"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Separation of Church/Mosque & State

A good while back Samer and I were talking. He was sharing about the Islamic point of view and how Islam was a complete way of life. How you could not separate the church (errr, mosque) and state in Islam. Islam doesn't just regulate people spiritually, but it governs politically as well. There are rules for engaging in war - some very good rules, I might add. I truly find the Islamic rules of engagement and treatment of prisoners quite good.

So anyway, we were talking and I was in one of my states of disbelief at how all-inclusive Islam was in taking over people's lives when he asked:

"Wouldn't you want to live in a country where your Christian beliefs are what ruled the nation?"

Sounds delightful actually! Can you imagine a country where serving and honoring others was the norm? Where needy people were helped without complaint? Need the oil changed in your car? No problem, let me get my tools. Need your yard cleaned? Let me get my rake. And people loving each other and returning good for evil....utopia!

Sounds, well, divine.

The problem is that this church/state thing was tried before and, sadly, the Church just doesn't do well with a lot of power. It seems power has some magical ability to corrupt. So you start mixing the Church and the State and it becomes more of a control, power issue than spiritual one.

Plus there are various forms of Christians. There are some who just have attended church once in their lives or their families consider themselves Christian so they are as well. Then there are those of differing religious varieties - liberals, literalists, moderates. So whose Christianity will rule in the nation? It's rather subjective.

Just like sharia law is subjective to many Muslims. Whose interpretation will you follow?

Thus, I believe you can influence the State by the way you live and vote, however, you shouldn't use the State to force people to change. Quite frankly, the State is a poor substitute for God in changing people's lives. What we try to legislate (force people to do by law), God can simply do. And His way is more lasting and good because He gets to the heart of the matter by...changing hearts. Not merely outward compliance under threat of punishment.

All that just to say, I want to copy some quotes from God & Government...some of which relate to what I wrote above. I thought the author made some very good points in what he shared.

"The church, while not the Kingdom of God, is to live out the values of the Kingdom of God in this world, resisting the ever-present temptation to usher in the Kingdom of God by political means. Yet this is the temptation to which the church has most commonly succumbed, and certainly this is its greatest temptation today." (pg. 104)

"While human politics is based on the premise that society must be changed in order to change people, in the politics of the Kingdom it is people who must be changed in order to change society." (p. 105)

"If Christianity was true and meaningful, it must go deeper than that [life in Parliament]. It must not only save but serve. It must bring God's compassion to the oppressed as well as oppose the oppressors." (pg. 111)

"The kind of conflict that Wilberforce and other activist Christians experience -- between their Christian conscience and their politician mandates -- is unavoidable. Both church and state assert standards and values in society; both seek authority; both compete for allegiance. As members of both the religious and the political spheres, the Christian is bound to face conflict." (pg. 122)

Prior to Constantine's conversion to Christianity, believers in Jesus were routinely persecuted and martyred. "In A.D. 381 Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and in an ironic turnabout, church leaders began exploiting their new-found power. As historian F.F. Bruce has written: 'Christian leaders ... exploit[ed] the influential favor they enjoyed even when it meant subordinating the cause of justice to the apparent interest of their religion...they were inclined to allow the secular power too much control in church affairs ... Where church leaders were able to exercise political as well as spiritual authority, they did not enjoy any marked immunity from the universally corrupting tendency of power.'" (pg.124)

Heretics were suppressed at the order of this new church-state. In fact "the church turned to military conquest through a series of 'holy wars' that became more racial than religious. Jews, Muslims, and dark-skinned Christians were massacred alike. The goal was not to convert the populace, but to conquer it." (pg.125)

Religions had often been "assaulted but always in the name of other religions." Then came the French Revolution where "'irreligion became an all-prevailing passion, fierce, intolerant and predatory.'" As de Tocqueville put it, "'The total rejection of any religious belief, so contrary to man's natural instincts and so destructive of his peace of mind, came to be regarded by the masses as desirable.' The French Revolution was a conscious effort to replace the Kingdom of God with the kingdoms of man. But the state must have some moral justification for its authority. Thus France's irreligion was soon replaced by a new faith -- man's worship of man." (pg. 125-26)

Social-gospel movement -- "[dissolved] Christian orthodoxy into a campaign to eliminate every social injustice, often through governmental means. Objectives became political and economic to the detriment of the spiritual. The reformers' well-intentioned efforts were shattered as social programs failed to produce the promised utopia, leaving observers to conclude, 'Things are no better. Where is your God now?'"

