Predictably, the pagans, frustrated by his intellectual acumen, throw him into a raging fire - but God orders the fire to be a cool refuge for the fiery prophet Q:2 1:68-9; 29:24. Muslims add that it excels the sensory miracles of earlier messengers since those miracles, unlike the Quran, cannot be reproduced today. The Pharisees and Sadducees try to trap Jesus but he con- founds them with this novel division of labour: to God what belongs to God and to Caesar his due Matthew 22:17-21. The Meccan sceptics demand a resurrection of their dead forefathers while the Quran challenges the disbelievers to prevent the death of their existing tribesmen. And we shall resurrect him on the day of resurrection - blind! Many are irritatingly confident that there is a single true, monolithic Judaism and Christianity, contained in revealed Islam and known a priori. The Prophet and those few who embraced his message are miraculously evacuated Q:5 1 :3 1—5.
Philosophers have abandoned the battle-field and are now marching away from the sound of the guns. For example, the Quran recognizes only men as prophets. Only a facile religious apologetics would now declare, without argument, that atheism is a childish, immoral, and untenable confusion incapable of guiding modem lives. Muhammad skilfully used the new locale to serve his long-term mission. A historical religion cut adrift from its historical moorings must flounder for want of a doc- trinal anchor in the present.
It also explores how Islam can successfully engage with the challenges posed by secular thinking. If the Quran is found, after rational examination, to be irrelevant to our fundamen- tal condition, we are free to ignore it. Most Islamic regimes show plenty of rhetorical support for Islam while concealing their contempt. If we add causation and the identity of persons and objects, we have the central themes of ancient and modem western philosophy. That the secular realm is an integral part of Islam is already acknowledged by the Quran - for internal Islamic reasons. Given the global reach of a western secularized culture that sets the mental fashion of virtually the entire world, all faiths must sooner or later endure trial by secular reason.
. But if, let us say, a religion gives satisfactory answers to all these questions, this might abort the possibility of philosophy. In the Islamic tradition, reason is intuitive and participatory, aware of its secondary role. Secularism, the comprehensive alembic of modem civilization, is a visible and objective, not restrictedly academic or theoretical, social presence. Anyone who fails to be offended by Rushdie's book ipso facto ceases to be a Muslim. This sceptical possibility is culturally unavailable to his audience, so the argument, given its presuppositions, is convincing.
The metaphysical instinct that lies at the root of all religion, they concluded, widening their thesis from ethics to ontology, is prey to tragically mistaken illusions that appear constructive and comforting. The Quran rejects a religion which requires its votaries to retire from the real world Q:57:27 of discordant advocacies, a few caring and innocent if increasingly fatigued, the rest irate, insin- cere, loud and propagandist. He was, unlike most other founders of faiths, willing to risk his reputation for holi- ness and to dirty his hands for the sake of his ideal city. Jews struggle with God convinced that they, as the original people of covenant, matter to him. God permitted Jesus to repeal some laws imposed on the Jews as a penalty for their sins Q: 3:50; 4: 160; 6: 146 ; indeed there were no dietary laws in the time of Jacob who self-imposed some restrictions Q:3:93. Jews and Christians, asserts the Quran, secretly recognize the truth of revelations sent to Muhammad as easily as they recognize their own sons Q:2:146, 6:20. Those given the book in their left hands or behind their backs are people who, in their earthly lives, gave free rein to their whims and lusts Q:69:25-37; 84:10-2.
Meanwhile, pagan animus grew more rapidly. These believers could have become philoso- phers. Reason explains, develops and utilizes revealed ideas; it does not originate them. In religious, as in political inquiry, the choice of nomencla- ture is crucial. These tasks are factual and historical but nonetheless interpretive; and all sustain broader conceptual and philosophical implications.
A true faith must have resources for easing 22 Quranic Islam and the secular mind the burden of healthy emotion, for finding a place for natural desires, including legitimate power and licit sexual gratification. Since the Quran is subject to interpretation and already contains a variety of claims about these communities, however, there is no scriptural ground for the operative veto on any empirical study of these rival faiths. The Quran calls Jesus the Messiah Al-Masih ; Q:3:45; Hebrew: meshiakh, anointed one; Greek: Christos but is silent on the Jewish or Christian signifi- cance of the term. Only such a victory would be worthy of the man of God: it was the crown of godly endeavour, not an occasion for worldly exultation Q: 1 10: 1-3. We shall survey the matter through four comments. A Muslim may j ustifiably wonder why the certainties of secular liberalism should remain forever unchanged while ancient religion is expected to evolve and, in the case of Islam, evolve quickly under concentrated western intellectual and political pressure. In Chapter 8 we shall note that the signs of God are pointers towards an infinite reality behind the finite phenomena of nature.
The author continues that while the Jews needed philosophy to tackle and justify the ethnic nature of their religion, and while Christianity needed philosophy to support the complicated concept of trinity. Medieval Christians, however, understood human destiny as decided legitimately only in the quest of the individual soul, embedded in the bosom of the church, for the pre-destined end of salvation and eternal life through the enabling but undeserved grace of God. This book is concerned with the rationality and plausibility of the Muslim faith and the Qur'an, and in particular how they can be interrogated and understood through Western analytical philosophy. Modem Muslim writers represent him, variously, as a radical who fought for social justice, a socialist reformer ahead of Marx, an apostle of modem liberalism, a pioneer of gender equality, and even as a paci- fist and reluctant mystic who accidentally made the mistake of founding an empire. It shares many themes with the philosophy of religion as normally understood - a philosophi- cal exploration of Christian themes with analogues in Judaism and Islam. Though bom without a human father, Jesus is still fully human.
In tracing the trajec- tory and dilemmas of modem Islam, we must remember that Islam was, from its birth, a compulsively political and indeed politically successful religion. Islam is effectively relegated to the private sector of theoretical conviction while appearing to be in charge of the public sector of practical experience. But the political life of Islam is not autonomous: it is, in principle, under the aegis of the most radical form of political humility. He distinguished between two types of novelties muhdathdt. Islam inherits nothing from the past in terms of ritual or institution; the grand idea of monotheism is the only and sufficient heritage.