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Topics - MaverickMonotheist

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1
Islamic Calendar & Ramadhan. / Traditional Ramadan?
« on: July 04, 2013, 12:09:11 PM »
Anyone here doing a traditional ramadan fast?  I am (for the most part), and it is going to be pretty lonely since I do not go to masjid for all of the festivities.

-MM

2
Salaam everyone,

I want to propose a possible argument for maintaining the traditional lunar year by rethinking how the sun is used regarding the calendar.

The problem with a luni-solar calendar is the need for an intercalary month or some sort of adjustment to fix the dissonance of the lunar year with the solar year.  A solution to this is a lunar year and a solar year that operate independently of each other by segregating the uses of each.

Let's assume for a moment that the lunar calendar was the one in operation at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an.  It states that certain months are "well known."  If we assume that the current lunar calendar is the one endorsed by the Qur'an, then we run into the pragmatic problems that have been discussed at length.

Instead, let's consider what the sun is used for in the Qur'an: marking the times for prayer.  In the Jewish tradition, the dawn prayer began when someone could distinguish the white thread from the blue one on his tzitzit.  Playing on this tradition, but correcting it, the Qur'an talks about dawn beginning when the white thread of the sky can be distinguished from the black of the horizon by the light of the sun.  The evening prayer also calls the observer to the setting of the sun.  In the solar year, the place of the sun in reference to a fixed point (i.e. a person always facing the same direction at that time) moves throughout the solar year.  In other words, if a person is truly facing a fixed qibla, the place where the sun rises and sets on the horizon moves and the peak of the sun at its height fluctuates based on the time of year.  Ancient astronomers observed this motion of the sun, and you can sometimes find a drawing of an analemma calendar on globes.

So if the solar year is separate and monitored as part of the morning and evening times for prayer, and the lunar calendar is used for the marking of months for the holy months and the month for fasting, then you have a system that makes use of both.  Marking where the sun rubs the horizon could be used for planting and harvest and there would be no need to try to correct the 11 day difference between the two calendars and the traditional lunar calendar could be left intact.

Just an idea.  Salaam.

3
Salaam everyone,

The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to my Islamic tutor several weeks ago.  I had previously brought up 38:21-25 and the "orthodox" belief that prophets are sinless, which is what I was referring to:

As far as the issues related to David and sin, I raised the issue to see what information was available because of the grammatical anomaly of a plural pronoun being used instead of a dual one for the two litigants.  I don't know if you read the post or not, but this would put (presumably) a third person at the scene, which would be Nathan since the passage parallels the story from the Jewish scripture.  And yes, I hear a lot that the Torah is not the unadulterated word of God.  Neither are the hadiths.  And just as there is a science to confirming a hadith, there is a science to manuscript evidence.  Given the evidence that we have, there is miniscule doubt that the Torah we have today is the same as what was extant at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an.  I'm not talking from any other perspective than from evidence. 

Any tampering with the Torah can be one of two ways: either tampering of interpretation, or tampering with the actual manuscript.  I've already mentioned the manuscript evidence, and there are verses where what Jesus was given in the gospel confirms what was in his hands of the Torah, and the prophet was given revelation that confirmed what was in his hands.  In other words, what the prophet was given confirms what was available at the time of both the Torah and Gospel, and we have very, very strong manuscript evidence to believe that the manuscripts we have today are the same as what was available at the time of the final revelation.  So we have to make sure we aren't making sweeping judgments about the validity of the evidence without careful examination.  This is one of the problems I see with modern Islamic scholarship.  The level of scrutiny and attention to detail when it comes to hadiths and sources, even though it is not revelation, but then to look at prior revelation and say, "Nah bro, it's corrupt.  Not even going to consider it."  To me, this lacks consistency.

