Friday, May 20, 2011

Rowan Williams' split-second cheekiness

Here's a clip where Rowan Cantuar spoke to a group of students last year. Check out his cheeky expression after quoting Dennis Potter, "Religion is the wound, not the bandage." (at 1 min onwards)

The other time is at 2:54 min/sec when Elaine Graham mentioned the 'Archbishop'. Williams raised his brow as if he was saying, "Yup, that's me."




But of course, this clip is more than just about the split-second cheeky looks. There are some good sharing in it too. For one:

"If you talk very clearly and robustly out of the center of your Christian conviction, then somebody will say, "I'm sorry, I don't understand, you are just talking in jargons. It doesn't mean anything to me." If you try to talk in language you think the public will understand, the answer is, "What, you just sound like a politician. What's Christian about that?" [...] That's the catch: There are two different ways of sounding stupid if you are a cleric, especially if you are an Archbishop, talking to the media..." (10:38 min/sec onwards)

13 comments:

blogpastor said...

Thanks for sharing this Sze Zeng.

Sze Zeng said...

You're welcome Kenny! :)

fauzisg2 said...

Hi,

I really appreciate Archbishop Rowan Williams' opinion upon Syariah Law when he said in that forum, "something a bit wrong if the law of the state attempt to solve every problem for every community rather than allowing the community TO SHAPE THEIR OWN MORAL CODE".

But this Archbishop didn't knew that in this country we Muslims have faced difficulties to SHAPE THEIR OWN MORAL CODE because the people from different faiths here are not really open minded as Archbishop is and they keep questioning and resisting us from practicing our own moral code (Syariah Law).

May be they need to do more homework and learn to respect to others for more as Archbishop is. I sure Archbishop has studied about Syariah Law and knows that it is not harmful as what some closed minded group here thought about it.

I think better not taken him (Archbishop) as only as your 'idol' but please take his attitude toward respecting the Syariah Law as well.

Thanks Rowan, you are right on your views about the Syariah Law!

Sze Zeng said...

Hi fauzisg2,

Reading your reply, obviously you don't know what Rowan Williams was talking about when he talks about Shariah laws. And due to your unfamiliarity with his perception of Shariah, you have greatly mistaken to interpret his reference to "Shariah" as identical to your notion of "Shariah". Do notice that his idea of "Shariah" is NOT identical to your idea of "Shariah". Let me explain why.

Here is an excerpt from his lecture that sparked the debate about Shariah (I have capitalized the emphasis):

"what about the historic Islamic prohibition against apostasy, and the DRACONIAN penalties entailed? In a society where freedom of religion is secured by law, it is OBVIOUSLY IMPOSSIBLE for ANY group to claim that conversion to another faith is simply disallowed or to claim the right to inflict punishment on a convert. We touch here on one of the most sensitive areas not only in thinking about legal practice but also in interfaith relations. A significant number of contemporary Islamic jurists and scholars would say that the Qur'anic pronouncements on apostasy which have been regarded as the ground for extreme penalties reflect a situation in which abandoning Islam was EQUAVALENT to adopting an active stance of VIOLENT HOSTILITY to the [earliest Muslim] community, so that extreme penalties could be compared to provisions in other jurisdictions for punishing spies or traitors in WARTIME; but that this CANNOT BE REGARDED AS BEARING on the conditions NOW EXISTING IN THE WORLD. Of course such a reading is wholly unacceptable to 'primitivists' in Islam, for whom this would be an example of a rationalising strategy, a style of interpretation (ijtihad) uncontrolled by proper traditional norms. But, to use again the terminology suggested a moment ago, as soon as it is granted that – even in a DOMINANTLY Islamic society – citizens have more than one set of defining relationships under the law of the state, it becomes hard to justify enactments that take it for granted that the only mode of contact between these sets of relationships is open enmity; in which case, the appropriateness of extreme penalties for conversion is NOT obvious even within a fairly strict Muslim frame of reference."
(http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/1137/archbishops-lecture-civil-and-religious-law-in-england-a-religious-perspective#Lecture)

First, Williams refers to the punishment on Muslim apostates by Muslims as "DRACONIAN" which connotes negative tones such as cruelty and harshness. Hence it is unlikely that he would allow such Shariah laws to be exercised in the society, unless he wants to be identified as someone who is cruel and harsh, which is obviously not the case.