Today this happens on both the right and left, however, this "preoccupation with the political diverts the church from its primary mission."

"The political right is also subject to this temptation; many want to impose religious and cultural values by force of law, irrespective of the wishes of the electorate. This is as wrong and dangerous, as the secular left attempting to impose its values on society by force --usually via the courts." (pg. 132)

Re: New Jerusalems -- "If we believe that the Kingdom of Heaven can be established by political or economic measures, then we can hardly object to the claims of such a state to embrace the whole of life and to demand the total submission of the individual will and conscience." (pg.132 footnote)

Separation of church and state did not mean "religion and politics could be separated or religious values removed from the public arena. For one's political life is an expression of values, and religion, by definition, most profoundly influences values." (pg. 136)

Therefore "when laws were passed reflecting the consensus of Christian values in the land, no one panicked supposing that the Christian religion was being 'established' or that a sectarian morality was being imposed on an unwilling people. The point of the First Amendment was that such convictions could only become the law of the land if a majority of citizens could be persuaded (without coercion) of the merits of a particular proposition, whether they shared its religious foundation or not. Today's widespread attempt to relegate religion to the privacy of homes or churches would have been unimaginable to the founders of the republic -- even those who personally repudiated orthodox Christian faith. Though America has drifted far from the vision of its founders, this system continues to offer one of the world's most hopeful models in an otherwise contentious history of conflict." (pg. 137)

"Outwardly, we are a religious people, but inwardly our religious beliefs make no difference in how we live. We are obsessed with self; we live, raise families, govern, and die as though God does not exist." (pg. 245)

Thoughts? What do you think about separation of church/mosque and State? Do you agree that it is God who changes hearts and thus society or do you believe politics also plays an important role?


Niki said...

The Kingdom of God is spiritual, not an earthly kingdom. The Jews were expecting the Messiah to set up an earthly kingdom and when Jesus came on the scene teaching a spiritual kingdom, they rejected him.

Reading this, I was also reminded of the scripture that says that God loves a cheerful giver. God doesn't want us to give or to help others grudgingly or out of a sense of obligation or because we're forced to. It should be a choice we make cheerfully and sincerely. Yes, it's the right thing to do and it's what God wants, but he didn't create robots to serve him. He gave us free will. We can choose to do right or wrong. We can choose to live for God or for the devil or our ownselves. We can choose heaven or hell.

As far as our country being ruled by religion or a religious leader, I agree that there are different understandings and interpretations of scripture and that someone could rule our country who believes things either far too liberally or far too strictly.

God wanted to be the ruler of the Israelite people, but they wanted an earthly king like other nations. God allowed them to choose a king, not because He approved, it went against His desires for them, but because it's what they wanted. Reading Biblical history, you see that often having an earthly king didn't turn out so well for them.

Suroor said...

I have never seen a theocracy work for the people. It may flourish but it doesn't help the people.

sarah said...

Susanne, interesting post. I agree with so many of the comments and they can probably be applied to any government. I think Islam does contain the regulations to good governance but ultimately it has not recently worked in practice.

Perhaps the best thing is that the values of religion should inform the construction of the laws of the land. It is hard to look at many of the non-European (or Muslim) nations and claim that their religion did not work as a ruling ideology because so many of these nations were forged by colnialists and conquerors. The ideology of the indigenous people is not necessarily what informed the law.

But when I see the laws of the UK, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, care fot the poor, universal health care - I am sure that they have been informed in large part by the fundamental prinicples of Christianity. In the most part they work well and are commendable.

The problem is the age old struggle between pirituality and worldly power. Materialism is a corrupting force anf it takes a strong person to reisist the corruption of soul it brings.

Isn't this ecpressed so well in the teaching about 'it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven'. Please forgive me if I misquote.

