Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Muslim Reform

Irshad Manji For Muslim Reform and Moral Courage
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Finally there are signs of a possibility of Muslim reform, although not surprisingly the signs are mostly from "the West". Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that the reformers (or at least the most well known of them) seem to be women.

Although I strongly welcome this movement, I think it too is fundamentally flawed in that it fails to recognize the problems with religion in general or Islam specifically. It refuses to asses the very foundation of the notion of reform, by failing to ask, should there be any religion at all. By simply starting - as all religious people seem to do - from the assumption that their religion has the right to exist and the justification to be participated in, these reformers fail to go full distance.

But in this case, even some distance is better than nothing. It took a long time for the Enlightenment to arise in Europe, and before this could happen, much internal dispute had to occur within religion and the religiously dominated continent. Only when enough people had come to know of the intellectual and ethical problems of religion, could criticism and free discussion of such things begin. Perhaps western "intellectual" muslims can smuggle some such freedom of thought into the religious discourse of the muslims in less well-off areas? Perhaps, after years of debate and the branching off of various "heretical" sects of Islam, enough muslims around the world will become more educated in their religion, thus allowing serious criticism of the religion to be heard, and opening the possibility of finally secularizing Islam and bringing the muslims out of the dark ages of religion into the 21st Century.


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