Fatma argues?
I stand by the previous idea of religions being imperfect but intended to bring out the best in us, which you agree with. And I acknowledge the wide variety of factors leading to extremism. Thats exactly why I dont’ accept Fatma’s blaming “the West” for what we are seeing. My argument with Fatma is that I would have preferred to see acknowledgement of these imperfections in our Islam before we blame the West and other religions and people for our struggles. But if someone views their religion as perfect and ignores the issues, they start blaming the others. But they cant accept that there are imperfections when they believe it is all from god. I wonder if Fatma could accept viewing Islam as anything but perfect.
Herein lies the problem, Lesley. Sure, like you replied to Fatma, the vast majority of Muslims refuse terrorists and their acts. But the vast majority will refuse to accept that what they believe in is something imperfect and that religion did plant seeds of hatred. That’s why you being non-devout Jewish makes you able to look at things in perspective. While a devout Muslim, Christian or Jew will be stuck in the mindset of “We are the good true believers and the rest of the people are evil doers out to hurt us”. And as a cause for that, there is some blame to go towards the religions themselves who present themselves in this light of perfection and plant seeds of hatred towards others. and these seeds of hatred grow in different directions, and one will be extremism and terror. It’s complicated…..
I think we’re in danger of over-generalizing when we talk about religion in the singular. No religion is monolithic. There is no single Islam, no single Judaism, no Christianity. Each is made up of many streams/denominations/traditions/sects, so that it would really be more appropriate to think in plural terms — that is, to talk about Islams, Judaisms, Christianities. For instance, contemplative Jews, Muslims, and Christians have far more in common with each other than with the hard-core dogmatists of their “own” faiths.
The larger questions here are deep and fascinating:
— Why do we need to be convinced of perfection?
— Why do we insist on rationalizing faith?
— Why are we so intolerant of our own doubts and our own imperfectability?
I find it fascinating that the image of the perfect world — Eden — is one that depends on NOT eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. And I’d argue that in that foundational story, humanity began not with the creation of Adam and Eve’s physical being, but with that first bite of the apple, which was the birth of consciousness.
Fatma, you express in that one sentence — “I hate to be in this situation as a devout Muslim” — what I know the vast majority of Muslims the world over feel. (And that one sentence also expresses how I feel, as a non-devout Jew, about Israel.)
As for the role of the West, yes, I think we’re still stuck in the backlash of 19th and 20th century colonialism, all of us still paying for that mind-numbing arrogance.
Perhaps something of an over-reaction, Hugh? I assure you nobody’s coming to “get me”.
Thank you Lesley. You do understand me.
We are human being and we are not perfect just opposite we have many imperfections. Islam is perfect but Muslims are not perfect. Every Human being has given intelligence to chose right or wrong. Belief or disbelief. No one has a right to judge each other. We can not say all believers are good non believers bad or opposite. I do not know you how can I say that you are a bad person because you don’t believe in God. Being Bad or Being Good has nothing to do with our religions or nationality or race. It has everything to do how we choose to behave towards other people or animals. One can be an atheist and yet very good person. Or one can be Muslim yet very bad person. I don’t have a right to judge others how can I while I have many shortcomings .
When we oppress people and make them suffer treat them unjustly they will start rebelling if this continuous decades some of the people who are oppressed goes over the board and transgresses the limits becomes Terrorist. I am not blaming just western politicians I am also blaming terrorist for being ignorant and violent people. Education is the key issue. If we educate people more they will not transgress the limits. Biggest problem we are facing at Muslim world is ignorance. First of all about our own religion Islam.
instead of Bushes being President if Al Gore was president I believe we were not going to have terrorism for example. Clinton and Obama as Presidents handled Middle East much better in my opinion.
I agree of course with what you say that someone’s religious beliefs don’t tell u whether they are “good” or “bad” people. But again, when someone says “Islam is perfect” or “Christianity is perfect” etc. that is automatically judging other’s people’s beliefs right off the bat. And again, if it was perfect, it would not have allowed this misinterpretation of religious texts to allow even this small percentage of people to become killers. You’ve blamed the West and blamed the terrorists too, but you absolve religion from any responsibility and that is where we disagree.
Do you hear of the prophecies about the “end of days” on earth that different religions have? Do you know that most devout religious people believe in them? And that they involve people killing people of other religions to prove “righteousness” in the end? How ironic. Do you not see that killings and crimes that take place in the name of religion scar the religion itself? And what are current muslim scholars doing to counteract these acts of crime and terror that occur in religion’s name? Are they trying to spread the word of love and forgiveness towards all mankind and religions? I don’t think so. They continue to talk negatively about people of other religions in their sermons every week in every small and big town. I understand the way you have reconciled the ugliness out there with your belief that religion is perfect by finding other things to blame the ugliness on, I used to do that too when I was young. But, humanizing the religion and its source can be very liberating and allows a better perspective on life and the world.
Your thoughts about Turkish governments in the past being anti-religion may be accurate. And the current Turkish government may be truly “secular” in the true sense of the word through separation of mosque and state, WITHOUT becoming anti-religion. But, I think it is generally agreed upon among most muslims and muslim scholars that they believe Islam is a way of life for them that governs everything they do including politics and government. Which goes against separation of religion and state. And that is not necessarily a knock on Islam. Devout Christians and Jews probably also believe that religion should be a big part of the political system that rules them.
Interested to hear Fatma and Lesley’s thoughts on these points….
Dear Chad, at Quran God says that: “today I perfected your religion for you. ” since I am a Muslim I believe my creator perfected my religion for me. That’s all I am saying. I am not saying any other thing. I can not choose some verses to believe some verses not to believe, in Quran. I have to believe all the verses in the Quran. That does not mean I am blaming you anyway.