Interesting topic and sadly religion and spirituality are taking much more of a backseat (at least in the UK) in politics.

truerivers said...

I think the failure of such states governing with religion mostly is because mercy and compassion takes a backseat.

Maybe in the beginning they do.But as you correctly pointed out,power has the ability to corrupt and destroy the very foundation that was meant to be in the first place.And then you have elite groups popping out and so forth,dominating the scene as if God directly gave them the power to rule.And then it all goes back to square one.I think it can only work with very good leadership with good forsight and care and concern for the society as a whole,not show preferrable treatment for some.Like some nations do.

There're quite a number of reasons we can point out why it is better for the separation of state and religion.

But in Islam there's the belief that the muslim state must enforce the Islamic law in order for it to complete it's obligation towards God .So muslim majority nations practicing shariah laws are unwilling to adopt this idea of separation as they find it abominable and wrong.

Interestingly the largest muslim nation,Indonesia,practices a more moderate form of Islam.Given the varieties of ethnicities in the region,it's the best decision to make.The people have wisely acted to separate the mosque and the state knowing the challenges they had to face if they allow islamic shariah to rule the country even though several attempts are being made to impose shariah law there.

Suroor said...

Susanne, I read the post very late in the night and left a one line comment, but I had to return and tell you that I loved this post. It is very well-thought out and I enjoy the links you have created between your thoughts. I also enjoyed your argument. Thanks a lot for writing this!

You know that I believe that religious laws are also man-made :) But I see a difference between secular laws (SL) and religious laws (RL) - SL are open to amendments and progression while RL are carved in stone for most. Plus, some religions have stricter laws than others (I personally think Christianity has the least evasive and more humane laws and so does Buddhism, but that these laws are also vague compared to let's say Hinduism or Islam or Judaism). How do we control the loves of so many different people in a globalised world with RLs from one religion?

Shariah is still prevalent in GCC countries with a mix of tribal law and the expat community is not happy with it at all. If we really go deep into Shariah law it is biased towards Muslims. If you read the Pact of Oman II you can't help but wonder how some rules were quite unfair. For example, under Shariah law a non-Muslim couldn't ride a camel; he must ride only an ass. This is true even today in the form of a law in some GCC countries where only a local man can heavily tint his car's windows (because it is too hot ONLY for him and because ONLY his women must not be seen by others even if they are in a burqa in the car!). And expat can't tint their windows more than 30%. I won't even tell you what goes on in these tinted cars! Because these men can't be seen inside their cars they drive recklessly and you must shut up and bear it because a tinted car means it is a local man/woman. When I'm on the road and see a tinted car I often imagine myself 1400 years ago in Muslim Arabia as a Jew/Christian living under Shariah and wonder if riding an ass with big camels around me.

Some religions work through inclusion, others work and rule through exclusion. When King Akbar began ruling North of India he realised very early on that Shariah worked on excluding the non-Muslims. He quickly changed his strategy - he abolished jizya, began hiring Hindus in his court, married Hindu women (all haraam) and created a new religion with its own laws called Deen-e-Illahi. Hindus still disliked him but they were the happiest with him. I must mention that when Aurangzeb, a strict Muslim, reinstated Shariah law the Hindus revolted against him by secretly siding with the British.

I believe if any RL was directly from God it would have been as perfect as the Universe. Even if one person finds any RL unfair, then it is unfair and imperfect so imposing it on people in the name of a religion is wrong. Caste system is wrong no matter how much a Hindu may tell me its from God. It is exclusive in nature. It makes a Hindu not even eat what I may cook for her as a non-Hindu.

This is what I meant when I said theocracies don't work. I still can't get the Spanish Inquisition out my head and it was the most un-Christian, yet heavily supported and defended.

Suroor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tauqeer said...

I think in Islam, the ruler of the country is supposed to be a 'Caliph' or successor* to God. He has a responsibility of implementing Shariah Laws to maintain the harmony of the society... that is the basic difference between secular mode of government and religious government.

