last post on this issue, please allow it.
If Rodinson is the only Muhammad you've read, then I've way head of you. I even spent three days of doing nothing but reading the Quran and then going to the Pittsburgh temple to see "Hindu idolatory" through "Muhammad's eyes" (well, as much as is possible through English translation
Have you read Hadis as well? It seems Hadis is an absolute to understand Islam. Quran, it seems is organised in a unique fashion. It is neither chronological nor issue based. But based on the length of verses. So, the verses cannot really be understood properly without the context. The context is provided by the Hadis.
Of course, one may raise doubts on the genuineness or historicity of Hadis. But the same doubts can also be raised on Quran. Anyway, these doubts are irrelevent because a Islam asks its adherents to accept them as true.
A_Gupta wrote:Muhammad is not really the issue, he was a man of his times, no more or less sanguinary than his contemporaries.
Not really. According to the Hadis(the traditional biography of Mohammad), before the advent of Muhammad, the arab pagans were quite tolerant of other religions. But the advent of Islam changed all that according to the Hadis.
Infact, before the advent of Abrahamic religions, how many wars happened with a motive to convert others in the entire world?
A_Gupta wrote:The issue is those who fourteen centuries later take him as undebatable.
Nope, the issue is the ideology that teaches it as undebatable. Why target individuals when its the ideology that is the cause? Is it because the individuals are easier to target then ideology?
Anyway, if he is not undebatable, then whats the objection that is being raised by you and deepankar? Language?
A_Gupta wrote:One of the Hindu "ideal" persons is Shri Rama, and even so, Hindus debate whether he was right in shooting Vaali and exiling Sita from Ayodhya. That does not make Hindus respect him or worship him less.
From a Hindu perspective, Sri Rama is the ideal. Period. No debates on that. The debate is how and why he is ideal, what prompted and justified his actions. Shooting vali, killing Tataka, leaving Sita in woods, slaying Ravana,...etc are debated to understand how they were correct. The debate is not whether it is correct or not. Of course, debates can take place questioning Sri Rama's righteousness, but would it be Hindu? Hindus can do such debates, but the hindu religion does not support that debate.
A_Gupta wrote:(And a Rodinson can turn Rama into another unappetizing character, it is not difficult to do.)
He may try. It is not difficult to denigrate Sri Rama, if one depends on half-truths or events taken out of context. Similarly, Mohammad can be presented as benevolent.
A_Gupta wrote:Muslims have to realize that being critical of Muhammad is not incompatible with considering him the epitome of integrity and the most beloved of Allah.
You are hung up with people(muslims), when its the ideology that teaches that any criticism of Mohammad is the criticism of Islam. Why blame muslims? Why not Islam?
A_Gupta wrote:The lack of that critical attitude among Muslims is no more because of Muhammad than the bloodiness of the church set up by St. Paul and made official by Constantine is the fault of Jesus.
Are you open to the possibility that the lack of critical attitude among Muslims or Church was directly caused by the intolerance of Mohammad or Jesus towards criticism?
A_Gupta wrote:Think about it - your namesake Parsuram is probably the author of the oldest remembered genocide -when he set out to wipe out all the Kshatriyas - and we Hindus don't blink an eye about it. We would not stand for anyone asking us to condemn him.
Why club all Hindus with yourself? Attitudes differ. You dont seem to blink an eye to question Sri Rama. Many other Hindus might shudder at such a proposition.
Much better position would be to stop going after individuals and take up the ideology.
A_Gupta wrote:We make him into a avataar, give him some kind of mission of destroying evil, and seek to emulate him - never.
As per Hinduism, Parashurama was an Avatar. He was possessed by Lord Vishnu. He exterminated the Kshatriyas because they were evil. Then, Sri Rama reclaimed the Vishnu's aura within Parashurama. Thereafter, Parashurama remained as a great sage. Hinduism does not exhort its adherents to follow the example of Parashurama. So, when Hindus do not follow the example of Parashurama, they are simply following Hinduism. They are not questioning it.
You obviously dont seem convinced with Hinduism's explanation. Its your prerogative.
A_Gupta wrote:Sri Krishna had his own Yadavas exterminated.
Really?!!! When and How? Please do expound.
I thought the Yadavas were exterminated due to internal fights that had nothing to do with Lord Krishna. It was a curse of Durvasa, if I am not wrong. Or maybe you have another source rivaling the Hindu scriptures.
A_Gupta wrote:Our own sacred history can be used (and has been used by our detractors) to make us look absurd.
If the instances quoted by you are examples, then it seems to me that they have failed in their attempts. However, people are free to accept their depictions.
A_Gupta wrote:And in modern times there are enough Dals and Senas to prove the point too.
Actions of 'Dals and Senas' have nothing to do with Hinduism. Hinduism, as a religion, can independently be critiqued. Similarly, actions of 'Dals and Senas' can be independently evaluated. Unless, their actions are direct result of Hinduism, Hinduism is neither to be blamed nor praised for their actions.
A_Gupta wrote:All I can say is that we've become very sophisticated in understanding and interpreting our sacred histories; the Mussalmans with one-third our age have not yet, and may never get there, but we can't be sure of that.
Maybe some like you have become sophisticated, but certainly not all Hindus.
If your point was that Hinduism is as barbaric as Islam and that only difference is that Muslims still stick with their Islam while Hindus try 'sophisticated understanding'. Then, I think you are wrong. The point is that Hinduism, itself, tells Hindus what to follow and what not to follow. The same is true for Islam or any religion or ideology. And adherents simply do as taught by their ideology.
Hindus are not making any 'sophisticated understanding', they are simply accepting Hinduism's explanation of things just as muslims accept Islam. Maybe Hinduism is sophisticated and Islam is barbaric...