Santa V God

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Tao_Equus, May 10, 2008.

  1. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    This goes beyond taking positions and stating views. It has to do with factual claims and verifiable world history.


    Yes, we probably do have that in common, though it wouldn't be apparent from a couple of flippant, off-the-cuff posts on fairly complex issues.

    Btw, I thought we were making inroads as far as exploring the facts. It seems you're not interested in the facts I have to share. I'm not totally surprised. The reason I talk to myself is because no one else will listen. :)
     
  2. Devadatta

    Devadatta New Member

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    Well, I’m glad you ended with a happy face! But please do present whatever facts you like. Even if I don’t respond, I’m sure I’ll be enjoying them in silence.

    But again I was never interested in a debate on this. I was only suggesting that in your response to Tao’s full frontal assault on Islam you meet him at least some small distance part way and not completely bracket Islam out of consideration in those societies and cultures it has done so much to form.

    To recapitulate: Islam (religion) is either a motive force in a given society or it is not. If it is not, then it’s irrelevant, simply not a factor, and therefore not worth defending. If religion IS a motive force, then it is either a positive force, a negative force, or mixed. The new atheists maintain that it’s purely (or nearly purely) a negative force, and whatever positives are associated with religion are not intrinsic to religion but to human experience as a whole. For certain believers or apologists, religion is purely a positive force, and any negative associations are the result of outside forces or errors of application.

    My position as you know is the boring old commonsense every day pragmatic one that religion is a mixed force, like all cultural institutions, like all human projects and products.

    And that’s why I suggested that we “leave it at that”, for you’ve repeatedly referred to religion as if it’s some kind of essence that can be isolated and more or less correctly applied. For me religion is not an essence but a process, an activity that as I’ve said has no precise boundaries, and whose boundaries are constantly under negotiation.

    So when we go through the above train of reasoning, the stack is decked for both of us; we’re bound to come out on opposite sides.

    As for the historical record, I seriously doubt that you’re going to find the magic bullet that settles the question, particularly in a forum like this where necessarily our focus is going to be sporadic – after all, we do have lives, don’t we? (Well, sort of!) This isn’t graduate school, at least not for me.

    What usually happens with any serious immersion in history is that our sympathies get engaged, and in this case that will dictate whether we locate the difficulties of Islam internally or externally, and to what degrees (and to be clear, by difficulties I mean not just the phenomena of suicide bombers, but also the radical theocracy of Iran, the medieval theocratic kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the long history of despotism in many countries, poorly developed economies, the squandering of oil revenues, the inability for Arabs to unite against who they claim is their common enemy, and so on and on).

    Compare Bernard Lewis, a prominent scholar who has written much on Islam, and Edward Said, the author of “Orientalism”. Lewis, from what I know of him is the far deeper scholar, but there’s no doubt that he needs to be read with caution because of his engagement on the side of Israel. Said, on the other hand, invites one’s sympathies in that he’s an advocate for his Palestinian countrymen, and on this side of the pond at least, the Palestinian and Arab point of view is to this day nearly invisible. He has much to say about the trauma of colonialism still operant in the Arab world. At the same time his advocacy tends to paint Arabs as victims, and so again he must be read with caution. It helps to read two authors like this together.

    One book I would recommend that seems to me as balanced as humanly possible is Albert Hourani’s “A History of the Arab Peoples”. He writes from inside the culture, sympathetically, and certainly touches on all the achievements of the Arabs and Islam, but he writes accurately and dispassionately, so that you can make up your own mind about the general shape and trends of Arab and Islamic history.

    Dipping into history, everyone is going to come to his or her own sense of things. And if after deeper study, you decide that Islam is indeed an essence, a purely positive force, I’m hardly going to try to talk you around. Or let’s put it this way: I don’t have the time or energy available to effect your conversion!

    Happy face! (I prefer typing mine.)

    Shanti.
     
  3. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    And also a highly variable force.

    Doctrines aren't quite that flexible.

    Yes, I have a life too, which is why I appreciate it when somone meets me half ways with basic fact checks.