Now the question arises, how is this possible in today's age, with different interpretations and different religious communities living together. If we want to learn how Shariah works and whether if it is good or a bad thing, we should actually study the state of islamic lands during first few centuries, rather than Islamic rulers or caliphs in later ages, since they are known to be corrupt and their way of doing things has definitely dented Muslim nation.
I would have to disagree with Suroor where it is said that most of the GCC (Gulf) countries have islamic laws. As far as I know, none of them has practise Shariah in full form. Most of them have bits of Shariah law which deals with civil problems, but other than that they all have local laws to govern. As far as Saudia is concerned, most of the laws are based on Shariah, except the way ruler of the country is chosen, since they have a KING, which is definitely not an Islamic thing to do.

Although, I do not believe in Shī'ah form of Islam, but I do see Iran as an interesting example.

Suroor said...

Tauqeer I would disagree with myself too if I had said that most GCC countries have Islamic laws :D

I think I very clearly wrote "Shariah is still prevalent in GCC countries with a mix of tribal law..."

Saudi Arabia too has a mix.

Tauqeer said...

urmmm...okay :P But not a very good example to consider merits of Shariah or Religious form of government!

Unknown said...

(Um, before I start, there is a little label at the top of the page telling me my comment was published. I didn't write anything. If there is a blank comment from me that somehow accidentally got posted, I'm sorry and please feel free to delete it.)

Anyway. I think there is a difference in the cultures that make this a difficult issue. The Qur'an, like the Torah, is more than just a foundation of the religion. It is the foundation of a state. The Torah is ancient Israel's Constitution. There are all sorts of rules in it that only make sense in that context (like the Sanctuary cities or death penalties, for example). So while I'm obviously not as familiar as you are with the Qur'an, I would imagine there are similarities there, and that at least parts of it deal specifically with state issues. To take it out of this context means it has to be changed and re-interpreted.

Christianity, by contrast, was started in a world where there was already a government with a state religion that was against Christian beliefs and practice. Christianity therefore doesn't have those state-dependent rules and in fact is necessarily done in a way that almost requires for it to be separate from the state.

I come from a Christian-influenced culture that cherishes this separation, and I cherish it too. I would much prefer to live in a country where the state and the religion don't mix. But I can see how other religions and states where the two have been woven together so much in the past would have a difficult time trying to separate them now.

misschatterbox said...

Interesting post susanne!
Well I think firstly history shows us that religious ruling does not work - just look at the book of judges! Almost every secod reign Israel woudl stray - even the judges appointed by God would err!
I think we cannot have religious law because
a) it cannot be perfectly upheld/enoforced/interpreted simply because human's by nature, are flawed and sinful.

b) it relies on the premise of someone juding somebody else. Essentialty the ruling person/body punishes/condemns people for their sins. That is only God's job.

Now some people may disagree with the second point. Let's take a look at some aspects of sharia:
For exmple it is a punishable offence to commit adultery, to commit apostasy (this is debated), to drink alcohol and eat pork (I think?!) Why? Because these things are all SINS and against God's law. Anything against God's law is a sin.
Firstly: who are we to judge one another for sins?
Secondly this system only punishes SOME sins. So for example drinking alcohol may be punished but gossip, bullying, unkindness - all sins - go unpunished.
What if one person, in a moment of weakness, in despair as his life falls apart gets drunk to try and forget everything? This is a sin, yes - but does it affect other people, does it harm anyone else?

Then what about someone who viciously gossips about others in the work place? or someone who ignores a workmate who is deeply depressed? This is also sinful and can be far more damaging.

Another issue is that it is unclear what these punishments are for? Are they God's divine punishments for sin? If so, how do we punish some sin, and not the rest? And does that mean that person is forgiven, having being punished? Having being lashed for drinking alcohol is that sin erased? Or is God going to punish him AGAIN after he dies? If someone is executed - does this mean he has died for his sin, so is exonerated? And if not then why execute someone before they have the chance to try and live Islamically and earn God's forgiveness? By executing them you are condemning them to certain hell.
If the punishment is simply to maintain society then it must be asked why pre-marital sex and alcohol, while sins, are punished when they don't affect other people.

