In my search in early Islamic intellectual history I noticed that early interpretations about free will were philosophically libertarian. In a free will context, "Libertarian" means the position that human beings have true free will, and a rejection of determinism. Pre-Islamic Quraysh, on the other hand, were hard determinists. They even commonly blamed their own immorality and excesses on fate. The Umayyads (direct as well as cultural descendants of Quraysh) would later seek to promote hard determinism under various guises. Umayyads (especially in their middle period) referred to fatalism in order to justify their own tyranny and to discourage rebellion.
I have been immersed in the study of Islamic intellectual history for over 2 years now. It has been rewarding and transformative, but also alienating. It's clear to me that Islamic brilliance peaked in the 3rd century AH, then slipped (with occasional bright flashes and sharp catastrophes). I won't comment on the reasons of decline because that was never the purpose of my study. I find most debates on this boring now. My main concern was (and still is) the ideas that led to brilliance, whose loss lead to decline.
In Islamic jurisprudence there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled for a marriage to be
legal. The main/minimum conditions are (a) consent of the man, woman, and woman's guardian;
(b) two witnesses. On top of these minimum conditions there are certain obligations such as the
mehr, wedding ceremony, making the marriage public. Some Muslim scholars and schools take
the position that a woman can be her own guardian, especially if financially independent.
A common comment I hear from Muslims is that a government based upon "real Islam" will be a just and prosperous government. While as a Muslim I do believe that Islam enjoins justice & liberty, and that Islam has something to say beyond the private realm, the main issue here is the dangerous concept of a "real" Islam - and by "real", I mean somehow "official". The fact is that we'll never agree over an interpretation of Islam. It has always been that way, and it's a good thing. I will refer you to a powerful precedent to demonstrate exactly this point.
Once in a while I get private emails from Americans asking me to explain that Muslims can in fact be good people. A recent response:
I've been at this for five years, two of which were on Twitter. During these five years, a lot more Muslims died due to extremist terrorists than did Americans. A lot more Muslim lives was shattered and businesses disrupted, be it by extremist terrorists or by foreign powers trying to fight extremist terrorists.
Nothing I say will make someone who has allowed hatred to roost in his heart & mind suddenly see the light. As the Qur'an says, we do not guide whom we like, but God guides whom he wills.
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