The case of Ashura in the hadiths is similar.  We have two hadiths with possible contradiction, and an outside source of arguable levels of credibility related to it.  Since the hadiths make reference to Jewish tradition and praxis, I think not only does the isnaad have weight, but the coherence to the best possible understanding of Jewish sources on the subject.  What makes this difficult is the possible reference to Jews in Medina celebrating Jewish fasts and feasts according to a purely lunar calendar (impossible by the Torah), and the very nature of what the hadith says about how Jews celebrated the day being contradictory to the nature of how Jews viewed feasts and fasts.  Fasts were never celebratory.  The day that the Jews celebrate the parting of the Yam Suph is the seventh of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and it is called, as the hadith and the Talmud confirm a "Yom Tov", a "good day."  There is no fasting on this day.  So part of the narrative shows some knowledge of Jewish practice, but the rest is pretty difficult to accept.  Just like the commentary about Jews worshipping Ezra, as opposed to the Qur'an simply stating that they called him a "son of God."  The phrase is nuanced and has unfortunately not been interpreted within the context it was used, but this commentary can't be correct because any worship of a man would cause those Jews to cease to be Jews by violating the sh'ma (Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the lord is one.).

And no, I'm not saying interpret anything simply by the Torah.  What I'm saying is weigh the evidence.  If someone says that a particular group of people did something, and all historical and documentary sources point to them NOT doing it, then reason says that there is a level of scrutiny that should be applied before accepting what that person says.

In general, I see two particular views that I have to choose between.  Going back to David and the litigants.  the "letter" of what was written says he sinned and was scolded by a prophet and had to repent.  The "letter" of the Qur'an, based on the grammatical use of the plural, and the fact that David asked for forgiveness in the narrative, confirms the written word of the Torah.  There's no need for the Qur'an to restate the details of the event because it had already been said.

But this is where things get interesting.  The oral tradition of Judaism says that David did not sin, but committed a violation of good social manners.  To the average person, this would be nothing, but because of his station as king, he needed to repent.  The Talmud says that David did not sin and goes to a rather lengthy explanation as to why he did not.  But not surprisingly it references Jewish halacha that would not have been practiced until after the beginnings of the oral tradition in Judaism - some time after the event in question happened and would have been recorded.  This oral tradition in Judaism is cohesive with the oral tradition of Islam, and the rather lengthy commentary on this verse is pretty similar in it's reasoning in defending David's sinlessness as the Talmudic commentary.

So there are the written texts of the Torah and the Qur'an, which are essentially in agreement and are pretty iconoclastic in their view of even the best humans on earth, and then there are oral traditions between Judaism and Islam that deviate from the written tradition in defense of this man being sinless because of the potential problems created in defending established jurisprudence for both Judaism and Islam.

And so we have an instance of "same old, same old."  In Judaism, the deepest division between Jews is between those that accept the rabbinical tradition and those that do not (Qaraite Jews).  Notice the similarity of the name Qaraite to the first word of Surat 'Alaq: "Iq'ra."  The root in Hebrew and Arabic is the same and means the same thing.  But the division between the Qaraites and all other Jews is so strong that that they are not eligible to make the migration to Israel and they are forbidden to marry between the two groups.  And in Islam, there is no greater division, even between Sunni and Shi'a, than that of traditional Islam and Quranists.  Same old, same old. 

I'll be honest, I don't trust how the hadiths are handled in terms of reliability based on how they compare with outside evidence.  I do not reject all hadiths, I'm sure some of them are valid.  But Islamic scholarship seems to be a big quagmire of contradiction, uncertainty, and appeals to authority.  If I hear one more person quote Ibn Taymiyya, who spent more time going well beyond the Qur'an in his efforts to out-takfir everyone else, I'm going to scream.  Islamic scholarship produces both a Tariq Ramadan and an Anwar Al-Awlaki.  Quranists are considered guilty of personally interpreting according to their whims, but don't we do pretty much the same thing?  We pick a scholar that we like or that we find likeable or more reasonable to our tastes, and we follow him.  Aren't we following our own personal choice there, too?  If a scholar is a scholar is a scholar, then there is no reason to find Ramadan's call to stop enforcing the penalty of capital crimes any more moral of a choice than a classical scholar like Ibn Taymiyya's call for any person to heed the call to kill a kaffir.  Do you see what I'm saying?  At some point, scholarship is not enough, and there are a host of moral, procedural, and ethical questions we just have to resolve on our own as best we can.  If I want to justify doing something stupid, I can find a scholar or classical jurist to justify it.  And I'm getting tired of all of all of the parroting of hadiths and scholars about things that really don't mean crap.  Jeans?  Music?  Pants above the ankles?  Circumcision?  Which days are best to fast in order to get mad hasanat and have sins forgiven for the next year?  Bro, none of these things are explicit in the Qur'an, none of these things address the huge issues facing Islam and humanity in general, and yet the few Muslims that I know in person and online talk about this crap all the time.  Just like there is yet another beard post on [internet forum], saying it is wajib.  I'm not growing a beard, and I'm tired of people bringing it up.  We've got much bigger problems than the number of people who shave.

