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Total number of comments: 8 (since 2013-11-28 16:50:47)


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  • Top 5 Ways Saudi Arabia really could fight Terrorism, & not by a Vague Coalition
    • The supposed distinction between Sunni and Wahabi got confusing in the article. As you know, Sunnis have 4 mainstream "madhabs" or schools of thoughts--Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali. The biggest school is Hanafi followed by the majority Sunnis of South and South-east Asia. The Talebans actually belong to this group. On the other hand Wahabis come from Hanbali school. Al Qaeda, and more loosely ISIL, are offshoots of Wahabism.

      Hanbali school, practiced more in the middle east, has always been more puritanical than their counterparts, and those of us who are students of Islamic history are not overly surprised to see the progression of Wahabism into Daesh. In my humble opinion, Talebanism (extreme form of Hanafi) would not have been a problem for the rest of the world--they were imposing harsh rules but among their own population. It was Al Qaeda that took advantage of the Taleban's tribal culture of hospitality and launched aggressions against the West. There are some fundamental thought processes in Wahabism that makes it difficult to coexist with other Sunnis without dominating them, or non-sunnis (that includes Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Jews...), without picking up a fight.

      I hope Prof. Cole can focus on and educate us on Wahabism in a future post.

  • Top Seven Myths about Muslims
    • Good article. I would, however, update myth #4 with the following changes:
      (a) "In addition, Islam does not at all deny the existence of Christianity or Christ. And it does fully recognise and pay due respect to the Talmud and the Bible."

      I would replace "Talmud" with Torah. The Quran mentions Torah dozens of times (a few example: 3:329, 5:624, 6:624) but does not mention Talmud since, unlike Torah, these collections are not considered to have been revealed from God.

      (b) "The main difference is that Islam considers Christ as God’s closest and most beloved “prophet,” not his son."

      I would change the phrase to " of God's closest and most beloved prophets". This is because God in the Quran does not provide a hierarchical list in terms of preference and superiority, but mentions Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Joseph, Mohammad, and many others as prophets, who devoted themselves to God alone and spread His Message to the people risking their lives and livelihood.

      Furthermore, in no uncertain terms, God forbids any human being from making any distinction among any of his messengers (see 2:193, 2:323, 3:380, 4:150). The ultimate judgment remains up to God and we are not expected to waste any time trying to put one of them over the other. Unfortunately, this is exactly opposite of what most human beings (including Muslims) do.

  • War with Iran, by the Numbers
    • If anything, the numbers are too conservative. Casualties and costs in a war are not linear, but rather exponential with respect to population. Also, Iran wields much more influence in the area than Iraq back then ever did--in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Syria, extending to minority population in all the gulf states, including Saudi Arabia. The war against itself will be like a nuclear bomb, the firestorm and shockwave extending far beyond. If Israel thinks that it can somehow be immune from the fall-out with only US bearing the brunt, they are only fooling themselves.

  • Obama with Drama: Translating his comments on Israel's Netanyahu from the Vulcan
    • Brilliantly translated diplomatic jargon, Dr. Cole! This is the reason I keep coming back to your blog.

  • Jesus and Muhammad and the Question of the State
    • Dear "Seventy Five":
      You said "Hadith literature is a crucial component of Islam, it’s how Muslims know how to pray and many other crucial issues in regards to the everyday lives of Muslims..."

      So, you really believe that Hadith tells us how to perform salat (prayer) while Quran does not, thus implying that one cannot really practice Islam without relying on hadith? So, this is my challenge to you. Find for us (and for yourself), using hadith, how to perform a particular prayer (say, the Fajr or the morning prayer), how many units, what are the steps and sequences, what to say in what position, etc.

      I suspect that you won't be able to. After all, the first 200 years of Muslims were apparently able to practice Islam without the benefit of Bukhari's writings.

  • The Gospel of Jesus' Wife and Sacred History from Judaism to Islam
    • Muhammad,
      You make some excellent points. I would especially like to emphasize your point that Quran, the ultimate source of faith for all muslims, is silent about the age of Aisha when she was married. The traditions that many muslims and detractors of Islam (with different motives of course--one can easily guess what these motives might be) were written more than 200 years after the death of prophet Muhammad. This is roughly 6 generations of *oral* (yes, oral) transmission.

      You didn't make this point--and you may well disagree with me--but I would actually take a broader lesson from this and draw a clear boundary between the Quran (compiled within a few years after the death of the prophet and multiple witnesses verifying each verse), and the oral traditions, such as coming from Bukhari, which were documented by one person well after all methods of validity of these stories have expired.

      I am sure, most of the people are familiar with the game of Chinese whispers, except for this is not a game. Millions of people are modeling their lives based on many of these whispers, and kill and/or be killed believing these are divine whispers.

  • Romney in the Land of the Anglo-Saxon Uncertain Olympics: Not Ready for Prime Time
    • The daily telegraph put it the best "Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive"

  • Obama may Call for al-Asad to step down
    • "If Obama calls for al-Asad to be gone, and he is still there years from now, it will just make the US look weak and ineffectual."

      I think US is already weak and ineffectual in the middle east, so there is not much we can lose. With the Iraq war that cost trillions (of dollars) and hundreds of thousands (of lives) and gained little if any, total lack of control over Israel and the peace process, scrambling for a strategy during any new development starting from Egyptian revolution to Libyan civil war, the dysfunctional political discourse dominated by a radical minority, massive financial crisis with no viable plans, the US is neither respected nor feared any more in the world, let alone in the middle east.

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