In my country you can not find any imam perching in their sermons hate against any other religion they concentrate about on muslim behavior and essentials of faith and worship and they condemn terrorist in every occasion. Have you heard Fethullah Gulan ? He is Turkish scholar lives at US and he always teaches tolerance, harmony and dialog and tries everything to stop terrorist.
Yes religion encompasses all aspects of our lives but Islam is not against democracy. Quran teaches us to consult before giving decision at the family or at the government. In Turkey we have lived side by side since thousands years Jews, Christians and Muslims in peace and respect. We still do. Under the Ottoman Muslim Empire non Muslims were protected on religious rights and any other human rights issues. Today we have secular republic and nothing chanced. We live in harmony. We are building at Houston a synagog, a church and a mosque in the same “Peace Garden” to show everyone how Turkish citizens lives at Turkey.
At you tube there is a song by Mahsun kirmizigül demonstrates this harmony. Please check it out. Name of the song “Bizden degildir” it means “who ever discriminates, tyrants, liars are not from us” as I said at the past for 600 years we had Islamic law now secularism we are equals as citizens of Turkey.
I am not blaming Gods religion for any violence because 10 commandments are same in all Abrahamic religions: it says “Do Not Kill!” Murderers are humans against God will. They dis obey God and they will be punish greatly by God in this world and hereafter.
As someone whose native tongue is Arabic, I have to say that the verse you refer to translates differently.
اليوم اتممت لكم دينكم
It means: today i’ve completed/concluded your religion for you. Shouldnt translate to perfected. It was one of the last if not the last verse to come in before muhammad’s death.
But you do not need to turn defensive. Regardless how this translates, if u believe it is directly from god then u surely think its perfect. Thats your choice. But then I threw several questions your way pointing to religious imperfections and hate that you chose not to address.
You claim that in Turkey, no preachers preach hate. I cant claim to know preachers in Turkey. But I am sure the secular government is involved in controlling the preached message. I assure you that even if your claim is true, this is not the case in the vast majority of muslim countries. In most places, sermon carries quite sone hate. About as much hate as in a Pat Robertson talk. Problem is you wouldnt even know because in most places, women dont go to the Friday prayer and sermon with the men. So sure, maybe you are right about Turkey, I have not witnessed this directly, but Turkey is not the norm.
In terms of government, please do not try to convince me that islamic rule and government is democracy. Consulting people about big decisions or gaving a shura council is not the same as true democracy. Please check back with Saudi and Iran for the latest ideas of how political Islam is. Turkish democracy that you so enjoy is not islam based.
You also defend islam using examples from Turkey. I think you are still in the mode of trying to defend both based on the original discussion about Turkey’s ruling party. My critique is towards Islam as the average person and country lives it. Turkey is definitely more progressive and may have less hate preaching but only because the secular government has historically controlled it. Funny that the scholar you named who has inclusive and humane ideals actually lives in USA not Turkey. And the mosque/church/synagogue combo is in USA too. I dont think such an inclusive building of worship would be accepted in any muslim country.
Again, you did not address my specific questions about hate in religion, you only went back to saying religion shouldnt be blamed. Bringing up that the 10 commandments said not to kill. But killing in the name of god and religion has been going on for centuries. The best reason not to kill, or steal, or lie, is because its wrong from a humane standpoint. Not because religion told us so.
I think perhaps the basic principle here is that real freedom of religion entails the freedom to choose, which in turn entails not curtailing other people’s freedom of religion (or non-religion).
The thing is that we tend to think of religion solely as a matter of belief. But I think it’s far more than that. It’s also a matter of identity, of loyalty to tradition and family, a framework within which one lives one’s life. It provides the narrative of one’s life, as it were. Which means that religious difference is all too easily seen as an attack not only on belief, but on one’s very identity.
At its most simplistic, and thus its most ugly, religious righteousness (I am right/you are wrong) can be manipulated for political purposes, especially when civic government is weak. Thus the ongoing carnage in Iraq and Syria and Pakistan, in Nigeria and Somalia, where the sense of citizenship is fragile, fractured into sectarian affiliation.
‘The Marmara University comments’ must have come as a surprise to many liberals, seculars, agnostics and accidental theologists, gays and atheists who thougth that Turley is secular, anti Arabs, pro western, Latin script, etc. where headscarf, beards, Adan and all things Islamic are banned. Lo and behold! Turkey is still Islamic to the core as its people always were and opposed to the Anatolian ‘Young Turks’ who are today fading away.
Mr. Nasir, it seems you didnt read all the interesting comments. Turkey is still secular. Its just not anti-islam anymore.
I find the political climate a bit edgy too but this is not a necessarily bad thing. I am happy with the more tolerant climate that Turkey has nowadays and most anti-whatever voices are not as loud as they used to be. I consider the last outburst in Gezi as growing pains. Protestors were anti – goverment without any specific subject but simply because they were tired of Erdogan and didnt have a political outlet to be represented. Erdogal really doesnt have his match in the political arena yet.
I wish they had translated the book in Turkish. I have read “Muhammad” by Martin Lings in Turkish maybe 20 years ago and it is still to this day my favourite among all of the same subject.( I havent read “The First Muslim” yet but ordered online, so this may change :). That book did depict Mohammad as a human as one of us and it was that aspect of it that I liked most about the book and my religion as well. I remember some of my friends liking it and some not.
I am afraid the report is the product of a very coutious publisher. Is it possible to try another?
That’s up to the American publishers, who own world rights, but we’ll see what happens.
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The conversations on this thread are starting to sound like this:
My favorite Python movie!