An interesting article by Nervana Mahmoud describes the shift of “Allahu Akbar” from exclamation of wonder to one of vengeance. I’ll take her word for it, but it made me wonder — how can you say something is an abuse of religion?
Not much good comes out of horrific crimes such as the one in Woolwich, yet the graphic video that later emerged serves as another reminder to many devout Muslims of the glaring abuse of their religion, and has led the Muslim community in Britain to stand firmly against this abhorrent act. Meanwhile, in the Arab world, many Muslims continue to fight hard against radical Islamism to reclaim Islam from hijackers who use and abuse their religion for a wide range of purposes, ranging from winning elections to violent crimes.
As so many would like to claim, religion is supposed to be the source of morality. If that were actually true, there would be no way to argue against a religious definition of a moral act — it would have to stand alone, as a declaration by fiat by an absolute moral monarch. To claim that something is an abuse of religion requires an external frame of reference.
In order to claim that a religious act is an abhorrent act, you must have some definition other than the one in the holy book for what constitutes a good act…and I suspect that what we’re seeing in Muslims who can criticize actions taken in the name of their god is an unconscious acceptance of a different source of morality. I don’t think it’s an alternate religious source, either — they’re drifting towards humanism and an ethic that transcends their cultural biases.
That’s a good thing.
By the way, this is also why I’m not very keen on attempts to turn morality into a scientific conclusion. Any attempt to make science the sole source of moral rules is going to be just as dangerous as making Islam the sole source.