In the O.T the punishments were so harsh because salvation was dependent on purity - on punihsing sin and upholding God's law.They were designed not just to maintain order in society, they were actually there to enforce God's law. Of course they failed to do this, which is why Jesus died to pay the penalty of God's law.Jesus actually said that this type of law (similiar to sharia) is insufficient because not only murder in sin, even being angry without cause is a sin. Therefore it is impossible to regulate/punish every sin.

Ok i think I rambled a bit - hope you can make sense of it!

I am the first to acknowledge my understanding of sharia is minimal - nor is there even concensus in the Muslim community - but this is just my understanding of it!

Wafa said...

i believe that there should be seperation between mosque and the state. seriously it frustrates me to know that there are different interpetation of the sharia and i can be stuck to only one because powerful men believe that this is the right one for me. For example the Hajib issue or the mixing between men and women here in Saudi Arabia whereas in other Muslims countries they apply different rules that are drived from the sharia. Secularism is a soultion, i guess. a good one, but i don't want this sepration to stop me from practicing my believs. Something like the one in USA and UK is a good one where it's the opposite in France for example.
There is a saying by prophet Muhammad- that many Mulim scolars like to not talk about- that says" you are well aware of your daily life-earthly-matters" . it's a true indication that we are more aware of what our daily matters need.

Tauqeer said...


For most of the your questions, related to 'why' this and not that has been answered by the Shariah itself and the ones needs to be punished openly are mentioned. Only those SINS or errors are punishable under Shariah law, which can be accounted for, or can be humanly measured.

For instance, it would really be hard to judge unkindness of any form based on physical evidence. As far as the pre-marital sex and alcohol drinking is concerned, it is a matter of regulating society, to save family institutions, to preserve respect for relationships and so on.
I hope you do appreciate the fact that society does needs to be regulated in some form, or as in case of U.K, you would end up with a huge problem of binge drinking and early teen pregnancies.

Tauqeer said...

@Wafa: You have yourself referred to different 'interpretation' of secularism in different parts of the world. So even such system does not escape from influence of 'powerful men'.

misschatterbox said...

@ Tauqueer - Thanks for your insights and explanation. I do agree with your comment that

"Only those SINS or errors are punishable under Shariah law, which can be accounted for, or can be humanly measured."

For example you mention the difficulty in measuring unkndiness. You are exactly right. And herin lies the very point: it is impossible to truly measure, judge and punish sin, only God can do that. THIS is why I believe it is crazy for society to dry and do that. Because we can't truly judge ALL sin (nor is it our place too) we can't judge SOME of it (e.g alcohol.) It simply isn't just or fair.

I wonder how it that you feel legislation on issues such as pre-marital sex "save family institutions" and "preserves respect for relatioships"? it is possible our understanding of these things differ.
To my point of view regulation does not affect people's opinions or views. Unkindness, gossip, disrespect are all sins which affect these things equally (and in some cases more so.) Again regulating against SOME of these factors and not ALL is ineffective. It is sin that ruins family insitutions and we cannot erase that. Alcohol actually only poses a problem if the indidivual is an alcoholic - and if they do not have a family then not at all. And regulating any of these things still doesn't prevent people from doing them.

You mention "I hope you do appreciate the fact that society does needs to be regulated in some form, or as in case of U.K, you would end up with a huge problem of binge drinking and early teen pregnancie."

I disagree that society 'needs to be regulated in some form' in regards to issues such as sex - this is precisely the point- humans cannot regulate sin! While teenage pregnancy and drinking are definately not good for society no amount of 'regulation' if going to stop that. Look at KSA - there is STILL sex going on despite regulation but to avoid detection women have surgery to reapir hymens, travel to india to have abortions or have non-vaginal intercourse! So let's be honest here, no amount of regulation will stop people sinning. And this is essentialty what this is about.

The only way to reduce these sort of things is for the person to have a relationship with God. And this is an individual thing, not something you can foister on society.

Looking forward to your thoughts!

Tauqeer said...

I think we have a difference of opinion on the very nature of a regulation. I believe regulation is required in all the spheres of human life, let it be private life or social life.

