Thursday, February 14, 2008

Well, maybe just one more

Peter Hitchens often annoys me, particularly with his bizarre assertion that the "Elizabethan Settlement" was a "reasonable compromise" for Catholics. (Is the man mad? Oh, no, just an Anglican...) Nearly everything he writes makes me wonder less why the Anglican Church is collapsing under the weight of its own intellectual contradictions.

But even a stopped watch, as they say...

I also didn't like his attempt to say that only Muslim 'primitivists' held to the most worrying tenets of Sharia, or that worries about such things were 'dramatic fears'. This isn't so. Look how difficult it is to get Muslim spokesmen to denounce such things as the stoning of adulterous women, or Sharia's penalties for homosexuals. My discussion with Islamic scholars at Deoband a couple of years ago ( all calm, soft-spoken bearded scholars much like Dr Williams) left me pretty sure that they would never budge on things like the lesser position of women, or the death penalty for those who desert Islam. It couldn't be changed, they insisted.

So what is Dr Williams talking about when he speaks of "the free decision to be and continue a member of the umma" (umma being the Arabic name for the body of the Muslim faithful)?

Islam has many doors, but no exits. You cannot leave. This is regarded as non-negotiable by every Muslim cleric I have talked to. So what's this free decision to continue, that Dr Williams talks about?

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