- What is the purpose of this proposed book?
This book is an engagement with the approach upheld by Aastana group and its various writers. We hope to look at their views in detail and express agreement or disagreement with them.
In the world of Quranist Islam, open dialogue is a must. Reason being, only with open dialogue can we progress as a community. Islam’s progress as a civilization was killed off by open dialogue when Sunnism became the dominant approach. This is why Quranist Islam must not indoctrinate but rather be a space for dialogue. As such, our critique of Aastana can hopefully help plumb the depths of Quran.
- Do you find anything good at all about Aastana?
Yes, of course. Aastana moves well beyond the religious paradigm when reading Quran. This helps them see Quran in a much more applicable way than they ordinarily would. In our understanding, Quran is not a religious text but an existential one.
- So if you find Aastana’s views acceptable, why write a critique?
It is important to be nuanced in our views. While we agree to Aastana’s extra-religious approach, we find several shortcomings in their worldview as well as their methodology. Take for example Aastana’s assertion that Quran is ‘a book of human rights’. This assertion conveniently forgets Aastana’s claims to be objetive (Aastana asserts that it is simply going back to language which is a highly problematic statement). How can one be objective despite being so selective? Moreover, Aastana fails to answer why it chose ‘human rights’ in particular, a term which is absent from the text. It would be different if they admitted that they too are interpreting the text.
- Why do you insult them with the terms ‘Atheist-Materialist-Lingocentric Quranists’?
This term is not an insult but a classification system. It is part of a thesis and the terminology has been approved. It is simply to describe Aastana’s methodology.
- What does the term mean?
Atheist refers to the belief that the ‘god’ figure they believe in does not have a personality. Rather he is the sum total of universal laws. We do not use the word ‘deist’ because, in deism, God is the watchmaker whereas in Aastana’s system, there is no watchmaker, only a watch.
Materialist refers to the notion that Aastana does not accept that there is a metaphysical dimension. This is indeed problematic because a ‘universal law’ is not physical. It is an inference of physical interactions at best. So God in their understanding must be physical as well which is impossible considering He is the sum total of universal laws.
Lingocentric refers to the appeal to authorities of language which some Quranists exercise. They claim meanings of words are authorized by dictionaries and grammar books. One Aastana thinker even naively states dictionaries are not religious and therefore neutral. This is ignoring the evolutionary nature of language and the use of language as a socio-political tool.
We will add to FAQs soon.