    Mmm, I thought middle school kids know how to to use footnotes when citing sources. I guess we can set the standard pretty much anywhere you like.:p

    Actually a basic drive for the truth is what keeps me going.

    Yes, no doubt

    Thanks for the tip. Hourani has also written one called Islam and European Thought.

    Well I did have a minute to devote to yours. Actually it took me less than a minute to find this article, which indicates the years 711 to 1492 for Islam's Golden Age.
    BBC - Religion & Ethics - Muslim Spain (711-1492): A Golden Age

    That's almost 800 years after the death of the Prophet. You would describe this as "relatively brief" and not worth mentioning?

    Also, Islam's Golden Age did not end because of inherent properties that led to Islam's decline. It's because Muslims were pushed out of Spain by new Christian regime or used as slaves after being forced to convert to Christianity.
     
  4. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    It is true that the Islamic states through the middle ages did keep good libraries and in a very few elites scholarship was held in esteem. But the libraries were on the whole booty from Islamic expansion and in that period Islamic study did almost nothing to build upon the knowledge that was already extant. As I have said before, Islam's only real great intellectual achievements during this time was in the arts and in architecture. In the science they did no more than tread water with the knowledge not attributable to them. You have to be a scholar today to know of any work done by any Islamic writer during that time that made any new contribution to human knowledge. There were very few. The Golden age of Islam was not an intellectual achievement but a military one and to try and paint it otherwise is painting a false picture.

    tao
     
  5. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    You mean they should have built on the Christian Flat Earth doctrine?

    Actually many of the scientific advances of the age were directly to the credit of Islamic civilization and not derivative.

    Historical shortsightedness is a common problem.

    As for the contention that the libraries were on the whole being "booty from Islamic expansion," this is hard to reconcile to the fact that there so many paper shops in Islamic Cordova. If all the books were being brought in, why were there so many paper shops ? The reason is simple: Cordova and other Islamic centers of learning is where the scholars were and that's where the books were being written. The scholars trecked to Spain from Europe.

    The reason scholars wanted to be part of Islamic society is also simple: that's where their talents were valued, as you point out. While the Islamic Golden age was peaking, Europe languished in the Dark Ages, an era dominated by Christendom. The Church headed up such notable scientific advances as flat earth doctrine, which I presume you include among the great "knowledge that was already extant." :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

    The Islamic libraries themselves were bookmaking factories. Now why would the libraries need to import books from abroad when so many books were being written by Muslim scholars and were the copied and disseminated everywhere else? Are you saying that there was a recall of the books they themselves had written and distributed? :confused:

    There was some cultural exchange despite the Christian Crusades. Some books were indeed brought in from elswehere, but many of them came fron other Muslim territories and centers of learning. Btw, they were not typically acquired by force. Rather, they were brought in by women who were employed by the libraries as professional book huntresses.


    Indeed, there are false pictures and your portrayal is one of them. In the article from which I will now quote there was an interesting comment that the Clash of Civilisations is actually just "a clash of ignorance."
    "The story about ‘spreading the faith by the sword’ is an evil legend, one of the myths that grew up in Europe during the great wars against the Muslims," says Jewish peace activist Uri Avnery in his recent article "Mohammad’s Sword." Since Christians are accorded the same status by Islam as Jews, it might be illuminating to ask whether Jewish minorities were forced under Muslim rule to change their religion. The same question can be put differently: what is Islam’s equivalent of the Inquisition?

    "There is no evidence whatsoever of any attempt to impose Islam on Jews," says Avnery who then adds, "As is well known, under Muslim rule the Jews of Spain enjoyed a bloom the like of which the Jews did not enjoy anywhere else until almost our time.… In Muslim Spain Jews were ministers, poets, scientists." Avnery goes on to conclude: "That was, indeed, the Golden Age."

    In fact, many of the works of Arab polymath Ibn Rushd (Spain, 1126-1198) only survived in their Hebrew or Latin translations, thanks to his Jewish and Christian students in Muslim Spain, and later throughout Europe. For instance, his influential commentary on Plato’s Republic was only recently translated from Hebrew back to its original Arabic! The crucial question, as put by Avnery, regarding the age-old participation of religious minorities in Muslim scientific, cultural and even political life, is: "How would this have been possible, had the Prophet decreed the ‘spreading of the faith by the sword’?"
    I don't know what to tell you, friend Tao. Try again?
     
