Comments: Towards a modern heresy

Bill,

I've been getting into reading Chesterton lately for the first time...I'm starting with the fiction, but I do plan to try to read more of his other work...I've been really impressed so far. I have been a little disappointed by the few stray comments I have found by him on Islam, they don't seem to show much understanding of Islam, but I don't think he ever really claimed any.

As to Shaw, he does seem to have done some writing on Islam, and many Muslims lift some quotes of his which are complimentary towards the Prophet Muhammad (saw) in trying to give da'wah to Islam. (This is a favorite technique of old-school Islamic propagation, trying to find any prominent non-Muslims who have made positive statements of any kind about Islam or Muhammad (saw).)

One Islamic group claims that Shaw was attempting at one point to write a play about the Prophet Muhammad but couldn't get support for it, because of fear of Muslim reaction (at that point, basically Ottoman Empire diplomatic reaction). I don't know the details or even veracity of this story.

Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee at February 27, 2008 11:58 AM

Based on a little digging around the internet, it appears that the Shaw quotes so often used by Muslim propagators cannot really be traced to any source and so are not definite. So I take back my assertion that Shaw wrote some on Islam -- I'm not sure that he did.

Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee at February 27, 2008 12:32 PM

Shaw did write on Islam -- in the preface to Androcles and the Lion for example -- had some favorable things to say about the religion and about the Prophet. Shaw particularly liked the obligation to care for the poor. It's important to remember though that Shaw was an avowed atheist and a very effective polemicist. Thus, he argued that what made Jesus such a compelling figure, when you stripped away all the superstitious nonsense about virgin births and rising from the dead, was that Jesus was a socialist. It's not always explicit, but one gets the sense that what Shaw's trying to get across when he writes about religious figures is that the stupid masses can't quite grasp the import of what they're saying, so rather than rationalize the means of production they invent religious myths around them.

I think Shaw was interested in and spoke well of anything that fit with his politics, and rather pitiless toward anything he thought interfered with them. So he might praise the zakat, but condemn the revelation that authorized it.

As to Chesterton, I think his work on Eugenics is amazing and still a timely read. Other than that, I like the Father Brown mysteries and the Man who was Thursday (which is a gloss on the Conference of the Birds).

Posted by Bill at February 28, 2008 12:06 AM

Here's the preface to Androcles and the Lion.

And here's a typical quote:

Mahometanism, which Napoleon at the end of his career classed as perhaps the best popular religion for modern political use, might in some respects have arisen as a reformed Christianity if Mahomet had had to deal with a population of seventeenth-century Christians instead of Arabs who worshipped stones. As it is, men do not reject Mahomet for Calvin...
Posted by Bill at February 28, 2008 12:12 AM

Here's the preface to Androcles and the Lion.

And here's a typical quote:

Mahometanism, which Napoleon at the end of his career classed as perhaps the best popular religion for modern political use, might in some respects have arisen as a reformed Christianity if Mahomet had had to deal with a population of seventeenth-century Christians instead of Arabs who worshipped stones. As it is, men do not reject Mahomet for Calvin...
Posted by Bill at February 28, 2008 12:12 AM