Daily Atheist Quote

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Defend Freedom of Speech.

Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.
-Salman Rushdie


Take a look at the cartoon posted here. Last year this was one of several cartoons printed in Danish newspapers that triggered violent riots in the Muslim world.

The problem for the faithful was twofold. One, in Islamic culture depictions of the prophet Mohmmad is a big no-no. Second, being commentary on the on going problem of the religiously motivated terrorism of Jihadists, they weren't the most flattering depictions of the prophet.

Of course some people will find this cartoon offensive. That is their right. But in a society with freedom of speech, it is also the right of the cartoonist to make such a drawing. However, in North America the cartoons were not republished out of fear of Muslim backlash. When newspapers and TV stations should have shown the cartoons as part of their coverage, and to stand on the principle of free speech, they trembled like cowards. Not long afterward, the United Nations began to consider adding blasphemy as a violation of human rights. This is effectively saying freedom of speech should bow to religious authority, when the fact is
freedom of expression means we have the right to blaspheme all we want. And it shouldn't be any other way.

The violent aftermath of the images,' publications, an aftermath that included the burning of churches and the death of people caught in the wake of the enraged mobs, lead several influential writers to sign a manifesto declaring the importance of freedom of speech.

Although a year old, the world hasn't changed much, so I am posting the manifesto here on the Atheist Handbook. Please take the time to read it. Add your own comments if you like or just repost it on your own blog or webpage. I won't comment further on the manifesto because it speaks for itself:

"After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man’s domination of woman, the Islamists’ domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.

We reject cultural relativism, which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical intelligence out of fear of being accused of “Islamophobia”, an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatization of its believers. We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical intellect may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism."


The original 12 signatories to this manifesto were
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Chahla Chafiq, Caroline Fourest, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Irshad Manji, Mehdi Mozaffari, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasreen, Salman Rushdie, Antoine Sfeir, Philippe Val and Ibn Warraq.

More information can be found here

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

While I do not disagree with the manifesto, I do think that the focus on Islam is to narrow. All religions are intolerant of certain speech- Kathy Griffin is the most recent Christian example I can think of. While, unlike Islam, most of Christianity has moved beyond violent retaliation, Christianity is no less totalitarian. In addition to the desire to limit free speech, Christian religions desire to control how believers think (e.g., creationism) and act (e.g., anti-birth control stances). We need to defend freedom of speech and freedom of thought from all religions.

Dasun said...

I agree totally with the previous comment in that we should defend freedom of speech and thought from all religions. If an unfavorable depiction of christ was put out in a local newspaper in the southern states of america it wont be received any better, i think. Maybe you wont even be able to get it into print.
In relation to the "cultural relativism" question how can we export a moral value we have in our society into another society which doesnt have that? For example if a society doesnt morally believe in equal rights between males and females how can that be changed? should it be?
Try this example if a society overwhelmingly, morally believes that no animal should be killed for fur or food and pursuing this morality they make it law democratically.what would happen? what happens to the people who are omnivorous? How about if they take it as far as plants too? After all plants are alive too.
So my question is should we govern morals if not how do we stop such things from happening? If we should govern morals how?
Pls dont take me for a believer i am not i was born to a buddhist household and therefore have had more religious freedom than most and have come to the conclusion that i cant believe in reincarnation and because of the lack of evidence and of course all other religions are even more of a stretch for me to be part of.
Expecting a reply from you grant.
By the way great blog i got the link from a friend recently and have been reading every entry.

Grant LaFleche said...

Dasun;

You make an interesting and I think, very important point. So much so, that I think will post a more detail blog entry on this subject soon.

By way of an immediate reply, you are asking two different questions.

1) How do we export our moral values which we believe are important and necessary and 2) how we do defend democracy from mob rule.

For the first I can only say this is very difficult to do in the short term if not impossible. We have, oddly, come to think that we can just slap a democracy down anywhere and people will accept it and be like us.

The "values" of our democratic culture, which I argue transcend religion, did not come to us in a flash of light or some revelation. It took centuries for us to reach this point. Our moral values, ethics, economics, and government systems all developed slowly over time. Just consider how different the Athenian democracy is to ours for example.

So today we blast our way into a country like Afghanistan, which has no experience with democracy at all, and think we can turn in into a liberal democracy over night. Well look at the problems. There are still honour killings. Women's rights are still in the stone age and so on. The word "democracy" hardly applies in the modern sense of the world. Hell, even the Russians still don't have a good grasp of democracy yet and they have had more influence from the West than any middle eastern nation.