  6. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    No. Most of it was Greek or Persian and some from as far as India and China.


    If so then why do you make a vacuous statement instead of one with "many" examples?


    Ohhh contraire, it is the apologists that are the problem.

    I do not have a clue as to why you would assume I am referring to some Christian knowledge. Do I ever refer to Christian knowledge in science or philisophical thinking as ever having made any contribution to human knowledge? I think not.

    Yes they made lots of copies of the Classical Greeks etc and a few commentaries on them, but almost no "new" knowledge was added to the human library.

    Brb, need to clean the coffee I sprayed when I choked with laughter reading that.



    No there is the truth. And then there are apologists and scholars and politicians and blinkered theists and do gooders that all seem so determined to paint a lie. You go tell the families of 1 million dead Sudanese that the apologists are right. Good luck.
     
  7. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Your source please.


    Your original contention (Post #464) was: "In the sciences they did no more than tread water with the knowledge not attributable to them." It seems you expect us to accept your claim until I disprove it and in the meantime you tell me I'm the one making vapid statements?? :p;):p


    That's one opinion.

    My point is simply this: if you want to criticise civilizations's failings, why are you singling out Islam, which was thriving while Christian Europe was in the Dark Ages? Your agenda is showing. Some pretense to evenhandedness would help your credibility. :)




    How would you presume to quantify "almost"? Your claims are not only unsubstantiated; they are meaningless.


    Wish I could say I'm amused by your failure to support your own generalities. Astonished :confused: maybe, but not amused.


    And then there are aspiring propagandists who ignore contrary facts and assume their audience naive enough to consider their half-baked propaganda to be true until someone else takes the trouble to refute it. Sheesh. :(


    Is this kind of flimsy argument by insinuation your idea of a sociological analysis of the situation in Darfur ?
     
  8. Devadatta

    Devadatta New Member

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    Netti, Netti, Netti, if only there were some resemblance between your views and the implications of the name you’ve chosen for these forums.

    I've displayed enormous restraint so far in simply trying to get you to move a few degrees of your dogmatism, to get you to dismount from your hobbyhorse, if only briefly. But I've had enough.

    And this is one of those cases where things get so silly it would be better to just let it go. Obviously I have a flawed character, because here I am one last time. But it’s hard to know where even to start.

    How about like this: the fundamental difficulty you present is that while you claim to search for truth, you’re only looking for whatever scrap of text or opinion supports your pre-conceived position. I have on occasion suggested you were an apologist. I now think that was flattery. A true apologist of good standing is honest about his or her engagements and boundaries and provides some reasonable grounds for dialogue. You take a dogmatic position but are evasive about its true nature, which is dishonest if not bizarre, and certainly makes a straightforward exchange of views impossible.

    You’ve shown pretty conclusively that you know very little about Islam or its history, and yet you want to promote your extreme, categorical position based on this ignorance. Your gibe about citing sources is ironic beyond belief. I pointed you toward solid but easily available sources which would help you toward a broader, less ideological understanding of Islam and its place in history. And how do you respond: you cite a story posted on the BBC! (Which by the way I read long ago.) And you cite this notion of a 700-year golden age as proof that all the problems of Islam are attributable to the reconquista, completed in 1492, even though I anticipated this claim and its superficiality in a previous post!

    Look, this is wiki-scholarship on full display. The Internet environment is great for quick reference, for locating this or that spelling, date, historical fact, to jog one’s memory. I do that all the time. But it’s no substitute for the hard work of true immersion in the subject. Just cutting and pasting whatever you can dig up that supports your opinion has little more than entertainment value.

