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What is the True Islam?

melian          8 July 2015 08:05 AM


Recently British PM David Cameron called on the BBC not to use the phrase 'Islamic State' when referring to the group operating in Iraq and Syria. Like many other non-Muslims, the PM views the actions of ISIS as not being representative of the True Islam which is the religion of peace.

To me, this view presents a logical puzzle. I can well understand how a Muslim who believes in divine origins of his religion may think that it has one and only one correct interpretation. Thus, for instance, the belief of the Shia Muslims that the Sunni interpretation of Islam is wrong is at least logically consistent. But how can a non-Muslim reasonably conclude that some interpretations of Islam are correct while others are not?

Obviously, some interpretations may sound a lot nicer to the Western ear than others. Some interpretations may be more mainstream (though these might still significantly differ from Cameron’s interpretation). But unless one believes that Islam (or any other religion for that matter) is indeed directly based on divine revelations, can one logically call any interpretations of it “untrue”?




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Alice 8 July 2015 10:43 AM
76%

Speaking as an outsider, there can be no "true' or "false" in any religion. Everyone is free to pursue whatever interpretation of whatever religion they choose, and no one has the monopoly on the "true" version of the religion, or on the decisions of who to call a "true" Muslim/Jew/Christian etc. This is of course especially so if you don't belong to the said religion.

I think such statements are not meant to be taken as literal statements about religious doctrines, but rather as saying that the version of Islam practiced by the vast majority of Muslims is not violent. It is a bizarre choice of words when a non-Muslim states that something is or isn't "true Islam", or some people are or aren't "true Muslims", but I doubt they are meant to be interpreted literally. Most likely they choose this as the most straightforward way to convey their (more nuanced) message.


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Jiro 13 July 2015 02:19 PM
68%

I'll be somewhat less charitable. "It isn't true Islam" is an applause light. It doesn't actually convey any content about what is true Islam and isn't meant to; it's something that you say to prevent your statements about Islamic terror to be interpreted as "boo Islam".

I don't, in fact, think that the people who say this would stop saying it if it was found that 51% of Islam is violent. It's not a statement about which faction has the majority, but about which faction they like.

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Alice 16 July 2015 04:18 PM
71%

I think saying "to me this is not true Islam, and a person doing x is not a true muslim, because these don't concur with the way I interpret the religion" makes sense, even if you don't believe in the religion. But of course no one gets to decide what is or isn't true Islam or any other religion. This was surely some sort of political trick with political goals.


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ChristianKl 10 July 2015 03:07 AM
68%

The question has two aspects:

1) What do most Muslims believe? It makes a lot of sense to call those believes "true Islam" and not call beliefs hold by a small subject of Muslims "true Islam".

2) There a war of propaganda. Daesh/ISIS profits from being called the "Islamic state". It makes it easier for Daesh to recruit. Calling it that way is helping the terrorists in the war of ideas.
The West does profit in the war of ideas from labeling moderate Muslims as "true Islam".

The fight against Daesh won't be won on the battlefield but in the hearts and minds. As a result the war of ideas is very important.


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melian 10 July 2015 10:57 AM
72%

What do most Muslims believe?It makes a lot of sense to call those believes "true Islam" and not call beliefs hold by a small subject of Muslims "true Islam".

Wouldn’t it be better to call this the “mainstream Islam”? Otherwise Shia’s religion is no longer “true” Islam, Lutheranism is no longer “true” Christianity etc. Also, the meanings of “true” Islam and Christianity would continuously change over time.
There is a war of propaganda… The West does profit in the war of ideas from labeling moderate Muslims as "true Islam".

It is reasonable that in a war of propaganda sticking to the truth is not a top priority. But on whom exactly the Western propaganda is working? Most ISIS recruits do not watch the BBC. It is the western public who will be misled by the incorrect labelling.
The fight against Daesh won't be won on the battlefield but in the hearts and minds.

I don't think I can recall previous cases where aggressors were defeated not on the battlefield but in the hearts and minds. Can you give me an example?


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ChristianKl 10 July 2015 12:39 PM
67%

Also, the meanings of “true” Islam and Christianity would continuously change over time.
Why is that a problem?

What do you want to achieve by distinguishing "true Muslims" from "false Muslims", other than motivating people you label "false Muslims" but who want to be "true Muslims" to follow the criteria you lay out for "true Muslims"?
I don't think I can recall previous cases where aggressors were defeated not on the battlefield but in the hearts and minds.
Why doesn't the IRA bomb British targets anymore?
It has nothing to do with British military victories but a lot to do with winning hearts and minds.

It's no coincidence that this is said by the British premier and not a Swedish one.
The British intelligence community is the strongest in regard of being conscious about language use.