So how do we transplant our values? With time. We know, from history, that liberal democracies are more stable and peaceful than any other form of government on offer. The problem is that those values are not shared in what are basically theocratic cultures. To transplant the idea that the Koran, for example, is the only real law with the idea of the Rule of Law in a secular sense can't happen over night. But I think the argument can be made that it must happen. But it takes time. That means improving standard's of living, ending sectarian violence to a considerable degree and above all these - EDUCATION. Teach the young that religion can be protected but the laws are secular and things will change.

As to your other point - how do you prevent laws like "don't kill any animals for any reason" passing in a democracy...this is the problem of mob rule. That is the majority's will always rules. This is what John Stewart Mill called "the tyranny of the majority," and it can be just as bad as a dictatorship.

This is why the rule of law is so important. Yes, a democracy is rule by the people, but the people cannot rule any which way they please. We set up laws, and checks an balances that constrain what the people can do as much as they constrain what government can do. So the people cannot pass a law making Jews all wear the star of David on their clothes, for example. Even if the majority wanted to, the law prevents it and makes such law illegal and undemocratic.

The founders of the United States were extremely concerned with the potential for a democracy to become mob rule and set up their republic in such a way to prevent it.

Again, this is an ideal, and ethic, that has to be learned. Certainly we didn't just "know" it. It took thousands of years of political philosophy to get to that point. To teach another culture that, a culture to which such an idea is completely alien, is difficult to say this.

This is, I recognize, an incomplete answer and I will expand on it in my next entry later this week.

Thanks for reading and thanks for asking a very thoughtful question.

akhter said...

Embracing Islam

Why do they choose Islam ?

Islam , in spite of the shaky and precarious picture that the blind –hearted media propagates all over the world , is most acceptable religion all over the world now .In the time of the prophet , people were persecuted , tortured and even killed to leave it but never did they leave ....Now people from all different cultures , different mentalities have been guided by God to Islam , they have found their way , at last they have rested their doubts , they have found the doctrine that sit well with their logic . Islam is the only religion that answers the innate nature in the Human being . Islam is the only religion that contains over one thousand scientific Hadiths and verses that are in complete agreement with the recently discovered scientific facts . The Holy Quran is the only Book that remained unchanged , every letter , every word , every sentence are the same as were first revealed to the prophet . There are hundreds of glad tidings and prophecies in the Holy Book that speak about the coming of Islam , Islam is the only religion that first puts Human rights and supervised putting them into effect long ago before the magna carta , Islam is the only religion that gave woman her rights . Islam is the only religion that was fought and still is ,yet it remained unshaken , and remained and will remain deap seated in the hearts of its adherents .Islam is the only religion that will redress and rectify humanity way to God .

Prophet Mohummed says "This religion will go as far as the night and the day go , No place , be it in the desert or the city , but will be converted into Islam , so wonderfully is that Islam will be aided by different people , be it noble or humble …………..

God says "When Allah's succor and the triumph cometh in the Holy Quran what means And thou seest mankind entering the religion of Allah in troops. Then hymn the praises of thy Lord, and seek forgiveness of Him. Lo! He is ever ready to show mercy." Surah 110. An-Nasr.

We choose for you these parts of videos about people talking about why they choose islam.

The American (NBC) says " more than twenty thousands persons convert to Islam every year in USANBC

NEWS:20000 Americans Convert To ISLAM Each Year!

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/2PS2creVhaM

An American priest says " A lot of priests convert to islam "

YusufEstes - Priests and Preachers accepting Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/E6K0627FiCk

Many Latinos Convert Daily To ISLAM .. Live From Venezuela!