You mentioned KSA for instance, and as we know they have implemented Shariah laws, the country has one of the lowest crime rates in the world!
Let me paste some data here:
"According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2000 was 0.71 per 100,000 population for Saudi Arabia, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2000 was 0.14 for Saudi Arabia, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2000 was 0.14 for Saudi Arabia, 4.08 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA."

A person who drinks is punished not because he committed a sin, but he violated the law of the country, which is pretty much the same as burglar receiving jail sentence for theft.

Again coming back to Shariah, these laws are mentioned in Holy Quran itself, and for us as Muslims, the best way to connect to God is to follow his Book.

misschatterbox said...

I am talking about the reason for regulation.

I would point out that the statistics would rely on REPORTED incidents of rape. Firstly rape often goes unreported due to feelings of shame, secondly rape in marriage and other circumstances is not recognised, thirdly the legal system is corrupt (such as a case a year ago where several of the rapists were police men), fourthly ruling/influential families are above prosecution and fifthly there are many instances where a woman has been raped and the man has merely claimed the woman is lying and it was consensual. And sometimes the woman is then punished for committing adultery. Murder rates I cannot comment on but some of the factors mentioned are relevant to that too, also hte matter may be settled outside the legal system through blood money.

That said it actually has nothing to do with the topic, which is religious law being used as state law/sepration of churhc and state.

After all EVERY country legislates against murder and rape so these have nothing to do with this is irrespective of religion. The penatly (jail, death etc) is also irrespective of religion.

As regards alcohol it is circular logic to say "drinking alcohol is punished because it's against the law" .. the question is WHY is it against the law?

Every society needs regulation - I guess my view is closest to the libertarian view - if it causes harm to someone then it needs to be prevented (fraud/murder/rape/theft etc) and we also need to look out for social welfare through the provision of education, health care etc. But things like alcohol and pre-marital sex are more sinful than criminal - and therefore none of the states business.
On a side note, the divorce rates of KSA clearly show these sort of laws do not protect family insitutions at all.

That said I think your last point is the most valid: if it your understanding of Islam then you have need to justify it,a s you are Muslim and I am not :) However I do know many devout Muslims who disagree over the interpretation of Shari'a and the validity of any Islamic State (in todays context) :) Thanks for the conversation though, it's been a good mental work-out!

Wafa said...

@ tauqeer,
(So even such system does not escape from influence of 'powerful men'), so what's the solution ? it's all going to be applied according to how men of power WANT it :(

Susanne said...

Niki, wonderful thoughts and additions to the post. Thank you very much for taking time to share those things. I always enjoy what you add! I almost said something about Jesus and the earthly vs. spiritual kingdom thing, but didn't for the sake of space. So I'm glad you mentioned it. Thanks again! :)

Susanne said...

Sarah, you had excellent points. I greatly enjoyed your POV.

" Materialism is a corrupting force anf it takes a strong person to reisist the corruption of soul it brings."

Yes, we have to realize money is not what saves us. I love the Biblical phrase about "what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul" meaning that we can have a lot of material wealth - indeed the "whole world" yet what good is it if our eternal souls are lost in hell?

Good usage of the camel/needle quote! Thank you again!!

Susanne said...

Lat, I really loved your comment and the example you provided of Indonesia. It's really so true what you said about mercy and compassion taking a back seat. Jesus told us the greatest among us is the one who serves. Yet how many of the ones in power truly have servants' hearts? They seem to only want more power and more privileges! I think we all need to guard ourselves against the pride that often comes with power. We need to walk humbly with God and realize in His eyes the one who serves is the one who is the greatest. And we should want to be the greatest in God's eyes because His thoughts of us matter more than what Average Joe or Average Ahmad believe about us. Wonderful comment - thanks much for sharing!

Susanne said...

