Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No True "Secularity" For Islam

Islam is “Faith” as Conceptual Ideology, not Anthropology:

The reality is that Islam does not live faith as an anthropological act. That means for Islam, "belief" is a conceptual ideology, but not a moral act of self-giving as Christian faith. Christian faith is an act of obedience of the whole self to Jesus Christ Who is the Revelation of the Father: "Philip, he who sees me, sees the Father" (Jn. 14, 6-9). Christian faith as personal "experience" produces a consciousness of being "another Christ." That is, one cannot "know" Christ without becoming Christ. "Only God knows God" (Benedict XVI Brazil, May 7, 2007).

Islamic "faith" is a conceptual act, not an anthropological act of the whole person in the act of self-transcending, that leads to prayer and fasting, but it is recitation more than faith. John Paul II suggested this when he said: Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam all the richness of God’s self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside.

“Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us. Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad. There is als0 mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of redemption is completely absent. For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity.”

This is the reason, again, that the Koran is recited, not read. David Burrell remarks: “We have already seen how the Qur’an is not so much read as recited in the Muslim community, so that verses chanted and heard in a recurring fashion have the effect of shaping lives by offering spontaneous phrases with which to guide action. And quite consciously so, since the term Qur’an means `a reciting,’ and so it was delivered to Muhammad, who was then told often enough to recite what he heard. Western writers cannot resist the expression `sacramental’ when remarking on the role which recitation of the Qur’an plans in Muslim life, for `reciting of the sacred words is itself a participation in God’s speech.”[2] In this regard, Sandro Magister’s remark that “the Koran is not the equivalent of the Christian Scriptures: it is the equivalent of Christ” is apposite.

Since Christian faith is an obedience of self-gift, and therefore, free, it is significant that faith in Islam is not free. And the result of this is the failure to have any notion of true “secularity” based on the “consciousness” of the self-transcending believer and the consequent dualism of Church and State as consequence. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger had this most important observation:

“The modern idea of freedom is thus a legitimate product of the Christian environment; it could not have developed anywhere else. Indeed, one must add that it cannot be separated from this Christian environment and transplanted into any other system, as is shown very clearly today in the renaissance of Islam;

the attempt to graft on to Islamic societies what are termed western standards cut loose from their Christian foundations misunderstands the internal logic of Islam as well as the historical logic to which these western standards belong, and hence this attempt was condemned to fail in this form. The construction of society in Islam is theocratic, and therefore monist and not dualist; dualism, which is the precondition for freedom, presupposes for its part the logic of the Christian thing.

In practice this means that it is only where the duality of Church and state, of the sacral and the political authority, remains maintained in some form or another that the fundamental pre-condition exists for freedom. Where the Church itself becomes the state freedom becomes lost. But also when the Church done away with as a pubic and publicly relevant authority, then too freedom is extinguished, because there the state once again claims completely for itself the justification of morality; in the profane post-Christian world it does not admittedly do this in the form of sacral authority but as an ideological authority – that means that the state becomes the party, and since there can no longer be any other authority of the same rank it once again becomes total itself. The ideological state is totalitarian; it must become ideological if it is not balanced by a free but publicly recognized authority of conscience. When this kind of duality does not exist the totalitarian system in unavoidable.

“With this the fundamental task of the Church’s political stance, as I understand it, has been defined; its aim must be to maintain this balance of a dual system as the foundation of freedom. Hence the Church must make claims and demands on public law and cannot simply retreat into the private sphere. Hence it must also take care on the other hand that Church and state remain separated and that belonging to the Church clearly retains its voluntary character.”

[1] John Paul II, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” Knopf (1994) 92-93.
[2] David Burrell, “Freedom and Creation in Three Traditions,” UNDP (1993) 180.
[3] J. Ratzinger, “Church, Ecumenism and Politics – Theology and the Church’s Political Stance,” Crossroad (1988) 162-163.

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