Galadari on Qur’anic Understandings of Diversity and Tolerance

Abdulla Galadari (Higher Colleges of Techonology; American University in Dubai) has posted Diversity in Heaven: Qur’anic Perspective Beyond Pluralism. The abstract follows.

There are difficulties in the practicality of the theory for multiculturalism. Living in a tolerant society means to accept the other, but keeping a distinct identity. The main ingredient that makes people remain apart from each other is often rooted from within their faith and religion. This study looks into the Qur’anic perspective of diversity and pluralism. Like many Christians, many Muslims believe in exclusivism, in which Heaven is exclusive to the adherents of a certain faith and tenets, whether within different sects of the same religion or different religions. This study proves that such an ideology is a misunderstanding of the Qur’an. It shows how the Qur’an portrays not only pluralism, but goes beyond pluralism. Tolerance is to accept the other, but to remain distinct. However, the Qur’an teaches that the distinction between faiths is only a farce appearance used to prove the true merits of people. Although many Muslim scholars convey a message of exclusivity of Heaven, the Qur’an calls such people who make such claims as people without knowledge. Exclusivity of Heaven is an invention by traditional scholars that the Qur’an explicitly speaks against. The proof provided in the paper uses the Qur’anic text and analyzing its linguistics, grammar, and context. The Qur’an not only accepts diversity within society, but proves that this diversity is due to misunderstanding reality, which is the oneness of people and heavenly religions. The terms ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’ are mentioned many times in the Qur’an, but most Qur’anic commentators define it as the surrender to the will of G-d, except in few verses, where it is defined as the religion known today as Islam. It is this inconsistency in defining the Qur’anic term that brings a false sense of exclusivity within Islam.


Deb on Hindu Child Marriage Law

Shakti Deb (KIIT Law School) has posted A Critical Analysis of Child Marriage Law in India with Special Reference to Hindu Law. The abstract follows.

Child Marriage is considered to be a violation of human rights, according to UNICEF, it represents perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls. In many parts of the world especially underdeveloped countries parents give consent to child marriages hoping that it would benefit the girl both economically and socially. This practice is especially common in rural areas and amongst economically backward families, the daughter is married off at an young age to relieve the family from her economic responsibilities.

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Education & Belief: Pluralism Part 2

In a recent column for the New York Times, David Brooks argued that a healthy society requires a “thick ecosystem” in which diverse organizations create a rich “spiritual, economic and social ecology.” He contrasted this with an abstract, rule-based “one-size-fits-all” approach favored by government technocrats. He wrote, “Technocratic organizations take diverse institutions and make them more alike by imposing the same rules. Technocracies do not defer to local knowledge. They dislike individual discretion. They like consistency, codification and uniformity.”  Brooks’s contrast applies to public education: America favors technocratic uniformity, while most other liberal democracies prefer a diverse ecosystem.

Here are a few examples of diverse educational ecosystems from other countries. Some good sources on this are Helena Miller’s work on Jewish schooling; Salisbury and Tooley on international comparisons; and Glenn’s Contrasting Models.

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Dutch Ban on Face-Coverings in Public Reaffirmed

Just getting to this story from the Netherlands: the Cabinet of the Netherlands has announced a new law (which will go into effect later this year) reaffirming its previous decision banning all “face-coverings” worn in “public spaces, public buildings, educational and health care institutions and public transport.”  There are carve-outs in the law for those face-coverings necessary for “health, safety or the practice of an occupation or sport,” as well as for certain holidays including “Sinterklaas . . . Carnival, and Halloween.”  The justification for the ban is described as follows: “Open communication is vital in public places.  Wearing clothing that covers the face is not appropriate in an open society like the Netherlands, where participation in social intercourse is crucial.”

Cathy Kaveny at St. John’s Law School

The Center for Law and Religion is delighted to announce that Professor Cathleen Kaveny (Notre Dame) will visit us at St. John’s Law School next Monday, February 13, at 4:15.  Hers is the second session in our ongoing seminar, Colloquium in Law: Law and Religion.  Cathy’s very interesting paper is titled, Love, Justice, and Law: The Strange Case of Watts v. Watts.  Academics in the New York area and beyond are welcome to attend.  Please contact me if you wish to do so.

Frakes, “Collation of the Laws of Moses and the Romans”

One of the earliest works of comparative law was created by an anonymous author in the 4th century AD, the Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanorum, or Collation of the Laws of Moses and the Romans, on the similarities and differences between Roman and Jewish law.  Robert M. Frakes (University of Munich) has now published Compiling the Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanorum in Late Antiquity (OUP 2011), which explores the work of this anonymous collator.  The publisher’s description of this fascinating book follows.

The expansion of Christianity and the codification of Roman law are two of the most significant facets of late antiquity. The Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanarum, or Collation of the Laws of Moses and the Romans, is one of the most perplexing works of late antiquity: a law book compiled at the end of the fourth century by an anonymous editor who wanted to show the similarity between laws of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, and Roman law. Citing first laws from the Hebrew Bible – especially from Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy which he believed were written by Moses – the anonymous Collator then compared corresponding passages from Roman jurists and from Roman laws to form discussions on sixteen topics such as homicide, adultery, homosexuality, incest, and cruelty towards slaves. While earlier scholars wrestled with dating the Collatio, the religious identity of the Collator, and the purpose of the work, this book suggests that the Collator was a Christian lawyer writing in the last years of the fourth century in an attempt to draw pagan lawyers to seeing the connections between the law of a monotheistic God and traditional Roman law.

Frakes’s volume presents a five-chapter historical study of the Collatio with a revised Latin text, new English translation, and a historical and juristic commentary.

Shows about Nothing: Is Popular Culture Nihilist?

Last month, Thomas S. Hibbs, Professor of Ethics and Culture and Dean of the Honors College at Baylor University, published the second edition of his Shows about Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture (Baylor), which updates—with reference to new television programs, films, and books—the volume’s first edition (Spence 1999).  Hibbs sees underneath much of popular culture a “Nietzschean framework of nihilism” whereby no ethical right and wrong can be discerned.  In this popular culture, according to Hibbs, we see the fulfillment of Nietzsche’s prediction that moral emptiness is an inevitable result of liberal democracy.  Whether Hibbs is correct—that popular art’s refusal to give morally definite conclusions necessarily implies an abandonment of morality rather than artistic reflection of the moral ambiguity in the world it depicts—is debatable (and perhaps to no end:  Does art reflect life, or life art?—as Oscar Wilde pointedly asked), but his book certainly raises interesting considerations, specifically in relation to a popular culture rarely subject to such inquiry.

Please follow the jump for the publisher’s description. Read more