Second, he recognizes that it is "OBVIOUSLY IMPOSSIBLE" for "ANY" group (which means including Muslims) to prevent citizens whose freedom to choose and change religion is secured by common law. So it is clear that Williams thinks that it is impossible for Muslims to prevent Muslims from leaving Islam.

Sze Zeng said...

<...continue>

Third, Rowan Williams agrees with what I have been saying in my replies to you in the other blog post (Response to MP Zulkifli) that apostasy in the early history of Islam is "EQUAVALENT" to "VIOLENT HOSTILITY" during "WARTIME" and "HAS NO BEARING" to our present conditions "NOW EXISTING IN THE WORLD." So what I have been saying to you in my previous replies are what Rowan Williams is saying in his lecture.

Fourth, Rowan Williams labels those who still prevent people from leaving Islam, and punish them for doing so as "primitivists". This word can be roughly understood in Malay language as "orang purba". So if you are someone who prevents people from leaving, and punish them for doing so, then that means you are in the category of "orang purba" that Rowan Williams referred to.

Fifth, Rowan Williams mentioned that it is not even correct for societies that are "DOMINANTLY" Islamic (like Malaysia) to prevent and punish people from leaving Islam by invoking Shariah since the heavy punishment is "NOT obvious even within a fairly strict Muslim frame of reference."

All these five points show that Rowan Williams' perception of "Shariah" is NOT identical with yours. Hence it is a great mistake to equate his reference of "Shariah" as your version of "Shariah".

Of course, you can ignore all this and still continue to believe that Rowan Williams' conception of "Shariah" is identical with yours, and hence whenever he mentions the word "Shariah", you interpret it as what you understand as "Shariah".

Sze Zeng said...

<...continue>

Besides, speaking from the UK's context where the common law guarantees legal right for everyone to change their religion regardless whether the person is a Muslim or not, whether the apostasy is made silently or publicly, Rowan Williams commented:

"clearly the refusal of a religious believer to act upon the legal recognition of a right is not, given the plural character of society, a denial to anyone inside or outside the community of access to that right."

What he was saying is that even if a Muslim (like yourself who) refuses to recognize the legal rights of another Muslim to leave Islam regardless silently or publicly, such refusal cannot deny the apostate's legal right guaranteed by the common law.

In fact, in the 'Question & Answer' session after his lecture that mentioned Shariah, he made it clear that he was "not talking about parallel systems" like the one practiced in Malaysia. (http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/1371/civil-and-religious-law-in-england-lecture-question-and-answer-session)

Rowan Williams "never intended to propose the creation of a parallel Muslim legal system" which is the system that is currently running in Malaysia. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23083487) This means, when he suggests for the allowance of religious laws (such as Shariah) to shape the religious followers (such as Muslims), he NEVER intends it to be a parallel legal system, such as the one in Malaysia where an apostate who wants to have her religion indication to be changed from "Islam", he/she is referred by the Civil Court to get permission from the Shariah court. To Williams, it is clear that the common law/Civil Court is superior over religious laws/Shariah court if there is a contact point between the two.

So, you are greatly mistaken to identify Rowan William's conception of "Shariah" as your understanding of "Shariah". Again, you can of course choose to ignore all of Rowan Williams' contextual understanding of "Shariah" with your interpretation method.

And just to be clear what do I mean by your "interpretation method", it is this: when the argument favors your position, you will appeal to contextual interpretation, when argument does not favor your position, you will reject contextual interpretation.

fauzisg2 said...

Hi Sze Zeng,

Without you realize you indirectly has against the teaching of Old Testament about apostasy:

"And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God....." (Deuteronomy 13:10)

And

"And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, [and] all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name [of the LORD], shall be put to death." (Leviticus 24:16)

Are these two laws are DRACONIAN penalties to you?

