You folks did an excellent job for this post and in case you haven’t already figured it out, your overwhelming response to “Part 1” is “Part 2.”
The variety of thought here on the matter of apostasy and blasphemy is so great that it perfectly describes the phenomena of scriptural interpretation. To illustrate this point, I thought I’d quote a few of you from the comments and offer my opinion.
“Again the issue of the contest of authority crops up. Who gets to speak ‘for’ Islam. The reality is that there are many Islams – over time and over geography. Today the Muslim world, whether you are in KSA, Pakistan, Malaysia or Australia, is engaged in this battle.”
Many Islams. I couldn’t agree more. We see this every day in every religion. On September 11th, 2001, how many Muslims told us that the Islam followed by the attackers was not “true” Islam? We still have that problem. In addition, we also have the more liberal reformation movement of Islam going on today (more later). And since Islam simply means, “submission to God,” your method of submission to God and another’s may be quite different. The Qur’an nearly implies an acceptance of this in several verses, where faith in Islam is only qualified by 1) Observing the prayers, 2) Believing in the Last Day, and 3) Paying the Zakat.
- What is your Islam?
“Arguing that “Seal of all Prophets” = “No More Messengers from God Ever” is an interpretation – a widely-accepted one within Islam, but an interpretation nonetheless and thus other interpretations are possible. People have a pesky habit of insisting that the Scriptures of various Faiths can only mean one thing which quite ties the Hand of God, it seems to me.”
“I like to think of the passage [Regarding Muhammad as the Seal of the Prophets] as a rejection of prophethood as an institution appropriate to a mature human race. Muhammad ended the institution so that we could rise above such paternalistic rubbish. Good riddance!”
I’m glad someone came out with this, because I’ve spent some time wrestling with this very concept. One reason I left Christianity 10 years ago was because of the idea that I needed someone to “pinch hit” for me before God. We either have a direct relationship with the divine or we don’t. I’m also a big fan of evolution, however I believe that if we are spiritual and physical creatures, that our spiritual nature evolves as well. Here I know I’ll get a little love from the LDS and Baha’is. Perhaps our friend who quoted the above is right. What if Muhammad came and the “seal” here is basically implying that after the Qur’an, we (humanity) should have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. We are now spiritually evolved enough for a one-on-one with the man in the sky and don’t need any other prophets. That’s not to say we’ll no longer have teachers, because otherwise how would we learn anything? What if “seal” just means approval and confirmation of past revelation?
- How do you feel about spiritual evolution? Are we evolved enough through histories prophets to take the reigns?
“NONE can blame you to believe in anything or do any sort of rituals, BUT after becoming muslim you don’t have the right to convert or accept anything comes out of the islamic Fatwa. Therefore your challenge is at the end of this month when you leave Islam. According to the majority, if shariah laws apply, then they have the right to detain you, ask you to repent (I think for 3 times), after that they have the right to kill you by throwing stones!”
Whoa! What happened to there being “no compulsion in religion”? Oh wait, I get it. Maybe there’s no compulsion in religion to JOIN, but after the membership is signed, there’s no going back. Man, that sounds like a gang initiation, doesn’t it? Blood in, blood out. Harsh, but is there Quranic scripture for that? No, there isn’t. Here’s what I did find:
“If you see those who mock our revelations, you shall avoid them until they delve into another subject. If the devil causes you to forget, then, as soon as you remember, do not sit with such evil people.” Qur’an 6: 68
That sounds a lot like turning the other cheek. Here’s another:
“And so, [O Prophet,] exhort them; thy task is only to exhort: thou canst not compel them [to believe].” Qur’an 88: 21-22
The fact is, you won’t find any verse in the Qur’an about killing those who leave the faith. What you will find is punishment for those who committed treason against the Medinan Constitution. The alliance there had nothing to do with faith and everything to do with common defense. On the other hand, the Sunnah and Hadith (supposed actions and words of the Prophet gathered over time) does condone the death penalty for apostasy. I’m not a big fan of or particularly give much credit to hadith, but that’s just my opinion.
And we have time for one more.
“From a Baha’i perspective, of course, Muhammad *is* the Seal of the Prophets in the sense that the age of prophecy has concluded and the long-awaited, promised-by-every-religion age of fulfillment has arrived. But this is not the same thing as saying there will never be another Divine Educator sent by an all-loving God to guide us.”
Okay I lied. Two more!
“If God has used prophets to declare his word to his people ever since the dawn of time, why would he stop? Does God not care enough about the modern world to provide us a mouthpiece? Has the revealed word he left us so far been clear enough so that there is no longer any confusion or dispute about what it means? Are we so good now that we no longer need any direction?”
So many points of view, many of them contradictory, I…I…I feel like a kid in a candy store! Which way do I go!
My personal opinion: I wouldn’t trade my experiences with the Baha’is, the LDS, or any other group for the world. Call it blasphemy, and by the end of August, call it apostasy. If real Islam is an angry mob coming at me with stones for moving on in September, then I’ve wasted my time, because the Islam I’ve encountered has nothing to do with that image. Maybe I just have wool over my eyes, or maybe, because I have the testicular fortitute to dug around a little, I’m actually seeing a little truth. You decide…