Monday, March 2, 2015

A Letter Concerning Muslim Toleration

NYTimes -- Mustafa Akyol -- A Letter Concerning Muslim Toleration

“...a Lockean tradition has long existed in Islam, buried in the late seventh century, in a largely forgotten school of theologians called the Murjites. They arose at a time of strife, when proto-Sunnis and proto-Shiites were fighting over who the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad was, and a fanatical group called the Kharijites, or “Dissenters,” deemed all Muslims but themselves to be apostates and started killing them off.

To counter this zealotry, the more urbane Murjites presented a brilliantly simple argument: No Muslim had the right to judge others on matters of faith; only God had that ultimate authority. Thus, they reasoned, all doctrinal disputes should be postponed to the afterlife, to be resolved by God. (The Quran itself supports this view: “Had God willed, He would have made you a single community”; “Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.”) This is why they were called “Murjites,” which means, 'the Postponers.'”