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DISCUSSION SUMMARY Qamar-ul Huda noted that the bulk of Robert Hamerton-Kelly's questions and concerns were about the Islam that he does not work with: the capital "I" Islam, the institutional Islam, the cultural/ social/ political Islam. The institutions that make up this Islam are multidimensional . They cover the full spectrum, ranging from groups that work for social justice and maintain clinics to groups whose purpose is to eliminate the government. Unfortunately, [so Qamar] I am not a specialist in contemporary Islamic movements, andthosemovements are at thecenter of most of the questions regarding things like human rights, women's issues, violations ofpeople, conflicts within Islam, etc. Obviously, Tmjust one of many people in the Islam community who thinks that this is absolutely atrocious. But there's also a historical context there that needs to be taken into consideration. Mecca and Medina. The opening of the Qur'ân speaks of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate: This is tied into the Prophet's experience when he was in Mecca, when he and his followers were a minority under siege. The verses that speak about standing up and fighting those who are aggressive to you, as some lO^-century commentators already pointed out, are associated with the later Medina phase when the Prophet was more in control. I would argue, agreeing with most scholars, that there is no Mecca/Medina priority, that one needs to look at the entire text. So, too, those texts that speak of believers and nonbelievers, those of the book (Christians and Jews) and those not, and how one relates to these different peoples; it is not easy to locate these texts, some of which eventually move 106 into Islamic law, as "early" or "late." I know of no texts to the effect that converts away from Islam are to be killed; I think that's part of the popular myth about Islam. Remember, Saudi Arabia, in which there is an extreme reading and application ofIslamic law, represents only three million ofthe total one billion Muslims. "Jihad" does not mean "holy war"—those are two different words in Arabic—it basically means "struggle." Religiously, it means the spiritual struggle against evil, or to purify oneself. Recently, it has been used—or coopted—by political leaders for political gain. Alice Carter suggested that we are practicing a form of historical anachronism from two perspectives: (1) that in the East, the early scapegoating ofMohammed by Christians lays the responsibility for Islam at the feet of the Christian community, and (2) that in violence and holy war, Christians have been pioneers. It is thus presumptuous for us to hold otherpeoples to standards that we ourselves are still struggling to discover. Irespect, [said Carter] but do not agree with, the views ofHamerton-Kelly, but I do want to hear more about attitudes towards women in Islam, especially in North Africa and the Middle East. Qamar responded that, actually, the Prophet's encounter with Christians was widespread and from the beginning; there were both Christian and Jewish tribes in Mecca and Medina. In fact, one ofhis closest advisors was a Christian woman, the daughter of a priest. She affirmed the Shahada, but it is unclear whether she ever fully converted to Islam. Theologically, men and women are the same, as is repeatedly stated in the Qur'ân. In God's eyes they are seen as equal, "butthey areunequal in terms of piety." This does not, of course, deny that there are social and cultural milieus and constraints that influence the treatment of women. Aloysius Lugira reminded us that, as human beings, we have positives andnegatives. Unfortunately, in ourcommunities, when we speak ofIslam, the negatives tend to have the upper hand. I applaud Qamar's presentation of "Islam in a new key." Thus I disagree with Hamerton-Kelly's critique and his applyingthe word mythical/mythological to Qamar's approach. But Ialso thinkQamar should give more attention to the Sharia. Andremember, the reason why Islam was welcomed when it came to Africa is found in Qamar's title: "Liberation Theology." Fred Lawrence, recalling Girard's pointing out that it has become de rigueurto criticize Christianity, noted thatthe same thingis happeningwith regard to monotheism...


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