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Insider/Outsider Problem Of Religion Interpretation - Essay Example

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The Arabic term, Islam, which means “submission (to the will of God)”, and the term, Muslim, which means “he who has surrendered (to the will of God),” emphasize a shared belief in one Supreme Being…
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Insider/Outsider Problem Of Religion Interpretation
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Download file to see previous pages The dilemma of who has the right and power to interpret religion has been long known as a problem of insider and outsider. For instance, McCutcheon (1999) thoroughly examines all the ‘insides’ and ‘outsides’ of religion, broadly covering the aspects of autonomy of religious experience and contrasting them to naturalistic analysis and scientific approach to understanding and explanation. It reveals the magnitude of the insider/outsider problem in understanding, interpreting and studying the religions. From the critical perspective, being a practitioner of a religious belief or an insider can be considered as an obstacle to critical reception and analysis of religion, because it adds subjectivity and effectively eliminates objectivity and reasoning from the analysis.
Among many religions, Islam can be characterized as the most controversial religion from the insider/outsider perspective. The Arabic term, Islam, which means “submission (to the will of God)”, and the term, Muslim, which means “he who has surrendered (to the will of God),” emphasize a shared belief in one Supreme Being. Among all Muslims, this is known as tawhid (oneness). This concept is stated in the shahadah, or the testimony of faith: the saying, in Arabic, that “there is no other god but God and Muhammad is His Prophet.” The shahadah is repeated from every mosque five times a day to notify the Islamic community when it is time to pray, and it reinforces the most important belief in Islamic dogma, tawhid. Further, perceptions and interpretations of the Prophet Muhammad's revelations (the Qur'an), customs (the Sunna), his written and uttered traditions (hadith), and his family and companions form the basis for Shar'iah, which can be described as a universalistic system to guide Muslims through rules on law, ethics, and etiquette at home and in the marketplace3. Shar'iah does not guide all aspects of life for Muslims, however, it does give the Islamic community a basis for universal solidarity and religious orthopraxy, even if there are many cultural, political, economic, and ethnic differences among Muslims over time and space. This universal solidarity and orthopraxy has been achieved primarily through patriarchal interpretation of Qur'an conducted exclusively by the insiders. As a result of this interpretation, many problematic aspects of Islam have emerged. For instance, when thinking about the term, Jihad, the first association received is a negative one, because inaccurate insiders' perceptions and interpretations have popularised the inaccurate notion that Jihad is a reference merely to war, fighting, suicide bombings, and terrorism. Jihad is a struggle, and something that every Muslim has to deal with when facing difficult situations. In the context of the exegesis and hermeneutics, it can present multiple struggles.
The outsider approach interpreting Islam allows scholars and scientists to understand the context of Islamic sacred documents, and the fact that the text was revealed in a seventh century Arab tribal patriarchy.4 Even though many of the verses are directed towards men, oftentimes, it is implied to mean both men and women. This follows patriarchal custom of the time to address the (male) head of the household, but the message is intended for everyone. Islam did not conceive patriarchy as it was already present and it was used as a launching point for discussion. Then, and now, Judeo-Christian traditions have peppered Islamic beliefs as the religions have colored each other in many aspects, particularly on women's rights. Based on "Mesopotamian, Greek, Iranian, and Byzantine spheres of influence that Muslims encountered during the first century of Islam... the key discourses generated in the classical period of Islamic civilization... took place within a patriarchal frame of reference... [And] the legislation derived from the Qur 'an and other sources was consistent with the contemporary Jewish and Christian legal ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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