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/1XyrxzQIN9w

Every day many Germans convert to ISLAM :

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/34kjurzK500

Holland TV:ISLAM fastest spreading Faith among Youth Germans:

www.youtube.com/watch/v/WAXXN6XOnzQ

Thousandsof Danish convert to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/kru6XQ8CT48

TV Report Thousands Hispanics Converting To ISLAM

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/yDwGsmTx3D4

German Scientist & his wife ,clinic assistant convert to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/uP-2IqH_l4c

European Scientist converts to Islam:

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/0IspK651RpY

Dr. Ian Weber from England converts to Islam:

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/gUZR6XwU8Pw

Science students turn to Islam:

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/y3_JYk4Bo4Y

TV_ReportChristians Convert To ISLAM in France

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/Dhu0eEuIsGg

Turning Muslim in Texas - People reverting to Islam in Texas

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...46116459496814

AngelaCollins - Muslim Convert weeks after 9/11 Incident

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/j6PJgJdEzNM

NEW MUSLIM Woman from Australia CONVERT :

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/-baqULx5IBU

The Choice - A Story of New American Muslim Convert

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/CML3CRPMefA

Irish and "loving Islam" Convert to Islam:

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/dIc5oFAva-4

Jewish To Islam convert

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/KcBiJnLjwVw

A Moslem tells what happen to after converting to Islam

www.youtube.com/watch/v/IlOuITPE6kE

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/1qpQvpmEqkc

Why do they accept the Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/aJ3TGAnFc-U

Convert to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/36Glj_FAGcw

Convert to Islam from Canada

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/uKPer2fma9U

Revert to Islam - Brian From Christianity (Convert to Islam) ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/bI_YVnD9UvI

Many Jew and Christian Families Convert To ISLAM

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/84ZtVLI5kXM

British Catholic Priest Converted To ISLAM

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/pn0iPlWQNlI

Greece Men Convert to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/IlAjkuECrHc

Convert to Islam from Hinduism

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/zePqNxz895U

Christians Convert to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/HDkW2Y35mKQ

Twenty two/22 Brothers and sisters convert to (Islam) ....

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/XQBn6loQTdY

Two british Women of different colours convert to Islam

www.youtube.com/watch/v/uEfMcPQfv7w

German convert to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/9U1zNXXQA6Q

Three French Sisters Convert To ISLAM :

www.youtube.com/watch/v/JiksSo0lwL4

Sister Yvonne Ridley Becomes Muslim Islam Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/aOe5s5hP4Gw

WHY Christians German Lady convert to ISLAM, SEE VIDEO

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/afFv22Wsd5A

Germany Convert To ISLAM

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/os4vUxfJizU

Jerome How I wrestled my way to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/b2YZGGDGUWE

The story of a German convert to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/gjRjzTAk-RQ

Revert to Islam - Abdus Salam (Convert to Islam) ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/VqlilLIQJRE

Revert to Islam - Maryam Noor (Convert From Christianity) ....

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/ig0N9aRT0Hc

Germans convert to Islam on german TV

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/nFqj3xPKc88

TVReport Rechtsanwalt konvertiert zum ISLAM :

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/_4LrIv6kK9o

Jolene A Southern Baptist Converts to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/RHQOx12-WJU

Revertto Islam - Muahmmad Musab (Convert From Christianity) .... http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/Co0xom_KcXM

Revertto Islam - Yusuf Ali (Convert to Islam) ... :

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/NcjXK7qzE_k

How Melina came to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/jLht7Kk0bGg

Revert to Islam - Abdullah Laban (Convert to Islam) ... :

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/gGeHzUkkJH4

TVReport Latinos Leaving The Church And Turning To ISLAM

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/j2w14xxi0bM

William Chappelle and 25 members of his family embrace Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/mkBW4l4TmPE

Islam InNetherlands

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...97847671713770

6 German convert to Islam - 2007 - LIVE

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/0SpqpGKp7ts

Caroline convert from christianity to islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/2Cpmvne2wj0

Japanese Women Turning To ISLAM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/L7PIOhK-SgA

American converted Muslim Woman speaking about the Veil
http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/L85Mcq3EDX8

Dia Richardson converted to Islam in USA :

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/Tp097NNj3Pk

Germanchrist convert to ISLAM

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/UTyu18RgrAo

New Muslim Lady .. from London

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/NTlta20vsow

Dutch Women Turning To ISLAM inHolland

www.youtube.com/watch/v/UyyxPO0HFLk

New Sister From South Germany

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/EkBRKrUDnEU

How to Convert to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/i9K7lmYaucU

4 New Muslims from 4 Corners of the World

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...59428535210219

Jenny- How I came to Islam

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...40716668905509

Cat Stevens becomes Yusuf Islam

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...65900354777626

Islam:Youngest Muslim Reverts in The World- in England

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...31311255429137

Why Abdul Raheem Green Came to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/wF8joJaOVJw

Robert converts to Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/vU5HGHiNUu0

Islam: Best and inspirational Revert Story

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...40414685693208

Revert to Islam - Sister Crystal (Convert From Christianity) ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/IZF9stLSYjY

SpanishWoman talks about Woman rights in Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch/v/exdCJ_wT9E4

Anonymous said...

