Because Friday: Postmodern Koran

ZEIT published a theological article speaking for and about the left’s wanna-have religion: postmodern Islam.

The author Mansur Seddiqzai is a school teacher and teaches Islam. In Germany church and state are not separated. Religious instructions are commanded by the constitution although students can opt out for philosophy classes on ethics.

Seddiqzai starts with an altered version of a story that he often reads to his pupils.

Heinz takes his son Fritz to the forest because he heard voices that told him to sacrifice him. The police intervenes.

After telling this story he usually asks the class how they would deal with Heinz. The usual condemnation follows. The pupils are supposed to learn that today’s morals are different from historical morals. And while he emphasizes again and again that all his students prefer modern morals to tribal ones, he does not give one argument why the modern ones are better.

He also alters the story in a significant way. The voice from G-d is turned into some voice in Abraham’s/Heinz’ head. This is another common element of many religious readings these days. Legends are not seen as legends first and, before digging into what they still tell us about those who taught them and the historical facts they reveal, we just assume that Abraham was a real man and the voice from an invisible being is just a loon’s invisible friend. This is how atheists mock the religious!

There is a difference if in a hypothetical scenario G-d himself talks (and questioning it is not part of the moral of the given story) or you just hear a voice in your head. I don’t know any Muslim, Jew or Christian who thinks that the Lord still talks to people. Usually the revelation is considered to be revealed.

Seddiqzai says that his students admire Abraham and his son “who is called Isaac in Judaism and Ishmael in Islam” for their submissiveness. Isaac and Ishmael are two different sons! Jews/Christians and Muslims disagree on who is supposed to be sacrificed! What is more important is that Isaac must be fooled to follow his father. He is not submissive at all! Even if stories tell us little, they never fail to tell us something about the people who told them.

The author tells his students that submissiveness is not modern. Back in the day, this were the moral, but now we are supposedly over it. Indeed the Koran story has submissiveness as its moral, complete submissiveness of both Abraham and Ishmael. Judaism does not even preach submission under G-d. Given that the Festival of the Sacrifice عيد الأضحى is the most important annual event in Islam, the idea that modernity has changed something has little substance.

And we are hitting the basic problem of postmodernism. The claim that all cultures and morals were equal (present and past), everything were interpretation and nothing were binding, is immediately brushed away when the postmodernists demand that progress is infallibly for the better and the current authority is always right.

I personally believe that postmodernism is a sly trick to make people gullible. Endless lessons in schools are spent on interpreting things (arts, literature, religious texts, culture). Everything is freed up, no limits, it seems. Yet, the student who hits the opinion of the teacher best will be rewarded for it. Postmodernism does not question authority. It just questions the authority of the truth, the intention of words, and gives way to the political authority of the day. And the left’s willingness to misrepresent and strawman their opponents is the result of their postmodern interpretation circus in school.

Seddiqzai blows it with a “psychological interpretation.” In this version, Abraham dreams to sacrifice his son and only wished that his son was devout enough to let it happen.” Remember that the article does not make it clear that the story is completely different in Christianity and Judaism. The title is even “Religious class – When Heinz becomes Abraham.” So the reader is tricked into believing that what he says is equally valid for all Abrahamic religions.

Postmodernism comes with a big deal of dishonesty. It does not say, I disagree with the text. But this would be essential. People feel the dishonesty. Seddiqzai even admits that his pupils are not very happy with his “psychological interpretation.” If I were a Muslim and some ISIS recruiter walked up to me and asked, “Do you follow Allah or your dream-voice-in-the-head teacher?”, I would join up!

Seddiqzai answers the question about what is the right interpretation with “There is no right interpretation.” And because postmodernism is essentially authoritarian, he adds that “we” must not cease the interpretation to “esoterics” and “radicals.” Consequently “truth” is what the authority says and that is better the majority of “you.”

He goes on to say that the fight for “women equality” is about reinterpreting the holy texts. Doubtful students, who read the story correctly, are told that they would “give up their self-determination to a higher instance.” Yes, but this instance is G-d and when push comes to shove he might become more important than feminism.

No, Muslims must question, disagree and challenge old texts, fickle majorities and worldly authorities alike, and not interpret everything for their or anybody else’s pleasure.

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