I'll be honest, I came real close to just saying, "Screw it, I'm done." a few weeks ago.  I got tired of comments from family about being a Muslim (my and my wife's parents), and then talking with Muslims and feeling like they are talking an entirely different language in terms of what is important."

Thoughts?

4
Free-Minds.Org / ProgressiveMuslims.Org / An Open Letter of Sorts
« on: April 23, 2012, 07:23:53 AM »
Several months ago, I came to this forum after having lapsed into atheism and agnosticism.  During this time I was always angry and combative, I lacked self-discipline and purpose, so naturally my marriage was on shaky ground and I was not being a very good parent.  I received kind words and good advice from some of the members here.  I am grateful for that, and will not forget it.  I thought, “Perhaps this is where I belong.”

Since that time, I’ve come to see things a little differently.  Don’t get me wrong, if this were just another internet forum, I would not say any of these things.  But my understanding is that Free Minds has the purpose of moving from internet discussion to engagement with the real world as an organization.  If this is truly the case, then I have some observations.  Like most of what I say, I’m certain that this will not make me popular, but I feel I need to point out some things because I owe a debt to this community for the sound advice and prayers that were offered when I asked for help.

The difference is that no one here is asking for me help, and so these comments are unsolicited.  Nonetheless, I feel like things are stagnant here and I have some thoughts as to why.  Why aren’t things growing?  Why are ventures not being established in real life?  Why are people trickling in and out of the forum?  Why are we going round and round over the same issues over and over again with no real resolution?

1.  It seems to me that a lot of this goes back to emphasizing the same things as traditional Islam.  Sunnis are, for the most part, pretty homogenous on what they consider to be essentials.  They pray the same at the same time.  They follow the same scholars who all say pretty much the same things.  They follow the same calendar, they fast together, they make pilgrimage to the same place.  And they consider this to be a good thing, and they see this as evidence that they are rightly guided.  I’m afraid that we are playing the same game.  We argue as a forum over what is the right place of hajj and when the sacred months are.  We argue over the number of times to pray.  We argue over evidence and hermeneutics.  We never come to any real resolution over these issues, and so we never unite to do anything.  So, either the Qur’an is not fully detailed, or we are arguing over things that the Qur’an is intentionally vague about.  We are spending a lot of time on things that are not as important as things that the Qur’an makes more of a fuss about.   If we are not going to be able to reach a majority or consensus over most of these issues, we need an approach that allows us to maintain unity through a few basic essentials of Quranic monotheism, and an approach that views a certain level of tolerance as a spiritual act of recognizing man’s inability to answer all of the questions.

2.  The position of Sunni Islam related to the hadiths is not nearly as simple as many of the people here make it out to be.  The Sunna is a complex and formidable corpus to wrestle with.  After having engaged a few traditional muslims who take this seriously in conversation, it isn’t that simple to refute.  BUT what I can say is that dealing with hadith and sunna is not a spiritual task.  In the few weeks of dealing with it, I felt confused and uncertain of anything related to God and what is the right path.  I assume that this is probably the experience of many converts to traditional Islam.  They encounter the Qur’an and are moved by its deep spirituality and truth.  Then they convert and become overwhelmed with the complexity of Islam’s oral tradition, and so they give up.  Unfortunately, simply rejecting the hadiths does not solve this problem.  The same approach can be used with the Qur’an alone, and it can leave people feeling the same way.  One only needs to look at the threads related to Ramadan or code 19 to see how the right path can perhaps get lost in the details.  The Qur’an has the ability to affect people in their hearts, to move them in a way that they cannot understand.  While I am a firm believer in good scholarship and not accepting simple or easy answers, I think we need to make sure that we do not fall into the trap of the scholarship of traditional Islam and make things complex for the sake of complexity or winning arguments.  While many of the people here do this, I think the simple spirituality of the Qur’an needs to be greatly emphasized over the rational discussions and arguments.

