“Don’t read those verses literally you dumbass! You need to interpret them correctly!”
Ok, fair enough.
In fact, that’s exactly the type of thinking I held on to and valued, and from a functional perspective, it’s actually a good thing, but it doesn’t mean it leads to truth, and in many cases, it needs some serious mental gymnastics.
Interpretation and Cherry Picking
Anyone who’s actually read the Bible or the Quran knows that there are plenty of verses that will make any sane or moral person today go yikes!
As time passes, Muhammad finds strength and inspiration from the Quran, and continues to focus on the verses which encourage kindness and tolerance towards Jews and Christians, referred to in the Quran numerous times as “the people of the book.”
The truth is obvious from the examples above which aren’t really all that imaginary.
In both cases, Ahmad and Muhammad did not derive their morality from the Quran.
Their ethical intuitions came from within themselves.
Their ethical intutions directed their attention to verses they chose to focus on and be inspired by, whether knowingly or uknowingly.
Their ethical intuitions influenced their choice of interpretation.
And hence, their morals did not come from the Quran itself.
Their morals ultimately came from within themselves thanks to their own ethical intuitions about what’s right and wrong, and were influenced by their near social context.
And in case you’re still clinging on to the idea that our morality comes from Holy Books, here’s another example that demonstrates otherwise.
Demonstrating the Problem With Wife
“Beating” as “Instructed” In the Quran
This one requires no writing.
Just watch this fun, hilarious video that clearly shows a serious heinous problem in some parts of the Muslim world.
Observe how Mr. Chauvinist appeals to the authority of the Quran and his traditionalist (andsadlywidespread) understanding of the “wife beating” verse.
Ah, interpretation, interpretation.
I mean seriously, on whose authority does one decide which verses to take literally, and which to take as metaphor?
Like I said, morality does not come from Holy Books themselves.
Metaphorical interpretation becomes a necessity and the process of choosing the morally right interpretation comes down to the individual’s ethical intuitions on which interpretation seems right, and which one seems wrong.
Wife beating? Yikes! That’s just wrong. Probably metaphorical. God is loving and merciful. He can’t support this type of lunacy.
Wife beating? Yeah, beat the crap out of her. Some women need discipline, and discipline is important. Without it, you will just have immoral anarchy and disobedience. God doesn’t like disobedience.
Oh, and guess what?
I didn’t make up those two responses to the wife beating question.
Those are roughly the responses I got from two pious Muslim friends I personally know, who both appeal to the interpretation of the Quran they believe is right… out of their own ethical intuitions.
See what I mean?
Now, If Morality Comes from Within Us
and Our Own Ethical Intuitions…
… then that begs the question… where did we come from?
Jesus? The Big Bang? Allah? Evolution?
Leave your answer in the comments section below now.
Location: Deep, deep down the orgasmic rabbit hole of epistemology.
The Bio of Awesomeness: Fundamentalist Muslim, turned hippie Sufi and fan of science. Total blogging junkie since 2006. Social entrepreneur and digital media and marketing consultant. Proud Sudanese and cultural nomad. Author of upcoming book on Islam and new media. Pro-democracy guitar-strumming activist. Loud and drop dead gorgeous. Fan of integral theory and spiral dynamics. Sarcastic Afro-Arab goofy genius. The High Priest of Mischief. Welcome. You've Been Warned! ;)
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