    The “golden age” is obviously a very elastic term, and I understand the politically good intentions that would use this term to cover virtually the whole of Islamic history before the reconquista and the definitive emergence of Europe. Hourani himself points out the achievements of Muslim civilization throughout its history; even the very late arriving Ottomans were hardly bereft of their own achievements in the administration of a vast empire. But there is a point where justifiable pride becomes delusional and self-defeating. And to drape this long and complicated history with a “golden age” simply cloaks a complex reality and diverts us from a clear appraisal of Muslim civilizations, both its strengths and its weaknesses.

    But of course this is also an abuse of the term “golden age”. We don’t say that Greece enjoyed a golden age of 800 years from Homer until the arrival of the Romans. The golden age of Greece refers to a very much briefer period of perhaps 200 years at most, encompassing the major political, artistic, literary and philosophic achievements we all know about. But why begin with Homer, why not go back 400 more years to the reputed time of the Trojan War, why not go back yet further, to the beginnings of the Mycenaean civilization? They were Greeks, weren’t they? I mean this just isn’t a serious way of thinking. If Islam truly had enjoyed an uninterrupted 700 year golden age in the proper sense of the term – something no civilization has every done - they wouldn’t have been decisively overtaken by Europe, and history would have been drastically different than it is.

    Again, your dogmatic frame of mind does a disservice to the civilization you would like to defend. By setting it up as passive victim you strip it of its internal logic. I’ve only been pleading with you to step back from your simplistic assertions, make some effort to see things in the round. I have no interest in taking an assigned part in your Manichean fantasy world. So you’re right in that respect: you’ve been debating with yourself.

    Truly I’ve displayed enormous weakness of character in taking any of this as seriously as I have.

    Happy fact! Frowny face! Winky face!
     
  9. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Actually it was you that raised the point of Islamic contributions not I. I have been reading about the history and development of cultures, science, philosophy, the arts etc for close to 30 years, I have read 100s of books on these subjects. I live in a city with wonderful museums and art gallery's with large exhibition spaces that have had some great exhibitions specifically on Islamic contributions to the human endeavour. I know of a few things unique to Islamic science and thinking that you have most notably failed to mention. And so far I have given you more than enough opportunity to let you show you have something more than a narrow apologetic to offer. You have no real knowledge of the subject and you seem far more intent on trying to handicap an honest debate than imparting anything of any use to anyone. I am not going to do your leg work for you any more. After I have made my post on the Koran you will get no more of me running around after you.



    I am sure there will be no end of posters on this forum that will chuckle at that. I confine most of my criticism to Islam, Christianity and capitalism. Am I not allowed to choose my own field of interest now too?




    I can say 'almost' with absolute confidence for I know what the 'almost' is, you most evidently do not.






    You may call 1 million dead a flimsy argument. But can you sleep at night doing so?
     
  10. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    I can't say the feeling is mutual because I find your posts quite useful.

    Let's look at your Post # 454 where you cite Surah 9:5
    Surah 9:5 pertains to a historical time frame when there actually were disputes and conflicts with pagans and polytheists. At one point, it appears an ultimatum was proposed as a means of encouraging these people to refrain from continued disruptions. That's what the "forbidden months are past" part is about.

    Here is another translation of the same verse that gives us a little more detail about what's going on there:

    [9:5] Once the Sacred Months are past (and they refuse to make peace) you may kill the idol worshipers when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make. If they repent and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), you shall let them go. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
    I'd emphasize that the passage in question is part of a historical record specific to a given situation. There is no reason to believe that this Surah is a general statement of policy concerning the treatment of pagans and polytheists. It is unclear why you cite it without making any attempt whatsoever to place it in historical context.

    It is not helpful to cite the passage without any attempt to link it to historical circumstanes. Further, it is not helpful to cite the passage without any attempt to see it in its original literary context. Sura 9:6 is the next verse:
    If one of the idol worshipers sought safe passage with you, you shall grant him safe passage, so that he can hear the word of GOD, then send him back to his place of security. That is because they are people who do not know.
    Obviously the attitude being promoted here is one of tolerance combined with an offer of protection for anyone seeking asylum who refrains from violence against the Muslims in that setting at that time. Notice that the mere fact of being pagans and polytheists is not grounds to try to force religion on them. In fact, on the contrary, their status as pagans and polytheists is seen as a basis giving them special consideration: "because they are people who do not know." Again, the attitude is protective.

