Friday, September 01, 2006

No coercion in Islam

Back in 2003 Imam Abdul Feisal Rauf continually aims to update and adapt his religion. A cleric in the liberal Sufic (Muslim mystical) tradition, and co-founder with Faiz Khan of the American Sufic Muslim Association (ASMA) which was designed to foster an American expression of Islam based on tolerance and religious harmony within a pluralistic society.

Now we can have authoritarianism or totalitarianism in any context and in any belief system. And we have had in our history totalitarian expressions of Islamic rule. We've also had pluralistic expressions of Islamic rule. So totalitarianism is not a function of religion or theology, it's a function of human attitude and psychology. And what unfortunately exists in a number of Muslim countries today is a totalitarian regime.

What we need is a pluralistic regime. And that's perfectly consistent with Islam. And I would argue that a pluralistic idea is in fact what the Koran commands. Because God says in the Koran, 'there shall be no coercion in religion’. Had God willed he would have made you all believing in one faith tradition.
But this is part of the divine plan.

But now to more recent news showing how there is absolutely no coercion of religion within Islam.

Centanni described how the pair had been dragged from their car at gunpoint in Gaza City two weeks ago. They were blindfolded and had their hands tightly bound behind their backs. "That was just the beginning of our torment," he said
"Then they forced us to convert to Islam at gunpoint," said Centanni. "I have the highest respect for Islam and learned a lot of very good things about it, but it was something we felt we had to do because they had guns and we didn't know what the hell was going on."

A video with his fellow camerman was made and distributed prefaced by the notice that they were not forced into this alleged conversion to Islam.

Steve Centanni, 60, an American correspondent, and his freelance cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, a New Zealander, were later released and dropped off by Palestinian security forces at a hotel in Gaza City. They were then driven to Israel.

They are obviously very pleased to be out of the clutches of their religion enforcing captors.

"I’m a little emotional because this is overwhelming, but I’m fine,” Centanni said. “I’m so happy to be freed.

Suffice to say that the video produced under gun threat is the truth of the whole matter and that these kidnappers are following Islamic commands. So obviously they don't think that a gun threat is coercion. If not coercion - what is it?


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