Scripture, Reason, and the Contemporary Islam-West by Steven Kepnes, Basit Bilal Koshul

By Steven Kepnes, Basit Bilal Koshul

As a spiritual culture of the “East,” Islam has frequently been portrayed as “other” to the Western Traditions of Judaism and Christianity. The essays during this assortment use the underlying allegiance to scripture in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity to underscore the deep affinities among the 3 monotheistic traditions whilst that admire for ameliorations among the traditions are preserved. The essays are specific in trying to collect either modern educational and standard scholarship on scriptural texts to heal the rift among culture and the modern international.

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4 The Qur’an states explicitly that there is no biblical warrant for certain Jewish/ Christian beliefs or practices. For example, 3:93 makes this claim with reference to certain Jewish dietary laws, 3:65 in reference to Jewish and Christian claims regarding the religious identity of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). On other occasions it implies that there is no biblical warrant by using phrases such as “We did not enjoin it on them . ” (57:48) in reference to Christian monasticism, or phrases like “Say bring forth your proof if you are indeed truthful” (2:111) in reference to Jewish claims about the outcome of the Final Judgment.

Critical engagement that sees the Self distancing itself from the Other, 2. Constructive engagement that sees the Other as affirming the Self, 3. An invitation by the Self to the Other to come to a common understanding so that both can work together toward a common goal. This threefold approach of the Self relating to the Other provides the framework through which to explore the possibilities of the contemporary encounter between the Islamic Self and the modern Western Other. Islam and Critical Engagement with the Modern West From inside the Muslim community, the two dominant voices that have shaped the manner in which the Muslim Self relates to the modern Western Other are those of the fundamentalist zealots and acculturated liberals.

But Enlightenment philosophy categorically rejects all philosophical and religious notions of wisdom, illumination and the Divine. From the Enlightenment perspective all talk about these “spiritual realities” is either irrational nonsense or a hermeneutical mask concealing economic interests, the will to power or libidinal desires. Because of the Enlightenment’s notion of self-sufficient human reason as the ultimate arbiter between true/ false, right/wrong, beauty/ugliness, and so on, the crucial question that any religious or philosophical voice aspiring to be a dissenting voice within modernity has to face is: Where is the common ground that I share with Enlightenment thought that allows for a meaningful exchange?

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