Saturday, December 18, 2004

Prince Charles Takes On Sharia

Prince Charles has embarked on a noble and Herculean task that could help change the course of history.

And I'm not talking about his giving Camilla an extreme makeover.

The Prince has taken it upon himself to broker a dialogue of understanding between peoples of Muslim and Christian faiths with the explicit goal of ending the Muslim death penalty on apostates who convert to other faiths.

"His intervention follows mounting anger at the treatment of Muslims who have converted to Christianity in a number of Islamic states. As an advocate of inter-faith dialogue, Prince Charles has come under pressure to criticise the religious law that, campaigners say, has resulted in hundreds of executions in countries from Iran to Sudan." - link.

The talks, apparently, didn't go so well. Islamic scholars who attended suggested that these matters should be dealt with internally within their faith, so as not to incite extremists who view certain interpretations of Sharia law as immutable.

Which brings us to an even bigger issue that stands between Islam and the West: the nature of God Himself.

In his book The Universal Hunger for Liberty, Michael Novak explains that in early Islamic thought,

"God is too great to be affected by this moment in time, this grain of sand, this changeable world. . . of Himself, God is concerned with necessary things, the things that are eternal. . . the greatest difference between Islamic thought and Jewish-Christian thought is that the former has no patience for 'secondary causes'. . . in the created world. Islam does not wish to see anything as an image of God. Allah is too great for that." p. 14.

Novak continues. In early Islam, "Muslims imagined liberty to be a zero-sum game. If humans have it, God doesn't. If God has it, humans don't." p. 15.

Heavy stuff. Novak goes on to make the case that both civilizations' concept of liberty can, in the end, be reconciled, but with the Christian traditions of the Trinity, man being made in God's image, and Jesus' suffering on the cross, you can see that huge chasms exist in each's fundamental relationship between God and man, and man and society.

So Prince Charles should be commended for making this effort, but his success is anything but assured. He'd have better odds taking on the insurmountable challenge of explaining his attraction to Ms. Bowles.