When we compared the teaching of Qur'an and the teaching of the Old Testament on apostasy, they are both agreed to each other. If you rejected the Syariah Laws on apostasy that meant that you also has rejected the teaching of Old Testament on that matter. And since OT too has this kind of enactment so what ever your reasons in order to reject the Syariah laws upon apostasy you still has to agreed that Deuteronomy 13:10 and Leviticus 24:16 are the laws from your God and of cause they aren't the DRACONIAN penalties.

or you still think that Deuteronomy 13:10 and Leviticus 24:16 are the DRACONIAN penalties as well? Please clear up on this matter, and may be the readers too are looking forward for you answer on this matter.

If not, please don't be double standard upon Syariah Laws, take Archbishop a your role model as whole not only to view on his 'brow' but the most important issue than that is his effort that Muslim community in the UK should be allowed to practice the Syariah Laws (as to "shape their own moral code").

Regards

Sze Zeng said...

Hi fauzisg2,

My argument is NOT that Shariah shouldn't be allowed. My question, as drew from various Muslim authorities, what kind of Shariah should be allowed?

As I have shown in my replies to you that Rowan William's version of Shariah is not identical to yours. Hence to say that Rowan Williams allows Shariah is entirely a different thing from saying Rowan Williams allows your version of Shariah. You seem to confused over this important difference.

On you reading the Bible, I have already mentioned that your interpretation method on the Bible is obviously the same method you used on the Qur'an and Hadith. However your interpretation method is disagreeable even among other Muslims, as I have pointed out, and hence it is not that your interpretation is disagreeable to only Christians (which is the reason why you don't understand how Christians approach the relation between Jesus' relation to the OT laws and the Christians' relation to the OT laws THROUGH Jesus) and but it is on its own questionable.

Sze Zeng said...

Let me be clear fauzisg2,

I'm not against the allowance of Shariah, just like Rowan William is not against it.

On the other hand, I am for the allowance of Shariah, just like Rowan Williams is for it.

What I'm not for is the version of Shariah that you hold, which is questioned and challenged NOT by me but by other Muslim authorities who simply do NOT support your version.

Similarly, Rowan Williams is not for the version of Shariah that you hold (which anyone who is familiar with his thoughts on Shariah would know), but allow for the version of Shariah adopted and promoted by other Muslim authorities who do NOT support your version.

Just as there is "Islam", and there is "Islam", so there is "Shariah" and there is "Shariah".

Hope this would clarify your confusion over Rowan Williams and mine position.

fauzisg2 said...

Hi again,

Thanks for engage on this discussion with me.

Syariah Laws is a combinations of the whole of Qur'anic teaching FOR MUSLIMS. Nobody has right to say, oh! you can practice this but not that, so who are you to instruct us (Muslims) what to do and what not to do? We rather should follow the commandment from Almighty God as whole, not from you or anybody else. That is why, Zulkifli Nordin said that "you are questioning our religion".

I should ask this question to you, if you have right to instruct us on Syariah Laws, can we Muslims do the same to you on Christianity? Of cause you will answer no! and we too will we feel uncomfortable on doing that to your religion because we don't have right to do so.

Up to now you should see clearly on what the Archbishop has said, "to shape their own moral code" is to let the Syariah Laws to be practice freely among the Muslim community. You too should understand also that this Syariah Laws is only for anybody who has been or being a Muslim and not for Hindus, Buddhist or Christians or etc. etc. Eeven though Islam is an official religion to this country, we don't force you to accept the Syariah Laws, no not at all. So as we respect others, I can't understand, why you keep questioning our religion and our right to practice it? Why you reflect oppositely from respecting others as what we are doing to your religion?

Regards

BTW you still fail to answer me on, the laws in Deuteronomy 13:10 and Leviticus 24:16, are they the DRACONIAN penalties to you? I and maybe readers here too are waiting for your convince answer.

fauzisg2 said...

Hi again,

Thanks for engage on this discussion with me.

Syariah Laws is a combinations of the whole of Qur'anic teaching FOR MUSLIMS. Nobody has right to say, oh! you can practice this but not that, so who are you to instruct us (Muslims) what to do and what not to do? We rather should follow the commandment from Almighty God as whole, not from you or anybody else. That is why, Zulkifli Nordin said that "you are questioning our religion".

I should ask this question to you, if you have right to instruct us on Syariah Laws, can we Muslims do the same to you on Christianity? Of cause you will answer no! and we too will we feel uncomfortable on doing that to your religion because we don't have right to do so.