    When considered in light of the phrase "so that he can hear the word of GOD," granting safe passage and respecting the person's security needs becomes important as a way of modeling the spirit of the religion.

    As you can see, with a little bit of context, Surah 9:5 takes on an altogether different meaning.

    With regard to your reference:
    Your citation is incorrect. It's not the source for the paragraph at the top of your Post # 454. The cite for The Abrogator and the Abrogated pertains to a book that is mentioned in passing in an article called "The Quran's Doctrine of Abrogation." The article is the source for your first paragraph, not the book.

    The article was prepared by Abdullah Al Araby, someone who has been known to collaborate with the likes of Robert Spencer, who is regarded to be a blatant anti-Muslim propagandist in the States.

    Thanks for the post, Tao. :)
     
  11. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    With an opening like that, what should I expect? A condescending little lecture combined with some offhand ad hominem remarks?
    :D:D:D :D:D:D

    No surprises here.
     
  12. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    If you feel that strongly about it, maybe you'd like to argue with these authors:
    Many historians have questioned whether these conversions to Islam were in fact genuine transformations and acceptance of the new religion, or whether it was performed by physical force or other pressures by Muslim conquerors (i.e. a convenient strategy to succeed in trade). "It is now apparent that conversion by force, while not unknown in Muslim countries, was, in fact, rare." Instead, most people who adopted the new faith did so voluntarily, and such force was condemned by religious teachings. As the Qur'an proclaims, "Let there be no compulsion in religion."
    Also in his authoritative commentary and translation, 'Ali further explains that compulsion is incompatible with Islam because "religion depends upon faith and will, and these would be meaningless if induced by force."


    Conclusion:
    "If there is an underlying common factor in the worldwide diffusion of Islam it seems to be its capacity to generate religious fellowship, larger-order communities, and states among peoples otherwise living in highly factionalized or fragmented societies. In general, the spread of Islam seems to have been most effective when it gave a new social identity to peoples severed from their traditional social structures." (19) With these words, Lapidus summarizes the fundamental impact of the spice trade on the successful spread of Islam -- it was done by choice not force. Although there is minuscule documentation and extensive disagreement over what kinds of spices were traded, in what quantities, when and to whom, there is virtually universal agreement on the role of the spice trade in the spread of Islam. Without the spice trade, Islam would not have become a major religion outside of the Arab world.
    Case Study


    Hear, hear!
     
  13. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Sweet![/happysmirkyface]

    Chris
     
  14. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Netti,
    You accuse me of using the material of propagandists and then present quotes with glaring internal contradictions from Orientalist propaganda merchants.

    You really did well there.
     
  15. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    From Netti's link:
    And how about this:
    So, basically for the layman: This is a college paper about the evolution of the spice trade. The information on Islam is the standard, obligatory, social studies primer caliber stuff. I'm underwhelmed.

    Chris
     
  16. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Which contradictions are those? Can you be more specific?
     
  17. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Chris,
    Let's see, most historical research is done at the universities, so I'm not sure what your point is.


    I thought the amount of detail was quite remarkable. Maybe there are other references on the spice trade as a medium for the spread of Islam?


    By way of clarification, there are no Islamic history experts active on the board at this time that I'm aware of. I'm certainly not one. For that reason alone it is highly unlikely that any of the issues raised will be settled in any definitive way. All I'm doing is showing how easy it is to find information that directly challenges religio-ethnic stereotypes, myths, and ill-informed opinions that are routinely repeated in knee-jerk fashion without a single citation for authority and without considering the logical errors involved in many of the positions taken. Whether this has any value in the scheme of things is a personal judgment. I personally believe in an ecology of information, but that's just me.

    We don't know who reads these posts. I'm doing my part to call attention to a need for minimal care in relation to posts that I believe come very close to being hate speech and certainly very close to violating the letter and spirit of the CR forum's Code of Conduct. I have no interest in being a moderator. I do a fair amount of slopping around in these parts myself, so I'm not necessarily expecting pristine purity. However, when I see an inflammatory zero-substance post in a public forum that has the potential to endorse religious violence, my inclination is to respond. Again, that's just me.