Suroor, I'm really glad you came back to post more than your late-night one liner! Your comment was very rich and interesting. I didn't know about the tinted-widow law in the GCC - how, um, weird! :)

I agree that RL is more or less "written in stone." I suppose its because those people believe it's from God, therefore, how dare we change what GOD said? I can understand that, but the problem is what is "from God" for YOU may not be "from God" for ME. Like I have no problem entering a bathroom with my right foot or even eating shrimp or lobster (which a kosher-eating Jew would never eat). And those are mild things...we aren't even talking on how to GOVERN people in society. Some think Christianity is maybe lax in this department because we have no law setup like the Jews and Muslims, but I see Christianity working within whatever societies Christians are in. I don't think God ever meant for all Christians to live in Christiantown and stay out of the way of everyone else. We are to be salt and light to a needy world so how exactly does one do this if he is boxed up in his Christian-only world? What if Jesus refused to meet with anyone except "the righteous" and he didn't go out and meet the needs of the sick, hurting, the sinners, the prostitutes, the Samaritans (Jewish enemies of the time), the Gentiles? I think Christians have principles from Jesus on how to act in ANY form of government whether we find ourselves in a secular society, an Islamic republic, a Communist dictatorship or "the land of the free and the home of the brave." This is why we don't have a huge set of rules. We follow Jesus' example, we love others, we obey our rulers, we share the good news of Jesus and we be good citizens and caring neighbors no matter where we live.

And, yeah, the Spanish Inquisition and such...perfect examples of imperfectly following the teachings of Jesus. I don't recall Jesus ever telling someone "covert or I'll kill ya." Rather when some of his followers decided his teachings were too difficult and they left, he turned to his disciples and said, "Do you also want to leave?" :)

Susanne said...

Tauqeer, I really enjoy what you added. So you think Iran as an "interesting example" is a good example or just one you take interest in because it's better than the other places that have some forms of shariah?

I've often heard Muslims praise the first years of the caliphate, but if it was so good, why did it not last? It seems it was good only for a short time and then the successors interpreted shariah their own ways and the wonderful Islamic caliphate was over just like that. Isn't this the problem....the variety of interpretations?

Thanks for your comment!

Susanne said...

Sanil, you always bring up interesting and very cultural-context relevant points. Yes, you make sense that it would be hard for certain cultures to give up their mix of the religious and political since it's how things have always been basically. Thank you for sharing this wonderful POV. I am often "bad" about mixing my 21st century thoughts with ancient ones and that's not so good to do. :)

Susanne said...

Miss Chatterbox, very nice to read your perspective. It's interesting how some sins are punished while others are not....good point. I guess that happens in all societies since society doesn't recognize gossiping/pride/selfishness as a sin ... unlike God. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue! Nice to see you again! :)

Susanne said...

Wafa', I always love to hear your thoughts on these issues especially since you live in a society where "the mosque" strongly influences the state. Thanks so much for what you shared. Good stuff to ponder!

Susanne said...

Tauqeer, I agree that preserving families is good, but sometimes it seems there is very little mercy. People have to be perfect which is so anti-human nature. I'd like to see more grace extended. When people sin, love them and let them know they are redeemable rather than drown them in shame and make them feel they have no more value. :-/

Susanne said...

Miss Chatterbox, you summed it up well with this:

" So let's be honest here, no amount of regulation will stop people sinning. And this is essentialty what this is about.

The only way to reduce these sort of things is for the person to have a relationship with God. And this is an individual thing, not something you can foister on society."

Yes, this was part of the message of this post. Societies are changed when people's hearts are changed by GOD not legislation.

Thanks, everyone, for great comments!

misschatterbox said...

@ Wafa - I agree! This is exactly the problem - the system will inevitably be abused by the men (or women) in power!

Tauqeer said...

@miss: Good you mentioned "women" as well! lol

Tauqeer said...

@Susanne: I see Iran as interesting example because they have most stable form of 'democratic' government in this part of the world.
The way they have mixed modern democratic process of electing government officials with traditional role of religious figures is what interests me. I am not saying they do not have problems, I even do not believe in magical powers of any system to get rid of ALL the problems, because at the end of the day it depends how pure is the soul of a person responsible to implement the law, either it be secular or religious.

Susanne said...

Tauqeer, thanks for answering my inquiry!

", because at the end of the day it depends how pure is the soul of a person responsible to implement the law, either it be secular or religious."

Really liked that. So true!

Nice having your input on this topic. Thanks much for dropping by!