December 04, 2003

Is the Pope Muslim?

I'd be interested to hear what others make of this piece, which seems off to me. I've argued before that I don't think the current situation in Islam is comparable to the Age of Reformation, and this piece, by Edward Faser, seems to confirm me in my opinion. But what's especially bizarre about it is that he seems intent on refighting the Reformation, and reducing Luther and Calvin (and, for that matter, Mohammad -- it seems to me that the three don't belong in the same class) to the level of "revolutionary socialist(s) or libertine(s)." And I can't quite square how, in the economy of faith, a hierarchical, aristocratic, quasi-feudal organization like the Catholic Church dispensing the faith in what it perceived to be the proper dosage squares with Hayek's distrust of absolutist and socialist organizations that ignore the consumer -- that is, the faithful -- and put all their trust in the all-knowing state.

That's my quick take, but I'll write more tomorrow. As I said, though, I'd love to see what Aziz, Zack, Brian or Dan thinks...

Posted by Ideofact at December 4, 2003 11:42 PM

Without getting into the economics aspects of this piece, it is my opinion that the opening premise is completely wrong. It was actually European contact with the then much more enlightened and "liberal" Islamic culture that led directly to the Renaissance and the birth of modern science. The Reformation was a secondary effect of that contact.

Posted by: Rob at December 5, 2003 08:58 AM

Thanks for noting this, I missed it and now I've got more to write home about this weekend ;) This guy also gets a gold star in my book for being the first commentator I've ever seen compare John Calvin (or Mohammed, for that matter) to a socialist libertine ...

Posted by: Dan Darling at December 5, 2003 09:45 AM

I tend to distrust any commentary on Islam that starts with "the trouble with Islam . . . ."

There are also some questionable suppositions, like "the Koran came to him straight from God, or so he tells us, and the reader must simply obey it." To say that the reader must simply obey it kinda misses the point.

And then this statement, "there is no mechanism in Islam, as there is in Catholicism, for an application of the principles of an ongoing Tradition to new circumstances -- be they social, political, scientific, or technological -- by drawing out heretofore implicit consequences" is flat out wrong-- it's like saying that no mechanism exists for etc. in Judaism. The author seems to be under the impression that most Muslims are backwards, illiterate literalists, when the opposite is in fact the case. In my understanding, moderate Islam, as with Judaism, has a long tradition of scholarly interpretation of not only the Koran, but also the Prophet's sayings and also the commentary on these works by various scholars.

For someone who isn't a Muslim to speculate on what would be best for Islam seems patronizing at best . . . .


Posted by: J. Puma at December 5, 2003 12:48 PM

The third-to-last paragraph in that article is wrong, as I understand it. I'll put a post up on why sometime soon.

Posted by: Brian Ulrich at December 5, 2003 06:43 PM

Interesting but wrong-headed is my short reaction without reading the article. Very busy for the next few days; will read and comment later.

Posted by: Zack at December 5, 2003 11:28 PM