On Apostasy

I don’t write any of the following with intent to offend. Please apply Heinlein’s Law to the following post if it gets your goat.

“I don’t know a soul who doesn’t maintain two separate lists of doctrines — the ones that they believe that they believe; and the ones that they actually try to live by.”

Orson Scott Card

Young VDH-in-training, Muslihoon, has three good posts on apostasy and Islam. I won’t sum them up; you should read them.

What caught my attention was the idea that moderate Muslims are apostate compared to the fundamentalist jihadi types.  Why would we say that this is so?

Follow me here: what’s important is NOT how true one is to the original text or traditional teachings to be apostate or a true believer. What’s most important is what the mainstream believes or rejects. Islam may have de jure rules about what is and is not apostasy, but it’s de facto that matters.

Consider the Latter Day Saints. Recently, the Fundamentalist LDS have been in the news with the arrest of Warren Jeffs. The FLDS consider the mainstream Mormons to be apostate, having given up polygamy and state rule by a prophet. If one goes back to original Mormon texts, such as the Doctrines and Covenants of Joseph Smith, one could see where they have theological grounds for this. But they are the ones marginalized, isolated and consider the apostate fringe.

Likewise, in the last century the Roman Catholic Church has made some pretty sweeping changes in its liturgy and in its traditions and beliefs. The Church has changed its positions, but not everyone goes along with the changes. You have the old-school, tridentine, Mel Gibson types that don’t accept Vatican II and other reforms. Google up “sedevacantist” sometime. They may have a point. Yet who is the apostate? Who is the fringe group?
Closer to my home, I consider myself pretty much a Baptist. Fred Phelps calls himself one too. But, and it may be a sin, if I ever meet that guy I’m gonna chew on his eyeballs. He’s the apostate. You can’t get many Baptists to agree on much of anything, but I bet you’d get 99% of us together on that.

All that to say this: if the mainstream of Islam considers Islamist/jihadi/fascist/terrorist leaders to be apostate, murtadd, or whatever, then they are, de facto. Doesn’t matter what the Quran really says. Now I am to Islam what Al Gore is to science, which is that I’m the opposite. Dar-al-harb is home sweet home, baby. So I don’t get to have any influence on what moderate Muslims do or don’t believe. But. If our country keeps killing off the extremists and agitators, pretty soon the moderates will be all that’s left.  And if we repeatedly use words like “apostate” to describe the agitators, maybe it will catch on in the Dar-al-Islam.

Which, as Musilhoon points out, we all need to happen before the GWOT gets really, really ugly.


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