[lit-ideas] Re: Ahmadi-Nejad's Letter to Bush

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 23:39:33 -0700 (PDT)

--- Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> I never called them stone-age but their social
> structure and laws were
> developed in medieval times and they want to return
> to them.  The absolutes
> prescribed by Mohammad remain valid.  Sharia law
> came from Allah through
> Mohammad and applies today the way it did in the 7th
> century. 

*This is not accurate. Sharia law is mostly based not
on the Qur'an but on the Sunnah, i.e. the narrative
accounts of the deeds and saying of the Prophet. This
was further developed by various schools of Islamic
jurisprudence, which include Hanbali, Hanafi, Shafi'i,
Maliki and (in Shia Islam) Jafa'ari. There are also
variations within these schools. So there isn't really
one "Sharia" but many. The problem today is that the
richest and most influential Arab country, i.e. Saudi
Arabia, practices and seeks to export a particularly
conservative version of the Shari'a, the Wahhabi brand
of Hanbalism. If you are concerned about exporters of
Islamic fundamentalism you would better to be
concerned about Saudi Arabi than about Iran.

> Also, the Arabs didn't invent all the things you
> gave them credit for.  The
> Islamists have made such claims, but they aren't
> true and are easily
> disproved.  Many of the scholars I've read have
> taken the trouble to
> disprove them.  There was a period when Arabic
> learning was more advanced
> than anyone else's, but this was a result of their
> translating Greek texts.
> Albert Hourani also refers to Indian and Persian
> texts but Arabs didn't go
> beyond what these earlier civilizations had
> developed except in very minor
> ways.  Hourani refers to some advances in astronomy
> and surgery.  

*Does Hourani mention the influence of Arab thinkers
like Ibn-Sina, Al-Ghazali and Ibn-Rushd on Western
philosophy ? 
> Western enlightenment began with the "discovery" of
> the Greek texts handed
> on by the Arabic scholars, but what these scholars
> had done and were doing
> wasn't in keeping with the Sharia and so was
> discontinued.  These scholars
> were in violation of the Sharia and not exemplars of
> it.  They were shut
> down.  

*There was a backlash against the philosophers
starting with Ghazali (mostly on the level of debate,
I don't that any of them has been physically
prosecuted), but this was not based on their violation
of the Sharia or opposition to the Sharia. It was felt
that some of their doctrines concerning the nature and
attributes of God, the next world etc. were

The Arabs returned to the medieval teachings
> of the 7th century while
> the West advanced.  As the West became increasingly
> enlightened, the Arabs
> entered their own dark ages - not because they were
> conquered (although they
> were by the Turks) but because they felt Sharia Law
> demanded it.

*If you say so, but I still suspect that the Mongol,
Ottoman and Western invasions will have had a lot to
do with it.


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