Heightened Senses

Hello. I'm Imraan. This is the only thing I own outright; I write from time to time, in the hopes that free-association might save a trip to a sanatorium.

Tag: Rowan Williams

Dr. Rowan Williams on Islam and the ‘Islamification’ of Britain

Here’s a fairly recent (not fairly new…however you’d like to word it) comment the good Archbishop made on Islam. Though I sometimes think that the Anglican Communion in general has lost its way at times, I have tremendous respect for those clerics such as Dr. Williams and the jointly intellectual and spiritual worldview that he has.

Though he ends with the comment that we, as Muslims, are probably more like Christians than many Christians might acknowledge or consider (to paraphrase), I think that the communal values that we have, especially in regard to marriage, equal rights, recognition of a sort of transcendental ‘dignity’ we share with our fellow creatures makes us far more like Christians than we, as Muslims, would often like to acknowledge. I’d venture so far as to say that we have a lot more in common with Christians than we do with those aggressive secularists – Dr Williams is a testament to what a clergyman should look like – erudite, sophisticated, firm in belief, and grounded spiritually. Whatever you think of him, and his attempts to reconcile religious belief in the modern world, I sometimes wish that we had more clerics like him living in the West, who had such a public platform. I’d even settle for more clerics like him in the Christian world.

Though we as Muslims find ourselves increasingly alienated in this ‘Christian’ country/world, I think that efforts on the part of people like Dr Williams as well as systematic work done by more Muslims, is the only way that we will survive spiritually in the torment of ‘modernity’, and be able to work toward the Divine human ‘project’.

Here’s the latter part of one of my favourite verses from the Qur’an, which is quite pertinent here (the whole verse is of course beautiful in its own right, too, but would need the sort of elaboration that I’m to unable to give. Nonetheless…):

“To each of you God has prescribed a Law and a Way. If God would have willed, He would have made you a single people. But God’s purpose is to test you in what he has given each of you, so strive in the pursuit of virtue, and know that you will all return to God [in the Hereafter], and He will resolve all the matters in which you disagree.” (Ma’ida:58)

Religion and the 21st Century…

Here’s a recent debate at the Cambridge Union featuring some rather interesting big-wigs – Drs. Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins, Tariq Ramadan, among others! A friend once pointed out to me that sometimes, if not often, a lot of these debates are about rhetorical posturing -but we have come to an age where the only way you can make a systematic case, where people will actually pay attention to you, is if you host a public spectacle and allow charismatic people to speak (I’d say this is the tragedy of modern newscasting – although the latter is far more agenda-driven than most of us actually recognise). So, more power to those who partake and actually give up their precious time to engage with people who seem more interested in point-scoring than with any notion of ‘truth’.


So, this is perhaps the first (and last) time I might find myself supporting Douglas Murray in anything – I was thoroughly impressed by his talk – at least in part- , despite the fact that on the whole, he has a knack for essentialising religion and religious people; however this was one of those rare occasions where I found, one the whole, that the ‘religious’ seemed to make a much more strong case in favour of their views. Now, despite being of a ‘religious temperament’, I tend to find that arguments from science, for example, as being a little lacking (to say the least), however I’m more convinced by Dr William’s/Ramadan’s/Douglas Murray’s (Lord help me for including Murray…!) arguments about human dignity, opposition to dogmatic humanism, and the search for meaning far more convincing and systematically sound – even if the latter disagreed with both the former Archbishop and the ‘Islamic Martin Luther’!

Anyhow, Rowan Williams – for whom I have a great respect – was on peak form (if only he had been allowed to speak like this regularly, and wasn’t demonised by the press as some sort of archaic despot overseeing an influential but fallacious worldview and dangerous power-structure)… Dr Ramadan made his usual case , polished, refined and I think quite fair (but I wish more people would take it seriously – somehow when hardened humanists face a reasonable ‘believer’, their minds somehow short-circuit and they often ignore what he actually has to say.


Finally, did anyone spot the slightly sloppy “Nobody denies that correlation doesn’t entail causation, everyone who knows anything about it knows that correlation is evidence for causation…” – I’m no philosopher, and I don’t say this with any sort of polemical glee… but do they really let him teach at Cambridge…?! Or is he some sort of quintessential postcolonial subject whom they keep around for display purposes?

…Okay, that was a cheap-shot, I admit; nonetheless this perhaps demonstrates the fallacy, which Dr Ramadan accurately expressed, of essentialising someone with whom you disagree.

…Just in case you’re wondering what problem I have with it – the speaker cited that in Western countries that ‘more religious’ (however you measure that), there is an increase in all sorts of social problems, etc.; of course one could offer a counter-argument that secular states have historically been responsible for wholesale industrial death, in a greater scale than anything witnessed in history; moreover, tremendous demagoguery existed, nuclear weapons were discharged…hmm, correlation between a secular state and atrocity…ironic, ain’t it? Like I said, who in their right mind would let him teach Logic?

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