There is a great deal of talk about reform and reinterpretation of Islam these days, in order to counter the views of extremists such as Isis.
Liberal and progressive interpretations depend mostly on nuanced readings of the Qur’an and Sunna, or forcing new meanings out of them. But by playing the extremists’ game of interpreting the texts, we allow them a semblance of legitimacy. We also give them the opportunity to come back with theological workarounds.
In my opinion we Muslims need to take the bold step of challenging the very idea that the Qur’an and Sunna are infallible. This will come as a shock to those of us brought up on the idea that the Qur’an is the perfect word of God, but some Muslims are already doing this. Thinkers such as Abdul Karim Soroush from Iran, Sayyed Ahmad Al-Qabbanji from Iraq and Saeed Nasheed from Morocco are questioning traditional views about the Qur’an. [1158 comments]
[TO RATED COMMENT 158 votes] “Why is this such an essential step? Because once you stop protecting ideas on the basis that “God said it”, you create a level playing field where good ideas can battle it out with bad ideas on an equal footing.”
Excellent piece, and you make very important points.
The reason this approach has such opposition among the religious is – once you acknowledge that these things are fallible (and therefore not divine), then you undermine the entire edifice. That’s a slippery slope to believing none of it, and living your life without concern about what happened in the 7th Century. That’s exactly what we in Europe did with our own myths.
A few hundred years ago, the Christian church in Europe responded to things like that with swift, extravagant violence, so no one did it. It was long process of gradual erosion of the edifice of ‘respect’ the church had erected, which delivered us to a more-or-less entirely secular society.
I think that if we opened the gates to humour and satire and hard-headed criticism – books, plays, cartoons, political commentary – then Islam would start to lose some of the awesome, mysterious, and entirely undeserved ‘respect’ it has accrued at gunpoint. Then – hopefully – people in 40 or 50 years can live in the same rational, secular, liberal environment that we were lucky to be born into.
[2ND 131] “In my opinion we Muslims need to take the bold step of challenging the very idea that the Qur’an and Sunna are infallible.”
At last! – A sensible article on Islam in the Guardian. And it has only taken around 10 years to recognise that Muslims need to start reflecting on, and reforming, their religion.
[3RD 101] Islam has had 1200 years to reform – I am not holding my breath.
[4TH 93] I had to do a double take when I read the article and the site I was reading.
This is what most of us have been banging on about for years but labelled as Islamaphobic. Perhaps, in the coming years, we will be allowed to have an actual debate about Islamic reformation rather than the suppression of criticism and apology pieces, that has become so part of politics and the MSM in Europe over the last couple of decades.
It needs more thinkers and realists like the writer of this piece to lead the way. Sadly though I think his voice will be drowned out as as others who have made similar suggestions in the past, were also silenced.
Good luck though. I think you are going to need it!
[5TH 82] Why not just give up the entire notion of god? Lots of people have, are perfectly happy about it and get on with their lives without fearing some invisible celestial overseer. [Guardian Cif] Read more