In a few hours, this page will host a series of 9/11 tributes, memorials, and retrospectives from several of our writers. I’m looking forward to it, although the return to those tense hours will be emotionally difficult.
I did find a useful article on the crisis within the Islamic religion, which helps explain the dynamics of the rise of the radicals and puts it in historical perspective. Oddly enough, it comes from The Boston Globe, authored by religious scholar Reza Aslan:
Fifty years ago, if a Muslim in, say, Malaysia, wanted a legal ruling on a disputed topic, he had access only to the religious opinion of his neighborhood cleric, whose word, at least to his followers, was essentially law. Now, that Muslim can troll the vast databases of fatwa-online.com or Islamonline.net, both of which provide ready-made fatwas on every question imaginable. He can send an e-mail to Amr Khaled (amrkhaled.net), or to Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (sistani.org), or to any number of Muslim scholars-clerics and nonclerics alike-who are more than happy to spread their influence beyond their local communities. And because no centralized religious authority exists in Islam to determine whose opinion is sound and whose is not, Muslims can simply follow whichever fatwa they like best.
Welcome to the Islamic Reformation.
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Like his 16th-century Christian counterparts, bin Laden is concerned above all else with the purification of his own religion. Al-Qaeda is, after all, a puritanical movement whose members consider themselves the only true believers, and believe all other Muslims are hypocrites, impostors, and apostates who must be convinced of their folly or abandoned to their horrible fate.
Read it all at the link above. It’s a four-page article, and they require free registration for the last two pages. If you don’t want to be bothered with that, go to BugMeNot.com for usernames and passwords. The top one worked for me.
Aslan points out, for instance, that Islamic tradition only permits the issuance of a fatwa by a cleric schooled in Islamic law. He notes the struggle of “reformation,” and recalls the violent upheaval which attended the Christian Reformation in the 16th Century, and certain other parallels.