Free Speech and Muslims in Europe

Dalia Mogahed and John L. Esposito

Apr 2, 2008

The film “Fitna,” released on the internet last week by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilder, is the latest attempt by a marginal European politician to turn prejudice into political capital.

Still reeling from the Danish cartoon crisis, many Dutch public officials have criticized the film. The Christian Democrats called it “villainous and unnecessarily hurtful.” Marriette Hamer, vice-Party leader of the Social Democrats, accused Wilders of “seeding fear.” Others dismissed the film as simplistic and crass.

But for some people, the film represents a small, albeit myopic, victory in an ongoing war between Western liberty and the irrationality of Muslim sensitivities. This characterization is made ever easier by the Muslim fringe who responded to the Danish cartoons with violence and destruction.

Those who see the film as an example of the West flexing its freedom muscles argue that Wilders’ movie is a product of principle — the West defending its values against Islamic fundamentalism. They assert Muslims simply need to learn that in a free society newspapers can print whatever they want, including that which offends. Muslims are not being singled out by the Danish cartoon or Wilders’ film, they allege, — they are just being treated equally.

Violence, or the threat of it, is never an appropriate response to any film and the fear of violence certainly should not influence what newspapers decide to print. However, what is often lost in these opposing black and white views of the world are the many shades of gray expressed by Europeans of all convictions regarding free speech, identity and integration, and counter-intuitively, the threat this kind of polarizing, racist rhetoric poses to the Western freedom it claims to defend.

Data on British, French, and German views of freedom of expression paint a more complex picture. The majority in these leading European countries overwhelmingly disagreed with the notion that newspapers can print whatever they wanted. Asked whether a number of expressions were protected by freedom of speech, only 18% of the French, 15% of the British, and 10% of Germans said newspapers should be able to print a cartoon making light of the Holocaust. Similarly, no more than 1 in 10 in each country said the same about newspapers printing a racial slur. And only 6% of the British, 1% of the French, and no Germans said that child pornography enjoyed this protection.

However, when asked about printing the Danish cartoon, respondents in all three countries were far more tolerant, especially in Germany. Thirty-six percent of the British and 40% of the French thought printing the cartoon was acceptable, significantly more than in the case of other expressions. The German public, which had virtually no tolerance for other offensive speech, made an exception for the Danish cartoon. While only 8% in Germany said newspapers printing a racial slur were protected by freedom of expression, 59% said printing a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed as a terrorist was protected.

Surprisingly, the degree to which each population regarded the Danish cartoon as acceptable did not correlate with their general acceptance of offensive speech, but instead with their degree of unfavorable opinions toward Muslims. The British public, the only one of the three groups where slightly more people had positive (3 in 10) than negative (2 in 10) opinions of Muslims, was also the only group where a slight majority thought the cartoons were unacceptable. In contrast, the German public, where a strong majority thought the Danish cartoons were acceptable, the public was at least three times more likely to hold negative (27%) as positive views (7%) of Sunni or Shiite Muslims.

Muslims living in each country’s capital had strikingly different views. As diverse as these three populations were on many issues, the vast majority in all three cities agreed that all four expressions were unacceptable. To the majority of Muslims in the three capitals, for whom faith and ethnic identity hold equal sway, the cartoon was as unacceptable as a racial slur. For many of them, the Wilders film, and many like it, was akin to using the “n-word,” spewed from a position of power against a marginalized underclass — an expression of prejudice — not principle.

Ironically, what the self-proclaimed defenders of liberty often forget is what a familiar threat demonizing a religious minority is to freedom. This type of rhetoric, meant to whip up political support through fear-mongering and manipulation, undermines the very foundation of participatory democracy: a well-informed citizenry, soberly choosing their leaders based on carefully considered rational criteria. Fear diminishes critical thinking, the propensity to question authority, or to hold government accountable. At no time has freedom suffered more than when this pillar of democratic society was weakened. Freedom is diminished, not strengthened, by the emotional manipulation of racist propaganda.