    Rather than merely state my personal opinion of such posts, my approach is to impugn them on the basis of lack of evidence or inferential problems - which can be done even with social studies primer caliber material.

    I suppose one could argue that opinions are as just as good as facts when dealing with history, but that too is a personal judgment.

    Thanks for your interest.
     
  18. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Being told to convert and give over your wealth and property to the Muslims or else be killed is compulsion in my eyes. As the above list of military conquests that link to many 100s of bloody battles shows there was nothing peaceable about Islamic expansion. The leaders never cared about Islam, they cared about wealth and power, and in that day there was no more wealth to be found than along the spice trail. It was nothing to do with Allah, Islam was just a part of the control mechanism of justification and jurisprudence, a part of the structure of a war and power machine.

    That such a meaningless, unsubstantiated, vacuous and ,frankly, banal statement can ever appear in any so called "scholarly" paper is only understood in the context that it comes from a member of the Orientalist apologists. Like I say I cannot believe it is any accident that they all appear at roughly the same time from the same area pumping out the same outright lies. Wake up and smell the coffee Netti. If you want to understand what Islam really is then you go not to the western universities with their moles infiltrated to spread a lie but to the Islamic schools across the Islamic world. There Abrogation is taught. The Infidel is an enemy to subdue, conquer enslave or kill. And any method is valid. Lie to them, deceive them, lure them in traps. This is what is taught in their schools. When a Muslim martyr blows himself and however many innocent bystanders to smithereens the mosques do not condemn him, they proclaim with joy his marriage to the virgins in paradise. That is what you are dealing with. Not some deliberately fostered propaganda from some orientalist. A peaceable Islam is a lie. Ask the Hindu's who continue to suffer daily suicide bombs on the Islamic campaign of the Hindu Genocide. A campaign thats been waged for well over a millennium. But dont come back at me again with the crap regurgitated from the Orientalist "scholars" that have infiltrated the western universities. I dont buy that rubbish.

    tao
     
  19. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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  20. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti New Member

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    Then their actions do not reflect on Islam.

    IMPORTANT: It seems we agree.

    Perhaps you don't think the distinction between religion and historical application as critical, but I think it is and I'm not sure why the distinction isn't apparent in some of your general comments/global condemnations even though you obviously understand it.

    My initial reaction to your rather stark presentation of the evidence in the form of a list is that it gives the impression that all of the expansionist policies reflected in the various conquests in that list should be considered representative of Islam. Presumably the rulers and military leaders of these campaign were also typical Muslims who conducted themselves in a manner that was typical of what you'd expect for an Islamic caliphate. Presumably.


    Let's start with the first item in your list, which was for the Byzantine-Arab Wars of: 634-750. This happend during the Umayyad Caliphate. The wars were headed up principally by Muawiyah, the caliph who ruled the Umayyad dynasty (the first Muslim dynasty) from 680 to 683:
    His mother Maysun was Christian. He is notable as an object of animosity among Sunni Muslims and Shi'a Muslims, who reject his legitimacy and condemn his role in the Battle of Karbala which resulted in the death of Husayn ibn Ali. A lot of books have been written by prominent Sunni and Shi'a Scholars of whole Islamic history to condemn his role against the family of the Prophet Mohammad. He was specially condemned of his behavior during the Saga of Karbala.
    Yazid I - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Tell me friend Tao, is a typical Islamic caliph rejected and scorned throughout the Muslim community?


    The Umayyad dynasty has been criticized within the Muslim community on a variety of issues, including but not limited to their tyrannical approach. In fact, the Umayyads have been described as Creators of Darkness that good Muslims should avoid. The Umayyads have been likened to
    evil eyed fear and pre-Islamic fragments, wherein there would be no minaret of guidance nor any sign (of salvation) to be seen. We Ahlu'l-bayt (the Household of the Prophet) are free from this mischief and we are not among those who would engender it.
    Nahj ul Balagha - Peak of Eloquence- Sermons, Letters, Sayings by Immam Ali (a.s)



     

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