Lombi asked this question on the artcone forums: For many in the West, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center turned a page in world history. They signaled the onset of a monumental struggle between fundamentalist Islam and modern, secular democracy, what the Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington has called a “clash of civilizations.”
Not so, Reza Aslan argues in “No god but God.” “What is taking place now in the Muslim world is an internal conflict between Muslims, not an external battle between Islam and the West,” he writes. “The West is merely a bystander – an unwary yet complicit casualty of a rivalry that is raging in Islam over who will write the next chapter in its story.”
That history, grippingly narrated and thoughtfully examined, takes up nearly all of “No god but God.” Aslan, an Iranian by birth and a doctoral student in history and religion at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has written a literate, accessible introduction to Islam (or, more accurately Islams), carefully placing its message and rituals in historical context. Complete with a glossary and an annotated bibliography, it could easily serve as a university textbook.
Aslan is, in a certain sense, a fundamentalist. The Christian sense of the word is meaningless in Islam, of course, because Muslims believe that the Koran was dictated by God and, therefore, that its words are literally true. But like the puritanical Wahhabists of Saudi Arabia, whom he reviles, Aslan looks to the first Muslim community in Medina, established by Muhammad 1,400 years ago, as a model for reform today. His Medina, though, is a communal, egalitarian society dedicated to pluralism and tolerance. The problem with Islam, Aslan argues, is the clerical establishment that gained control over the interpretation of the Koran and the hadit, or the anecdotes describing the words and deeds of Muhammad. Less than two centuries after Muhammad’s death in 632, some 700,000 hadith were circulating throughout the Muslim world, “the great majority of which were unquestionably fabricated by individuals who sought to legitimize their own particular beliefs and practices by connecting them with the Prophet.”
The stoning of adulterous women, to take a notorious example, originated not in the Koran, but in the virulent misogyny of Umar, one of Muhammad’s first converts, who simply claimed that this form of punishment had accidentally been left out of the Koran. Although women in the Medina community were given the right to inherit their husbands’ property, later scholars decided that the Koran, when instructing believers “not to pass on your wealth and property to the feeble-minded,” had women and children in mind.
One of Aslan’s most important chapters deals with the centuries-long struggle between traditionalists and rationalists over the proper interpretation of the Koran. The rationalists saw the Koran as both the word of God and as a historical document whose meanings change through time.
For the traditionalists, the Koran is fixed and eternal. The traditionalists won. The power to interpret the Koran came under the control of religious scholars, collectively known as the ulama, who ended the era of consensus and free reasoning that, up to the 10th century, had defined Koranic inquiry.
If this sounds like a remote quarrel, it is not. Aslan says it is now being played out again throughout the Muslim world. This, he argues, is the real jihad: not holy war against the West, but the internal struggle for Islam’s soul.
Aslan acknowledges that the outcome is in doubt. He places his hopes in the like-minded liberals who, he suggests, constitute Islam’s silent majority. “The fact is that the vast majority of the more than one billion Muslims in the world readily accept the fundamental principals of democracy,” he writes.
This may be, but Aslan, in his polemical conclusion, tends to assert rather than present evidence. His impassioned plea for an Islamic form of democracy, although moving, sounds sophistical.
Religion and the state, in his view, cannot be separate. The very concept is alien to Islam. Yet somehow pluralism, human rights, equality of the sexes and religious tolerance will prevail in the state, because, he says, these values already exist in Islam.
As Aslan acknowledges, Iran’s halting steps toward a synthesis of Islam and democracy have been discouraging, as has the Taliban. But the tide of history, Aslan insists, is moving in the right direction, sweeping Islam back, after 1,400 years, toward Medina.
PhotoMom25 asked this question on the artcone forums: rate per illustration
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BabyDoll asked this question on the artcone forums: …working on a black light special F/X project, & need a type of material. Here’s what I’m doing: I have built a posterboard framework, big enough to fit in an average-sized window; the window itself, is covered in a black felt material, and framed by curtains. Strung vertically across the framework, are 3 layers of black nylon thread, w/each layer an inch apart, and each thread length 1/2 inch apart from each other. On each layer of threads, I am affixing glow-in-the-dark stars, eyes, whatever, with the larger ones on the front layer, and the smaller ones, progressively back. When I shine a black light on this for a short period, this will, of course create an eerie 3-D effect.
…looking for material, kinda like the stuff used to make woman’s stockings, to cover the front of the framework, so that in normal light, the illusion will be just (or almost) blackness, but when the black light is introduced, the glow-in-the-dark material will shine through.