Is the solution legal censorship? No. Racist rhetoric from politicians and media sources is often a reflection of the public’s appetite or at least tolerance for it. Jyllands-Posten’s editor reportedly refused to print an offensive cartoon of Jesus only a few years before. In April 2003, Jens Kaiser, the paper's Sunday editor, told Danish illustrator Christoffer Zieler who submitted the drawings, that the newspaper would not run the cartoons because its readers would not enjoy them and that they would “provoke an outcry.” What newspapers choose to print is a reflection of their society’s evolution and understanding of civility. In the United States, “Amos and Andy” was a socially acceptable TV program until our civil rights struggle helped us realize it was racist and tasteless. Though the NAACP protested the show’s negative portrayal of blacks for decades, the program was finally removed from the air, not because it was prohibited in the legal realm, but because our society evolved beyond it in the moral realm. European societies, for whom living in a multi-cultural society is still relatively new, must grow in the same way.

With all our faults and ongoing struggles, America has something to teach the world about multi-cultural relations. We have learned through our civil rights struggle, at least in principle, that our democracy is stronger when it no longer excludes entire segments of its citizens, and that our freedom is protected, not compromised, when our definition of civility includes them.

Dalia Mogahed is executive director of The Center for Muslim Studies
at Gallup. On Faith panelist John L. Esposito is professor of religion, international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University and founding director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. They are co-authors of the new book "Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think."

Posted by Dalia Mogahed and John L. Esposito on April 2, 2008 7:41 AM



http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2008/04/free_speech_and_muslims_in_eur.html

Please report any broken links to Webmaster
Copyright © 1988-2008 irfi.org. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer

Grant LaFleche said...

Thank you for those long winded replies on how great some people think Islam is. Bottom line though, I don't care.

The point is not that people have a right to believe. They do indeed and I defend that right vigorously. However, that isn't the point. If someone says they find the Q'uran or the bible, or any other religious text offensive and degrading, or the treatment of women in some religions awful, or that the Muslim middle east won't know a democratic principle from a whole in the ground...THEY ARE FREE TO SAY SO.

What is going on is not a demonization of Muslims. But rather some Muslims trying to tell the rest of the world that if you say something they don't like they will make you pay. They will burn churches. They will demand assassinations. They will use courts to suppress freedom of speech.

That is the reality of what has been happening in Europe and in Canada. No minority should be persecuted or harmed for any reason whatsoever. But that does not extend to speech. IF someone says something a Muslim doesn't like that is just too damn bad.

Free speech is not a negotiable commodity. It is not given away at the threat of violence of law suit. It is not changed to suit the fragile belief system of people who have little respect for democracy and individual freedom.

Look at the anonymous post above. A rant abut Islam is perfect and cannot be questioned. Well, I'm questioning. I and won't stop.

Grant LaFleche said...

oh and akhter ...your uptopian dreams of a world governed by your particular sectarian views of a particular religion will NEVER come to past.

akhter said...

The Universal Appeal of Islam

By the soul, and the proportions and orders given to it. And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right.' [91:7-8]

Islam is the religion of fitrah, i.e. human nature, and morality according to the Quran is something INHERENT in the nature of man. So true is this fact that the Holy Book draws attention to it in order to convince humanity of the truth of the Day of Judgement. If the Quran did not believe that all men possess a realization of 'good' and 'evil', why would it consider using it as an example to draw attention to the accountability in the next life?

The misunderstanding by many that Islam defines morality reveals a fundamental flaw in thinking and correction regarding the role of revelation is necessary because it affects the way Muslims present their religion. Instead of appealing to human nature in presenting their religion, Muslims have presented Islam in so many different ways, including a political and economic ideology, totally divorcing Islam from its universal appeal and in fact, the manner in which is was presented by the Prophets (AS). They present Islam as acting from 'without', and not from within the depths of his soul. The point of revelation is not to enforce a 'system', but to complement the human personality. Revelation was sent to remind men of their ultimate destiny and to regulate all those components (i.e. emotions, passions, hedonism and reason according to Moiz Amjad), that make up a human being so that he can achieve harmony in life. Without revelation, men tend to fall into extreme, whether it is through his own reason or heart. History is a testimony to this. Those that tended to have extremely sensitive 'religious' feelings often fell into ascetism viewing the world as evil. While the good people went to monasteries and churches, the world was left to those interested only in pursuing their selfish ends at the expense of the weaker class. This attitude towards piety clouded their view regarding 'war' as a means to achieve a just social order. It is absolutely no coincidence that the remarks of the Quran regarding monasticism and monkery are made in the context of 'jihad'. Thus, revelation balanced their perspective on attaining piety and goodness. As opposed to those who left the world, there were those whose worldliness tended to make them oblivious to the plight of others. They failed to see that although most wealth is earned was the result of their own hands, much of what they earned could be rightfully attributed to forces that were not the result of their own effort. Those that weren't as selfish realized this and acknowledged that there must be some way in which they could express their gratitude. But they were in a state of confusion, what the Quran calls 'dalalah', on what should they spend, how much should they spend and so forth. They could not figure it out through their own mind and faculties, so God in His Infinite Mercy sent revelation to complement this natural urge and provide them with the most balanced way to spend. Even the divisions of zakat took into account the labor of the individual, with fields that were primarily watered by purely natural forces being subjected to more tax than fields that involved more labor-intensive work.

