Guernica

The nightmare we called the “Arab Spring”

Nureddin Sabir says the “Arab Spring” had been misunderstood from the start and, at least in Syria and Libya, what were said to be pro-democracy revolutions were in fact Islamist insurrections. More »

Israeli soldiers at Al-Aqsa

Jerusalem: The Unholy City

Uri Avnery says Israeli policies in Jerusalem – ethnic cleansing, neglect, oppression, provocation – have created an explosive situation in the city, which is now a hostile environment for inhabitants and tourists. More »

International Criminal Court1

Prosecute Israel – or let the people decide

Jamal Kanj says the Palestinian Authority must use the momentum of European recognitions of Palestine as a state to take Israel to the International Criminal Court for its violations of international law. More »

Kheir al-Din Hamdan

Israeli politicians inciting murder and mayhem

Uri Avnery argues that the actions of irresponsible Israeli politicians – from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Minister of Home Security Yitzhak Aharonowitz – is paving the way for a Palestinian uprising. More »

Ed Miliband and Labour's Jewish donors

Will British Jewish funders’ blackmail backfire?

Alan Hart offers advice to the UK Labour Party’s erstwhile Jewish donors, who are allegedly ditching the party because Ed Miliband condemned Israel and supported recognition of Palestine as an independent state. More »

Jonathan Sacks

Jonathan Sacks, preacher of Israeli hasbara

Stuart Littlewood explains why a recent speech made by former British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has left him wondering whether he's an instrument of God or just another preacher of Israeli hasbara. More »

Chickenshit

Chickenshit Netanyahu

Uri Avnery examines the tense and contradictory US-Israeli relationship, and argues that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is exploiting the dysfunctional US political system to destroy the chances of peace. More »

Jonathan Djanogly

Jonathan Djanogly, example of UK’s Israel stooges

Stuart Littlewood examines the behaviour of an Israel flag waver in the UK parliament, Jonathan Djanogly, one of the “dirty dozen” lawmakers who voted against recognising Palestine as an independent state. More »

Gaza prison

How Israel is turning Gaza into a super-max prison

Jonathan Cook argues that the Palestinians’ humanitarian needs and their right in international law to resist their oppressor are being sacrificed to make the enforcement of Israel’s occupation more efficient. More »

Anti lobby demonstration

America’s special interest problem

Lawrence Davidson argues that only popular action can free United States legislators from the shackles of special interest groups, or lobbies, that have hijacked and corrupted US foreign and domestic policies. More »

Daily Archives: April 3, 2013

Ahmad al-Qabbanji, brave Islamic scholar

If it is hard nowadays to find an ordinary practising Muslim who is able to exercise his critical faculties and willing to embrace the modern world, you would have thought it would be impossible to find a Muslim scholar with these qualities.

If so, then meet Ahmad al-Qabbanji, an Iraqi Shi’i scholar with a difference. In contrast to the primitive Islamist charlatans permeating the Arab world these days – Salafis, Wahhabis, Muslim Brotherhood and the rest – Al-Qabbanji is against the notion of government by religious people – a theocracy – and also against an Islamic state ruled by shari’ah law.

Instead, he believes that society should be organized not on the basis of literal interpretations of Islam, but in accordance with “religious values and divine principles” and that, crucially, these values and principles must embrace modern universal precepts of human rights, freedom, pluralism and respect for others.

Al-Qabbanji says current Islamic scholars have shackled themselves with the understandings and rules of a bygone era, an era that passed “more than a thousand years ago”. He believes that if Islam is to be relevant, then it must embrace modernity and modern scientific thinking, as well as universal principle of human rights and freedoms. He calls this “liberal Islam”.

Those who understand Arabic can hear a profile of Al-Qabbanji, and an overview of his thoughts, in this nine-minute interview:

 

Controversially – and courageously – Al-Qabbanji challenges the consensus in the Islamic world which views the Quran as the literal word of God. Through a foresnic analysis of the Islamic holy book, he argues that there is enough illogic, non sequiturs and passages clearly based on ancient beliefs that we now know are plainly wrong, to show that rather than being the word of God from cover to cover, the Quran has in fact been added to and distorted by mortals over the years.

He cites, among many examples, passages from the Quran proclaiming that the Sun and Moon revolve around the Earth and that the sky was elevated and placed on pillars by God. Rather than being the words of God, these ideas, he argues, are products of the “age of ignorance” – the philosophy of the universe prevailing in the seventh century.

Arabic speakers can enjoy Al-Qabbanji’s analysis of the Quran in the short video below.

 
 

We salute the brave Ahmad al-Qabbanji and wish him peace and security in a part of the world where ignorance, bigotry and charlatanism are rife.