3.  I think this needs to be clear: is this just an internet forum, or is this website intended to serve the purpose of establishing God Alone organizations and gatherings?  Lots of things on the website suggest that the aim is establishing something tangible.  But most of the discussion and the tendency to have some pretty unpleasant rhetoric towards one another leads me to believe that this will never get beyond a forum.

4. If the fatwas that declare the rejectors of mutawaatir hadiths to be kaffirun were overturned today, what would be the unifying elements of this community?  I don’t know.  I think this community is better defined by what it rejects, and not what we hold in common.  No viable or spiritually healthy community can be held together solely by what it is against.  Once what it is against goes away or is no longer relevant, then the organization splinters.  What are the absolute unifying principles of this organization that would hold a diverse body of people together in lasting community?  What are we here for?  If we aren’t doing it, why aren’t we?

Again, I’m sure this won’t make me any friends here.  I hope this is not viewed as an attack on the community.  I am grateful for what I have received from many of the members here in terms of good conversation and sound advice.  I respect many of you immensely.  So it is because of this respect that I’m writing this in the hopes that a conversation will begin in order to move things forward into whatever God wills for FM.  While I believe that each of us will stand before God as individuals, I also believe that God did not intend for us to live in spiritual isolation from one another.  Our path is one to be undertaken in community, and among brothers and sisters.  This connection should, IMHO, go beyond discussing things on a thread and relating only to those that we agree most with.

Peace,
Joel

5
Free-Minds.Org / ProgressiveMuslims.Org / An Open Letter of Sorts
« on: April 23, 2012, 07:23:10 AM »
Several months ago, I came to this forum after having lapsed into atheism and agnosticism.  During this time I was always angry and combative, I lacked self-discipline and purpose, so naturally my marriage was on shaky ground and I was not being a very good parent.  I received kind words and good advice from some of the members here.  I am grateful for that, and will not forget it.  I thought, “Perhaps this is where I belong.”

Since that time, I’ve come to see things a little differently.  Don’t get me wrong, if this were just another internet forum, I would not say any of these things.  But my understanding is that Free Minds has the purpose of moving from internet discussion to engagement with the real world as an organization.  If this is truly the case, then I have some observations.  Like most of what I say, I’m certain that this will not make me popular, but I feel I need to point out some things because I owe a debt to this community for the sound advice and prayers that were offered when I asked for help.

The difference is that no one here is asking for me help, and so these comments are unsolicited.  Nonetheless, I feel like things are stagnant here and I have some thoughts as to why.  Why aren’t things growing?  Why are ventures not being established in real life?  Why are people trickling in and out of the forum?  Why are we going round and round over the same issues over and over again with no real resolution?

1.  It seems to me that a lot of this goes back to emphasizing the same things as traditional Islam.  Sunnis are, for the most part, pretty homogenous on what they consider to be essentials.  They pray the same at the same time.  They follow the same scholars who all say pretty much the same things.  They follow the same calendar, they fast together, they make pilgrimage to the same place.  And they consider this to be a good thing, and they see this as evidence that they are rightly guided.  I’m afraid that we are playing the same game.  We argue as a forum over what is the right place of hajj and when the sacred months are.  We argue over the number of times to pray.  We argue over evidence and hermeneutics.  We never come to any real resolution over these issues, and so we never unite to do anything.  So, either the Qur’an is not fully detailed, or we are arguing over things that the Qur’an is intentionally vague about.  We are spending a lot of time on things that are not as important as things that the Qur’an makes more of a fuss about.   If we are not going to be able to reach a majority or consensus over most of these issues, we need an approach that allows us to maintain unity through a few basic essentials of Quranic monotheism, and an approach that views a certain level of tolerance as a spiritual act of recognizing man’s inability to answer all of the questions.