Without this recognition of human nature, this attitude of presenting Islam from a manner of 'without' has has gone to such extremes that piety is often presented by certain circles as an adoption of certain norms and practices that are part of a specific culture. Revelation as we see, deals with those UNIVERSAL values that are part and parcel of human nature. They give us practical rules that allow for the proper expression of these human values, without which life becomes a dis-integrated mess. Men emphasize one aspect of their personality without given due prominence to another. One of the greatest examples of Muhammad (S) is his balanced and purely integrated personality. Before Islam, we find that he (S) was actually quite 'introverted' seeking recourse to the caves outside Mecca to think about life and its mysteries. But as soon as revelation descended upon him, shattering his very being, it resulted in all the depth and dimension of his personality to shine through. His simplicity was complemented by a profound sense of self-respect. His quiet nature was complemented by his strength when he saw the hudood of Allah, Glorious is He, being violated. A personality so vast and powerful that it totally changed the course of world history, inlfuencing not only the desert Arabs, but Europe as well. It is not coincidence, besides being paradoxical, that the proclamation "Read" to the UNLETTERED Prophet gave birth to the 'empirical sciences' that has so heavily influenced the modern world.

To present Islam in contradiction to the fitra of man goes directly against the universal teachings of the Quran and the Prophet (S). When the Quran says to enjoin the MA'RUF and forbid the MUNKAR, these terms do not signify acts of shareeah but universally recognized principles of good and evil. We find in the Quran commands to pay the mehr in accordance with the MARUF, which in Arabic refer to the NOBLE TRADITIONS OF A SOCIETY. If a rich man pays a mehr to his wife not in accordance to what is seen as noble in his society, he is not fulfilling the spirit of the Quran. The Quran tells the man that if he desires to marry a widow, whose husband had just died, he may indicate his desire to marry her only by taking into account the MARUF, which also includes the sensitives of a people of a particular culture. The shareeah never defines this MAR'UF because the traditions and cultures of men are so diverse, but here we find the Quran's love of all those GOOD traditions that originate out of the good nature of man. We find the Prophet (S) and His Companions (R) praising the MARUF even before Islam. In fact, Muhammad (S) had marvelled upon hearing a verse of pre-Islamic hanif poet, who died right before the coming of Islam, and proclaimed to the effect, "By God, this man came to the door of Islam."

Diversity is one of the signs and marvels of God, indicating His Wisdom, Mercy, and Providence according to the Divine text. In fact, to go against it would be declaring war on nature. The Prophet (S) said to the effect that if somebody came and told you a mountain moved, you can believe it, but if somebody came and told you a man changed his nature, i.e. his fitra, never believe it. Men cannot win a war against their own self, and their is no way possible the Creator of man could reveal a Book that contradicts his nature. "Does God not know what He created? He is the Subtle, the Aware."

This is precisely why God Almighty says, "We never sent a Messenger, except from his own people." Because of the nature of the role of a Messenger in making the truth clear to the people he presents it to, God, the All-Knowing sent one who could relate to the experiences of them. Further, the Quran itself speaks in such a way that it appeals to the various levels of intellect that make up these people. The Holy Book says to the effect that "We have explained the Quran in various ways so that men may take heed." It possesses the simplicity to charm the villager, and at the same time, its words possess such depth that a scientist who has studied all the various disciplines that humanity has discovered throughout time can find in it knowledge to quench his thirst. It possesses such musical charm that the poet Labid, whose verse use to hang on the Ka'aba, renounced his poetry saying to the effect that he forgot all his poetry once he learned the Quran. The Quran appeals to the diverse taste of men, both aesthetic and rational, or 'mind and heart'.