What is the sort of stuff that is widely attributed to Islam these days? Close-minded, violent, non-tolerant, jihad etc. So called moderate Muslims have little or no voice or they simply choose not to raise their voices. Imagine how Islam would have been like in the 10th century. Imagine how hard it would have been for free thinkers to exist in those times. Well guess what? It appears it wasn't the case according to Abdel-Rahman Badawi, a free thinker from Eygypt, who details how Muslim philosophers and scholars put reason above tradition, evidence above blind belief. And some of them openly criticized Islam, the prophet and Quran. Surprised? So was I.
Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, a Persian Muslim, who lived during the 9th and 10th century, was a physician, alchemist and chemist, musician, philosopher and scholar. He is regarded as the "perhaps the greatest clinician of all times". He was the first to differentiate smallpox from measles. He discovered alcohol and kerosene. Described as the father of pediatrics and was a pioneer in neurosurgery and ophthalmology.
Razi also wrote three books on religion. “The Prophets' Fraudulent Tricks” (مخارق الانبياء), “The Stratagems of Those Who Claim to Be Prophets” (حيل المتنبيين), and “On the Refutation of Revealed Religions” (نقض الادیان). Imagine that! Just the title .... Imagine publishing something even close in these days. Sorry Salman Rushdie my man, your Satanic Verses is nothing compared to these.
He was critical of the idea of prophet hood.
"On what ground do you deem it necessary that God should single out certain individuals [by giving them prophecy], that he should set them up above other people, that he should appoint them to be the people's guides, and make people dependent upon them?"
Headline of today "War on Terror". Looking at the various disagreements between religions and the zeal of their followers he said
"there would be a universal disaster and they would perish in the mutual hostilities and fighting. Indeed, many people have perished in this way, as we can see."
Razi doesn't seem to belong to the 10th century. It seems like he is talking about our time, talking about us. You and me! and here is another one.
"If the people of this religion are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed"
He was a brilliant….. brilliant man. You can't imagine this coming from Muslims even today and this guy lived in medieval times.
Al-Razi believed that common people had originally been duped into belief by religious authority. He believed that these authority figures were able to continually deceive the common people "as a result of people being long accustomed to their religious denomination, as days passed and it became a habit. Because they were deluded by the beards of the goats, who sit in ranks in their councils, straining their throats in recounting lies, senseless myths and "so-and-so told us in the name of so-and-so..."
He believed that the existence of a large variety of religions was, in itself, evidence that they were all manmade, saying, "Jesus claimed that he is the son of God, while Moses claimed that He had no son, and Muhammad claimed that Jesus was created like the rest of humanity" and "Mani and Zoroaster contradicted Moses, Jesus and Muhammad regarding the Eternal One, the coming into being of the world, and the reasons for the [existence of] good and evil
In relation to the Hebrew's God asking of sacrifices, he said that "This sounds like the words of the needy rather than of the Laudable Self-sufficient One."
On the Qur'an, Razi said:
"You claim that the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Koran. You say: "Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one." Indeed, we shall produce a thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better meter. ... By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: "Produce something like it?""
All those who claimed to be prophets, from the beginning of the human history, in Razis view, were at worst tortuous and devious and at best had psychological problems.
What do you think happened to this guy? Did he have to apply for asylum in another country? Did he have to remain in hiding? Was he jailed? Were fatwas issued for his head? Did some fanatic assassinate him? ... No. He remained in Iran. He was the Director of the Hospital in the city, a respected scientist, a teacher and a philanthropist.
The problem with this business is the past tense of it: "There were freethinkers in 10th century Islam." [emphasis mine] If there is moderation in modern-day Islam, either I don't hear it or it is drowned out by the din of the radicals or it is afraid to express itself for fear of those same radicals.
Moderate Islam is evidently a "Silent Majority" in the current day. Either that or they agree with the radicals and simply don't have the stomach or inclination to emulate them.
Islam is a culture as well as a religion. The fact that many freethinkers born in that culture today publicly embrace atheism, apostasy, or at least secularism, and emigrate to the West, doesn't erase their origin. Their precursors didn't have this luxury. That's probably one of the reasons why "true Muslim" freethinkers aren't as visible or numerous as they used to be. Instantaneous and widespread communication may be another one (it obviously make public freethinkers easier targets than in the 10th century.)
Moderate Islam is evidently a "Silent Majority" in the current day.
Not very surprising. Moderation is never as "sexy" as extremism for the news media, where the most sought after value is, you guessed it, "shock value". But there are actually several "moderate" sites and discussion boards for Muslims on the net. This one is even open to atheists, as well as to members of other religions. If you give their forum a look, you'll notice many posters here are rabidly anti-clerical and denounce fundamentalism. The general tone is not very different from what you can see on "moderate" Christian boards.