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Islamic theology needs to be rethought and represented to its adherents and to non-‐Muslims to help break the recurrence of murders and the emergence of violent groups in the name of Islam and place in the forefront of public consciousness universally recognizable positive possibilities of Islam. Divine Transcendence and Human Limitations One approach to this is to present Islam in terms of the transcendence of Allah, the name given to the conception of ultimate reality and ultimate being in Islam. Divine transcendence implies a superiority to the vagaries of human existence. It also implies a superiority to the various forms understood to embody the divine. Within such a context, Islam, described as meaning "submission to Allah", may be understood in terms of a relationship with a transcendental reality, not a defence of that reality or its manifestations, a futile effort, because ultimate being cannot be defended by Muslims. Why get agitated over attitudes to what is believed to be a manifestation of Allah, Islam and the Koran, when Allah transcends both the religion and its critics? Is the majesty of the creator and sustainer of the cosmos to be confined to what humans are able to receive in terms of revelation or be accommodated to those who may not agree with that revelation? Can a cup contain the ocean or the ocean be reduced to the little boats that ride on it?
The revelation given to Muhammad helps in understanding Allah but is not equal to the person of Allah because the majesty of Allah cannot be confined to a book, even a revealed work like the Koran, and this revelation is modified by the complexity of human life, meaning one has to interpret it carefully in the light of all the issues involved in the text. If Allah's message cannot withstand critics, then what is its value? If His message cannot withstand criticism, then what is the point of a message from the Creator of the Universe, the One Without Beginning or End? Holding Faith and Challenging Faith Can a believer challenge his or her own faith? Is it not dangerous to that faith? Should critics of Islam be allowed to freely disseminate their critical stance? Will they not corrupt others? If these critics are instrumental in turning Muslims into non-‐Muslims, into Muslims who do what they like with Islam or even become atheists, is that not the end of Islam? My own response to these concerns is that Allah, the creator of the universe, does not need to be defended from humans. Humans can believe anything they like. That does not in any way affect the being of Allah. Muhammad and the Paradox of Divine Inspiration Also, Muhammad is a messenger of Allah. He is not Allah. As Abu Bakr, Mohammed's companion, is described as stating at the death of the Prophet : "For those who worship Muhammad, know that Muhammad is dead. For those who worship Allah, know that Allah is living and does not die”. Was the Prophet not human? He was divinely inspired, yet a man. Is any man above error? Is to claim freedom from error not to claim equality of being with Allah?
Is there any human free from the censure of his fellows? Can the Prophet be free of such censure, having been human like other humans? Constructive Approaches to Presenting Islam in the Face of Criticism Islam means "submission to Allah". Submission to Allah is best demonstrated in terms of exemplifying Allah in love and wisdom. Muslims need to be indefatigable in demonstrating what they have to offer the world in terms of opportunities for showcasing Islam unwittingly provided by critics of Islam. If a film is made criticizing Muhammad and Islam, make your own film to counter that one. If a book is written criticizing Muhammad and Islam, write your own book countering that one. There are many rich Muslims. They can sponsor such activities. There are many Muslim scholars and intellectuals. There should emerge prominent examples of : Famous books challenging challenging critics of Muhammad or Islam in response to Salman Rushdie's Verses Satanic Verses on account of which so many died in relation to Muslim protests or outright massacres or assassinations by Muslims. Famous films made in response to Innocence of Muslims, the film for which Islamists killed US embassy staff in Libya and Submission, for which latter a Muslim killed the film maker, Theo van Gogh. Well known cartoon series or comic books challenging critics of Muhammad or Islam composed in relation to the Danish anti-‐ Muhammed cartoons on account of which so many died at the hands of Muslims, including in such distant places from Denmark as Nigeria.
Famous Facebook pages challenging critics of Muhammad or Islam composed in response to the fact that Facebook is central to the current global currency of global information dissemination. Muslims need to hold up as examples great figures like of Jalāl ad-‐ Dīn Muhammad Rūmī which sells very well to non-‐Muslims and the work of Ibn Arabi, who has an intercontinental reputation, who spoke of themselves thus “My heart has become a temple for Muslims and pagans...” Summation These are my suggestions for an interpretation of Islamic theology to help address the recurrence of murders and the emergence of violent groups in the name of Islam. These suggestions indicate that one may be a good Muslim while taking on board a critical culture even of one's own faith. I suggest that Muslim leaders embark on an urgent process of re-‐ educating their followers in the name of repairing the grave damage done to Islam by extremism so that the positive possibilities and achievements of the religion will be emphasized rather than its negative possibilities and manifestations.