Egyptian intellectual and journalist Dr. Khaled Montaser, interviewed by Sky News Arabia on April 20, talked about the "scientific-miraculous" nature of the quran (i'jaz), which he called a "great delusion" - "an anesthetic or a nice sedative for the Arabs and the Muslims." In science, nothing is absolute, while the Arab individual is "paralyzed" and in need of reassurance, unable to do a thing without a fatwa from his cleric; consequently, he said, superstitions "constitute a sweeping current" in the Islamic world. Dr. Montaser, who is Head of the Dermatology Department of the Suez Canal Authority, talked about the prevalence of Muslims among suicide bombers and about Muslim opposition to modernity, and said: "As Muslims, we pay a steep price for this. We are at the tail end of all the nations."
Following is a transcript:
Khalid Montaser: The belief in the Quran’s “scientific-miraculous” nature (i’jaz) served as an anesthetic or a nice sedative for the Arabs and the Muslims, making them feel superior: “we are superior,” “we are the best,” “we are the greatest.”
Host: You consider the i’jaz to be a delusion.
Khalid Montaser: As I wrote in my book, it is a great delusion, which harms both Islam and science. My point of departure was that the Quran is a book of religion and guidance, and not a book of biology, physics, or chemistry.
Host: You do not want to attribute to it things that are beyond its capability.
Khalid Montaser: This is entirely unwarranted. This (i’jaz) is a man-made creation for people who feel inferior, and sense the huge gap between them and the West. What can we do, they ask themselves. Can we become like the West? That would take a lot of time and effort, and we are lazy – lazy in mind, lazy in body, and in every aspect. Therefore, the solution is to say that every existing thing and every new invention has already been mentioned in our Quran and the Hadith.
Khalid Montaser: Science is a relative thing. How can you tell that someone is a real scientist? When he says things like “I think,” “perhaps,” “possibly”…
Host: Nothing is categorical.
Khalid Montaser: Nothing is absolute. There is no 100%. The Arab individual, on the other hand, says to you: “Let’s cut to the chase.” He wants a fatwa. Why does the fatwa market thrive? The Arab individual is paralyzed. He cannot walk from his bedroom to the kitchen and from there to the street without a fatwa from his cleric. “What should I do? How should I sleep? How should I have sex with my wife?” And so on and so forth. He is constantly in need of someone to reassure him. But the scientist cannot provide such reassurance.
Host: You wrote: “How come Europeans, Americans, and Japanese are never possessed by jinns? What, the jinns can’t get a visa to America?” Let me ask you another question. Why do you attribute these “backward” phenomena to the Arabs and Muslims alone? They exist all over the world, even in Hollywood films. It is not an exclusively Arab phenomenon.
Khalid Montaser: I agree that superstitions of all kinds may be found among all nations of the world – among Americans, Europeans, and everybody. But the important question is whether this constitutes the mainstream. In the Islamic world, superstitions constitute a sweeping current.
Khalid Montaser: Among the names of all those who detonated explosive belts in Europe or America, one cannot find a single Hindu or Buddhist name. They always have Muslim names. Furthermore, how come Muslims always oppose modernity? They do not easily assimilate in European societies. We must admit this. As a thinker trying to fix this, I must find this shocking. The reality is bitter. As Muslims, we pay a steep price for this. We are at the tail end of all the nations.