The only way to win against against guerilla warfare is to make the guerrilla ... read more


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Loki K Zen 9 November 2015 05:58 AM
65%

There are statements a non-Muslim can make about what is and isn't 'True Islam', in that certain beliefs can be categorically described as things like:

* not supported by scripture ('the Prophet had pink hair')
* contrary to scripture ('the Prophet was a dog person and disliked cats')
* considered heretical by the vast majority of believers ('actually, there are two Gods')
* a minority view that is not representative of the religion as a whole (the views of IS)

I mean basically, if anybody gets to determine preferred usage of 'Islam' it is those who claim the label. If, as is the case with Cameron, all but a statistically negligible minority of those who fall under 'Islam' in his country say "we would prefer that IS are denied the label 'Islamic'", then sure, why not?

I do believe, btw, that this statement was in response to request from Islamic community leaders and not just Cameron language policing of his own accord.


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melian 9 November 2015 08:18 AM
73%

all but a statistically negligible minority of those who fall under 'Islam' in his country say "we would prefer that IS are denied the label 'Islamic'"

According to polls about half of the UK muslims might be supporters of ISIS .

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VoiceOfRa 11 July 2015 11:24 AM
55%


To me, this view presents a logical puzzle. I can well understand how a Muslim who believes in divine origins of his religion may think that it has one and only one correct interpretation. Thus, for instance, the belief of the Shia Muslims that the Sunni interpretation of Islam is wrong is at least logically consistent. But how can a non-Muslim reasonably conclude that some interpretations of Islam are correct while others are not?


Do you also have trouble figuring out the "true meaning" of the sentence "The earth is flat"?


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Alice 16 July 2015 04:15 PM
69%

How is this related? "The earth is flat" is a sentence that only has 1 interpretation. Do you mean an that we should just take a completely literal reading of everything that's in the Koran, and this and only this can be called "true Islam"? In this case we'll probably reach a conclusion that there is no such thing as a "true Muslim".

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VoiceOfRa 16 July 2015 07:20 PM
59%


"The earth is flat" is a sentence that only has 1 interpretation.


That's because there hasn't been a movement that has motivation to reconcile professing to believe the truth of the sentence "The earth is flat", with believing that it isn't.


Do you mean an that we should just take a completely literal reading of everything that's in the Koran, and this and only this can be called "true Islam"?


Something like that, with possibly the Hadith. Basically take the Koran the way it was meant to be interpreted.


In this case we'll probably reach a conclusion that there is no such thing as a "true Muslim".


I'm not sure about that, granted I haven't read the Koran, but I'm guessing you haven't either. In any case, it should certainly be possible to figure out who is more or less a true Muslim.
... read more


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Fwiffo 8 July 2015 01:27 PM
52%

Encountered in meme context I stumbled upon a video that started with a flag with a cross on it with "Christian state of Jerusalem" or something to that effect. It followed with a building being attacked with an explosive with the voices of multiple people saying "ave maria" as if in support of the actions. It is much more easier to say that is not a good representation of a christianistic stance on what to do. Religious militants are like that and it is much more about being militant than being religious.

If you are a christian militant you tend to be called out for militantism. If you are a muslim militant you are much more likely to be called out on being religious. This refers back on the issue about using minimal feasible stereotyping. We are much more familiar how a christian ideology impacts a persons behaviour, thus we are very comptent in calling out the troublesome types from the harmless ones. However christians are much less familiar with muslims. We tend not be able to subdivide them into meaningful categories. One doesn't significantly change their mind about rightists being violent for the existence of Breivik. The difference between right extremist and right is easier to understand than muslim extremists and muslims.

The deal with ISIS is much like Holy Roman Empire. It was neither holy, roman or empire. You don't need to know what the real flag looks like to know that it's a false flag operation.


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melian 9 July 2015 05:44 AM
75%

christians are much less familiar with muslims. We tend not be able to subdivide them into meaningful categories.

If you feel that you are not sufficiently familiar with Muslims, how can you be confident that you can distinguish the “real” Muslims from the “false flag” ones?

More generally, how can you decide which interpretation of religion that is not yours (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism etc.) is the “real” one?


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Fwiffo 9 July 2015 08:01 AM
57%

If you divide christians into lutherians and catholics if lutherians are found somehow to be bad the issue of whether christians are bad because lutherians are bad doesn't that much rise up or it is moot. You don't need to decide whether lutherians represent christians because you can sort things out without the umbrella term "christians". For example the conflict in Ireland it is prety hard to tell which one is the "real christian faith". We are content with not identifying one or can understand christianity as encompassing both mutually contradictory systems (and even understand that one of the component facets protestantism has its own mutually contradictory facets). Somehow it is harder to concieve that islam might have similar structure.

Like most christians are not lutherans, designating that work-for-its-own-sake (as contrast to reward or result) is a property of the ... read more


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