2.  The position of Sunni Islam related to the hadiths is not nearly as simple as many of the people here make it out to be.  The Sunna is a complex and formidable corpus to wrestle with.  After having engaged a few traditional muslims who take this seriously in conversation, it isn’t that simple to refute.  BUT what I can say is that dealing with hadith and sunna is not a spiritual task.  In the few weeks of dealing with it, I felt confused and uncertain of anything related to God and what is the right path.  I assume that this is probably the experience of many converts to traditional Islam.  They encounter the Qur’an and are moved by its deep spirituality and truth.  Then they convert and become overwhelmed with the complexity of Islam’s oral tradition, and so they give up.  Unfortunately, simply rejecting the hadiths does not solve this problem.  The same approach can be used with the Qur’an alone, and it can leave people feeling the same way.  One only needs to look at the threads related to Ramadan or code 19 to see how the right path can perhaps get lost in the details.  The Qur’an has the ability to affect people in their hearts, to move them in a way that they cannot understand.  While I am a firm believer in good scholarship and not accepting simple or easy answers, I think we need to make sure that we do not fall into the trap of the scholarship of traditional Islam and make things complex for the sake of complexity or winning arguments.  While many of the people here do this, I think the simple spirituality of the Qur’an needs to be greatly emphasized over the rational discussions and arguments.

3.  I think this needs to be clear: is this just an internet forum, or is this website intended to serve the purpose of establishing God Alone organizations and gatherings?  Lots of things on the website suggest that the aim is establishing something tangible.  But most of the discussion and the tendency to have some pretty unpleasant rhetoric towards one another leads me to believe that this will never get beyond a forum.

4. If the fatwas that declare the rejectors of mutawaatir hadiths to be kaffirun were overturned today, what would be the unifying elements of this community?  I don’t know.  I think this community is better defined by what it rejects, and not what we hold in common.  No viable or spiritually healthy community can be held together solely by what it is against.  Once what it is against goes away or is no longer relevant, then the organization splinters.  What are the absolute unifying principles of this organization that would hold a diverse body of people together in lasting community?  What are we here for?  If we aren’t doing it, why aren’t we?

Again, I’m sure this won’t make me any friends here.  I hope this is not viewed as an attack on the community.  I am grateful for what I have received from many of the members here in terms of good conversation and sound advice.  I respect many of you immensely.  So it is because of this respect that I’m writing this in the hopes that a conversation will begin in order to move things forward into whatever God wills for FM.  While I believe that each of us will stand before God as individuals, I also believe that God did not intend for us to live in spiritual isolation from one another.  Our path is one to be undertaken in community, and among brothers and sisters.  This connection should, IMHO, go beyond discussing things on a thread and relating only to those that we agree most with.

Peace,
Joel

6
General Issues / Questions / Freemasons?
« on: April 05, 2012, 12:11:03 PM »
Peace all,

Question: I've noticed in a few different threads a general distaste for freemasons, even to the extent of calling them devil worshippers.  Now, where I live, I understand why some fundamentalist churches say this.  Mainly because churches have to compete with lodges for members.  But why do some of the members here not like them?  I've never met a mason who wasn't a good, God-fearing man.

So, I'm sure this is going to make me incredibly popular.  I tend to integrate Judeo-Christian scripture with the Qur'an, and now I'm mentioning freemasonry.  Pazuzu, maybe it was me who hacked your webcam...   :rotfl:

-Joel

7
Questions/Comments on the Quran / 38:24-25
« on: April 03, 2012, 09:40:37 AM »
38:24    He said: "He has wronged you by asking to combine your lamb with his lambs. And many who mix their properties take advantage of one another, except those who believe and do good works, and these are very few." And David guessed that We had tested him, so he sought forgiveness from his Lord, and fell down kneeling, and repented.

38:25    So We forgave him in this matter. And for him with Us is a near position, and a beautiful abode.

Any indication who the person is referred to by the pronouns here?  Is it David or one of the brothers?

-Joel


8
Hadith Discussions / For The Scholars Here
« on: March 08, 2012, 09:52:09 AM »
Peace all,

I have kind of a technical question about the Qur'an and hadith.  I've been saking some questions on another forum, and someone told me that the reason why Sunni scholars do not consider Quran-alone Muslims to be true Muslims comes down to the denial of all hadith.  The reason is that the hadith classified as mutawaatir are reliable because of the numbers of reliable chains of transmission AND the sources are supposedly the same sources as some of the verses of the Qur'an when it was compiled.  In their opinion, to deny these hadith is to deny the athenticity of dozens of verses from the Qur'an.  My question in response was:

"So, without these sources, would we have these verses in the Qur'an? Are there known manuscripts from about the same time or prior that contained these verses independent of these hadith? In other words, are these sources for the mutawaatir hadith the confirmed primary sources for those verses in the Qur'an?"