Up to now you should see clearly on what the Archbishop has said, "to shape their own moral code" is to let the Syariah Laws to be practice freely among the Muslim community. You too should understand also that this Syariah Laws is only for anybody who has been or being a Muslim and not for Hindus, Buddhist or Christians or etc. etc. Even though Islam is an official religion to this country, we don't force you to accept the Syariah Laws, no not at all. So as we respect others, I can't understand, why you keep questioning our religion and our right to practice it? Why you reflect oppositely from respecting others as what we are doing to your religion?

You wrote, “Just as there is "Islam", and there is "Islam", so there is "Shariah" and there is "Shariah".” I have to make this clear to you, because you seem try to shows that our scholars are in disagreement about the law of apostasy.

First of all, you should understand the basic of our Islamic jurisprudence. The scholars can argue and forward their own opinion but our Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh – the Syariah Islamic laws) is based directly on the Quran, Sunnah (hadiths) and ijmak (إجماع) or consensus. Majority of our scholars have agreed upon the hudud law for apostate, this is regarding the saying of prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h:

“Whoever changes his religion, execute him.” (Bukhaari in his Saheeh)

And:

“It is not permissible to shed the blood of a person who bears witness that there is no god but Allaah and that I am the Messenger of Allah except in three cases: a life for a life, a previously-married person who commits adultery, and ONE WHO LEAVES ISLAM and forsakes the jamaa’ah.” (Bukhaari and Muslim in their saheeh).

So these are the final authority which wipe out any other opinion that against these two hadiths and uphold the majority point of view in our practice (consensus).

Just as in Christianity, If we also want to take Bart Erhman’s point of view on Christianity into account, it must not agreed with the orthodoxy or the majority of learned scholars in Christendom. That only Bart Erhman alone, how about Dr. Barrie Wilson and Anthony Buzzard, do you agree if I use their point of view about Christianity instead of the mainline Christianity? If you feel not agree on that, why you keep highlighting the minority suggestion among Islamic scholars instead of ijmak.

Regards

BTW you still fail to answer me on, the laws in Deuteronomy 13:10 and Leviticus 24:16, are they the DRACONIAN penalties to you? I and maybe readers here too are waiting for your convince answer.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi fauzisg2,

I noticed these few things:

1) You consistently ignore the fact that it is not I who question your version of Shariah even though I have reiterated several times that it is not I but your own fellow Muslims who question your version of Shariah and Islam. So I'm not going to address this point anymore. If you still cannot accept the sheer fact that it is your own fellow Muslim authorities that question your version of Islam and Shariah, then you may go on and accusing me for what I have not been doing at all. I will stop clarifying this because it is obvious that you have a mental blockage, a sort of psychosis perhaps, that ignore facts.

2) Again, you consistently ignore what Rowan Williams is saying and still confused over his version of Shariah and your version of Shariah. This is another mental blockage that you simply can't see the fact that your version of Shariah is NOT identical to that of Williams. So I can't help you on this too.

3) It was Rowan Williams' description that your version of Shariah is DRACONIAN. Please refer to his quotation that I have provided or at least read his lecture. So please stop demanding me to justify Rowan Williams' description because it is not I but Williams the one who used that term. If your mental blockage insists that I need to justify for a description which is not attributed to me, then that's really up to you and I can't help you on that.

4) As I have shown again and again that you are using your own interpretation method, which is questionable even among Muslim scholars, to interpret the Deuteronomy and Leviticus passages.

You may continue to exercise your mental blockage as it is your right to do so. No one can shove facts into you and force you to face them.

Sze Zeng said...

Oh by the way, the ridiculous way you interpret Bukhaari passages has all been addressed in Abdullah and Hassan Saeed's book as well as Mohammed Hashim Kamali (Freedom of Expression in Islam). I have read both of their books and understand how Muslims approach these Hadith passages.

If you wonder who are these people, they are authoritative scholars in Islam. For instance, Mohammad Hashim Kamali is Founding Chairman and CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, Malaysia. He served as Professor of Islamic Law and Jurisprudence at the International Islamic University Malaysia; and was Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation. Currently he is Senior Fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia, a Senior Fellow of the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan, and also Senior Fellow of the Royal Academy of Jordan.