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The Challenge of Modernizing Islam

The Challenge of Modernizing Islam

Reformers Speak Out and the Obstacles They Face
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"Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a well-known Somali-born activist and former Dutch politician who has rejected the possibility of the emergence of a moderate Islam, has more recently stated, “Both Christianity and Judaism have had their eras of reform. I would argue that the time has come for a Muslim Reformation.”[1] She followed up with a book entitled “Heretic” wherein she asserts, “ordinary Muslims are ready for change”. [1]According to reformist Dr. Zuhdi Jasser; “normative Islam is what comes out of Al-Azhar University and Saudi schools, which is the majority of what is being taught. It needs tons of reform.” With the explosion of global information about Islam since 9/11, fueled by the Internet, Islam is embroiled in a turf war between ruling Muslim despots, backward clerics who seek to “reform” Islam back to the barbaric 7th century, and those who seek to reform Islam to modernity. The West ought to support the latter in its efforts to evolve.
Understanding the difference between Muslims who practice their faith personally, from Islamists who thrive toward a political Islam and to impose their ideologies globally, is the fundamental goal of this endeavor. It is imperative for citizens and authorities in the West to understand this differentiation, as Islamists seek to infiltrate through the vast numbers of Muslim immigrating to the West. Dr. Salim Mansur warns that Westerners “should not be nonchalant about Western values and see them as natural and God-given. People have fought and died for values like gender and race equity, free speech and the fragile notion of freedom. Such a notion does not exist around the world but has emerged in Western civilization.”
It is unrealistic to implement policies that ban Muslim immigration, to deport Muslims already living in the West, or stop every penny crossing our borders from Salafist-funding states in the Middle East, but we can limit the influence of Islamism by asking questions, and to immunize ourselves with knowledge and open dialogue. This book will provide a foundation to ask valid questions.
For the purposes of this book, the word “moderate” means a form of Islam that accepts pluralism and is compatible with modernity and Western democracy. It does not mean that a Muslim can openly rebuke the tactics of the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS) while stealthily advocating Sharia law globally, and then be deemed a moderate. The media often reports stories of Muslims who condemn the brutality of ISIS and al Qaeda as un-Islamic, but upon further research, many of these so-called moderates have ties to Islamist organizations and are on record advocating Sharia law globally. When close to 100 Muslims in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada visited the Alberta legislature to pray for the families of the victims of terror attacks in Ottawa and near Montreal in October 2014, accolades went out across the country for this show of solidarity with Canada.[1] Edmonton Imam Bassam Fares was quoted as saying: “When these types of attacks happen, we all, as Canadians, stand against them...We want to offer our condolences, and show our solidarity with these families.” Fares’ words sounded sincere, but Fares is an Executive Director of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), one of the only Muslim organizations in the world to openly and admit its origins and ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.[1] "

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Therefore Choose Life

Therefore Choose Life

The Found Massey Lectures
by George Wald
introduction by Lewis Auerbach
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook
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One with the Universe

All men, everywhere, have asked the same questions: Whence we come, what kind of thing we are, and at least some intimation of what may become of us. Seeking answers to these questions, men have followed many paths. I hope I may be forgiven for believing that science offers perhaps the surest of those paths.

We have special need now for answers to those questions. Our society is adrift. We are in a crisis of conviction, of mission, of commitment — a kind of worldwide identity crisis. Indeed, technology having obliterated distance, man needs more than ever before to become a community. Unless we can achieve some commonly accepted sense of human needs and goals, we’re lost.

So, that is the kind of thing I shall be talking about. I shall be asking the question: From what base can a scientist, dealing as a scientist, make moral and political judgements? I would like to examine that base — my base. Perhaps it can become yours.

What I am looking for is some sort of context that can serve as a guide to decision and action. In a sense, this is my religion — the entirely secular religion of one scientist. It contains no supernatural elements. Nature is enough for me — enough of awe, enough of beauty, enough of reason.

I would like to begin by sorting out some basic ideas. We need to know what we are talking about. Man has been engaged, ever since we have known him, in an unending struggle to know. I think that is epitomized in science — science is an attempt to understand all reality. Reality covers a very broad province — not only such relatively simple things as stones falling and the structures of atomic nuclei, but much more complicated things such as poets writing sonnets, people weeping, people praying. I think that some of those more complicated things science will never understand; but we’ll keep on trying.

The point of the whole enterprise is to achieve understanding. Facts are only the raw material of science. Some time ago I read for the first time (though not the last) Herman Hesse’s book Siddhartha, and I came out of that first reading with a wonderful sentence: “One can gain knowledge from words, but wisdom only from things.”

I think that’s what science is about: it’s a deep-seated attempt to extract the wisdom from things. As such, as that deep and consistent attempt to understand reality, science is altogether good (as our culture interprets “the good”) — there can be no such thing as bad science. Any other view would be a plea for ignorance, and there can be no possible quarrel with science that ignorance can improve.

There is another entirely different enterprise: the application of science to useful ends — technology. I have just finished saying that science is altogether good, but I would never dream of saying that about technology!

Technology is for use, and in any properly conducted society, every enterprise in technology, new and old, should be under constant review and judgement in terms of the needs and goals and aspirations of that society.

One of the troubles with our present society is that we tend to regard all technology, without question, as progress — sometimes the more unpleasant aspects of technology as aspects of fate. But that’s altogether wrong.

One needs to ask: Should one do everything one can? All too often the answer one is given is, Why, yes! Of course, one does everything one can — one travels as far and as rapidly, and makes as big a bomb as one can, and all those other things, as soon as one becomes able to. But the proper answer is: Of course not! Among all those things that can be done, a decision needs to be made as to which to do and which not to do, and that in terms of our essential human social needs.

Who is to make those decisions? Well, another trouble with our present society is that those decisions are being made almost entirely by the producers of technology — by those who see in that technology opportunities for wealth, or power, or status. One should listen to all that such interest parties have to say. But then that final decision should be made quite otherwise. That final decision should be made not by the producers of technology, but by those who will have to live with the products.

So, I think the position is this: Know all you can, but do only what seems socially useful and beneficial to do.

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Borderline Canadianness

Borderline Canadianness

Border Crossings and Everyday Nationalism in Niagara
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
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From Kinshasa to Kandahar

From Kinshasa to Kandahar

Canada and Fragile States in Historical Perspective
edition:eBook
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