I have not heard anything in response.  Does anyone here know info about the oldest manuscripts and their relationship to the sources of the "most reliable" hadith?  Any info would be helpful.

Peace,
Joel

9
Islamic Calendar & Ramadhan. / 9:81 and the Restricted Months
« on: February 16, 2012, 09:03:19 PM »
"Those who have remained are happy with their position of lagging behind the messenger of God, and they disliked striving with their money and lives in the cause of God; and they say: "Do not mobilize in the heat." Say: "The fire of Hell is much hotter," if they could only understand (9:81, Free Minds Translation)."

Peace all,

Wouldn't this verse support the idea that the restricted months do not fall during the hottest part of the year?  Is the context of these verses the muslims preparing to go to war?  If there were some who did not want to fight, why wouldn't they simply say, "We will not fight during the restricted months."  Saying they will not mobilize for war because of the heat makes them sound like a bunch of cowardly and lazy slobs.  I would think that if they were able to use the excuse of the restricted months, they would do so, right?

Thanks for any help.

Peace,
Joel

10
Discuss Latest World News / Saudi Blogger Faces Death Penalty
« on: February 10, 2012, 08:34:29 AM »
http://www.zimbabwemetro.com/32845/saudi-man-faces-death-for-having-little-faith/

Saudi man faces death for having little faith
Posted by Donell McGriff on Feb 10th, 2012 and filed under Politics & Foreign.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A 23-year-old Saudi columnist has fled the country, his associates said Wednesday, after he tweeted on popular micro-blogging website Twitter expressing his doubts on religion, something that led prominent Saudi clerics and thousands of their followers to use Twitter, YouTube, email and fax to demand his execution.
Last week, just before the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad’s birth, Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old Saudi writer in Jidda, took to his Twitter feed to reflect on the occasion.
Hamza Kashgari
“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you,” he wrote in one tweet.
“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more,” he wrote in a second.
“On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more,” he concluded in a third.
Reports said that thousands of Saudi scholars, students and online users reacted angrily to his open “sacrilege” and filed cases against him calling for stringent legal action for heresy. Twitter quickly flooded with responses to Kashgari, registering more than 30,000 within a day. They accused him of blasphemy, and enraged Saudis called for his death.

According to Sabq in Saudi Arabia and the London-based Al Hayat daily, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has personally ordered his arrest for crossing red lines and denigrating religious beliefs in God and His Prophet.
“The Monarch today issued orders to arrest and try Kashgari for his offences against the deity and the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him),” the newspapers said, quoting a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
Abdul Aziz Khowja, the Saudi information minister, had formally put up a warrant ordering that Kashgari, who is a writer for a Saudi daily, be banned from writing for any publication in future, and barred outlets across the country from publishing his work ever.
“When I read his what he posted, I wept and got very angry that someone in the country of the Two Holy Mosques ‘attack’ our Prophet (PBUH) in a manner that does not fit a Muslim address the best of men,” the minister said.
Saudi King has called for Kashgari’s arrest
Nasser al-Omar, an influential cleric, called for him to be tried in a Sharia court for apostasy, which is punishable by death. Other leading clerics decried Kashgari on their own, and Saudi Arabia’s council of senior scholars issued a rare and harshly worded communiqué condemning him and his tweets and demanding that he be executed.
“Your duty is to defend our religion against those atheists and not let it pass by with no punishment — you must write in the papers, in the Internet, and write the government, and not be silenced,” cleric Nasser al-Omar urged all his followers in a video posted on YouTube.
One tweet from Saudi Arabia has offered 10,000 riyals (US$2,666) to anyone who killed Kashgari. Another posted an image of Kashgari’s house and home address taken off Google Earth, and, his friends say, vigilantes had already came looking for him at his local mosque.
The furor, speed, number and intensity of messages calling for the death of the writer stunned many liberal Saudis. “The most serious thing about this was their ability to organize,” said Abdullah Hamadaddin, an analyst based in Jeddah. “You’re talking about two days, and they mobilized thousands of people.”
Riyadh – the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia.
Others viewed the fatwa-by-Twitter as a sign of deeply ingrained divisions in the conservative kingdom. “It’s going crazy, this level of intolerance. I think it has reached a disease-level in Saudi Arabia,” said political commentator Jamal Khashoggi. “It is a culture of hate, which now dominate Saudi Arabia.”
Fouad al-Farhan, a respected liberal and Saudi Arabia’s most influential blogger, knew Kashgari was in trouble. He quickly got in touch with Kashgari and urged him to issue the apology, which he did. Kashgari retracted his tweets and announced his repentance.
“My tweets were posted during a [difficult] psychological state. I erred and I pray to God that He will forgive me for what I did,” Hamza Kashgari said in a statement.
“I declare my repentance and I distance myself fully from all the misleading ideas that had affected me and made me write expressions that I do not support. I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of God. I shall live and die firmly believing in it. I declare my repentance and I strongly adhere to the testimonies that there is no deity but Allah and that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah,” he wrote.

