fellow Muslim "TheBit" runs a very rigorous group blog devoted to examining Islamic theology from within, ie the perspective of a practicing believer (as opposed to a secular or a self-hating viewpoint). It is with some pleasure that I note the addition of Harun Moghul, whose name will be familiar to any regular readers of alt.muslim.

Harun's latest entry is a great example of the detailed self-examination that so characterizes the blog. Excerpt:

By questioning Islamic law as a project, however, do not believe I advocate a "salad-bowl" religion or the creation of a religion intent only on blind imitation (commonly referred to as "taqleed"). I do believe that, even from the perspective of the Qur'an alone (ignoring for the time being Hadith literature), certain behaviors are licit and certain others are illicit. Yet the more I search for a firm basis upon which to ground these injunctions, the more elusive it seems. What I find instead is that there is another aspect to the very idea of Islam -- submission -- itself, an idea of inevitability, lacking in the fierce optimism that characterizes some presentations of Islam, especially in the West.

We often view Islam as a religion preaching free will (How often do we hear: "La ikraha fi al-deen," there is no compulsion in religion? [2 256]). Yet I am coming to the view that what we ignore is that the religion of Islam offers free choice in only the most fleeting manner. Faith is a mystery, when we look into it. Law is rationalization of the supra-rational, when we consider it. Reality, from the Islamic point of view, really exists at many levels of comprehension, the more thorough of which must (in my view) admit to the possibility that there is no meaningful choice. At least, none that Islam can (or perhaps even should) provide.

From the Islamic point of view, practicing submission is the only reasonable choice before a person. We are able to accept the divinity of the Qur'an through various investigative techniques, but upon accepting its divinity, we are made to understand that divinity itself is incomprehensible. Not to say that it borders nothingness, as is often the Jewish conception, but that though it is a very real presence in our lives, for improving us or punishing us, the Divine is nonetheless beyond human logic. Once making the choice to live Islam, we can use our intellects to advance understandings of Islam, of its injunctions, but we cannot apply our intellects upon Islam itself, as a faith from God, nor can we apply our intellects to see whether or not we have made a free choice.

I don't see these essays as making a specific point, but rather making a series of observations that, upon reflection, become the basis for further self-examination. They are a starting point for questions, not an end point of answers. As such though it is well-representative of and rightful heir to the 14 centuries of Islamic philosophy and analysis of the faith from within - a rich tradition that today's critics of the faith are blissfully ignorant of, and which I consider TheBut, Asim, and Harun to be today's representatives of.

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