24 May 2016

Islam doesn't need a Martin Luther!

Calls for an Islamic Reformation are issued in the wake of every Islamist act of terrorism. But Muslims don't need a Martin Luther. What is needed is a reconciliation of Islam with the constitutional state, says Loay Mudhoon

Lord Cromer was British Consul-General in Egypt when he coined the famous phrase in 1880: "Islam reformed is Islam no longer". Islamist apologists and representatives of traditional Islam in both Islamic countries and Islamic communities in the West would likely agree with him. After all, "Islam" is for them – and for most practising Muslims – something fundamentally complete that cannot be "reformed".

Such blind faith does not, however, alter the fact that the nature of "Islam" is not set in stone! The religion of Islam is and always has been, a child of its time.

In his writings, the renowned Iranian philosopher Abdolkarim Sorush – one of the key voices in the global debate on reforming contemporary Islam – emphasises the mutability of religious insight. In his view, there can never be one absolute "version of Islam" that is applicable to all eras and contexts. In the words of Sorush: "I compare the situation to that of a river.

The Prophet was just the source of the river. Islamic tradition as a whole is the river. It flows towards eternity. We are a particular section of the river; the next generation will be another section. We should never assume that religion is a stationary body of water. It is like a flowing river." [Qantara.de] Read more