Kashgari has since deleted his Twitter account, and he says some like-minded friends have done the same. He declined to comment on his apology and retraction but insisted his battle was still not lost. “I view my actions as part of a process toward freedom. I was demanding my right to practice the most basic human rights—freedom of expression and thought—so nothing was done in vain,” he says. “I believe I’m just a scapegoat for a larger conflict. There are a lot of people like me in Saudi Arabia who are fighting for their rights.”
Saudi’s clerics however, insisted there is no forgiveness and no second chance for Kashgari, stating that his repentance acquitted him of blasphemy in front of God, but that doesn’t exempt him from personal accounting to the populace, and demanded he be killed.
Even Kashgari’s friends, all of whom requested anonymity, say they’re reluctant to come to his defense, and have even felt the need to attack him themselves. “Everyone who tried to objectively deal with this case was immediately stigmatized and labeled an enemy of the prophet, who therefore should suffer the same fate Hamza is awaiting,” says one.
Adds another: “Right now we’re not worried about freedom of speech. We’re worried about the safety of our friend, Kashgari. And right now we can only help his safety if we condemn him, and [from there] try to rationalize what he said.”
World map – the greener the country, the weaker the religion
Kashgari has fled Saudi Arabia through Jordan and UAE to an unspecified Eastern Asian or Southeast Asian states, where religious tolerance and atheistic opinion are more open. The power of religion is weak and tamed in nations such as China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, while Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia are strictly off-limit to him.
In his first interview with the press, Kashgari told The Daily Beast that he was stunned by the turn of events and has accepted the fact that he can never return home. “It’s impossible. No way,” he said. “I’m afraid, and I don’t know where to go.” Kashgari says he is now planning to apply for asylum abroad.
Kashgari says he never expected such an outcry, but he knows the mindset of his critics well. He was raised as a religious conservative in a traditional Salafi community, but is deemed to be highly-educated, becoming more liberal and “humanist,” in the words of one friend, as he grew older and embraced the Web.
China and Japan, world’s most irreligious countries – nearly one-third of world’s manufacturing industries
Mr. Kashgari had been a columnist for the Jeddah-based al-Bilad daily. He had drawn the attention of Saudi conservatives before, when he appeared—in shorts, rather than robes worn by most Saudi men here—in photographs of a hotel convention attended by women with their hair uncovered.
Ahmed Al Omran, who keeps the popular blog Saudi Jeans, says it’s common for conservative activists to keep watch over liberal-minded social-media feeds. “They wait for the moment when they say something controversial to use it against them. Hamza is apparently one of the people they’ve been monitoring,” he says. “Most people feel strongly about the situation. But at the same time, I feel that conservatives are trying to take advantage of the situation, make an example out of him, and show their strength.”

Saudi Arabia has a low user rate for Twitter—less than 1% of the country’s 27 million Saudis and expatriates as of early 2011, according to the Dubai School of Government.
Clerics dominate the list of most-followed tweeters in the kingdom. Religious conservatives in the past have responded suspiciously to new media, only to learn to harness it effectively to draw followers and spread their messages, via chat rooms, YouTube and other means.
Grand Mufti Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh last month urged Muslims to avoid Twitter, calling it “full of lies.”

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